Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lit Review #1

Randy Yerrick
and Joseph JohnsonState University of New York at Buffalo


This is a research paper presented from a project out of New York. The goal of the project was to provide middle school teachers with access to training and technology and to incorporate this technology into their science curriculm over the course of a school year in order to evaluate its effectiveness of learning.

2 of 10 science teachers in a local high school in the Buffalo area choose to participate in this project. In return for participating, the teachers received hands on training and support in the summmer to build a curriculm that supported technology in the classroom as well as no less than 5 hours of communication (brainstorming, suggestions, learning) weekly during the calendar year.  I found it interesting that only two teachers agreed to participate in the project. Although the article doesn't mention why the other teacher may not have been willing to sign up, it is astonishing to me that teachers wouldn't welcome the support and training to encorporate new tools in the science classroom. So much of the science curriculum requires equipment that schools may not have access to that this offer would provide them access to tools that they may not have access to otherwise.

With eight teachers choosing to not participate, it provided a "quasicontrol" group in order measure data against at the end of the year. What the data showed was a measurable gain in knowledge transfer to the students whose teachers participated. Gains were showed after each unit by testing the gained knowledge of the unit of those with technology to those students not using technology as part of their learning. It also showed in standardized testing at the end of the year. Students of participating teachers did significantly better on the NY standardized test and they had what was estimated to be 5 fewer weeks of review for the NY test.

In addition to the strong results being represented in this paper, the authors also suggest that introducing technology into the classroom without attention to the learning styles of the students and proper preparation and training by the instructor will not yield the same results. Students in debriefing interviews stated that they learned better with the technology being used because they felt connected to it. Had the technology not been a fit for the class, the technology may not have fosted such a strong connection with the lesson and could have had completely different results.

I choose this article because I think that science is a critical area instruction that I would like to teach in. I love that it can open so many doors for students and that it can be such a hands on area of instruction. Though is was much longer than I had anticipated, this article really provided me with some insight into bringing technology into the science classroom ~ what actual technology they used and how it was able to advance the learning of the students and what it took to bring it to the classroom.

A good read for those who are questioning "why technology in the classroom."
Meeting the Needs of Middle Grade Science
Learners Through Pedagogical and Technological

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Self-driven and Classroom-based: Professional Development in the 21st Century


The basic premise of this 30 minute presentation is think about how we continue to develop as a teacher in this digital age. The first is using the digital tools we do have access to in a way that is most beneficial to our personal growth and the second part is about using the tools we have within to grow and learn.

We have access to blogs and webinars that we can use create networks that can aide us in becoming a stronger, more diverse teacher. However, the preseneter, Konrad Glogowski, challenges that social networks can only provide with a passive learning experience, learning through what others have done successfully and what challenges they came up against.We can only read or hear about their experience through their eyes. It does not take into effect our individual challenges, styles, classrooms, etc. Glogowski contends that by identifying a select few individuals that we can actually disect tools, processes, material with and discuss our own situations with, can we actively learn and grow professionally. These select few may be from across the country or world and not just in our backyard or school system, but they must make a committment to part of your active growth and you in turn commit to be part of theirs.

The second part of the presentation asserts that dispite the information accessible through the social networks in play in our culture now, we have the strongest tool within ourselves. Through systemic evaluation of ourselves outside the classroom and inside the classroom, we are able to reflect upon what pre programed beliefs we bring to our classroom and how it effects our teaching. Through evaluating our classroom, our learners, our materials we can create a stronger lesson plan to help students can become life long learners.

The premise that we can become stronger teachers through a reflective processes has merit but has to be only a part of my teaching career. I think it is important for you to evaluate what you should stop doing, what you should keep doing and what you need to start doing. Self Evaluation is part of any private sector annual review process. In this case, you can't wait until the end of the year to do this evaluation. There is too much at risk. It is important to evaluate ourselves both personally and professionaly. Our world is constantly evolving and if we don't evolve with it than we are going to be left behind.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Blog sparks debate of online issues

Article about Teacher in trouble for blog

I logged on to check my e-mail this morning and saw a link about a teacher in PA that was in trouble with her district for things she wrote on her blog. I immediately clicked on the link to read more about it.

At the heart of the issue is that she is a public employee using the web to share her personal feelings on her job and her students. She does not identify anyone specifically but apparently it was clear she was and who she was talking about. Does she have the right to share her opinions about her classroom in a public forum? I think she is legally correct. She can share whatever she wants as long as she understands that anything she says could have legal implications is she names specific people. With that said, ethically I don't believe it is in her best interest to share her thoughts in such a public forum.You need to know your audience when sharing information that people could use to judge you as a person or as an employee.  At the very least she should have done more to hide her identity - somehow someone found out it was her or we wouldn't be hearing about this.

What difference is it when people share stories about coworkers or subordinates that do stupid things at work or share how frustrated they are with people.

For example, a family friend posted on facebook how he hates when people complicate work by doing stupid things and made a clear reference to that "stupid" person was his boss. Now, he isn't legally liable, but if his facebook is public and his boss were to check his facebook acct. he would see this comment and may not be so happy with my friend. Probably not the best idea.

The ACLU has taken her case and it will be interesting to watch what happens. For now, she is on paid suspension until the matter is resolved.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tech Talk

Sunday night I tried to join the conversation on Techtalk. I logged in but I was not able to hear the program. Dave (not sure if this was our professor or not) apologized for the audio but I am not sure if this was just operator error or if there was a problem with the program. Anyone else have this problem?

Equal Access

It is the responsibility of the teacher to provide equal access to the digital world to all learners.  What does this mean?  How does one accomplish it?

The first time I read this statement, I read it as a question: "Is it the responsibility of the teacher to provide equal access to the digital world to all learners?" My answer is No. It is not my responsibility as the teacher, however, I believe it is each individual community's responsibility to create a learning environment where everyone has equal access to the the digital world.

Having reread the statement, I guess I need to rethink my original answer.

As the teacher I don't have to provide laptops to each student or ensure that everyone has high speed internet at home, but I do need to create an environment where I introduce the technology that I do have access to, and allow all of them to experiment and become proficient.

One way to do this is the incorporate technology into the daily plans. When I was a student, Oregon Trail was one of the programs our Social Science teacher used as a tool to talk about the expansion out West. However, it was for only a select few ~ mostly her favorite.Not everyone got to use the one computer in the room and it was a game, not an opportunity to expand our understanding of technology or strengthen our computer skills. Technology can't be a treat or for just a select . It has to be part of the daily lesson plan. Kids shouldn't be excited to use as a distraction from a lesson, it should just be part of how they do their learning.