It has been an amazing and fast semester, cannot believe half way through the program. The internet tools class has been an eye opener in many different ways.
Through the course, I have learned many new tools and at the same time it has provided new ways to integrate tools which I had use and knew in past. The course has also further validated my belief it is not all about the app. So many people see apps as the greatest things and not realize in most cases they do not have the full functionality and benefits of Web 2.0 tools. Understanding this has helped me grow as a user of instructional technology and as a leader as I guide my colleagues at school in their integration.
Outside of the great tools, as a leader and a coach, I must reflect the proper ways to integrate technology. I must practice with my student’s internet safety and stress the importance to my peers this importance in their classrooms. Our students are digital citizens and must be aware of their internet presence and how this presence will be with them always. Since I teach at a Title 1 school, I must plan my lessons with technology to ensure everyone has equal access and time to complete assignments. I must offer any type of assistive technology I can to ensure all students have the tools they need to ensure their academic achievement.
This semester and ITEC 7430 is definitely a course to grow as a technology leader and coach.
Teaching at Title 1school with over 55% of our students on free and reduced lunch, I see the issue of equitable access to technology first hand very day. The students at my school come from both ends of the soci-economic spectrum along with being from over 40 countries. With technology becoming ever more integrated into education and learning, schools must be the first place to ensure equitability. “Schools may be a critical component in developing community technology centers for empowering and educating economically disadvantaged communities” (Hohlfeld, Ritzhaupt & Barron).
One way my school works to being a technology center for the community is it offers seminar and classes throughout the year for our parents about various computer and technology skills and safety, in addition sometimes the courses given in Spanish. Our media center is open throughout the school day if our parents need access to a computer. Students are able to use computers in the media center before and after school and during their lunch if they need to work on assignments which require computers. I also allow students in my classroom to use my technology tools during the same time. If a student does not have access to computers or internet at home, I will work with them to ensure they have enough time and access to complete their work.
Our school district is working to ensure a 1:1 device for our students. It is a slow process but at the same time our school is working separately to try to get more technology in our student’s hands. Along with having three computer labs and two computers in each of our classrooms our school purchased two iPad carts this year, being a Title 1 school allows additional funding for such needs. I have worked with teachers in requesting funding from outside source such as Donor Choose. In the last month, we have received 10,000 in technology assistance we over 20 new devices at the school.
Along with increasing access at school, home access plays an important role in student’s development. Findings have shown that students with greater home access have a correlation positively to standardized reading achievement scores, math scores and grade point average (Barron, Walter, Martin & Schatz, 2009, pg 186). Internet Service Providers (ISP) such as Comcast and AT&T offer service to family who individually cannot afford full services. My school district is currently working with the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to allow the district to be a provider of internet services to our students whether at school or home. These types of services will further close the gap in students experience with educational tools.
While understanding the role in which technology plays in student’s learning today and wanting all students to have access, at the same time, I do find it disheartening, when some students do have access to a smart phone or a tablet but not to more pressing needs such as proper clothing or food.
Hohlfeld, T., Ritzhaupt, A., & Barron, A. (n.d.). Connecting schools, community, and family with ict: Four-year trends related to school level and ses of public schools in florida. Computers and Education, 55(2010), 391-405. doi: doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2010.02.004
Barron, B., Walter, S., Martin, C., & Schatz, C. (2009). Predictors of creative computing participation and profiles of experience in two silicon valley middle schools. Computers and Education, 54(2010), 178-189. doi: doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2009.07.017
I had a blog all in my head and ready to go then I read the article The Case for Cultivating Cultural Awareness. As I was reading through in so many ways the first part was reading my life history and then my goals as a teacher. The article has the question, “How can we involve our students in authentic and connected learning experiences that will encourage collaboration with classmates, among grade levels, and with students from all over the world?”(Hilt, 2011) So how can we do this without ensuring we meet the needs of all types of diverse learners?
When many think of the world “Diversity” cultural diversity is what comes to mind, however we all are diverse in many different way beyond our culture. As we go into our classrooms each day, we must understand our students do not come out of the same cookie cutter and we must be aware of this. Our students in many cases are different socio-economically, have different learning styles, levels of learning and disabilities.
The use of technology in our classrooms can address and help these diversities n many ways. Teaching 7th grade social studies in Georgia our curriculum is world studies including Southwest Asia, Africa and Southern and East Asia, I spend my day teaching how the world is different. I able to share my experiences of 20 years in travel business, along with the students I have each day from 30 different countries. I tell the students the world is a whole lot smaller than it was when I was their age. But share these differences with them is so much easier with technology. Pictures are great but the use of videos and tools such as Google Earth makes it so much easier. Global collaboration is where we want to be students Skyping with students from places they are learning about or taking virtual field trips make students. One of my classes is creating a blog, while others are developing Weebly sites on the Israeli Palestine Conflict. We hope to share these sites with students across the globe to allow this type of collaboration and discussion.
I am strong believer in students understanding the different learning styles. I have my students complete multiple learning styles assessment at the beginning of the year. I then keep track of their topic two from groupings later. I am able to use technology to meet the needs of these learning styles. I have created different assignments for the learners and assigned to the students through Edmodo. I also use Discovery Education a lot to meet the needs of my visual learners. I could even stretch this out with my musical, kinesthetic and visual learners by playing the video of the dance “The Hustle” and we do the dance to learn cardinal direction. Along with using technology to deliver content using various means of technology, I allow my students to have a choice in their output of products to me. Our students have different levels of interest, understanding and capabilities in the use of technology. My expectations of them should be the same.
Along with different learning styles students today are at many different levels of learning in one classroom. Technology can provide a means to bring everyone on the same playing field. This could be as simple as providing real aloud function on a worksheet using computer software or enlarging the text font. These same technologies can be used with your ELL learners, being able to have material read out loud to students while they are reading a lot builds their reading comprehension. There are many writing tools readily available to assist students prompting and guiding students in the writing process. A student who struggles with solving math equations could have access to numerous videos and how to’s at their finger tips.
The power of technology in role of meeting the needs of diverse learners is clearly stated by Grace and Throne (2009):
“Technology facilitates modification of instruction in several areas to meet the needs of diverse students by making changes to subject matter (content), channels of throughput (process), means of output (product), and the learning environment. As a great motivator, technology has a powerful influence on our students’ affect levels.”
Once we allow technology to facilitate learning to meet the needs of our learner, Oh !! The doors it will open to the world we live in and allow authentic and connected learning experiences.
Hilt, L. (0). Retrieved from http://plpnetwork.com/2011/10/26/the-case-for-cultivating-cultural-awareness/
Smith , G., & Throne , S. (2009). Differentiating instruction with technology in middle school classrooms. ISTE.
Christa Evans Heath