Sunday, October 12, 2014

Blog #2: Utilizing Different Types of Media

We all know media is in the school system. Even if personal devises are banned from campuses, they tend to be smuggled into schools and used under the teachers' noses--or so students think. This kind of technology use can be distracting at best, destructive at worst. However, there are positive ways to incorporate media into the classroom, pleasing both the students, who long for more "computer time", and the teachers, who grow weary of taking phones and tablets away from their students.
After researching new ways to tackle this issue and bring technology and classrooms into an agreement, I have found one of the best ways is to instill the BYOD program in schools. BYOD stands for Bring Your Own Device. The main idea of BYOD is that instead of the school purchasing all the media needs such as tablets or iPads, the children who already have a personal device bring it to school and use it when they need to use the web. Going against the usual understanding of devices in school, this idea turns the previous negativity into a positive opportunity. When half the students have a device they can bring from home, then the school need only supply the other half with a loaner tablet. This way, every student can have internet access at their fingertips. Furthermore, when everyone in a class has internet access, they are connected in more ways that one. For example, in the third grade classroom, the whole class could be included in reading circles and discussion online, or they could be researching different websites at the same time, covering more ground than group projects would, while still allowing everyone the equal chance to learn.
Another ingenious way to incorporate technology into the classroom is through teaching with content curation. In this method, the main idea is to amass information and then sort it into logical formats for sharing, and more importantly, for retaining. First, the teacher cumulates websites for safe searching, then sets the students loose to personally and individually take a fine comb to these resources and find all the information they possibly can on a certain subject. This is a helpful concept when it comes to the flipped classroom. Consider the third grade class example from before: if all the information they need is on the internet, students are then able to continue learning outside of normal school hours, and then come back to class with any questions or comments they may have for the teacher.
In conclusion, the way technology used to be viewed when entering a school setting needs to be expelled. In its place, we need to implement the idea that media is not a bad thing, rather it is a very useful tool. As teachers, we need to teach all the ways the gift of technology can be used, in a safe and learning-rich environment.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Blog #1: How Technology Changes the Method

In regards to technology, the world is increasingly changing. Our children's generation is experiencing technologies in a way that we would not have even imagined when we were growing up. This poses many reflections, ideas, and problems. One of the most important aspects of technology to consider is how to integrate it into the classroom. Gone were the days when teachers could just take away a problem-causing phone and eradicate the issue of technological distractions. It is all around us, and we need to incorporate it into our teaching methods if we wish to keep the interest of our students' ever-curious and active minds.
Three important factors to consider when attempting to progress learning are: (1) medium-approach, (2) method-way of instruction, and (3) message-what needs to be learned. Through the uses of technology, learning is accomplished (the method) in a variety of ways. Some of those ways include presentations, discussion, gaming, discovery, and much more. Of these, I found that using SmartBoards for more than teacher presentations is becoming a useful technique for interactive student engagement. For example, eMINTS is educating teachers on how to channel students' curiosity into the classroom, so children are motivated to dig for information and implicitly learn. In Hartville Elementary School, eMINTS demonstrated how to use something they called "graffiti walls". In this experience, students split up into groups to discuss a topic, and then came up with either a word or phrase, or drew a picture on the graffiti wall (SmartBoard) to represent what they brainstormed together. This causes the students to actually apply themselves to produce an answer to a question, instead of waiting for the teacher to present all the answers to them. Therefore, the learning will endure longer than the lesson. 
Another good use of technology in the classroom is with infographics. Rebecca Alber wrote a blog about how to ask students questions that will trigger effective thought processes and raise class involvement. She specifically stated five questions that will enhance thinking. Although her blog made sense, it was not until an infographic was created based on her questions that the idea was solidified in my mind. My lightbulb moment with the infographic made me ponder how useful the same idea would in a classroom full of younger students. If they can picture a graphic organizer, or infographic, while recalling the information taught audibly, there is more opportunity for retention of the material. 
In both of these examples, technology is used to change the method in which concepts are taught and remembered. The first example, of the school in Hartville, illustrates the power of discussion and cooperative learning. The second example displays a presentation technique. Each method provides new ways to keep students engaged in the learning process by including what they are enticed by most--technology. 

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