Thursday, May 31, 2012

Diverse Learners

In my classroom I do not have a lot of cultural difference, but as I studied the six elements listed in Cennamo's Technology Integration... I realized I do view myself as a culturally responsive teacher. The last four really hit home for me: feeling personally responsible for helping my school reach every student, understanding how my students learn, knowing about the lives of my students, and design lessons based on prior knowledge. All four of these revolve around really knowing and understanding my students. I do my best to truly get to know each student. Whether it's a one-on-one discussion in the morning or the hockey games I attend after school, I enjoy getting to know my kiddos.
Technology in my classroom supports my students varying abilities. On page 274 it states that it's important to realize that equitable access to technology does not necessarily mean equal time spent using technology (Cennamo 2010). It needs to be used however it meets each, individual student's needs. For my enrichment kiddos I often post links to webquests or other websites where they can be challenged. When using it with the whole class, I try to find games to support a skill and I usually try to find at least 2 different levels. For example once most of my kiddos were getting the hang of long division I found some sites to practice on. One of the sites reminded the student of each step they just had to figure the numbers. The next step up was a site where they filled in the numbers without help, but if they needed help they could click the hint key. The highest level was simply a problem generator and then they could check for the correct answer. Students started at their ability level and could move up as they got better. This also allows me time to pull some enrichment kiddos off the computers and work with extending the skill.
I am not a teacher who does a lot of future planning, because my plans are constantly changing.  When teaching a skill I am constantly assessing and trying to decide whether to move on or keep working on that skill. I am very fortunate to be a part of a team that works so well and often I will check in with them on their student's progress. They can often give suggestions for my struggling students or sometimes we find that both of our classes are doing really well and we are ready to move on. One of those elements I listed above was understanding how they learn and I think my awareness of they abilities, and learning styles is what guides my planning. 
One aspect that I always have good intentions of, but haven't quite mastered is helping my students be reflective of their own work. I want them to think more deeply about their results and thinking. Cennamo states that an active part of metacognition would be allowing students to chose artifacts to include in a portfolio (page 267). While I have done this I want to make it a more regular habit and help them chose pieces that truly reflect their abilities. 

Cennamo, K., Ross, J. D., Ertmer, P. A., & International Society for Technology in Education. 

(2010). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach

Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Hello! This blog was setup to fulfill a requirement for a master's class. However, I am excited to use it as a place to record my growth with using technology. First, of all I love technology... I tried to use it as much as possible with my 4th graders. My team often comes to me for help with different applications or figuring out ways to incorporate it with various projects. But now, I am headed to first grade. This will allow for new challenges of incorporating technology! So as of right now I am not sure where I want to go with technology, because I don't even know where I am starting :)

My students will have an hour of computer time with our computer teacher every week. That is a huge help in helping my students get comfortable with the logging in process, typing, and exploring different aspects of the computer. I want my students to learn purposeful uses for the computers, not just for games and keeping busy. My top 3 elements for my 21st century classroom are: Computer literacy, using technology for communication, and allowing for students to explore their creativity through technology.

Most of the other first grade teachers find it easier to avoid using technology because the amount of time it takes to get setup and logged in. Therefore I can use the laptops often in order to create an environment of frequent use. If I could even setup 3 to 4 laptops daily to demonstrate frequent use. I want to create a learning environment where it isn't just that we use it frequently but that we complete meaningful products.

After watching New Learners of the 21st century, I feel like I have been living in a cave. This video opened my eyes to technology that I hadn't even realized was available to kids. More importantly I often catch myself thinking "that is too challenging for my age group." Seeing kids that are fairly close in age to children I teach and seeing what they are capable of opened my eyes. One of the narrators mentioned, 'we have to be careful because we are calling gaming an addiction. A kid that stays up all night to read a book gets rewarded, but a kid who stays up all night to finish a video game is labeled addicted. WOW, my husband is quite the gamer and I cannot tell you how many times that this exact scenario has happened between the two of us!

I also am amazed the products these kids are developing. Another narrator said that instead of consumption (which I interpreted as learning from teacher or reading) to production, this type of learning is production to participation. It's so true as you watch the kids analyze their peers products and share their interpretations. This is where reading and writing take on a role in this learning. Students are not writing APA style papers, but communicating through feedback on blogs and other forms of communication on the web.