Monday, February 13, 2012

The Most Important Element…Reflecting

My Reflection

As the course “The Impact of Technology” comes to a close, it is time to reflect on the last seven weeks. This course has been the most inspiring for me and makes me realize I need to begin to change my practices to become a better teacher for my 21st century learners. While I consider myself to be a digital native, this course has given me the time to play with web tools, such as blogging and wikis, that I have always considered myself too busy for. I have read blogs and wikis, but never taken the time to create my own, to experience sharing my thoughts with the world.

This course has allowed me to develop my technology skills by giving me time to look at web tools and realize the power they have for the classroom if used appropriately. I have now taken the time to play with Garage Band in order to create a podcast, create RSS feeds, use a reader to track websites I regularly frequent, blog, and create a wiki. I have examined how these resources are used by other teachers and now have ideas of how I can use them within my own classroom.

I have realized that the teaching and learning process has changed. I was taught with little technology, even though I had technology available at home. As the years have passed, technology has become more ingrained within homes than ever, yet school systems have stayed the same. Outside of the school system, when I want to learn how to do something, the first place I look is the web. If I am sick, I can simply look up my symptoms. If I want to buy a new electronic gadget for my house, I go on the web to read reviews and compare prices. Information and opportunities to learn something new are at my fingertips. This is the same for my students. While education still has standards in each subject matter to address, learning is not something you have to wait to do at school. It can be done anytime, and practically anywhere. Teachers need to bring this mindset into the classroom and give students the opportunity to learn in the ways they know how and that interest them.  As a teacher, I am no longer the expert in the room; there is potential to have 34 plus experts.

The education system needs to embrace this mindset. The classroom needs to be shifted from teacher-centered to student-centered. Since this course has begun, I have done two activities that are solely student-centered, and the results gave me goose bumps. Students are very capable when given guidance and the correct tools and it is in those moments that students are given the opportunity to really learn. Student-centered is the way of the future, and districts, schools, and teachers need to get on board.

As this course comes to a close, I have begun to make plans on how to continue my personal development when it comes to educational technology. For one, I will continue to use the web to further my own professional development. There are many websites and blogs to explore that discuss the integration of technology and I will continue to surf these to get ideas. In my classroom, I will integrate the web tools that have been the most inspiring in this course, such as blogs, wikis, and podcasts. Through trial and error, I will find which tools will work best within my curriculum and have my students give input on how they would like to use these tools to further their education.

My Goals

My first goal is to get my students emails, so that we can create wikis, utilize Google docs, and more. This goal is already in the works. I have a meeting with my district’s technology coordinator (tomorrow actually) and a meeting with my school’s technology coordinator to set up my class wiki while still being compliant with my district’s policies. If I am successful, my goal is to begin teaching my students the skills needed immediately so that we can begin using these tools. If I cannot achieve this goal, I will use other web tools, such as blogs, which students can utilize with or without a school email address.

My second goal is to empower my students. As Marc Prensky states in “Listen to the Natives,” schools need to include students on making decisions regarding curriculum development, teaching methods, etc. Our students know what the world of technology offers and are great assets, which we need to utilize. While I will continue to explore web tools that will increase student achievement, I will also have my students help me develop ideas.

How have I changed?

When this class started, I was not involved in developing technology skills within my school. Since my class, I have joined my school’s technology committee and am now involved in making decisions regarding educational technology for my school. I am sharing what I have learned in this course with my co-workers and administrators to gain their support and help lead our school in the right direction.

I am now engaging my students in dialogue about technology, talking about appropriate uses of technology, and beginning to integrate technology in meaningful ways. As I continue to learn more, collaborate with colleagues and students, and experiment with technology in order to determine best practices, I will continue to change and evolve. 

Prensky, M. (2005). Listen to the natives. Educational Leadership, 63(4), 8-13. 
"In what other profession..." by David Reber

David does a great job pointing out the fact that teachers are often overlooked when analyzing and critiquing education. Last time I checked, if you want to know about a profession, you go to the people working within it. This article is written by a teacher who writes from his heart. Read the article, tell me what you think...

"In what other profession..."by David Reber