Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Reading Reflection BWP Ch.8

In the past 4-5 years, I must admit to having been converted to an audio and visual learner. Prior to that I was notorious for gathering most of my information via print it books, newspapers, or magazines, but times have changed in ways which few ever imagined. The weekly allotment of 500 miles driving round-trip from Wild Rose to Stevens Point are consumed in daily podcasts, and I've become hooked to this programming. After experiencing it and then delving into how educators can use this media in their classrooms, I have high expectations for myself with podcasting in the years to come. It cannot be a one-way form of communication though, and it offers tremendous possibilities for student interaction, both in and outside of the classroom environment.
And no sooner will I have mastered podcasting, then it will be time to jump headfirst into screencasting, too. Live streaming web will put students and educators smack in the middle of events, and I consider it just another way to "plug into the grid of educational intelligence". Like all technologies, there is unlimited potential for this tool, but many old-world educators will struggle with ways to incorporate lesson plans into this vehicle. Their frustration shouldn't stand in the way making it happen, and will only provide new educators with fresh opportunities to "wow" their tenured peers.

Rethink Ch.5

This specific chapter provides excellent insight and thought on a variety of topics. The so-called revolution in education is undergoing constant change, whether it be from the standpoint of home-schools, workplace and business, distance/learning education, gaming, and EVERYTHING in between. It wasn't long ago when the word 'education' referred to K-12 schools, but that is now a thing of the past. Education is now 'learning' and it encompasses everyday life in it's entirety. Learning provides knowledge and skill-sets from a baby's first-breath to a senior citizen's last day on this earth. Our brain is constantly being engaged with new material via improving and expanding with audio, visual, or interactive experiences.
I was absorbed in thought when I came upon the final sentence in the chapter, the author challenging us "to think beyond schools, to consider how technology can be brought to bear to address issues of equity and the implications of these developments for education in the future." This is an matter which requires reflection on how we can fully engage our citizenry in this conversation. Technology offers many solutions, but it isn't free. Innovators expect to be rewarded for their efforts, but at whose expense? As an educator I want all the tools in my toolbox, yet I know there are limitations with regards to budgets, time, and expertise. We live in an age when possibilities are incredibility endless, yet we confine ourselves with self-inflicted borders of resourcefulness.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Lab Reflections

Another Monday lab session has transferred new knowledge through the conduit of fellow classmates with their presentation. A new tool on the SmartBoard (random name chooser) and a spectacular website in the concept of "Virtual Education' offers spectacular 360-degree perspectives of world landmarks (in place of the ever-popular 'field trip'). Now people can experience places like the Great Wall of China and Taj Mahal almost up close and personal. Cool stuff!
We were also provided extra insight on the different tools and options associated with SCRATCH. While I experienced some success with it over the weekend, viewing this application from another perspective has answered many of my questions, and has prepared me for the next level. Regardless of the age or grade level being targeted for use by an educator, I can see where this has exciting potential both inside and outside the classroom.
I also look forward to giving and receiving input on the IWB lesson. When one is enjoying the experience of ascertaining new knowledge, the height of the workload is not to be considered as overwhelming. Rather it is all the more reason to dive in deeper with enthusiasm and vigor. This is a very special time to be alive!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Monday Lab Reflections

Sometimes it can be difficult in assessing the benefits of where our roots lay in regards to technology and how it's evolution has unfolded. In today's world I have the opinion that too many people are only concerned on where they are at the present without reflecting on the past nor contemplating their futures. The advancements in American education have been significant to the degree that those before us had a profound impact on the lives of people around the world. As I look around the lab and see fellow UW-SP students who are one or more generations removed from my mine, I am in awe of the opportunities which await them. At times I sense their confusion and frustration as to why they need to acquire all these skills in technology....but yet I see how much it will add to their personal strength, character and resolve in the classroom IF they embrace and acquire these proficiencies. Technology enhances the ability to communicate in more than a one-way stream of media, rather a streaming multitude of ideas and concepts in all directions of human life. My cohorts have the ability to impact the lives of young learners in ways which few generations have been able to do. There will come a time when they realize what magnificent tools they have at their disposal, but hopefully they will still pause to reflect on how we all got to this point in time.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Reading Reflection BWP Ch.7

Another great tech tool...Flickr! Yes, I've heard of it, but I never understood the full extent of how it could be used in the classroom. After taking a good look at all the various ways that other educators have used this tool, I can see the tremendous potential when studying history, social studies, geography, and ALL of the other sciences. As a result of this reading I've been able to add several new bookmarks to my Delicious account, and these will come in handy when I work with students in the classroom. As unique as Flickr is on it's own, the magnitude of this application isn't fully realized until educators and students build upon it with their individual applications. This is how education should work...the idea is created, shared, modified and share again, tweaked and re-introduced, evaluated and molded into another application....innovation at it's VERY BEST. You gotta love living in this age of exciting experiences!

Rethink Ch.4

While reading and then pondering this offering, I felt as if I was hovering over the earth looking down at the progression of events in the world of education which took place over the past two hundred years. Each of these events took place with the intent of improving the way we go about teaching in society. As a result of the ingenuity of humanity, education has undergone an ongoing regimentation of transformation. There have been instances when differing opinions resulted in shifts in strategy and acceptance, but we must remember that while boats are headed in the same direction, they don't always travel at the same speed. In the past two hundred years, the rowers have possessed differing values and approaches to life, embracing local control, then welcoming state-mandated directives. Each experiment influenced the discussion and then afforded a solution which was accepted as the norm for future generations. This is what makes American education all so special! Yes, new problems are placing stress on the framework of education, but our country's culture has been laden with similar challenges, each time growing stronger and more determined to be "the best". We are a country which refuses to say "no"....instead choosing to seize the opportunity to grow. This chapter was beneficial to look back and see how we have changed, knowing the next century will undergo a similar transformation of change.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Reading Reflection BWP Ch.6

Most likely it's been at least 4-5 years since I "tweeted", much less considered the changes which Twitter undertook. While so much of it remains a vast wasteland of chatter, it provides another excellent resource for updates on technology and the world around me. After taking a good look at how some of the teachers and school disctricts are using Twitter to communicate with their communities, I was gassed about the possibilities which currently exist....and it will only improve for the better in years to come. Too often people associate technology with a hefty pricetag, but this is one coooool application with is very inexpensive to initiate.

Another new tool is the Diigo website, and the simplicity and practicality of saving/sharing/communicating information to others. I see great potential for these tools, not only in the classroom, but in the community around me. Two months ago I was not aware of "social bookmarking", but I am rapidly becoming a fan and proponent of this concept. All these new tech tools make me want to step down on the accelerator just a little more. This is GREAT stuff!

Retink Ch.3

Every good teacher should take a good look at all sides of an issue. This isn't about right or wrong, but rather it involves a perspective. You can't just turn your head to the left or o the right, sometimes you need to elevate yourself, even get down on the floor and look under the couch so to say. Chapter 3 is about giving consideration to that "other side" of the perspective. It's about having empathy for the failures and disappointments which technology has failed to bring to the classroom. The author notes how teaching can be a conservative practice as teachers are reluctant to change after fighting for their programs all those years. But those "fights" should be a thing of the past, and it's time to begin from a new perspective. Yes, there has been waste and failure with technology in education. Not every school district can afford to spend to spend monies on the "latest & greatest" tech tools when another academic year rolls around. Yes, there is a divide between the haves and the have-nots, and it WILL continue to be publicized. It is NOT going away in the very near future.

There will be some of us who find jobs in schools with endless financial resources to re-stock their technologies every fall. Some of my cohorts will be in schools using computers and other technologies from what seems to be long ago. And then there is everyone the middle ground between gotta-have and keep-away. Regardless, we have to be aware of the arguments which question the validity and sanity of ongoing changes with technology. A good educator is always hoping for the best but prepared for the worse. Having the ability to view the problem and develop a solution from a fresh perspective will increase your value to the school district, parents, taxpayers....and most of all, to the kids in your classroom!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday Lab Reflections

Great discussion in class today with regards to the Technology Skeptics views on the use of technology in today's classroom, not to forget tomorrow's classroom as well. As educators we all want to teach in a school where the latest and greatest tech tools are in place and readily embraced. But not all schools and classrooms are created nor maintained in the same way, and there is a genuine lag in the ways which communities are rushing to (and sometimes away) from technology. Today's discussion will extend into schools in the months and years to come, and we all need to participate on both sides of the argument for the sake of enhancing our understanding of potential outcomes.
As a side note, I was always told that it was next to impossible to walk and chew gum at the same time. EDUC 331 is much the same....nearly impossible to listen ATTENTIVELY and make mental/typed notes at the same time. So much information to ponder in so little time. Never fear!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Monday Lab Reflections

The atmosphere within the weekly lab is a unique experience in itself, strangely similar to a hive of bees upon discovering a new source of pollen. "Brain games" are but another means to provide intrigue to younger students in learning traditional subject material in core content areas. This are more than "plug-n-play" activities, and there are viable pros and cons to using websites such as today's sample. I consider the "FunBrain" website as beneficial to supplying supplemental activities to young minds, and it would be interesting to monitor the progress of a sampling of grade school/middle school students over a set period of time.
Group presentations such as the one we experienced today are beneficial to every teaching professional. Over my career I have witnessed many ill-advised and poorly-planned presentations on the part of salespeople. Regardless of the profession we stake claim to, it is important we reherse and secure feedback on our the next one is all the more better than the last. I anticipate more good discussions in the weeks to come, accompanied by additional opportunities for personal growth in the field of education.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Technology Enthusiasts' Argument

All the information is suddenly available to us and nothing is barred. But yet so many people choose NOT to make use of these technologies nor engage their brains to allow our learning to go to the next level. As was noted by the author, "what technology gives, it can also take away." While people interact with others on another entirely different corner of the planet, they sometimes fail to open their windows and exchange ideas with their immediate neighbors and friends.

As a teacher and agent of change, how can I both inspire and motivate young people to use every one of their senses to the maximum potential? It's more than asking young minds to open up and absord everything put in front of them. It's simply giving them a gentle nudge in the waters of knowledge so they have a better understanding of their potential. I must continually strive to be a conduit of ways to bring all sides to the table of discussion where the exchange of culture and personal values takes place in common respect for one another. Sometimes it will be uncomfortable...and on other occasions I will feel right at home. Regardless, I am intent on moving forward. Turning new corners will enhance new discoveries and encourage personal growth, not only for my students....but for myself, my community, family and associates. While there may be some well-noted hesitation, we should all have no fear of the unknown!