Goals & Challenges

May 15, 2010 at 11:20 am | Posted in uncategorized | 14 Comments

Our class, Developing Literacy in MST, explores the tried and true literacy strategies to help students engage with and more effectively learn subject matter.  The tools of content area literacy, and specifically knowing how to use them, provide students with the keys to become successful readers and writers across the subject areas. Along with the tried and true, the layer of technology comes into play.   In his post Rewiring Education & Connecting with the iGeneration, Joe Wood asks,

Are improved print-based literacy strategies enough?  Will a teacher or administrator who thinks social networks are a teenage evil, views cell phones as nothing more than a nuisance, and has no clue how YouTube or any other user-generated content website works ever engage and relate to iGeneration students?

From the section on Critical Challenges from the 2010 Horizon Report: The K12 Edition,  comes,

Schools are still using materials developed to teach the students of decades ago, but today’s students are actually very different in the way they think and work. Schools need to adapt to current student needs and identify new learning models that are engaging to younger generations.

Our goal and challenge in this course is to merge literacy strategies and technology to make them integral components within content lessons.  What have you read that supports this goal?  What are the challenges you face?



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  1. As an educator of middle school students, it is nearly impossible to not hear the word “Facebook” in any given day. The students are constantly talking about what they’ve read on the website. The boys in particular also spend time talking about playing video games with each other after school, from their own homes over the internet. The amount of knowledge these students have in the technological realm is baffling, and many of them may not even see the potential that exists for them to “use it for good” in our traditional educational setting (i.e. school).

    I have observed many teachers struggling day after day to get students to bring in their books or to even read them. Given their apparent abilities to scour through Facebook wall posts and the news feed, I have trouble believing they don’t want to read because they can’t. Somehow technology can be used to engage our students in media they are comfortable with. Maybe once this occurs, they will be less resistant to opening up an old, dusty tome.

    The biggest problem that I foresee is that the use of Web 2.0 applications/websites or even cell phones could be a nightmare if the students abuse it.

    The education and teachable moments must then focus on a culture shift in which the students understand that the powerful technologies they possess and can access, are useful for a wide variety of tasks. And just like you would not speak to your parents the same way you would to your buds, you wouldn’t use your cell phone or these applications the same way at school.

    Harnessing the power of these technological wonders is something that can yield impressive results and increase student engagement, but as I said, the biggest concern is a culture change in how the students perceive these wonders in and out of the classroom.

  2. In Joe Wood’s post, he comments on a list of eleven ideas from Rosen’s article in which the seventh idea stated that, “ iGeners May Be Media-Saavy, but They Often Lack Media Literacy.” Even Wendy said this in class today, that our students have all this technology at their finger tips, they know how to access and use Facebook and Twitter from their cell phones and iPods, and find out information on a moment’s notice, but they are using this technology in a social way, not in an educational manner. I agree with Chris that our students underestimate the all the power that technology has to offer and that their phones and iPods can be used in an educational setting.

    The problem is that our students live in the iGeneration, but some teachers are not from that same generation and did not have all this technology at their disposal when they were in school. They are uncomfortable and unfamiliar with how to use cell phones and iPods in their classroom. It’s like the teachers need to become the students and be taught all the wonderful educational capabilities that these electronic devices have to offer, so they can feel comfortable enough to implement them into their own classroom. If the teachers could learn to be media-saavy along with their expertise in their content area, and students could learn to be media-literate while encompassing their need to constantly be connected, there could be endless possibilities to what teachers and students could achieve in the classroom.

    • All teachers must continue to be active learners. The excitement for learning should always be sought out and embraced. The new media technologies as teaching tools are an exciting additional avenue a prospective or established teacher must take in order to be the best possible educator, even if they arte taken out of their comfort zones. The bottom line is educating young people, if these tools reach the students and help them to learn and understand then they must be taken advantage of.

  3. Digital technology is pushing fundamental changes in teaching techniques. This transition makes perfect sense in today’s classroom. Students now more than ever have access to cell phones, iPods and computers which may be utilized in the classroom. These devices are presently used for personal social purposes; however there are opportunities for teachers to adapt the devices uses for teaching, although not all students have access to these personal electronic devices. The teacher utilized technology will probably need to be supplied by the schools, in the form of clickers or the like. The student adapt very quickly to these devices, as they are already being used in a limited basis in the Pittsford High School.

    The transition will require novel and creative thinking by teachers. There will be opportunities for misuse and failure, yet in the long run the benefits will outweigh the risks of inaction. “”We can no longer ask our children to live in a world where they are immersed in technology in all parts of their lives except when they are at school. We must rewire education or we risk losing this generation of media-immersed, tech savvy students who are often brighter and more creative than we realize.” Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and the Way They Learn by Larry Rosen. All teachers should strive to provide their students with the best learning experiences. Teachers must be willing to continue to learn and relearn how to teach, incorporating these changes in the classroom as they are able.

    Another advantage of using these new technologies is that there is instantaneous feed back to the teacher and the students. There are assessments feedbacks that accompany these technological tools that will provide valuable positive learning experiences for students. The assessments can also be used by the teacher to assess student learning progress and their potential misconceptions.

    My final note relates to the personal challenges I feel as I strive to catch up with the technology available today. As I can successfully implement these tools in my future classroom it will be very exciting. The technology component of my teacher training, in the digital age and media literacy skills, has been and will continue to be an ongoing and accelerating learning process.

  4. I sit here totally intimidated because I am an environment where everyone else seems to be more proficient,and knowledgeable than I, and I struggle to find meaning, and communicate ideas in a medium in which I know that I am weak. I feel discouraged, and yet I also realize that there is a great deal to be learned here. I am in fact exactly in the roll of “that struggling reader”, working at what is truly the frustration level for me. I completely understand the temptation to simply tune out and quit, at least emotionally, probably better than I ever have before. As I become more media savvy, I hope I never forget the feelings that I am experiencing right now, because I know that they will make me a more empathetic teacher.
    In “Critical Challenges from the 2010 Horizon Report: the K12 Edition”, the writer discusses the lack of training in digital skills and techniques in teacher education programs. The obvious issue, I think, is the speed at which these technologies develop and evolve. A friend who is a media specialist attends a summer workshop, on citing on line sources, which is held in August, because one held in July, would be “somewhat more out of date in September”. Also, as adults, professionals, and “answer people”, it is intimidating to wade into situations where our students are far more capable than we ourselves are. If I truly value learning, as I like to claim, I can’t possibly, run from this challenge, however daunting I find it. Perhaps part of the answer to my dilemma, is the point made by Joe Wood, in “Rewiring Education and Connecting with the igeneration “, where he groups “Reasonable Technology” with the more traditional 3 R’s. If functional proficiency in a handful of useful tools is sufficient, there may be hope for me. I completely agree with the need to integrate technology into the classroom, and that philosophy is what led me to choose this particular program. Certainly, providing students who are so capable in the use of media, with opportunities to use these skills to demonstrate their mastery of material is excellent.
    Another comment from “Critical Challenges”, concerns me however: The writer discusses the idea that learner centered education may result in learning that is deeper and more sustained, by focusing on the development of the potential of the student, and contrasts this with the phrase “the imposition of a body of knowledge”. I’m not sure that deeper and more sustained learning can really occur without the acquisition of a body of knowledge. Surely these two processes need to occur together. Also something about the use of that word,imposition, bothers me, but I can’t decide whether my feelings are really valid, or just visceral.
    As Chris discusses, and I believe we all know, these students are inundated with media. Because of the potential to more fully engage students with media, these tools need to be in our repertoire, but unless we use them purposefully and wisely, we can still fail the “importance” test.

  5. The title of this class is Developing Literacy Through Science, Math, Technology. I envisioned the intent of this class was to learn some tools which would help us teach our students more content area literacy. Initially the tools I imagined were those tools that Wendy and Janet refer to as “tried and true literacy strategies.” We are now ten hours into this class and already I am changing my outlook on what literacy tools are and how they should be used in today’s classroom.
    Last semester I was introduced to John Dewey and his thoughts. I found a brief introduction to his philosophy of education and it states that Dewey “believed that learning was active and schooling unnecessarily long and restrictive. His idea was that children came to school to do things and live in a community which gave them real, guided experiences which fostered their capacity to contribute to society.” (John Dewey’s Philosophy of Education) What this means to me is that anything that happens in the classroom should be part of active learning. This means that students use exploration, meaningful activities and experiments, asking questions and collaboration. Teaching is not what is happening; rather I see the classroom as a place of learning. A good teacher will try to bring the curriculum to her students. Using web tools and other technologies enables the curriculum to be presented in modern methods to each student.
    Today, most students have access to technology tools which were science fiction when I was in school. Initially I thought I would be arguing against being forced to use all this new-fangled stuff. I thought my classroom would be based on the physical phenomena on which Physics is based. Why couldn’t my class be a place without modern technology? Today, though, I have a different point of view. And it’s not a point of view that will use modern literacy technology only. Modern and “tried and true methods” will be used. Students want to be let loose and explore on their own using all their online tools, but not in a vacuum. I feel that students also want a warm body to lead them through lessons. Joe Wood writes that students want the socialization that a classroom gives them. “The iGeneration is striving for a social balance.”
    If a classroom can achieve this balance, maybe teachers won’t have to worry about Chris’ nightmare of cell phone or website abuse. Perhaps this balance will be between my new knowledge of 21st century technology and the students new understanding that iPods and phones don’t have to be used solely as the social tools that Peter mentions.
    The challenges to meld literacy and technology will be on-going and never-ending… Which gives us all a reason to continue to learn.

  6. The new age of technology in which we live can be viewed as both a blessing and a curse. It has changed the way in which we receive information and communicate. This drastic transformation has happened in a relatively short time. Our students in the classroom are media savvy and often need technology to stay engaged. Joe Wood’s post commented on the fact that multimedia must be used to effectively educate the iGeneration. He claims that today’s classroom has students within it that are “experts on creating digital media.” I agree that this technically inclined generation needs teachers to employ technology in order to enhance literacy. It is essential that teachers become familiar with the latest web based tools in an effort to engage their students. It is also important to allow students to demonstrate their mastery of content through videos, webpage, wikis etc…

    This technological explosion requires the teaching profession to evolve new methods to educate the iGeneration. This presents a difficult challenge, of course, since education reform is historically very slow to evolve. It requires teachers of all backgrounds to master a new learning curve. This approach will not be embraced by all. The teachers’ professional development in technology may not be fulfilled due to budgetary constraints or cultural acceptance. This deficit can translate into disengaged students that are underperforming.

    Once teachers obtain the tools and benefits of using technology we must monitor its use by students. I agree with Chris in that how technology is implemented in the classroom can be tricky. It is important that proper scaffolding and parameters are provided. It is a powerful tool that students can use cell phones and their favorite forms of communication but it is also critical to monitor the capability to circumvent the integrity of the intend learning objectives.

  7. Technology is changing our lives everyday, it changes the way information can be found, how we can communicate with others (easily through cell phones and social networks) and even the way we listen to music (Ipods and digital radio). We need to allow technology to change our classrooms as well. In every student’s daily life there is technology, in fact according to Media Literacy statistics( Statistics ), teens on average receive and send at least 50 messages a day. A quarter of these messages are being sent within class time. As educators, we need to embrace the use the technology instead of shunning it away out of fear of change or the feeling of being technologically inapt.
    As Chris point out, yes, the opportunity of misuse of the technology will be there. However, this opportunity of misusing tools was present before the technology wave. It is there with cheating on tests, copying homework, or any other ways students have found to abuse given tools. I also agree with Angela that teachers need to be familiar with new technologies. Teachers need to become familiar with the technology resources in a classroom to understand possibilities of how students could misuse them. This knowledge will help structure assignments and assessments to limit the possibilities of misuse.
    I believe not using technology is a disservice to students. The world we live in is very technology based and in order to prepare them for this world, we need to expose them to the possibilities of technology.
    I view it like this, if a carpenter was used to using a hammer and nails when a nail gun was invented, should they continue to use the hammer because what they were used to and comfortable with? Or should they learn how to use a new method because it will be faster and more efficient? As educators we have new methods that will be faster and more efficient in our classrooms, we need to use them. It will reach our igeneration students with content in a more meaningful way.

  8. As teachers we are to prepare our students for the work force. Our curriculums should emulate real-life situations and have value to the student. Joe Wood’s post talks about the increase in demands of districts to ensure high performance of their students and at the same time creating authentic, meaningful 21st century learning experience. He goes on to question if we have done enough to help our leaders (principals and district-level administrators ) understand the world that the students live in now.
    In response to his question, I do not believe that we have. Angela and Chris both commented that students do not understand or underestimate all the power that their technology (iPods, cell phones, etc.) have to offer in an educational setting. Critical Challenges 2010 Horizon Report: The K12 Edition directly addresses this thought ‘Many activities related to learning and education take place outside the walls of the classroom — but these experiences are often undervalued or unacknowledged.’ Can we blame the students for not seeing the educational value of their technology when in class we instruct them to not bring any of their communication tools to class? We are sending the message to them that their technology has no value in the classroom.
    Joe Wood’s post refers to Rosen’s list for improving the education we provide to our students. One of the ideas states avoiding micromanaging in the classroom. In the traditional set-up of the classroom the teacher is the ultimate authority on the subject (Bloom’s Classroom of Scientists). After my reading of Bloom’s paper I believe that this is one reason that teachers are having such a hard time with the technology in the classroom. The teachers are starting to feel that they have to give up some control. Giving up some control can create fear for the teacher. Will my students learn what they are suppose to learn from this course if I let them go at their own pace? Will they abuse the technology to create a hostile classroom environment ?
    I agree with Heidi’s statement on the importance monitoring the student’s use of technology by the teacher in order to ensure integrity of the intended learning objectives. We need to allow students to use the tools that are available to them however, we need to guide them through their application of the technology tools. I believe if we do this the fear of technology in the classroom will be resolved and in its place an authentic meaningful learning environment will develop.

  9. When addressing the issue of technology in the classroom, it is my ultimate goal as an educator to provide my students with current and engaging classroom activities. My only reservation comes with creating authentic classroom activities that also incorporates technology.
    I definitely agreed with the premise of the “final cut” video presented in class, but I think it is really hard to come up with authentic assignments that are relevant to the course objectives, especially when I am still developing my technological skills.
    The idea of using cell phones or iPods is something that could work in the classroom but as teachers we need to make sure that we aren’t using these tools just for the sake of saying we did.
    When using technology as a classroom tool, the students should feel that they are developing a new use for their phone or iPod and not that they are just using their phones in class.
    We are doing our students a disservice, if we continue to ignore the influence of technology in the classroom; however it would be the same injustice if we don’t integrate technology in a relevant manner.

    • I agree that using cell phones or ipods in class just for the sake of saying that we have integrated technology into our classroom. Students already use cell phones in the classroom, usually under the desk top or in their pocket.

      I like the idea of allowing students 10 minutes to gather information. I started thinking about how I could use teach about ratios, percentages, graphing, statistics, etc. Using different technohlogies adds a whole new layer or dimension to teaching.

  10. At a time in our history when more and more is expected from our educational system, it is even more critical for educators to develop effective ways of connecting with students more effectively and improving content area literacy. As the demands of our educational system continue to grow, a student achievement gap still exists.

    In an attempt to be more effective at connecting with students, teachers need to step out of their own comfort zones and embrace the needs of the iGeneration . While reading href=”http://books.google.com/books?id=TM4OS_MMjfsC&lpg=PP1&ots=f1QvHUz41U&dq=other%20people’s%20words&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false”> Other People’s Words ” by Victoria Purcell-Gates, I learned that literacy is dependent on a student’s ability to find value in what they are reading. We have reached a point where the traditional forms of education are not effectively engaging and preparing students for a competitive future.

    As a prospective teacher who intents on meeting the needs of the iGeneration through classroom technology integration, I will undoubtedly face resistance from fellow professionals. Teachers must learn from their students, and in turn develop new and effective literacy strategies. Beyond developing literacy strategies for a growing iGeneration, how exactly can educators make lasting connections with these students?

  11. Literacy is essential to understanding and improved print print-based literacy strategies are not enough. Literacy is so much more than the being able to read words on paper. Content literacy and technological literacy require different tools and techniques in order to develop understanding. I think we all agree that we need to create engaging, relevant lessons that integrate technology into our classrooms.
    There are so many different tools to use it can be difficult to see the forest through the trees. IPod’s, iPad’s. wiki’s, blogs, cell phones as well as unlimited access to information on the internet is enough to give many educators a brain cramp just thinking about how to integrate technology into their classroom. As educators, we strive to prepare our students for life outside of the classroom while helping students develop a solid understanding of our core content areas. All of our lives are impacted by technology and classrooms must have a technology element that students can relate to.
    We cannot ignore that technology has a darker side when used inappropriately. Many of us commented on the potential for abuse and how we need to teach our students how to use technology in a responsible, respectful, relevant and educational manner. As stated in Rewiring Education & Connecting with the iGeneration

    In order for us to be able to teach strategies we need to keep pace with the technology that our students are using. Keeping up with the latest and greatest trends in technology is exciting but also time consuming. Remember, other people make a living coming up new, innovative ways to make our lives “easier”. Teaching may be our passion but we also have lives outside of the classroom. While we can’t ignore our responsibilities to our students, we also cannot ignore our responsibilities to our families and we need to be able to have fun too!
    Fortunately, we have many resources that we can tap into and many of them may be sitting in our classroom. Beth mentioned John Dewey’s philosophy that “children come to school to do things and live in a community which gives them real, guided experiences which foster their capacity to contribute to society”. Our students have the time and curiosity to explore technology outside of the classroom. Personally, I have no problem with letting my students know that there are lots of things that I can learn from them. Aren’t we supposed to be teaching our students to be life long learners? Paulo Freire that believed a teacher is actually a teacher who learns and a learner who teaches. One way we can relate to our students is to let them see that just because we are teachers we still have to keep learning. We can demonstrate “social networking” the old fashioned way by looking at other people, i.e. students, teachers, “techie friends”, etc., as resources that can help us to understand the things that we do not yet know about.

  12. It seems that a book today does not hold the same value or meaning that it once did years ago. We are currently living in an age where new technological advances are being introduced every day. It seems that almost every student in high school has a cell phone. Iphones, Ipads, and countless other devices are used by students every day. Most students have access to computers at least in some part of their life. Maybe it is a shame but a book does not mean as much to this generation of students. So how do we provide literacy strategies in this new technological age?
    As an educator I would want my students to obtain as much understanding of my content as they can possibly acquire. I believe it is the job of the current educator to explore as many strategies as possible. Joe Wood outlines a very good approach to how teacher should approach this iGeneration. It would be a disservice to the students for the teacher to ignore current technologies.
    This sounds a lot easier said than done. It is a lot easier to get distracted when connected to the rest of the world rather than just some pages in front of you. But I believe that steps must be taken to reach the students. A teacher recently told me that students today are less smart than they were twenty years ago. I don’t believe that to be true. It is just the job of the teacher to give the students the opportunity to explore a content area in the ways that they are most comfortable with. Reading and writing is different today than it was thirty years ago. Why as teachers would we tell students to do it the way that I did, when the current world is doing something completely different? We are preparing students to become adults. We must prepare them for what they face and will face in the world of today, not twenty years ago.

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