From Now to Then

In order to think about what the world and classrooms would look like 9 years from now, it is important to look back 9-10 years to think about what we thought about the world then.  When we turned to the year 2000, I was still in college and I remember being at a New Year’s Eve party and remember how nervous everyone was about the possible break down of security because they weren’t sure if technology would be able to handle the change.  We had cell phones and computers, but we weren’t nearly as technology savvy as we are today.  As a college student, I used the computer to write papers, e-mail people, and create power-points.  I remember having to create a movie with the computer and I thought it was the most amazing thing.  When I went into classrooms to do student teaching, we didn’t have to think about how to incorporate technology into the classroom because there wasn’t really any technology in the classroom besides maybe a computer lab or an overhead projector. 

In the year 2003, I got my first job teaching in a 7th grade classroom.  My students had to take a computer class, but none of what they were doing really transferred into the classroom.  They learned what they learned in computer class and that is where they used it.  The computer lab in the school was used for the computer class and it was very rare that a teacher would be able to bring a class into the library to allow kids to use the computers. 

In 2005, I started teaching high school English and technology started popping up all around me.  We had a few computer labs that we were allowed to use and in my classroom I had 6 desktop computers.  In the library there were computers that teachers could sign up to use when they needed to.  We had media carts that had a laptop with a projector that could display power-points or you could show video clips.  On the media carts, we had a CPS system which allowed for teachers to put in questions and then each student got a clicker and they student was able to answer the questions that were posted from the projector.  Their answers were automatically recorded into the computer and the teacher could see what percentage of students got the question correct or incorrect.  Through this system the teacher could chart student’s progress and share the information with the students. 

As the years have gone on, I am still teaching English and technology has slowly come into our school.  I now have a smartboard in my classroom, 16 laptops, and 6 desktops.  I have used Wikispaces, blogs, glogs, e-mail, power-points, and Google docs with my students.  I feel as though I am a teacher that tries to allow for my students to use technology to assist in their learning, but it is not easy.  The way that we use technology in our district is not the most effective way.  For example, in my classroom, although I have computers, I don’t have enough for some of my classes to use.  I was given 16 laptops and I have 6 desktops which equal 22 computers, but some of my classes had more than 22 students.  This causes me to go to other teacher’s classrooms to borrow computers, which disrupts their classrooms.  Also, sometimes the computers that we do have aren’t working and sites that might be beneficial for the students are blocked.  Also, trying to use technology as a tool to connect school to home is also difficult.  Many students don’t have access to computers at home and giving them homework which requires them to use technology is almost impossible. 

As the years go on, I am not sure how the world will change, but I am sure that we will see things that we never thought of.  I feel as though in the next nine years, all households will have a computer.  This will allow for me, as a teacher, to have more of a connection with my students while they are doing their homework and to have them do more things that involve technology in school and at home.  Although I have tried blogging, I have only really been able to do it in school.  When all households have computers, I will be able to have discussions on-line with my students from home.  We can discuss novels or concepts that we learned in class.  If a student is confused about something that was learned in class, then they can ask a question on-line and I can respond and not only will it help that student, but it may help other students that might have had the same question.  Once every household has computers, parents will also be able to be more involved in their student’s school work.  Not only will parents be able to view their student’s grades on-line and e-mail teacher’s about their student’s behavior and academics, but they can also be a part of the learning.  They can view the blogs their students are doing and have discussions with them about what they are learning.  I know that just having computers in the home is a simple thing, but I think it will affect the education of students in a big way. 

Something else I expect to see in schools by the year 2020 is that all students will have some type of e-reader.  E-readers are easily available to most people at this time, but I feel as though this type of technology is going to replace books.  Currently, students have to carry around several heavy textbooks that end up getting lost and then have to be replaced, which is rather costly.  When students have e-readers, they will have all of their textbooks in the palm of their hand at any point and time.  They will be able to have all of the information that they need wherever they go without having to drag around a 5-10 pound book.  Even if a student loses their e-reader, it will be less costly than if they lost 2 books.  Also, e-readers will allow for students to have access to more books than they do now.  We sometimes only have class sets of novels, but if students are able to download books onto their e-reader, they will be able to read books that they like and that aren’t dilapidated.   

Another change that I see is that teachers will be online.  Since podcasting and vodcasting seem to be like pretty up and coming things, I think that this will be something that in the future teachers will be doing.  If a teacher is teaching a lesson, she could either audio tape it or video tape it and then post it on a wikispace or some other forum that students could access it.  The students that were in the class that saw and heard the lesson could go back to the podcast or vodcast and review material that they might not have understood.  While the students that were not in class that day, could see what they missed and not miss instruction if they are sick or are on a field trip.  Also, maybe whole classes will be taught on-line.  With the use of Skype, teachers and students could connect with each other without being in the same place. 

Finally, I think that the world is going to be more concerned with the environment in the years to come and this could obviously affect schools in a big way.  In an effort to conserve paper, schools could go paperless.  I think about how much paper my students and I use on a daily basis and if classrooms were able to paperless, it would cause less waste and allow for less paper to be produced.  When I hand graded assignments back now, the students take them and just throw them away.  If assignments were handed in electronically I could view them electronically, the students could view my comments electronically and then delete them or keep them without wasting paper, which in turn preserves the Earth.

Education is in for a lot of changes in the next couple of years and although we may not be able to predict what those changes might be, you can be sure that technology will be involved.

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Google Calendar to help students

One web application that I would recommend to a student is Google calendar.  I have one particular student in my mind that I know this would help. He has papers every where and never knows what is do or when it is due.  I would suggest to him to go home each night and put all of his assignments into Google calendar.  If he creates a new event for each assignment due, he can see what is due when and can manage his time accordingly.  Also, because I use Google calendar, he could check my site and see what we did that day and what the homework for the night is.  He could also print out a calendar and use that as his tool for recording the information during the day and then transfer it all in when he gets home.  This would also be very effective because his parents would be able to see what is on his calendar and check his progress.

Paperless Classroom

I think a paperless class would change my role as a teacher because it will allow for me to be more of a guide for my students rather than an instructor.  Students will be able to discover more things on their own and take a bigger role in the class than if I am leading them.  I feel as though students would be able to learn more through each other than they do in a conventional classroom.  They would be able to share ideas with each other and connect with each other on a different level.  It would allow for students that don’t have a voice in a conventional classroom to express their opinions in a way that may be more comfortable for them. I think that you could measure learning in the same ways in a paperless class as you can in a conventional classroom.  I could create on-line tests and I could have students create and submit papers on-line.  I also could have discussions in which I could see how well the students grasped a concept or idea.  I think that a paperless classroom can have positive and negative effects on building a learning network.  I think that it would be positive in giving every student a voice and allowing for every student to see what others are thinking.  Sometimes in a classroom, there are dominant members that seem to take over discussions, while others lay back and just wait for the answers or are too shy to talk.  Having a paperless classroom could possible make for those that are in the background to step up in the foreground.  Some negatives to building a learning community is that you lose out on the personalities of the members in your community.  You lose the personal connection between members and with this I feel like students lose some key skills in communication.  A part of being in a classroom is learning to talk to and deal with people and with a paperless classroom, that is lost.

Big Shifts

In the Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classroom book, Big Shift #3 is The Social, Collaborative Construction of Meaningful Knowledge.  I think this has affected my teaching practice because I have opened up my classroom and students are able to be a part of my classroom from anywhere.  Through using Wikis, blogs, glogs, Google Docs, etc., my students are able to have discussions about a chapter they have read at home or about an assignment we began in class or they are able to do group projects when the members of the group are in different places. 

I feel as though I will continue to use Web 2.0 tools in my classroom and outside of my classroom to further my students instruction.  In this class, I have learned about even more tools that I can utilize in my classroom.  Prior to this class, I didn’t realize how easy it was to use blogs and to create discussion between my students without even talking.  Students love having a voice and are able to find their voice without talking.  Many students are shy and this enables them to express themselves in a way they are comfortable with and in a way that they can be accepted.  It is wonderful, as a teacher, to see students that have struggled to find their voice be self-confident in what they are saying and reply to other students as well.

Connectivism: Response to Group A

On group A’s wiki about Connectivism, they stated “It appears to me that the biggest challenge of relying on connectivism for learning purposes is trusting that the retrieved information is valid, reliable, and current in an ecology where valid information is constantly changing.”  While I completely agree with this, I think that as teachers, it is part of our job to help students figure out how to decipher what information is valid, reliable and current.  Students should be able to access multiple sources and discover which are valid, reliable and current through comparing the information and the sources.  We, as educators, must do this all of the time.  We, as human beings, must do this all the time.  We cannot eliminate something because we are afraid that we might not get the correct information.  Use what you know to figure out if what you are looking at should be something that you can use and if it is something that you want to use.

Skype Ideas

Connecting with another educator using Skype was kind of cool.  We both were at home, yet we were able to talk face to face.  We both work in the same district, so we were able to talk about school and work things outside of school.  We were able to discuss our frustrations and our successes without having to think about who might be able to hear. 

While using it, I thought that it might be neat if I could use it in my classroom to connect with other English classrooms all over the world.  We could discuss what we are doing in our classroom, what books we are reading, how things are different or the similar in our schools, etc.  My students could even use it to connect to outside organizations to find out information about projects we are doing or material we are learning about. 

With this technology, I hope to make connections and to gain some knowledge about things that I would have never thought about.  I hope to be able to go into greater detail about the things I am doing by using this resource to find information.  Maybe, down the road, teachers could even hold parent/teacher conferences over Skype.  Some of our parents have a hard time getting to school in the hours that teachers are available because they are working, but with Skype, the teacher could be at home and the parent could be just about any place and they could have a conference about the student. 

It is nice to know that there are many different technologies that can be utilized both inside and outside of the classroom.

Using Flickr in the Classroom

While looking through the pictures on Flickr, one specific section of my curriculum came to mind.  One of the collections in my textbook is about character and characterization.  I like to have my students use their imagination.  One way I could use Flickr to connect to this is by having students go onto Flickr and find pictures of “a character”.  It could be a picture of any person that they want it to be of.  With that picture, the students will use the person in the picture to write a story.  They must use direct and indirect characterization in their story to describe the character.  I know that a picture only shows physical attributes, but I feel as though you can tell someone’s character based on a picture.  For example, I might use the picture attached as an example.  I would set up a story of these men stationed in a place that does not have a lot of conflict and the men are sitting down to eat a nice lunch and discuss how bored they are.  Hopefully with this, the students will be able to use their imagination and what they have learned about characterization to create fantastic short stories. 

Image Citation:

Thardy1. (2011, February 10). German Third Reich Soldiers. Thardy1’s photostream. Retrieved February 10, 2011, from http://www.flickr.com/photos/14684508@N02/5434146771/