Category: Education reform

The Elephantine Impact of Technology on Education

Have you noticed what’s happening in your child’s school? Technology. There’s rarely a lesson taught, be it math or science or health, that doesn’t include some form of technology

education reformto enhance its message, increase its reach, improve its communication. If you haven’t been in the classroom lately, drop by this week when you pick up your wonderful student. There’s likely to be a Smartboard (or some sort of interactive screen) on the wall, a pod of computers (if not 1:1 laptops) overflowing from a corner, maybe iPads on desktops or in a mobile cart, a digital camera and microphones to record events, streaming video from Discovery Channel. Those ubiquitous samples of student work that traditionally clutter the walls now include many created with computers.

Today’s education happens by standing on the shoulders of technology innovation.

If you don’t have a school-age child, take a peek at Cisco’s VNI Service Adoption blog. There’s an uptick in the impact of technology on all parts of consumer life. As Cisco suggests, these changes are all about connecting students to their future, empowering them with responsibility for their own education in areas such as:

  • access to learning
  • quality of instruction and education assessment
  • innovative learning models
  • decision making
  • reduced costs with administrative efficiency (not yet, but it’s a good goal)

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The Truth About Teaching in America

[caption id="attachment_8373" align="alignright" width="246"]teacher truths The truth about teaching[/caption]

When I was asked to write a piece about teaching, I knew I could write something fluffy about the feel-good nature of working with children, the high of enlightening a child’s cerebral world. In fact, that would be true, but if you’re reading this article because you’re pondering a position as a teacher, you already know that. What you want to know is: Is it worth it? Five years into the career, when you’ve had too many truculent parents and challenging students, do you still feel the scales are balanced?

Let’s back up a moment. The most common reason cited for becoming a teacher is altruism. Teachers self-report they join the ranks of those with the greatest influence over the future of our nation–our world–because they want to do something worthwhile with their lives. But if you scratch beneath that noble veneer, you find other reasons:

  • I lost my job and couldn’t get any other
  • It’s easy to teach
  • I like summers off
  • Kids don’t intimidate me
  • I can’t stand the competition in my business job
  • I want to influence people. Parents respect teachers and are open to influence. Kids expect it.

In truth, many graduates from teacher credential programs end up quitting. The ones who stay are those that arrive there as a second career. That’s because:

  • after surviving a cut-throat high-powered, highly-paid business job, experiencing the rush of a child’s mind lighting up is the greater reward
  • two months off every summer well-rejuvenates the spiritual engines and reminds us there’s more to life than money, prestige, and expensive suits
  • there is a lot of satisfaction in having a classroom of students look to you for answers.
  • new friends and acquaintances always react favorably to your job as a teacher. That wasn’t true when you were [fill in the blank–assume some Big Business job]
  • you don’t teach for a retirement package. In fact, many private schools have none. Still, they have hundreds of job applicants for each position.

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How to Adapt Lessons to Common Core State Standards

[caption id="attachment_8132" align="alignleft" width="300"]common core standards Common Core standards–adopted in 46 states[/caption]

Common Core State Standards, proposed by the National Board of Governors and adopted by 46 states to date, provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn in the critical areas of math, science, language, reading, writing, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.

They don’t specifically mention technology as a separate subject, but assume technology will support the teaching of math, science, reading, language, and writing. Last week, I discussed CCSS in general. This week–here are a few of the specific elements that technology can address and examples of projects (not in any particular grade-level order):

Anchor Standards

College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing–Production and Distribution of Writing–6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

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How to Align Technology with Common Core State Standards

This past month, I have had a rash of requests from school districts to assist them in aligning their technology program with Common Core State standards. This takes me back to the days when everyone wanted to match their lesson plans with ISTE NETS standards. We all had to review our activities, rethink connections and rework details.

Now, for the 46 states that have adopted Common Core State Standards, that’s happening again, with a different tilt.

Let me back up. What are Common Core State Standards? According to the Mission Statement posted on their website:

The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.

Their bi-line speaks volumes…

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Communicate the Web 2.0 Way

artMy school is an IB school. We follow the philosophy that to educate students requires an international understanding of the world, people and ideas. Part of the curriculum requires fifth graders to participate in an Exhibition where they use knowledge accumulated over six years of education to communicate their ideas on a global issue such as displacement, global warming, lack of education, pollution, world hunger, and limited access to fresh, clean water.

Last year, the fifth grade team asked me to brush students up on Publisher/PowerPoint/Word skills so they could construct their presentation. This year, I’m taking a different approach by encouraging students to think of other ways than these traditional ways to communicate their ideas. We’re spending six weeks studying and teaching each other some of the amazing online communication tools that offer motivating and inspirational ways to share thoughts.

Here’s how we’re doing that:

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Should Tech Teachers be in the Classroom or the Lab–Follow Up

tech teacherA couple of months ago, I posted an article called Should Tech Teachers be in the Classroom or the Lab? I got the question from a reader and wanted to see what the tech ed community thought about what has become a hot topic among technology teacher, coordinators and integration specialists. I summarized the common thoughts on the subject and received quite a few thoughtful responses from readers.

I also cross-posted the article to LinkedIn and wanted to share those responses with my blog readers. You’ll find them an important contribution to your knowledge on this subject, with lots of anecdotal stories and varied viewpoints. Enjoy!

Gail Flanagan • Using technology as a tool in all parts of the school day integrating it into the students and teachers day. We implemented 1:1 iPad for a 6th grade team and mini pilot of iPad carts for the rest of the school. Digital natives use the iPad intuitively for collaboration, organization, creativity, productivity and communication. Keyboarding, word processing, spreadsheets and multimedia presentation tools are still used with laptops and desktop computers.
Lucky to be a teacher of Middle School ~ Allied Arts computer class. We reassess the standards to adapt to essential questions of what to know using technology in everyday lives and 21st century skills,

Dale McManis • Around classroom technology integration and professional development for teachers I really like the work of Dr. Karen Swan-Research Professor, Research Center for Educational Technology / College & Graduate School of Education, Health and Human Services, Kent State University. 

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twitter for educators

13 ways Twitter Improves Education

Twitter can easily be dismissed as a waste of time in the elementary school classroom. Students will get distracted. Students will see tweets they shouldn’t at their age. How does one

twitter in educationmanage a room full of Tweeple without cell phones? Is it even appropriate for the lower grades?

Here’s some ammunition for what often turns into a pitched, take-sides verbal brawl as well-intended teachers try to come to a compromise on using Twitter (in fact, many of the new Web 2.0 tools–blogs, wikis, websites that require registrations and log-ins, discussion forums. You can probably add to this list) that works for all stakeholders:

You learn to be concise.

Twitter gives you only 140 characters to get the entire message across. Letters, numbers, symbols, punctuation and spaces all count as characters on Twitter. Wordiness doesn’t work. Twitter counts every keystroke and won’t publish anything with a minus in front of the word count.

At first blush, that seems impossible. It’s not, though. It challenges you to know the right word for every situation. People with a big vocabulary are at an advantage because they don’t use collections of little words to say what they mean, they jump right to it. All those hints your English teacher gave you–picture nouns and action verbs, get rid of adverbs and adjectives–take on new meaning to the Twitter afficionado.

Twitter isn’t intimidating

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Do Teacher Ed Programs Prepare Students for Technology Needs of the Classroom?

I have a timely post from e-colleague, Jan Pierce, about how current teacher credential programs prepare students for the technology push they face in schools. Not only has Jan been a fourth grade teacher for over 20 years, she also owns the website Elementary Education Degree designed to assist students interested in earning a degree in elementary education. She makes some good points. Feel free to ask questions in the comment section:

Are Elementary Education Programs Preparing Teachers to use Today’s Technology?

From smart boards and PowerPoint presentations to iPads, educational technology is becoming more of a regular element of today’s classroom. But are students in education programs being adequately trained and prepared to integrate technology into their classrooms?

Bachelor’s Programs

When it comes to bachelor’s programs in education, the answers vary. Top education programs around the country ensure that technology training is an integral part of their curriculums, by introducing students to the various forms of technology common to the classroom and techniques for using them effectively. However, many programs still use a traditional approach with classes in school subjects, child development, teaching methods, and practicum experiences, but little or no technology components.

It is important to note that most of today’s college students are comfortable with using technology in their everyday lives, and so they may not require as much technology training as older teachers do. Nevertheless, while younger students have this advantage, education programs still need to do a better job at training students to integrate technology into their lessons.

Master’s Programs

There are many master’s programs that allow teachers to specialize in educational technology or a similar field. Classes range from using the Internet and computers effectively in the classroom to learning how to measure the effectiveness of technology use. These programs usually take one or two years to complete.

Online master’s degrees in educational technology are becoming more common, since they allow teachers to earn the degree while they continue working. In fact, many programs require applicants to be working teachers, as class components may involve implementing technology in their own classrooms and observing whether that technology is effective. For more information about these types of programs, you can visit the site Masters in Teaching.

Certificates

Another option for existing teachers who don’t want to earn a full master’s degree is a certificate in educational technology. These can be completed in less time than a master’s program, as they usually last a semester or a year. This is a great option for experienced teachers to gain the extra skills they need to start teaching with technology. These programs exist in both real and online options as well.


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.