Twitter Tells All…

For this week’s assignment we were told to find three different tweets that truly represented Digital Citizenship. I personally don’t know too much about Digital Citizenship and I’m curious to know how to implement technology into my future classroom.

This first tweet is about how Digital Learning is here to stay.

This tweet links to an article on the “top 8 reasons why digital learning is here to stay.” Their top 8 reasons are:

1. 21st Century Jobs

2. Common Core State Standards

3. Shifting Costs and Expectations

4. Customization

5. Equity

6. Collaboration

7. Ownership

8. Endless Possibilities

I think the two points on this list that are most helpful and applicable to my future classroom would be “21st Century Jobs” and “customization”. The article claims that it is projected that “65% of today’s grade school kids will end up at jobs that haven’t been invented yet.” These future jobs will be most likely be extremely reliant on technology and the students of today must be prepared for the future careers of tomorrow. Along with “21st Century Jobs”, I also think the fact of “customization” is very beneficial for the use of technology. Textbooks can become outdated so quickly but technology can be updated every minute of every day. One of the most beneficial aspects of technology having the ability to be customized is that you can specify your classroom technology for each student in your class. Especially as a future special educator, I want each student to have the lessons adapted for their disability, their learning styles, and their ways of communicating. With digital textbooks, apps, and technological instruction, the concepts we teach can be individualized to meet the needs of each student.

This second tweet is about being creative in the digital classroom.

This tweet links to an article about new applications that can help students be creative in the classroom. One that I think is really cool is “Scratch.” Scratch is an application that anyone can create games, artworks, work on mathematical theories, narrate and illustrate a story, or write a song. It seems to be able to do just about anything! This application would be incredibly beneficial in any age classroom. I think while working on reading skills in my future special education classroom, I think it would be fun to have the students illustrate the story they are currently reading. This would be fun for them because they can utilize iPads and bring the picture-less story to life!

This last tweet is about how social media and technology help education.

As we all know, technology connects people from opposites of the world, including educators. This article talks about the benefits of educators getting involved in social media and how it can benefit the whole educational world. The article suggests to create a blog about your classroom and experiences. As a future teacher, I would love to read stories, tips, and lesson plans from experienced teachers. It would be a source of guidance and reassurance as I step into my first classroom. Another tip was to embrace social media. This is similar to writing a blog but instead of just writing for others to read, you can write for others to help you and answer your questions. Through social media, like twitter or facebook, you can find educational mentors that can guide you and help you through your teaching endeavors. Collaborating with fellow teachers and administrators can have such a positive impact on your classroom and your knowledge. As a future teacher, I definitely want to be in contact with my co-workers and fellow teachers around the world. I believe it can only do positive things to be involved responsibly on social media as a teacher and I plan to do it myself.


The Ever Evolving Classroom

After viewing this video, it has given us insight on how much technology affects students and how much students are defined through technology. As the documentary delved into the lives of students who attend “the Quest to Learn” school, it was apparent that technology had a large impact on both their academic success and their learning styles. This form of schooling shaped their minds and changed the way they looked at learning in the classroom. One child claimed that, “we don’t sit and stare at textbooks, we use technology and have fun while still learning.” Before watching this video, we had not seen the true influence technology has had on a young learner. It is different to read about various methods of implementing technology in classrooms from an adult’s perspective but hearing from the students who use technology every day gives a completely different insight.

Some parents today are anxious about all of the time their young children spend on technology. This could possibly be a divide between “Digital Immigrants” and “Digital Natives.” The students of today are digital natives who have had technology in their lives since day one; it is a part of their education, their home life, and their leisure activities. This confuses the digital immigrants because they did not grow up with technology in every aspect of their lives. It makes parents skeptical that their child is being held back by technology, that is hindering their education. This is a common misconception that many teachers are trying to abolish. In the documentary, both students and teachers discuss how technology is leaving a positive mark. Parents say they are worried about their children becoming too competitive and addicted to these games implemented in both outside and inside the classroom. Teachers today try to explain that this concept of competition is good because it makes the students driven to improve. They also want parents to know that videogames are not hindering their child’s education. Video games are a set of problems that you must solve in order to win, therefore playing video games works on children’s critical thinking and problem solving. This may be a different concept for parents of digital immigrants to grasp, but they must eventually understand that education is evolving and technology is not going anywhere.

The technology incorporated in this video will affect us as future teachers in many ways. If we as teachers do not keep up with the gadgets and machinery that society brings today, our students may not learn as well or may not be as interested in what is being taught. Our future students rely on technology today because they have had it all of their lives, so it is almost unfair that we do not use new technology in the classroom. While using new technology, we can still meet all school-board standards and expectations that our districts require. The “Quest to Learn” school met all of New York’s standards for education, while also incorporating various other lessons that will help students’ social and emotional skills in various ways.

In the video it states, “if we teach students the way we taught yesterday we are stealing them of tomorrow.”  This applies directly to the use of technology in the classroom.  Technology is very prevalent in today’s society and the future generations are growing up with technology all around them.  If we as teachers do not use technology in our classrooms then we are not letting our students’ reach their full learning potential.  Students are excited and motivated when using technology to learn, so this would only make sense to utilize technology in the classroom.  Inventions in history, such as the printing press, advanced the way we learned and the way teacher’s taught in those days.  Similar to now, the invention of the internet, computers, and mass amounts of technology have advanced the way students can learn and it is vital that teachers adapt these new ways to most benefit their students.  The ultimate goal of receiving an education is so that the students can be successful in the future.  If you teach students how to be successful only in a way that was successful in the past, they are not going to be prepared for the future.

To be honest, we really are not sure how our future classrooms will look. With the uprise of technology and changes in classrooms, it is difficult to picture the setting that we will be teaching in. As each year passes, technology keeps evolving therefore our classrooms should as well.  The video was talking mostly about general education classrooms, but we all want to be teaching in special education classrooms.  Technology can have major benefits for students with  disabilities as well.  For example, a young child with Autism that is nonverbal may be able to use assistive technology to help them share their thoughts and what they have learned through a communication device.  

We envision the use of smartboards, iPads, adapted technology, and computer softwares in our future classroom.  The tricky thing is that what we envision today in 2014 may not be the resources we are using because we are still 3 years away from being in charge of our own classrooms.  Each day, month, and year new technology is invented and becomes all the rage.  It is impossible to predict what the world of technology will look like when we are teachers, so it will be imperative to keep up with the ever evolving classroom.

Challenging the Autistic Mind

In this Ted talk, Temple Grandin discusses the anomaly that is her thinking process. Grandin explains that she “thinks in pictures.” From a very young age this was how she went about life and she assumed her peers thought the same. She eventually came to see that this was not how everyone else thought, but that it was not a problem it was a strength. 

One concept that she could not grasp in school was algebra but she wasn’t allowed to skip to geometry and trig. She claims this is a flaw in the educational system. She speaks about how there are many different kind of thinking processes and minds. Those who are photo realistic visual thinkers like her may be poor at algebra but they strive at categorizing images. Some people have pattern thinking minds which means they excel at math and music but might struggle with reading. And then there are verbal minds who do not excel at drawing but know every fact given to them. Grandin makes the point that the world needs every different kind of minds to work together. She makes it very clear that these minds need to be developed and starting at a young age children need to be exposed to all different subjects to see what they can personally excel at. Those who are detail oriented, which is very common in those with autism, should be studying to become engineers where they can focus on every mechanism and detail of constructing a bridge.

Grandin then begins to speak of a science teacher she once had that left an impact on her. He challenged her and showed her interesting things that really sparked her imagination and individual thinking process. Grandin makes it a point to say that teachers and our community today need to think about these different kind of minds and we need to foster to them, we need them to develop and these kids need to see what they are capable of. Their potential is mind-blowing and they are needed in our future undoubtedly. She explains that the “autistic mind tends to be fixated” but we need to use that fixation and adapt it. If a child loves legos, guide them to start building different kind of structures. Use the fixation to motivate the child. They love race cars? Use it in math; the race car drives 18 laps that are 400 feet each, how many miles is that? As a teacher, you need to adapt your lessons to them and cater to their specific learning styles.

This Ted Talk really engrained the point in my mind that I need to cater to all of my future student’s specific needs and learning styles/ thinking processes. It is imperative to adapt your lessons for all students and for different types of disabilities. A child with autism might think differently than a child with down syndrome, therefore I need to teach it differently so they both understand in their own way. Teaching styles are evolving and that goes hand in hand with technology. A teacher must develop Technological Pedagogical Knowledge, also referred to as TPK. “TPK is an understanding of how teaching and learning can change when particular technologies are used in particular ways.” TPK is the process of altering your teaching, lessons, and use of technology for each student and the way they learn. As Grandin stated, there are all different kinds of minds. At an elementary level you can implement as iPad into your classroom, but each student should not use it in the same way because they do not all learn in the same manner. For the photo realistic visual thinkers, use an app that works on identifying shapes and classifying them. For the pattern mind, try simple versions of Sudoku so they can work on visually mapping out patterns of numbers, and for verbal minds maybe use a narrated app that can read text and facts on the math that was and is used to construct monuments like the pyramids or the London bridge. What is important is to then at the end of the lesson, tie together how these three different activities and learning processes can work in synchrony. That they all have their strengths and weaknesses but together they are unstoppable.

“Satisfactory” Is Not Good Enough


Bill Gates’s Ted talk illustrates that everyone’s need for a coach. No matter who you are you need someone to give you feedback so that you can approve. I believe teachers are the best kind of coaches; they give you feedback, constructive criticism, and advice. Bill Gates points out that of all people, teachers do not have proper coaching, that the feedback that they’re given is usually limited to “Satisfactory.” Teachers need good feedback so they can improve their teaching skills and to help improve today’s students.

Bill Gates discusses how the United States is not even in the top ten countries for reading proficiency, we are tied for 15th place with Iceland and Poland. He shows that 11 out of the top 14 countries have formal systems to help teachers improve. The United States is not giving teachers the resources and help they need to develop their skills. Gates focuses on Shanghai’s system that younger teachers have the ability to work with older and more experienced teachers to learn from them. The teachers get together and discuss in groups what is working and what needs more improved. They have feedback. They require teachers to observe their colleagues and to give them feedback. I know that during my placements here at the U of I, I will be getting these observation hours and this feedback. I know that it will be extremely useful to know what I need to work more on and to hear what I’m excelling at. I think using a system like this would be extremely helpful for teachers both experienced and not. Times change, students change, and what we teach changes, therefore the teachers need to evolve as well. Both now and in my future, I am sure that I would like advice and guidance from the very best teachers so I could become the best teacher I could possibly be.

As we stated in class, many teachers are now being tested on Common Core standards. Teachers who have students who excel on their state tests have the chance to get pay bonuses and those who have students who perform poorly lose that cash bonus or even have the chance of getting fired. I believe that teachers need to be prepared more for this form of assessment. They need the “coaches” that Bill Gates was referring to.

I also enjoy the idea of getting in depth feedback from my own students. Who else knows how effective your teaching is rather than your students. In the Ted Talk it said that the specific examples that the students mentioned in their surveys really helped the teacher know what she needed to improve on or what her students thought she was excelling at. I think this is a great idea that should be implemented more often. One flaw I see though is that, as a student myself, I know that filling out surveys about my teachers and giving feedback can be incredibly tedious.  I think that students must understand how important the concept of feedback is and that it goes hand in hand with their own education. The concept of sending in taped lessons you have taught is also very interesting. Getting feedback on your everyday teaching methods can help the teacher immensely, while this is also a less evasive process that does not intimidate the teacher to have someone watching them and sitting in on their classroom.

Bill Gates states that it would cost around $5 Billion dollars to invest in teacher feedback. It may cost a lot of money but the benefits would be so extremely helpful. Teachers would improve, students would improve, and the country as a whole would improve. If we want change and to rise from 15th to number one, that is what we need, change.   



Learning How to Play the Recorder!

Learning takes place each day in everyone’s lives. Last week, my best friend Casey finally had her recorder arrive in the mail. She’s taking a class where she learns how to play and teach young children how to play the recorder. As soon as she opened the Amazon box, she has been attempting to play popular songs but mostly just making it up and attempting for it to sound correct. I decided that Casey should look up Youtube videos of people playing the recorder with finger positioning/notes included so she could follow along and learn; this is the outcome. Over the past few weeks she has learned both formally and informally, this video is her learning formally by the use of tutorials and lessons.

Giving Teachers the Option to Chose their Student’s Technological Fate

“Given the realities of our modern age and the demands of our children’s future, is it really ok to allow teachers to choose whether or not they incorporate modern technologies into their instruction?”

As the years pass and time advances, so does technology. From Chalkboards to Dry Erase Boards to Smartboards, the classroom keeps evolving at a rapid pace. Technology is also evolving outside of schools. Children today are more technologically advanced at a young age, more so than ever before. Children are not the only age group affected by technology either. Young toddlers know how to work an iPad and can find apps to keep them entertained, young children Instagram photos of themselves doing every action possible and manage to have their entire middle school see each post, teenagers spend hours on end on Facebook perusing the profiles of their many friends, college aged students, like me, spend as much time as possible procrastinating from their school work and spending time on Buzzfeed instead, and the older generation spends time reading on their kindles. Technology is present and utilized for every generation. 

As technology evolves and becomes more present in everyone’s lives it makes us wonder if it is helping us grow and become more knowledgable or is it impeding our intelligence and shortening our attention spans? This is a current debate in both our society and classrooms today. Should teachers have the choice to restrict children from using technology in the classroom? Some people firmly believe that technology should be for entertainment purposes only and fail to realize all of it’s educational benefits. I believe that technology will assist children in acquiring new knowledge but only if they know how to utilize it correctly. 

I found a video that illustrates the 21st century learner and how technology plays such a large role in their learning process but also portrays a common unfortunate event, that teachers may be too intimidated by “difficult” technology to implement in their classrooms. This idea that teachers chose to not use technology in their classrooms because it may be difficult to learn is a very sad thought. The children of the 21st century need 21st century skills in the both the classroom and their lives. The children already have technologies in their homes and almost constantly in their environment, therefore I believe technology should be completely utilized in the classroom. I think that teachers should be required to use modern technology in their lessons to prepare their students for the technological world and to prepare them adequately for their future. 

Children have the want to learn and technology enhances it; it keeps things interesting and modern. Technology can help some students who were previously not confident in their studies because using technology can make the lessons more interactive and visual, it helps them see things from a new perspective. The video explains that children want to “create and innovate” and technology can play a key role to help them “connect, collaborate, and share.” Children today already have a vast knowledge about technology but teaching about technology in the classroom will help students utilize their knowledge in a useful way. I truly believe that if technology is not used and taught in the modern classroom, students are being held at a disadvantage in their futures. The futures of today’s youth will be full of technology in their jobs and homes, if we do not prepare them for these futures I believe that is not being the best teacher you can possibly be.