digital_nation: my thoughts

The Frontline video we were assigned to watch for class was very interesting and I highly suggest you check it out if you have not seen it yet! After just watching the first chapter “Distracted by Everything” I had a lot of thoughts pop into my brain (but I encourage you to watch the whole thing…it’s really interesting!) The people interviewed in the video talked about how not many years ago, the whole world was different! I especially liked when the woman said when she went on vacation, she simply did not know anything that went on while they were gone because they did not have cell phones! These days it almost feels like people go on vacation just to be able to take pictures and share it on social media! We are no longer living in the moment; we are living in our phones and social media, which is really kind of sad.

When it got to the MIT portion of the video, I felt like I was taken right back into my college classes! Seeing as though I just graduated from college not even a year ago, I could definitely relate to those students. I know we think that we are capable of multitasking, but one of my psychology professors informed us that there is in fact no such thing as multitasking… I know I love having my laptop in front of me during a lecture because I could catch up on e-mails, browse Pinterest and other social media, and work on some homework! As much as I loved having access to all of that, I hate to say it but clearly there was no way I was fully paying attention to what my professor was saying during those lectures.

What college classes used to look like….

…compared to what college classes look like now!

Look at the image I posted right above…you can see that none of the students are looking at the same thing on their screens. I see pictures of a baby, random video websites, social media sites, etc; none of which seems to relate to what the professor has posted in the front of the lecture hall!

I can imagine how difficult it would be for a professor to stand in front of a room full of students and watch them all stare at their screens rather than engaging in the lesson! I actually feel bad for them when it feels like they’re begging students to participate because they know no one is paying attention. However, if a lesson is interesting enough, students will want to pay attention! Although I wasn’t happy about it, I found that I really did learn a lot more when my teachers had a no laptop/cell phone policy in their class. I was forced to focus on them and what they had to say. I also found that handwriting my notes actually helped me to retain the information a lot better than when I type them. I can type so quickly that I end up simply copying down exactly what the teacher provided on the slides, rather than actively processing what is being presented and writing it in my own way.

 

As a student, I loved being able to use my devices during class, but as a teacher I don’t think I would allow it! I think in order to actually teach students, we need everyone to be actively engaged and have conversations and discussions with each other. I think there should be certain times to allow technology in the classroom, like when the teacher knows it will actually enhance the students learning, rather than hinder it. I definitely see the benefits of using technology and I am a huge tech fan! But like I said, teachers should plan certain times and occasions for using mobile devices rather than allowing students to use them at all times. I just think it’s too much of a distraction, because I myself get distracted!

 

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Flipped Lesson!

For my ED554 class, we were assigned the task of creating our own flipped lesson plan! I was nervous about this assignment because I’ve never made one before, but once I started working on it I realized I was nervous for no reason! I used Google Presentations to create my lesson and then used QuickTime on my MacBook to capture my screen and record my voice over top. I created a lesson on the Seasons for first graders. I hope you enjoy it! If you have any advice or feedback about how to make it better, I would really appreciate it!

I would ask my students to fill out the following worksheet for morning work when they come to school the next day, to verify that they watched the video for homework.

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Clash Over Tech in the Classroom

 

After reading a MindShift article titled “Schools and Students Clash Over Use of Technology” I was left with the feeling once again that cell phones do not need to be used in the classroom. Although the article tried to get reasons why phones should be used, I was not convinced. This article related to my previous post about the Speak Up report, and confirmed my thoughts and feelings about the issue at hand.

The article claims that students are using Facebook for educational purposes like collaborating on school projects. That is great! But why do students need to collaborate over Facebook while they are literally in the same building as their collaborators? Facebook and other social media sites are great supplement tools where students can continue their collaborating outside of the school walls.

Will students use cell phones for educational purposes?

 

 

Or will they become a distraction?

Also, why do students need their phones to access Facebook? Most schools have computers, laptops, and tablets for the students to use. I do think that teachers should have control over what sites they block in their classes. That way, if a teacher assigns a project that somehow requires the use of Facebook or Twitter, then the students can access these websites and be monitored.

I still believe that students are claiming they would use their cell phones for educational purposes, but in reality, they are going to be texting and browsing social media while their teachers are trying to teach them. Perhaps teachers could have control over when their students are allowed to use their phones, rather than it becoming a school wide policy.

I do think technology is important for students to use and I will embrace this revolution! However, I think there is a time and a place for cell phone use and in my opinion, that decision should be left to the classroom teacher.

The New Digital Learning Playbook: My Reaction

After reading the latest report from Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up 2013 Student Survey, a lot of thoughts popped into my mind. I understand that we are involved in a technology revolution and essentially everything we do involves technology and the internet these days. However, I think it’s important that we use technology to enhance learning, not replace it. I agree that it makes sense for students to have similar experiences both in and out of the classrooms, but it’s also not necessary to completely revamp the classroom to accommodate for this.

When I looked at the surveys, I noticed majority of students wanted access to their phones and social media while in school. When I see that, I think that students want this to be able to text their friends and browse Facebook or Instagram while sitting in class. I can’t imagine students want access to their phones in order to look up academic material and enhance their learning. I was a high school student not too long ago and I can say from personal experience that students are using their phones to text their friends. We were not allowed to have our cell phones out during the school day, or they would get confiscated. Some teachers would allow us to use them in class after we finished an assignment. As annoying as this rule was a student, I can’t imagine teaching to a class full of kids staring at their phones. I think this is completely counterproductive, no matter what students claim to be doing on their phones.

What I imagine a classroom to look like if students are allowed to use their phones.

I’m not saying I don’t think technology should be incorporate into classrooms. I personally love technology and I stay updated on all the latest products and social media apps. I have seen the benefits of students using iPads for various activities and it’s awesome to see it come so naturally to young people. There are a ton of educational applications available on the tablets that can really benefit students. However, I also think they cause distraction and some students don’t stay on the app they’re supposed to playing. I have subbed in classrooms where I constantly had to remind the students that we are using the math app and not just having free time. I guess this is a reoccurring theme, whether the use of technology is involved or not. I think technology in schools is essential and very exciting, but there are always going to be problems with it as well.

With that being said, I will embrace technology in my classroom to a certain extent. I will use tools that are helpful to me like Smartboards and document cameras. I think these are amazing pieces of technology that have truly changed the definition of the “traditional classroom.” Since I hope to work with young students in 1st or 2nd grade, I hopefully won’t have to worry about cell phone distractions and things like that. (Maybe I will since the age of children getting cell phones seems to be rapidly decreasing!) Since my students will be young, I will be helping them learn how to use a lot of new technology that they might not be familiar with. At the beginning of a school year, I am going to send home a survey asking parents what type of technology is used in the home and what they let their children have access to. I think by gathering this type of information that I will be able to better adjust my classroom to fit the needs of my students. If I find that all of my students are tech-wizards on iPads, then I will do my best to incorporate them into my lessons and also give them supplement activities and app suggestions for them to look at at home. I’m sure my means of instruction will change dramatically from the time I start my career to the time it’s over. Who knows what new technology will be invented and who knows how it will impact our classrooms? I’m looking forward to finding out!

Extracurricular Empowerment: Reflection

Scott McLeod takes a different approach on the argument about technology and our youth. While most headlines we see referring to technology highlight the negative aspects, such as cyber bullying, sexting, and a cause of distractions, McLeod highlights the positive. It is easy to forget about all the good that stems from our youth interacting with technology, when we do hear about a lot of bad.

I believe that it is very important to focus on the positive effects that technology has, instead of dwelling on the negative. Of course, it is important to teach our children and students about internet safety and the dangers that come along with it. But that is not to say that we can’t embrace this revolution and show our pride in what our youth is dreaming up and making their reality.

The example in the video that McLeod focuses on is about a 9 year old girl named Martha, whose blog became famous for showing the poor food quality in her school lunches. Other young foodies from around the globe started sharing their photos and comparing what they were being served for lunch. Martha’s blog became such a hit that she was receiving feedback from the famous chef Jamie Oliver. The fact that the internet can connect so many different people that perhaps never would have met without it, is quite astonishing. Within days of her tweeting at Jamie Oliver, she received a signed copy of his book. Examples like this just prove how advanced our society has become. Our world has become a web of instantaneous connections.

Anyways, with Martha’s now famous blog, her school system decided to try and shut her down. The school board told her that she could no longer post pictures of her school lunches. This caused quite a stir, as it should have, and people around the world started advocating for her. After seeing the number of people fighting for Martha and her blog, the school board decided that instead of trying to censor her, they should look at what she’d advocating for. For once, adults were trying to understand what exactly kids are fighting for, and working with them, rather than shutting them down. In my opinion, this was groundbreaking. Martha began to use her platform to raise over $200,000 to help those in need. That is unbelievable! A 9 year old is capable of raising over $200,000 solely through the use of social media and technology. How can anyone believe that children should not have access to this powerful tool?

The point that McLeod tries to make is that if we want more of these children like Martha and the other examples he named, then we have to get rid of our fear and loosen our control and focus more on empowerment in school. Many of these great happenings are occurring outside of school, but it is important to utilize these skills in the classroom. As teachers and educators, we need to think of meaningful projects for our students to work on and give them the tools and access they need to succeed. Like McLeod said “Get out of their way and let them be amazing.” There is so much about technology that comes second nature to this new generation…so much that adults and teachers just can’t comprehend no matter how hard we try. We need to give students the platform to start, and watch them use their creative minds to create brilliant new ideas.

I think Scott has the right idea….What do you think about Scott’s take on technology?