Archive for the ‘Student Centered’ Category

SolutionsOkay folks, here are my solutions in a very troubling situation.  I am an instructional technology specialist and current classroom teacher that unfortunately has very little access to technology.  The spring semester this year was so frustrating, I began to bring my own devices to supplement the needs of my students in accessing the bare bones tools I provide online.  My solution this fall is to continue to use personal devices, resurrect old devices, and I’m going to try some discount devices that hopefully won’t cause my own children to starve from the money I am choosing to take from my personal budget that takes care of their welfare (I know I am taking a risk that these devices die as based on past experience).

What I have been using are two old laptops (HPs) that were assigned to myself and my classroom that I have installed Ubuntu on for a more reliable operating system.  I took my old Asus netbook and installed Ubuntu on it replacing Windows XP.  I have an old HP desktop that runs Windows 7, and I have resurrected 3 iBook G3s, 1 PowerBook Titanium, and a PowerBook Lombard.  I bring 4 of my kid’s DOPO devices (I had 5 but one crashed and burned – sorry Nicholas), and I have just ordered 3 more DOPO devices for a total of $119.  I also have an old iPad and old Kindle added to the mix; plus, I do have my teacher laptop that can be utilized as needed.  With this I have amassed 15 devices that will “work” in most instances.  I fortunately do have access to a BYOD network that students can utilize with various devices and some can use their phones if they choose.

The frustrating part of all of this is that I just don’t think this is how life should be for an educator in the 21st Century; however, it is in my case, and I am doing what I can to provide devices that will allow access to tools that I know will help my students succeed.  I have applied for grants, but the tech department in my district won’t approve affordable devices:  disappointing to say the least.  I am on the lookout for old laptops that can be revived with Ubuntu or some flavor of Linux, and that search will continue as the school days pass by (160+ more school days which turns out to be only 160 hours that my students spend in class for the year – time is short!).  I am trying to make the best of a difficult situation, but I’m not sure it is the best way.  I also don’t think this solution will last much longer.  I’m looking to go elswhere to find a place that will invest in the education of my students and children, and I know now that it is definitely not here.  Chime in if you have other ideas that may help.  Happy computing!

My intervention/enrichment students have been involved in an activity/service project gathering supplies to be placed in care packages for troops stationed around the world.  We are utilizing Operation Shoebox as our vehicle to meet this goal.  As we studied WW II, we spent some time learning about the North Platte Canteen that served 6 million troops snacks, drinks, and goodies on train stops while passing through North Platte.  My students wanted to help this idea live on, and North Platte teenagers are once again helping to brighten our service people’s days.

Read an article from the North Platte Telegraph here…

Read an article from KNOP news here…

adams_canteen

Any subject area teacher can and should create curriculum tools that can help students that require accommodations in their learning.  This is key to differentiated learning and instruction.  When I think of my content area of social studies I know that it can require a lot of reading.  Vocabulary is an important piece of knowledge that can help students make their way through the content, and I try to create or find activities that support vocabulary acquisition.

In the past I have utilized sites like Quia to create activities that build and reinforce vocabulary knowledge.  Quia activities like flashcards, matching, concentration, word search, and hangman are a few that present vocabulary in a fun way.  You can also create cloze reading activities with Quia that enable a user to read passages of text and identify key terms that complete a paragraph.  Online textbook resources also often have ready made vocabulary activities that can make it much easier for students to navigate text or take an active part in classroom discussions and projects.  Online textbooks are also interactive and most have an audio or read-aloud feature built into the text.

The following are several examples of vocabulary and reading activities that I have created or found and linked to that assist all students and especially those that may struggle with reading (especially see the flashcards, matching, concentration, word search, hangman, jumbled words, pop ups, and cloze activities).

American History Vocabulary and Reading Activities

World Geography Activities

Hokanson’s American History Quia Class Page

Help your students gain a better understanding of the content by accessing the reading tools that are all around you or create some today.  Technology makes for better and more complete learning, and your students deserve to utilize these tools.

If you are interested in the book see the following (I profit in no way…)

Flipped Classroom

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

 

It has been a few years since I heard Ian Jukes speak at the T+L Conference in Nashville (October 19, 2007).  However, his words continue to ring in my ears, and I want to share some of them with you as I reflect on where our school district is with embedding technology in learning.

Ian Jukes said:

“We have access to some new technologies but their use is generally optional not integral and certainly not required of all teachers – and the technologies are often used to reinforce old practices and assumptions about teaching and learning and assessment and do not require the teacher to change their current instructional practices.”

“Ask yourself this very important question – would your students be there in your classrooms if they didn’t have to be? Are they there because they want to be there? Or are they there because they have no other choice? And if they’re there only because they have to, what can we begin to do differently to help more students want to be in our classes?”

“…Our emphasis as professional educators has to be on more than just LOTS.”

“The starting point for making the necessary changes is that as educators we have to understand how truly different our students are.”

“This shift is so fundamental – the gap between them and us is so wide – that there’s no going back to the basics. There’s no going back to the way things were when we were kids.”

“The problem is that many educators just don’t get that there is a digital divide. Many of us pay lip service to the notion that this generation is different. We knowingly nod our heads but then we shut the door to the classroom and go back to business as usual where it could just as easily be 1960 all over again.”

“Most teachers know very little if anything about the digital world of their students – from online gaming to their means of exchanging, sharing, meeting, evaluating, coordinating, programming, searching, customizing, and socializing.”

“The bottom line is that we really don’t understand their digital world and we never will until we take the time to honor and respect where they come from. But to do this we have to be willing to acknowledge their world and start to educate ourselves about that world.”

“If we truly want to make a difference in the lives of our children, schools must become a place where students are actively engaged in constructing their own knowledge and know how…”

“The context of a significant event provides a frame of reference and relevance for remembering the specific information about what you were doing long after the event. By providing a context for the new information teachers are actually helping students with long-term memory.”

My summary and challenge to myself and others that continues today:  As educators it is time that we take responsibility for our own learning.  If we want to create self-directed learners, we must become one.  We must model self-directed, independent learning, and we need to discover how our students learn in the 21st Century.

Angela Maiers poses some wonderful Parent-Teacher Conference questions at her blog.  Her personal experience in gaining answers met mixed results, but she explains how these questions do not fit into the aspect of data that has high priority in schools.  However, the questions are what I want to know the answers to as a parent.

The questions:

  • Who is my child to you?
  • Who are they as readers, writers, community members?
  • What makes them unique?
  • What are they passionate about?
  • How do they add value to your class and the wider community?
  • What makes you proud?

Read Angela’s article to learn more:  Parent Teacher Conference: “The Morning After”