Reader Response Meets New Literacies: Empowering Readers in Onine Learning Communities

“Cool! We’re using the laptops!!” (Larson, pg.638) was the cry that was heard when a class of 5th graders came in from lunch recess.  A semester long case study was set up in the context of a reading workshop to explore new literacies and technology integration.

Out of a classroom of 26 students, the teacher picked out 10 students who were known for being communicative both in writing and verbally.  The students had multiple reading levels, diverse backgrounds and a varying range of technological skills.  They would read e-books  on laptops and respond to the reading by electronic journals (message boards).  The reading was focused on historical fiction and the American Civil Rights Movement.  The ten students were given the choice of which two books they wanted to read.  It worked out to be 5 students for each book.  A typical session was students reading and responding on e-journals for 30 minutes.  Then they would take 15-20 minutes on the message board, responding to prompts about their reading.  After following the first 2 prompts set up by the teacher, students asked how they could write a prompt and mini lessons were given.  From then on the students took control of their own learning communities surpassing traditional teacher-driven plans for classroom.

“Today’s teacher is no longer the single source of knowledge and roles of students and teachers may even be reversed,” (Larson, pg.640).  As has been seen with teachers using the same methodology from years past being the status quo in todays classroom, technology is here to stay and it opens up new forms of learning and communication.  Teachers need to embrace what and how learning occurs with new technology.

Some findings of this study showed students using 5 prompt categories – experiential, aesthetic, cognitive, interpretive, and clarification.  The students liked to use different categories for specific reason.  Experiential prompts were used because they like to talk about themselves.  Aesthetic prompts were longer in length because student’s emotions were involved with the book plot and other’s contributions.  Cognitive prompts encouraged students to make predictions, solve problems, and make inferences about the plot and characters.  Interpretive prompts had students using highest level of reasoning and contemplating personal feelings about moral, value, meaning, message and judgements of plot and characters.  Clarification prompts were just that, clarifying what a student ment by a prompt.  All prompts, as mentioned earlier, were student driven.  And over the time frame, close to an equal number of prompts were written for each category.

Many of the NETS standards were being address in this article.  For NETS-s students were applying existing knowledge (face-to-face literature discussions) and new ideas as they used the message boards on-line (NETS #1).  Students were communicating their thoughts, ideas, collaborating and contributing to solve each other’s prompts (NETS #2).  Students used the laptops to read the e-books, processing and reporting their thoughts about what they read through the e-journals (NETS #3).  Students used critical thinking and problem solving to word their responses to fellow student’s prompt, questions (NETS #4).  Since many of the students emailed friends on-line, they were comfortable with the technology and enjoyed working with the process (NETS #6).

The NETS-t applied by the use of technology in a new virtual learning environment   (NETS #1).  Since the students lead their learning with their own prompts, the teacher was able to evaluate authentic individual learning experiences. This was done through the stats available on message boards (NETS #2).

I can see this resource being useful in how I look at teaching reading, and other subjects for that matter.  Students love to be on a computer and I like the idea of allowing each student to have time to think about how they will respond to their classmates prompts.  As mentioned in the article, traditional classrooms are teacher-lead discussions with occasional student imput.  With new literacies (message boards, e-books), students can have insightful, thoughtful, engaging, interactive, discussions with everyone, whether they are talkative or shy, allowing for each of them to find and share their voice.

Resource:

Larson, L. C. (2009). Reader Response Meets New Literacies: Empowering Readers in Online Learning Communities. The Reading Teacher, 62(8), 638-648. doi: 10.1598/RT.62.8.2

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Examining Mobile Learning InThird Grade Math Skills

My article addresses the question, if the use of mobile learning with iPods was more effective in 3rd grade students learning their multiplication facts than the traditional way with charts, memorization, and flash cards.

The researchers set up a field study on mobile learning intervention (MLI) at a Midwestern elementary school between 4 third grade classrooms.  Two classes would use iPods with selected math applications downloaded to them.  And two classes would continue to use the “business as usual” way of teaching and learning multiplication facts.  Each class will spend only 10 minutes a day for a 9 week study session.  Teachers and students alike volunteered for the project, with parents sent an information packet. There were 46 students/2 teachers in the traditional taught classrooms and 41 students/2 teachers in the iPod touch taught classrooms. In the MLI classrooms, each student was given an iPod touch device to work on their math skills. The school has a learning resource teacher (LRT) who gave training to teachers and students in the use of the iPods.  The LRT wheels a wireless mobile cart into the classroom, check out/in iPods, instructs the class on apps, and assists the teacher and students individually.  Students were given free choice at what apps they wanted use but never allowed to use more than 2 per session.  The comparison class sometimes was allowed to choose their desire method of practice, but most of the time the teacher decided which method they would use.

From the LRT’s field notes and teachers alike, in the MLI classrooms the word spoken the most was “engaging”.  Students were engaged in the learning process, it was fun, and they looked forward to working on their math skills. The study proved that MLI students’ way outperformed their counterpart in the comparison classrooms on post multiplication testing.

The NETS-S #1 Creativity & Innovation specifically applies to this article by the students’ using their existing knowledge of math
facts and applying them to the process of learning done on the iPods.  Also #6 Technology Operations & Concepts specifically applies by students showing their understanding of how to use the iPod system and transferring current digital knowledge into the learning of new technology through the math applications.

The NETS-T #1 Facilitate & Inspire Student Leaning & Creativity specifically applies with teachers using their math pedagogy to stress the learning of multiplication facts through technology to advance the students learning process.  Because the learning was fun, the students were able to be creative and learn in a positive manner.  Also #2 Design & Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences & Assessments specifically applies with teachers providing authentic learning experiences by using a digital tool of the iPods for students learning.   The teachers were able to have apps which could be customized to students working at their own level, pace, and ability.

I am not currently teaching, however I believe this would be a very positive way in which to use technology in the classroom and, more importantly, learn the multiplication facts.  Since these facts are one of the bases of mathematics, the long term goals for teaching math could be become more simplified with this one step.  I believe after the multiplication facts had been mastered, continuing use of iPods would be beneficial in the classroom.  As a teacher I would research what other apps are available for math, language arts, reading and literature.  It would seem there are many different uses which are applicable.

The most challenging aspect as I see it is the cost of the iPods and apps.  For this intervention study the total cost to the school district was $10,319.   It included 24 iPods and a wireless hub and laptop computer to store and charge.  80% of the cost was for the iPods. Already having the devices purchased, the cost could be defrayed somewhat by using the devices repeatedly with other learning situation.  The researchers did suggest an interesting thought along those lines and it was a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model.  This could keep the cost down for school districts.  In these stretched economic times, this model would tie into the NETS standards from the standpoint of being a collaborative and productive perspective of sharing the devices.

One other question I have about the study is the use of a LRT.  Many school districts do not have funds for such a teacher, to help with the process of using technology in the classrooms. So it would be up to the individual teacher to learn and understand the use of the devices, how the apps work and do any troubleshoot when needed.  I personally believe the benefits would out way the hassles.  However, I do not know if the majority of teachers would take the same stance.

I would love to have some feedback from current teachers on their thoughts and experiences about using iPods in the classroom.

Resource:

Kiger, D., Herro, D., & Prunty, D. “Examining the influence of a mobile learning intervention on third grade math achievement.” Journal of Research on Technology in Education 45.1 (2012): 61+. Academic OneFile. Web. 21 Oct. 2012.

 

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Part II – Primary Sources

A)Britannica Online Encyclopedia

This is a complete source of historical events which span all of the ages.  Students can go on-line and put in a subject they want to gather information about.  The information is readily available to them, to read, download, or print.  I would use this in my classroom to supplement any facts I would need in preparing lessons plans.   Britannica also has a site specifically for kids.  This is set up for younger grades and has great graphic and choices for students.  For the NETS standards, this would go along with the research and information fluency requirement.  Students would have to locate, evaluate, and analyze information for a variety of sources, this being one of them.

http://corporate.britannica.com/library/online/bolse.html

http://kids.britannica.com/

Wikipedia

This is a widely used source for information about anything and everything.  Using the NETS-t standard for digital age work and learning, I would show the students how to use this tool, stressing this is only one tool of many in which to gather information from.  I would explain how it is set up, allowing anyone to add to the information represented on each page(s).  Another NETS-t standard expressed would be using the design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments.  Students could expand their learning and creativity by incorporating this digital tool into information gather from the web.

http://www.wikipedia.org/

Oregon Trail

In 4th grade the Oregon Trail is studied.  I would use different primary sources from many of the interpretative centers built alone the actual trail.  They each have excerpts from pioneer diaries which talk of the traveling on the trail, from the beginning to what they found at the end of the trail.  I would have students find as many of the diary entries as they could, compare them and work in groups to discuss their findings.  These are a great source for information about the subject.  The NETS-s standards being put into practice would be almost all of the requirements.  There would be creativity and innovations by apply existing knowledge and generating new ideas.  Research and information fluency would be met by planning strategies which would help guide their inquiry, learning to process the data the report the results.

http://www.nps.gov/oreg/index.htm

http://www.blm.gov/or/oregontrail/

http://www.orcity.org/community

Oregon School Library Information System

This is a great resource to be able to have handy.  It is set up for elementary and secondary.  Then it is broken into sections for the student and educator plus going even more in-depth by asking what you want to do  – Learn to research, Find Information, or Cite My Sources.   The site has sections on tutorials in how to use the system, newspapers, InfoTrac Junior, and L-net where students can chat with a Librarian.  I can see using this for both my own gathering of information and having the students use this as a tool.  I especially like the site broken down into student and educator.    For NETS standards, it would a positive use of all the requirements for both students and teachers.

http://oslis.org/

Government for Kids

This site is full of information about our government, how it is set up, how it works, about presidents, government job, plus other information.  It is set up into two different sections for grades K-5 and secondary.  There are parts for teachers and parents.  Since this is one of the subjects tested on for the OAKS testing it would be a good resource.  NETS standards would met is all areas for both students and teacher.

http://kids.usa.gov/

Internet4Classrooms

I am really excited about this website!  It is a great resource for grades 1-8.  It is all broken down into Grade Level Help, Links for k-12, Technological Tutorials, Assessment Assistant, Daily Dose of the Web,  and On-Line Practice Modules.  Then when it will further break it down by subjects – Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and Ask An Expert.  It is just full of information, resources, blogs, subject matter, information about topics by months and archives for past months.  The NETS-t standards are being played out in this site especially by design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments, model digital age work and learning by using tutorials, and engage in professional growth and leadership.

http://www.internet4classrooms.com/

Sites of  Teachers

This is a clearing house for all manner of different websites which could be of use to teachers.  Then there is a link to those specific sites with a mere click.  Under is subtitle there are many more links broken down even further into different websites.  Since I am being somewhat dragged into the 21st century with all of technology available, it is very exciting to me to find a website which is helpful and useful to have as a resource in teaching.  One teacher said she knows there is a lot of information on the web but she does not have the time to study it and learn about it will all of the things she is supposed to teach.  I think as a future teacher I can embrace these website in a way that will be beneficial and a real time saver to me as a teacher.  NETS-t standards are being carried out again in the same way as the prior website did.

http://www.sitesforteachers.com/index.html

B) Flickr

Flickr is a great place to display videos, photographs, getting photos, maps and other visual media.  Then it can be share, reused and/or remixed as we learning in the video about creative commons.  Many of the class projects could be shared with other students globally and students could see what is being done elsewhere.  Many of the NETS-s standards would be met and especially communication and collaboration, critical thinking and digital citizenship.  Skills would need to be taught and supervised with elementary level and reinforced as the year played out.

http://www.flickr.com/

Free Music Archives

This site is a great place for finding music to incorporate into classroom projects, videos, and any presentation to put together for a lesson.  It is set up by music genres, then goes to specific types of music, and then has different listing of songs under each heading.  I have always wondered where many of the music is gotten for different presentations and now I know where to begin at least.  I can see using this site in my classroom to at a touch of professionalism to visual media presentations I want to give to the students.  Music has always help me when I am learning something new and it makes it easier to remember.  NETS-t standards would be used in the model digital age work and learning, and developing learning experiences.

http://freemusicarchive.org/

Photo Pin

This is site is set up for free photos to use for anyone to use.  You put in the type of images you are looking for, subject and then it will show all that is available.  It also tells of the licensing – commercial or non-commercial usage which is helpful in making a decision on your use of the images.  In the classroom this would be useful in making my own multi media presentations and also having students use for their projects.  This is an area where I do not know a lot about, but an interested in learning more about.

http://photopin.com/

Free-Loops

This is another site which would be extremely helpful with audio lessons and presentations.  I could see using this, again, to make a multi-media video.  It is a data base of sounds of just about everything, multi-media software and tools, Christmas & Halloween loops plus other uses.  I would need to study this site more to understand the full use of it.  But the possibilities are fun to think about the different uses for it in the classroom.

http://free-loops.com/

NASA Images

This site shows all of the images NASA has taken throughout the years.  It has listing for by What (which planets), Where (on what date something happened), Who (people part of NASA), and When (specific times).  You can also search catalog data by subject.  I can see this being a great help when teaching science and the solar system.  Using original, real pictures would be helpful in getting across the different aspects of the unit.  Plus I could see it being a site students would want to explore for themselves. NETS-s standards would be met by creativity and innovation, research and information fluency, critical thinking, and problem solving.

http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/

Free Federal Resources for Educational Excellence 

This site is set up by the government has loads of information available on it.  It is set up under these main topics – Art/Music, Health & Phy. Ed, Language Arts, Math, Science, World Studies, US Time Periods, and US History.  Under each main topic there lots of sub topics to choose from.  Then there are four heading types to choice information about – Animations, Primary Docs, Photos, and Videos.  It has links to websites for further information also.  This is a large data base and covers all areas of teaching, with upper elementary and secondary being the most useful for.  Here again is a site which kids could get fired up about different subjects by being able to gather information on the web.  The NETS standards are being met by both students and teachers alike

http://free.ed.gov/

Academic Skill Builders

This site is a good tool for elementary grades 1st – 6th in learning different types of skills such as: Math skills, Spelling, Word Relationships, Time, Geography, Typing for older grades and others.  The idea is kids like to play video games and this site combines gaming and practising skills.  It is set up so students can work it individually or with partners.  They like to do it and are not thinking about learning a new skill in the process.

http://www.arcademicskillbuilders.com/

Teacher Resources – Library of Congress

This site is set up for the use by teachers.  There are lesson plans and classroom material.  It has primary sources set up by State and show how to use these sources in the classroom.  There is professional development available, information on Elections and drafting of the Constitution.  It is a great source for studying history and historical events.  Then it breaks it down into how to use this information in lesson plans.  The NETS-t standards are being met by engaging in professional growth and leadership, facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity, and designing digital age learning experiences and assessments.

http://www.loc.gov/teachers/

Google Advanced

This site allows for you to be specific about your searching.  From the advanced search options it will allow you to restrict it to CC licensed items.  This can save time in searching for websites which you will not need to purchase the item to use.  I was unfamiliar with this resource but can see the use of it in being more specific in what I am looking in terms of media for the classroom.  The ability to restrict the search to only CC licensed items is a positive one.

http://www.google.com/advanced_search

Free Technology for Teachers

This is a site set up by a teacher who wanted to make  a resource of the different websites available to teachers looking for CC and Public Domain images.  There are these websites: Morguefile for free photos to remix, Wylio designed to help find CC images quickly; EduPic Graphical Resources provide free drawings and photos for teachers and students to classroom use; The World Images Kiosk offers 75,000 images for teachers and students to use; Image Base is set  up by professional photographer, David Niblack, has release as public domain images and offers 100 free power point templates; Photo 8 is good place to find thousands of public domain images; then Google Images and Yahoo Images round out the nine sites.  I can see using these all in gathering images for presentations, projects and visual media done in the classroom.

http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2011/06/9-places-to-find-creative-commons.html

 

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Part 1 – Copyright & Creative Commons

The information for this week is very informative and of interest to me. The videos talking about Fair Use spelled it all out in an easy to follow format.  The copyright laws for use on the Internet have had to redefined so they are not so restrictive.  If someone is doing something for the greater good of society, like teaching, then the needs of teacher supersede the rights of the owner under the law.  The restrictions were interesting in the sense of the limitations on limitations which was not for use of entertainment, rewards, and videos & CDs.  I was a little bit fuzzy on this in that many times teachers will “reward” students with movies.  I am guessing because they have purchased the DVD or rented it, then this is ok under copyright laws. But they are not allowed to download a movie and show it.  It was interesting to know that any tests, worksheets, scantrons developed by companies for schools were not allowed to be copy.  This stands to reason, as was talked about in the video, if we as teachers want to keep these companies going we need to purchase the products.  Another idea which caught my attention was “face-to-face instruction trumps copyright laws.”  There is a lot of latitude available to teachers, if they are aware of the laws governing copyright issues.

The YouTube video was great in the sense it gave kids a good idea of what copyright infringement is.  I felt like it went along with what the thinking process in children tends to be, especially for the younger ones.  The graphics were not only entertaining but also something kids could and would understand.  The written info with the fast talking announcer would be lost on most kids, though.  Too much information, too fast talking, and I could see them just glossing over it.  I understand YouTube’s need to include the information, just as car sales commercials to too, but it was distracting also.  I am not sure how this could be changed.  As an adult it was a positive graphic reminder of the basic copyright laws for using YouTube.

Being a newcomer to the Internet and teaching in general, I am very excited to learn about Primary Sources and the use of them in the classroom!  Most of what was available years ago when I first taught, it all had to be in books which were not easy to come by, then had to be copied in some way.  I think the use of the Library of Congress, Smithsonian, National Archives and museums across the nation and world opens up some exciting ways to use the Internet within all areas of the curriculum!  For myself, I will need to push myself to get completely immersed in the information available.  From my other classes we have talked about how do we as teachers get the students more interested in school and the subjects which we teach. I believe this is the way in which to do it.  I looked at a lesson plan done for 4th grade math and it was teaching skills about geometric shapes.  It used the idea of quilts.  There were several pictures of quilts and then went on to talk about the different shapes which make up the quilts.  After class discussion they went on to make their own math quilt.  Very innovative and inspiring to me! This also ties into the discussion about creative commons by the ability to use another teacher’s lesson plan to teach a subject.  Plus looking at what others have done, gets my own creative juices flowing and I can see ways in which to go off in my own direction from there. I like the creative commons  http://creativecommons.org/ video talk of  “Share – Reuse – Remix”.  The wheel does not need to be reinvented in teaching all the time. 

NETS standards for teachers plays out a lot in this weeks topics.  The first standard talks of “Facilitate and Inspire Student learning and Creativity.”  With the use of primary sources to enrich the learning it can get students fired up about learning.  Another NETS-T standards is “Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments” using different sources on the Internet will also enhance learning, and meet one of the standards goals.  As a future teacher, I believe when I am excited about a subject or subjects the students will pick up on that and become excited to explore and learn also.  Since the possibilities to develop all lessons are awesome on with the web, it will be important to me to remember to narrow my focus to the subject at hand, and not get overwhelmed by the process.  I will be in a learning mode, too, as I work in the digital age.

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Digital Citizenship

Tony Wagner discusses seven skills students need for their future. They relate to Digital Citizenship in these different ways:

1) Critical and Problem Solving – By being part of the world and the information which is available to anyone on the web, this skill is one of the NETS standards which helps students do identify problems and questions to research, analyze data, making informed decisions and thinking about possible alternative solutions.

2) Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence – By working with the best people for a job, around the world, from different cultures, races, religions, and can have different ethics.  The NETS standards have collaboration as a skill which each student needs to possess by having global awareness and engaging with other learners from other cultures.

3) Agility and Adaptability – By being flexible and able to adapt to new situations and issues presented.  The information which is available at any time of the day or night is constantly changing.  This generation is able to go with the flow because it is all they known about their world.  NETS standards has this skill under digital citizenship in the form of being about to have positive attitude towards using technology which supports learning and productivity.

4) Initiate and Entrepreneurialism – This skill does not relate to Digital Citizenship in a direct manner.  It is more along the line of using technology to develop commerce and ways in which to promote oneself in today’s market place.  NETS standards do not reflect this skill.

5) Affective Oral Communication – This could be in conflict with Digital Citizenship because it is an oral or verbal form of communication.  NETS standards has a requirement for students using the digital media to express their thoughts and ideas effectively.  They need to be able to contribute to project teams to come up with original works and also be able to solve problems.

6) Access and Analyzing Information – By being able to get to the information needed and knowing how to access the different features available on software programs.  Having the ability to look at the data and pick out the information desired to answer the questions asked.  NETS standards have analyzing information under the heading of research and information fluency.  Students should be able to apply digital tools for the purpose of gathering, evaluation and how to use the information.  Also under technology operations and concepts the students can show a “sound understanding of technology concepts, systems and operations.”

7) Curiosity and Imagination – This does not relate directly to Digital Citizenship.  NETS standards has it under the creativity and innovation section.   Students can show curiosity by their creative thinking and developing exciting new products and processes using technology.

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Privacy

It was interesting to hear Eli Pariser talk about what he calls “filter bubbles.”  Information is being filtered out without us even knowing it.  Google and Facebook are personalizing what we click on and making choices as to what information we receive when browsing.  This is a disturbing thought for me because I am not allowed to choose my own ideas about what information I want to view.  I will not even be aware of other information available to look at.  A quote from Eric Schmidt, Google, says, “It will be very hard for people to watch or consume something that has not in some sense been tailored for them.” Pariser goes on to say as yet there is no ethics embedded in the algorism.  There needs to be filters which allow for things which are relevant, important, uncomfortable, challenging and other view points in our choices.  I agree we need some control of our choices.

This is flies in the face of many of the NETS standards for students.  Under creativity and innovation the main points are to generate new ideas and processes, create original works by means of personal expression, and identify trends and forecast possibilities.  If Google is filtering what information is coming in, how could these standards be met?  Only some of the information is available for the students to use. And if the filter comes from what is clicked before, it would be difficult to get an accurate picture of a users needs.  Mainly because computer use is usually restricted in schools.  Under research and information fluency the main points are to locate, organize, analyse, evaluate and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media, process data and report results, and select information sources based on specific tasks.  Students can do this with the information they gather but if key info is filters out, how accurate will their assignments be?  Will the truth come through in their projects because they do not have all the facts concerning the subjects they are researching?  We have been conditioned to use Google as a source to gather information.  Can it be trusted?  It is disturbing to be censored for the one piece of technology which we are being taught to rely on – the Internet.  However, on the flip side, there needs to be a balance and as Pariser says “a gatekeeper” with ethics and responsibility.  How soon this will happen we will have to wait and see.

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Week 1 – NETS

I am coming into this course a week late and trying to catch up.  As I read and watched the videos I have to say it made my head swim with thoughts going here and there.  I will try to gather them together and make some sence of them.

The NETS standards aspire to collect all of the information which is needed to teach students how to be technologically savvy in an ever changing world.  Their core issue is that digital age skills are vital for preparing students to work, live, and contribute to social and civic fabric of their communities. Digital media literacy is rising to importance in leaps and bounds as to how we think, communicate, learn, and process the world around us.  The public education field needs to prepare students to be able to work within these changes.

One of the standards which is important is promoting digital citizenship and responsibility.  Howard Rheingold discusses its importance with universities and employers being able to look-up information about a person from as long as they have been on the web.  Some people are be denied access to universities because of pictures and text from years past of drunken parties.  Employers are passing on the opportunity to hire someone from threads which continue back to past aggressive behaviour shown on social media sites.  Being responsible with how students use the digital age is something that can be far reach into their futures.  Students need to be taught responsibility on the Internet in all social media at a young age.

Learning how to collaborate and publish with peers is another important NETS standard. Howard Rheingold talks to this standard by saying even within his classes at Stanford and Berkeley he was surprised at the wide variation of digital knowledge with his students.  He had to set up new modules for his classes which address learning with the individuals having a voice to speak as he was teaching.   As the world continues to become more global and communication between all areas of life are connected together, instantly, being able to collaborate with each other is paramount.

Critical thinking, problem solving and decision making are a NEDS standard which could very challenging to teach.  A lot is put on the students to come up with understanding from data.  Students have been trained, over time, to believe what a book says is true and not to question the authenticity of the information within it.  Anyone can put anything on the net and say anything they want to say.  It will take some time and effort on the part of the educators to teach how to analyze the information students are finding.

The differences between the NEDS standards for teacher verses students come in the approach of meeting those standards.  Student standards are geared towards how the students will be able to participate within the structure of the Internet.  They need to learn how to be creative thinkers, create original works, engage with others from different cultures, and learn how to evaluate information, using digital tools to process the data.

NEDS standards for teachers come from the prospect of how they are going to engage students in the learning process.  They need to use their knowledge to promote and model creativity, design and develop learning models for the digital age, be fluent in the technology available, understand digital citizenship and responsibility, plus engage in their own professional growth.

I come from an elementary background and struggle with these standards.  There seems to be a huge gap between what the NEDS standards are promoting and what is currently going on in the public schools.  Many of the school districts do not have the funding or resources to properly meet these requirements.  Many of the teachers who have been teaching 5+ years are not wanting to change their teaching style to accommodate technology.  As Howard Rheingold says, “Change doesn’t take place quickly in public schools.”  I was amazed about his comments of the “wide variation on digital knowledge” in his classes.  And this comes from a professor at two of the top universities in the nation!  My thought was, if college students in 2010 have such a wide variation in their knowledge of the digital world, how are the public schools expected to met the high NEDS standards any time soon or in the near future?

I asked my own daughters about their experiences with the digital age in their public schools and this is what they said.  At the elementary school in 4th grade the class had a computer lab time once a week for about an hour.  5th grade there were no computers in the room, but there was a cart with laptops to plug into which traveled around to different rooms.  When they were on the computer they were only allowed to use search engines to gather specific information with limited time on the computer.

My 8th grader, in middle school, had more access to computers.  They used Ipads, laptops, desk tops, and teachers had smart boards.  There was a computer lab which had about 30 computers in it and the library had 10 computers.  Many classrooms had computers in them also.  She said about 1/2 of the teachers used the smart board and its features.  The other half only used them to project something overhead.  One of her teachers even said,”Don’t tell anyone but I don’t know how to use the smart board!”  This makes me see the gap in educating students in the digital age really starts with educating the teachers and more than a quick run through.  I have heard from teachers of how some of their colleagues do not want to teach with new technology and fight the process.  It is difficult to learn new ways of teaching something one has taught for many years.

On a personal note, I can say I am on the side of having to learn about the digital age in my own future classroom.  I am excited to see all the things one can do with the technology but on the other hand it can seem overwhelming to me.  I do not participate in the social media of today but can see the need to get connected with others and to use it, getting myself firmly planted in the 21st century.  Lucky for me I have two children who are dragging me, sometimes kicking and snarling, along so I will get there eventually.

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