Posts Tagged ‘research’

Throughout history, we learned that for instructional technology to succeed, on-going collaboration is required among national, state, and local educational organizations. Many technological advancements have been created, such as, CAI applications, audiovisual libraries, microcomputer drill and practice programs, etc., to hopefully benefit our educational techniques and student progress. These were dismissed or fizzled out faster than they could be properly implemented. Most failed due to lack of teacher enthusiasm and proven educational need. This history is unacceptable for our students.

The US military’s proven success of using technology for a teaching medium is a model for successful technology integration on state and national levels. According to Reiser, (2001) military trainers expressed satisfaction with training films utilized during World War 1. The military defined the immediate crisis, and after the proper collaboration, used the appropriate technology to solve the problem.

I propose that our educational system should take this same approach. Our National Educational Technology Standards(Nets) focuses on infusion of technology in order to create, problem solve, and collaborate. Our state standards focus upon this same need. Our local administrators’ goal is to raise student test scores in order to comply with state accountability. Further collaboration is beneficial to define the exact goal of the state and require implementation by local districts of appropriate technology encouraging that specific goal. For example, integrating technology for global communication, real world problem solving, and creation and expression will naturally allow students to think and express themselves and enhance their performance on standardized testing. It would be far better to define our goals as educators and work together toward its achievement, such as the military demonstrated to us in my previous example. Change is needed; however, unity in our goal is the determining factor for success.

Reiser, R.A. (2001). A History of Instructional Design and Technology: Part I: A History of Instructional Media. Educational Technology Research and Development, 49 (1), 53-64.

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Unquestionably, language Arts incorporates the reading and writing process. Before discussing technology and it’s advantages with reading and writing, it is necessary to remember that many other subjects within our children’s school day require reading and writing skills in order to address the core curriculum content. Mathematics lessons often require children to explain in written form how they came to a particular conclusion.  Science projects require research and a comprehensive understanding that must be transcribed into a succinct version of the topic.  Social Studies include many forms of reading and response to a particular area of schoolwork.   Health and language topics also require reading comprehension and the writing process.  Each subject in the curriculum requires students to read, research, and write about a particular topic.  Technology is often overlooked in this process as a valuable tool that has the ability to enhance these learning skills.  Technology has the capability to motivate the learner, while providing students with the literary skills vital for success with today’s curriculum.

As a kindergarten teacher, I am currently focusing my efforts on the science curriculum, and developed a thematic unit on Weather and Seasons for my students.  Many of the resources we use from the Internet and library require literacy skills for success with the students’ projects. My students are required to keep a journal in which they log their science learning activities and ideas.  They complete this written journal using small sentence formation and illustrations appropriate to their age.  I taught them to use Internet Resources such as Brain Pop, which includes a “Write about it” tab.

Educational technology is embracing literacy instruction beyond its oral and print-based tradition. “The Internet is constructing global bridges for students to communicate, by changing the way that information is absorbed, processed, and used. Technology is influencing how people read, write, listen, and communicate.”(Holum, 2001)  With this in mind, my students are also encouraged to communicate with their ePal partner schools in a shared writing lesson, an activity providing this young generation with the ability to jointly watch the writing process being developed appropriately.  I usually complete this assignment on the Smart Board so all students’ attention is focused on how we develop appropriate written work, and how we can edit our ideas once we’ve read our work aloud.  The students are much more attentive when using the Smart Board, rather than when I use chart paper or the chalk board.  They are excited and know that the work they are doing is special and something some of their caregivers or parents did not have the opportunity to do during their kindergarten years.  I hear this sentiment repeated from caregivers everyday, which helps to solidify my belief that technology enhances student motivation with use in school day assignments.

Kindergarten students are still developing the required phonics and decoding skills for successful reading comprehension.  I find many of them talking home e-books that helps increase their oral vocabulary related to weather terms.  The students are also provided with effective decoding skills when these terms are used in a Power Point presentation for drill and practice.  Not only are the young learners able to read these scientific terms, but  they are also given the opportunity to use these terms in a sentence.  We use Kid Pix so the students can type new vocabulary and create digital drawings of each new vocabulary term.  When all of these technology-enhanced lessons are combined, my young learners eagerly take ownership of their reading and writing skills.  New words become familiar reading words and each student is capable of using the new vocabulary appropriately when discussing the daily weather.  When using an e-book, rather than a read aloud, I am able to focus my full attention on my learners’ comprehension while assessing and questioning the comprehension of the students.  Teachers who use audio books are able to make more effective use of questioning and discussion time because they could pay attention to the content and meaning of the text, focusing on students’ comprehension process and not just their own spoken performance”.(Hobbs, 2007)  My students can also listen to chosen e-books in classroom centers and share them with their families at home.  They find it more enjoyable to use the computer than struggle with flipping pages in their tiny hands.  These books provide another visual, so important for keeping the attention of little minds.

Today’s classrooms are filled with rich literacy content across the curriculum.  Each subject and grade level is required to go beyond the basic skill content and enhance writing and reading lessons through thematic units.   Technology promotes learning even further by motivating the students and engaging all learning types and special needs.  Technology- savvy teachers become an inspiration to our profession.  Typically, you see a high success rate from their students and a level of enthusiasm palpable upon entry to their classrooms.  At this juncture, technology is here for the duration.  It is evident that it is in everyone’s best interest, especially our students, to utilize this dynamic tool within the educational day

Bibliography

Hobbs, R. (2007, May 17). Using Audio Books to Promote Critical Listening Skills Using Audio Books to Promote Critical Listening Skills. Retrieved March 20, 2010, from School of Communication and Theatre; Media Education Lab: http://mediaeducationlab.com/using-audio-books-promote-critical-listening-skills

Holum, A. P. (2001,October). Critical Issue: Using Technology to Enhance Literacy Instruction. Retrieved 2010, 17-March from North Central Regional Educational Laboratory: http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/content/cntareas/reading/li300.htm

This week, I used my Ed Tech 541 VoiceThread in order to communicate my blog post.  Please click on the link provided in order to hear my ideas on how to incorporate the Internet into your classroom. I included examples of how my students use the Internet for my Weather Thematic Unit.  I hope you enjoy it.

http://voicethread.com/share/967970/

or try:

http://voicethread.com/#q.b967970.i5159242

Spreadsheet and database software might easily be overlooked as a valuable learning tool in education.  In order to meet the accountability regulations, administrators may quickly provide teachers with access to software for student information, test scores, grade books, student performance data, etc.  Spreadsheets and database programs are beneficial to teachers; however, it is certainly essential that the students be trained to properly use these applications for learning, problem-solving opportunities and the ability to meet today’s technology standards.  For students to achieve success using these technical tools, educators must be fully mindful of the extent that the use of spreadsheet or database applications will realize in helping to improve their students’ learning goals.

What is a Spreadsheet?

A spreadsheet is an electronic worksheet that stores data in rows and columns. An individual cell may contain “numerical values, words or character data, and formulas or calculation commands“. (Roblyer, 2010)  Formulas are used to perform instant numerical operations which make it possible for a student to compare data and explore changes with instant visual results.  Charts and graphs can be supplemented to enhance the organization and evaluation of the work.  The educational advantages of spreadsheets include:

  • Ÿ  Performing numerical operations with visual representation for concrete learning
  • Ÿ  Enhancing a student’s projects with graphs, charts, and data display
  • Ÿ  Encouraging higher level thinking and “what if” problem solving by allowing functions to   complete low level arithmetic
  • Ÿ  Helping students track data from assignments/projects
  • Ÿ  Permitting students to keep track of their grades in order to predict outcomes and     encourage goal setting

What is a Database?

Database software allows users to collect and store information, while providing search engines for easy retrieval of information.  According to Thorsen (2009), databases “provide tools for a skilled user to detect patterns among the facts from which they are built“.  Making predictions, revealing relationships, describing the unknown, making comparisons and effectively problem solving, are just a small number of the capabilities databases provide for our students. Databases should be used to:

  • Ÿ  Help students complete research and look for data among many different organizations
  • Ÿ  Learn invaluable lessons in study skills and organization by relating to the way databases handle information
  • Ÿ  Teach students how data can be organized to show relationships to small pieces of information
  • Ÿ  Question students and encourage them to find information to support their position
  • Ÿ  Practice research skills by locating public databases for analysis

When incorporating spreadsheets and databases into our classrooms, we are empowering students to problem solve and use higher level thinking skills to question, analyze, and explore information.  Students gain an opportunity to use real world tools to gather research and information. As a result, learning becomes more concrete and visual which provides the students with a better understanding of new concepts.  Students become more engaged when they actually see the relevance of their learning and are capable of viewing the results from different perspectives. Students are encouraged to work collaboratively and share information.  These advantages, not only foster the learning process for the student, but the effective use of the technology also provides a sense of accomplishment.

For teachers who are new to Excel and database instruction, internet4classroom.com includes helpful tutorials and resources that can be used by the teacher or your students.  Working together with your student, the use of applications can provide a positive learning experience for both of you.

Thorsen, C. (2009). Techtactics: Technology for teachers (3rd ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Roblyer, M.D., & Doering, A. (2010). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Boston, MA: Pearson Education Inc.

How should technology be used?

This question seems to be the topic of constant conversation in my district today. Many teachers are overwhelmed and are too timid to delve head first into new technology. Others are just as motivated for additional access to more advanced technology as the children. The ISTE lists specific standards for achievement by teachers and students. In order for these standards to be met, administrators must provide technical support in the form of proper continuing education, professional development, district operations, and networking.

When all district technology needs are met, teachers must use the technology for every aspect of teaching, the result of which will be enhanced motivation and engagement of the students. Children today are already using computers, mp3p players, cell phones, digital cameras, Internet, etc. Teachers have the ability to extend a student’s personal use of technology for lessons and research. Students should have a safe environment for applying this new knowledge in digital journals and blogs. Students should communicate with other cultures in order to collaborate and interact with a diverse community of student peers. They should have access to a variety of ways to create multimedia presentations, either individually or collaboratively. Students should have access to programs that will guide them to organize and analyze data for all areas of their curriculum. Computer time is necessary to provide students with the time necessary to research in order to plan and compose their projects. Programs must be available for learners to perform drill and practice exercises to succeed with individual goals. Technology specialists should be available for both students and teachers to in order to troubleshoot hardware or software problems. The specialist will guide students and faculty through the technology learning process and teach safe and responsible technology practices when using the Internet.

Learning is greatly enhanced when technology is responsibly placed in the hands of the students and teachers. The Technology Integrating Matrix provides teachers with wonderful ready-to-use examples on methods for successfully using technology.(Technology, 2009) Fear of the unknown, should not keep us from exploring technology. Teachers today are becoming just as energized and engaged as students about the possibilities that lie ahead in the use of technology. Take the risk of embracing technology. The results are endless and will be surprisingly rewarding for all.

What principles should guide your approach for integrating technology into instruction?

After watching a video on the latest addition to the Apple family, The Apple I Pad, my first instinct was to find out how to get my hands on one and allow my students to use it in my classroom. As tempting as it may be, to incorporate all the “cool” new gadgets on the market, research suggests that I incorporate a direct plan of action before introducing any new technology into my curriculum. Effective technology integration is well planned and works collaboratively with today’s educational curriculum and state standards. Technology is not simply adding gadgets, websites, printouts and spreadsheets into a lesson for your students. Successful technology integration goes beyond the concept of being a “tool “when certain principles and guidelines are practiced before instruction takes place. When developing a unit plan using technology, a teacher must map out a Technology Integration Planning (TIP) Model. This model consists of four phases: (Roblyer, 2007)

• Why should I use a technology based method?
• How will I know students have learned?
• What teaching strategies and actions will work best?
• Are essential conditions in place to support technology integration?

It is important for teacher to insure that a technology lesson meets the criteria for all students in order to succeed. According to the Universal Design for Learning (UDL), every classroom consists of learners with different needs and learning barriers. UDL provides teachers with specific guidelines on methods to use in order to reach all learners. Teachers should provide students with various methods of acquiring information and research. Teachers must keep learners motivated and challenged by keeping lessons interesting and attention-grabbing. Teachers should provide diverse models of ways students can demonstrate what they learned. (CAST,2008) The proper instruction provides all students with a successful opportunity to reach curriculum goals and objectives.

Administration support and training, access to technology tools, and proper technology integration steps, provides every student with a motivating, rewarding and successful opportunity for learning. When all these conditions are met appropriately, our students will be adequately equipped with the 21st century skills required for a successful future.

CAST. (2008). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines Version 1.0. Retrieved February 5, 2010, from Universal Design for Learning Center:

Roblyer, M. D. (2010). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (5th Edition). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc. pp. 52-63

Technology, F. C. (2009). The Technology Integration Matrix . Retrieved February 2, 2010, from Florida Center for Instructional Technology:

Technology plays a vital role in today’s educational curriculum. The effective use of technology provides the ability to inspire, prepare, and improve learning of students of all ages. Some of the most basic daily lesson plans can become much more powerful and inspirational to a learner simply by changing the direction of how the lesson is delivered. Technology integration changes a student’s perception and increases student motivation. Although there are many local funding and teacher training hurdles to overcome, research confirms the overall conclusion that technology used in education produces positive and meaningful results.

Test Scores Improve

Students with access to computers are able to utilize programs and technology resources to make a difference in their personal goals and test scores. Teachers can pinpoint, through the use of testing software, areas of strengths and weaknesses for each student. Teachers can also obtain data and feedback on specific lessons and activities needed to improve individual learning. Research shows that schools who do not reach the AYP requirements are behind in technological advances and usage within their district. Those who have access to technology are motivated and engaged in daily lesson performance, thus decreasing student dropout and failure. A study done in Missouri showed that fourth graders improved consistently on their the MAP results when their classrooms were equipped with technology, basic productivity software, and high speed internet connections.(Bickford, 2005)

Technology Prepares Students for Real Word Life Skills

In the 21st century, students require lifelong learning skills and preparation for the future where they will be expected to put these skills to work. The use of technology by students and teachers provides more collaborative working time and team problem solving, something that will benefit them in all aspects of life. Students trained to use distance learning and web communications to dialog with schools and community groups all over the world gain a wide variety of perspectives. Students retain and understand lessons when information presented is relevant and meaningful to their life’s experiences. A hands-on method of working together provides students with a more significant and real world application to their curriculum. (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2003)

Technology Prepares Students for the Workforce

In today’s global economy students must have access to the most relevant computer resources available in order to be a competitive member of the world’s workforce. Technology based curriculum prepares students to enter colleges and universities and to be productive members of the workforce environment. Career Pathway districts integrated technology with learning and career exploration. High school students reported a sense of accomplishment and pride in their work and felt they possessed the appropriate tools and methods needed to enter today’s careers. Teachers and administrators felt they were a positive element of this process and were motivated to continue improving their instructional practices. Student’s grade point averages were higher and graduation statistics rose, with technology trained students expressing more confidence in their future. (Career Pathways in Michigan Schools, 2002)

In order for our future generation to be educated and prepared for today’s workforce environment, it is imperative to incorporate technology into all facets of our curriculum. Today’s society places high demands on the use of computers, multimedia and appropriate technological problem solving in order to be successful in the 21st Century. It is imperative that teachers and students be technologically literate in this generation. To accomplish this, technology must be a part of a student’s everyday learning. This enables all types of knowledge including, visual, auditory, kinesthetic and critical thinking. Student learning and achievement has a more direct positive result when technology is used on a regular basis. The ISTE mandates many standards for both students and teachers to ensure the proper learning environment for our students. Their focus is not only on the use of technology, but rather on the endless possibilities of the learning journey when technology is used correctly. “Taking the journey is critical in preparing students to live, learn, and work in a technology-rich world. “ (ISTE,2010) Let’s prepare our students today for this lifelong journey ahead.

Bickford, Adam. “Analysis of 2004 MAP Results for eMINTS Students.” Evaluation Team Policy Brief, eMINTS National Center, January 10, 2005. Retrieved from
http://www.emints.org/evaluation/reports/map2004.pdf

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2003, June). Learning for the 21st Century: A Report and MILE Guide for 21st Century Skills. Retrieved from
http://www.21stcenturyskills.org/downloads/P21_Report.pdf

“Career Pathways in Michigan Schools: A Success Story.” Michigan Department of Career Development. December 2002. Retrieved from
http://www.michigan.gov/documents/A_Success_Stor_Black_white_60632_7.pdf

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Resources for Educational Technology Professionals, 2010 Retrieved from
http://www.iste.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Educator_Resources