Sunday, August 14, 2011

Final Reflection

I am fortunate to be at a school that has a lot of technology available for the teachers and students.  Naturally, using the technology and integrating it into our daily curriculum is expected.  One of the biggest pushes that our principal and technology coordinator is always saying is that we need to use the technology to impact our students learning – not just as a tool to make things easier for us.  Just as we have learned in this class, we need to use technology to “do different things not to do things differently” (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).   I have always enjoyed using technology and have felt comfortable with it but finding the time to use and explore various technology devices is difficult.  Prior to this class, I would have ideas but not be sure how to get started.  This class has given me more confidence and has forced me to explore and try using technology in ways that I have not before.  I enjoyed figuring out how to use a personal blog, a wiki and a podcast.  It has also made me realize that I do not have to be an expert and that it is okay if I have my students help with technology that they already know.  I now look forward to using a program where each of my students can have their own blog so that they are writing for an authentic audience.  I also have several ideas on how I will use a wiki with my third graders. 
I have been teaching long enough that a teacher-centered classroom was the common practice.  Over the past several years, I have realized how the old way of teaching does not benefit my students.  This class has helped me to see that I need to continue to step in the direction of a student-centered room. To help my students be ready for the 21st century world I need to be a facilitator and a collaborator and to help my students to evaluate, synthesize and utilize the information they find on the World Wide Web.  I need to move out of the way and allow my students to have more responsibility, to take ownership of their own learning, and to guide them in expressing their knowledge in authentic ways (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).  My students need to be working collaboratively and even globally so they are ready for the business world.
   This class has helped me to see not only different ways to use the technology I have access to but also how other technology devices that my students are probably already using outside of school, could benefit my students as they learn.  We can use technology tools like the cell phone, IPad, IPod, and even the Kindle or Nook.  If we can utilize the devices that our students already know how to use and want to use, to motivate and help them learn 21st century skills, why fight it and go ahead and allow them to use the devices – with strict guidelines of proper use in the classroom.
One way I will continue to expand my own knowledge of learning, teaching, and leading with technology to improve my student achievement is to continue with the Walden University Master’s Program that I am currently taking.  Luckily, my school has professional days incorporated into the school calendar in which we are usually working on how to teach 21st century skills.  I will also continue to collaborate with my teaching partner and team as we try out new ideas.  I think it is also important to remember that we can also utilize our students’ knowledge of technology to help us expand our own.
One goal I plan to implement this year is setting up a blog for each of my students to do their journaling and writing.  I want to give them an opportunity to write for an authentic audience and to receive comments back on their writing from classmates and parents.  I hope this will not only make it fun for my students but that it will encourage them to produce higher quality writing.  A second goal is to incorporate wikis into the curriculum so my students will have an opportunity to work on 21st century skills like collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, evaluation, and synthesizing.  Since I teach at a parochial school that has an abundant amount of technology readily available, I do not have any obstacles in my way to achieve my goals.
As I look at the checklist from week 1, I plan to change several of the areas that I marked “sometimes” or even “rarely,” too “often” this school year.  To name a few, I plan to require student collaboration, provide students with multiple and varied opportunities for using technology tools and resources, and provide students with opportunities for sharing and presenting information in multiple ways.  I also plan to widen my personal learning community to help further my own professional growth.  This class has taught me a lot and I plan to incorporate what I have learned immediately so I can empower my students with the 21st century skills they need to be successful in life.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Program one.  The emergence of educational technology [Webcast]. Understandng the impact of technology on education, work, and society.  Baltimore, MD: Author.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Program twenty-three.  Bringing the fun into teaching with technology [Webcast]. Understandng the impact of technology on education, work, and society.  Baltimore, MD: Author.