Wednesday, February 9, 2011

K12 Online Conference "Bridging History Using Web 2.0 Tools "

Bridging History Using Web 2.0 Tools by Robin Beaver, an instructional technology specialist, and Jean Moore, a seventh grade English and Social Studies teacher, illustrates how to integrate technology into an existing unit on Asia. This unit includes various activities including presentation and research and analysis of primary sources. Her goal is to create activities that encourage higher level thinking skills, collaboration, self direction, and provides for differentiation. 

The film begins showing multiple sites, where students can access countless primary resources to aide students in their research efforts. It also shows the students using a Webquest to complete a project about the Chinese cultural revolution. The authors illustrate how Glogster can be used in history research projects. This allows text, pictures, video, sound, audio files and hyperlinks and this free service also comes with 200 student accounts per teacher. One of the most fascinating parts of this video was where the class was able to have an online conversation with a Vietnam veteran. Rather than reading a book about or trading emails to communicate, these students were engaged in a real time conversation with a real life American hero. It helped the students gain a real life experience at what a young American soldier endured during the Vietnam War.
As a future social studies teacher, this video was very interesting to me. I actually bookmarked this one, because I know at some point in the future I will use some of the ideas presented in  this film to incorporate technology into the classroom. Most of history is well documented from a variety of sources. Instead of simply having students memorize facts, I like the approach the teachers in this film took in having the students seek out the information and data to complete any given assignment. These are the skills employers in the real world are looking for when making hiring decisions.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It is the responsibility of the teacher to provide equal access to the digital world to all learners? What does this mean? How does one accomplish it?

     I believe educators primary focus should be preparing their students to become positive productive members of society. In our ever changing world people need a variety of skills to become appealing to employers. I am in complete agreement with that principal from the Digital Natives film I watched who said employers are not looking to hire people who can sit back and memorize a bunch of facts. Social skills, team building, and the ability to use various technologies are essential skills many employers are seeking when hiring.
    I think it is the responsibility of the teacher to try to incorporate each of these skills into the classroom to prepare our youth to enter the "real world." Teachers should not integrate technology just for the sake of it, but use it to teach children how to use it productively. Due to a variety of factors, there is quite a discrepancy amongst schools in the availability of technology for students. I feel teachers need to be aware and sensitive that their students come from a wide variety of families and not all students will have access to the same technological devices. In my opinion, if a teacher is integrating technology as part of an assignment, the resources need to made available to all of the students. I would hate to see a child receive a "bad" grade due to factors that are totally out of their control. In my opinion, I feel the responsibility of ensuring students have the access to new technologies that will enrich their lives lies more on the district and/or administrators who are determining where the funds are going rather than the teachers.
     However, I feel teachers need to see the big picture and focus on developing children into becoming productive members of society. Skilled individuals whom employers are fighting over to join their workforce. If the resources are there for the children, educators must use them to enrich and develop our young people for their future. Not doing so, is only doing a disservice to the children.

Literature Review #1

           While I was browsing through journals online via the Shapiro Library, I was able to find many articles relating to technology and its role in our children's educational experience. However, the subject of cyberbullying has really began to pick up steam in the national press as well as in school districts across the country. Not too long ago there was a student at Rutgers University who committed suicide after becoming a victim to cyberbullying. There was also a story a while ago where a parent of a young girl's classmate created a fake myspace account and bullied the young young girl so badly she also took her own life. Next Monday, at the middle school in Raymond, where I am currently employed, they are having a bullying awareness day. This subject has been so prevalent recently, I wanted to expand my knowledge and awareness of this issue which is affecting too many of our young people.
            This article begins with some really telling statistics which caught my attention from the get go. According to the 2007 Bureau of Justice Statistics' Indicators of School Crime and Safety Report reported that approximately 28% of students between the ages of 12 and 18 had been bullied at school during the past 6 months. The article defines cyberbullying as willful and and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices. Cyberbullying involves using communication technology to harass, intimidate, threaten, or otherwise harm others. Cyberbullies are using technology because they can remain relatively anonymous while harassing others. Many youths are using computers and cell phones with very little, if any supervision from their parents, teachers, or other adults. It is also much easier for some to say things virtually rather than upfront face to face with that persons. These are some of the factors that are leading to such an increase in this behavior.
           Adolescence is a time in an individuals life when identity development is very important. Young people tend to seek behaviors in which make them feel better about themselves and try to avoid those in which make them feel bad about who they are. The articles cites several studies that link victims of bullying to lower levels of self esteem. These studies make sense when applied to real life. What child is going to feel good about themselves when somebody is sending them texts making fun of them? How is a child going to focus on his school work, when in class he is sitting next to another child who is spreading horrible rumors about him on the internet?
           The author sites a survey from 1,963 middle school aged children about the prevalence of cyberbullying in their lives. The data was really an eye opener for myself to take in. 23% of those surveyed said they had posted something online about another person to make people laugh. 18% received an upsetting email from someone they knew while 16% received an instant message that upset them. Across all of the questions in this study roughly 10%-23% of students surveyed were either participating or fell victim to cyberbullying. While I was aware somewhat of this issue and the increasing prevalence of it, this data really was an eye opener for myself.
         Cyberbullying is a very serious and real problem I think much of society somewhat ignores or is just not informed enough about the topic. I know now personally, I will try to identify signs or signals of this behavior while working with our youth. I am glad this is getting national press and schools are tackling this issue hands on. Parents, grandparents, teachers, administrators, mentors, etc must all work together to fight this type of behavior. I know as educators our time with students is very limited, however, we must be aware that this is going on and try to see those warning signs before another horrible tragedy takes place as a result of cyberbullying.

Patchin, J., & Hinduja, S. (2010). Cyberbullying and Self-Esteem. The Journal of School Health, 80(12), 614-24.