Sunday, September 30, 2012
Blog Assignment #5
The iSchool Initiative
First of all, after watching The iSchool Initiative and Travis Allen's ZeitgeistYoungMinds entry I am amazed at the fact that this is an idea of a high school student! I know when I was in high school, I was not thinking anything about this kind of stuff.
In the video Travis Allen, a senior in high school when the video was made, presents us with an idea of making school completely digital. He begins by saying that it is possible to have a school with no paper, books, or pencils. According to him, the only thing students need to get an education is an iTouch. Students can use different educational apps including a graphing calculator and maps of the world to aid in their education. He states that school supplies, including paper, printer ink, graphing calculators, and books for a year cost at least $600 per student. Using the iTouch, these costs could be cut to $150 per student. Another advantage that is presented is the fact that students, teachers, and parents would be easily connected on any iTouch or computer.
I think this idea definitely has a lot of potential. It will save tons of natural resources like paper. The students would probably be more interested in school, so that always helps. It will also make communication between students, parents, and teachers easier than ever before.
I do have a couple of concerns about the idea as well. As I was watching the video, one of my initial thoughts was that the students would end up playing on the internet instead of paying attention. However, Travis states in the video that internet access would be limited to educational websites only. This sounds great, but I know when I was in high school, websites like Facebook were blocked, but tons of people knew how to manipulate the system to get on it anyway. Another concern I have is cheating. If students are using a calculator on the iTouch, couldn't they just use a text messaging app to cheat? Although, I do think that these are both things that could be figured out, and the idea as a whole is great!
Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir
Watching Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir completely blew my mind! I had no idea that anything like this existed! It seems so crazy that the internet makes the world such a small place! I think this use of the internet is awesome. It has to be amazing for all of those people to know they are part of such a large scale project. This use of the internet gives so many people a great opportunity to be a part of something big for millions of people to enjoy worldwide.
I think it would be really neat to do this on a smaller scale in a music class with a couple of other classes from other countries. You could even do a song with words, and have the different classes sing parts in their own language to put together to make the whole song. With a little bit of creativity, unique uses of the internet like this could bring classrooms around the world together like never before.
Teaching in the 21st Century
In the video, Teaching in the 21st Century, Kevin Roberts presents to us how the teaching profession has changed dramatically. Roberts thinks that it means more to teach in today's world than providing students with knowledge. He says that with today's technology students have any information they could ever need at their fingertips. In his opinion, what teachers need to be is a filter for all of this information. Students need to be taught how to use the various tools available to them on the internet as well as how to evaluate the information they find. For example, is the source reliable? Is the information accurate? He is saying we need to go beyond Bloom's Taxonomy and allow our students to create blogs, wikis, and other projects using technology. Not only do we need to all of this for our students, but we also need to make assignments and lessons engaging and not just for the entertainment of using technology.
I think Roberts presents some really insightful thoughts in his video. He is right, students need to be able to do everything he presents and be able to do it well. And even though lessons should be engaging and not for entertainment, as I have mentioned before, I think students would show a greater enthusiasm for this type of learning. Technology is a huge part of modern students' lives, and they need to know how to use it effectively. At the same time however, there are some things, such as learning to read and math, that are more effective when taught traditionally--by the teacher. Certainly, it is a great idea to supplement instruction in these areas with the use of technology, but in my opinion, it needs to start with the teacher's instruction.
As a future educator, I need to take these ideas seriously. I think incorporating technology into lessons will be more work than a traditional lesson but more beneficial to students. Our world is changing rapidly, and students need to be prepared for it. I plan to do my best do just that for my future students--prepare them for this crazy world.
Flipping the Classroom
After watching Why I Flipped My Classroom and Flipped Classroom - FAQ, I have decided that I think flipping the classroom can be a great experience for students. In her videos, Katie Gimbar, an eighth grade algebra I teacher, explains the ins and outs of flipping her classroom. She describes a class as having three major groups of learners--lower, middle, and higher levels. Traditional lecturing generally caters to the middle group of students leaving the higher level bored and the lower level behind and confused. Using prerecorded videos for lecturing at home frees up class time to actually apply and practice knowledge. She divides the students into groups based on ability so she can customize her help based on the group's needs.
Any concerns and questions I had after watching her first video were quickly answered in the frequently asked questions videos. For example, the very first concern that popped into my head was, "What do you do with students who don't watch the videos at home?" Katie answers this by saying that she sends these students to watch the videos on computers at school either before or at the beginning of class. This way the rest of the students can get started on the activity instead of sitting through a review for students who don't do their part. Another feature of flipping that she pointed out that I think is really great is that even if a student is absent, they can still see the lecture. This would have helped me so much in high school!
I am not sure if this style of teaching would work in my own teaching simply because I will be teaching elementary children. Depending on the grade level, this approach could be very overwhelming to students. I can definitely see it working for older elementary students like fourth and fifth graders, but any younger than that might be difficult. Something I could do for a younger grade to incorporate this approach would be to make some short videos for classroom computers reviewing a concept. Children struggling with this concept could watch the video as part of a center. This way, children who understand the concept will not get bored having to sit through review after review and can instead be directed toward centers with more complex activities. For the older elementary students, I would probably begin by guiding them through the first few videos, and teach them how to watch them effectively. Then I might have them watch them at the beginning of class for a couple of weeks until they are used to the concept and can watch them effectively at home.