Thursday, July 30, 2015

Discuss for the integration of information and computer technology instruction from a school or system perspective. What are the challengesand barriers? Identify professional learning and supports that would enable deeper use

Challenges and barriers:

Parents - Many have an older view on how school should be run and they are very narrow minded on how technology is not only changing the education system as a whole but the way we will operate in the future.  We need to educate the parents, we need to invite them into our classrooms to see what we do. They need to understand why this is important for their child to learn these skills.

Funding - Deficits are happening and education is where the government likes to take the money from. Sad but true.  We need more money for technology yet we are receiving less and less.  We need to think about how we can overcome this challenge.  High school students creating apps during class? Can we somehow monopolize from that? I am not sure.. we need research and law to see what we can do.

Traditional teachers - Many teachers who have been teaching a certain way want to continue teaching and do not want to learn new skills especially if they are close to retirement.. Then they retire, go on the supply list and the homeroom teacher doesn't get their plan followed because the supply did it their own way.... (sorry just a little frustration of mine)

I think the government needs to spend a little money to make PSAs or commercials promoting technology in education and educating parents.  Only then do I see a change for the better.

How does access to a variety of information and computer technology tools and resources allow teachers to foster a culture of fair and equitable assessment and evaluation practices?

Similarly to my previous post, having access to many different tools can benefit both the students and the teachers for an equitable practice.  I don't tend to use the same tool twice which is beneficial for many reasons. I find that rubrics or checklists are always missing elements and that a piece of work that I think deserves a level 4 sometimes gets a 3 and vice versa.  It is extremely hard especially when you are teaching in a subject/grade that you have never taught before.  Having had 5 years with each different subjects or grades, I have NEVER been able to reuse my rubrics and therefore never have been able to tweet them to my liking.  I am frustrated that even though the essence of a rubric is equitable, it doesn't always work out that way. When using different forms of assessment and evaluation tools, it does make it equitable to a certain degree because each tool is different and caters to different areas of assessment.
Another reason I like to switch it up with assessment is to give students choice.  If they grow up not having to choose or know what they are good at, they won't have the skills when they are asked to choose.  My assessments tend to have to be generic as I want students to exhibit their creativity in any format they choose (as long as they meet specified expectations). Students tend to be more engaged and therefore will do well.
Lastly, I like students to see more than just one type of rubric or assessment.  In life, things come randomly and you need to be prepared.  The way I see it, if they are accustomed to getting very different types of evaluations, they will always want to try their best because they do not know what to expect. If you get the same evaluation time after time, you know what the teacher looks for and how to "get an A." Sure you might be thinking that that is the point, but does that really mean that this student is learning or just trying to get an A because they know what format works with their teacher? I like routine to a certain extent but I think its important that students be prepared for change as you never know what to expect in the future.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

How can technology be used to support the development of an equitable, inclusive learning environment that addresses the needs of all learners?

Technology is great for supporting needs equitably because there are many different tools with different functionalities and so students can choose the one which works best for them.  Some factors could include: different devices and needing software which is supported, user friendliness, tools with with other gadgets to use, advertising limits, etc.
In my classroom, if I want a certain tool to be used I will show my students a couple different sites or apps which do the same thing.  I give the children time to play with all of the tools and then they can use whichever they feel more comfortable with.  I find this makes for a more equitable experience because all of the students pick their most preferred tool which relatively gives the same result and the students feel that they were able to have a choice in their learning.
I also like the fact that we use tools in the classroom especially the assistive devices ones as in the past, students who had SEA claims, stood out like sore thumbs.  They were the only ones with the software on their devices to help them and even though they need the support, it might not have helped their self esteem as everyone knew who they were and assumed that they were not like everyone else.  I had a couple students this past year who refused to be identified because they didn't want the whole class thinking that they were "dumb."  I had a paperless classroom so I would teach all students to use tools like word Q or Google Read and Write. I found that those who needed it, didn't feel as targeted because it was offered to the whole class.  I also felt that those who were not identified but might also need support, were able to.  To me, technology is a win win for all students.  

Friday, July 24, 2015

What does it mean to be a leader in the area of ‘Computer and Information Technology integration?

Provide an overview of necessary knowledge, skills, competencies and attributes.

A leader is one who sees weaknesses in a system and takes charge to make those weaknesses either go away or find solutions to make things better.  A leader with regards to Computers and IT needs to see where schools are not as up to speed as others and educate the staff as they see fit.  A school with less technology could look at how to equitably use the technology amongst the classes.  They might even make weekly lessons and goals on what the students should be accomplishing.  Schools with more technology need to make sure it is being used to its fullest potential.  Ideally to have technology on constant use. Educating teachers on how to use the technology is key.  Providing workshops or online presentations for those who cannot make the meetings might be beneficial.
This leader works with the administration on whether or not the budget permits more purchases and if so, which devices will be most used.
This person must be patient because IT help desks don't aways answer right away and the leader within the school is often more approachable and provides quicker answers.  The leader needs to be reading news, testing new tools and web 2.0 sites in order to be knowledgable in case asked.  They need to model in their own classroom and use students to help if it becomes overwhelming.  Lastly, I would say that the leader would have to be flexible and open to having other staff members coming into their classroom in order to see the model in place.
These are just a few qualities that i feel are necessary in a leader for IT.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ways schools can work with the community to teach effective online behaviour

Discuss ways schools can work with parents and community partners to guide students to wise, ethical, safe behavior when working, learning and socializing online. Suggest strategies for effective, continuous, meaningful, detailed and supportive communication with parents/guardians and the community. 

Schools can work with parents and community by opening up the communication about the risks involved with children online.  They can have professionals come in and discuss how to be safe online, as well as how parents can model good behaviour.  The board should think about opening up a forum for parents to ask questions regarding online risks so that they could be answered in a somewhat immediate manner.  I think the main thing is not keeping parents and community members in the dark because they need to be on the same page as the schools in order to keep students safe.  

Benefits of social media in the classroom

What are the benefits of using social media in the classroom? What are the risks and challenges? How do teachers ensure a positive, equitable, accepting and safe learning environment? What other factors should teachers consider when planning for instruction that integrates social media? 

I am a firm believer of using social media in the classroom.  It is not only easy to get information to the students quicker, but it teaches them to practice proper use of social media.  
There are many risks if social media is not used properly.  Students are quite young to understand long term effects of using social media inappropriately.  Even we as teachers are unsure exactly how posting inappropriate things on any website might reflect on a child's future.  Students can do something silly and that one mistake can/might have a negative impact on future job prospects or might get them suspended for cyber bullying etc.  What I try to do in my classroom, is model how to use social media for my profession and hopefully students will see that I too follow the rules of the school.  I allow students to follow me on Twitter and Instagram.  I do not post personal things, only professional ones therefore students will not be shocked or infringing on my privacy.  It also means for the most part, that they don't keep searching for my other accounts.  If you limit students from your accounts, they will be more motivated to hack in or try to find a loop hole to see what you post anyway. In addition, how will students know what to model if they don't have one to watch?
If a student does follow me, I always make sure I cannot access their accounts or that there are no aspects of their privacy that is public.  I did an experiment a couple years ago where I found one student's Facebook profile which was public and from hers, I accessed 12 other students who did not have their profiles public.  I showed students that just because they were private, it didn't mean people couldn't find them.  They were very scared by this and that night each and everyone of them either added privacy to their accounts or deleted them.  These are also aspects that parents don't necessarily know about or test out.  

Going back to social media in the classroom, students create their accounts without their names and they input their profile information on a shared google doc.  I use blogger for students to share their writing and so we practice what descriptive and positive feedback looks like.  Since I know their profile information, I can see what is being written and cross reference who wrote it.  If a comment is near crossing the line, I address it to the student.  I explain how verbal communication has many other factors in finding meaning (body language, intonation etc) where as typing is harder to understand tone and therefore could be taken a different way from the original meaning.  

I think its important to have a plan B when using social media sites because there are always unforeseeable things that come up so its better to have a back up plan in case your lesson doesn't go as planned.  

Saturday, July 18, 2015

My E-learning strategy

Provide a brief overview of the princial e-learning strategy, explaining how aspects of the strategy can be used to respond to individual needs of students.

My e-learning strategy at the moment is most definitely a blended learning one.  With my paperless classroom, my goal one day would be to have everything organized so that if I wasn't there one day, the class could continue as if I was there.  I am away quite a bit because of my technology strengths and my love for learning and so when supply teachers come into my classroom, it is basically a wasted day because they are scared of the technology and the students this past year played "dumb" in that they would act like they weren't sure of the expectations and where to go to get resources even though it was clearly laid out for them the day prior or on the supply plan.  

It would take some time, but to have a digital copy of instructions whether it be typed or on a vlog would be where I would like to go with my teaching.  I know that grade 6 is early to be thinking about elearning on a permanent basis so that is why blended would be perfect because they still need the teacher there for structure, to solve drama issues and to boost confidence but that they start to learn how elearning works so that when they are older, they can fit right in with society (assuming society will be more elearning based by the time they are older of course).

Monday, July 13, 2015

SAMR and TPACK Models

Discuss considerations for system adoption of one of the models (SAMR or TPACK). What do school or system leaders have to take into account when promoting adoption of one of the models? 

I think that for my school, the SAMR model is a little easier to understand and implement at this time.  Most teachers are not using their technology to the fullest extent and are really only using the Substitution area.  By using the SAMR model to show teachers where they fall, it might force them to think about their pedagogy and maybe they will try to push themselves to Augmentation or Modification stages this year.  
The leaders need to take into account what stages the teachers are at before they introduce the method so that they can have a plan in place in order to encourage staff members to go up to the next level.  

I also think that leaders should be checking in at certain points during the year to assess the changes made to teaching practices.  I think teacher should bring a lesson plan already taught to a meeting and have others give suggestions as to how to make it richer or to the redefinition stage. Only then, I can see teachers actually using the model in their planning and trying to make a difference.  

Sunday, July 12, 2015

First post for my specialist course!

Question: What is your vision for technology use in education? How does this compare or contrast with the required readings? 

I really liked the first quote in the Achieving Excellence required reading that read :

"We want schools ... where students will feel free to dream about their futures, where they are able to connect their passions with possible career options, and where the opportunities and resources needed to support these decisions are provided. "

This quote shares my vision for technology as it enables students to not only explore and find what really interests them but it seems more inquiry based as apposed to traditional teacher facilitated learning.  I do envision students of the future to be the ones learning on their own because that is how they will develop problem solving skills which is pertinent for their future careers.  No boss ever has liked someone asking so many questions because they are either too afraid to take risks or they do not have enough knowledge to work independently!  I find students at the moment are used to the teacher directing their learning and when they get a chance to do something on their own, they are lost and overwhelmed.  If they got used to this bit by bit in elementary school, I feel they will be great problem solvers and independent workers by their teenage years.  This is a domino effect as if students are confident and engaged in their learning, they will be less likely to want to leave the education system too early thus our 83% high school diploma rate as mentioned in Achieving Excellence (although I find that a bit low, I account for the fact that in the area that I teach, there is probably a 99% diploma rate).

I also envision many teachers using technology in their daily practice.  This would mean that they would have the budget to have technology in each classroom as well as the opportunities to teach PD around what teachers should know/use.  I was pleasantly surprised in Achieving Excellence that it is a goal of the Ministry of Education to do so as outlined in the following quote:

"Provide new online learning and professional development opportunities for both teachers and students, particularly those in rural and remote communities, ..."
I do know that in my board, consultants are constantly engaging teachers to use more digital resources in their daily practice.  

I also like the emphasis on digital literacies on the Digital Learning article and how it is important that we teach how to go online properly and what the implications are if we post/write/say negative or inappropriate things.  Even if students don't have a computer at home, they have or will have a smartphone in the future, they already have access to computer at school and the library so they will need to know how to act appropriately online.  The problem at the moment with this push for technology in the classroom is the bandwidth in the schools.  It is not strong enough to handle soo many devices online at the same time. What ends up happening during class time are students not being able to connect and therefore becoming frustrated that they cannot go along with the class and end up missing important steps in their learning.  What I would like to see is state of the art wifi/bandwidth so that these problems do not happen as often.