Reflecting and Considering the Future Direction of Technology in the Classroom: Flipping the Classroom and Making Connections Through Blogging

Aleta May

Week 10 Reflection

March 30, 2014

With Dr. Lee Graham

EDET674

Link to my Week 10 Initial Post: https://aleta57.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/future-direction-of-technology

Link to my Week 10 Reflection post: 

Reflecting and Considering the Future Direction of Technology in the Classroom:  Flipping the Classroom and Making Connections Through Blogging

As I reflect about our topic this week, the future direction of education and technology, I think about how I, personally, need to just get in the habit of trying new things. Perfect or not—I just need to get beyond fear, the self-talk in my mind that permits me to procrastinate, set aside, and saunter into the next day, the next week, the next month; the dreams in my head for using technology in the classroom.  Otherwise, it will be done for me, and “it” is never as good as what I perceive my own students to need. 

This Friday and Saturday, I attended training for a reading program that incorporates best teaching practices, has the teacher varying instruction from whole to small group, walking from group to group, and guiding students to use technology within a preset program.  Yes, it is excellent in that it gives students routine and the benefit of increasing their reading comprehension through technological data tracking that provides immediate feedback and keeps them on track.  The program does utilize research based reading strategies, but what is glaringly missing is the incorporation of a socio-cognitive routine.   Increasing comprehension is not solely a mechanical process. 

While teachers learn to teach students to write and use sentence frames to aid English Language Learners (ELLs) in speaking with complete sentences, and how different content areas use a variety of text structures; such as, sequence, chronology, etc.; the students also need to engage in discussion.  Technology can help with this!    First, though.  I’ll provide an example for a fundamental requirement of student reading engagement, or lack thereof, from this program.  The first three weeks (training) uses a book about some famous baseball player from another cultural background that our students have no connection to! Mainly, this program is teaching teachers across the content areas to teach reading skills that help students decipher science, social studies, and other text types.  It teaches them to USE those sentences frames, and when to use them.  Awesome! However, to make a computer program relevant, the local teacher will need to learn to see the video clips all around them that teach the same vocabulary and concepts, that build background knowledge, and that make what they are reading meaningful.  The next provide examples.

            In the book, Flip Your Classroom:  Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day, the authors describe a typical class:  “At the beginning of class we organize our students.  We check to see who might need to conduct a lab, who needs to take an exam, and who needs remediation on a particular objective” (Bergmann & Sams, p. 53, 2012). They go on to describe getting around to each student or group of students to discuss with them issues like experiment safety, the main point of the experiment, and more. How do they have time to do all of this? They produce locally relevant videos that students can watch for missed lessons, or to review. Even at our training, the teachers asked “what do we do when students miss a day or more?” Okay, the presenter described what she saw other teachers do.  But I wonder how this program is so dependent on everyone being at the same pace? They did have built-in features for differentiation—boosting slow students and stretching advanced students. Yet, so far I have identified in this writing two program weaknesses, that teachers deal with daily: Is the material (premade video-clips included) relevant to the students?  How does it adjust for attendance issues?  The teachers in this class address these with their own videos.

When teachers provide students with access to videos that help them learn or review concepts needed for class project application, they also need to teach students how to use this strategy.  Students learn to pause the video so they may write questions they still have after a second view. Here is a framework called wisk—WSQ that stands for Watch, Summarize and Question (Raths, 2014). Students watch videos using Google Forms, and utilize rewind buttons to review and take notes. First, students watch the video; second, students use the Google Form that is below the video to complete a summary of the lesson; third, students write a question (similar to the strategy used in the reading program described above for stretching/challenging students who need this).  The question will be used later to discuss in whole or small group discussion.

            How do I get kids to talk about what they read and really get into it? I free up my time with both self-created, and local teacher created   Locally, we need to utilize blogs to engage students in talking with peers within our own school district about real issues to solve real problems that affect them. For example, they may discuss new subsistence fishing laws to be imposed upon their lives, and how they will present alternative solutions as they study Biology salmon cycles in a science class. The real purpose for them is to affect legislation, and involve adults to write new proposals with them. Students need to use higher order thinking; research skills, discussion, further research, and written blogs’ to solve real problems—all the while reading, researching and writing.  “After all, blogging is ultimately about reading, writing, and communicating” (Parisi & Crosby, 2012, p. 81).

Participating in a collaborative blog discussion through an external blog such as WordPress, or via thread discussion in Blackboard are examples.  Also, using Google Hangout for students to discuss what they read is a way students can engage each other.  I can encourage students to do this when I teach locally. Through the course we are designing for Alaska Learning Network (AKLN), there may be staggered student participation as one moves from module to module.  Here is insight from Jonathan Crocker’s Week 10 blog that comes to mind as I plan for AKLN:  “to make sure that all aspects of the course can and will be available and functional on different operating systems (and different versions of those systems), different browsers, with different web restrictions (woe to us if a school blocks YouTube…).”  But I think one of our roles in course design is to let the local school know ahead of time that they will need to unblock certain access for this course, thereby indirectly teaching educators the need to grab control of these wonderful resources, rather than ban them.  Back to the AKLN blog issue:  So the blog may develop over time.  The best way though is for students to move through lessons together within the same weeks. Following are three ideas that I can use in lesson design for our American Literature course design that can be embedded into the assignment.

            “~~Have your students write a summary and review of a book they are reading. Have them make written plot predictions halfway through books.  ~~Direct them to write stories in the style of a picture book you just read to them” (Parisi & Crosby, 2012, p. 81). The list goes on.

            An important way I contributed to the learning of class blog participants this way was by sharing insights I learn through researching mobile learning. As we think about those handheld devices students bring to school, let’s think about how they may increase their skills in ways to utilize those tools of leisure for capturing learning moments in the field.  Students and teachers need to expand their thinking on authentic learning tasks, and I believe I contribute to my class peers thinking on the importance of this in my initial blog.

 

References

 

Bergmann, J. and Sams, A. (2012). Flip your classroom:  Reach every student in every class every day.  Eugene, Oregon:  International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).

 

Parisi, L. and Crosby, B. (2012). Making connections with blogging:  Authentic learning for today’s classrooms. Eugene, Oregon:  International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). 

 

Raths, D. (2014).  Nine video tips for a better flipped classroom. The Education Digest.  www.eddigest.com T.H.E. Journal, thejournal.com.  http://online.qmags.com/TJL113

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