Saturday, February 4, 2012
Something that I continue to struggle with as a new teacher is classroom management. It is something that I learn more about everyday, and I'm constantly assessing my ability to manage my 1st graders. I believe that this is a big area that I need to work on in order to make meaningful use of technology (once I get some!). I need to be able to see issues that can happen in the classroom while using technology ahead of time and be prepared with how to handle anything that could go wrong while keeping the management of my classroom up. Perhaps in that aspect, I would need to sharpen my abilities to multitask as well.
Time management would also be something I need to work on. I have a tendency to get lost in my lessons, especially when my kiddos are curious about things and want to ask questions. I love to feed into their curiosity, but that can be time consuming. Being able to better manage my time would help me with effective use of technology in the classroom, as I believe that it is extremely easy to get lost in technology and lose track of time.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
In his article "Learning Theory, Video Games, and Popular Culture," James Gee states "human understanding is not primarily a matter of storing general concepts in the head or applying abstract rules to experience. Rather, humans think and understand best when they can imagine (simulate) an experience in such a way that the simulation prepares them for actions they need and want to take in order to accomplish their goals." If this is indeed the truth, then an activity that could be transformed for 21st century brains (particularly 1st graders that I teach) would be a video-game simulation in which my students would be taken through Mesopotamia and would have to explore various aspect of this place and time (eg. cuneiform writing, Hammurabi's Code, Tigris & Euphrates river, vocabulary words like canal, fertile, etc.). This is a current objective for my first graders under Common Core, and we have been reading out of the text books that were provided and most of the information is delivered to my kiddos via "lecture" type discussion. Since I have young students, I believe they would understand the curriculum more if they experienced it through an interactive video game where they were citizens of Mesopotamia.
As a fresh new teacher (probably among one of the first new generation of teachers that come from the digital native generation), this is such an interesting field for me because honestly I never even thought about what it might be like to teach without technology. Going through a fantastic elementary education program at OU, I was prepared to step into my first classroom expecting technology to be waiting, and was even equipped with a few SmartBoard lessons to begin my career. Low and behold in a brand new school that isn't considered Title 1 yet, we are severely lacking on the very same technology that my fellow peers and I were trained to use with our Digital Native students. Now this was not something I was ready for.
"The single biggest problem facing education today is that our Digital Immigrant instructors, who speak an outdated language (that of the predigital age), are struggling to teach a population that speaks an entirely new language," Prensky says. Whoa, that's pretty intense. Now even though I myself am a Digital Native (as my students are), I was taught by people that spoke in the predigital age tongue. I remember how some of my lessons were delivered to me. But pair the problem of having to reach Digital Natives along with a class of 21 students of which English is not the first language and then throw in a pinch of oops-you-don't-have-technology-for-your-kiddos-have-fun-with-that and what happens? Initially, a feeling of confusion, despair, maybe even a little incompetence. What has happened is that I have become dependent on technology in the classroom so much so that I have no idea what to do without it.
Thinking about this, I've come to realize that in order for me personally to be more effective in my job, I need to think outside of the tech world. I need to unplug myself and get back to basics right now, because technology is not very accessible to me and my students. My first graders have already asked, "Mrs. Roland, why don't YOU have a insert-fancy-technology-here?" I've gone home several nights thinking to myself, "Oh, if only I had a insert-fancy-technology-here. THEN I could reach all of my students!" This is certainly not the case. Even though the Digital Native students I have are more engaged when technology is involved, this doesn't mean that I am ineffective. I need to change the way I think about my abilities as a teacher without technology, because only then will I begin to be effective. As a Digital Native teacher, however, this is a very hard belief to change.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Five ways that a teacher might need to change common practice to engage digital natives:
- Come up with fun and engaging lessons that involve technology that the students use every day.
- Find new and innovative technologies that you and your class can learn to use together and develop lessons using the new technology.
- Move away from the old, boring methods that keep kids in their seats all day with their noses in a book or on a worksheet.
- Have students that are confident in their technology skills teach skills to the class.
- Once students learn new concepts and skills, have them "re-teach" those skills to their parents via technology as a way to review and reinforce these skills.