Monday, March 19, 2007

Challenging Issues

Miguel Guhlin writes today about a posting by Jennifer on her blog My Integrating Technology Journey and he asks how others might respond to the questions that Jennifer was presented with during an interview. OK…I love a challenge! Though this gets long, it was a great opportunity to think through some of these issues tonight.

These questions seemed to fall into some categories so I’ve taken them and regrouped them into the categories that made sense to me. My answers to these questions are in italics at the bottom of each category.

Procedural Knowledge – Skills and Procedures
* You need to spend almost two months teaching how to use all the new tools and English practice will only be possible later in the year?
* How can you be sure that students won’t write dirty stuff (this was the concept they used)
Answer: Yes, I need time in the beginning to make sure that students have the specific skills that will enable them to use the tools efficiently and effectively. Once we have these skills in place, we’ll be better able to use the tools to our advantage for learning. In other words, the procedural knowledge that we build will support the declarative knowledge which is the understanding of the concepts we’re going to learn this year. Since our focus will be on the learning, I’m confident that the students won’t be thinking about writing inappropriate things. However, if they do, we’ll deal with this within the concept of the learning and how such conduct affects the learning of the individual as well as the class.

Instructional Tools/Materials
* What’s a blog?
* What’s a wiki? My question what is the wiki for???
* What’s a podcast? But we can’t incorporate them at school because we don’t have loud speakers.
* What are yahoo groups?
Answer: Blogs, wikis and podcasts are tools that allow us to be creative, collaborative and communicative – all of these are skills needed by our students to be well prepared for the work world of the 21st century. Specifically, a blog is a tool for communication. They provide us with the ability to develop and reflect on our thoughts and ideas and for others to contribute to that development and reflection. Blogs place our written expression in front of a larger audience than what has traditionally been available. Wikis promote collaboration. With their use, students will be able to collaboratively create content and will be able to continually work to edit and refine that content. The wiki, because of its ability to retain the history of those changes, will serve as a way for us to evaluate the progress of our work and our thinking as the content is developed. The podcast serves as a creative means of communicating learning of a concept. In order to create a podcast, students need to have done a tremendous amount of learning and then must be able to summarize their learning in such a way as to communicate this in a brief amount of time. Students collaborating to communicate their learning in creative ways is one way to summarize the use of a podcast instructionally.

Management of the environment
* Kids can never be left alone in the computer lab
* What happens with students that don’t have a computer home how can they follow your subject?
* If computers don’t work what will they do?
* There will be two students per computer-how will they work?
Answer: Management issues need to be taken into consideration whether we’re using technology or not. Can students be left alone (anywhere) if they are engaged in a learning task? The answer here can be yes, especially if we’ve taken the time to build understanding of the goals, use of the tools and expectations for the students’ responsibility in the learning process. The issue of computer access is not just for this class but for our school as a whole. Access at home is an issue that we have no control over and therefore, we will work to be sure that students are working outside the classroom on the planning and organizing needed before we create the product. In other words, they’ll be working through the process prior in order to create the product. Access to computers in school is something we need to consider as a school, as an educational community. In order for our students to be prepared for their future, they need to have access to the tools that they will be using. We need to work closely with our technology department and with all levels of administration to be sure that the 21st century learning tools and resources that our students need are available to them at all times. We need to also consider strategies for expanding access to technology for our students. While two students per computer is not the way that they will work in the real world and it will provide some challenges to us, I’m confident that our students are mature enough or will continually develop the maturity needed to deal with sharing the access. In the meantime, we can work together to plan for expanding access to technology within our school community.

* Who manages and reads the blogs?
* You must correct every blog entry
* I want it to be exam oriented not to be a open classroom.
* What about assessment
* You must support the teacher and use technology as a means of allowing the teacher to improve her students practice for International exams
Answer: The “big picture” of instruction in the classroom has four important pieces. Instructional goals, instructional strategies, grading and assessment. The end result of instruction is the construction of new knowledge. Exams will come and go but what our students take with them out into the world is even more important. If we do our jobs well as teachers, we will design assessments that give us a picture of how our students have achieved the instructional goals and use their learning to construct new knowledge. Our students don’t need to be better test takers, they need to be better readers, writers, and learners.

* Plan your classes very well because if not it will all be a waste of time .
Answer: You hired me because of my expertise as an educator, because I have skills that you considered desirable in someone who is to be responsible for the education of children. Planning for student success and continual learning will always be my top priority. It is the most important part of my job whether I place my students in front of a computer or in front of a stack of books. My lessons will be designed to take maximum advantage of the learning situation and the learning tools. No time is ever wasted if the students are engaged in the learning process.

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