Friday, April 24, 2009

IEP

Technologically advance your class by using a Blog
As a teacher, I am always looking for new tools to help me engage students. Recently I found a new tool that greatly increases student interaction: the blog. I have been Incorporating blogging into my English and history classes and it has produced some great results (to read the results continue reading to the end of this post). I educated myself about how to effectively use a blog in my classroom and what follows is what I discovered.
  • I can post yearly class resources like our class syllabus, rubrics, and parent-letters.
  • I can easily post weekly and daily assignment including projects, reading schedules, and writing reflections.
  • I can provide students with links to online resources that can help them in their work.
  • I also found out how organize different class periods by using the different pages function.
  • I also learned how to limit access to the blog by incorporating passwords OR limiting viewers of the blog.
  • I also learned that I enjoy being able to personalize the appearance of the blog.

To view our class blog: click here (Note- I have placed some sample resources under the tab "Mr Routon's College Class," and the rest of the blog is our class's primary blog)

One way to introduce and use a class blog
I’ve included some lesson plans detailing one way to introduce my students to blogging. This approach blends English (with persuasive writing), history (using the topic of slavery) and technology. Click the following links to see the lesson plans:
  1. students will do a scavenger hunt on the class blog to gain familiarity.
  2. students will learn how to post
  3. students will learn how to write peer comments
  4. students will complete a self directed assignment using the several blog resources
  5. students will post persuasive writing piece, citing blog resources
  6. students will create an online resource and link it to the class blog
Reflection on Blogging:
Blogging is a great tool that educators should be using in this technological age. I have found that a blog is a wonderful tool for me to be able to post daily assignments and class documents. Students can use the blog as a resource to find class information and a blog can provides for students for independently work. Finally, as a language arts teacher, I have found that the quality of student work has improved when using a class blog. When we use the blog, my students answering the questions more thoroughly and write in greater length. Also, when we use the blog, students spend more time reading. They are curious to see what their friends wrote and enjoy being self-guided as they can view every student's thoughts.

Learning to use a blog can be cumbersome because each blog-host is different and it takes time to learn each different blog template. It takes a while to learn the features, but in the end, I was pleasantly surprised with how much control I had as the blog mediator. I was able to set security features to limit access to the blog. I was also able to add many different multimedia features and improved the look and function of the blog. I heartily recommend using this classroom technology to engage today’s students. For my full report: click here.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Social Webs


Social networks can be a great place to communicate with like minded people and as a professional, networks can be an invaluable way to get and receive feedback. This year I participated on the chatboard at teachers.net. Click here to read all about my experience






Internet Resources

Internet resources are and awesome resource to me as a teacher. The following are the sites I use most:
A great site for lesson plans and ideas
A great site for lesson plans and professional chat boards- user friendly
A great resource for an assessment tool
A great tool to help student engage in content

To read my full description click here

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Digital Story Telling: Facebook



While walking the halls of the school I teach at I hear students talking more and more about something I am unfamiliar with. More and more people are signing-up and logging on to Facebook to communicate. People are networking with old friends, sharing pictures, sending gifts, playing games, chattings and learning what their friends are doing all by being on Facebook. I didn't know much about Facebook and so I did some investigation and this is what I learned...

video
To view in a larger window- click here

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Learning in the Digital Age

Aaron Routon: aaronrouton@hotmail.com: 1/28/09

“Learning in the Digital Age” by Ted S. Hasselbring and Margaret E. Bausch

Overview of article.


This article totes the value of using technology in the classroom as a tool for students who are struggling. Classrooms are integrating who have learning disabilities, which makes it more difficult to teach students with varying abilities. Technology is producing more and more tools that can be of enormous benefit to teachers and to students. In this article Hasselbring and Bausch acknowledge that technological tools are being implemented to help special needs children but many more students could benefit from these tools if teachers provide these resources to students who have minor learning disabilities.

Computer software and computer hardware can help struggling students access the content of their peers and free teachers from tutoring time. The article speaks specifically of a program generically called “text to speak” in which students will put the “reader” over the desired text and the computer will read aloud the words. Students can follow the reader and gain in comprehension, in word recognition, and in fluency.

Implementing such tools will help struggling students keep up with their classmates and improve their confidence. Technology can help in the problem area of reading /writing and reduce student stress and increase student confidence. These tools are to be used as mediation and tools to help remedial students. Many people with learning disabilities can be helped, but it is up to the classroom teacher to implement these newly available technologies. Limited resources places extra burdens on teacher and teachers must self-educate in order to implement these new tools that can help struggling students.


Reference Points:


  • Integrated classrooms need to give tools to help students with learning disabilities perform at grade-level
  • Studies have found that implementing “text to speak” programs have helped students be able to read at grade level without help from teachers or peers
  • Other technology based programs focusing on visually presenting vocabulary context improves comprehension in students of all ages.
  • Computer programs can help struggling students write easier by using a word predict option.
  • Classroom teachers are the ones who need to seek out the training in order to help the struggling student.


Reflection:


I have mixed reactions to what the authors say. I think that teachers have a responsibility to teach all students in ways that they understand. I see integrated classrooms as a positive thing which does in turn raises the demands of classroom teachers. I can see how using these new technological tools can be advantageous for both the student and the teachers. But I think that there are many students who have learning disabilities who need to learn how to overcome their disability.

I am leery of over-diagnosing students and telling kids they have a learning disability because I was one who would have been classified as learning disabled (specifically a reading disability). I found school to be frustrating until a teacher made me feel competent by working with me putting her trust in me. After that I worked harder to overcome my struggles and now I see that as an advantage. I had to learn how to learn. I worry that if we provide students with artificial tools we risk two things: give students a complex of “learning disabled,” and giving them a crutch that they grow to depend upon.

In short, I think that these tools should be used sparingly and students should be “weaned” off of them a.s.a.p. (as to not create a dependency). Developing student confidence is crucial, but teachers need to prepare students for a world that will not provide assistance. Teachers and students need to work together to help the students become independent and competent.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"The Overdominance of Computers"

Aaron Routon: aaronrouton@hotmail.com: 1/20/09

“The Overdominance of Computers” by Lowell W. Monke

Overview of article.

In this article Lowell Morke argues that schools pressure to include technology into the curriculum supersedes the wisdom of how to include technology into the classroom. He feels that modifying curriculum to conform to changes in technology can omit other valuable aspects. He argues that as technology increases, educators need to help students in personal interactions, develop abstract thinking capacities, and find meaning in life.

Morke also sites studies that suggest that increasing time with computers and technology may not be beneficial developmentally for students. Studies show that young students respond well from personal interaction and face to face teaching. Early educational TV and computer programs demonstrate skills but lack the human contact vital to children. Also, a recent world wide study found that 15-year-old students who had more access to computers had lower all test scores (they found that computers became an academic distraction rather than a motivation).

Lastly Morke emphasized that students need to be guided on how to manage technology wisely. He believes that children develop in stages and therefore the technology should be made available to them at the appropriate time (just as you would not give young children all the alcohol they want).

Reference Points:

• With a key stroke students can now inflict pain/ or damage work sitting away from their subjects
• Students need to develop concrete experiences interacting with the world around them so they have a better context of what is happening in the digital world
• Increasing screen time and decreasing face-to-face interaction may retard some aspects of development in children
• It is crucial that schools help students develop their distinctly human capacities such as hope, compassion, trust, respect, a sense of belonging, moral judgment, stability, community support, parental care, and teacher competence and enthusiasm that keeps so many students imprisoned in ignorance.
• Educators need to be concerned with how to provide students adult relationships, unstructured play, music, art, nature, and hands on lessons
• We need to let kids develop naturally and not diagnose, medicate, and use external tools to address the latest trends

Reflection:

I think that Morke makes an excellent point. I feel that technology is a constant buzz word and a topic of which educators are often unaware. The result is pressure for students to know and operate the latest and greatest technology… BUT when do we teach students what is appropriate. Just as we teach kids about drugs and their affects on the body and don’t hand out drugs, we also need to teach students how to use technology wisely.

I think technology is bringing us many wonderful things but with it also comes some horrible things. Gambling, pornography, fraud, and deception are vices which are now more readily available to people of all ages: but what are we doing to help students learn how to navigate these aspects of the web. In my experience we are doing very little (because we are relatively new to the technology scene as well) and leaving students to find out on their own. This is a huge disservice to this and future generations. Children need guidance and we are to guide them.

A couple times Morke’s extreme points and examples may have lost him some credibility with average readers but I believe his points are still very valid. I think we as educators need to proceed with caution and help teach these children the important lessons we received about how to be human and about kindness, respect, wisdom, and moderation.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Philosophy of Education


Learning happens when 2 people work together.... the teacher and the student. Both people have to work together.... it takes two..... just like dancing. And just like dancing, education requires a leader and a follower. The leader is the teacher who invites, guides, and demonstrates the moves (new material). The follower is the students who accepts, trusts, and engages. Then this happens- Magic happens and students learn. For my full philosophy in video form, please click here.