Sunday, February 28, 2010

Response to Marco & Donald

I really enjoyed the humor of Marco Torres and Donald Henderson when they illustrated the changes of technology through time from a cave man using slates and stones to a chalkboard, white board, overhead project and finally PowerPoint. With this illustration it was made very clear that the medium to which the instructions were give had changed, the method of teaching did not change. This is so important to think about. Learning how to use technology to fit the same exact teaching methods that we are accustomed to will not produce creative and innovative students who will be prepared for today’s world.

We need to be thinking outside of the box. We need to think about what these technology tools can really do or provide for our students. We must make education to be relevant to the real world for our students.

Marco and Donald talked about how business were not looking for people who had “Office” skills (skills in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint) but that they were looking for people who were creative. Not just creative but also people with the ability to present their ideas and communicate their ideas.

I’ve been thinking about this discussion with my grade 5 & 6 class in mind. Many of the things mentioned are not relevant to the age level of my students but I have been thinking about what types of educational experiences I could be doing or beginning with these students. I believe that I can begin teaching my students good collaborative skills, peer tutoring, and communicative skills even with my curriculum. Some of the communication that can take place might be best put into a blog for my students. I know many of my students don’t have permission from their parents to have their own email accounts yet, but they all have access to the Internet.

If I can find an blog site that doesn’t require them to have their own account or email account than it would be a great place for my students to collaborate and communicate ideas with each other at school or even at home. I definitely need to do more research on this idea…but I am excited about the possibilities.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mr. Winkle Wakes - Embedding & Response

Here is an interesting video titled "Mr. Winkle Wakes". It is about Mr. Winkle who awakes from a 100 year slumber. He finds the world drastically changed and is quite uneasy about these changes. He finally comes to a school and walks through the hallways and classrooms. Here he relaxes and feels at home, simply because the school has not changed much from when he remembers it.

Is it a good or bad thing that Mr Winkle feels that he is in a familiar place when he finds a school?

Mr. Winkle finding the school to be so familiar after 100 years, exaggerated as this might be, makes a good point about our education system. This leads me to think about what our education system is set up to accomplish. Is the education system not a place where we are to train and prepare our young people for the world they are living in and will soon be responsible for? If this is the role of our education system than the answer to the above question is that it is a bad that Mr. Winkle feels the way he does.
This would mean that the school is not accepting the changes and the advances the rest of the world is. The school will be stuck to its old ways, old thinking, and old methods where the rest of the world is leaving it in the dust. Where then do our young people gain the experiences and skills they need to be able to contribute and work at the level the rest of the world is working? They will be learning this on their own, outside of school. If that is the case then our students will continue to feel that school is a big waste of time and they will lose respect for it as it will not prepare them for what lies ahead of them.
In the video presentation “The World is Flat” Thomas L. Friedman discusses how the world has flattened with its communication, and collaboration. Businesses and corporations are now able to be linked with others around the globe through the use of technology and it is completely changing the way we do things. Friedman is suggesting that we are at the beginning of major change and the acceleration at which things are changing.
Our schools must be on board with these changes to prepare and train our students to function in this world. If we are not, our students will be crippled and they will be behind in their skills to contribute and collaborate with the rest of the changing world. We need to prepare our students to be “global” citizens more than ever.
Teaching students to become global citizens can begin even in grades 5 & 6, where I’m currently teaching. Here we can stay informed and close to many of the events happening worldwide. We can train our students to be open minded to many different viewpoints. We need to value the perspectives of others more than ever. We need to continue to have compassion and have a desire to help make our world better.
Educational opportunities can be given to our 10 and 11 year olds to utilize this technology and communication tools to give them basic skills as well as having relevant learning opportunities. Why don’t we set up blogs, or discussion boards for our students to discuss topics with other students there age from other countries? Here they can begin to relate to other children and begin to build that International friendship that will be so needed in their future.
At the very least, our educational system can be a springboard to launch our young people into the mindset of being a global citizen. We will never be able to prepare them for what kinds of tools or technology they will be using in the future, but what we can be doing is instilling in them the qualities and values that will help them to respect whoever they will be working alongside with.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Reaction to "Those Wacky Kids" by Mark Pesce

I have been one that has enjoyed the use of technology and I am very interested in new devices or “toys”. Of course my budget doesn’t allow for much change but I must say the presentation that Mark Pesce gave with “Those Wacky Kids” left my head spinning with ideas. He talked about the interconnectivity of our world and the rapid change that our students are growing up in. The only constant in the world for our average teenager is “change”.

I don’t think that the students in our school in our little town are quite as connected as the students being described in Pesce talk, but it won’t be long before they probably are. Pesce left me wondering what I need to be doing in my own classroom and school. How do I make my classroom an engaging part of my students lives while also upholding the learning objectives given to me by our curriculum?

A few projects utilizing this technology in hyperconnectivity have come to my mind during the course of Pesce’s talk but I also have some major hurdles to get over. The biggest question that keeps coming to my mind is how to be an overseer of these projects that can properly give guidance to protect against the dangers of students who are bound to speak inappropriately to each other or do hurtful things.

The classroom is broader and has become intertwined. It will become impossible for me to step in when I need to. It is the same with parents whose lives are now becoming increasingly busy and stressful. There is no guidance, supervision or council. It is a world that “seems” to the kids as unpoliced, a place where they could say and do what they wish. They are increasingly bold behind this technology, but yet their words and decisions carry so much weight with their “co-existence”. Texting, My Space or Facebook are all places where students live most of the time and for a majority of them they are places that are unwatched by their parents or adults.

I’m excited to find out more about strategies and techniques that can set up a “focused’ and “controlled” environment where interconnectivity can be had with the presence and guidance of teachers and parents. But most importantly the presence and guidance of our Creator and Savior needs to be closer than the “co-existence” of the rest of the world.