A Moment to Reflect

As an educator, reflection becomes a natural and necessary piece for everything that impacts the classroom and students. As I reflect upon all that I have learned and encountered from my most recent course at Walden University, Understanding the Impact of Technology on Education, Work, and Society, I am amazed at what I have been able to take away in knowledge and resources.

As I have mentioned previously, I have been pulled from my comfort zone. Any time truly good learning takes place, the learner should be pulled into new places to allow for new learning. This course has helped me to develop my technology skills as a teacher, and as member of this 21st century society. I have been introduced to types of technology that I have only previously heard about, and honestly never saw myself using to any capacity! Also, this course allowed me to begin thinking more creatively on how I could possibly use such technology in my classroom, even with kindergarten students (also something I never imagined).

Furthermore, this course brought out discussions regarding how technology impacts the learning process, and how children learn can possibly be altered based upon their exposure to technology. This debate and the discussions that followed, as well as other similar course discussions, deepened my knowledge and opened my mind to new thoughts about the teaching and learning process. For example, if I have students who are so exposed to technology as young children that they are “digital natives” and students who come from homes without financial means to have technology causing that child to be a “digital immigrant”, this would alter not only how those students may learn most effectively in the classroom, but also how I should teach those students (Laureate Education, 2010). Therefore, I have had the opportunity to reflect on how technology impacts the teaching and learning process.

Another reflection I’ve made in regards to the impact of technology in the classroom is what it means to move from being teacher-centered to student-student centered. My kindergarten classroom, (as I’m sure most are) is already naturally built to be very student-centered. The students create so much of their own learning throughout the year and work in centers that rotate and allow the students to take a lot of ownership in their learning. Each day and each lesson naturally moves the students from a teacher-directed introduction and then involves a gradual release. However, the use of technology with five-year-old students is somewhat more difficult because it would obviously take much more time to give young students the tools they need to work as independently as in other situations. Because of this I have to be creative on how I can still create a student centered lesson that allows the students to learn about and interact with the technology while I continue to direct and assist. Some types of technology are much easier and more possible to give students the same ownership, while technology such as blogging, would need to be done as a whole group. However, this class has helped me to create ways that even then I could create student-centered lessons by involving the students and allowing them to take roles in what we do with the blog as a whole group.

In order to expand what I have learned about learning, teaching, and leading with technology I know that I will have to try new things with my students so that I can see what works and what doesn’t work. The more I integrate what I have learned in a way that can increase student achievement, the more I will learn how to best create lessons involving technology so that students are learning not only curriculum content in effective and motivating ways, but also learning 21st century skills.

It seems that I best way to make sure that I am expanding what I have learned is to create goals that will lead me to reach new levels as an educator integrating technology. The first goal I have for myself is to finish my Master’s degree with specialization in Integrating Technology into the Classroom so that I can continue to learn new skills and methods on how to help my students reach their highest potential. My second goal is to write technology integration into my Professional Development Plan (PDP) that my district requires me to begin next year. Putting this into my PDP will hold me accountable in new ways and give me extra motivation to use what I have learned from this class and future classes in my classroom.
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Bringing students into the 21st Century

After reviewing the website, Partnership for 21st Century Skills at http://www.p21.org/index.php I felt somewhat curious about how school systems operate. While I work with kindergarten and may not approach some of these 21st century skills in the same manner as upper grades, I do feel that my school system incorporates 21st century skills on many levels, although my state is not in affiliation. I felt that the website made it sound like this is not happening in many places. I felt that most of the comments and thoughts were very pertinent to our modern society and honestly should already be the expectation of school systems if it is not. The main point given was that our students need to be taught more than just basis school subjects and that further skills which involve: innovation, communication and technology, and life and career skills should be blended into the curriculum. I fully agree as this reminds me of the need to teach the whole child and to prepare the students in all areas of life. Attached is a brief video with Ken Kay, the President of P21, explaining the important of this integration. https://thepartnershipfor21stcenturyskills238.eduvision.tv/Default.aspx?q=IsahXh4JBPRYMGTtILlWoA%253d%253d

Although the website was somewhat difficult to follow because it has so much information in so many different places (sometimes repeating the same information) I did find some useful pieces to help better understand what it really means to give students “21 Century Skills”. The Framework for 21 Century Learning displays a very comprehensive diagram that helps a teacher to visualize how the modern skills should interact with core subject curriculum. Each area is also listed below with a link to a good explanation of what it means along with some additional information and examples. For example, when you click on “Critical Thinking and Problem Solving” you see that one area of this is for students to Reason Effectively, meaning students should have opportunities to reason inductively and deductively. There is a link to a website showing how this relates to Bloom’s Taxonomy.

The website also offers links to articles and information of how and where 21 Century teaching has shown up in the news. One article I found very interesting was about next generation assessments. Obviously, there is a vast amount of information an educator or system can obtain about education in this modern world and how we can help our students reach the next level so that they are prepared.

There wasn’t much that I saw (although I feel like there is a lot more to look through because of the vast amount of information) that made any implications toward grades, ages, or levels of students. It would be nice to have some type of goals for primary students, elementary, middle, and high school. I find it very difficult as an educator of young children because I feel that there is not very often much consideration for how and what to teach to young students in relation to the digital generation. It would be nice if the website could create some type of benchmarks (although maybe they have) for the level of students based on a long-range goal that “Every child in the U.S. needs 21st century knowledge and skills to succeed as effective citizens, workers and leaders” as stated in their mission statement.

As I continue to explore this website I feel that it can help me to think of and find more ways to actively create an educational environment that holds to these standards for my students. If I can better understand what all is needed for students to become successful in this digital generation, then I will be able to plan accordingly and begin the preparation of my kinder students!

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Blogging for kindergarten?

It almost seems ridiculous to some to assume that a kindergarten class could gain benefit from an online blog. At first, I thought that a blog in relation to the classroom would not apply to me simply because I teach kindergarten and it is unrealistic to have kindergartners use a blog. However, I must remind myself that many types of technology would seem to lack use for such young students, and yet I have found a way. My kindergarten students have created and presented a PowerPoint presentation, used the internet, written stories, and more. Why should a blog stop us?

My first idea for the use of this blog would be the use of a showcase. My students would be very motivated by this and it would provide a wonderful way to share what they have done. I also plan to use this blog to share learning and resources with the educational community. In addition, I saw another kindergarten blog that used the blog to connect with another kindergarten class. This could have many possibilities that will open the door for new learning and a smart tool for instruction.

I look forward to this new technology for my students, and myself!

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My hope is to be able to share and relate with other educators using this blog. I have a lot to share about my teaching experiences in kindergarten, and I am very passionate about my class and the diverse group of students I work with. I believe my students have the potential to reach high levels of learning, and it is my job to do everything I can to get them there. Part of my journey is learning how to use technology better in the classroom so that my students can experience high levels of learning in this digital age.

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