Reading Assignment 8

This assignment is a collection of a few short articles on social media linked below. In a way, this serves as kind of a wrap-up for the semester. We’ve been talking all along about how teaching and learning in the 21st century must change and is changing. As Richardson (3rd link) points out, the current generation of students (and likely all future generations) are growing up in a new, highly connected world and the full ramifications of this have yet to be seen. Will schools continue to be more or less what they have always been or will they be forced to change and adapt? Things like Colorado’s new standards (which put a lot more emphasis on 21st century skills and inquiry) and SB191 (which is redefining what constitutes an effective teacher) suggest we may see real changes in education for what, in reality, might be the first time. As the next generation of teachers, you have the opportunity, or maybe the onus, to facilitate this change.

The articles here all dance around the idea of the connected classroom, connected student, and the connected teacher. How this is accomplished is really up to you. No one has yet found the right formula and it’s likely there isn’t one. Use this as an opportunity to start to define how all this will play out in your classrooms. This is particularly important as in all likelihood you will enter schools that are behind the curve. They may have limited resources. They may still ban technology in various ways creating unnecessary distance between students and teachers (Poudre is still fairly anti-everything). Your fellow teachers may be fairly tech illiterate, anti-technology, or simply holding on to outdated modalities any of which can make it difficult to be the teacher you want to be or make your school the school it should be. You might think all this will change as the old generation retires. Hopefully, but there are still schools of education turning out new teachers who were cast in the same mold as those about to retire. I have no idea where all this is heading, but I really don’t foresee any big shakeup. Instead, it will be a slow, gradual process that may end up taking decades to be fully realized.

The Will Richardson article is just a brief interview around his book Why School. You might want to read that at some point but not necessary for this class. There are also a couple other books worth checking out. They are linked below. The Shallows makes the case that how we access information in the digital age is fundamentally changing how we think. If so, think about how that is not changing, as it may be for us, but actually creating differences in the current and future generations. The Difference Engine is an odd book. As such, it’s hard to recommend as a good read, but he does make an interesting case. I’m actually going to post a couple chapters from this book for an optional reading assignment which you can participate in for extra credit or just for fun (right?).

Read the articles below and post your comments here by 11/17.

Additional Resources (optional but interesting)

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains – you can read part of this on Google Books.

The Difference Engine: Computing, Knowledge, and the Transformation of Learning


16 thoughts on “Reading Assignment 8

  1. I understand why it is important to incorporate technology into classrooms, however, I feel that I am not as ‘for’ the movement as others. I guess I have more of a traditional, ‘pen and paper’ kind of mindset. After reading the first blog from the mother, I really realized how old fashioned I am. My kids will not come home to right away get onto the computer and social media. I feel that kids should be outside playing and experiencing the world, and I want to incorporate that into my classroom too. I plan to work with younger children (around toddler aged) so technology use for them wont be dealing with iPad’s, but more about how I can document and share with families using technology. Technology is not the important part of education. Rather, it’s about giving the children the freedom to do whatever they want with their creativity. There is so much hype on technology, and quite frankly it’s annoying/scary how obsessed and dependent this country/world is with it.

    • After reading your reflection, I feel that I am very similar to how you think and what you think should happen. All through my elementary years as well as middle school and high school I never really was able to experience technology that much in the classroom because what my teachers did was give us a worksheet or had us do different activities that involved a pencil and paper. So, I also have the mindset of the “pencil and paper”. However, as I look back to my younger years I remember there were a lot of children who always got sent to the principle’s office for not paying attention in class or for not doing their work. I do think the reason why those children got sent to the principles office is because they were probably bored with what was going on in the classroom. If the teacher would have incorporated technology in the classroom, it may have reduced people acting up and getting in trouble. I also think I am old fashioned I am too after reading the first blog. Whenever I would come home from school, I would aways play outside before it got dark. I never would come straight from school and get on the computer or turn on the t.v. I think it is very important for children to go explore their world outside, instead of being inside on the computer or watching t.v. In my future classroom, I want my students to be able to explore the world they live in by doing different activities such as going outside and doing different things. I also want my classroom to be beneficial and fun for every student!

      • You both bring up some good points, but keep in mind no one is suggesting it’s an all or nothing thing. Technology can be used while still letting students still play outside.

        However, regardless of our personal feelings, the digital generation will use tech A LOT. That may not be a good thing or maybe it’s just a different thing. As teachers if we do not look for ways to use technology in transforming ways (if not transforming then what’s the point) our students will simply tune out. Successful teachers will be those who can engage students and extend their experiences through the effective integration of tech. That doesn’t mean every day for every subject as there are plenty of ways to be 21st century teachers, but eventually you will look old school and irrelevant. You might even have a hard time finding and keeping a job.

      • I thought both of your reflections were very similar to what I thought. I think technology can be beneficial but I think it definitely needs to be in moderation. Steph I agree that I do not want my children to come home and just use technology. I grew up on being outside and I think many children these days are missing out on that because of all the technology.. but this is the way life is changing. I think if as teachers we design projects and activities to encourage being outdoors then use technology in the classroom like we did in this class when we went outside and had to describe the life of trees. Even though I didn’t grow up playing video games or having much technology in school, we certainly do have to learn how to incorporate 21st century teaching into our classrooms. Like the November Learning article said, children have so much access to blogs, Skype, YouTube, etc. we might as well use that to our advantage and make it work in our classrooms.

  2. I think that some people trying to reform education think they know how children think. I thought it was interesting that one teacher thought in the Student’s speak up in class, silently and he was talking about “backchannels” texting answers in class. The teacher stated that if students were encouraged to engage in text messages in the classroom they would be more likely to not be texting off task. That is so horribly wrong. A text takes a few seconds to send a kids today are so good at multitasking. They will still be texting their friends and saying it is okay for you to text in class is just a way for them to have their phone out and not get in trouble. Kids are not that hard to understand. If a student cares about their education and your class and you give them a reason to you should not have problems with trying to get your students to engage and be excited about your class. Not every student is going to love science and not every student is going to love history. That was problem with my teachers they made me feel like I have to love everything that they were passionate about, but I have my own things I am passionate about.
    The question ” does school still hold value in its current form?” proposed in Why Teach? I thought was an interesting way to question school. I think school will always hold value I think it is about showing kids that education is important. It is not about coming to school and doing your work and doing a test or project it is because we want them to learn. I think over time with all the politics in school that is forgotten. School is there so kids can learn. School has come along way, we can reform it again. We just need people who are in touch with schools and kids to do it.
    I read that Obama wanted to put high-speed internet in all schools, that is great but horribly out of touch with the problem education faces today. Schools are not failing because they do not have internet. Teachers are not 21st century teachers they do not know how to change from the teacher directed class. You could put high-speed in all schools- will kids learn how to evaluate, create, synthesize, apply, understand or even remember what they are trying to gain from having high-speed internet. How realistic is that anyways some schools in inner city Chicago and New York lack a front door…maybe those problems should be fixed first.

    • Well said. How we teach needs to change first before we focus on anything else. All the tech gadgets in the world won’t make boring, out of touch teachers suddenly awesome. Likewise, awesome teachers don’t need gadgets. Really awesome teachers will find a way to blend the best of everything.

      Regarding cell phones, there is a school in Loveland where students are required to put their cell phones on the corner of their desk. They can pick them up at any time they need to use them for school. They are not to use them for playing. Hard to hide your phone and play when it’s supposed to be out in the open. It’s also a realistic approach. I use my phone for information quite a lot. I have to learn to not do that when driving, in meetings, talking to someone, etc. Students need to learn proper ways to use tech as well. Banning it just encourages secret and inappropriate uses. Which habits do we want them to form?

  3. Technology has grown over the past years. I remember in elementary school I will not use a computer much in school, back then when everything was old school. For example, using paper and pencil to write our papers, and using a textbook for finding answer for our homework. Now we use technology for everything. Some of us use a computer to type up notes during class, and some of us use Google to find an answer that we are looking for instead of using a textbook. I will like to incorporate technology into my class. I will like to introduce my kids to technology, but I will not let technology take over my class. I will make sure to balance everything out. I will like for my students to work on hands on activities, and for the students to use a computer to do their work when they need to. I remember in high school, the district did something to the computers. They blocked certain pages in the computer so that students won’t have access to them. They blocked, Facebook, MySpace, twitter, and any other websites that were associated with social media. But they couldn’t stop student from accessing these certain websites. They will always unblock the website by using another website that unblocks a certain website. After students found out about this technique, they were checking out their blogs or emails during class time. There is no way for technology to stop this. Students will find a way to use the internet during class. That is why I will like to balance out my class with technology and with hands on activities so students are not distracted all the time.

    • It’s the same with everything. Tell people they cannot use or do something and that’s what they will want. Banning things doesn’t work. Encourage and teach proper use and have natural and appropriate consequences when they break the rules.

  4. I found the November Learning article very interesting to read. They were discussing all the different technology tools that kids have their hands on these days like; blogs, YouTube, Skype, internet access, programs to download, and many more. People believe that these tools should only be used at home. But I disagree. Schools can integrate these great tools into the classrooms as well. Kids are known to be good at using these tools and enjoy to do so. Why not allow them to enjoy doing assignments as well? Instead of banning sorts of technology, get creative and find an educational way to incorporate them into a lesson. If teachers had a blog, students would be able to log on, read the assignments for the day, possibly link to a helpful resource for a better understanding, have a discussion page where all students and the teacher can comment or post questions/thoughts on anything about their class. That would be such an easy way to get a better understanding on your homework assignments, or allow you to get extra help at any time of the day. There are also multiple educational programs that can be downloaded to help on specific subjects like “Grammar Girl” or “Berkeley Physics.” These sort of tools can be brought into your classrooms and get positive responses in return. Skype can also be used in fun ways as well if you get creative. Maybe have a debate with a different classroom on a subject both are discussing. The students would be excited and motivated to learn when they are allowed to use these great tools. Banning technology or limiting technology in school is not necessary to me. I believe we just need to get creative and find a way to incorporate them into our lessons in a useful way.

  5. It is obvious to us in todays society that technology has grown hugely. We have become very, almost to dependent on technology in every aspect in life. I do agree its important to introduce technology to our students because that is something that will be in there everyday lives, it will be necessary for them to know how to use it and use it correctly. Aside from that, I do think we have become to dependent on technology. It is a great tool but I would have to say I think as a teacher I will use it more for myself and those I will be communicating with, parents and other staff for example. Because I want to teach young students (kindergarten) I don’t think it should be as big of an influence on them. There has to be a balance, yes technology is great but needs to be used when needed and not over used or abused.

  6. After reading a couple of these comments I really started to think about where I believed education should be going. Do I think that it is important for children to learn how to do things manually and be outside to experience the world like they did in the good old days. But i also think that that way of thinking is a little naive these days. Every single part of our day is bombarded with technology. It is in the way we relax, prepare for our days, connect, move from place to place, and most importantly in the way that we learn. The article Why Teach brought up a good point, that students are now teaching themselves by investigating and finding the information on their own. Teachers no longer hand feed their students information because a good majority of those students already know the information or they know where they can find it. As teachers we have to learn how to guide our students in using the resources available to really learn and become creative. The kids that we preparing now are being taught to solve problems that we don’t even know exist with tools that have not yet been created. It is extremely important to bring students into a higher level of learning and creating rather than memorization and recall as education has been for many decades. Technology is just a very small part of 21st century education. It serves simply as an extra tool in this new learning process and is used because it has become a necessary part of survival in our 21st century culture.

  7. I really believe that technology if used in a transforming way provides a platform for teachers and students to solve real world problems. There must of course be a balance in the curriculum, If technology is used in an entry/adaptive way then the students will simply be put in front of technology and not really experience its potential for learning. It is very important that children do go outside and experience hands on learning but that does not mean that technology can not be used as a tool to further connect that experience to information and then create something new and share it with others. I like the idea of whole brain learning where audio,visual, and kin-esthetic activities being used together so that all parts of the brain are being stimulated. If technology is not used in a way that provides whole brain stimulation then it is not going to be very beneficial to the students. I think the key is to show students how to think critically for themselves. In my experience the information that was provided for me was always edited or “correct” I never questioned anything the teacher told me or I read in a book. Then when I started researching on the internet I approached it the same way. I now know that it is up to me to question everything I read and compare it to other information I have obtained before I can claim is as a fact. If students can learn this skill at an early age they will be able to break out of the mold and feel that they are allowed to question things and come to their own conclusions. If students can do this with all the information they receive then they are given the opportunity to come up with new ideas and solutions then via the technology they can share these ideas globally and maybe even put them in to a real world application. This type of evolution in the education system will not be possible with out the use of technology.

  8. Technology has become a big part of many children’s daily lives. Whether this be part of school or just for social media. It is going to be almost impossible to not incorporate it into our teaching in the future. When I was in school, we were always given worksheets, and as a substitute teacher I am seeing that this has not changes much. Students are just handed worksheets to work on and the technology comes in as a reward. They get ipad or computer time when they “real work” is complete. This is something that us future teachers are going to have to work on. This is what the future generations of children are going to know, so we are going to have to incorporate into our teaching in some way or another, rather than just a reward.

  9. I think that our world is starting to revolve around technology. Looking back on when I was in middle and high school, we didn’t use technology all that much. We would use simple forms, such as using the computer for research and papers, powerpoint for presentations, overheads for group classwork, etc. But now people are discovering that we can use it for so much more. As much as I don’t like technology, I do feel that it is important and crucial that we try to incorporate it into student learning. The goal of teaching/school/teachers is to prepare students for their futures. So back when I was in school, technology wasn’t used much so therefore we didn’t learn much about it or use it. But now that it is much more prevalent, I think we need to be showing and using it more in the classroom. If the students don’t learning about it or how to use it in school, they are going to be lost once they’re out on their own in the real world. Which essentially means that we failed was a teacher. Being a teacher means preparing students for their future, and with technology becoming our future, I think it is important we try and get it into every classroom.

  10. I think that it is important that students learn with and without technology. Schools should keep up with the technology that is coming out so students don’t fall behind. They should learn how to write with a pen and paper as well as type on a keyboard. Technology helps students find better ways to do research and other school things.

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