Being a Digital Citizen

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This tweet is extremely valuable to teachers. It explains the importance of using Google technology in the classroom. Teachers should be able to utilize this technology in their classrooms because it allows students to collaborate with each other. Teachers should encourage their students to do their school projects using the Google Drive because this technology fosters students to work together effectively. Additionally, the Google Drive allows students to easily access their work at school and at home. Students can begin an assignment at school and then finish it at home without having the hassle of having to put it on a jump drive or emailing it to yourself.

This tweet is linked to an article that highlights some of the benefits that video-games can bring to students. As a future teacher, this is information that is vital for my future teaching practices. Video-games are viewed negatively by society. They could be a useful teaching method if teachers realized the potential that they could serve for their students. Video-games would engage students in a lesson and also create a fun atmosphere in the classroom.

When volunteering in an elementary school, the teacher I was shadowing was teaching her student how to tell time. The method that she chose to use when teaching her student how to tell time was using apps on her iPad. As I watched the student match digital clocks to analog clocks on the iPad, I was wondering how the teacher found all of these apps. So, when reading this tweet, it resonated with me because I was able to see a clear correlation of how apps will be used when I become a teacher and how I, as a special education teacher, will find the best apps to use with my students.

Meeting Young People Where They Are

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“If we teach today as we taught yesterday, then we rob our children of tomorrow” -John Dewey 108443821

Although this quote was spoken many years ago, its relevance could not be greater today. As technology becomes more and 1922710_10152053958139340_433846592_nmore prevalent in society, and in our children’s lives, the importance of becoming a digital citizen is stressed higher than it ever was before. That is why it is so important for teachers to no longer be fearful of technology, but embrace technological change and the benefits it brings to the classroom.

In the PBS documentary, Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century, students discuss the positive impact that technology has had on their learning experiences. Specifically, students that attend the school, Quest to Learn, spend their days designing video games and using technology to promote problem-solving skills and challenge students to think critically.

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While some critics may think that they are wasting their days gaming, an example of a typical lesson may change their minds. Many students participated in a translation project where they translated the main points of one of “Aesop’s Fables” into an interactive video game. Through this project, students’ reading comprehension and story skills were developed.

As a future teacher, these creative incorporations of technology into lesson plans can be key in planning our curriculum. As stated in the video, “there is a power and importance of play” and students can use this play to educate themselves and others. By using technological techniques and activities, such as the ones Quest to Learn school uses, we can help our students learn in a fun and effective way.

Below, we posted a video on how teachers collaborate to come up with fun lesson plans that specifically target students who are struggling to learn.

Another benefit that technology brings to the classroom is the ability to easily differentiate learning. The film highlights another institution, which utilizes technology in their effort to educate the youth. This institution called the Digital Youth Network is in Chicago and is a perfect example of how technology allows students to learn in the way that best suits them.  For example, one member of the DYN claimed that she struggled with writing and through the DYN she was able to express her ideas through film. While she might not have been writing formal essays, she was still developing the necessary skills to be considered proficient in writing.  The alternative model that this institution provides allows for students to succeed who may have had issues in the traditional academic setting.

Not only does technology contribute to the education of typical students, but it allows students with disabilities to learn and communicate in ways that they never could before. We have all had experience in our high schools seeing students who are nonverbal, able to communicate and demonstrate their knowledge and abilities through technology. The picture below is an example of an augmentative communication device which a nonverbal child could use to communicate. Maestro

As future educators, it is essential for us to reach all of our students at an individual level. This differentiated instruction is most successful when technology is incorporated because it allows students various outlets and paths to learn using the method that is best suited for them. Since most students now are “digital natives,” it is crucial that we meet students where they are and keep up with technology and all the changes it encompasses.

Thinkers

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As Temple Grandin presented, there are many different types of people in this world and every person has their own way that they can think and learn best. In other classes and from many textbooks, I have studied the different types of learners and how to cater to each learner’s individual needs. There are students who are visual learners, some who are auditory learners, and some who are kinesthetic learners. While certain children would rather listen to a teacher lecture, others would benefit most from a hands-on activity using manipulatives and real life examples.

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As a future teacher, I have begun to learn how to alter and create a lesson plan that best suits all three types of learners. However, we never discussed different approaches to teaching different thinkers. According to Grandin, there are four types of thinkers: photo realistic visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal mind thinkers, and sensory thinkers. Each type of thinker has their strengths and weaknesses. For example, verbal mind thinkers can spit off any fact, however they are horrible at drawing and thinking about abstract ideas. Grandin identifies herself as a photo realistic visual thinker. She compares her brain to a Google image search.

The part of Grandin’s lecture that I struggled with the most is when she mentioned how she struggled in algebra because of the type of thinker she is. She touched upon how thinkers could have an easier time reaching their full potential if they don’t have to learn a subject that is too hard for them. For example, Grandin suggested that she just skip algebra and move straight to geometry because her brain was not wired for algebraic thinking. I don’t think I agree with this statement. Just because a student is not good at a subject, does not mean that he or she can be dismissed from it. Part of the goal of schooling is to get students to become well-rounded thinkers and good problem solvers. By allowing students whose thinking methods are not conducive to a certain subject to be excused, we, as teachers, are robbing the students of the opportunity to become better thinkers and engaging them in a productive struggle. As teachers, it is important to challenge our students and hold them to a high standard. This video illustrates the importance of challenging students.

https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/challenging-students

When students are challenged to learn things outside of their comfort zone, they work hard to master the skills needed. If Temple Grandin were exempt from algebra, who’s to say that she would be the type of thinker that she is today? The skills that she learned from being in algebra class goes beyond completing math computations, and is could be an attribute to the way her mind currently thinks.

Tell Me How I’m Doing

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Bill Gates begins his Ted Talk by discussing the lack of feedback our nation provides to teachers. The person every parent in our nation shares his or her child with is only given one word to determine his or her degree of success. This word is “satisfactory.” Who would want to be told that they are performing at a satisfactory level? What teacher would want their only form of feedback to be in the form of an eleven-letter word? As a future teacher, I can say with full confidence that getting the “satisfactory” level of teaching would not be a goal that I would want to strive for. Additionally, this method of feedback provides teachers with no constructive suggestions for future improvement. Obviously, no teacher is perfect, but if a teacher is already satisfactory, who is to say that the teacher will work on improvements within the next year?

In a critical time like this, when the United States is ranked 15th in the world for reading proficiency and 11 of the nations in front of the United States has a formal system of providing teachers with feedback, it is clear that our country needs to make a new plan on how we give teachers feedback. For these reasons, I support the model of feedback that Gates discussed in his Ted Talk.

“Measures of Effective Teaching” is a way that teachers can understand and see how well they are teaching through many different approaches. For example, students can fill out surveys that ask them questions about how their teacher taught and if their teacher made them think and ask good questions. This method provides the teacher with more concrete feedback and allows the teacher to see what exactly she or he needs to improve on.

I prefer this method as a means of feedback far more than scores from standardized tests. Aside from telling the teacher exactly what she or he needs to improve on, it also creates an environment that emphasizes learning and thinking, as opposed to finding a solution to a problem. The motivation behind a teacher’s teaching becomes more intrinsic, and therefore would improve a student’s success in the classroom.