Monday, December 19, 2011
This class was packed. There was a lot to learn and time management was key in this sense. I do not think I was able to fully delve into each piece of new technology we learned, but I did certainly gain a better understanding of the really important ones: Kurzweil, Smartboard and Boardmaker. I am confident that I will be using this in my many teaching years to come and am happy to say I am comfortable with these programs. And I love prezi now, and so do my students. I think they are simply pleased to be presented with something non-linear like ppt. Hey, whatever it takes to keep them engaged!
The group work was a bit challenging. I did not really like coordinating all the information on the Wiki, and to be honest, all my groups just abandoned that method and stuck to email chains. It was hard to rely on everyone checking the wiki consistently, and there wasn't a way to decipher who was saying what. Yes, I understand that we could get fancy with it and make it easy to decipher, but honestly that was just too much work to simply communicate ideas. Again, time efficiency was crucial with the work-load.
Overall, I really enjoyed the class and definitely walked away with a lot of useful tools that I have already introduced to my classroom.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Thinking of how to better assist children through the "organizing and accessing networks" really helped me better understand how we, as teachers, can better "break down" the networks of assistance students need. My color group was asked to focus on Luke:
Dyslexia and Executive Functioning Difficulty
Luke always amazes with his keen insight and contributions to class discussions even though he is reading about 5 grades below grade level. When it comes to technology, Luke is the resident guru, often sharing pictures, videos, and is up on the latest developments. Even so, with his disabilities, he is extremely sensitive and apprehensive about trying anything new related to school, and often hangs back in class until he is certain he has a good understanding of what the class is discussing. Luke often has difficulty following through with directions. Even when the homework or project does not include decoding, Luke rarely has his homework or in class work done, often loses his papers, and rarely follows through on using references or asking for help.
Enjoys class discussions
Contributes to class discussion
-shares his thoughts
Struggles to try new things
Can share his knowledge about technology
Go to person for technology-others will ask him for help
Monday, November 7, 2011
The most encouraging take-away I had from last weeks readings and viewings was the idea that we shouldn't only make educational parts of life accessible to students with disabilities, but all parts of life - leisure and social activities. Sometimes we focus so much on how to make the educational material accessible to all students that we forget there is a lot to be learned by living a full life. I like the idea of changing my mindset to include making all life experiences accessible- it makes my job a little more fun!
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Kurzweil 3000 is a text to speech program which can be used to adapt to different students reading needs. Kurzweil requires minimal preparation. The teacher simply needs to have a text uploaded and read to go, and the student needs to have access to a computer. There are a variety of ways it can be used effectively.
As you know, I am a 6th grade English teacher. In exploring Kurzweil I realized it would be a great tool to use with students in a "read aloud" method. We are currently engaged in a short story unit. It would be great to use this technology and allow the students to follow along to a text on the projector while the program reads it aloud. The only downfall with that is the lack of "voice" and "tone," but for difficult texts with complicated vocabulary, it is worth it. Additionally, in this short story unit I have learned that some students have decoding issues. I can now recommend this program to them and their parents to practice reading aloud with.
In terms of the student profiles for this class, I believe that Sarah, Sam, Finn, and Luke could benefit from using this program as well. Particularly Finn, since he loves technology. IF he had access to the short story in a kurzweil form he could read it aloud with the program the night before we read it in class (this would allow for more processing time).
As I become more and more comfortable with the program I become more excited to use it in my classroom.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
To be honest, I have always been hesitant to use a Smart Board. I am nervous to rely on technology for a lesson and I am nervous of personally messing up the lesson because of my lack of confidence with technology. However, I was really inspired by class on October 17th. I am still nervous in using Smart Board for lessons, but I certainly see how it is more engaging for the students. I am a grown woman, and I had so much fun standing up there and playing with google Earth. I can certainly begin to see how, in the least, it is motivating and engaging for students to stand up and play around with an interactive white board.
I do have to become more familiar with the lesson planning part before I can fully commit. As teachers, our time is precious. It feels as though every second is spent grading, monitoring, assessing or planning. It is hard to set aside time to construct a lesson plan with an interactive white board, whereas I usually sit down and hand write a lesson plan for the next day. As I said, I certainly see the benefits of creating a more engaging lesson, but I am worried about time management for teachers.
I will let you know how it goes after I plan a few lessons.....
In the meantime, here is a really interesting article on interactive white boards.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Here is my classroom...again. What I should have done is taken a picture of each different arrangement I tried then settled on this. I felt as though other teachers were peering in my classroom and laughing under their breath, "oh the new teacher, figuring out how the seat arrangement." I felt like every 3 days the kids would come in, and for some reason, a new seating arrangement just blows their minds....wasting 5 minutes of class. However, this one finally worked. There is a flow to the classroom. I have taken into account the diverse learners, i.e., the ones who can't sit for more than 2 minutes straight, the ones you have to have their backs turned to their friends, or the hallway. Yet, we are still able to have the collective space in the middle. We are currently doing a short story unit and each story a different group sits in the middle and discusses a story while the rest of us watch. It's called the fishbowl technique, and with this arrangement we are still able to watch the discussion in the middle.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Additionally, I believe Kurzweil can be beneficial to a spectrum of students. Again, I think it would be beneficial to make a kurzweil reading of a story available for my students so that they can revisit the story and make notes or highlight portions they found interesting. For example, I am trying to teach student to look for contextual clues as to what an unfamiliar vocabulary word means. Together, as a class, with a Kurzweil document we could highlight words that hint to a word's definition.
I thoroughly enjoy learning about these new technologies that, like I said earlier, offer differential learning so easily. My school is very supportive of new technology and encouraging students to become familiar with technologies, particularly ones that further their education. I will be sure to let you all know how the students respond to these form of differentiated learning.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
As teachers we need to open our eyes to all the different designs around the classroom and school and acknowledge that some designs unintentionally hinder students from 100% access to education. As i explain in my previous post, I believe lack of space hinders some learners....I know it hinders me as a teacher. Clearly, this wasn't the intention of the architect. In this sense I wonder if UDL is an unattainable goal. While it is worthy of consideration on teachers parts, 100% UDL seems impossible. The design of every object carries assumptions based on how the majority of people will use it, and rarely considers alternate methods. I would be interested to see or hear about an object that is Universally Designed AND accessible to everyone.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Here is a picture of my current classroom. What you see is what you get. There is no more space behind the camera; that is it. This room, and every other classroom, in this school is about this size. Everyday I cram 3 different classes of 20 students in here. Forget behavior managements; I feel like at least 5 minutes of each class is spent on space management. Every activity creates a traffic jam. Each child at this school gets their own computer that they bring from class to class. The come to class with their giant folder, their computers, their books and there is simply not enough space for everything.
This is a private school, and not surprisingly, I have not seen one student with physical disabilities. I say not surprisingly because I wouldn't be surprised if the admissions department chooses to not admit students who need space for a wheelchair, or even crutches of some sort would be problematic.
I teach 6th grade English and have encountered many issues while trying to teach. Firstly, I have tried to excuse smaller groups to do certain activities. For example, I will have one table stand up and update their book cards in the back of the room. I thought that this was the solution to the traffic jam; however, I have concurrently discovered that it is hard for 6th graders to multi-task. That is, they cannot listen to directions while updating their book cards, understandably. So, by excusing simply table by table I have found that I often have to repeat myself. Now, I will excuse table by table then wait until the whole group reconvenes to give directions. It just feels like such a waste of time to me.
Additionally, it makes smaller group work hard, which is crucial in English class. It's hard for smaller groups to actually form because everyone is in everyone else's space.
I can only imagine that this is every New York teacher's dilema. I find myself searching online, or walking around and looking at other rooms, to see what other desk designs teachers have discovered for a more efficient classroom. I am still on that search....I am open to suggestions!!!
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
This reminds me of a recent NY Time article. I am having trouble finding it now, but once I do I will post it. The article focused on a recent study which proved that students are more likely to do better on following assignments if emphasis was placed on their EFFORT and not their INTELLIGENCE on the previous assignments. For example, a group of students were asked to write about a particular topic. Afterwards, in one group, a teacher told the students did well that they were so smart. On the next activity they did worse. The hypothesis of this verbal praise was that the students then felt "worried" that they had placed themselves in the "smart kid" category, and wouldn't meet the expectations of that category. Alternatively, the other group was praised on their efforts, and consequently did better on the next assignment. Here, the hypothesis was that the students were inspired by the fact that their hard effort produced desirable results, and therefore were encouraged to try hard again.
Martinez's article clearly correlates with this study. Emphasis on the process can provide encouragement, whereas focus on the mistakes only discourages As adults, we should easily be able to relate to this, or in the very least, I know I can. My relationship with technology is heavily based on learning from my mistakes. I can sit at a computer and try to solve some formatting issue for literally an hour and it is all trial and error with different buttons and options. Case and point.
Here is the link for the article.
Monday, September 12, 2011
My technology style is trial and error. I don't like to watch tutorials, I really dislike reading them. I simply want to play around with it until I get it. I actually really enjoy someone showing me around (as long as they don't take it out of my hands). Like many people, I learn from doing. The same is with technology.
Nonetheless, I am working at The School at Columbia right now as a 6th grade teacher and this school LOVE technology. Every teacher has a Mac book Air, every classroom has an Ipad and an SMART or Etise board. Every kid has an apple computer. All of their projects are published online on their own server. Everything is shared through google. It is nuts, but I like it. They have a huge team dedicated to technology, which I sometimes wonder if the money there could be better allocated, but on the other hand, this team and its resources are teaching these kids how to be students in the 21st century. They have made me a believer: technology can bring about a change in education that is needed. Throughout my time at The School I keep finding myself thinking, "man, this would be so great for a Special Education class!" It just has to be the right technology.
Before moving to NYC I worked in a public school as a paraprofessional in Salt Lake City. The school was terribly underfunded, so resources were pretty pathetic. We would try to do technology activities with students on these old, terrible computers, and it really frustrated me. What was the point? I understand that helping kids become more familiar with technology is a step in an of itself, but today there are so many pieces of equipment that are user friendly, and intuitive. Why should we struggle to teach technology when it can be so easy? We struggle because it costs a lot.
In short: I am scared of technology because I know its value and power. I believe in the power of technology to change education, but it's gotta be the right equipment.
Once I finished the Martinez reading I will write a brief reflection.