Monday, September 23, 2013

American Revolution Simulation Lesson Plan

This lesson plan designs a simulation that helps students understand the frustrations of the people living in the British colonies leading up to the American Revolution. In the simulation students are informed of new class rules that emulate the extreme measures the British government forced upon the colonies.

Watergate Lesson Plan

This lesson plan teaches students about the events of Watergate and its impact on American history through interviewing adults were alive during the scandal.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Supreme Court Lesson Plan

This lesson plan looks at how Supreme Court justices are selected and the important role of the Supreme Court in American life.

UDL Lesson Plan Civil Rights

Monday, September 9, 2013

Tech Research Report

The three articles I read for this assignment covered school-provided laptops in the classroom, the ways teenagers use their mobile devices, and how effective teachers think technology works to improve learning.

The article, "How Teachers Are Feeling About Education Technology" confirmed that most teachers surveyed believed that technology can be an asset in the classroom and helps engage kids in learning. However the article avoided controversy by also providing statistics that showed that a majority of teachers also thought that traditional textbooks and additional readings were useful. None of the questions seemed to ask what I was expecting: "Is technology superior to traditional reading material?" I think that it would have been extremely interesting to see how teachers answered that question. However this slight avoidance of the issue reminded me of another article, "One Laptop per Child Program" which stated that having technology was not a guarantee that learning would take place. The author argued that technology is beneficial only when used wisely and in relation to the curriculum. Technology for its own sake does not help kids learn content, only how to compute and use technology (which is its own skill, but perhaps not the focus of 10th grade Social Studies). Additionally the article pointed out that many of the schools that took part in this program did not even have internet access, preventing students from experiencing many of the benefits of technology in the classroom such as: research projects, access to online videos and instructional material, etc.

The final article I looked at was "Digital Lives of Teens: Mobile is Now." This article really hit home for me as last spring I was a substitute teacher. It is absolutely amazing (and kind of scary) how many kids have phones in school and at what age they are given those phones. Once when I was subbing for a 5th grade class, the students were to use the class set of iPads to research Leonardo da Vinci. Immediately a number of students -bored from waiting for approximately 25 seconds- asked if they could use their iPhones instead. I hesitantly replied yes, and about a dozen of the kids whipped out smart phones. I could not believe it. Those kids were ten years old. So when talking about teenagers, it doesn't surprise me that they have access to and want to use their mobile devices as much as possible. The author proposes that classwork on class-set iPads or computers would prevent students from being distracted by social media. However the author already pointed out that these mobile devices are small and easy to hide. I think that the strongest deterrent to using phones in school is to have an engaging lesson that requires full attention and participation (whether that involves, speaking, active listening, group work, etc.) and a teacher who pays attention. I think that students will pull out the phones when they are bored and given mere busy work.

Mismatch between technology use in and outside of the classroom

     Technology has become an integral part of our day-today life. Whether we are on a social media website catching up with friends or reading through e-mails on our smart-phones, in one capacity or another we are using more technology on a more frequent basis than in years past. Younger generations are growing up in a world where it is the norm to have a cell phone (78% of teens), likely that be a smart phone (47% of teens) by middle or high school, and in some cases, maybe even elementary school (Levinson). While students are becoming increasingly familiar with the internet, computers, and smart devices, a mismatch between the amount of technology used at home and in the classroom has become paramount. While students have reported greater ease of learning in technologically advanced classrooms, many school systems are failing their students by not providing technological enhancements that have proved successful in aiding student achievement. For many schools, this is an issue in funding; there simply is not enough money to provide each student in the school with a laptop or Ipad. This is unfortunate considering that 82% of people in a 1500+ person survey argued for more technology in the classroom. In addition, of these same survey participants, 83% of people asserted that technology is advantageous in the classroom because it allows for a "personalized learning experience" (Dunn). So then, with limited funds but a growing demand for more technology, how do teachers integrate as much technology as possible? Lepi argues one easy way to integrate more technology into the classroom is by working it into pre-exisitng lesson plans. This could mean showing more video clips to aid the content material being taught or to have students respond to a homework question or assignment using a social media website that allows them to blog in some fashion (Lepi). Social media is becoming an increasingly helpful tool to help keep not only students, but parents "in the loop" of what is going on, on a day-to-day basis. Social media is an accessible tool for parents seeing as most sites are free, easy to use, and allow for direct, fast communication. Each of the reports mentioned above suggest that technology in the classroom is a growing need to not only help classrooms remain relevant to the 21st century, but to aid and personalize student learning. Teachers need more avenues for which to implement technology in the classroom especially considering that many schools are facing financial constraints, limiting their purchase of additional technology.

articles used:
An In-Depth Report on Social Media's Role in Education . . . by: Dunn
The Digital Lives of Teens . . . by: Levinson
Two Basic Ways How to Add Technology to Your Curriculum by: Katie Lepi (I found this one separate from the articles offered)

Tech-savvy students: What does it mean for our schools?

This past summer, I worked as a counselor for an Academic Enrichment Camp for fifth and sixth graders. I was shocked at how many of my campers owned - and perhaps more importantly, knew how to operate - smartphones. My campers knew about certain apps and settings on their iPhones that had yet to discover or master, and I was wowed by their tech-savviness. As a future teacher, I have often wondered how our increasingly digital world and "plugged in" population will effect our classrooms. I looked at the infographics "Kids of the Past vs. Internet Generation," "This is How Students Actually Use Smartphones," and "K-12 Technology Usage" to better my understanding of this relationship.  Both "Kids of the Past" and "How Students Actually Use Smartphones" both confirmed and challenged some conceptions I had about my own generation and Generation Z.  I wasn't surprised to see that indoor activities, such as video games, have seemed to replace outdoor activities in terms of after-school events, and that the majority of time spent on smartphones is related to social networking sites (mainly Facebook). I was surprised by the numbers for newspaper and daily reading provided by the "Kids of the Past" infographic - I thought the numbers would be lower, but was not surprised to see that the Internet has become an increasingly important source for news information. These two infographics confirmed what my summer campers first introduced: that smartphones, and the technology that comes with it, are an increasingly important and essential part of our world. The question then is how to integrate this technology into education. The infographic "K-12 Technology" demonstrates that there is much room for improvement in regards to how schools use technology. Though the infographic reports that teachers believe their schools have high-speed broadband access, there is still opportunities for schools to improve their approach in order to use technology to create dynamic efolios for students and develop interactive, adaptive lessons using multimedia courseware and simulations, such as smart boards. Given the increasingly tech-savvy population of students, these technological educational tools seem to represent an opportunity to create engaging, interactive classrooms.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Research reports

The idea of Bring Your Own Device (or Technology, depending on who you talk to) in K-12 schools is a fascinating one to me. Mainly because it seems so intuitive and yet innovative. I spent my four years of high school being told to never bring my computer to school and to then saw experienced an almost complete turn around in college. Not encouraging kids to use their own technology in school now seems like more than a waste: it seems irresponsible. I found out on Friday that the school I'm doing my field experience at this year is switching to BYOD in the spring, so I thought that looking into it more would be a good idea, just so I could acquaint myself more with both sides of the issue and what type of information was out there about BYOD.

Melissa Greenwood’s piece “Survey offers snapshot of BYOD in K-20” points out the disparity between BYOD usage in postsecondary and secondary education (95% and 48%, respectively), begging the concern that secondary schools are not preparing students for the use of technology in the classroom that will be required in college. This is especially disconcerting considering that 87% of parents believe that effective implementation of technology is important to their child’s success, according to the infographic from Joshua Bolkan’s article “Report: Schools not Meeting Students’ Technology Needs” further highlights the issue that students in the United States use less technology in schools than their peers in China. There is no longer any argument that technology will not be an important part of whatever paths todays students take and how they interact with the world around them. If technology is so important, why aren’t we more effectively making it a part of the classroom, especially when students have so much access to technology everyday.

The answer, of course, complex. To me, the most compelling argument against BYOD is the issue of technology inequality. The infographic shows that this is a concern for 43% of principals surveyed 84% of teacher and that for teachers of low income students there is less access to resources and training for technology in the classroom. Perhaps, though BYOD can help to close these gaps. If students are regularly bringing their own devices to school, this could allow school divisions to spend more money on resources for those students who cannot bring technology to school, rather than making sure that all students have the exact same device provided by the school. The Dell survey cited by Bolkan claims that 71% of students have better access to technology at home than at school, meaning that the schools have room to focus their efforts on providing technology for those students who do not have access to technology at home. Of course, these other students are not evenly spread about the country, but rather focused in low-income areas. The issue of getting technology to students in low-income schools is a much larger issue, but perhaps BYOD could alleviate some of the financial burdens of incorporating technology.

All three of these reports are highlighting the fact that technology in schools is a changing issue in schools that many people see as extremely important. They all seem in favor of incorporating technology into the classroom, assuming that it is an important part of any education. They all concern themselves with how much access students have to technology, but do little to delve into the quality of interaction students have with technology, something equally as important.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Welcome, friends! This is mainly a test post, so let's hope you're able to read it.