Monday, December 6, 2010

TIES 2010 Keynote Reflections

The TIES Conference has begun with a bang!  I am already learning a lot through my TweetDeck for Twitter as well as from the keynote with Sir Ken Robinson.  He was very entertaining and reemphasized the reason why education needs to change.  He seems to focus much less on the technology and much more on personalized learning.  I like that.

Technology tools come and go, but personalized learning is a frame of teaching that can be used with and without many technologies.  Sometimes, it seems that people get so caught up in the new gadgets and don't focus on changing the teaching.  I don't just want to teach the same content in new ways.  I am much more interested in making the paradigm shift to personalized learning than I am in picking out the next cool gadget.  The gadgets will come..... naturally.

I am intrigued to find some schools that focus on personalized learning as described by Sir Ken Robinson.   Mike O Connor, Assistant Principal in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, suggested checking out the School of One in New York.  It definitely looks like one to checkout.  I will continue to look for other examples...perhaps in Europe or Australia.

I also plan to read Sir Ken Robinson's book, The Element.  I am anticipating some more insights and ideas for implementing in the classroom.

Looking forward to learning more today!  Now waiting for Ryan Cox, Technology/Curriculum Integrationist, from St. Cloud Area Schools to present on iPod/iPad Educational Strategies.

Friday, September 17, 2010

My Year in Fourth Grade

This school year, I have the pleasure of working with two job-sharing fourth grade teachers in an inclusive fourth grade classroom.  We have six students with special needs in the classroom of twenty-two students.  The students, both special education and non-special education, have a wide variety of needs, abilities, and interests. Throughout the year, I will be working with these teachers to provide engaging learning opportunities for these students.  I will also be looking for ways to integrate technology into these opportunities for two reasons.

First, some of the special education students I am working with are very low readers.  They are over 2 years delayed in reading and writing.  This makes collaborative work difficult because they cannot keep up with the work.  If we can integrate more technology-based projects along with using tools for accessibility, they will be able to better contribute to the collaborative work taking place in the classroom.

Second, technology skills are a necessary skill for all students.  While our students are coming in with some very basic computer skills, they have a lot to learn.

So far, we have started Kidblog with them.  The district decided that each student should have their own network logon for grades 2-5 at our school...why I don't really know.  Each time we have used the lab so far, it has taken at least 5-10 minutes to just get the students logged into the network.  This seems like such a waste of instructional time.  We will see if they get quicker as the year goes on.

We have also found out that they are missing many basic skills that are inhibiting them from using the computer effectively.  We are trying to figure out if they have just not been using computers much in past years OR if they just need more practice.

As we try more projects, I will post what we did along with my feedback on what worked and what didn't.  My hope is that other teachers can learn from our successes and mistakes.  To be honest, I can see why teachers are hesitant to use technology with students when there seem to be so many hiccups in the process.  Let's see if we can work some of those hiccups out and end the year with tech-savvy students!