Archive for EDTECH504

EDTECH 504: Setting the course

It is ironical that life’s constants are chaos and strife. We humans must constantly adapt to change in an attempt to better future generations. In the past two weeks I attended a state-level competitive event for a student organization with six energetic adolescents, replaced a server, and analyzed volumes of raw data for errors in an attempt to improve our state’s reporting system. Not to mention the myriad activities performed at home as a week-end wife of my studious husband who is attending nursing school in a brick-and-mortar institution two hours north, and week-long mother of my ambitious high school freshman. It’s no small wonder clichés such as “pushing through walls” and “climbing ladders of success” pepper our vernacular.

Amid that race, I had the opportunity to stop, regroup, and refocus with what I thought would be a routine assignment. I haven’t performed an annotated bibliography since I earned my first master’s degree a dozen years’ past.  What topic to select? I stewed on it until the due date loomed like a house rock in the middle of the boiling rapids.  Of course! My reasoning behind this degree is to be able to help others in their struggle to change. As a professional technical educator with multiple academic endorsements and an accidental tourist in the IT department, I know a lot about educational theory, teaching in a classroom, IT issues, and design techniques but I don’t know much about the unique climate of the very population I want to serve.

I spent all afternoon with my research, growing more excited with my topic as I read and summarized. Ideas poured forth and began to pool together. Before I knew it, the project was complete. Despite a ten hour stretch of reading, I felt refreshed and motivated. I’m ready to take on the adventure of a research project on this topic and change my world.

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EDTECH 504: Building a Framework for Lifelong Learning

I like to think of myself as a constructivist teacher, but state mandates, pressing schedules and demanding standards often cloud my purpose. I agree with Vygotsky, Bruner (to some extent), Maslow, and Gardner, but I find Piaget’s four stages of cogntive development (Leanord, 2007) rather confining in application. I am also a proponent of brain-based learning, and have spent years researching how our brains anaylyze, accomodate, and evaluate new information.
One way I expand students’ understanding is to make their thinking process visible. Students demonstrate different thinking processes by mapping their problem solving aloud or on paper. When they are learning new thinking operations, I provide scaffolds by utilizing process worksheets and cues. Exercising quality thinking and providing meaningful purpose motivates the students to improve their thinking and provides better cognitive skills to apply toward subject-matter learning, or the content of the lesson. To make sure I plan activities that develop quality thinking, and to better develop my constructivist teaching approach, I try to consistently practice reflective assessment. Students write in journals and think about the processes they used to gain a new skill. Unfortunately, this reflection is sporadic, and oftentimes is used as an afterthought to more objective forms of assessment.
I am happy to say that I have been commended for creating a secure community environment where students take thinking risks and accept the risks taken by their peers. Risk-taking is evident by the quality of interaction between me and my students, and between my students and their fellow classmates. I envision extending that level of secure classroom to promote the different intelligences within that community. Ideally, learning is concentrated on higher levels of thinking, such as understanding, analysis, application, and synthesis of ideas and skills. That learning is reinforced with the ability to practice reflective thinking.
At risk of contradicting Phillips position that I as a teacher “treat the curriculum of an educational institution as vehicle for furthering the socio-political interests and goals of a ruler or ruling class” (Phillips, 2009) besides development of quality thinking, I also plan situations for social interaction to take place and further develop communities of practice (Barab, 2000). The first element of interaction is the implementation of rules, or guidelines, with specific and reasonable consequences for breaking those rules to be applied consistently. Even after ten years of classroom experience, I find myself inconsistent in applying consequences for minor infractions. Once rules are established, I promote social interaction with active classroom discussion on controversial or value-based topics. For example, I posed to my seventh grade math class, “ethical standards are necessary in a school setting” and randomly divided the class in to two groups; one for pro, one for con. The groups had five minutes to research online and come up with an oral argument for their assigned position. Being able to argue for something one believes in is a skill; being able to argue for something one does not hold true is an art.
When the groups have completed the assignment the concept of ethics will not only have been learned, but experienced. At that point, I guided reflection of the groups as to what processes they put into practice to arrive at the level of learning they achieved. In the future, I would like to add a self-reflection on how the groups did in arriving at the level of the class as a whole, and determine what actions could be taken next time for even further learning.
As a teacher, I have the responsibility to provide experiences that scaffold future learning. Furthermore, I must be a reflective practitioner in order to keep growing. In my classroom, I expect my students to learn and to recognize different thinking processes to fall back on when they encounter an unfamiliar situation or problem. They will learn how to interact with others through good communication skills and respect for diversity, and learn to draw off each other’s strengths to complement individual weaknesses. They will develop self-esteem and take pride in their accomplishments. It is my goal to fulfill my teaching responsibilities and to motivate students to fulfill their learning responsibilities. My actions in planning, delivery, and assessment will be based on those aspects, and I will continue to strive for personal and professional development to achieve my goal. I would like to define education as that which is gained upon application, synthesis, and reflection of an experience. I have a duty to teach students how to inquire, think, and know – and then how to analyze, apply, synthesize and evaluate so that they, in turn, can contribute to organizational, social, and global values.

REFERENCES:
Barab, S., & Duffy, T. (2000). From Practice Fields to Communities of Practice. In Jonasson, D. & Land, S. (Ed.), Theoretical Foundations of Learning Environments (pp. 25-55). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrencw Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Leonard, K., Noh, E.K., & Orey, M. (2007). Learning Theories and Instructional Strategies. In M. K. Barbour & M. Orey (Eds.), The Foundations of Instructional Technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/itFoundations/
Phillips, D.C., “Philosophy of Education”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2009 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .

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EDTECH 504: Elements of Educational Technology

I face thousands of decisions every day, most seem inconsequential, but others are more significant.  The significance rises with the benefits and risks associated with the decision. When others are involved, I feel an increasing burden and responsibility.  My decisions are then based on what is important to me, and what is important to me is my values.

According to Janawuski and Molenda “…ethical practice is less a series of expectations, boundaries, and new laws than it is an approach or construct from which to work” (pg 3). I like to think that my values guide my decision-making at work, at home, and in my community.

In my position, I honor three commitments as I serve students and staff.

1)      My accountability extends to the individuals within my scope of practice who entrust me with confidential information.

2)      My local community–as well as society in general—depends on me to be trustworthy to provide services and technological products using public funds.

3)      My work ethic and my dedication to continuing education bring honor—or dishonor—to my profession.

There are many creeds that help define how we should live, but my personal favorite is by an unknown author:

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

References
Januszewski, A. and Molenda, M. (2007). Educational Technology: A Definition with Commentary. AECT.

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