Digital Learners

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As we began discussing, one topic that came to mind was, is this too much considering what is yet to come? What about these children going on to high school or college, and actually having to sit behind a desk with a textbook in front of them? [Jamie] shared, “a couple of my friends from high school went to a montessori grade school. When they went on to high school, some of them had high anxiety freshman year because of the difference in schooling. They became very anxious because they were constantly stressing over grades. Eventually they became used to the new way, in their eyes, of educating, but what is the connection between this story and the kids’ at School for Digital Kids?” We believe that this school is extremely interesting and a good step forward into where education should be progressing. However, we also believe in the saying that practice means perfect. These children are going to school for eight years, eight hours a day, with constant access to technology. Is it beneficial to be this immersed when eventually they’ll be sent to another school where they’re going back to the “old school” ways? Their practice won’t nearly be as high as it was in the school that based their education on it.

But is this where society is going? The problems would be theoretically eradicated if all schooling was done in this technological way. We liked the idea of literacy in the 21st century including digital literacy. In reality, it is the way of the world now and if you can’t use this technology, you can’t do a LOT of things. Almost every job requires these type of analytical skills, digital skills, and problem solving skills. On of the most valuable skills employers look for is the ability to problem solve. The point was made that video games are essentially a set of problems that the player has to solve in order to succeed. By playing games, kids are engaged and at the same time practicing what they are going to need for the future. Future future future. This is the progressive way educators have to think nowadays. Prepare students for their futures. There is a high demand on teachers and preparing students for the next step in life. We believe that teachers need to know WHAT they need to prepare their students for and HOW they are going to prepare their students.

Students are inspired to learn by learning things that they are interested in. If you would take a survey in a class, it’s not likely that there would be many students who would rather read a science book with no pictures, than watch a YouTube video on how cells divide by mitosis. It is important to create LIFELONG LEARNING. Students are going to remember things because they were engaged and interested. The following link is about how to find things students are interested in.http://www.readwritethink.org/professional-development/strategy-guides/assessing-student-interests-strengths-30100.html. Everyone has an interest and teacher can allow that interest to become a passion. Once students are interested in something it is essential for them to learn more. This requires students to read more, write more, watch more, and learn more.

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As future teachers we want our kids to be able to make their own choices. Both the Digital Youth Network, and the Quest to Learn school had technology readily available to their students, providing opportunity for learning in multiple medias. This allows students the choice of how they want to learn, giving them a sense of authority over their own education, and letting them use what is such an integral part of their life in the classroom. This idea is imperative in special education. For students who have severe disabilities, if we can teach them how to use certain technologies, they can actually gain a whole new means of communication. For students with moderate disabilities, that we focus on training for a job and independent living, technological skills are an integral part of what they will need to know to succeed in their independent lives. For students with learning disabilities, online programs might be a different, more visual approach to concepts that they otherwise struggle with. Kids who have ADD/ADHD can use technology to learn and actually be engaged. They might not get distracted from something they would do as a fun activity, just used for learning. The capabilities of technology to enrich the learning and the lives of students with special needs are phenomenal.

Until next time,

Lindsay Solar, Jamie Vogenthaler, Sara Osoba

Great minds think alike, but all minds need to work together in order to benefit society most. There is no universal mind, no mind that it more desirable then others, no mind that can solve every problem, and no mind that can do everything. Some people have minds that more science-oriented, math-oriented, or arts-oriented. Some people have minds that prefer to be taught a certain way. Some people have minds that try extremely hard at certain things and some people have minds that certain things come easily.
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Individuals need to realize that the people around them do not have the same thinking process as they do. We have all been in that certain class, were you are sitting staring at the test in front of you and thinking that the test might as well be in a different language because it is that difficult. Then, the kid sitting next to you stands up and turns their test in because they are finished. In that moment you feel defeated, discouraged, and jealous. On the other hand, we have had that moment when our friend is doing homework and not understanding it and we peak over at it and say “that’s so easy…all you have to do is this…” Everyone is unique and people should understand that without a variety of thinking styles things would not be accomplished.

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Individuals with Autism have a different perspective on life. Although it should be known that all individuals who have Autism are not the same. Autism is a spectrum diagnosis and each individual is unique and has their own thinking process, within a thinking process that is already different from the norm.

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This image relates the social, communication, and behavioral aspects of life in the life of an individual with Autism.

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Individuals with Autism need to be inspired. They are often fixated on one thing, and this allows for motivation to learn more about things if the fixated topic is also included. Individuals with Autism should be allowed to explore things, because most are visual learners and they can think about things in a certain way that others would never think about in that way. Society needs this type of thinker and learner to see things that are not abstract, but specific details. The phrase “hide it in blind sight” is truthful in this case because today people are abstract thinkers, but sometimes you just need to focus on the core and what is actually in front of you.

Teachers should teach to inspire all types of thinkers to ensure that they are motivated and continue to want to learn.

 

FEEDBACK: effective and necessary

Humans are biased. We are biased to our own work and progress, when we complete our work we see something that we have dedicated our time, effort, and resources into. The last thing that people want to hear once they have completed a task is that their work could have been better. Depending on the person, this advice could be taken as motivation to improve or forgotten and the work continues to suffer. I believe that we have started to grow-up in a community were people would rather be given no feedback instead of negative comments or being told there is room to improve. People are afraid to disappoint others and “no feedback is good feedback right?” WRONG. People need to realize that there is always room to improve, but they need to be aware of where and how they need to improve.

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I believe it is a great idea to give teachers effective feedback on the lessons they are giving. Even though student teachers are always taught that steps to doing a lesson are before, during, after, and review. The review of how the lesson went is usually forgotten. During the school day, there are reading, science, math, and writing lessons that need to be completed.  Then there are more lessons that need to be prepared for the next day. Teachers are grading homework, planning lessons, and watching over 30 student’s behaviors and grades. They are thankful that the lesson was completed and often are not given a chance to give themselves feedback on their lessons. HOWEVER, the feedback is necessary. Teachers need to realize that the feedback of one lesson does not need to be filed away and used the next year when the lesson is given again; but instead it can be used to improve lessons for the next day or in different subjects.

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A set back to when teachers give feedback to other teachers is it forces teachers out of their classrooms to observe other teachers. I know in my high school my teachers did peer coaching. They are paired up with about four teachers some in the same content area as they were and some that were not. They went and observed lessons that their peers gave and then presented the feedback to them. This seemed as though it would be effective, but when my teachers were observing other teachers the class usually watched a movie or had a free work period. As a student, I am not sure how effective the feedback was or how much time and effort the observing teachers put into helping their peers, but I am sure it varied. Teachers have an incredible workload and simply putting “satisfactory” is easier then writing tips on how to improve. Humans are selfish, some more than others. It seems to me that the idea is there, but it takes effort and time from outside people to help an individual. Also, I know when my teachers were being observed they would tell the students to make sure we were on our best behavior and then the teacher gave the best lesson that she/he has done all year. It is easy for a teacher to allow the students to watch movies all year and then present the best lesson they have all year simply because they are “on stage” while being observed.

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I believe that effective feedback is necessary for teachers and myself to improve. I do not believe that teachers should just be told that their fraction lesson was not good and they should now change to the lesson that was presented by the world’s best fraction teacher. That lesson may not work with their students. The teacher knows her students the best, and if she is given advice on what she should do she can then change it according to the needs of the students. The most important aspect is that the feedback is effective. Teachers have the best interests of the students. Or, at least we hope. I know that some professors at universities are researchers and they are not the best teachers. Allowing students to give feedback on those teachers will be beneficial because the students are in college and they know what a good educator is and how they teach. In the younger grade levels there needs to be other people giving the feedback. America should not do a feedback program just to improve Americas ranking in math and science, but to know what teachers are doing and how they should improve.

Teacher’s Choice of Technology in the Classroom

Imagine, scanning your child’s school supply list and in addition to seeing the familiar pencils, spiral notebooks, and paper towels an iPad or iPhone is on the list. Originally this might come to a shock to some people, but due to the increase access to technology and the dramatic shift of more people using technology in their daily life, it can seem logical that children will be able to use their knowledge and access to technology while they are in the classroom. Things are changing and that means that teachers are going to have to change their approach on the way that they teach. Almost every student that is studying to be a teacher knows you have to use teaching techniques based on how your students learn best and can be most benefitted from the lesson. Today’s students are children who grew up having phones with internet when they were ten years old, they are able to find and play a youtube “how to” video quicker then we can describe how to do something, and they can make a Facebook post, instagram post, or tweet faster than some people can even open the app. I am not going to deny that I am not attached to my phone or that I don’t notice when my internet connection is down right away because I do. I constantly check my email on my phone and get a panic feeling if I do not feel it in my pocket. I am comfortable with using technology and I believe with the correct balance students and teachers would benefit with using technology in the classroom. With this being said I also believe that teachers should be required to use technology  and not given the choice if they want to incorporate modern technology or not in their classroom.

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Students are no longer sitting in long rows of desks and working independently on their homework. They are instead sitting in groups and learning from one another and using their peers as resources. Another resource that is now being used is technology. Teachers should be required to change the ways that they are teaching because the way children are learning is changing.

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A critique about teaching using modern technology is the fear that students are not going to be able to do things without technology. It is important to understand there needs to be a balance of the amount of technology used and how it is being used. While at the same time the argument that children are not going to be able to have the skills to look up facts in an encyclopedia because they have the internet is invalid. It might be true that students don’t learn the same skills that previous students have learned, but that is because they are going to be learning the skills that their generation needs to be successful. The encyclopedia might be able to give a paragraph of information on one thing. If a student learns how to properly search the web they will be able to have an unlimited amount of information on the she topic.

We need to teach to educate students. Technology can be used to make a lesson more interesting by a SmartBoard activity or it can be taught so that children reach for their iPads and instead of playing a noneducational game they can watch educational YouTube videos and learn more about something that interests them. I do not believe that teachers should be given the choice to incorporate modern technology or not. I believe using modern technology would benefit the schools, teachers, and students. Teachers put their student’s needs before their own and if they know that technology would allow a better educational experience then teachers will use the technology.