Google+ Badge

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Hiatus

Hey y'all!

It's been quite a hiatus for me, I can't even believe it has been over a year since I have last posted on my blog! :(  My life has been one whirlwind after another and it is finally starting to calm down... for now at least.

I am still teaching at the same school I was before my hiatus and teaching specifically English I and II.  I teach primarily inclusion classes so it has been an uphill battle getting used to all the different skill levels.  Thank goodness for technology!!

My classes and I have been super busy lately learning about the Holocaust while reading Elie Wiesel's memoir, Night. The students are learning something new all the time and really asking amazing questions and making connection between the Holocaust and various current issues. I'm so excited they are able to make these connections without my help.

My English I class has been working on navigating through The Odyssey. Once again, I get the same ol' question... what's the point of reading this epic?  Why can't we read something we want to read, that we can read.   I agree with these questions and pose those questions to you... Why must we stick with the classics - why not read books that students can understand and relate with more?

I am currently in graduate school for Curriculum and Instruction with Integrating Technology. Yep, it's a mouthful, but I am halfway through and am so pleased with my decision to make this my major for my Masters degree.  Since I am in grad school I will sadly be unable to travel the world extensively this summer as I have been doing the last few summers.  Hopefully I will be able to share with you some of the things I have learned during my courses!

Cheers!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Digital Footprints

My own digital footprint truly started when Myspace and Facebook was born.  I ventured into the Myspace world in 2004 and quickly ditched Myspace for Facebook the following year.  I was your average college student, posting photographs on Myspace/Facebook, commenting on others' pages, etc.  I had an email I used regularly.  I had accounts on several websites (including Neopets - throwback anyone!?).  My digital footprint was establish a little over ten years ago and it has changed since my first footprint.  
(careerrockeeter.com)

When I first joined the chaos of the digital world, I had footprints all over the digital world. I had footprints on Facebook, Myspace, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google, Twitter, any type of social media, I had some kind of imprint on it.  It was rather easy to find information and I had no regards for consequences of the digital world.  I never thought about how anything might come back to haunt me (and thankfully, I never did anything online that I could possibly regret).  Now, I am much more conscious of what I post and have scaled back tremendously on the various social media that I once used.  I see students today playing with Snap chat, Yik-Yak, taking photos with their phones and texting to friends or posting it on social media. I see students emailing one another or posting comments that are negative or could be considered bullying.  I see so many students that believe they are invincible and will never get in trouble.  I constantly explain that whatever they post is there to stay and will follow them for the rest of their days. Even texts messages can follow them forever.  I believe that as teachers, we have a duty and obligation to teach our students "digital citizenship".  We are required to teach students how to behave properly in school, how to conduct themselves when on field trips to represent the school, or when there are speakers in the classroom.  We have to teach our students how to conduct themselves in the digital world so that the digital world portrays them in the best light possible.  We teach our students not to bully, but there are "cyber-bullying" incidents happening.  We must teach our students not to cyber-bully.  Our students are at the age where they believe they can't be hurt.  That because it's done over a computer it can't be traced back to them. They feel more confident in bullying or making poor choices in the digital world because a "screen protects them". They have no idea the screen doesn't actually protect them.  

The digital world is a new world for adults, but it's a world that our students have known all their lives. As adults, we lived in one world as children - the "real world".  Our students have two worlds - the real world and the digital world.  We see the need to protect ourselves and our privacy. Our students almost have no concept of privacy so they don't see the need to be private with things.  Today's children as soon as they're born have a digital footprint when parents post photos on their social media pages.  We must teach the concept of privacy - what's ok and what's not ok to post. We have to teach what cyber-bullying is and work to prevent it from occurring. We have to teach our students to present themselves in the best way possible in the digital world. We have to teach students that a digital footprint is there to stay, no ocean is going to wash that footprint away.  

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Moving Towards a Digital Education

The role of a technology integration specialist (TIS) has changed and grown over the last several years as schools move towards a more digital setting.  TIS in my understanding and experience are to be used as tools to increase technology tools in classrooms and to ensure the tools are being used for the right purposes. This is the first course I am taking that focuses on what a TIS is so I am excited to learn more in depth what a TIS does.

Students and teachers today are from two different worlds.  Teachers have generally grown up without using technology 24/7. Students on the other hand, have grown up attached to technology. It's almost like vital organ they need.  I think this is something that causes something of a disconnect between teachers and students. Teachers can't understand why students can't seem to live without technology, and students can't seem to understand how teachers can or why teachers expect students to be able to live without technology.

The reality is that "technology is students' connection to the world" and technology isn't going anywhere.  Students today are connected through texting, social media such as facebook, Reddit, Instagram, Snapchat, YikYak, Youtube clips, etc.  They see a world that is larger than the world teachers saw when they were in school.  Students feel a need to remain connected. For students, technology tools can be a way to increase student engagement. Oftentimes, schools require students to "power down" once they get to school.  They go through the school day without technology and then become alert and active at 3:00 when the bell rings for dismissal and they can "power on".  It's interesting to see this occurring with our students.  Students need to be taught how to use technology appropriately in school and when it's okay and not okay to use technology. Our students are still learning and they need teachers to guide them through.

More often than not, schools and districts purchase technology and place it in the hands of teachers expecting teachers to integrate that technology without any problem. Teachers look at the technology they are handed and either try to integrate it to the best of their ability, or they become lost, overwhelmed, and frustrated that the technology gets put in a corner somewhere to collect dust.  Teachers are not opposed to technology integration. Teachers are invested in the students' education. If teachers have ample time to learn how to utilize the technology tool, collaborate with colleagues to integrate the tool, and become comfortable with the tool, then the tool becomes valuable within the classroom.  Teachers need to see the value in the technology. My former principal frequently said "I don't have all the answers, but collectively, we have all the answers".  Teachers need to collaborate with other teachers in their content areas and outside their content areas.  Teachers need to open the door to other teachers so that teachers may see technology tools in action.  Teachers also need to understand and embrace the idea that their students will know more than they do when it comes to technology. Teachers need to allow students to teach them how to use technology.