Technology in the Classroom: A Quest for Better Learning
Little Kids...Big Potential, students explain what it is like to learn in Mrs. Cassidy's first grade classroom. It is very evident while watching this video that these students love using the 21st Century Skills that we are learning so much about in EDM310. They have learned to contribute to a blog, research the web, create wikis, and Skype with others. These first graders are able to learn spelling and reading through regular blog, wiki, and web-based experiences. The students can agree that one of their favorite parts about online participation is the responses they receive from their families, friends, and mentors. In my opinion, these are excellent ways to get students engaged in active learning as well as enlighten them to the power their thoughts and words can have on others. If you are anything like me, you are amazed at the capabilities of these little youngsters. As Anthony Capps said in the Project-Based Learning Interview, "When we create an opportunity for students to go beyond where we want them to go, they will." In other words, we should never underestimate what our students are capable of no matter what their age because they are capable of more than we realize.
Kathy Cassidy gives us some great advice as to why technology is so important in the classroom in her interview with Dr. Strange Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. One of the first things that she recommends is that teachers should always be on the lookout for new technologies to incorporate into the classroom curriculum. If you are unsure on what technology to start with, start with what you or your students are interested in. She says, "If you like videos then start with YouTube. If you like photography then use Flickr. If you like writing then blogging might be the way to go." The main point that she seems to be making is to start small and branch out from there. She correctly states that technology is a large part of the world in which these kids have grown; it is what they know and love. As teachers, we need to figure out how to harness this power and stop handicapping our students by denying what we know to be true.
There is one concern that I have when I think about my future classroom and that is whether or not I will have parental and administrative support. I realize that I don't necessarily need support from outside of my classroom, but I feel that it would be a more successful experience if I were to have it. My plans to better my chances of getting external support or at least cooperation from parents and administrative staff is to have a definitive plan on my use of technology and an explanation as to how it will benefit each student. I will attempt to inform and convince everyone of the advantages that only technology can provide. I realize now why Dr. Strange has had us keep a list of our Personal Learning Network (PLN). He is trying to provide us the support and resources we will need to get us started, but it is up to us to continue it after we have finished with this class. A final thought: We are learning to be teachers so that we can make a difference in the lives of the students we will come in contact with. However, what good will we be to them if we don't commit to being lifelong learners ourselves? We should constantly strive for the betterment of ourselves and our students. We will only succeed in teaching by being the example that these students can learn from.