8-C-1: 2020 Vision

Six years ago in 2008, I sat in my college dorm room keeping in touch with family and friends back home using a cell phone and a laptop computer. In 2008, the capabilities of my cell phone were limited to calling and texting. At the time, I was still more apt to call someone since texting was a long, cumbersome process – even with using the T9 Word feature. In 2008, I used my laptop for two main purposes – word processing and e-mailing…but I never used the two in conjunction with each other. After typing a document in Microsoft Word, I would print it out on my printer and take it to class to physically turn in.

Now, in 2014, as I reflect on what life looks like for college students sitting in dorm rooms (or anyone sitting anywhere!), so much has changed in six short years. Now, texting is preferred over calling on a cell phone. Not to mention, it’s much easier to do with the assistance of a full keyboard as opposed to T9 Word. Now, word processed documents are shared all the time through e-mail or a web application. A printer is almost a thing of the past! There’s simply no need for hard copies of most documents now when they can be so easily shared and disseminated online. Of course, there are also a variety of other technologies present today that I had never heard of as I sat in my dorm room in 2008. Videochatting through Skype of FaceTime sure would have helped put my parents at ease. Instagram and Twitter would have enabled me to keep in touch with high school friends now spread across the country. Wikis and Google Docs definitely would have improved those daunting group projects that my professors so loved to assign. The maps app on my iPhone would have made navigating a new college town a lot easier – and finding a late night pizza place! These technologies, plus others, have emerged – or rather, exploded – in the six short years since I left that college dorm room. I can’t help but wonder…what’s to come in the next six years?

Life in 2020 is sure to be vastly different than life in 2014. New technologies will continue to emerge and as a result, I predict…

Technology will be a necessity, not a luxury.

Right now, most people have access to technology, but there is always an alternate approach available for those who don’t have it. In 2020, access to technology will be a given. There will be no alternate approaches. It will be assumed that everyone has access…but more than that, it will be true that everyone has access. In 2020, I envision home Internet access will be as common as running water and electricity. It will be a necessity in order to function in our society. As with any necessity, there will still be those who cannot afford it and I predict that government aid will start to become available to assist with that. Just as there is currently aid for food and other basic necessities, I believe programs will start to emerge to ensure that everyone has access to the Internet.

In the world of education, I believe that all schools will move to a 1:1 student to laptop ratio. Just as textbooks were assigned to students in the past and borrowed during the school year, I believe laptops will be assigned to each student. Students will take their laptops from school to home and back to school again. Laptops will be essentially the only item students need at school. All course content will be posted online, all books will be read in the form of eBooks, and all assignments will be turned in virtually. Some schools are starting to make this shift now and I believe by 2020, most schools will be at this point. This will affect education because now students will have access to class content and their teachers even when they are not in the classroom. This will make learning seem like a way of life, rather than just something that happens when you walk into the school building.

New jobs will be created, old jobs will cease to exist.

As technology becomes more and more advanced, efficiency will increase. Computers will be able to do work more efficiently than people used to do (this is already starting to happen!). As a result, human jobs will be lost and replaced by computers. For example, restaurants will have small tablets at each table which customers can use to place their orders – no need for a waitress to take the order. Many restaurants currently have online ordering available for takeout, so why not bring that same technology into the restaurant? Also, many places also use online reservation systems – why not have the table reserved and the food ordered before you even arrive? This eliminates the hostess’ job too. Other jobs and establishments will be placed out too. For example, movie theaters will no longer exist since everyone will be able to stream movies and TV shows over the Internet. People will pay to view new releases in the comfort of their own homes rather than making the trek to the theater. Aside from movie theaters, I predict lots of physical stores will start to close their locations and move strictly to online sales – why pay rent for a physical space when you can sell your merchandise online?

Although many jobs will cease to exist, new jobs will be created in order to keep up with the ever-growing technology and ever-changing society. This affects education because teachers will continue to be preparing students for jobs that don’t even exist yet. Now more than ever, critical thinking and problem solving will need to be at the forefront of every classroom. Opportunities for authentic learning experiences will need to increase in order for students to develop the skills they will one day need in the work force.

Possibilities will be (almost) endless.

“Dream big.” “Nothing is impossible.” “You can do anything you set your mind to.” These statements which were once simply motivational quotes put on magnets and bumper stickers will continue to become more and more true as the years go on. Technological advances in science and medicine, the ability to interact with people from across the globe, an app for just about any convenience you can think of – all of these things make what once seemed impossible possible. With each new technology created, something that was once unheard of suddenly becomes possible. As we move into the year 2020 and each year beyond that, I believe that the mentality of things being “impossible” will shift to a mindset that thinks, “What do I need to do to make that possible?” This mentality will permeate classrooms causing them to be environments where teachers are not the ones with the answers, but teachers will simply be another resource for students to use on their quest for knowledge.

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8-A-1: Web Applications

There are many students in my classes who desire feedback on certain assignments before turning them in…especially writing assignments! These students want to make sure they are on track with the assignment and appreciate a second opinion on their writing because finishing the assignment and turning it in. The task of looking over multiple students’ writing pieces is daunting within the confines of the short class period we are given each day; therefore, I would recommend Google Docs as a web application for students seeking feedback from others about their writing. Google Docs first acts as a word processor, allowing students to create a document, but then the document can be shared with and edited by others. This creates multiple possibilities. First, the student could share the document with me and I could view the document outside of our regular class period. I could leave comments on the document which the student could see either at home or the next time he/she opens the application. Also, the student could share the document with a trustworthy peer who could also leave comments and give feedback at any hour of the day. This web application makes collaboration possible without being in the same place at the same time since multiple users have access to the document and ways to leave feedback on it. I definitely think Google Docs would meet the needs of both the student and the teacher in a situation such as this.

7-B-1: Paperless Classes

The idea of paperless classes is an interesting one. While I do see the benefits to it, I believe it would be a difficult task to implement right now in the grade level that I teach (5th grade). At this age, students are still just learning how to maneuver around the Internet – yes, some students have vast skills, but others have more limited skills and access. For this reason, going completely paperless is not something I would approach in my own classroom just yet, but taking small steps, by facilitating some learning activities paperlessly (by using blogs or wikis) might be a good first step at this grade level.

A paperless class changes the role of the teacher dramatically. Instead of just one teacher, there become many teachers as students rely on other resources for learning – such as sources on the Internet and other classmates. In a paperless class, the teacher is a facilitator, not a lecturer. This changes learning because students learn more by creating networks among each other. They learn through the ideas of other classmates and also through links to external content which can be brought into the paperless classroom from the web.

Paperless space would make it easier to build a learning network because all students would have an online presence. Unlike a face-to-face conversation which is gone as soon as it is spoken, typed comments online remain there for all to see. Students can refer back to conversations long after they’ve happened and easily contribute new ideas to past conversations based on new learning.

7-A-1: Big Shifts in Education

In his book, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms, Will Richardson identifies ten big shifts happening in education as a result of the Read/Write Web. One of those shifts is “Teaching is Conversation, Not Lecture.” The Read/Write Web has greatly influenced this shift because the Internet itself underwent this transformation. When the Internet first came out, information was contributed by a small amount of individuals who knew how to write code. Back then, the Internet was a “sit and get” type of resource similar to a classroom lecture. However, in recent years, the Internet has shifted to a conversation among users. Now, everyone, not just a select few, has the ability to create a website, blogs, wiki, etc. Everyone is able to make their ideas public and interact with others who choose to do so as well. Now, the Internet is a conversation among users rather than just a static resource.

The idea of “Teaching is a Conversation, Not Lecture” is definitely present in classrooms today. No longer do students sit and listen to the teacher talk. Now, the emphasis is on students doing the talking and also actively listening to not just the teacher, but more importantly, their peers. This shift is evident in my classroom. No matter what I’m teaching, each lesson has multiple opportunities for students to talk. Sometimes they talk with a partner and sometimes they talk in small groups. Sometimes I give prompts for the discussion and sometimes students create prompts for the discussion. Students are given a very active role in my classroom when it comes to discussion but also when it comes to learning. New content is sometimes delivered by me, the teacher, but it is also sometimes deliver through student exploration – whether it’s deciphering new content together in a small group or utilized a web-based program to uncover new material. In my classroom, the teacher is not the ultimate source of knowledge, but instead, students are taught to use other resources. This practice is consistent with teaching being more like a conversation, than a lecture because a conversation allows for multiple input.

One piece of technology I can use to facilitate this shift would be blogs. Blogs allow for students to have a virtual conversation by posting their ideas and then commenting on the ideas of others. I also think virtual chat forums such as TodaysMeet are a great way to facilitate virtual conversations among students. Whether it’s happening over the Internet or face-to-face, student interaction and discussion is a vital part of today’s classroom as students work together to connect and construct their learning.

6-A-3: Responding to Connectivisim

On Group C’s wiki, they argued that a connectivist classroom negatively impacts students because it requires a high degree of digital literacy and confidence in using technology. Personally, this is one of my concerns about connectivism too. Although I do believe it is a valid learning theory, I think that some students have an unfair advantage over others. For those students who are confident, competent technology users, I definitely believe that they are learning and growing due to the networks they are creating and the information they are accessing through others. However, what about those students who are not fluent or well-versed in digital literacy? Those students are not experiencing the same amount of learning as the students who can confidently use technology. Therefore, I believe that while connectivism can be used to describe how some students learn, it cannot yet be used to describe how all students learn.

6-C-2: Skype Ideas

Connecting through Skype proved to be pretty easy! I found Skype to be very easy to navigate. Adding new contacts was a quick process and the colored icons are an efficient way to tell if someone is available. I also like the fact that Skype offers written chats as well as video chats.

Although Skype is easy to use, I don’t think it is something that is necessary to use on a personal level anymore. At one time, the ability to video chat was novel, but most people can Facetime on their Smartphones. Also, the written chat feature on Skype is essentially the same as the text messages we send from our phone daily.

However, I can see Skype being using in the classroom environment to help students connect with people and places that they would not otherwise have access to. For example, we have used Skype at my school to connect students to authors around the nation. Students have been able to video chat with the authors to see where they write and to ask questions about their personal life and writing process. This is powerful because students begin to see authors as real people because Skype has given them a personal glimpse into their lives. Using video chat technology, such as Skype, will help students gain a new awareness of people and places in their world that they might not ever have the opportunity to physically visit.

5-B-3: Podcast in the Classroom

One way I would use podcasts in my classroom is as an engaging way to deliver content to my students. To provide a break from always hearing direct instruction from me, I could use educational podcasts to introduce new concepts to my students. In order to ensure that my students remain active listeners during a podcast, I think it would be appropriate to give them some type of graphic organizer to fill out to ensure they grasped key information. After listening to the podcast one time, students would have the ability to go back and listen to all or some of the podcast again if there were certain concepts they didn’t grasp the first time. This adds a nice element of differentiation because students can work at their own pace, as opposed to me standing in the front of the room deliver whole group instruction where the student only has one chance to listen to the information.

I found a series of podcasts created by “Grammar Girl” which focus on writing rules and tips. One particular podcast from “Grammar Girl” that I could use with my students would be the one titled, “How to Avoid a Common Comma Error.” I selected this particular podcast because it focuses on when it is and is not appropriate to use a comma. In fifth grade, many students often get “comma happy” and use commas instead of periods. This podcast discusses how commas are not used to join two independent clauses and then it also gives appropriate uses of commas. To use this podcast in my classroom, I would give students a graphic organizer which is divided into 2 columns – “When to Use a Comma” and “When Not to Use a Comma.” Students would be instructed to add examples to their graphic organizer as a result of listening to information in the podcast.

5-A-1: Flickr Possibilities

flickr pic for blog

Although I have not used it with my students yet, Flickr seems to be a very beneficial multimedia tool. I always get concerned with the “public” aspects of Web 2.0 tools so I was happy to learn that Flickr has security features where users are able to restrict viewing access to just their friends and family. The ability to keep photos and comments private between classmates definitely convinces me that Flickr can be a safe, effective classroom tool.

As a Language Arts teacher, I could use photos from Flickr in my classroom to inspire writing. Students could select a picture and create a narrative which details events that happened before and after the picture was taken. Students could also create a story and then use photos from Flickr to illustrate the events in their story.

The annotation feature on Flickr is something that I could utilize in my classroom. Students could find a particularly “busy” picture (with lots going on it in) and then they could annotate the picture by writing descriptive sentences about what they see. I could give certain requirements such as at least one sentence must start with a prepositional phrase, use a conjunction in one sentence, etc. This would be an engaging way to reinforce grammar skills.

Photo Citation: Temari09. (2009, September 23). Learning Time. Temari09’s Photostream. Retrieved July 1, 2014, from https://www.flickr.com/photos/34053291@N05/3948369923/

5-A-2: Blogical Discussion

In the world of education today, so much emphasis is placed on getting results. High standards, such as the Common Core State Standards, outline what students should know as a result of their time in the classroom and standardized tests are given to measure the results. Educational standards and testing are consistently the focus of public attention. The public wants to see results. Published results come in the form of numbers – the percentage of students who were proficient in math, the graduation rate, etc. However, there are so many factors in education that cannot be measured but which also play a huge role in getting results.

 

Classroom behavior management is one significant factor which contributes to a productive learning environment. Although it’s not measured on a standardized test, the environments that we create in our classrooms affect learning. How we handle both positive and negative behaviors is important. Whether it’s giving praise or discipline, our actions affect our students’ attitudes and willingness to learn.

 

Like most areas of teaching, managing behavior is an area where there is always room for improvement. What worked in the past might not always work in the future due to new groups of students entering your classroom each year. Sometimes trial and error is the best way to learn. Our discussion this week will focus on sharing our thoughts and strategies regarding behavior management in the classroom.

 

Below are links to various blog posts from Pernille Ripp, a 5th grade teacher/blogger/author. Pernille offers her opinions on how to approach behavior management:

 

“Call Me Crazy But It’s Still About the Kids”

“Instead of Punishment”

“So I Gave Up Punishment and My Students Still Behaved”

“So What’s My Problem With Public Behavior Charts?”

 

As you share your thoughts on this topic, consider one of these prompts:

 

–          Should teachers focus more on rules or relationships?

–          What behavior management strategies have you found to be effective? What strategies have you found to be ineffective?

–          What is your opinion on public behavior systems in the classroom?

–          As you read Pernille’s blog posts, what ideas did you agree with? What ideas did you disagree with?

4-D-1: Wikis in the Classroom

My opinion of Wikipedia drastically changed this week.  My initial opinion was based on what my teachers told me in high school and college – “Wikipedia does not count as a source.”  After hearing that, Wikipedia was never a site I used when I needed credible, scholarly research.  However, it is a site I used and continue to use frequently to look up information about my own personal curiosities.

 

After reading Chapter 4 in Will Richardson’s book, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms, I’m now a Wikipedia believer.  I’m in awe of how many people contribute to the site and how timely and accurate their entries are.  In his book, Richardson gave the example of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake/tsunami and how a Wikipedia entry was created only nine short hours after the quake.  Within two days, the entry had been edited 1,200 times and contained pictures, videos, and graphics which made it one of the most detailed sources of information regarding the event.  This example showed me just how powerful open collaboration can be.  I was also surprised to read about how quickly inaccurate information is spotted and changed on the site.

 

I now believe that Wikipedia is a reliable source for information on the web.  Yes, it’s true that from time to time there could be some faulty information posted but faulty information turns up frequently on a Google search too.  Students (and adults) just need to know how to distinguish fact from fiction.  To do this, you need to verify the information by making sure the same facts show up on multiple websites.  If the same information is posted on a variety of sources, chances are that the information is accurate.  Wikipedia should be approached no differently than any other website.  If anything, the credibility of Wikipedia should be held in higher esteem because it has such a wide variety of editors, as opposed to a regular website which might be authored by only one person.