Monday, December 8, 2014

Article #6 Word Processing is Controversial?


Roblyer, M., & Doering, A. (2010, July 20). The Impact of Word Processing in Education. Retrieved December 5, 2014, from http://www.education.com/reference/article/impact-word-processing-education/

Summary
In the article, The Impact of Word Processing in Education, M.D. Roblyer, A. H. Doering argue that even though word processing by students is controversial, its use is growing.

Roblyer and Doering acknowledge that “...word processing has become the most commonly used software in education.” They bullet list the benefits of using word processors including student modification of teacher-created materials instead of creating new documents, and ease of modifications to a document over a typewriter; enhanced document appearance, including use of templates; ease of sharing documents for grading and collaboration with other students.

However, they state that the findings seem to be mixed whether word processing is a benefit or not. They cites finding from three reviews from Bangert-Drowns, 1993; Hawisher, 1989; Snyder, 1993. Based on the findings, it seems that writing only improves on a word processor if good writing instruction is present, and students have the time to learn good word processing skills. Yet, in another cited report from Goldberg, Russell, and Cook (2003) found that studies from 1992 to 2002 show a “stronger relationship between computers and quality of writing than previous such analyses had.” Students seem to revise more as they write with a word processor than they did handwriting or when using a typewriter. Findings show that students also seemed to give and receive feedback with peers and the teacher earlier in the writing process.

Roblyer and Doering explain that educators disagree in many areas in regards to starting students on word processing, on whether keyboarding skills should be taught, and whether word processing leads to a degradation of handwriting.

Evaluating writing on tests seemed to bring forth other concerns. “Roblyer (1997) reviewed research that found that students' word-processed compositions tend to receive lower grades than handwritten ones do.” Roblyer and Doering comment that considerations are needed to ensure evaluators are properly trained, so they do not fault written work that has been done on a word processor.

Roblyer and Doering end by saying that regardless of the mixed findings, word processor use is growing in schools.

Reflection

I am surprised to find that there were any controversies in regards to the use of word processing. It seems like a no-brainer to me that word processing can only help the writing process. The ability to manipulate the words on the page is a huge benefit to my writing. I used to cut sentences from my typed pages and spread them on the floor in order to arrange them and see what worked best. Now, I cut and paste. Perhaps it is the appearance of on the word processor that allows students to think that their writing is correct. Maybe they think that if it looks nice, it must be well-written. There is no substitution for good writing instruction. Using a word processor becomes just another piece of technology. We are not teaching the use of the tool; we are teaching the subject  and using the tool to augment it.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Article #5 Podcasting for Deeper Understanding


Smart, M. (2008, November 12). Listening to Themselves: Podcasting Takes Lessons Beyond the Classroom. Retrieved December 2, 2014, from http://www.edutopia.org/podcasting-student-broadcasts
Summary
In the article, Listening to Themselves: Podcasting Takes Lessons Beyond the Classroom, Maya Smart writes about how podcasting helps motivate students to take what they have learned and present it in a new and interesting way, while developing writing and speaking skills.
She starts off talking about the students in Brent Coley’s class and how they react when they find out their work will be live on the web. Students at Tovashal Elementary School make podcasts that are posted on iTunes. Brent Coley, a teacher at Tovashal, explains how having their work on the web motivates his students. Their “eyes light up.”  She explains that other teachers are using podcasts and posting them on sites like the Educational Podcast Network and iTunes U K-12.
Smart cites the Pew Internet & American Life Project numbers that show ..."kids ages 12-17 own an iPod or another MP3 player..." That number comes from a 2008 study and probably doesn't even matter today. So many kids now have smartphones with the ability to listen to podcasts. But I think it shows that podcasting in education is even more available than ever, which is a good thing, since she goes on to tell about Fort Sumner Municipal Schools who took part in a in a study where students of Spanish accessed podcasts while on long bus or car rides, and Spanish grades went up.
The next section of the article talks about what a podcasts and how to make one.
Finally, Smart writes about how podcasts help students. She says that, "When used educationally, podcasts can empower students and teachers to become content producers rather than content consumers, and they can give them audiences beyond the classroom. Student-created podcasts reinforce course concepts, develop writing skills, hone speaking ability, and even help parents stay current on classroom activities." Smart quotes Dan Schmit, creator and host of Kidcast: Podcasting in the classroom, who says students get a sense of purpose in their learning. She uses Schmit to make many of her points. Smart explains that podcasting is not only about oral-presentation skills, but also that Schmit says some of the best podcasts spark "sustained academic conversations." It is these conversations that take learning to the next level. Smart shows how back in 1995, David Warlick, an educator, thought workers in the future (now) will need to be able to "...creatively and artistically reshape information and raw material into compelling information products."
Reflection
I think using podcasts to take what students have learned and put it into a written and oral format is a great way to see how students have processed the material. I’m not sure that just having a podcast on the web is motivation enough today, since many students already have Youtube channels, and Twitter and Instagram accounts. Perhaps the thrill has worn off.
It seems to me that a more social forum like Google+ could be used to to post podcasts and other work, where students could share and comment and comment on comments. Perhaps students would feel more inclined to share and take part; they may feel like they have more at stake. Being in a more social forum could spawn more participation and conversation.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Article #4: Training to Manage Multimedia in the Classroom


Cavanaugh, S. (2014). Pressure on LMS Companies to Provide Quality PD. Education Week, Sept. 29, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/10/01/06lms-pd.h34.html

Summary
In the article, Pressure on LMS Companies to Provide Quality PD, Sean Cavanagh writes about how important it is for teachers and school districts to get the proper training on learning management systems. An LMS is a multimedia tool that can be used to do a wide variety of classroom tasks. Not only can they keep records: attendance, gradebook, seating chart, calendar; they can also organize assignments, push assignments out to students, and give quizzes and tests, and facilitate discussions. It can also store resources like documents, videos, screencasts, podcasts for students to access.

Cavanaugh highlights how difficult it can be to learn all of the features of an LMS. He tells about Susie Weetman, a language arts teachers, who explained that, “...it was kind of like jumping into the deep end and not knowing how to swim.” Cavanaugh wrote, “The third-year educator's experience last school year paralleled those of teachers and administrators across the country who've gone through professional development meant to introduce them to learning management systems…” There seem to be as many ways to attempt training an LMS to educators as there are LMSs.

Since an LMS can be so comprehensive in its functionality, Cavanaugh implies that there differing views on the best way to conduct professional development. Schools can be at many different levels of technical ability. Some school will need a lot of training; some schools will need little; and then there are schools who may be switching from one LMS to another LMS. “LMS companies try to meet those needs by training K-12 officials directly, or by training educators to advise their peers,” he writes.

The article explains how Ms. Weetman was trained to use the D2L LMS. She had a one-hour session led by a fellow teacher, followed by peer-to-peer tutoring. Cavanaugh writes that Weetman has had success with her training in her classes, D2L “strongly recommends that [districts] pursue some sort of training…”

Cavanaugh writes about another LMS company, Alma. He says Alma agrees that training is important, but that “Alma officials are also convinced that the power of their LMS, or any LMS, ultimately rests on its ease of use—meaning that not much training should be needed on how to use it, added Jack Macleod, Alma's president.” Cavanaugh found out that the LMS should be intuitive for teachers’ use. There really just isn’t enough time for PD in many districts. He found that training should not be a “single event” but an ongoing series of trainings, starting with administration. Alma thinks that by having administrators trained on using the LMS that teachers will more likely buy into the new tool.

The end of the article talks about another LMS by Follet. They agree with letting users jum right in and begin using the LMS. Functionality is so great it would be impossible to train every teacher on every aspect of it. Weetman tell of her use of uploaded video clips of the plays of shakespeare to “...bring the plays to life.” Students are able to get multiple perspectives on the plays.

Reflection
I think that training on an LMS is a must. While I tend to “play” with computers, apps, add-ons, and extensions on my own time, others don’t. Others merely use the tools at work, and leave it when they leave. We’re all at different levels of ability. On a recent site visit to a local jr. high, they explained how they viewed technical professional development. It wan not only a new LMS, but included a rollout of  a district-wide 1 to 1 program. That could be overwhelming for anyone. They introduced the devices and the LMS (two actually - Google Classroom and Hapara). Once everyone had an overview, the trainers allowed educators to choose 1) stay in the large group for more training, 2) break into smaller groups for collaborative learning, or 3) go off on your own to learn and explore.

I have been using Google Classroom this year. I have not heard much from students about it. They seem to take it in stride that that is where they go to find the next assignment, and once they have assignment in their Google Drive, they don’t think about Classroom. It is a good tool that slips into the background as something we just use. Google has a ways to go. I’d like to be able to push an assignment out to a smaller group of students, and I’d like to see a calendar added. As of now, I am using a Google Website for storage of resources for students to access, and I have embedded my calendar into the website.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Article #3: This Class is Fun!

Gershenfeld, A. (2014). MIND GAMES. Scientific American, 310(2), 54-59

Summary
In the article, Mind Games, Alan Gershenfeld writes about the current and future use of video games in education. He talks about the overall perspective on video games, and how parents and teachers have been fearful of the violence they see in many video games. Mortal Kombat is a game Gershenfeld mentions that has so much violence that, “Congress held hearings about the game and its influence on youth.” He says that the flashy action games seem to get all the attention, and they are mostly violent. However, he writes about another genre of video games that are “...adventure, strategy, simulation and puzzle games.” These are the games that “fascinate” him. Civilization is a game he uses as an example. And while it seemed that after the fear in the mid-nineties seemed to relax, the Columbine massacre bought it all back once it was learned that the perpetrators of the crime were “avid fans of this genre, video games were again vilified.”

Gershenfeld writes that our students are preparing for “jobs that don’t currently exist.” Elements of video games are creeping into more and more of our everyday life, and we may not even realize it. Gershenfeld calls this “‘gamification’ -- applying the principles of game design to solve real-world challenges.” One problem, he says, is that schools are unprepared to train students for this new future. He writes that game designers, teachers, business leaders, and government agencies need to come together “...in an effort to figure out how to use video games to improve education. We are learning that it will take a good deal of R&D to get this right.”

Gershenfeld thinks that video games are just the right tool to move forward in education. He explains how games can be “bounded” - students can complete a game in a short amount of time, and they will be geared toward an educational purpose or goal. “[Video games] enable players to advance at their own pace and to fail in a safe environment. Most significant, they give players agency -- the ability to make a difference in both virtual and real-world environments.” He writes about current games that have been used in education including: Civilization, SimCity, and especially Minecraft, which is a model for how future educational video games can motivate students, enhance cultural storytelling, and promote social change. Teachers need to be trained in the use of these ideas of video gaming in the classroom.

Finally, Gershenfeld talks about balance. Many parents and teachers think our students spend too much time wired up online. Gershenfeld writes that a balance needs to be struck between online time and offline time.

Reflection
I am a big proponent of using games in education. I do it with my Spanish class. We paly a game called iAy Carumba! where we count in Spanish beginning at number one and each student following announces the next number. Whenever there is a seven or eleven, or a multiple of seven or eleven that student has to say iAy Carumba! It is easy and it works. My students also use Quizlet.com to learn and remember their Spanish vocabulary. But it isn't really complex thinking. Video games have the potential to create more and more complex problems that students need to use higher level thinking. Games can be made to proceed at a students own level and pace. Different games can be created that approach the same problem from different ways for students whose gaming interests are different. I would like to see more video gaming technology used in the classroom.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Article #2: Coding the Future

Pierce, M. (2013). 21st Century Curriculum: Coding for Middle Schoolers. T.H.E. Journal, 40(5), 20-23.

Summary
In the article, 21st Century Curriculum: Coding for Middle Schoolers, Pierce talks about how computer program coding can help students learn, create, and become fluent in the 21st Century. She writes about the 1960s, “At the time, highly trained programmers still worked in inaccessible languages that mainly processed numbers.” Early computers and coding were not for the average person. In 1967 a programming language was developed by MIT Professor Seymour Papert for fourth graders to use to control a robot called the turtle. Pierce writes that, ““For the first time, kids got instant feedback and a physical response to their commands…” However, due to lack of computer access at the time Logo didn’t take off.

Pierce introduces Mitch Resnick, the LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research at MIT, who goes on to explain that coding is needed to be considered fluent in today’s tech-focused society. Resnick compares coding to reading and writing, “In the same way that learning to read opens up opportunities for many other things, and learning to write gives you a new way to express yourself and seeing the world, we see that coding is the same." Pierce agrees that coding is as important today as reading and writing.

But she see a resistance to application in schools. Pierce explains that a lack of qualified teachers is one reason we don’t see more coding programs in schools. But, not only are many teachers not understanding the importance of learning to code, there is a resistance among many adults who think coding looks like the kids are just having fun, and that isn’t how school is supposed to be.

Pierce counters that argument by explaining how coding helps students. She writes that “Papert also contends that people learn better when they're engaged in creating something that is personally meaningful to them.” Programming languages need to be less complex. Unlike Java and C++, some of these new languages are graphical like MicroWorlds, Scratch, and Alice. Scratch and Alice were remedies for Logo and use “drag-and-drop” and “building-block” technology, which allows students to experiment plugging the coded blocks into a program.

Pierce explains that that schools need to introduce coding programs. She has seen many different programs popping up in after-school programs and expanding smaller programs into more developed intensive classes. These programs use coding to help students learn. In these programs students are collaborating with each other. Pierce writes that in Resnick’s class students are using their coding as a tool for cross-curricular learning. Students are coding presentations of topics from their other classes, like social studies.

Reflection
I agree that coding looks like fun. It sounds like fun for kids to code and see what their commands have created. As someone who thinks he is savvy with technology, I really have limited knowledge of coding and how it operates computers and programs. Not only do school need to embrace new devices for students to use in their classes and for their school work, I see that schools need to offer coding as a means to literacy for our modern technological age.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Article #1: A Wave of Technology

Chandler, M.A. & Tsukayama, H.(2014). Tablets take a swipe at status quo in schools. Washington Post, The.

Summary
In the article Tablets Take a Swipe at Status Quo in Schools, Chandler and Tsukayama (2014) describe how tablet computers are changing the classroom environment. They explain how many school districts have easily adopted using tablets or iPads in the classroom by using online textbooks. They write, “U.S. schools are expected to purchase 3.5 million tablets by the end of the year, according to industry analysts,” and ”Worldwide, K-12 spending on tablets has increased 60 percent over last year.” The rush for tablets, and computers in general, stem from the Common Core standards and the PARCC test that will be taken by students next year. Chandler and Tsukayama 
(2014) imply that, although there have been bumps and bruises along the way, educational technology is a booming industry, such that “some nontraditional companies have created arms devoted entirely to education technology.” They also explain how many traditional education publishers are scrambling to keep up with the market.

Chandler and Tsukayama 
(2014) list some of the problems that can cause bumps and bruises when adopting new technology such as tablets. Bandwidth is a big concern. Schools will need a lot of it in order to keep everyone online. Professional development is also important. Teachers need help implementing the technology. Web filters and network control are crucial to keep the online distractions at bay. The authors expressed the concerns of parents with the overuse of technology at home and at school, and the concerns of teachers over online access at home. Some students still don’t have access.

The end of the article is reserved for teachers and students. Chandler and Tsukyama 
(2014) explain how tablets are helping students learn. Not only are students more excited, they are more able to direct their own learning and at their own pace. Tablets can even the playing field for some students. The authors tell how one teacher found that students who were more reserved in class tended to use the technology to contact teachers through email giving them the voice they cannot find in class. Chandler and Tsukyama (2014) finally describe how some teachers are creating their own video content of their lessons for students to watch at home or at school, so that class time can be used more wisely for group or project work.

Reflection
Though the article was about the implementation of tablets in schools, it seemed more about educational technology in general. Whether school districts choose tablets, laptops, or Chromebooks, they have to choose something. Technology is a part of our lives now. Students need to learn how to use technology to enhance their lives and help them to be more efficient. Districts will have to have well-researched plans to avoid some of the pitfalls of the past, and they will need to be more open about how students and teachers need to work in the 21st Century classroom. The wave of educational technology is more like a tsunami - unstoppable.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Welcome!

Welcome to my professional blog!

I don't know about musings and meanderings, but I will be writing journal entries, reviews, and research here. It's been a while since I've written for school, and I can say I am feeling a bit intimidated. Hopefully, my friends will be able to help me along. Time to get back on and hold on tight. This is going to be a busy year!