Archive | June 2012

EdTech 597: Discussion Entry-Teacher Retention

teacher retention

 

I recently came across an article on the Internet which I found to really hit home. The article was directed at teacher burnout and the turn over rate in the teaching profession. I found this interesting because I struggle each year when contracts are sent out as to whether or not I am going to sign my contract.  Don’t get me wrong….I love teaching. I also love the children, their parents, and my co workers. It is the bureaucracy that drives me crazy. I have been teaching for almost twenty years and have witnessed many changes in education. We no longer teach our students about the world, we teach them to memorize items that are on a test. Creativity in teaching is a thing of the past. Teachers are held accountable for high stakes test scores. It seems that I am not alone. According to the article, “current and former teachers lamented their chronically low pay — that was expected — but they also brought up their lack of autonomy, as classroom instruction is increasingly dictated by bureaucratic mandates.” One of the teachers interviewed stated:   “There are the days when you’re overwhelmed with paperwork, don’t have enough time for planning lessons, need time to collaborate with your peers, have parents that want meeting after meeting and still are never satisfied, and put in a load of overtime that the administration seems to expect but never recognizes with praise or compensation.”  I am also often overwhelmed with paper work and with what seems like unrealistic expectations from the administration. Ioften feel so defeated. I watched 19 veteran teachers leave the profession, or change schools, on the last day of school this year. I makes me very sad.  The article also stated:

 Each teacher who leaves costs a district $11,000 to replace, not including indirect costs related to schools’ lost investment in professional development, curriculum, and school-specific knowledge. At least 15 percent of K-12 teachers either switch schools or leave the profession every year, so the cost to school districts nationwide is staggering — an estimated $5.8 billion.

These are staggering figures. We are in the midst of an economic crisis. Districts cannot afford to be losing teachers. Something must be done to change the policies and attitudes that are now in place. I am not sure what could be done to elemenate teacher burnout. I feel the answer lies in radical change.

What are your thoughts on teacher retention?  What changes do the think need to be made to the current system to retain teachers? What problems do you see that cause the high rate of teacher turnover?

(Link to article: http://www.edutopia.org/schools-out#)

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This entry was posted on June 24, 2012. 7 Comments

EdTech 597: Links Entries for Educators

I have been posting about technology tools for educators. There are many new tools available! I learn about something new everyday. As I was looking around on the internet for some new, popular tools that educators are using, I came across the tools below. Check them out and see what you think! Oh yeah, did I mention that they are all free? Yep….all of them available at no cost to you!

* https://www.zoho.com/creator/ – Lets you build custom apps.

* http://search.creativecommons.org/ – Searches multiple sites for free images.

* http://www.google.com/educators/p_apps.html– Google Education Edition

* https://www.dropbox.com/– Dropbox lets you access any files from anywhere

* http://wallwisher.com/-Allows multiple users to simultaneously post to a “wall” using little notes.

* http://www.techsmith.com/jing.html -Allows active screen capture with or without audio.

* http://www.docspal.com/– Allows you to convert up to five files at a time from one file format to another.

* http://tagul.com/ – Creating a word cloud from a document or Web site.

* http://www.netvibes.com/en – Monitor all your apps, feeds, sentiments, Tweets and even enterprise systems—all in real-time.

* http://photopeach.com/ –  Create a slideshow on the fly and share it with others via email, IM, or Facebook or simply embed it into your blog.

The list above represents technology tools that educators can use. You might be looking for tools for your students to use. Here are a few that students might find useful. Some of these are free, and some of them are pay sites. Check them out!

* http://openstudy.com/ -Get live help, social studying, help other students.

* http://www.brightstorm.com/ – Free homework help and affordable test prep.

* https://www.desmos.com/ – A beautiful and free online graphing calculator.

* http://www.carrotsticks.com/ – The fun way to give your kids an edge in math.

* http://motionmathgames.com/ – Creates fun mobile learning games that let kids play with numbers.

* http://www.brainnook.com/ –  An online game that helps kids develop math and English skills.

* http://www.mindsnacks.com/ –  Learn languages on your iPhone. 6 games in 1.

* http://www.stickeryapp.com/ – Mobile learning for kids customized for mobile parenting.

* http://www.educationarcade.org/ –  Explores games that promote learning.

This entry was posted on June 23, 2012. 5 Comments

EdTech597:List Entries for Learning

I am often looking for new innovative tools to incorporate technology into my classroom. Well, it seems that other educators are looking for the same tools. The Center for Learning and Technology is focused on the use of new technologies for learning. Each year, the group asks educators to vote on the top 100 learning tools of the year. They compile a list based on what educators are using, and then open up on line voting. Some of the tools which have been submitted are as follows:

* WordPress – Dreams easily come true  
* YouTube – Spreading online or embedding in a site  
* Prezi – Fun, easy and extremely versatile  
* Evernote – A friend with an elefant memory  
* Snagit – Always at hand to make instant learning assets  
* Camtasia – Snagit’s older brother  
* iPad and Apps – A digital swiss army knive  
* TeamViewer – A virtual classroom in your pocket  
* JoomlaLMS – A LMS with the power of Joomla  
* Articulate StoryLine – New and simply fantastic

These were the most common tools used by educators this year. What is a technology tool? According to C4LPT,  a tool is something  you use for teaching, training or creating learning content/solutions for others, and/or a tool you use for your own personal or professional learning. The C4LPT also provides information on the following types of tools:

*A wide range of informational and educational sites for general reference, how-to guides, wikis, how-to videos,     podcasts, courses, lessons, tutorials (including open courseware), e-books as well as other reference resources and places to ask questions both online and on your mobile.

* Tools for creating, delivering, managing and/or tracking learning and/or providing a formal social learning environment.

* Tools for social and collaborative platforms. These platforms include public social networks, tools to create private collaborative spaces for groups or communities.

* Twitter application tools. These tools include a range of useful Twitter applications.

* Tools for delivering live meetings, screen sharing and virtual worlds

* Tools to create, host and share documents, PDFs, e-Books, presentations and spreadsheets.

* Tools to create blogs, web pages/sites and wikis as well as provide interactivity on those sites.

* Tools to create, edit and/or host images, avatars, audio files, podcasts, screencasts and videos.

Some of these tools I currently use, some I have never heard of. How about you? What would your list of favorite learning tools look like?

To learn more, follow the link below to the C4LPT web site:

http://c4lpt.co.uk/

 

This entry was posted on June 23, 2012. 3 Comments

Please let us blog…

This week in class, we were to write a letter and draft a proposal convincing the powers at be to allow blogging in the classroom. I would hope with all of the advances in technology, and the desire to make sure that our students are able to compete in this digital age, that school districts would be open to bloggin in the classroom. At any rate, here is a copy of the letter that I drafted to go along with my proposal. I tried to provide evidence that technology is a necessary tool for using in the classroom. I have also included a video that I found that was made by students about the importance of blogging in the classroom. Enjoy!

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Letter:

Letter to School District

 

To: School District

Re: Why consider blogging in the classroom?

 

Dear Sir/Madam

 

Not so long ago, cell phones, laptops, pagers, and fax machines were viewed as things that might have belonged in a science fiction novel. . Today, those technologies, along with the Internet are common place. The technological changes which have come about have affected every aspect of our lives.  It is clear that in today’s Digital Age students must be technologically literate to live, learn, and work. Most experts agree that students should develop technological skills in the context of learning and solving problems related to academic content (Baker & O’Neil, 2003).  Technology continues to evolve. In the digital age that we live in, students expect to use technology. Technology can be seen as a universal construction material, greatly expanding what people can create and what they can learn in the process (Resnick, 1998).                                                                                        

Because of advances in technology, the key term “learning” has taken on a new meaning. In today’s world, computer-based technology is an important part of any curriculum. During the last decade, technology expenditures tripled in K–12 schools in the United States; estimates suggest that over $6 billion was spent in 1999–2000 (Sivin-Kachala & Bialo, 2000). Research shows that technology tools support the development of higher-order thinking skills. Higher-order thinking and problem solving skills leads deeper understanding of academic content domains. I have witnessed in my own classroom how students  apply these problem solving skills when using software programs, or Internet websites to practice, or learn, new skills. Often times, the computer serves as a type of  “peer tutor.”  One distinction that we have found particularly helpful comes from Thomas Reeves (1998) who describes learning  “from” computers as different than learning “with” computers. When students are learning “from” computers, the computers are essentially tutors. In this capacity, the technology primarily serves the goal of increasing students’ basic skills and knowledge. Powerful technologies are now available that can help students transform information into knowledge. One study found that when students used the Internet to research topics, share information, and complete a final project within the context of a semi-structured lesson, they became independent, critical thinkers (Coley, Cradler, & Engel, 1997).  

As the Internet becomes an increasingly pervasive and persistent influence in people’s lives, the phenomenon of the blog stands out as a fine example of the way in which the Web enables individual participation in the marketplace of ideas. Teachers have picked up on the creative use of this Internet technology and put the blog to work in the classroom. The education blog can be a powerful and effective technology tool for students and teachers alike. At this time, I would like to incorporate blogs into my own classroom. Based on the research which I have conducted, I strongly believe that blogs will help close the digital gap and foster higher order thinking skills. Please see my attached proposal for using blogs within my classroom.

Thank you for your consideration,

Debbie Turner

 

This entry was posted on June 23, 2012. 1 Comment

Digital Natives?

Children 2-5 and technology

(image obtained from: http://venturebeat.com/2011/01/19/kids-technology/)

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants – Part II: Do they really think differently? On the Horizon, 9(6). Retrieved from http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

(This post was written in response to the article referenced above. The article discusses the generational traits of learners in the digital age.)

Technology is now a fundamental part of kids’ lives. I found the image above at Venturebeat. com. These statistics were gathered by an Internet security company. These statistics demonstrate how technologically savvy children are at a very young age.  Because of technological changes that have occurred over the past twenty or so years, this generation has been exposed to technology since they were born. One article that I read referred to this generation as “Digital Natives”. I thought that this was very fitting.  This generation interacts, and learns, with new technology very seamlessly. I know that older people, such as myself, struggle with learning new technology. I am still trying to figure out my new phone J

As I looked at the statistics in the image above, I thought about how times have changed since I was a child. We had one television, one phone, and a slide projector. We played outside with the other neighborhood children. My parents encouraged us to do things outside. In today’s society, it is not as safe for children to play outside. Children are encouraged to find things to do inside. Most children have computers, phones, computer games, DVD players, and many other types of technology. It is no surprise that more children can open a web browser than swim. Also, when I was growing up, there was always one parent that did not work. Someone stayed home and took care of the kids. These days it takes two incomes to survive. Children have had to become much more independent. They have to learn to do things with less supervision. 

Today’s generation has greater access to information. When I was growing up, we had one, or two, news stations. We also depended on “rabbit ear” antennae for reception for the television. Today’s generation has access to a wealth of information.  This information can be obtained instantly. They do not have to go to the library and search through an antiquated index card filing system to find information to complete a research project. All of this information is now available in a click of a button.

At school, we all sat in desks, read textbooks, and listened as the teacher relayed information. Today’s generation has access to computers, online textbooks, video demonstrations, virtual labs, online learning, as well as many other educational tools. Education, in a since, has come to life. The focus is now on the learner, rather than the teacher. The teacher is a facilitator.

When I was growing up my family sat down together to have dinner each night.  We had conversations about our day and current events. Today’s generation often relies on technology for socializing and conversing. Kids are constantly on their phones texting and conversing. This seems to have taken the place of much of the face to face communication of the past. It seems to have had an impact on interpersonal skills.

Today’s generation prefers learning that is useful, instant, and fun. I currently teach second grade. I have noticed quite a shift in the attention level of my students over the past ten years. You can no longer hold their attention by merely standing in front of the room and speaking to them. They sometimes act like they are in a catatonic state J  In my opinion, they have become so used to being visually stimulated that they lose focus very easily. Their brains are wired differently. Fortunately, I work in a very technologically advanced school system. We have access to wonderful technology. I try to make sure that I have vivid flipcharts to use on the Promethean board as an instructional aid. This does seem to keep their attention.

As technology evolves, I feel that our learners also evolve. It is crucial to keep up with these changes. We must realize that the needs of our learners are changing as the digital landscape changes.

This entry was posted on June 11, 2012. 4 Comments

Greetings Everyone!

My name is Debbie Turner. I have been teaching for 19 years. I currently teach second grade at an elementary school outside of Atlanta, Ga. Since beginning my career in education, I have witnessed many technological advances in education. We have grown from writing on chalkboards to writing on Promethean boards. Our students are “digital natives”. They are very comfortable with technology, as it has been a part of their lives since birth. They are exposed to it everywhere. I feel that technology plays a crucial role in education. We have to prepare our students for the future, and the future does include technology use.

I know that we will be learning a lot about blogging and technology use in the classroom during the summer semester. I look forward to your comments and learning from your posts and replies.

This entry was posted on June 3, 2012. 9 Comments