Monday, January 31, 2011

Technology and Early Childhood Education

I was asked earlier in the semester by one of my Educational Technology students how learning about technology applied to toddlers and really young children. I provide a picture of me nephew--age 3--as case in point. Truitt has been exposed to the computer and the Internet essentially from birth. It is a part of is daily life.

As technology becomes easier to use, educational software online educational programs will proliferate. Therefore, it is the responsibility of early childhood educators and parents as well to critically examine the impact of technology on children and be prepared to use technology to benefit children. Research has shown that used appropriately, technology can enhance children's cognitive and social abilities. As educators, we must be prepared to integrate technology into our teaching practices, providing equitable access by all children. We must be aware of research-based practices that will support children's learning. For example, research has shown that when working on a computer, young children prefer working with one or two partners over working alone. They seek help from each other and seem to prefer seeking help from their peers over seeking help from the teacher. They engage in different forms and levels of communication and interaction when using the computer as opposed to traditional activities such as blocks and puzzles. They display greater cooperation and turn-taking at the computer. Beyond the primary grades, the computer extends the classroom environment beyond the four walls of the school. Children have the opportunity to collaborate with children in other classrooms, cities, states, and even countries. They may even have a chance to converse with a favorite author.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is currently revising its position statement on Technology and Young Children--Ages 3 through 8; however, here is the link to the current statement.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Notes from an Accidential Teacher

It was by chance that educator Carol Ann Tomlinson first entered the classroom, but this fortunate accident blossomed into a career that has spanned several decades. In a recent Educational Leadership article, Tomlinson reflects on her professional experience and shares the five principles and components of effective teaching that became the pillars of her career. Read the full article.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Teaching Philosophy 2011

This week I ask my EDU 271 students to develop their philosophy of teaching. Therefore, I decided to post my philosophy as well. In looking back over the documents that I have developed over the years, I realize that my philosophy has been an ever-changing document--incorporating new ideas and experiences as I create new understandings of how we learn and my role in that process.

First of all, I am a facilitator, a coach, a guide, a co-learner.  I embrace teaching as an opportunity to inspire and empower. In my view, teaching is not about instructing or imparting information to students as if their minds were waiting to be filled with my knowledge. Rather, teaching is igniting transformative learning; empowering students to take responsibility for their learning, inspiring courage to grow intellectually, cultivating curiosity, providing opportunities for developing relationships, clarifying values, uplifting the spirit and igniting action.  Ideally, I want students to feel personally changed by their participation in a course. Transformative learning is most likely to occur when students become personally engaged with the material and perceive the subject matter to be directly relevant to their own lives. Learning, then, is experiential. 
Furthermore, the student should be the focus—not the teacher.  While the process of reading examples and completing exercises in textbooks and from handouts is valuable, the real learning comes through the student’s own efforts at solving problems.  Learning is also a social endeavor; therefore, I facilitate learning through group work and student-led discussions; problem-solving through student inquiries and debate; writing through peer review; and computer literacy through research and discussions board participation. 
Generally, I believe the role of a teacher is to be a facilitator. We should work to be flexible, adapting our approaches according to the needs of the learners, the subject matter, and the setting. Teaching is a process of encouraging students to make connections between their experiences and the subject matter. We must work to create bridges between the classroom and the world because learning has not actually occurred until the student makes a connection between prior knowledge and new knowledge—understands a reason for remembering the data. As teachers, we should enable our students to become responsible for their own learning. We should vary our teaching styles and should expect students to participate in a mixture of lecture, discussion, and collaborative activities.
I believe that teachers and students must be part of the constantly changing technological landscape. I believe that we should not only teach with technology but about technology as well, providing students with the skills to critically evaluate how they use and access technology. To do so, technology must be carefully integrated and should complement the course goals, objectives, and content matter. Online interactions and Web 2.0 tools allow our students not only to interact more with the instructor and with one another, but also to become active participants in a community larger than the classroom itself.  Technology allows us to create more authentic learning environments and assessments.
It is crucial that teachers recognize the power inherent in their role and are self-reflective about their actions. In my teaching, I work to be mindful of my position as a role model of the kind of learning I strive to promote among students. Transformative learning is a reciprocally educative endeavor—informative and uplifting for teachers and students alike. It is about “opening hearts and minds...” and changing lives for all those involved in the process.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Online Education Grows by almost a Million Students

Eighth Annual Sloan Survey of Online Education Shows Economy Still Driving Growth  
The 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning reveals that enrollment rose by almost one million students from a year earlier. The survey of more than 2,500 colleges and universities nationwide finds approximately 5.6 million students were enrolled in at least one online course in fall 2009, the most recent term for which figures are available.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

10 of the Best Apps for Education

A list of 10 notable educational apps available for the iPad, iPhone and iPod has been assembled by eSchool News. Recommended apps include the free app Molecules, which allows students to view and manipulate 3-D molecule models. Another free app allows students and teachers access to Blackboard from Apple devices, while the $5.99 Essay Grader helps teachers speed up their essay grading process. The free Today in History app lists historical events that took place that day, and Math Ref Free offers 600 formulas, figures and math tips. eSchool News

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Essays on Teaching Excellence available online, free of charge

As per the Professional and Organizational Development Network Core Committee's approval, all of POD's Essays on Teaching Excellence are now available online, free of charge, including Volume 21, the newest collection. These essays are available to all; POD membership is not required. The essays present innovative viewpoints on college and university instruction. Written in concise and non-technical language, and supported by research, the essays seek to assist instructors in reflecting upon and refining their practice of teaching to achieve the results they seek - students learning to the best of their abilities.

The eight titles and authors of Volume 21 are listed below. Look for Volume 22 in late spring.

Essays on Teaching Excellence | VOLUME 21
Facilitating Group Discussions: Understanding Group Development and Dynamics 
Kathy Takayama, Brown University

Transparent Alignment and Integrated Course Design 
David W. ConcepciĆ³n, Ball State University

Multiple-Choice Questions You Wouldn’t Put on a Test: Promoting Deep Learning Using Clickers 
Derek Bruff, Vanderbilt University

Engaging Students, Assessing Learning—Just a Click Away 
Linda C. Hodges, Loyola University Maryland

Research-Based Strategies to Promote Academic Integrity 
Michele DiPietro, Kennesaw State University

Using Undergraduate Students as Teaching Assistants 
Joseph “Mick” La Lopa, Purdue University

The Value of the Narrative Teaching Observation 
Niki Young, Western Oregon University

Deep/Surface Approaches To Learning In Higher Education: A Research Update

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cell phones are becoming more accepted as classroom tools

More Chicago-area schools are allowing cell phones in school, and some are using them in the classroom. One high-school teacher had his students researching political candidates in government class using only their cell phones, with students working in groups to include those who did not have a phone. "It's one of those things -- if you can't beat them, join them," one principal said. Chicago Tribune (10/11)

Using YouTube and Music Lyrics to Help Students Learn

From "SchoolHouse Rock" to YouTube: How video in schools has changed teaching
School-technology specialist Patrick Ledesma reflects in this blog post how the use of video in schools has changed in the past four decades. Ledesma looks back at the "SchoolHouse Rock" videos from the 1970s and 1980s, the evolution from the VCR to DVDs and the Internet in the early 2000s. Ledesma writes that today's students have many educational videos -- posted on YouTube and across the Internet -- at their disposal. The changes offer teachers the opportunity to act as facilitators for learning, rather than gatekeepers. Teacher Magazine/Leading from the Classroom blog  
A junior-high school teacher in Illinois is singing science lessons set to popular music and posting the recorded lessons on YouTube. Doug Edmonds rewrites the lyrics to popular songs such as ABBA's "Dancing Queen" with lessons on chemical bonds and other science concepts. He also holds diagrams and flash cards to accompany the songs. "If I'm ever struggling on a quiz, I'll just sort of sing them to myself," one student said. "People are going around singing them in the hallways. They're actually really catchy." (Chicago)/Northbrook, Ill.

Two teachers in Hawaii are using technology to engage students in history lessons, says this blog post by education writer Valerie Strauss. The teachers set lessons to popular music and create videos they then post on YouTube. The French Revolution is taught with Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance," and students learn other lessons through tunes from popular artists. One of the teachers writes that the videos offer a great introduction to or a recap of lessons, and have inspired students to create their own videos. The Washington Post/The Answer Sheet blog 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Teacher-n-Teacher Connecting Classrooms

LearnCentral Web Event
Event Creator: Kimberly Lightle
Thu 6 Jan 08:00PM New York / Fri 7 Jan 01:00AM GMT / Fri 7 Jan 12:00PM Sydney

Detail Description:
Innovative classrooms today create opportunities for students to collaborate locally, nationally, or globally and empower them to forge new, purposeful academic relationships. This presentation provides educators with a framework that supports student learning communities around STEM concepts. Learn how to involve students in relevant, project-based learning with authentic audiences, nurture critical thinking, and facilitate the development of interpersonal and global communication skills.