Monday, May 31, 2010

Cramming vs. Disrupting- Where is Your Technology At?

Crammed (Where is the computer?) vs. Disrupting

I had to admit it but as I was catching up on some of our classroom reading this weekend, I really started to think about whether technology is cramming or disrupting my classroom. Is technology just one more thing I try to cram into my classroom or is it something that comes in and disrupts what is happening? As I was reading, several pictures popped into my mind. For cramming, I pictured the technology pushed back in the background among books, papers, filing cabinets, etc. and only taken out when the teacher feels it is an appropriate time to use it. For disrupting, I pictured the technology out in the open with the students and they are working together to get the task accomplished. Unfortunately, I feel my classrooms still fits into the first picture. What is the next step I need to take to get technology to be more "disrupting" in my classroom? How do I get students to make technology more disrupting in their lives other than just playing games, watching YouTube videos, and uploading photos to Facebook?
As I started to feel like I was doing not many things right, my thought drifted back to Chapter 2 in our Distrupting Class book. Being a little bit of a history buff, I enjoyed this chapter as it went through how our schools have changed to meet our society's needs. One phrase that sticks out on page 51 is "schools actually have been improving". As the history shows, it takes time for change to occur. I believe that most teachers and administrators want to improve and do what is best for our students. We just have to make sure we are continually trying to improve and to not get set in our ways!! We need to be willing to let technology to come in and let our classrooms be more student-centric. I found an article that gives a good example of a student-centric classroom but also sums up what we have been reading in our Disrupting Class book on Edutopia (it was written by the authors of the book and also where I found the pictures above). The article is called Disrupting Class: Student-Centric Education is the Future. Student-Centric classrooms is the new job that society is asking from our schools. We now need to make sure that we are striving to meet our society's needs!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

School's Out for Summer (Everyone Join In...or Maybe Not Yet)

Yes, it is true. I am officially done with school (well other than organizing my room)!! We were finished with students on Wednesday and today was our check out day!!! It is nice to have a three day weekend and know I don't have to come back to work on Tuesday. Those that get too, keep hanging in there; it is almost the end!!

I did have a great technology finding today for business teachers. It is one that has made me very excited so I just wanted to share it to all those out there reading my blog. I get the opportunity to get new accounting books this year and found out that they are now putting our working papers online!!! I am sure that this has been around for awhile but I never paid attention since I didn't need new books yet. This makes me very excited for several reasons:

1) It is nice to see the textbook company seeing the importance of technology and realizing that teachers are trying to incorporate more technology in their classrooms.
2) The students still have to do the work but now instead of writing it on paper, they get to enter it in the computer.
3) Once the students input their information, the computer grades them right away and they get to see right away what they did right!!

I am really looking forward to this and am thinking of ways that I can use the wikis, blogs, etc. that we have used in this class to have discussions about accounting concepts we learn in class. Oh the possibilities we have with technology!!

For the other business teachers out there, here is the website if you are interested in the online working papers: The book I am looking at is through South-Western Cengage Learning: First Year Multicolumn Journal. Is anyone else currently using this or know of someone who is??

Enjoy your holiday weekend!!
Stacy Marcus


Sunday, May 23, 2010

VoiceThread: Getting the Community Involved

First of all, I would like to apologize for rambling on with my comments on VoiceThread. You get on there, start commenting, and it gets hard to stop. I hope I didn't jump back and forth between comments too much. I notice that I get a little nervous seeing myself talk on the computer. =-)

I can see VoiceThread being a great way to not only collaborate in the classroom but also between classrooms, in the school and outside of the school. After watching the video and reading the chapters in the book, I have really started to think about how much I am really getting my students prepared for their future. Are they getting the 21st Century Skills (21st Century skills website) that they need in my classroom? Am I helping them use technological resources in the best way to prepare them for their future?

One recurring theme that keeps grabbing my attention is how we need to incorporate our communities more into the classroom. VoiceThread could be a great way to get others outside of the school involved. The students create a VoiceThread and then could get real experts to give them advice on what they created. For example, in my advertising class, my students could create an ad, post it on VoiceThread, and then we could see if we could get an advertiser to critique it. Oh the possibilities!!!

The only concern I have is will our schools be able to keep up with the technology that our students need to be successful. We have four computer labs for our K-12 building that are being used about every class period. With budget cuts, it seems like one of the first things they look at is if they really need to update the technology. Also, how do we provide for the students who may not have the technology needed at home?

Well, I better get back to the series finale of Lost!!! Anyone else Lost fans?? I am kind of sad to see it be done but kind of happy as well. Now I won't have to dwell on my questions I have each week.

PS- Is anyone else having trouble loading pictures on your blog? I can't seem to get them uploaded.

Adobe Connect: Fun but a Little Frustrating

Last Monday night, I had the opportunity to come face-to-face with many of the participants of my Emerging Instructional Technologies class using Adobe Connect. Other than using the webcam feature with Instant Messenger to talk to my 1 1/2 year old niece, I have never used face-to-face communication before. I liked being able to put a name with a face but to be able to have that face-to-face communication while we talked. It would be neat to use this in my business classroom to get my students to talk to business professionals who would be willing. I would say at times I got a little frustrated because of the delay and you couldn't "chime in" whenever you wanted. The group would move on to another question before you may have had the chance to give your thoughts. For this reason, I liked it better with a bigger group to just type. Then you can follow along and put in your two cents easier.

As mentioned above, I would like to start using face-to-face communication in my classes. However, I have talked to my tech instructor about this and he is concerned that it would pull too much bandwidth from our server and it would slow everybody else down. Our teachers do a nice job of using technology in their classroom so our computer labs are often full. Has anyone used Skype, Adobe Connect, etc. in their classrooms? If so, how has it affected your server and is it choppy at all?
A Little Behind But Ready to Roll

I think I am ready. I have blogged a few times before on a personal website but now it is time to get serious. For only being an avid facebooker, my master's class, Emerging Instructional Technologies, is definitely getting me to explore other options more!! So far so good. Already I am getting into the habit of reading the blogs of not only my classmates but of others and I am getting interested. Is this the reading of the future?? Right now at our school, we are doing Silent Sustained Reading (SSR) and take 30 minutes a day to free read. (Here is an article from Education World about SSR: The students and teachers get a book and then we read. We do short book talks at the end. Instead of books, could I let the students read a blog they are interested in? Would reading a blog for 30 minutes improve their reading just as much as reading a book? Would this especially be beneficial for those students who don't like to read books but like to spend a lot of time on the computer??