Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Promoting Health in My Technology Classroom

I try to build protective factors (health-related skills) and developmental assets (building blocks of human development) for my students through my instruction, curriculum, and classroom management. In my curriculum, I have incorporated projects that focus on the importance of healthy family and peer relationships. In my instruction I have modeled online safety procedures that involve safe decision-making and refusal skills (ignoring online strangers or ignoring ads).  In my classroom, I also define computer lab expectations that promote appropriate behavior:
  • Come to class with clean hands.​
  • ​Operate only YOUR equipment properly.
  • Monitors off!
  • ​​Push your chair in when you are done.
  • Use your inside voice.
  • ​Take care of your computer station and leave it the way you would like to find it.
  • Eat and drink outside the computer lab.
  • Raise your hand if you need help.
  • Listen to the teacher's directions carefully.
  • ​​Always work toward your best, not your neighbors' best.
  • Be sure to stay on task at hand.
Students are also recognized for participation in positive activities and rewarded team points. 
I think the factors and assets that are relevant to 2nd graders are decision-making, defining expectations, and the promotion of health. Our 2nd graders work with online productivity tools (Gmail, Google Apps, and other Web 2.0 tools) so they encounter many ads and links that are not education-related. A big part of my technology class is to develop an awareness of these online features and help them to make safe decisions. It is also important to define and practice classroom expectations at this age. Technology increases student engagement, but their excitement might be disruptive to the learning environment. So it is crucial to practice the lab expectations so that students can learn in a safe, productive learning environment. I also try to promote the  importance of health. I always share my healthy activities to classes. As a role model, I feel it is important to show them that I am active outside of school, and eat food that are good for my body.  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Help Students Build Up their English with Spell Up!

Have your students practice their spelling and pronunciation. This game requires students to spell out words to build the largest tower they can. As the tower goes higher, the words get more difficult. Once you make a mistake the tower will collapse. However, you can earn bonuses to level up and unlock achievements. You can also solve mystery words and jumbled words.
You can find it at chrome.com/spellup. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Enlightened Trial & Error Over Lone Genius

IDEO's Innovation and Design Process

IDEOan innovation and design firm, utilizes a design process that helps them develop products that we use everyday (computer mouse, high tech medical equipment, ski goggles, computer screens, etc.). In an ABC Nightline report, the company revealed some of its secrets and demonstrated their process by designing a shopping cart.  The following are some of the highlights of the report: 
  • The members of the design team were not product experts, but were experts in the process of design.
  • The project leader is chosen based on her or his ability to work with groups
  • The design team members are from a wide-range of fields. This results in different perspectives and solutions to a project. 
  • There should not be a hierarchy system in an innovative culture.  
  • The design team speaks with product experts (people who use, make, and repair the product) because it is faster than learning about the product yourself.  
  • "Enlightened trial and error succeeds over the planning of the lone genius." - Peter Skillman
  • "Fail often in order to succeed sooner." - One of IDEO's mottos
  • Recipe for Innovation = Lot of hours + Open mind + Leader who demands fresh ideas be corky + Teamwork + Belief chaos can be constructive 
Here are some of IDEO's mantras that they post around their workspace:
  • One conversation at a time
  • Stay focused on the topic
  • Encourage wild ideas
  • Defer judgement 
  • Build on the ideas of others 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Differentiation & Classroom Community

In Carol Ann Tomlinson’s book, “Leadership for Differentiating Schools & Classrooms,” it describes differentiation as “teacher’s reacting responsively to a learner's needs,” and reacting in an active and positive manner. It is the opposite of the idea that all students learn the same way and should be provided with the same type of instruction. Instead, it focuses on the specific learning needs of each individual. The elements of curriculum that can be differentiated are content, process, and products. You can differentiate also by using student characteristics, such as readiness, interest, and learning profile. Among Tomlinson’s instructional strategies, I would love to use the following:
  • learning centers
  • interest groups
  • group investigation 
  • learning contracts
Universal Design for Learning
According to the National Center on Universal Design for Learning, the purpose of Universal Design for Learning is to provide all students equal opportunities to learn through curriculum development. This curriculum development focuses on three networks: recognition, strategic, and affective. This requires teachers to develop curriculum that presents content in multiple methods, provide students with multiple ways of demonstrating their knowledge, and integrate their interests into the learning process to challenge and motivate them. 
The purpose of implementing adaptations is to ensure that students with disabilities are able to access quality education. This comes in the form of accommodation and modification. Accommodations are any adaptations that does not alter educational standards. These adaptations allow students with disabilities to access the materials, content, or instruction that are similar to his/her peers. According to Douglas Fisher, an example of this is when a teacher assigns less problems, but not lowering the level of the problems.  Some teachers view these adaptations as unfair, but without them, students would be measured by the “impact of their disabilities” and not by what they know. Modifications on the other hand are do alter the educational standards so that students with disabilities can participate in general education curriculum. An example of a modification (provided by Douglas Fisher) is when a teacher decides to provide a student with less possible answers to a multiple-choice quiz. The level of the problem changes since the student with a disability has a higher chance of answering the question correct. 
Inclusive Classroom
An inclusive classroom makes each student feel valued and challenged. Classroom management issues decrease because each valued member wants to cooperative and be productive for the good of the learning community. This can be done by the teacher using positive reinforcement for good behavior. This in turn will result in peer pressure among students to actively function in positive social behaviors. Flexible grouping is a strategy that lets students with disabilities take part in the curriculum through heterogeneous or homogeneous groupings. The heterogeneous grouping allows these students to take part in the same activities as their peers. The homogeneous grouping allows teachers to give specific targeted instruction based on their students’ needs. According to “The Golden Rule of Providing Support in Inclusive Classrooms,” some of problems of separating students with disabilities with their classmates are: 
  • Stigmatization
  • Unnecessary dependence on adults
  • Lack of peer interactions
  • Loss of personal control and gender identity
Instead, the article recommends using the Fade Adult Support process where teachers plan to include, ask and listen to the student with a disability, step back, and then plan to fade the support.

Monday, May 5, 2014

"Are today’s youth digital natives?" by Danah Boyd

Danah Boyd, a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, talks about some myths related to the term, Digital Native, in her book, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.  Here are  some interesting quotes found in  chapter 7, "Are today's youth digital natives?":
  • "Because teens grew up in a world in which the internet has always existed, many adults assume that youth automatically understand new technologies." (pg. 176)
  • "I interviewed teens who used programming scripts to build complex websites. I also talked with teens who didn’t literacy know the difference between a web browser and the internet." (pg. 176)
  • "Teens may make their own media or share content online, but this does not mean that they inherently have the knowledge or perspective to critically examine what they consume. (pg. 177)
  • "Not only is it fraught, but it obscures the uneven distribution of technological skills and media literacy across the youth population, presenting an inaccurate portrait of young people as uniformly prepared for the digital era and literacy ignoring the assumed level of privilege required to be “native.” (pg. 179)
  • Rather than assuming that youth have innate technical skills, parents, educators, and policymakers must collectively work to support those who come from different backgrounds and have different experiences. (pg. 180)
  • "I believe that the digital natives rhetoric is worse than inaccurate: it is dangerous. Because of how society has politicized this language, it allows some to eschew responsibility for helping youth and adults navigate a networked world." (pg. 197)
Buy this book here from Amazon

S.T.E.M. + Art/Design = S.T.E.A.M.

The goal of STEAM education is to teach science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics to students by engaging them in rigorous real-world projects. Addition to STEM education, STEAM focuses on aesthetics and the creative process of solving problems. Students can utilize the Design Thinking process to find resolutions to problems that involve any of these academic subjects. 

STEAM education also requires students to learn in context, make connections between core subjects, and work with others to develop solutions. These projects develop students' 21st-century skills, including critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. Gaining interdisciplinary content knowledge and developing 21st century skills prepares our students for their future in higher education and the workplace.