Please view my presentation on Integrating Technology for Struggling Readers!
Please view my presentation on Integrating Technology for Struggling Readers!
With all of the discussions in class and in Module 5 – Digital Identity, I’m seeing myself as a different person. I know how important it is to create positive digital identities. I feel lucky that when I was job searching, an Internet search was not part of the process. I do not have anything online that I am ashamed of, or to be judged by negatively (unless my sense of humor is under judgement – nothing offensive, maybe a little crass, at times, but that’s it). I have always “searched” myself… one of those 47%ers… (old stats), but I’m sure that the Digital Footprints article from Pew Internet (December 2007) is on target with the growing numbers of individuals who do search themselves regularly. Not sure if I was just too bored or a job hazard, but always curious. Nowadays, how we represent ourselves online is part of our livelihood. I do not think there are too many people in a position today to not care.
Maya and Free Spirit Media, the video clip of the teen going for a job interview and then being searched online, was well-done for a student audience. Teenagers care about being social, and this is a great example of how reckless behavior can effect your life. Each step students take online is part of their future. There are many aspects of student life that teachers take responsibility for. Teaching students to be responsible curators of their online identities is at the top of the list.
With that being said, educators from this class need to bring this information to our staff. There are many ways to assist students in developing the skills they need to create positive digital identities. In Digitally Speaking/ Positive Digital Footprints, William M. Ferriter (April 2011) expresses the idea that teaching students to be afraid of the Internet interferes with digital footprints “as potential tools for learning, finding like-minded peers, and building reputations as thoughtful contributors to meaningful digital conversations.” Also, he states that students have less risky behaviors when they see the Internet for learning first, and then entertainment second. That understanding comes from educators who believe that technology is a tool to enhance their teaching, not a distraction that is to be saved for outside the classroom.
With all this being said, I did check myself out on the Personas website. I have “no digital traces found.” Uh oh… I mean, good in one sense, however, bad for me not being a household name by October. I will be working on creating my digital learning hub before school begins. While listening to the Digging Deeper slidecast by Ian O’Byrne (I needed to get a good night’s sleep), I began sketching out my website. I want to create a portal for parents, teachers and students. Open content to all, but refined for easy searching. It was as if it all made sense! I was trying to figure out what information I wanted to share with administration back in my district, but I said… maybe I should put the effort into a main page and then just shoot them the link!!! I believe that there is so much more investigating I need to do though. As I was listening to Pernille Tranberg from TedxOxford, I was tabbing over to Facebook to see how I can change my name on my personal page. Again, there isn’t anything there that can not be seen by employers, students, etc. And nor do I plan on posting anything questionable. But, I do want to keep my private life a little concealed. If I work hard at building my digital identity for my professional life, I would like to keep the two separate.
Knowing how to separate these identities will help me be an instructional leader for students and teachers alike. I can assist in showing them the importance of our online and offline identities, and help support them with showing the students the relevance to a positive digital footprint.
Reading David O’Brien’s article “At Risk” Adolescents: Redefining Competence Through the Mulitiliteracies of Intermediality, Visual Arts and Representation (2001), I felt as if I were making a major connection. Then I read his brief biography. His experiences as a Title I teacher and a junior high reading teacher is parallel to my daily life. I knew exactly what he was describing when he discussed the “struggling” reader. A student who can not interact with print efficiently and effectively according to assessments that are measuring comprehension. These students struggle with encoding/decoding, having a limited word recognition ability and using poor meta-cognitive strategies, or no strategies at all. This is a description of the students I work with day in and day out. I mentioned previously that these students long for alternative outlets in the classroom to express themselves, or even take a break from the tasks they are asked to perform daily, and know that they are not successful. My heart breaks to know that the standards in which students are held accountable for are not where their strengths lie.
O’Brien talks about the success students in the Literacy Lab had when using multimedia tools to create and construct online projects. These examples should give teachers enough encouragement to embed these technologies into their curriculum to give students a level playing field when it comes to assessment. Knowing students have difficulties with traditional print assessments, and then continually setting students up for failure is absurd. As educators, we need to change how we assess students to make sure we are accurate in our attempts to educate.
In Ian O’Bryne’s article Online Content Construction: Students as Informed Readers and Writers of Multimodal Information (CRAJ, 2012), the example of the teacher was what hit home the most. I can easily replace Mrs. Vazquez’s name with Teacher X in my school, and this article could have been written about her. I am lucky enough to be able to work with welcoming staff. I’ve been on this high horse a long time. However, I believe this article was written especially to be shared with teachers who need to take a few steps into the “uncomfortable zone” and put into practice activities with media literacy. I have had some great conversations with Teacher X over how to extend student learning beyond webquests, and the importance of allowing students to create beyond one or two types of projects that she feels would be an appropriate way to assess student learning. This teacher, like Mrs. Vazquez, is constantly reflecting on her own teaching and making the lessons better and better for her students. The readability of O’Bryne’s article is to be acknowledged also. When looking for materials to share with staff on education and practice, I try to find examples that teachers find relevant and can immediately take away to apply to their classes. This is one example of how you can see a teacher progress through the her own reflective learning process and grow to infuse technology in with a great lesson for her students.
In looking at what the skills are needed for students to be able to create and share text globally, we can go back to the basics of writing. Not just mechanics (which many teachers get hung up on), but having the ability to formulating questions, searching, sorting and sifting through sources, validating the credibility, knowing purpose… These skills are a foundation for writing across all mediums. There are many rules to think about before engaging in the endeavor of online content construction, as well as sharing work globally. I know, even with my own experiences, the technicalities of blogging and opening up blogs to be public forums, is scary. School/District policies are in place, however, some are unclear. If we are on the “cutting edge” of what our districts need, then we better be comfortable with what we are sharing/creating. This leads to being informed as how our digital identity is developed, as well as our digital footprint. Who can find me, and what will they find? Professionally, it is of the utmost importance. For students in today’s society, it goes along with “keeping your hands to yourself” and “respecting others.” I see it as such a shift for the teachers, that I am hoping their fear does not hold students back. In Mimi Ito‘s clip on the educational impact of social play, it is clear that teachers need to use what students do outside of the classroom and apply it to learning experiences inside the classroom. This is extremely relevant to what students need in today’s society/classrooms in order to be engaged and developing learners.
In our reading of “Promoting Student Engagement” (Williams, 2013), I discovered that Discovery Education has a platform for students to experience remixing or mash ups of videos to construct their own meaning. Our district subscribes, and I’m already firing off emails and links about possibly working this into our curriculum. Someone is going to hate me for taking these classes… 🙂
Soft skills, hard skills, basic skills… Students need a balance of offline and online support to make their world a place to learn and live in. We need to take what the student know and turn that into learning experiences to teach, grow, nurture and support. We can’t be afraid of what “we” don’t know anymore, and show students we respect their knowledge and become a community of learners, young and old.
The clip from Henry Jenkins describes how students have a richer creative environment outside of school than inside school. If we are constantly looking for ways for students to be engaged, let’s start with their strengths. According to Jenkins, students can use these forums to be parts of online communities, to participate in movements and civic organizations. Teachers need to provide encouragement and validation to help fight the fight.
As I progress through the coursework in IT&DML, I am finding that the foundation that is being built continues to get stronger. Supporting the use of technology in a school is but one part of the challenge of my position. The other, being the reading consultant/coach, is to provide teachers with the tools they need to create engaging lessons. Module 4 is of exceptional interest because it really validated what I knew in the back of my head; students need to be creative. Being an online content “constructor” is what students today need to be engaged in in order to be independent learners.
I think I may need to back up a bit in order to explain… In our district, we use the Response to Intervention (RtI) model to target instruction for students and provide necessary interventions in order to support students academically. This image shows the tiered levels of intervention.
This is a simplistic view of what my life has been for the last few years, but it does show you what is important. My district calls our intervention model SRBI (Scientifically Research Based Intervention) and the behavioral piece is so intertwined with the academic. It was an easy task to address the academic side of the triangle and provide supports with programs and structure that would give students what they need. However, there has always been a disconnect between certain students with what they can achieve and how they perform. Alas, the behavior side of the triangle. Not so easy to figure out. Not explored as readily as creating programs to address targeted areas of weakness. Not enough resources to help students who had “behavior/motivation” issues.
What this meant to me was that the teachers needed to address how their lessons would engage and motivate learners. The behavioral piece is not necessarily the student who acts out or has other social/emotional issues. These issues plague the “disengaged” student. The student who has ability, but no desire, or avenue, to express his/her learning in a way that is relevant to themselves. Let’s face it, middle school… it’s all about them. 🙂 When I would work with students during intervention time, and would see what their skill set is, I would find myself in a difficult situation. I know I had to provide targeted instruction, but I can see these students craving some time to be independent and creative. It’s difficult to see students who do get that outside time with being creative, and then having that put on hold while they are in school. I know that the sides of the triangle would be different if we were able to make more of a shift in teaching styles to inquiry based learning.
Using the technology we have in the classroom, I would “bribe” the students to get through what I needed them to, and then they can have time on the iPads and Kindles. What a motivator! The students would show me different interests, games (educational and not-so-much educational), and whatever else interested them. It was a nice mix of targeted instruction and time to do what they love. And, it was a positive behavior reward for the students. No behavioral issues, go figure!
As a beginning teacher, you worry about addressing the curriculum. You don’t have that bag of tricks yet that more experienced teachers have. But what newer teachers do have, is experience with technology. I feel that my role is to cultivate the learner/teacher understanding of what technology can bring to instruction and what students can provide for teachers themselves.
The skills that are needed for students to be online constructors is a tweaked version of what they need in the classroom. Formulating questions, searching, sorting and sifting through sources, validating the credibility, knowing purpose… all of these skills transcend from paper to Internet. Accessibility is different for students and teachers. Giving students one example to take apart is much different than presenting students with multiple pieces of text to sort through and create their own background (Manderino, CRA, 2012). Problem solving skills, having an authentic audience, awareness of privacy and identity and how do we support engagement are the beginnings to jumping on the road of creating and constructing online.
I will share Mimi Ito‘s video clip with teachers when we get back. She compares online activities that students have today with social growth – just like talking on the phone, or being outside playing too long instead of doing homework. It’s a different avenue for students to bond with others. I feel that teachers who do not have a firm understanding of the social growth that can be fostered through technology (ex. gaming, blogging) will be hesitant to open up their classrooms to it. I realize there is a long road ahead, but the understanding and belief that we can maximize what students are already doing and making it a teachable experience is priceless.
This week’s readings included Reading Digitally Like A Historian: Using Multimedia Texts to Facilitate Disciplinary Learning, CRA (Manderino, 2012), The Web as a Source of Information for Students in K-12 Education (Kuiper & Volman, 2008) and Where Do We Go Now? Understanding Research and Navigation in Complex Digital Environments (Lawless). The demands that the Web makes on student knowledge, skills and attitudes as well as how to deal with it all in an educational setting leads to a socioconstructivist theoretical framework. The attitudes and values are socially routed, giving students responsibility in constructing their own knowledge and transforming information into something personal. The teacher is no longer the safe on the stage, but a guide on the side. The teacher’s role is now of a facilitator who can support the learning process, but is not the sole transmitter of knowledge. Students need to increase competent participation in discourse and become members of an inquiry-based community.
This theoretical framework is a shift from the traditional practices that are in classrooms today. Also, state assessments are not measuring the skills and strategies that are necessary for 21st century learning. I believe it will be a long road before we can compare Web literacy skills to our formative assessments. Teachers have been trained on how to create curricular based assessments, but now we are asking students to perform comparably to online learning. Teachers much first have foundational knowledge on these new literacies in order to teach to them.
Manderino’s point is that literacies need to be specific to the disciplines. Disciplinary literacy is the cognitive literacy processes used to make meaning, the cultural tools, including language and texts that mediate thinking, and the epistemic beliefs about knowledge and knowledge production that constitute the discipline. Learning focuses on reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking like a historian, chemist, mathematician, or literary critic. Basically, we need to teach students to think like others. By using print, visual and audio text, teachers can bring content to student to provide background knowledge and have students be able to move forward with their learning. Students may access different types of media with more success than others. Teachers should not limit what the students are exposed to based on their own needs, but to bring a variety to the student, so the student can make the decision of which direction he/she wants to go in. The three areas of teaching that Manderino emphasizes in this article are utilize multimedia texts as a scaffold for complex written texts, assemble digital text sets, and teach critical consumption of digital texts. These three areas are relevant for all disciplines.
We always need to think about where we are headed. The use of the web has increased among the ages of 9-17 from 1/3 of students in 1997 to almost 3/4 of students in 2005. With the increase in use, the ability to navigate to find information effectively has not. The challenge that we have will be to create opportunities for students to access the contexts they need in order to be able to build background, make educated decisions and construct knowledge.
Students are often challenged when evaluating the credibility and relevance of online information. Have you ever been fooled by information you read online?
Throughout the years, I have spent a lot of time online, both for personal and professional reasons. I have always been a bit of a skeptic, so there aren’t many traps that I fall into. I will say that I have wasted a lot of time looking for “free” resources that, for whatever reason, have not turned out to be free. Plus, all of my time that I used to look for said resources will never come back my way. I have managed to have a few “go to” sites that work well for my needs. I also use Pinterest as a place to store my work-related finds that have visuals that help me sift through what I want and what I need. I am dabbling in Pocket, so I can make the most out of the sites I want to revisit. There is such an overload of information out there, that these tools help me organize and synthesize what I need in order to add to my professional bag-of-tricks.
My biggest personal annoyance is looking for coupons or “deals” that so many swear are out there via email or other “catches” on the Internet. I can’t say that I have believed that I could save millions, but there is always the hope. I can put myself in the student’s shoes when looking aimlessly online for the “answer” that I need to find. If students experience that much surfing and sifting, and not achieving the results they need, I can imagine how frustrated they will become. My motivator was saving money, the students have grades hanging over them.
Following links and trying to be the creator of my own learning just makes me want to shut down some times. Developing the appropriate skills for my tasks has taken years to develop, and I still get stuck sometimes by choosing bad links and making poor choices. Dr. Julie Coiro’s podcast from 2008 about online reading comprehension (http://www.voiceofliteracy.org/posts/26036) mentions how students are creating their own books when reading and clicking through links, and if they do not click through the proper links, they will not create a “good” book for themselves. This hit home as part of what my duties as an educator will entail. I think that teachers need to understand how to create lessons that will guide students on effective searching, evaluating and synthesizing information.