Wednesday, January 25, 2012

21st Century Skills: Training required not just for students

As I was looking through The Partnership for 21st Century Skills website, I found a plethora of knowledge. Not only has this organization before working to prepare students for the workforce in the 21st century, they have also developed a number of tools to prepare teachers. We are working in the 21st century and, more importantly, we are the ones preparing students for technologies and jobs that do not exist yet. I found many useful tools under the resource tab.

In the resources, the first things to stand out were the skills maps. They have taken the skills today's students need and applied them directly to the the subjects teachers are already teaching. They broke down each skill to the outcomes the students should be able to do and an example what the outcome could look like. They also define the skills, so you as the teacher know what you are should be expecting from your students. Another thing that was fascinating under the resources for educators tab was the "The Professional Development Implementation Guide." This shows how to educate your teachers, therefore they will be able to effectively communicate the skills to the student. The very first two suggestions in this list are to have professional development on new technologies and add technology training into teacher preparation and certification courses. The teachers have to understand technology or they will not use it. Many professional development days at my school and district are based on data. Data is incredibility important in today's academic climate of high stakes testing, but there are other areas that a day of learning would very much benefit the teachers and, as a result, the students in their classes. In the near future, I hope to see more education of teachers on new technologies, so they can relay the information to their students properly.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Technology is only as good as the cords you plug it in with!

It is amazing how helpful technology can be when it is working and how traumatic the experience when it is not working. It was a bright Tuesday morning and we were about to begin centers. Now, something you should know, one of my computers is on a splitter so that I can plug the monitor and the projector into the same computer. If my document camera is on to show the display beneath it, it causes the computer monitor to be blurry. It the document camera is on to show what is being displayed on the monitor, the monitor should be clear and easy to see. The key phrase being "should be." This lovely Tuesday we did not have such luck. My students got on the computer for their turn during centers and it was very blurry. I checked the document camera and it was on to show the document. I hit the computer button, confidently as I had solved the problem, and sure enough... the monitor was still blurry. Therefore, I went over I checked all the cords. I pulled them out and put them back in making sure each was in secure and all the way and checked again. The screen was still blurry. Now I checked any cable that was behind the computer and nothing seemed amiss. At this time I had to give in to my desire to know what was going on and continue centers, but I would be back. After my students had left for the day, I looked again. Again, I unplugged all the connections I could find. Looked at the monitor and guess what? Still blurry. It was not going to beat me! At this point I unravelled the wires where they are wound on the projector cart, adjusted the location of the document camera on the cart start to rewrapped and alas, there is was! One last connection I had over looked in the coil of wires on the cart. The connection I had stood next to for the entire math class. The coil I looked at and shrugged off as unimportant. There was my weak link. I pushed the plug in securely and all the way. I looked at the screen and I never thought I would be so happy to see a clear screen. It looked even clearer that it had all the week before. I then walked to my desk got my tape and made sure that connection was extra secure. I was not playing this game again! So lesson learned, be sure all of your wires are connected properly and securely or you may just be driven crazy all day!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Blogging in a Kindergarten Classroom: Helping those who cannot type yet

When considering the thought, "How could I use a blog in my classroom?"many thoughts came to mind. I could use it to post valuable news and bulletins to my parents. For example the all important, "Please write your child's name inside their clothes," would be a common occurrence. Reminding them to check the weekly bag for important information on the latest flash cards or school event could be valuable to my parents. No doubt there would be a few post about these things, but I think even with kindergarten I could use it for more.

My next thought it could be a place to display students' work. I could take snap shots of their work (leaving off their name of course) and putting encouraging remarks, like "Look at those finger spaces!" Give parent opportunities to post replies to posted questions with the assistance of their child. For example, "Work with your child to create a sentence that includes the high frequency words go, have and we." Again, these would be great post and no doubt would they occur on occasion, but I thought there has to be more that I can do for my kindergartners in these post.

Then it hit me! I could us a blog to help my students by helping their parents. Many parents in kindergarten are afraid of helping their children because they simply do not know how to help them. Others are afraid that they are going to teach something wrong, use different vocabulary, or give the directions in a different order. They do not want to confuse them so they do nothing at all. A blog could be a place where I explain how to help their children. Explain the vocabulary we use in our math and language arts programs. Explain the steps to blending and segmenting a word. Use student work to give examples of what we are looking for in their child's work. This would be the most useful way to use a blog in my classroom. Of course, I could add in different posts about congratulating students or reminding parents that flip-flops are not appropriate footwear for school. Most importantly, however, I can help parents help their students learn.