Recently, I read “Inclusion in the 21st-century classroom: Differentiating with Technology”, by Bobby Hobgood and Lauren Ormsby. First, the article discussed the use of technology with inclusion students through the use of various digital storytelling, blogs, digital textbooks, moodles, blackboards, and Discovery Education videos, as well as many other resources. Second, Hobgood and Ormsby discussed the elements of good differentiated teaching and how technology can be integrated into it. Then they discussed how different grouping scenarios are most effectively used with technology.
In my own experience, there are many factors to take into account in the inclusion classroom, especially with technology. Usability, readability, behavior and motivation are all factors that I have had to deal with when taking one of my inclusion classes to the computer lab. In inclusion, differentiation is essential, and I will admit that it is has been difficult trying to do this on a paper/book basis. The article makes a good case for using technology to differentiate curriculum.
My questions come from the lack of age group placed on this topic. Is there an age group of an inclusion class that this might be more effective in than others? Are there some inclusion students that that wouldn’t benefit from this?
After reading Marc Prensky’s Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, many ideas still resonate with me. First, being of the digital age, I consider myself to be a Digital Native. That being said, I think that there is more than one section of learners in the Digital Natives group. Being born in the 80s and growing up during a time when real libraries with musty smelling books was the only place to find the answer, I can not align myself with many digital natives that continue to go for the “easy” google answer, or another search engine at the touch of a dial. Does this mean that I don’t use these websites? Obviously not. However, it is important to note that these mid 90s Digital Natives have something that I know I don’t subscribe to; the notion of entitlement.
Without getting on my soapbox too much, let me explain. One of the greatest difficulties with lesson planning and teaching in general today, is the students’ sense of entitlement. They have been raised during a time where the answers are at their fingertips and they have been given the answers. Their work ethic is poor and they rarely do research that requires going to more than one website, let alone going to those places that store books. Pre-90s Digital Natives still had to do real library research. We are not so self-involved that we don’t look for easier ways to do things, but the work ethic shows in more than just a cut and paste mode of writing and learning.
In all of the articles that I have read this week, I think the biggest idea that has come to me is the notion of Digital Immigrants learning to speak the Digital Language. I agree and disagree to some extent. Digital Immigrants need to adapt their language and lessons to fit with the changing technology. But, I believe that the hard work ethic and rigorous standards of the Digital Immigrants needs to be upheld. Digital Natives are becoming lax on assignments. We need the language of the Digital Natives but the work ethic and rigor of the Digital Immigrants in order to create more successful citizens.
Link to Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants – Part II: Do they really think differently? On the Horizon, 9(6). Retrieved from http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf
After having read the articles for this week in EDTECH 597, I have realized that there are several items up for discussion when creating a classroom blog. The biggest issue deals with expectation. Weiler (2003) states that “there is no doubt that ‘blogs’ have great potential for educational use, both on their own and as extensions of the traditional classroom” (p.3). There are many advantages for the classroom teacher, however it is essential to note that without clear expectations, even the best intentions may be destroyed.
When I first thought of creating a classroom blog, I would love to imagine my students actively engaged, branching out on their own to discover new topics and ideas and discussing Literature at such an advanced level that my colleagues would be overjoyed and wonder how the students remained so involved in my class. Suffice to say, the very opposite was true. Students were not exploring new ideas, they were doing the bare minimum. They were responding to posts and then logging off. So, in order for a classroom blog to meet expectations, the expectations of the teacher and students need to be made clear. Rome wasn’t built in day and neither can a classroom blog. Downes (2004) states that “instead of assigning students to go write, we should assign them to go read and then link to what interests them and write about why it does and what it means” (p.24). If I truly wanted to set my students up to succeed, then I needed to introduce students into the very heart of blogging, which is, according to Downes (2004), “teaching our kids how to learn” (p.26).
Every student wants to be able to connect to what they’re learning. How does this apply to my life? Even the most disconnected of students will tell you that if they don’t find value in the lesson, they will not retain it or even bother to learn it. The same should apply to our classroom blogs. Not every student will be interested in every topic, but they can find ways of connecting to it. If you have a topic in an English blog about Romeo and Juliet, you could have students come up with their own examples of Modern celebrities or historical figures in which there was a forbidden romance or family hatreds and blog about their feelings about it. If you were blogging about an upcoming election, you might have students find out how a certain issue might affect their life in the next four years.
Expectations need to be vocalized daily to students. They need to be recorded by the teacher in the form of a reflection and in response to student posts, so that progress can be seen by all. There are a lot of factors to take into account when creating a classroom blog, but above all else, make sure that your expectations reflect an ongoing and reachable purpose and not a dream that is expected to appear overnight.
“If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”. This is a mentality that afflicts many educators. Finding that one method that works for you and perfecting it, is what we all aspire to achieve. You know that idea of having summers off to relax, well I am beginning to truly understand that this dream is not one that good educators can ever really reach. So, do you settle for mediocrity, or do you dream big and use your summers to begin revamping old material and try to find new ways to reach your kids?
For most of us, the choice is easy. We want our students to succeed and therefore we put everything into this career, even during the summer months. When assigned to create a blog for my Edtech class called Blogging in the Classroom, I thought long and hard about what I wanted it to be and not be.
This is going to be a blog that will hopefully give ideas to educators about new technologies available to them, including blogging. It will offer insight as to how it might work in the classroom, including examples, scenarios, links, etc. I got into the Educational Technology program at Boise State with this goal in mind: to help other educators get excited about their curriculum and learn how technology can be infused into it.
In essence, be bold and try something different in your classroom!