Reflection

A Ponder: What have I learned from my Walden course that will help me develop my own technology skills as a professional teacher?  Before this course I felt I was lost in a sea of ideas on how to incorporate technology into my classroom. I had many grandiose ideas, but no real idea of applying to my actual classroom.  As a teacher I am caught between two worlds, being a digital native and being a digital immigrant. Sure I can easily work with a computer to make documents, show videos, etc., but before this class I never would have considered Wiki, blogs, or even podcasts to assist what I do as a professional teacher. The most important thing I have learned from this course is that I am capable of trying and implementing new technology. Sure I am be just one step ahead of the students, but I am opening up a whole new world of skills and possibilities.

A Ponder: In what ways have I deepened my knowledge of the teaching and learning process? Teaching is so much more then presenting a subject to students in hopes that they will learn it. Teaching is about exploring right along with the students and showing them it’s ok to try something new without the fear of failing. I have learned that students need to collaborate with their peers more often then I previously thought they needed. That peer interaction are more than just being off task that they really can learn from each other when they work together with a teacher who facilitates their conversations in the right direction. I have learned that students need more processing and exploration time and technology gets them excited to do this.

A Ponder: In what ways have I changed my perspective from being teacher –centered to learner-centered? My school this year is focusing on learning targets and helping students understand through these targets what we really expect from them. The learning targets also help students set goals, can I get four out of 5 problems correct in today’s math lesson, etc. This this course I have learned that it’s not about how I teach them it’s about how they learn. What can I do with the use to technology to get these students engaged with the material that I am presenting to them? And how can I get the students discussing the material in a way that I as a teacher can see where they need help or direction? These questions have changed the way I look at every lesson I teach.

A Ponder: In what ways can I continue to expand my knowledge of learning, teaching, and learning technology with the aim of increasing student achievement? I am a lifelong learner and know that my learning will not end with this class. I will take the tools from this class and do new things to help my students learn. This blog for example will turn into a space for my students to explore and ponder vocabulary in a new way with the help of podcasts.  My students are currently creating a Wiki to showcase what they have learned about different states and countries so that others can learn from them and respond to their Wiki.  Students today are fascinated by technology and it is often the hook to get them excited about their learning and try new things.

A Ponder: What are my long term goals for transforming my classroom environment? This week I have started with implementing the first phase of goal number one, getting students to collaborate to increase their learning potential. This past week I moved my students from rows to groups and from pair sharing to group sharing in one subject.  The second goal I have is to get students more access to computers. Currently my students have typing once a week during one of my preps, but by the end of the year I would like to have a weekly time in the computer lab for students to work building their basic computer skills. I feel students at the intermediate elementary level need to have these skills in place before heading off to middle school. Currently I have several high level thinking students who refuse to turn in anything due to poor handwriting skills. With the help of collaborating with peers and increased skills on the computer, my goal is to get them contributing while learning.  The only obstacles to achieving these goals are me and time. My preconceived ideas on what my lesson should look like and how students will interact during those lessons. Finding time for students to work consistently projects in the computer lab will be hard as we share with students learning to type and middle schoolers who have priority.

A Ponder: Based on the checklist of 21 Century Skills, have I changed as a teacher over the last seven weeks?  When I first started this technology journey seven weeks ago my students were only pair sharing. I hated the thought of groups because I felt I needed to micromanage them more. What I really needed to do and what I have begun to do, it set up a classroom environment were students know what the collaborative process looks like. My students know the key things that I look for when I come to listen in on the conversation and how I want them to help each other learn. During this process my students, like myself have learned to ponder more. We stop, think, and ask the genuine questions that we may have been afraid to ask in fear of embarrassment or rejection. We also reflect more as individual students and as a groups on classwork and our effort level.

21st Century Thinkers

A Ponder: How do we get students to be 21st Century Thinkers?

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, http://www.p21.org/, has taken out the guess work and made me as a teacher ponder what is my next step. I am currently a student myself at Walden University learning how to integrate technology into my classroom and have been overwhelmed at my feeling of inadequacy as an educator. These feeling of inadequacy come from to much change in such a little time period. And questioning, how do we all catch up and help our students learn in a world we adults are just learning to navigate.

I am a very visual person and found the Framework Rainbow (http://www.p21.org/overview) the most help in deciding where the focus needs to go and  how we might put the pieces of the puzzle together to have 21st Century Thinkers. This Framework clearly aligns Common Core Standards with collaborative thinking plus many more basics to get students to be life long learners with career skills.

As I work my through this website, I find it hard to disagree with anything it has to say directly. I find myself in the honeymoon stage of loving everything it has to offer, but wondering were the funds will come from. Of course I have more questions concerning how other states, districts, and schools have implemented this way of thinking and wondering what their steps were? What were the challenges? What really didn’t work? How did the community react? What were some of the first “ah ha” moments and why did they work?

As a educator I want to get up and get moving, but feel like I am drowning in a see of knowledge that has no distinct beginning point. The amount of work that needs to be done is overwhelming. One thing I do know for sure is that if my state, district, and school can move towards the 21st Century framework students will grow into 21st Century Thinkers.

Ponder with me these tough questions!

 

What it is to Ponder

The title I have chosen for is blog is Studentponders. Dictionary.com defines the word  Ponder as a verb that means to consider something deeply and thoroughly; to meditate. As a teacher I believe it to be my job to get students to consider the topics I am teaching thoroughly, to exhaust all areas of possible knowledge about a subject, beyond my initial instruction. I feel the students I have crossed in my teaching in the last six years fail to understand how to ponder the things that have been taught to them. Our state test scores are mediocre or failing in subjects. Where can students and teachers improve? This year the elementary school I work in  has decided to focus on vocabulary through all content area.  I want to use this blog as a place where my students can ponder the words they are learning and can gain understanding from their peers and others around the world. We hope students will learn two to five new vocabulary words a day, but they often need time to process and apply the words to their everyday lives, but don’t get the class time to do so. Blogging can be done outside of the classroom, yet still be connected. This year I am teaching a 4th and 5th grade split. My students have not had a lot of exposure to technology beyond basic keyboarding and taking tests on the computer. I feel this blog will be a great way to gently introduce how technology can enhance their learning through peer and world pondering.