The purpose of this blog is to follow the literacy and technology pilot. Here we will follow the progress of the pilot as we explore resources, try them out in our classrooms, and share our reflections, successes, and questions.
We invite others in the community to share their thoughts and experiences with us as we craft recommendations to improve our students' use of technology to enhance literacy.
We are delighted to announce a series of 4 webinars, taking place in April and May. The focus of each session will be the link between literacy (thinking) strategies and the learning opportunities technology can provide to develop these strategies.
Following is a list of the topics, presenters, dates, and times of the webinars. We sincerely hope you will join us.
1. Topic: Technology Integration in a First Grade Classroom
This webinar will provide an overview of a first grade classroom
including the following topics:
- What the students think of technology.
- How to get started: podcasts, skyping, teacher tube
videos (curriculum based)
- Learning the toolbar and "lingo" often used
- Claymation - Science Unit on Plants
- I-movies - Social Studies, Science, and Literacy
Kim Morin, Integrative Technology Specialist for the Winthrop School District, is a reflective, forward thinking professional. Unlike many technology integrators, Kim has spent time as a teacher, working at the Leavitt high school as a math and computer teacher. This gives her a special understanding of classroom teachers and is evident when you talk to her. She honors teachers and wants to meet their needs - understanding teachers must be comfortable with technology before they can use it as well as finding a real purpose for technology in their teaching.
The implementation design in the Winthrop Public Schools has been based on these key understandings.
Each school has a technology integrator to assist teachers in their classrooms - not just the computer lab. Integrators support teachers by providing resources, training, planning with them, and team teaching - as well as providing time in the computer lab for students.
Staff development is consistent and teacher based.
Teachers teach teachers - sharing the use of technology in their classrooms. This type of networking has proved very effective.
Time is also provided during staff development days for teachers to meet and discuss ways to implement technology into their curriculum - in order to benefit students.
Kim's educational philosophy reflects her concern for individual needs. She believes technology creates opportunities for true constructivism in education by providing avenues for all students to learn - including students with challenges. This should be the basis for the technology curriculum - reaching each child regardless of learning style or learning challenges. Kim is committed to this goal and will be investigating the possibilities as she concludes her Doctorate in Education - majoring in instructional design and specializing in on-line learning.
We are delighted Kim has agreed to join us and look forward to her input. Thanks, Kim.
On Monday, I had the great pleasure of visiting a first grade classroom to look at technology integration. Quite honestly, I didn't know what to expect. During all of my visits and researching, I have become aware of a debate regarding what is developmentally appropriate for elementary students. I have begun to question how students were able to "get on board" with technology (laptops) at the beginning of middle school when they had so many other adjustments - social as well as cognitive. So....
I came to Alison's classroom through recommendations from 2 mutual friends. I know Alison through literacy training sessions I provided over the years and realized early on that she is an excellent teacher - insightful and reflective, always focused on what is best for her students. I also knew that after 13 years of teaching, she had returned to get her MED in the field of educational technology. Needless to say, I was eager to see what had taken place and came armed with curiosity and -- my handy-dandy little checklist.
When I arrived at 9 AM, no one noticed! The students were totally engaged and focused on the screen. Alison was demonstrating the final steps on a project for their class blog. The first graders were watching and collaborating - with quiet voices and thoughtful questions. Students had recorded sections of reading texts (fluency), illustrated and photographed an illustration based on the text, and now were choosing music to accompany the illustration. Alison was demonstrating how students would identify and embed all three for their classroom blog. Higher level thinking?
After the students went to their special, Alison explained how she was integrating technology in her classroom. I am writing this in bullet form in hopes it will be easier to follow the process.
At the beginning of the year, the school based technology integrator, Rosie, taught the first graders how to use the toolbar on the macs.
Students were introduced to skype by teaming with Alison's sister, Gay. During one of her skype session, she read Make Way for the Ducklings and shared family pictures of Alison and her sister in the park where the story took place. Alison continues to use skype with her students. One of her students who is chronically ill, is included in daily instruction by tuning in via skype. This has worked out extremely well for the class and for the student.
Alison has a classroom blog. Here are some of the projects she has posted.
4. As you explore her blog, you will see she shares information with parents, creating a real
audience for students (authenticity). Alison describes it as creating an "investment" for
students. They are excited all of the time because they know their parents can see or hear their
work. The students want to do their best. Parent response has been positive.
So what does Alison think about developmentally appropriate - technology and her first graders? Not too surprisingly, many of her ideas have come from observing high school students in other states! She brought them back to her first graders and taught them how. All of the student projects posted on the classroom blog are independently produced by her students!
Asking Alison what she sees as the biggest concern for her students and technology, she cites social networking. She feels a strong responsibility to teach students how to use the social networks, remarking they are available to all of her students whether they have a computer at home or not. Rather than blocking the networks, Alison encourages educators to consider teaching - at an early age - the safe use of the internet. She reminds me that we were taught to tell callers (on the telephone - technology for my generation) parents were unavailable, not absent from the home. She concludes, ethics and technology is a key issue we can not avoid. Our students deserve more from us.
We will visit Alison again and post some of her projects in depth. You will also be able to tune into her webinar at the beginning of April.
Following is the checklist we are using to begin to collect data to finalize our rubric. Over the next several weeks, I will be posting my observations and discussions with classroom teachers who are beginning to implement technology in their classrooms. Comments greatly appreciated. (Double click on the checklist to increase its size.)