Concluding Assignment

In answering the Essential Questions I have employed the describe-interpret-plan model.

  1. What do we mean by the “21st century classroom?” There are a variety of answers to this question, but few get at the transformation in teaching and learning that can be brought about by the shifts that are happening in our world today.

    Answer:
    The “21st century classroom” encompasses a variety of settings that can constitute as a classroom. No longer are students confined to four walls within in a classroom to engage in the act of learning. Students can now attend cyber schools and web classes where the teacher may not even be from the same country. Furthermore the “21st century classroom” does not just refer to a teacher lead or moderated classroom but the independent learning that takes place on a daily basis on the web. Students have access to any and all information they may have questions about, right at their fingertips through a variety of tools (tablets, phones, desktops, laptops etc.). The classroom can be an academic blog or podcast series, a webinar or even a Ted-talk. While there is great merit can still be found within traditional physical texts and classrooms,  advancements such as e-texts open up avenues of connected learning through information sharing and forum style conversational posts.  In integrating technology into our classrooms and lesson plans through SAMR we are appropriately synthesizing two previously distant worlds into one world that embodies the free-flow information and learning. Teaching is now at the forefront of a revolution in which any and all information is accessible and students are free to pursue independent inquiries and enhance their understanding of class discussed topics. This is transformational as it allows students to take ownership of their education like never before, they have the resources around them constantly to enhance their understanding.

    In interpreting this I feel that we as educators have an ethical and professional responsibility to create connected learning environments and transform our classrooms into “21st century classrooms” by incorporating technology into them. Through SAMR and PLNS we can introduce our students to a new and exciting world of education that is full of rewards and benefits that was previously inaccessible in past forms of education. In order to create a better future we must help our students take their digital literacy to the next level and help them develop into autonomous learners who are capable of utilizing the technology that surrounds them in appropriate and life changing ways.  These devices are not toys, they are tools that not only transform the classroom but the students and teachers as well. Through our embracement of and integration of technology we can truly reach our students on a new level that is more accessible to them and more willingly approached by students as it is not foreign to them.

    In planning for the future, I intend if allowed by my employing school’s AUP(Acceptable Use Policy)to integrate technology into most if not all of my lessons.By integrating technology and content area material we are teaching students to do as Paulo Freire advises, “read the word and the world”. By reading both students will be able to learn in a ground breaking way and help redefine the classroom for future generations. In the past technology use was limited in my classroom experience but as I now become a professional educator I will work to break down the walls between the classroom and the outer world, I will have a “21st century classroom” where learning takes place both inside and outside the confines of a physical structure. I want my students to be lifelong learners and I truly feel that this transformed classroom that integrates technology is a crucial step to reaching my goal for my students. 

  2. How do we apply technology tools in ways so that we can more easily achieve meaningful teaching and learning in the 21st century? Our focus on technology in education rarely gets beyond the dimension of technical skill. Education professionals must have additional skills to be able to evaluate emerging and ever-evolving technology tools and determine how they will meet the needs of the 21st century learner

    Answer:
    Throughout this semester I have learned that digital literacy is crucial for professional educators of all levels and content areas. Our students are digital natives and technology encompasses a great deal of their lives, our job as educators is to connect their learning with those digital tools they use on a daily basis. Computers, tablets and phones are not simply meant for social interaction and entertainment, they are powerful educational tools as well. As educators we must teach our students to curate their social media and present themselves appropriately and professionally. Web enabled devices allow for students to have near instant access to information on any topic they can think of and this is exactly why it should be incorporated into our classroom. Not solely as a research tool either, but as a means of academic social interaction. By teaching students to carefully build, develop, curate and grow their PLNs(Personal Learning Networks) we are teaching our students in a connected manner that will continue to inform them and their utilization of technology throughout their lives. Prior to taking this class I viewed social-media such as twitter, as a means of keeping in touch with friends and staying up to date on popular culture. I felt it had no place within a classroom but I understand that it is the most instantaneous form of learning, conveyance of thought and professional development. Through twitter students can connect with literally everyone and anyone but they must be taught to utilize this platform in a mature manner that helps them better themselves and those around them. If students understand the ramification and permanence of their digital footprint they are more apt to utilize it in a positive fashion. Furthermore twitter is only one of many emerging platforms in which students can and will engage in. The gamut ranges from twitter to Facebook and flipboard to instagram. All of these platforms are popular amongst kids and we as educators are responsible for fully understanding them and their proper uses. We can not simply tell students to “behave online” and schools can not demonize these platforms by putting up web blocks on them from school computers and wifi connections. Doing so only entices kids to use them as a distraction and see them as a toy rather than a learning opportunity. However by engaging in these tools and allowing students to use technology in the classroom we are reshaping and even redefining their perspectives of these devices and tools. Through proper modelling and engagement in technology students will learn how to use it for progressively positive benefits and change.

    In interpreting this information I have come to see that, technology empowers  both students and teachers in a way that was impossible before. Through SAMR, lessons are elevated and grow with student understanding. Lessons go from archaic formats of simply highlighting a textbook and taking careful notes, to the development of PLNs through digital note and highlight sharing tools via e-texts. Students can keep up to date with emerging science through videos on youtube and become more informed then they would by the limits of a textbook printed years ago that does not account for these new developments. Furthermore technology helps teachers stay relevant. It allows for them to be on the same terms as their students and no longer is technology a distraction and detriment to the classroom but a celebrated benefit.   Teachers can engage students in a relevant manner through webinars, podcasts, blogs and simple file sharing allow teachers to stay connected with students outside of the classroom and helps us further reach them in a format that is familiar to them so that lessons are more approachable. All of these factors contribute to empowered educators who in turn create empowered students, schools and educators can not and should not fear technology. In this current day and age the face of education is changing rapidly and kids the students of today are far different from the students of the past, and tomorrow’s students will be even more radically different. Our current and future students are “iStudents”, students who are digital natives, it only makes sense that we stay relevant with technological advances so that we can meet them on their terms in a manner with which they are familiar and help them develop autonomously and academically. In order to do this teachers must cast out their fear of technology and seek out an understanding of it for themselves, whether it be through independent research, attending professional development seminars/conventions or both.

    In planning for the future I fully intend to embrace the my students for who they are as individuals and as what they are collectively, “iStudents”. By embracing the “iStudents” as such we are opening new avenues of progressive learning and advancement. It is an exciting time to be an educator but to be the most effective educator one can be they must be engaged in digital factors that shape our physical world.

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In reflecting upon my connected lesson plan

In regards to what I did, I, in a very straightforward manner restructured my lesson to in relation to the SAMR model that it fit into the “modification” category. I did so through a means of working within the mindset that I was in, during class when I worked to change how the students were interacting and sharing information with one another so that technology was incorporated. The technology that was incorporated most prevalently was e-texts in conjunction with their native capabilities. In addition I introduce the function of back channels and their uses for extended conversation and further conveyance of thought throughout classroom discussions, enabling students to interact and have a voice in a way they previously could not have. What I saw and heard during this exercise relates to the classroom activity where we worked collaboratively to restructure our lessons to meet an aspect of the SAMR model. In class I saw groups and more directly my group mates, interacting in a meaningful way to help one another understand the SAMR model and framework so that we could also design appropriate lessons that would have a meaningful and connected impact on our students. I saw each of us taking on the role of teacher and student and learning with one another in a very direct and effective way.

What I felt was nothing more than empowerment and joy during this exercise. I felt empowered after having collaborated in the classroom, I had developed a lesson previously that I was quite proud of and now I have taken it to the next level through the use of technology. Without this class and the input and feedback from my peers I would not have been able to do this. I still feel empowered as I can now utilize the SAMR model and will continue to do throughout my teaching career to create powerful and connected lessons for my students that allow them to learn in a way that embraces our ever advancing tech-savvy and tech-efficient world.  Previously I felt technology had very limited uses in the classroom (especially the English classroom) but now I know that technology has a cornucopia of uses in the classroom (and as technology improves it will become even more fundamental in my literature classes).  Because of this I have a great feeling of joy, joy in learning new things and joy in new accomplishments.

What this might mean is that as the world changes we must change as teachers, we must embrace the changes so that we meet the needs of our ever changing student populations and teach them in ways the empower them and lead them to success. The students of yesterday are not the students of today nor are the students of today the students of tomorrow. Technology is rapidly changing the face and practice of education and to ensure our students receive the best education we must be the best educators we can. To do so we must embrace all facets of the world and technology in all content areas. Just because something is foreign to us does not mean that we can shrug it off and act as if it does not have implications within our classroom, if we do so we are losing any and all benefits from it that these foreign concepts have to offer us.

In evaluating what I observed I saw strong success in the classroom. I saw us creatively adapting our diverse lessons in new and exciting ways to the SAMR model, from music to literature and even mathematics. Every student was engaged and every student seemed eager to help one another. I personally found it interesting within my group how fantasy sports could be used to teach math and how music lessons could be enhanced through websites such as Noteflight.  These were things I would have never learned if it wasn’t for this class and this exercise, and through this I saw just how powerful SAMR is in creating engaging and exciting lessons.  I found this to be incredibly useful and value the experience highly.

In planning how this information will be useful to me, I have already decided to incorporate SAMR into most if not all of my lesson plans to one degree or another. Most of my primary and secondary education was fraught with event where technology was either banned or feared in the classroom. It made me view technology as a secondary tool and computers to be glorified word-processors for papers. I didn’t understand how useful they could be in the classroom and I found this entire exercise and course to be a wonderful exploration into the multi-faceted uses of technology in the classroom.  In order to ensure to the best of my abilities that students will be learning and achieving to the best of their abilities I will make lessons that encourage connected learning through the use of technology and through engaged activities that cause students to learn on a multi-disciplinary level. I don’t just want my students to master the subject matter of my content area; I want them to come out prepared for life in as many facets possible from my class. I want them to be able to connect the world to the text and see the benefit of reading the word and the world simultaneously with the benefits of integrating technology into their daily lives as a tool rather than a distraction.  The only recommendation that I have is that all teachers be taught to utilize SAMR and the benefits of teaching in an engaged manner that embraces students as “iStudents”, so that we can work to build a better future for our students and the world at large.