Saturday, December 26, 2009


This course has helped me develop my own technology skills in numerous ways. “As 21st century educators, we can no longer decide for our students; we must decide with them, as strange as that may feel to many of us” (Prensky 2005). For the first time as an educator, I believe my eyes have truly been opened to the importance of teaching collaboratively with my 21st century students who are digital natives. Before entering this class I had never been on a blog, heard of a wiki or listened to a podcast. In just eight short weeks, I can say that I have had a hand in utilizing all three types of communication for educational purposes. For what I teach (visual arts k-5) and how many students I teach (670) each week, I have found a blog to be the most expansive for helping me develop technology skills and integrate them into student achievement. I feel that a wiki is a unique form of communication for an entire group to take part in, if every member is on board with what and how to do it. My younger leveled children would probably struggle with using a classroom wiki at this point due to skill level and resources. Podcasts are valuable also, but I found them to be very time consuming to create one.

With the knowledge I have acquired throughout this course I can continue to integrate technology into my classroom to raise student achievement. Delving deeper into the tools that the internet has to offer, as well as using electronic devices, has created a drive in me to continue learning about up-to-date technological enhancements. “The Kaiser Report, which surveyed more than 2,000 3rd through 12th grade students, found that almost ‘one third of young people say they either talk on the phone, instant message, watch TV, listen to music, or surf the Web for fun most of the time they’re doing homework’ ” (McHale 2005). Because my children are clearly multi-tasking, over-stimulated learners, I plan to create an environment that offers them many of these choices. Currently in an art room setting we play music as we create. Sometimes students who are waiting for a portion of their project to dry can move throughout the room in what I call “Imagination Station.” These are age-appropriate, content related activities during down time. I could continue to raise student achievement by adding a station that would include using one or more of the outstanding tools I have used in this class. For example, students could visit my blog, and listen to a podcast by artist Eric Carle to get to know him a little bit before we begin our next unit. This is a very simple way to meet their 21st century needs by creating constant activity and simultaneously keep them active in using technology.

One long term goal that I have towards transforming my classroom into an integrated setting is to develop a classroom blog. I would love to develop a blog authored by me, linked to our district’s homepage, and also publicized through our school newsletter. This would be a fantastic way to invite parents into our classroom in a virtual manner and allow them to see what is new in their child’s art room on a weekly basis. On this blog, I could divide my posts by grade level to discuss what each grade is currently learning. I could also photograph and publish recent finished products from students as a means for busy parents to view our art gallery without having to step inside in our building. Blogging “facilitates connections in ways that plain paper cannot” (Richardson 2006). Parents could join my blog and communicate with me. It would be amazing to receive more feedback on what they like, and what they feel could use improvement.

Another long term goal that I have towards transforming my classroom into an integrated setting is raise the bar on the resources within my building. Although I know this is large goal to accomplish in just a few short years, I believe that I need to look at outside resources in order to bring resources inside. For example, I have been searching online for classroom, as well as school wide technology grants. Perhaps I could engage a fellow colleague to help in writing a grant and we could seek out better resources for our students. Some that I have been looking at would provide a class set of traveling lap tops. This would be ideal in a building such as mine, where the computers are stationary and that classroom is always tied up with library class. Or another idea would be see if I could raise enough funds through an art fundraiser to purchase a digital projector and smart board for my classroom. My students and I have raised money in the past to purchase large ticket art items, and maybe we could accomplish this too.

This course has proved itself vital to me as a digital immigrant, floundering through new technological advances for the sake of my children and their futures. Teachers “need to laugh at their own digital immigrant accents, pay attention to how their students learn, and value and honor what their students know” (Prensky 2005).

McHale, T. (2005). Portrait of a digital native. Technology & Learning. Retrieved from
Prensky, M. (2005). Listen to the natives. Educational Leadership, 63(4), 8–13.
Database:Academic Search Premier database. Accession Number: 19270008
Richardson, W. (2006). Blogs, wiks, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Profiling the Students of Today

Students of today use technology in varying degrees around the globe. This was evident when I recently interviewed two students and one colleague in my rural Northeastern Ohio elementary school. My interviewees quickly proved to me that they use technology in life-changing ways for entertainment, school and work related tasks.

Demographically, this is the information I gathered concerning the types of students that attend the school in which I teach visual arts:
White 92%
Black 5%
Multi-racial 2%
Asian 1%

Economically disadvantaged (determined by free/reduced lunch status)
27% of the students receive free breakfast and lunch
8% of the students receive reduced price for lunch

Despite these statistics, the students that I interviewed seemed to align with the students described in Portrait of a Digital Learner, by author Tom McHale. “The Kaiser report , which surveyed more than 2,000 3rd through 12th grade students, found that almost ‘one third of young people say they either talk on the phone, instant message, watch TV, listen to music, or surf the Web for fun most of the time they’re doing their homework” (McHale 2005). This means that technology is very evident in today’s homes, affecting ways in which students learn.

Today’s digital learners are falling into two categories. One like that of my students known as digital natives. My students are multi-tasking, highly stimulated learners, who have grown up influenced by various forms of technology. And also that of a second category, a digital immigrant, like the colleague that I interviewed for this podcast.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). 2008. Millennial Learning Styles. [Motion Picture]. Understanding the Impact of Technology, Work, and Society. Baltimore: Author.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Produces). 2008. Debate: Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants.[Motion Picture] Understanding the Impact of Technology, Work, and Society. Baltimore: Author.

McHale, T. (2005). Portrait of a digital native. Technology & Learning. Retrieved from
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Reactions to The Partnership for 21st Century Skills Website

Students of today need educators and tools that can meet the needs of a accelerated, technology-driven world. Unlike a previous decade ago students are seeing more and more computer time in their everyday lives. Most forms of communication they use are driven by the use of technology. "The nation needs a compelling vision for education that will inspire education leaders, teachers, parents and students alike" (Partnership n.d. pg. 2). The Partnership for 21st Century Skills offers just this. It is "a unique public-private organization of leaders and educators in business and education" that has been formed to address the needs of today's learners. (Partnership n.d. pg 2)

Recently I spent some time on The Partnership for 21st Century Skills website ( and gathered the following information. Twelve states have thus far joined in creating a partnership to better educate their students for the skills they will need for the future. These skills include items such as:

Information and communication skills (information and media literacy skills; communication skills)
Thinking and problem-solving (critical thinking and systems thinking; problem identification, formulation and solution; creativity and intellectual curiosity)
Interpersonal and self-direction skills (interpersonal and collaborative skills; self-direction; accountability and adaptability; social responsibility)
Global awareness
Financial, economic and business literacy, and developing entrepreneurial skills to enhance workplace productivity and career options
Civic literacy (Partnership 2004).

Recently I watched a video titled "Skills for the 21st Century” in which Dr. Thornburg cited similar ideas known as S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) as important skills to keep the students of The United States competitive with other countries who have assumed this approach. (Thornburg 2008)

With each article I read, support is provided towards helping our students become more innovative, creative thinkers. My right-brained background knowledge as an art instructor is further enhanced with a website such as this where I am becoming more knowledgeable.

I was saddened to see that the state and school in which I reside and teach has not become a partner in this intricate concept. As a current educator teaching daily in a small rural school district, I strongly support the concept from the website that "there is a profound gap between the knowledge and skills most students learn in school and the knowledge and skills they need in typical 21st century communities and workplaces" (Partnership 2004).

I feel a movement such as this is essential in preparing our students for the workplace they will be entering in the 21st century. The tools and resources made available on this site provide a pertinent foundation for this movement to be a success. What I found most essential to aiding in the help of educating my students was the professional development opportunities for those partnering with this movement. The groundwork has been laid. It is now up to us to provide for future generations.

(2004). The Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Retrieved November 25, 2009, from

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (n.d.). A report and mile guide for 21st century skills. Washington DC: Author. Retrieved from

Thornburg, D., & Davidson, H. Skills for the 21st Century (Laureate Education, Inc. 2008).

Friday, November 13, 2009

Brimfield Elementary's Finest Artists!

I am still getting my feet wet with this whole blogging experience, but really getting a better grasp and loving it! I thought I'd put my idea to the test and upload some recent work of my students. As I said in a previous post, my fifth grade students were recently working in the likeness of artist Chuck Close when they created this portrait of Barack Obama. We learned a ton about value with this monochromatic piece. Also I added just a few glimpses of the awesome pottery they are making for our pottery show and fundraiser! Richardson refers to publishing outstanding pieces of work as good way to use a blog. I know my students would be thrilled to see their work online! I am proud of their craftsmanship and can't wait to further explore this blog as a tool to utilize to enhance my student's educations!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Getting my students involved

Currently I teach in a rural setting in Ohio and work with about 650 students each week teaching art to grades kindergarten through fifth grade. I love their enthusiasm each day! Right now we are in full swing of creating pottery (one piece for each student) for a fund raiser coming up in December. The students are highly creative and their glazed pieces look amazing! Students could make use of my blog to showcase their art work. This would be a great tool to highlight outstanding students. I do something like this already with bulltein boards and display cases around the school. I was also thinking I could use my blog to enhance lessons by maybe posting a website of a persoanl artist every so often. We just finished a unit on Chuck Close in fifth grade, which if you have never seen his work you should check it out at This would a be a great tool to get children more engaged in technology for educational purposes and specifically for my class! What do you think?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

art and technology

I am an elementary art teacher who is earning a master's degree in integrating technology into the classroom. Although I teach in a beautiful brand new school building, our district is definitely lacking when it comes to the materials we have to use technology in our classrooms. Some times I am able to sign out our digital overhead projector, for example I just did this with a unit on Chuck Close so that my students could view his website and see his large portraits projected onto the screen. They really enjoyed this and I wish I was able to do this on a daily basis, however the projector must be shared.
I was just curious if any other teachers would like to incorporate technology into their classroom more but feel like their hands are tied a little bit. I think it would be great to even have my students talk to an artist using video conferencing or something.