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 http://www.techlearning.com/article/4572
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.