Category Archives: Reading Response

The Twitter Teacher or Teaching Twitter

On November 23, a #tfwf14 classmate of mine, @hamilt35, posted an article on twitter. “Classroom innovators: the Twitter teacher,” by “The Irish Times.” As I have discussed the importance of “Zite” in my prior blog post “Educational Innovations,” here is another example of it’s asset to education. This article was posted on an Irish news website, on November 22, 2014, and without “Zite,” would have never made it to my computer screen. Zite is not the only application providing a positive academic resource, Twitter is also implemented into classrooms all around the world.
Teachers are learning how to shape their curriculum around new technologies that their students are using. This process helps teachers engage their student’s conscious effort, attention, and participation. Any college student in Rowan Universities’ Introduction to Writing Arts course, #tfwf14 #tfebt, could explain how Twitter can be used as an academic asset and an educational resource. Now, there is evidence world wide of Twitter’s positive influence on a classroom, as well as, the student’s success.
The article “Classroom innovators: the Twitter teacher,” explains the process of how Twitter can be utilized in an academic setting. “For a typical class, groups of students are asked to research a topic online and then to start tweeting facts in chronological order. He monitors quality, deleting misspelt or out-of-sequence tweets. He then uses Storify to grade and document the tweets. The groups have a sense of researching like historians, he says.” His lessons are structured around the established use of Twitter in the classroom. This creates a positive way for students to use their cellphones in class, therefore, combining the educational information of the History class with the common interests of the students. Essentially providing an efficient way for teachers to obtain their student’s effort and dedication.
Porter and DeVoss express the influence of new technology on writing. “New economies of writing are emerging that promise to carry writing practices in directions that are not yet clear but which will have significant impact on basic literacy.” (Porter, DeVoss, page 195). Twitter influences student’s writing in the classroom. Instead of writing their notes on paper, the chalk board, or typing them on a computer, Twitter has provided an user friendly interface. The respond rate is almost instantaneous, allowing students to observe their classmates ideas. Twitter remediates word documents, pen and paper, and even the chalk board, because the teacher and students can read and respond to the individual comment, or post. Bolter defines remediation as “homage and rivalry, for the new medium, but also makes an implicit or explicit claim to improve the older one.” (page 23). Twitter and Zite are two new educational applications, that offer an academic resource for students of ages. Implementing student’s interests into a lesson plan can derive enveloped participation and academic success.

Educational Innovations

I was recently introduced to a new educational technology, “Zite.” Zite now has an influence on my research processes. This application is an academic resource for discovering and obtaining new educational information. For me, it has replaced news websites, and television channels. What is Bolter’s ideology of remediation and new technologies? “Remediation involves both homage and rivalry, for the new medium, but also makes an implicit or explicit claim to improve the older one.” (Bolter, page 23). Zite offers a user friendly interface, based on educational and personal interests important to the individual. Therefore, Zite essentially eliminates aimless scrolling and wasted time. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t need more hours in a day?

I probably would have never read this article if it wasn’t for Zite. I did not have to research websites or search engines, I just opened my Zite application on my iPhone and there it was. On November 19, 2014, Keith Sawyer published an article titled, “Ten Educational Innovations To Watch For In The Next Ten Years.”
“Education experts at the Open University (UK) led by Professor Mike Sharples, have identified ten innovations that are already in currency but have not yet had a profound influence on education.” (Sawyer). The influence on education is existent, but not defined. According to Porter and DeVoss, “New economies of writing are emerging that promise to carry writing practices in directions that are not yet clear but which will have significant impact on basic literacy.” (Porter, DeVoss, page 195). Though the technologies educational resources and academic assets are not yet evident, it does not mean that they will never be.

Ten Educational Innovations:

1.) Massive open social learning: social networking

2.) Learning design informed by analytics: “design and analytics work together to support the development of successful learning and teaching.”

3.) Flipped classrooms: Video lectures, allow students to work at their pace, pausing to make notes when necessary.

4.) Burn your own devices: “teachers become managers of technology-enabled networked learners, rather than providers of resources and knowledge.”

5.) Learning to learn: Web tools/activities such as reflective journals and concept mapping support learning to learn.

6.) Dynamic assessment: The assessor interacts with students during testing, ways to overcome each person’s current learning difficulties.

7.) Event based learning: “do it yourself science” engineering and crafts projects

8.) Learning through storytelling: Developing a narrative to create a meaningful whole

9.) Threshold concepts: a new way of thinking about a problem, a subject or the world.

10.) Bricolage: a practical process of learning through tinkering with materials. Learning through play.

Technologies’ Influence on Education

One of our blog co-administrators, Samantha Regina (@samantharegina8), tweeted an article from The New York Times, “Technology Changing How Students Learn, Teachers Say,” by Matt Richtel. 

In this article, the information presented for new technologies influence on students, was obtained through a teacher survey. Richtel explained that, “the researchers note that their findings represent the subjective views of teachers and should not be seen as definitive proof.” (page 1). However, Dr. Dimitri Christakis, states that the “teacher’s views were subjected but nevertheless could be accurate in sensing dwindling attention spans among students.” (Richtel, page 4).

In Turkle’s article, “Who Am We?” an excerpt from her book, “Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet,” she explains “ how computers are not just changing our lives but changing ourselves.” (page 3). According to Vicky Rideout’s research, discussed in Richtel’s article, “media use among children and teenagers ages 8 to 18 has grown so fast that they on average spend twice as much time with screens each year as they spend in school.” (page 1). New technologies have an influence on students’ academic careers, as well as, their lives outside of the classroom. The teacher’s that were surveyed said that, “technology was as much as a solution as a problem.” (Richtel, page 3).Therefor, efficient implementations and conscious adaptions are essential to the technologies’ educational resources, and the students academic success. This is a clarion call for a healthy and balanced media diet,” said Jim Steyer, the chief executive of Common Sense Media. (Richtel, page 3).

“The internet links million of people in new spaces that are changing the way we think and the way we form our communities.” (Turkle, page 3). Technologies within a classroom can become a positive asset, or a negative interference. The associate director for Pew Surveys, Kristen Purcell said, “that the education system must adjust to better accommodate the way students learn.” (Richtel, page 2). Dave Mendell, a forth grade teacher, supports Purcell’s ideology of adapting teaching processes to accommodate the way students learn. “Educational video games and digital presentations were excellent ways to engage students on their terms.” (page 3). Other teachers that participated in the survey explained that “they were using more dynamic and flexible teaching styles.” (Richtel, page 3). In an educational setting, an accommodating teaching style is nothing new. The evidence is expressed in the introduction of ESL (English is a Second Language) programs, to understanding the differences between visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. Is there a difference between involving the three different learning styles and introducing the beneficial use of new technologies in an academic lesson? Or is the evolution of educational technologies progressing; producing new obstacles, outdating older technologies, under constant revision, and in a state of acceptance or rejection?

When Turkle discussed computers as a technology, she said “allow us to cycle through cyberspace and real life, over and over. Windows allow us to be in several contexts at the same time.” (page 3). This introduces the main controversial aspect involving the computers influence on it’s users, and therefor the computer’s influence on students. The acceptance argument is “that the Internet and search engines had a mostly positive impact on student research skills, (…), such tools had made students more self-sufficient researchers.” (Richtel, page 2). Whereas the rejection argument is “that digital technologies were creating an easily distracted generation with short attention spans.” (Richtel, page 2). “Windows have become a powerful metaphor for thinking about the self as a multiple, distributed system. The life practice of windows is that of a decentered self that exists in many worlds, that plays many roles at the same time.” (Turkle, page 3). However an agreement can be made by both sides, students are easily distracted, which makes it difficult for teachers to captivate their attention, conscious effort, and constant engagement.(Richtel, pages 1-3). Dr. Christakis said “students saturated by entertainment media, were experiencing a supernatural stimulation that teachers might have to keep up with or simulate. The heavy technology use makes reality by comparison uninteresting.” (Richtel, page 4).

When used in moderation outside of school, as well as, monitored within the classroom, computers can become an accepted academic resource and a successful educational technology.

Coping With Cancer the Creative Way

“More than 1.6-million Americans will be told they have some form of cancer this year.” What a heart-stopping, eerie, concerning fact. To think that over one million people will be diagnosed with such a deadly disease is mind boggling to me. Fellow blogger, Samantha Catlett, tweeted an article from Zite titled “Patients Use Creativity to Cope with Cancer” by ABC News.

Having a family who has been effected with cancer more than we would like, hearing a number like 1.6 million is very alarming to me. Watching family members suffer from this vicious disease is sickening, and I will forever be an advocate for cancer research. Living with cancer is a daily, draining task. Days are filled with pain and exhaustion. Chemotherapy is nauseating and weakening, and for many people, they feel that there is no end in sight for their cancer.intro pic2

During long painful days, it is utterly important to keep a positive outlook on life. I live by the saying “positive thoughts bring positive outcomes.” I used to tell my aunts and cousin this during treatment, and it seemed to brighten up their days and gave them something to focus on other than pain. They often told me that they needed something bright and comforting. “Patients Use Creativity to Cope with Cancer” sounds like something my family members and others should read.

Moffitt Cancer Center Doctor, Jacob Gardinier Scott, says finding ways to cope can be helpful for patients.  “I find that the people who are able to divert the focus back to something else, something important to them are the ones who even do better,” Scott said.

Studies show having a hobby or creative outlet can improve overall health and well-being. Coping ideas include “gardening, dancing, comedy, blog-writing or even exercise.”

A brain cancer patient’s coping canvas is her skin. “Stamping my arm was something I could control. There were so many things outside of my control” she said. Another patient uses painting and music to cope with his lung cancer. He titled is “My Sarcoma” and shows the progression of his cancer’s journey on each canvas.

What better way to let frustration out and distract yourself from cancer and treatments? For anyone effected by cancer, this is an empowering article to read.

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Happiness is…a Colon and a Right Parenthesis

h3y wutz good 4 2nite?

Although that sentence should read as a strange compilation of letters and numbers, most Internet users will interpret that sentence as “hey, what’s good for tonight”, which can translate even farther to, “Hey, what are we doing tonight?” Somewhere along the line, it become hideously uncool to utilize proper grammar and spelling on the web; a user was categorized as a “nerd” for simply asking about plans in a grammatically correct fashion.

In an article that I tweeted called “I think, Therefore IM” by Jennifer Lee, it is reported that teachers have seen an increasing amount of students using slang such as “im” “ur” and “wut” in academic works. For many students, using Internet slang has become a lot more comfortable than using proper English. In many cases, such as “wuz” and “was”, the slang is the same length as the proper word; students are not replacing proper words with slang due to convenience. The 2000s generation, students who are now 12-17, grew up on the Internet. While many generations are struggling to accustom themselves with the Internet, the 2000s generation only knows life with a power button. In the article, a teacher named Ms. Harding comments, ”It’s acceptable because it’s in their culture. It’s hard enough to teach them the art of formal writing. Now we’ve got to overcome this new instant-messaging language.” Ms. Harding acknowledges the struggle many students have today with balancing comfort with properness. Students are constantly surrounded by text- speak but are expected to forget all about the language as soon as the first school bell rings.

Not only are students becoming more and more reliant on text-speak, but our entire culture is becoming screen dominant. In an article called “Becoming Screen Literate” by Kevin Kelly, Kelly explains the shift our culture is experiencing. He comments on our culture’s shift, “from book fluency to screen fluency, from literacy to visuality.” While books and libraries were once the future, it has slowly morphed into the past. The future is now and it is a world in which screens take over. The extreme want for visuals coincides with the newest obsession of “fast and easy.”

Just like fast food restaurants, literacy has become a matter of culture and popularity. Vegetables are to hamburgers as textbooks are to internet slang. The world is constantly evolving for both better and worse. While some Internet users are still struggling to turn a computer on, others are struggling to turn it off. At this point, it is all about perspective. While schools have started incorporating technology into the curriculum, it is about time schools go a step further and acknowledge the world that is the Internet.  Each generation offers something new, as a culture we must embrace all the new features in order to broaden perspectives and enhance creativity.

iWrite Words: The Handwriting App

As a iwritefuture educator, I am always on the lookout for creative ways to make learning fun for    my future students. With the Common Core‘s heavy presence in the classroom, various forms  of  writing instruction are crucial. Today, technology is so natural to children and is becoming  more popular  in the classroom, so being able to incorporate technology into writing  instruction will be extremely beneficial for the students while making learning fun.

In preschool and kindergarten classrooms, it is important to have the students practice forming uppercase and lowercase letters. Understanding that children must begin to write letters and numbers by tracing them first is key.

The app iWrite Words is something that can be used to do just this! iWrite Words is available on iPads, iPhones and iPods, and is an excellent way to get children interested and involved with the early stages of the writing process both inside and outside of the classroom.

iWrite Words helps to teach kids how to write the letters of the alphabet, numbers up to 20, and simple words using tracing. While it does help if kids already know how to count and read numbers up to 10 in order to play this game, this app can teach children the basics of letters. This app is available in English, French and Italian, making it a great for dual language learners, too.  After the child traces the letter or number, they hear a cheer, then see their actual handwriting appear based off of how they traced the letter.

This app has received rave reviews which include, “The whole app is delightful to behold. Bright background colors are juxtaposed against equally bright and scribbly child-like artwork that convey the word being spelled. You and your child will enjoy tracing your finger along those necessary building blocks of language. With its memorable artwork and way cool physics engine, it is sure to entertain and teach your child,” and many more.

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The next time you are searching for the perfect new app to introduce or reinforce the basics of writing, keep iWrite Words in mind for your preschool and kindergartners.

*This app is available on iTunes for $2.99.

RU Stuck in a Writing Rut? Do U Need Traction?

Fellow blogger, Samantha Catlett, tweeted an article from Zite titled “How to Get Out of a Writing Rut” by Amber Lea Starfire.

We have all been there before… sitting at your desk staring at the computer screen, trying to come up with something creative to write about. This task doesn’t seem too difficult, but when you can’t seem come up with a catchy enough topic, the supposed ‘simple writing process’ turns into quite the daunting task.

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Being stuck in a writing rut doesn’t only happen to newbie writers, it happens to the best writers out there, and when it happens, it stinks! I am not saying that I am the ‘best’ writer out there, but as a college student, I have had my fair share of seemingly endless nights sitting at a desk in the corner of the library wishing it was socially acceptable to slam my head against the wall.

As a future teacher, I definitely can relate to Starfire in the sense that she feels as if her writing needs to be on the top of its game at all times. Often enough, this is a reason to get stuck in a deep writing rut;  after all, you can’t have your students thinking you sound absolutely ridiculous or grammatically incorrect! In an article I read for class titled What is a Blog?, Rettberg states that “following a blog is like getting to know someone, or like watching a television series.”

If people start to actually follow my blog posts, I need to sound decent and hopefully creative, and being stuck in a writing rut is not the place  I want to be. I want my blogs to be creative and intuitive, not dull and lackluster.

Starfire listed some great tips that could be done to help shovel our ways out of writing ruts and will hopefully give some traction. For one, if you’re in a writing rut, think outside the box! Not only should you think outside the box, but you should also literally get outside of the boxlike room you are sitting in and allow yourself to be silly. Hopefully acting like a child will give you a new perspective on something and will trigger a creative idea to write about.

As writers, I feel it is important to shake things up and allow yourself to be a over the top for a while. After all, life is too short to be serious all the time!

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Starfire also suggests practicing being someone else. Hmmm, this could be interesting! She suggests that writers should “pick a passage by an author you admire and whose style is not like yours, then write a short piece copying that author’s sentence structure, cadence, and pace exactly (or as exactly as you can).”

I really like this idea, and would love to try it in my next post. Maybe instead of a college student, I will pretend to be a successful adult who has four cats and can afford to pay for my own groceries…

Creativity is Key

With all of the technology available at our fingertips, it is easy to lose sight of human contact and every day communication with others.

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Technology has a way of getting people to communicate behind a screen, which can be very detrimental to the way people work together in the classroom, workplace, and out in the “real” world. Many people argue that technology is hindering the creative learning process of students, but others say that creativity is sparked by technology and creative arts that interest the students in the classroom.

There is a universal push for STEM in many schools, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math.  Nicky Morgan, the author of the article Creativity is the key to education, so why aren’t we pursuing it?, said that “the choice by pupils to study traditionally creative subjects, the humanities and arts, would in fact restrict their career choices.” STEM gives students the ability to study and focus on the “non-traditional” topics that are usually studied in school.

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“Creativity in schools isn’t just restricted to the teaching of “creative” subjects; art, English etc. In fact even that definition of what subjects are creative is a misstatement of what creativity can mean,” (Morgan). A lot of the time, students lose their sense of creativity in the classroom because of a lack of interest in the topics being studied. Tailoring lessons too fit the needs and interests of the students in the classroom is one way to get creativity stirring. Once the students find a topic that interests them, they will be more likely to complete assignments and do something out-of-the-box. They will be less likely to hold back because they feel confident and comfortable with the subject matter.

Lessons can be tailored to fit any subject area, too.  Sherry Turkle, in her article Who Am We? was showing creativity with her various nickname; she was able to change her identity and play off of them to fit what she was writing about. Like Turkle, if a teacher is presenting a history lesson to the class in a monotone way, the students will lose interest within five minutes, but when the teacher is enthusiastic about the material,  the students will be more likely to be enthusiastic as well.

The New Social Norms: Technological Literacy

What exactly is technological Literacy?

In accordance to the national project to expand technological literacy, technological literacy involves “computer skills and the ability to use computers and other technology to improve learning, productivity, and performance.” This definition, and also a second more social definition, can be found in an article called “a New Literacy Agenda and its Challenges” by Cynthia Selfe.

The second definition, which according to Selfe, is in reference to “complex set of socially and culturally situated values, practices, and skills involved in operating linguistically within the context of electronic environments  including reading, writing, and communicating” and it differs quite dramatically from the previous definition. The first definition involves skills, which not everyone has; however, the second definition refers to to social values and practices, which implies that technological literacy has been adopted into society as required norm.

The interesting part about society’s adoption of technology is the various generation gaps, which can especially be seen in the world of education. In an article called, “How schools are Using Apps to Engage Students, Parents, and the Community” by Chirag Leuva, which was found from a tweet by Kylie Trush, the focus is exclusively on all of the advancements technology has to offer. Before listing various amounts of helpful educational apps, Leuva makes the claim that, “an app can creatively take the education beyond stereotype boundaries”, however, what exactly are these boundaries?

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The boundaries Leuva mentions exist because, as New Literacy and its Challenges writes, technological literacy was a skill at one point. Due to new adaptations, it has slowly become a practiced value. The problem is that not all educators know how to find, let alone share, new apps; while the newer generations are embracing technology, older generations are lost in the wave.

While the gap between old and new technologies will eventually close, right now, technology stands in an extremely ambivalent gray space. The merging of technology and literacy happened in a dramatic fashion; at this point, educators who reject or misconstrue technological literacy, will drown under the currents of articles and societal pressures to conform.

So, to answer the appointed question, “what is technological literacy?” my answer is that it is our new leap. Every century has something to set it apart, something that defines the work put into the years in the spotlight. Centuries from now, students will be reading from something (definitely not a textbook, maybe not even a computer), and they will read about when “technological literacy” was first introduced and how it caused such a stir amongst those unable to throw papers away. A laugh will emerge from students after they read these claims, mostly because they will wonder how something so common now so controversial then. Technological Literacy is both the end and the beginning; RU ready?

The Technologically Inspired Classroom

I feel as though teachers used to dread  introducing and involving  computers with daily lessons in their class for fear of it not working properly or taking too long to load, or even be too complicated. I remember sitting in class as a little girl and constantly wondering when we were going to get the chance to finally use the computers that were collecting dust in the back corner of the classroom. I always wanted the chance to use the computers, and was disappointed when the only chance we got to used them was during our “specials” period when we learned to type the right way.

Today, teachers are not only incorporating computers into their daily classroom instruction, but also using iPads, SMART boards, and social media to get their class more involved and interested in the lesson materials and topics. In an article from the World Economic Forum titled How Online Learning Prepares Teens for Higher Education, “there is a growing interest in the possibilities that different forms of virtual schooling can offer,” (Oliver). Teachers are becoming more creative  with how they incorporate technology into the classroom, and is proving to be very beneficial in the long run.intro1

A study was performed by the Institute of Education, which took a look at experiences of current university students who had completed the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP). These students took a series of online classes, and the ages of the participants ranged from 17 to 23 (Oliver). The results of the study are pretty interesting and exciting for technology; “Of the students interviewed, 94% said finding academic resources on the internet was important to their success and 78% said being able to plan group tasks using online calendars, scheduling tools and discussion applications mattered. Another 71% found social networks useful for building relationships with other learners,” (Oliver). Essential parts of university life, such as virtual learning environments, discussion forums, Google tools, and audio-visual learning resources such as YouTube were all a major part of online classes, and gave the students  confidence with using the web, as stated in How Online Learning Prepares Teens for Higher Education.

“One student described how this experience online had helped them develop valuable skills and approaches: ‘I often use Google Docs and other Google tools to collaborate on group projects, including working with teams that are in different locations and time zones,'” (Oliver). Technology, both inside and outside of the classroom promotes independent learning, which is a really important skill for students to develop. Instead of having the information handed to them in a presentation and lecture form, students could be given instruction before class, then investigate further during class, like in a flipped classroom for example. Having the teacher present in class to answer any questions about the lecture/material from the previous night is really beneficial. Instead of sitting through a boring lecture in class then going home to complete the assignments, the students can talk to their professor about any issues and get them squared away before the end of class.

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Online learning and technology infused into the classroom is proving to be very beneficial to students, and teaches them various styles of learning. For students who do not have computers at home, the chance to use various forms of technology is wonderful! Technology is going to play a major role in our lives inside and outside of the classroom, so it only makes sense to get accommodated with that it has to offer when whenever possible!