Sunday, May 6, 2012

EDSS 530 - Scoop.It

Throughout my time developing my Personal Learning Network or PLN I have been introduced to an overwhelming number of technological resources including Twitter, Pintrest and Diigo. In all the technological resources I have been introduced to however one has stood out to become my favorite. Scoop.It is a digital resource that allows users to curate a personalized magazine. A user begins by joining the free site and downloading a tool to his or her browser. When the user finds an article, website or other resource he or she wishes to save the user clicks on the Scoop.It tool. The user is then prompted to choose a picture for the article and give a brief synopsis. The post can then be either Tweeted or added to the user’s Facebook before being added to the curator’s magazine. Users of Scoop.It can decide to follow other users and “rescoop” their posts.

I have discovered a passion for Scoop.It for a variety of reasons. First and foremost as a visual learner I enjoy the idea of adding pictures to articles I find interesting and Scoop.It makes choosing the pictures simple. Sites such as Diigo do not allow users to add pictures to bookmarks and in many ways Pintrest overdoes the use of visuals. Another reason I enjoy Scoop.It is its ability to track views. I have always enjoyed seeing how many views and followers my blogs, websites and social media sites receive. Scoop.It allows users to track various statistics about their magazines including views, rescoops and mentioned. These are tools not utilized by sites such as Diigo and Pintrest. The final major reason I enjoy Scoop.It is its ease of access. A newcomer of Scoop.It can easily figure out how it is used and, in a matter of minutes, be curetting articles.

There are countless resources on the web today and when found many have faults that prevent users from enjoying them. When I found Scoop.It I did not find these faults and instead have found a resource I will continue to use throughout my teaching career, both to develop my PLN and inside my classroom.

EDSS 530 - Texting in the Classroom

When Clinical Practice II started in March 2012 I found myself at Valley High School in Escondido, California. It should be noted that Valley High School serves as the continuation high school for the Escondido Union High School District, which is made up of three comprehensive sites. The students who attend Valley High School come from predominantly low socioeconomic backgrounds. However I ignored my findings and instead based my decision to implement technology into the classroom on my observations. During my initial observations of the classes I would eventually teach I noticed that a large percentage of students actively used their cell phones in class despite the strict rules against it. On my first day of instruction I gave my students a brief overview of my life and then stated that at one point the pencil was the cutting edge of technology, which was then surpassed by the calculator. I then pulled out my personal cell phone and stated that this could easily be the future of education as it can access 98% of the information I will give them during the course. I then walked them through the different types of tools I would use during the course including Twitter, PollEverywhere and Evernote. However I dropped the use of Twitter and Evernote as both require access to internet at home, which many students lack. Instead I have focused on PollEveywhere which I use on a near regular basis. Instead of always having students write quickwrites I allow them to text in their responses to questions which generates greater participation. In addition more discussion occurs because students are reading other responses and then talk about them. If I am ever placed in a school with a population coming from a higher socioeconomic background I will utilize additional technology in the classroom but at Valley High School I have quickly discovered the value of using basic technology in the classroom. After all if the students are already texting why not make them text something useful.

EDSS 530 - Oceanside Report

After our visit to Oceanside, I would like a blog post reflecting on the experience.

On March 12, 2012 I had the privilege of visiting Oceanside High School in order to witness how they are integrating iPads in their science department, specifically chemistry and physics. During my visit I witnessed how the iPads were integrated into the curriculum, used throughout the lesson and promoted student learning.

In order to answer the posed questions it is critical that an overview of what was seen is given. For the purpose of this post I will focus on the physics classroom as it was where I spent a majority of my observational time. The class began with students being given a set of questions that served as an anticipatory set using Moodle. While students worked on the problems the instructor walked the classroom to assist students. While walking the classroom myself I noticed that each student was given the same problem but with different numbers. During the direct instruction students followed along with the instructor using Moodle and during guided practice the instructor allowed students to show their problems on the overhead using Apple TV. Throughout the lesson the majority of students remained on task despite having the ability to play various games.

Question 1: How was technology integrated into the curriculum? Do you feel it promoted student learning?
While I do feel that in many ways the iPad program promotes student learning I do not feel it was fully integrating into the curriculum. The use of iPads promote student learning because they provide students with different questions then their partners, the opportunity to redo mistakes and revisit lectures through Moodle. However I do not feel the technology is integrated into the curriculum because while applications exist that reference the content the iPads are currently being used as a tool to demonstrate student understanding of concepts.

Question 2: Is there anything you saw that makes this classroom/school unique?
Other than the use of iPads in the classroom there was little that made this classroom unique from others. The class still followed the traditional lesson plan set up, beginning with an anticipatory set followed by direct instruction and concluding with independent practice. The classroom still revolved around the instructor in a teacher-centered setting.

Question 3: What did you learn and how does it relate to the class theme?
Upon viewing the use of iPads in these two classrooms I realized that in many ways this could be the future of education. While these iPads may first visit science, math and English classrooms they will eventually appear in social studies classrooms. When they do I hope to use them to a greater degree than the instructors I observed. I hope to use the iPads to create a flipped classroom and generate a more student-centered learning environment. This observation relates to the class theme because it is truly the direction schooling is going towards in the 21st century.

EDSS 531 - Reflective Journal

Prepare a one-page written reflection commenting on the course readings, discussions, activities, etc. of the class.  make sure that your writings include personal connections, explanations as to how and why your perspective as an educator has changed, or is changing, as related to the course content.

At the start of this semester I felt unsure of where I was going as a future high school instructor. I was unsure of my teaching style, how I would manage my classroom, where I want to find a job placement, what I wish to teach and where I want to see my career in forty years. In many ways these are still lingering thoughts that may never be fully understood. However, during the course of this semester I learned a great deal about other aspects of the teaching profession. These lessons include ITUs and integration of technology.

When my professor first introduced the concept of an Integrated Thematic Unit or ITU I was unsure of its usefulness in the modern classroom. In many ways I envisioned the modern classroom as detached from other curricular studies. The ITU forced me to collaborate with a prospective English teacher to generate lessons, a unit plan, a website, theme, art component and service learning component. Together we created a unit on heroism which combines content from both our curriculums. After completing the assignment I realized relevance ITUs can have in the modern classroom. There is no doubt that I will actively pursue opportunities to create and utilize ITUs in teaching career.

Prior to this semester I had prior knowledge of how to integrate technology into the classroom through a prerequisite. During this semester however I learned even more. I greatly developed my Personal Learning Network or PLN through the use of Twitter, Diigo, Pintrest, and Scoop.It. These tools allowed me to gather resources from educators around the world. In addition, I was able to spread my knowledge to others. Not only did I find these tools beneficial to my own learning but I also look to implement many of them in my future classroom. I look forward to having Twitter debates in the classroom. I look forward to having students create Facebook pages for historical figures.

I started this semester with numerous questions about the teaching profession and in many ways these semester gave me additional questions to ponder for years. However it did teach me a great deal about the use of collaboration and technology in 21st century education.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

EDSS 530 Response #3

Read the first five chapters of Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns by Clayton M. Christensen.  Address the six guided questions.

Disrupting Class Response
Chapter 1: Why Schools Struggle to Teach Differently When Each Student Learns Differently
Question 1: Explain the difference between interdependence and modularity.  How is education currently organized?

Interdependence is a way of organizing a system or product in which the components are reliant on the make-up of the other parts.  In an interdependent system or product a single part can not be exchanged for a generic part, nor can that part be changed without changing the other components.  This forces the parts of the system or product to become proprietary.  While an interdependent design is an effective way of developing a product or system it does not allow for customization or adaption.  For example, the first Ford Model-T became obsolete the moment an improved engine was developed because the first Model-T could not be adapted for it.

Modularity is a way of organizing a system or product in which the components are not reliant on the make-up of the other parts.  In a modular product, parts are interchangeable and can be made by third-party companies.  Modularity allows for innovation, adaption and customization.  A product developer no longer needs to design an entirely new product or system in order to implement his or her new invention.  Instead the developer only needs to design the new part and it can fit into a current product or system.  Engineers and developers have embraced modularity because it cuts costs and keeps the product or system relevant for years.  For example, the lap was invented decades ago and if interdependent would have become obsolete.  However because any light-bulb with a universal socket will work it has remained relevant with the invention of new light-bulbs.

Education in the United States is currently organized in a highly interdependent structure.  It is laced with four types of interdependencies:
  1. Temporal: You can't study ninth grade if you didn't cover it in seventh.
  2. Lateral: You can't teacher certain foreign lanuages in other more effieient ways because you'd have to change the way English grammar is taught.
  3. Physical: The design of the traditional school limits learning.
  4. Hierarchical: Mandates, which are often contradictory, come from the local, state, and federal policymakers are found in this type of interdependency.  The curriculum and textbook decisions are also found her.
Chapter 2: Making the Shift: Schools Meet Society's Needs
Question 2: Explain the disruptive innovation theory.  What does this have to do with schools?

"The disruptive innovation theory explains why organizations struggle with certain kinds of innovation and how organizations can predictably succeed in innovation." (Christensen, 45).  In essence this theory states that a disruptive innovation is a product that appears on the market in competition with similar products.  The disruptive innovation however, is not a breakthrough innovation and is not as good as those products already on the market.  Due to the fact that the disruptive innovation is inexpensive and simple to use it compared to other products, it can be purchased and used by a new set of customers.  As the innovation improves it surpasses those on the market.

Disruptive innovation theory relates to the United States school system because at present schools are monopolies without competition.  Because schools are monopolies there is very few opportunities for a disruptive innovation to be introduced.  However there have been disruptive innovations before.  These innovations have come out of disruptions in society, forcing schools to change to meet new demands.  When schools are changing they are essentially, "rebuilding an airplane in mid-flight." (Christensen, 51) Christen sums up the chapter stating that while technology is being introduced into the classroom to a larger degree at present it will not act as a disruptive innovation until it changes how and what students learn.

Chapter 3: Crammed Computer Classrooms
Question 3: Why doesn't cramming computers in schools work?  Explain this in terms of the lessons from Rachmaninoff. (What does it mean to compete against nonconsumption?)

Cramming computers into schools has failed to generated expected results because of how schools have employed computers.  At present a majority of schools are using computers to assist with research, replace written work and at best supplement learning.  In addition students rarely use the computers in the classroom or in a computer lab.  Christensen suggest that in order for computers to work they must be used as a means of instruction, be adapted to fit student learning and be utilized more regularly.

In late 1800s RCA Victor developed a technology that allowed people to record musicians such as Rachmaninoff and listen to the instrumentals in one's own living room.  The recordings were far from the quality of the live music but they opened the door to a new industry and new customers.  This innovation gave people who did not have the resources or location to listen to live music the opportunity to listen to musicians like Rachmaninoff.  These new listeners were non-consumers of live music and therefore the recordings did not compete directly with live performances.  These lessons can be transferred to technology in the classroom.  As it remains possible to record teachers it is not the same as a real teacher.  One can not expect students to achieve to the same limit if they are being taught directly by computers.

Chapter 4: Disruptively Deploying Computers
Question 4: Explain the pattern of disruption.

"Disruptions first compete against non-consumption in a new 'plane of competition.'" (Christensen, 96)  The entire pattern of disruption almost always follows an S-curve.  During the disruptive innovation's introduction to the market their is an initial flat portion.  The length of this period is unpredictable and can last a year or ten years.  Eventually the product or system improves and its reach steepens dramatically approaching the existing product.  This causes the existing product to eventually be replaced.  When the disruptive innovation reaches market dominance the curve flattens.

Question 5: Explain the trap of monolithic instruction.  How does student-centric learning help this problem?

The monolithic trap of instruction occurs when a teacher is unable to customize his or her instruction.  The teacher has become a overwhelmed in a system in which they must teach a large amount of students.  Monolithic instruction is characterized by little or no customization or individualized instruction.  A teacher will teach in one system that reaches a certain percentage of students, hoping the rest of the students will adapt.  More often then not students who are expected to adapt don't.  Student-centric learning helps this problem by taking into account the various learning styles of students.  With technology student-centric learning becomes a greater possibility because it allows lessons to be individualized.  In addition the instructor can provide more individualized instruction.

Chapter 5: The System for Student-Centric Learning
Question 6: Explain public education's commercial system.  What does it mean to say it is a value-chain business?  How does this affect student-centric learning?

The United States' current public education's commercial system is run like a Value Adding Process (VAP).  Students are brought into the process at one end (kindergarten), spend years in the classroom having knowledge feed to them, and emerge from the process at the other end as high school graduates.  This current commercial system is in place because of the notion that this process makes students more knowledgeable and therefore valuable citizens.

A value chain business is where businesses establish their costs for supplies, manufacturing, labor and other inherent costs associated with business.  With these costs a business establish a cost structure that allows them to sell their product or system for profit.

In the current model of public education disruption is difficult.  However with more developments in technology and the realization of its possibilities in the classroom student-centric learning can become a greater reality.  When technology develops to become more customizable for the user, students can begin to dictate how they learn.  This will allow students to have input on their learning and be taught in the way they choose.  In addition, technology will allow learning to take place without the direct presence of the teacher.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Valley High School - Week Three Observation

February 10, 2012
Observation Report
I arrived at Valley High School in Escondido at approximately 8:00 A.M. on Friday, February 10, 2012. Upon arriving on campus I proceeded to the staff lounge where I was greeted by a large portion of the faculty and staff of Valley High School. After the first bell at 8:15 A.M. I went to one of my cooperating teacher’s connections class for first period. During the hour long class students read a newspaper article and filled out a summary sheet. The article comes from the local newspaper and can be on any current event. The summary consists of five sentences focusing on the who, what, when, where and why of the event. I spent both second and third period in Mr. Flynt’s classroom, observing the two United States History B classes I would eventually be taking over in mid-March. During the first portion of the class the students watched a video addressing the reasons why the United States entered the war in Vietnam. During the course of the video I noticed some students were interested while others were not. At the conclusion of the half-an-hour video students wrote a one-page summary on the film. After period three ended I visited my other cooperating teacher and the United States Government class I would be instructing. As Mr. Palacios, my cooperating teacher, prefers to maintain a pattern he administers quizzes on Fridays. The process begins with the instructor giving the students six minutes to gather and review their notes. After students have gathered their notes the instructor asks questions for three minutes on the content that will be covered on the quiz. After the self and class reviews the instructor hands out the quizzes and students have the remainder of the period to work on them. Students are also permitted to use their notes on the quizzes.

The decision by Mr. Palacios to create a scheduled routine for his students is an excellent idea. Students know that on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays there will be lectures, bookwork and classwork. On Thursdays students know they have the opportunity to review the week’s content so they ensure they bring their notes and classwork. On Fridays students know they will be taking a quiz on the week’s content. Since students are allowed to use notes on the test, students always bring their notes on Fridays. Also students know not to be absent on Fridays. Mr. Palacios stated that he choose to create a pattern because it works best with students. I truly see the value in this decision and will maintain it when I take over instruction.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Valley High School - Week Two Observation

February 3, 2012

Observation Report
I arrived at Valley High School in Escondido at approximately 8:00 A.M. on Friday, February 3, 2012. Upon arriving on campus I signed in at the front office and proceeded to the staff room, where I had the opportunity to meet a large portion of the faculty and staff of Valley High School. After the first bell at 8:15 A.M. I went with one of my cooperating teacher’s connections class for first period. At Valley High School connections is an integral part of the school’s mission. When students first arrive at Valley High School they are assigned a connections teacher. Students will stay with their assigned connections teacher throughout their time at Valley High School, spending each first period with the instructor. The instructor is responsible for providing consistency in a fast paced school, assigning schedule changes and addressing the issues that will arise after graduation. I spent my first connections class with Mr. Flynt where students watched the morning news, reflected on it in a response and worked on make-up work for other classes. I spent both second and third periods in Mr. Flynt’s class observing the two United States History classes I would eventually be taking over in mid-March. During the first segment of class students took notes directly from a PowerPoint on the 1960s while the instructor talked about the points. After going through three slides the students watched a video on the 1960s. After the lesson students placed their classroom notes in a basket in the back of the class. This allows the instructor to look over the notes and students to have easy access to them during a quiz or test. At the conclusion of third period I observed my other cooperating teacher in the third class I will be taking over instruction in. The class began with the instructor putting a timer on the overhead, giving the students six minutes to prepare for a test. After six minutes had elapsed students took a test on the Executive Branch of the United States Government. The test took the remainder of the class period.

Through my initial observation of connections I gained a great understanding to its importance. Valley High School is a continuation school focused on graduating students who have not succeeded in regular classrooms. Therefore curriculum is taught quickly and credits are earned just as fast. Most students only stay in a particular class for a trimester lasting twelve weeks before they earn their credits and move to other class. With the large amount of transfer it is easy to see how possible it is for a student to not develop a connection with faculty and staff. With a connections teacher the student has a familiar face throughout their time at Valley High School. This instructor takes a valued interest in the student’s growth and success, an important quality at this particular institution.