Field Placement Notes

alesnick's picture

Please use this forum as a place to post notes of your field placement experiences.  Remember: pseudonyms (fake names) MUST be used for all individuals and institutions, and any other identifying material must not be included in any posts.  The format I am asking you to use is a paragraph on each of the following:

what? (descriptions of events in as neutral language as possible)

so what? (reactions, interpretations, implications, questions)

now what? (ideas for next steps, follow-up, new focal areas, ways of looking)

Please read and respond to the posts of your placement group members. 

Comments

maddybeckmann's picture

Last Placement Day

Today, the students had a bake sale all day so they were in and out of the rooms. Students that were not selling items at that time were working on their "How-to" project, which they are writing how to do anything of their choice from how to set up a x-box to how to grow a sunflower and build a fort. The student who I worked with on week one who had trouble writing about the Amish was also behind in this project so I helped him all day. Even though he was behind the other students in the classroom he wrote about his x-box 360 with mush more ease than he did with the paper about the Amish. After he was finished he went to film his video and I worked with another student. After about 10 minutes I decided to go check on him. There was no teacher in the room with him so he was playing music from itunes and not focusing on anything he was supposed to be doing. I had to refocus him and actually sit with him until the video was filmed all the way because he had a hard time staying on task. This was much different than the other students who filmed very quickly and were already editing their videos. It took us almost and hour to film a 4-minute video.... but we finished it!  

Today, at my placement I was reminded of what we talked about in class with the hunger games and are there better books than others if a student is reading? The student I worked with today was passionate about the x-box and this got him writing even if it wasn't some "highly intellectual" piece of writing. Actually, all the students in the room loved this project because they were able to write about what they loved. 

As a teacher, how can you create a balance of work that needs to be accomplished and work that can be used as a tool to outlet a students passions? Is there a way to always do both? Can we give students assignments that are about what they like to increase their love for writing, reading, math etc.?

stanner's picture

Field Placement Notes

I can't believe I waited almost a week to post about my last observation!  It was the first week that I got to really see the iPads in action.  The students were supposed to do a practice test on their individual iPads while the teacher walked around answering questions.  I noticed a few things happening during the class, and then after about a half hour I got bored so I asked the teacher if I could look at the programs she was using on her iPad.

There were a few very noticeable changes with the iPads in the classroom.  First of all, as we all expected, each student seemed to be very engaged, sweeping away with their little fingers answering math questions.  Curious to see if they were all actually on class, I circulated the classroom to look over some shoulders.  Aside from one student who was setting himself a reminder about a test in a different subject (which I guess is just as innocent as flipping through a paper assignment pad/planner during class...), everyone seemed to be on task.  Pretty good!  Another change was that there seemed to be less going off-topic.  Granted, this could be because they were preparing for a test, but usually when there is a class going on and students are raising their hands to contribute to the discussion I've notices that they sometimes get side-tracked and end up talking about things other than the official plan for the lesson.  It's usually math anyway so I'm not sure that it was bad, I'm just pointing out a difference - the classroom was much quieter because each student was working alone and quietly.  The teacher did fill in some noise when she asked one student to help another figure out how to submit his answers.

My so what here has to do with some other less visible changes that I think the iPads are bringing.  The teacher told me that because now her tests are automated, there are not free answer questions.  The technology can “grade” true/false and multiple choice questions, and it’s even ok if you submit a number answer.  But when it gets to questions that were on last unit’s test such as “Explain why 103.2 x 10^4” is not in proper scientific notation” and “Why is it important to be able to express really big/small numbers in scientific notation”, the iPads can’t grade it.  I’m not sure in a math class how much these types of questions matter, but it’s something interesting to think about.  Another thing that I thought was interesting was the “suggestion box” for each class that this teacher teaches where students can post how they think they should use the iPads in class.  Most students who posted wrote practical “in case I forget my homework at school”/ “so I don’t have to carry heavy textbooks around” answers, but I thought it was interesting of the teacher to open this big decision up to her students to hear what they had to say about it. 

maddybeckmann's picture

Field Placement Week #5

A little late on this post, wrote it all but forgot to post... 

Today, I helped the students prepare for their math test. The students have an on-going checkers game that they play on the smart board and each team is awarded a turn by answering a question correctly. They were working on addition and subtraction of large numbers, as well as being able to write out long numbers in word form. I made up questions and wrote them on the smart board. When it was one of the group's turn, their representative (alternated so everyone could have a chance) would do the work on the smart board to solve the problem. All of the other students in the room did the problem in their "scrap book". Each team had a chance to agree or disagree with the student at the board's answer. If the team agreed or disagreed correctly they would earn a turn on the checkerboard. If a team was not sitting in their seats or arguing about where to move a piece on the board they could lose their turn. One team lost their turn twice while the other team was extremely disciplined and was not penalized. After they finished the test review they took the test.

The students really enjoyed the game to prepare for a math test and I could see that many of them studied so they would not let their team down when they were called up to the board. The element of gaming was involved and made the students feel invested in what was going on in the classroom. Also, I could see that certain students showed their leadership skills and took control of their team while others followed. When I looked around the room, each student was engaged and the when a student got the answer right on the board I could see them gaining much confidence in their abilities. Only one student got an answer wrong and her team consoled her. After the game I thought that the students would have a hard time transitioning between the technology and immediately having to take a test. However, the students had no problem transitioning.

 

After volunteering at an inner city school and doing my placement at a private school, I can see integration of technology being a problem depending on the location. In the after school program at the public school they recently started a computer program that is phonics based. They are required by the principal to do this program 20 minutes out of the afterschool program’s time. Some of the students have a hard time transitioning between the computer program and homework on paper. The students at the private school seemed to make this seamlessly. I wonder how are we to integrate technology so that every child has an experience with technology without taking away class time to refocus? How can we accommodate students that have a hard time transitioning their focus from work with technology and work without technology?

maddybeckmann's picture

Field Placement Week #5

A little late on this post, wrote it all but forgot to post... 

Today, I helped the students prepare for their math test. The students have an on-going checkers game that they play on the smart board and each team is awarded a turn by answering a question correctly. They were working on addition and subtraction of large numbers, as well as being able to write out long numbers in word form. I made up questions and wrote them on the smart board. When it was one of the group's turn, their representative (alternated so everyone could have a chance) would do the work on the smart board to solve the problem. All of the other students in the room did the problem in their "scrap book". Each team had a chance to agree or disagree with the student at the board's answer. If the team agreed or disagreed correctly they would earn a turn on the checkerboard. If a team was not sitting in their seats or arguing about where to move a piece on the board they could lose their turn. One team lost their turn twice while the other team was extremely disciplined and was not penalized. After they finished the test review they took the test.

The students really enjoyed the game to prepare for a math test and I could see that many of them studied so they would not let their team down when they were called up to the board. The element of gaming was involved and made the students feel invested in what was going on in the classroom. Also, I could see that certain students showed their leadership skills and took control of their team while others followed. When I looked around the room, each student was engaged and the when a student got the answer right on the board I could see them gaining much confidence in their abilities. Only one student got an answer wrong and her team consoled her. After the game I thought that the students would have a hard time transitioning between the technology and immediately having to take a test. However, the students had no problem transitioning.

 

After volunteering at an inner city school and doing my placement at a private school, I can see integration of technology being a problem depending on the location. In the after school program at the public school they recently started a computer program that is phonics based. They are required by the principal to do this program 20 minutes out of the afterschool program’s time. Some of the students have a hard time transitioning between the computer program and homework on paper. The students at the private school seemed to make this seamlessly. I wonder how are we to integrate technology so that every child has an experience with technology without taking away class time to refocus? How can we accommodate students that have a hard time transitioning their focus from work with technology and work without technology?

mfarbo's picture

Field Post 5

On this day, I got to run a station for the first graders! We played a version of bingo. All of the kids have a board with squares on it and in each square is the capital letter, the lowecase letter and a picture of something that begins with that letter. For example, Aa with a picture of an apple. They fill the squares with the corresponding plastic letter. Then I call letters from a set of cards. The first person to correctly hold up the letter to show me gets to keep the card and all the other kids can remove that letter from their board as well. At the end, whoever has the most cards, wins. 

This was a really good activity for them because they had fun but they also were learning. I had a lot of fun playing with them too. It was a good activity because they usually struggle knowing what letters are which. It was also a beneficial station because it was structured, and advised by a "teacher". Most of the other stations are free stations because there is only one teacher. 

I'm wondering if there is a way to further this activity and apply it to their weekly spelling words? Or to have them practice their pronunciation of the letter? 

maddybeckmann's picture

I think it is important that

I think it is important that they had fun doing the activity and that it was also structured. I see some of McGonigal's ideas here about gaming. Is there a way to create a game that is more structured that the students could play in a station without a teacher? 

mfarbo's picture

Field Post 4

In the second grade class that the ESL teacher pushes into (instead of having the English language learners leave their classroom, she goes to their classroom and helps them), there are many kids who have behavioral issues. One in particular, Johnny, was espcecially rowdy. When we went to the classroom, he was sitting at his desk which is out of the U-shape of the other desks and had his backpack and papers strewn all around him. His teacher asked him to please pick up his things. He didn't so the ESL teacher asked him, still he didn't. The teachers moved on and taught the lesson. They passed out the writing supplies and the other students started the assignment. Johnny still wasn't participating so the teacher went over and asked where his papers were. He responded: "I don't have jack". The teacher explained that this was rude and that she was going to call the disciplinarian. While she was calling, the ESL teacher went over and said very firmly, "you DO NOT tell a teacher you don't have jack". The teacher ended the phone call and asked Johnny to go to the office. He came back a few minutes later and when asked if he had gone, replied no. The teacher was furious but luckily Mr. Mean was coming to get him. Once Johnny returned to class after talking with Mr. M, he erased what was written on the whiteboard, wandered around, and rang the teacher's bell. 

For me, this was very disturbing. I don't know if the situation was handled in the correct manner. Clearly there is something going on--either in the home life or at school that needs to be addressed. The discipliarian isn't enforcing anything because he's there on a regular basis. Johnny seems to work best when he has one-on-one assitance. 

I think there needs to be a meeting involving the teachers and parents of Johnny to discuss what a good approach to lessening this problem would be. I don't know if the school could financially support an aide but what if the teacher made up a reward system for Johnny? Perhaps if he doesn't disrupt the class he gets a sticker at the end of the day and if he gets four stickers at the end of the week, he gets a prize? There needs to be some kind of motivation for Johnny to do well because when he acts up, it disrupts everyone in his class. 

dephillips's picture

Field Note- 11/14/12

What: I had a change in pace from last week were I got to observe the 4th grade science class to this week where I observed Lina teaching a 5th grade class how to use a specific online tool. The whole class that included about 20 or so boys came into the computer lab and logged onto their specific desktop. It was important that they could save things on the computer in a way that allowed them to access the files from different computers and different programs because they were going to use a photo editing tool called "Pixlr". Their goal was to find a photo online that they had the rights to and they did this by using Flickr. Then they were to save it to their desktop and then re-open it on Pixlr. From there they could do pretty much whatever they wanted to do to the picture from annotating it to making it multi-colored.

Along with Lina's lesson a 6th grade teacher came in to ask for some guidance in his attempts to put most of his lessons and teaching resources online so his students could access the material anytime. They also got into a small debate about which online presentation tool was better with one argument being that one was newer and thus better and the other argument being that the tool they already used was efficient and didn't need to be changed.

So What: After sitting through the boys guide to Pixlr and seeing some of the pictures they made, I really started to question the usefulness/innovation of the tool. The boys could make cool pictures with many different effects and colors, but by the end the original picture couldn't be discerned anymore and the purpose of the picture was to provide a visual of the Jordan River and other major rivers in the Middle East. Pixlr also bothered my slightly because it seemed to almost just be a glorified Paint program. However, the one good aspect of Pixlr is that it has 3 varying levels of complexity with the most complex level being a serious photo editing tool that allows you to have layers and theoretically create very specific edits. The other great part is that it is a free tool that anyone can download unlike other more commonly used photo editing tools. I'm still on the fence about the usefulness of teaching the students how to use Pixlr but I could see how it could come in handy later when they know how to use the more complex levels of the tool.

Now What: While I was observing Lina's tech class, I was also looking for online geological tools that I could use in my lesson with fourth graders. I found a really cool website (SciStarter) that asks everyone to be a Citizen Scientist by providing big data projects that can be done in your backyard, at the zoo, and many other places. While I was hoping there would be a relevant project focused in the greater Philadelphia area, I was out of luck. I also had a somewhat hard time finding relevant and useful geological tools online. Eventually I found the iPad app, easyLearn Rocks & Minerals, which seems like a very useful tool for learning how to identify rocks and minerals because it has several modes including a learning mode, activity mode, and quiz mode. I hope to learn more about this app and hopefully have a draft of a lesson that I can give to Lina and the fourth grade science teacher by the end of the week. Also, Lina said she would buy the app for me:)

dephillips's picture

Field Notes- 11/9/12

What: I spent the majority of the day observing the 4th grade science teacher's class who I hope to work with for my independent project. She is a very lively teacher who is constantly engaging the class through a question and answer teaching style that excites the students so much that some were literally jumping out of their seats to answer her questions. While I was there, she was teaching the differences between phases of matter (solid, liquid, gas) through an experiment she found online and that included pre-made questions for before and after the experiment.

After her class, she also had a few free moments where we got to talk about the possibility of combining forces. It worked out in my favor that she is about to start a rocks and minerals units and admitted that it is not her favorite unit because it is not her area of expertise. This is perfect for me because I love rocks! We made a tentative plan for me to create a lesson plan on identify rock and minerals that incorporates technology and to hopefully teach that lesson during the first week of December. She also had a really good idea of getting the students to make digital field guides for identifying rocks and minerals. And the best part of all is that she told me the previous science teacher had a large unidentified rock collection that got passed down to her which she would like me to help catalogue.

So What: It was so encouraging to see such a lively teacher who actively looks for new tools to use in the classroom. Also, her willingness to let me experiment with her class in both teaching method and just teaching in general was very surprising. She seemed to have no hesitations in sparing a class time for me to try my hand at what she does so well.

While she seemed extremely engaged as a teacher, the students seemed even more engaged which I think speaks more to the way she teaches then to the tools and technology she uses in the classroom. Just having technology present in the classroom is not going to get the students engaged at the level that she was able to do. I think the most important aspect might just be a attitude that is willing to experiment with new tools and technologies. This does not mean that they will always be successfully incorporated into the classroom, but I think there needs to be a level of confidence that fosters experimentation and gives the teacher a space to fail and try again till the best method is found.

Now What: Now I hope to try my hand at an experiment in her fourth grade class in the hopes of presenting an engaging lesson that incorporates technology in a meaningful, productive way. While I have high standards for lesson I prepare, I think I need to take the class I observed as a guide and focus my lesson instead of trying to cram everything I want to do into one class period. Maybe I could even come back to her class if the first time goes well.

maddybeckmann's picture

Placement Week #4

During my placement this week the students participated in a mock election. They had to have their signature match their signature that they did the day before, had their ID’s checked and voted behind a curtain with a remote control clicker hooked to a smart board program, on a laptop. The kids absolutely loved the experience and felt very official. Each student was a part of one of the original 13 colonies and they learned last week the basics of the electoral college, which Mr. W called “points”  After all of the 4th grade student cast their votes, the program on the computer showed how each state voted in graph. I mainly helped check students in to the voting place today and I did not do much else today I spent a little time after on the online website for the students. Mr. W gave me access to the website that the students use. There is a homework calendar and various sites for continuing learning at home as well as “badges” that the teacher gives out for those who do well on an assignment or work hard. The badges are posted on their profile.  Each student has a profile with a few categories that they fill out. The categories they can fill out are their favorite quotes, how they learn best (visual, experiential, listening) and their future career. Parents are also allowed on the site to check out their child’s progress.

 The program on the computer allowed for the students to interact and experience voting. Students were able to also understand how the Electoral College works by seeing the results and the “points” that each state gets. This hands on interaction with technology was a unique experience for the students. The online site Mr. W uses allows students and parents to engage in learning outside of the confides of the classroom. I like the idea that students are able to personalize their profile as well as find fun quizzes and cartoons put up by Mr. W. This relates a lot to our blog discussions and tweets for this class. By allowing “classrooms” to be a fluid and porous space, students are able to self motivate themselves to their interests and when they want rather than feeling obligated and confined in the physical classroom and times during the school day.

 I would like to know how much interaction students have outside of school on the website. I am able to see when students log on and am hoping to check throughout the evening and weekends to see the usage of the site for outside learning. I would also like to know how long it took to get students to use the site properly and to understand how it works. 

maddybeckmann's picture

FIeld Placement Visit #3

I played more of an observation role this week. When I entered the classroom a librarian I believe was reading a story to the children. While they students were supposed to be listening to the story many students were doing other things like drawing and whispering to friends. The students in the classroom had a hard time just listening to the story. After this time was over, Mr. W explained that they would be talking about their first major test of the year. The test topic was Pennsylvania, and the whole 4th grade is taking the test. He suggested a study strategy for the students. They were allowed to practice their essays in a google doc and receive feedback as a study strategy. I LOVED that Mr. W wanted to take time out of his night to work with students beyond the normal school day. After Mr. W reviewed the test 2 students were presenting the newest addition to Mr. W's bobble head collection. I know this sounds insane. Mr. W has a very extensive collection of many different bobble heads in his classroom. In order for a new bobble head to be added to the collection 2 students run an "induction ceremony". The two students speak about the bobble head to the rest of the class. 

The distractions while the students were "listening" reminded me of a video I recently watched on youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U&feature=relmfu In the video the narrator talks about how children are often bored at school because they are so reliant on technology for entertainment. When I was younger I remember being told only to listen and be focused on the reader. On another note I loved the idea of google docs as a place for teacher feedback allowed the classroom to be extended beyond the confines of the school day and physical classroom. While the bobble head ceremony sounds silly, I think it allowed the students to work on their public speaking. They were able to talk to the rest of the class without a script and about something fun. I think this allows them to become more comfortable talking to a crowd and loved that it was unique. 

I really like the idea of learning as something that happens beyond the classroom. This is very present in this classroom. With the online site (Edmodo) mentioned in my previous posts and the google docs for teacher feedback, students are able to interact and to take learning beyond the school day. I wonder how Mr. W finds balance between school and home? What is his limit of interactions with students? Is it too much to handle? 

mfarbo's picture

Field Post 3

My placement doesn’t involve much technology so you can imagine how thrilled I was when on Wednesday the teacher said that she got her lesson plan idea and design from Pinterest! She found a lesson plan relating to Halloween to get her class to write. The assignment was a writing prompt:

While in a haunted house,

I see___________________________

I feel__________________________

I hear_________________________

Through using their senses, they are able to fill in the sentences and create a paragraph about being in a haunted house. She wrote with black and orange markers in a wavy font (to make it look scary).

                I thought it was so neat that something as fun as Pinterest was being used in a classroom. I love wasting time on Pinterest finding crafts, quotes, recipes, and never thought that a teacher would be able to find things to use in the classroom. I also thought it was really fun that she used fun colors because it was Halloween. This activity helped me see a different side of her that I don’t usually see—she’s usually exhausted by the time I see her but because of the storm I got to see her on the first day of the week and she was energized, fun, and engaged in the activity. She even acted out some of the emotions the kids experienced in the haunted house.

                I think that this shows that technology and social media sites can definitely be used for advancements in the classroom. Clearly this example has shown that other teachers helping out teachers on Pinterest is fun! Do you think that one day all of teacher’s lesson planning will be virtual and open for others to see? 

stanner's picture

10/31/12

I really enjoyed observing class this week at my placement! The teacher explained to me before the students came in that she knew that the hurricane had thrown them off - they missed two days of class, didn't have normal transportation to school, some still didn't have power at home, etc.  Therefore, she assigned something really cool for class on Wednesday!  They were learning about really big/small numbers and using the powers of 10, and last week they watched a YouTube video that put such big and small numbers into perspective (e.g. the world is 10^7 meters wide).  Teacher explained that we can look at a hurricane as a circle, with a radius, center, and diameter.  Then she asked every student to come up with a few questions about hiw big Sandy was (what is the diameter of the storm? how many dollars worth of damage did it do? how big was the circumference of the eye of the storm?  How many people lost power?) Then she used some information/numbers she had researched before class and together the class solved the math problems.  For questions she hadn't anticipated the class researched together by telling Teacher what to enter. Together they worked on finding reliable information online.

I thought this class was really great for a few reasons.  First of all, it was such a smart transition from "hurricane day"s back to learning.  It was really creative, and the students got really excited about it! I especially appreciated it because just a few weeks ago I saw these students struggle with describing the difference between 10,000 meters and 1,000,000 meters, and here they were describing in whole numbers and scientific notation how many Sandys it would take to cover the world.  It was also a great display of effective use of technology in the classroom - the students pulled their calculators out right away when they realized that they would be working with such big numbers, and they also worked on accessing information from the internet.  This is something they will hopefully work on individually once the iPads are distributed.

I'm pretty sure the iPads were given out today actually, so next week I'll get to see that in action.  Teacher shared with her her frustrations about how the administration is being rather innefficient about the iPads (they expect teachers to take home their classes' iPads to charge instead of having charging docks in the classroom?).  Also she is worried that she will have to spend hours downloading the apps that she wants to use onto all of the iPads.  Another thing that she mentioned was that for other subjects she might use note-taking apps, but she couldn't find one that she liked for a math class.  Looking forward to next week to see these iPads finally in the classroom!

dcenteio's picture

10/31 Placement Notes

What?

Although it was Halloween my classes today proceeded as though it was a normal day of the year. There were no costumes, talk of Halloween, or candy. Mrs. P the computer teacher first presented the first grade children with a skeleton dance song on the smart board where the children had the opportunity to listen to the skeleton sing and dance about bones in the body. I think it was her way to bring some fun to the classroom since it was Halloween but it technically could not be celebrated within the school. She even made it clear to the students that Skeletons and bones could be for any day of the year not just because it was Halloween. The kids got to follow along with the dance moves and attempt to sing the lyrics. Following the video they were told to guess approximately how many bones were in the human body after the hypotheses the children returned to their own computers we taught them how to use the GOOGLE search engine to “research” the amount of bones in the body and come up with an actual answer.

 

So what?

It was very interesting for me to be in a school that was so anti-Halloween. It was sort of surprising that Mrs. P had to reassure the students that the Skeleton activity was not a Halloween themed activity even when the students presented their own conversations about Halloween. On my walk to the school I saw a daycare center where all the children and staff had be decked out in full blown Halloween costumes and compared that to what I was experiencing at this school. I’m aware that not all families celebrate Halloween but at the same time there are various celebrations that not all families place values on and the restrictions placed on these children to even speak upon their traditions is surprising to me. My elementary childhood was filled with Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and Holiday themed parties and these children were living a different experience.

 

Now what?

I’m not pushing for Halloween to be celebrated within the school but I am interesting in observing more differences between my experience and the experiences of current day elementary students. It is interesting to see what other boundaries are established in public school education and how teachers/administration go about enforcing these policies.

hweinstein's picture

Field Notes 1

What?

I saw a lot of personal technology that would definitely not have been allowed in my high school.  There were some students with earbuds wrapped around their ears or sitting around the necks.  There were also cell phones that would appear and then disappear whenever Ms. E came around.

 

So What?

I’ve always wondered how important these tech-restricting rules were in school.  It seems to me like the students are still motivated and get their work done anyway.  Is it a matter of trust?  Can a teacher trust high schoolers to manage their own distractions and do what they need to do, or will it become the teacher’s problem to compete?  Personally, I’m all about trusting students.  When they’re out of school, they’ll need the skills to navigate life likely surrounded with technology, and hopefully they can navigate it in a productive way.

 

Now What?

I am very curious to find out about the school’s policy on personal technology and the reasoning behind it.  I already see that this school is very intentional in the way it is run, and Ms. E is very intentional about how she conducts her classroom.  I intend to also inquire about how the theory of their technology limits or non-limits matches up with the reality in the classroom.

dephillips's picture

Field Notes- 10/31/12

What: Today was the younger kids Halloween Parade so most of the school got out of class to enjoy the costumes. But I did get to visit a fourth grade class that was actively using technology. Mrs. Hardy allows her students to have free time in the morning from 8-8:30am to work on independent projects of their own choosing. They can use computers, interview teachers, create art projects, and do anything else they can think of as long as they write a proposal to her that includes a clear learning goal and plan to reach that goal. Some of the projects included creating a floor plan for an eco-friendly house on a floor plan creating game found online, projects involving Scratch, making foreign language dictionaries with online translators, and art project on paper. I also got to hear two of the students present on their finished projects. And after the presentations I had some time to ask Mrs. Handy if she used technology in the classroom at any other time, and she told me that when they have writing assignments the students turn in a handwritten draft but then during the revision process they use a Google Doc.

Besides visiting the class, I also got to spend some time with Lina who gave me some links to some interesting websites about technology in the classroom. She also suggested that I start working with a science teacher from the school to develop a lesson plan that incorporates technology. To kick start me on this project she sent me useful links for lesson plans that have technology and science.

So What: Visiting the Mrs. Hardy's fourth grade class made me really hopeful. I felt like she was using technology in a very effective way that allowed her to meet all of her students' needs. The students who felt comfortable could take on big projects online like building the floor plans for a completely eco-friendly house, and the ones more comfortable with drawing could take on an equally challenging project with a completely different medium. Also, the way she required the students to write her a proposal with a specific goal reminded me of some of the characteristics of a good game that McGonigal talks about - Mrs. Hardy created a game for the students that was voluntary because they chose the project and that had specific goals that were allowed to be open-ended depending on the student's interest. And along with using technology as a tool to allow her students to be creative and goal orientated, she also was already using Google Docs with her fourth graders. I was extremely impressed by this especially since I had observed the fifth grade class last week who had not been using any technology besides paper and pencil.

With Lina's help in finding resources online, I really was able to find good lesson plans about a specific subject. Lina is always saying that there is no point to create lesson plans when you are teaching around a specific subject because there are so many resources out there and if you know how to look you'll be able to find what you need. Now I really know what she is talking about, and see how having a data base or a few go to sources could really help teachers more easily incorporate technology in their classroom.

Now What: I hope to maybe visit Mrs. Hardy's fourth grade class again and maybe even pop into the fifth grade writing class to have something to compare my observations to. Besides that though, I hopefully will be focusing on the creating a lesson plan for one of the science teachers that focuses on Rocks and Mineral (what I know:)) and incorporates technology. There are many possibilities for how the technology could be incorporated, but I'm thinking of looking for iPad apps that pertain to the subject or using an online tool for creating quizzes that is similar to one I have used in class (IFPs). From there, I hope not only to create the lesson plan but also present to the class and even maybe collect

alesnick's picture

it's great

that you got so much out of this visit!  I appreciate the way you discuss choice in this classroom in relation to McGonigal. I'm glad you are developing a possible focus for your work and also a richer sense of the context and a start on relationships that could be forwarding.  Take your time.

asweeney's picture

It's exciting to see how

It's exciting to see how hopeful and optimistic technology used well is making you! The beginning time in this classroom reminds me of McGonigal---the idea of completing a learning objective because you want to (or even because you designed this learning goal) differs greatly from the way most school assignments are structured, and could really create a meaningul, and engaged learning experience. We often talk about wanting our students to be engageable citizens. To me, this model of choice time is the perfect way to do this since choosing to complete unassigned tasks is the essense of model engagement with society-----if you ask me:-)

asweeney's picture

It's exciting to see how

It's exciting to see how hopeful and optimistic technology used well is making you! The beginning time in this classroom reminds me of McGonigal---the idea of completing a learning objective because you want to (or even because you designed this learning goal) differs greatly from the way most school assignments are structured, and could really create a meaningul, and engaged learning experience. We often talk about wanting our students to be engageable citizens. To me, this model of choice time is the perfect way to do this since choosing to complete unassigned tasks is the essense of model engagement with society-----if you ask me:-)

asweeney's picture

What kinds of religious

What kinds of religious posters did you see? Were they about the technology? I'd love to learn more. 

I too remember having A LOT of structure in computer class as a child. You mentioned that you were surprised to see so much independence in student computer use, but I'm wondering what you think of this? I wrote one of my papers about student sense of ownership in relation to the structure of technology usage. Do you think the students feel more empowered by work that is truly "theirs" because of a lack of structure? Or would more structure be beneficial? 

asweeney's picture

this is meant as a response

this is meant as a response to leamirella's first post about field placements. sorry it is located here....

alesnick's picture

that's okay

let me know if i can structure this forum better!

mfarbo's picture

Re: structure

Do you think there would be any way to make folders for each group? Another thing that I think might help would have the comments go where they were posted rather than the newest posts go to the top. Thanks!

Ann Dixon's picture

Comments are threaded already

Hi,

If you reply to a particular comment, your reply will be underneath that comment. If you reply to the original post, your reply appears at the top (most recent comments first - makes it easier to find the comments when there can be tens, hundreds or even thousands of comments to a post).

Ann

alesnick's picture

structure/freedom

This is one of the deep dialectic of schooling.  One thing your post makes me wonder is when the computer-mediated experiences are also structured, but differently, compared with non-screen activities.

mzhang's picture

Week 4, Oct.25th,

This had already taken place three times before and I gradually found the concentrations in this placement. When I first showed up in this class, I was overwhelmed by this unusual, students' self projects-centered class format. It is reasonable to me that since this is a computer and technology class which has greater tolerance for more students' constant discussion and fewer teachers' instruction. Teacher walks around to check each student's work and give proper guidelines. Today, it is the seventh grade who is taking this class which, compared to the sixth grade, behave more focused and involved in the projects they are working on. I noticed that even this should be an individual project (programing short stories), some students gather, discuss and help each other. While at the same time, students who rarely talk and pay great attention to their own assignment also is a big phenomenon.

I had a conversation with the teacher about their behavior last time and the teacher provided me a broader perspective on the diversity of student bodies. This is a technology class and the purpose of the class is to teach kids practical skills to use computer and internet for their own advantage in future life, academic life mostly from the standing of school. When students are taught systematically these knowledge, they showed how familiar they have already been to the computer: some have, some haven't. The difference in the background knowledge of the computer or technology was reflected in their different attitudes towards the class. On the other hand, which is more important because the difference in initial abilities was not much huge, the diversity in students' bodies located in students' own personalities or pursuits. The teacher mentioned that when she was teaching a class in which all of the students were math honors, those students showed more patience and concentrated on their own work quietly. This occurs to me that whether or not we should differentiate the education or the curriculum depends on different qualities students showed.

I think I am going to shift the focal area from the general phenomenon in both classes of six and seventh grades to the difference in students' different behaviors according to their grades. For example, when the students were randomly surfing the internect in the classroom, what would their preference be? When students gather in a group and keep talking and discussing, what would their topics mostly be, sixth grade students having their talk on popular songs, online gaming and seventh grade students on their project more?

This is a class which looks like connects school education and technology very close. But what we have to keep in mind is that, it is a technology class per se and even the application of the computers in this classroom is for the purpose of learning them. But there is an undoubted fact that we have to admit, this technology class exists because of the need of bringing in modern technology in education system. Because school needs the students to be ready for further uses of school online accounts, online assignments and instant communications via internet, it considers these courses necessary.

jwang's picture

I think it is very

I think it is very interesting that you are thinking if "sixth grade students having their talk on popular songs, online gaming and seventh grade students on their project more" when you saw them talk in class. In the classroom I observed, there were also discussions when they were working on their project, but I didn't consider the possibility that they were not talking about the assignment. Maybe because they are highschool students? 

asweeney's picture

Thinking about Emma's post on

Thinking about Emma's post on gaming, I wonder if the difference you note between 6th grade and 7th grade class dynamics might also be affected by negative perceptions of a certain group. In this example, of course, the negative perception might not be on "gamers" but on "6th graders" or of students not in the honors math class? Did it seem to you that the teacher preferred the honors math students, or just noticed a difference in their behavior? Inherent in our understanding of the "rules of school" (as you articulate) is the concept that those students who are engaging in discussion with one another instead of intensly focusing on their own projects are somehow "worse" at school. I would love to see this assumption challenged by determined teachers, parents, and students who recognize that dialogue, interaction, movement (not being able to sit still in particular) need not be disadvantages to learning but just part of the diversity of ways in which learning can take place.  

alesnick's picture

why teach computer use and computer science?

For school readiness? For learning in and out of school? As a way of thinking?

alesnick's picture

why teach computer use and computer science?

For school readiness? For learning in and out of school? As a way of thinking?

leamirella's picture

Week 2

what? 

Week 2's placement took the same form as the first session. I walked into the classroom during "siesta time" and quietly observed the students find activities to engross themselves in for the 20 minutes. What was fascinating this week, however, was that all three computers in the classroom were being used by the students to watch a "video story". One of the teachers in the classroom told me that this activity was becoming increasingly popular with the students. Once this part of the day was over, the students had storytime and again, the teacher stopped every so often to test comprehension and ask questions about the book that they were reading. After this was maths -- unlike last time, the students remained in the full group and the teacher led them through activities that worked towards teaching them about data representation on graphs. (Not the actual language used in the lesson, but how I interpreted it) I then followed the students to their technology class and helped them log onto a program to play games that would help them with their maths. 

so what? 

It was interesting to see the students play maths games in their technology classroom straight after being in a classroom being taught by a teacher. From what some of the students were telling me, the games were fun and allowed them to go at a pace that suited them, rather than follow along with the pace that the teacher was setting in class. I was intrigued by two students who sat next together in the technology classroom: one young boy who found the games too easy, and a young girl who was struggling to get through. This made me think of gamification and provided a tangible, real-life example of how gaming can be beneficial in the classroom. 

now what? 

I'd really love to have a closer look at the educational games that the students are playing in their technology class and think about how this integrates with what they are doing in their main classroom with their teacher. I can't help but feel as though there isn't much communication between the first grade teacher and the technology teacher, but I'm not sure whether this is really the case. 

dephillips's picture

Easy for some and hard for others

I'm interested to hear more about what you think about the example of the little girl and boy who were playing with different levels of comprehension. Did you think the game was helping them both learn or just beneficial for one or the other?

asweeney's picture

I felt like this was

I felt like this was happening to me while playing Minecraft with 3 very skilled 9 year old boys. I was quickly discouraged by their comphrehension of the game. Do you think the child with less comprehension was aware of the other child's progress? Was this affecting him or her? Since varying levels of understanding is inevtivable in classrooms full of children with varying intelligences and learning styles, what can we do to talk to children about this and let them learn at their own pace without feeling discouraged?  

alesnick's picture

good question/focusing

To add to this inquiry: how could you tell one student was handling the game well and one was struggling?  What made it appear that the struggle was a net negative, rather than a generative or inspiring one? Is it possible that it would take more time and knowledge of the students to be sure what was going on?  And what else do we need to think about to know whether the game is a useful tool at this point?  What processes could help with this kind of formative assessment?

alesnick's picture

i'm glad

you are thinking of trying to find out more about how the teacher collaborate, rather than simply go with your hunch!

mfarbo's picture

Field Post 2

    This isn't relevant to technology but I'm in an ESL classroom and the teacher who uses technology was out today so I picked another topic. 

                The part of my visit today that I’d like to focus on was the push in part (in ESL, this is where the ESL teacher goes into the mainstream classroom and just works with the children who need the help but also co-teach with the teacher) of the second grade classroom in the subject of writing. The teacher of the mainstream classroom and the teacher of the ESL classroom both run the discussion. Today’s subject was “restaurants”—the children listed all the words associated with restaurants and after, listed local restaurants.  Following the brainstorm, the students wrote about their favorite restaurant and focused on what they saw at the restaurant that they chose to write about.

                The teacher of the mainstream classroom has no control over the classroom: there are kids rolling on the floor, out of their seats walking around, lying across their desks, braiding their hair, and talking to each other. She would threaten them but they were empty threats—the kids knew she wasn’t serious and has no authority. When she got too frustrated by a problematic child, she asked another child to walk the problem child to the disciplinarian’s office. The other child returned within seconds saying that the problem child didn’t want to go. She went out in the hall and was gone for five minutes. This left the ESL teacher in charge and she was firm and direct and followed through with what she told them and they immediately paid attention, focused, and participated.  

                Clearly, this shows that some teachers are better than others. Perhaps teachers should find what they are good at—maybe the mainstream teacher is really good at teaching math and should be a math teacher instead. Or maybe she would be better at teaching older children. This brings me to a question (and maybe a new approach for administrators of schools)—what if teachers got to teach what they were good at rather than what the school needed? 

maddybeckmann's picture

I really like this idea,

I really like this idea, Mikah. I think we can relate this to technology in a way because a lot of teachers are obviously not good at technology like our panel of kids said. Some teachers use technology, but it is not their strength and maybe they don't have time to learn how to use it well. Playing up a teacher's strengths rather than expecting them to do everything and having the teacher preform average might be a way to increase the strength of lessons. 

  

maddybeckmann's picture

I really like this idea,

I really like this idea, Mikah. I think we can relate this to technology in a way because a lot of teachers are obviously not good at technology like our panel of kids said. Some teachers use technology, but it is not their strength and maybe they don't have time to learn how to use it well. Playing up a teacher's strengths rather than expecting them to do everything and having the teacher preform average might be a way to increase the strength of lessons. 

  

hweinstein's picture

Teacher Education

I agree with you that teachers should definitely play to their strengths.  I also think that it can be very natural to try to control young children with threats and anger, especially if that was the teacher's experience in school.  It is counterintnuitive for some to treat young people with the respect of firmness and directness.  I wonder if your teacher had some good peer evaluations and reflection sessions, if she could improve her teaching style and make her job less stressful for herself.  Yelling at kids is hard (and unnecessary) work.

alesnick's picture

similarity between effective teacher and game communication?

This post about one teacher's effective communication makes me wonder if good games work like that: firm, direct, follow-through . . .

maddy beckmann's picture

Placement week 2

Not too much to report this week....Today, I entered the classroom as more of an active participant, which I was very excited about! The students were writing a paragraph to turn in Mr. W about their field trip to see an amish community. The students used google docs to write their pieces and edit other classmates writing. THe students loved watching in real time as someone edited their writing. I worked with a student today, who had a hard time putting his thoughts into writing. To help him I had him talk out the events of the field trip, while he was talking I had him take notes on paper of what he was saying. After, he was able to pick and choose from what he said and put those events and thoughts into his writing. I also helped to edit the student's writings with google docs which I wasn't a huge fan of because I like being able to edit a hard copy.

I found the contrast between the students I worked with and the amish students that they visited very interesting. It was fascinating to me that in order to explain the events of their field trip they used a computer, which the amish do not use. It seemed to be a contrast of the past and of the present. I also realized how much I am used to the ways of "the past". I much prefer a hard copy of a paper to edit than the comment section of a google doc. However, if I am to be a teacher, I must learn to adapt and use both seamlessly.

I hope have time soon to talk with Mr. W and ask questions. I would love to know how he transitioned from the way he learned to the new technologies constantly coming about. Did he feel pressured to use technology in the classroom?

alesnick's picture

active participation

So glad you got to help a student bring ideas to screen/paper -- you invented a good process!  Your Q's for Mr. W are great -- you could email him and ask if he has time for a discussion?  The observation that one can learn about the Amish in ways that Amish don't use is interesting -- broader applicability?

alesnick's picture

It's great to hear that you

It's great to hear that you were able to take an active role and that you created a workable process for helping a student bring ideas to paper (or screen in this case)!  The contrast between the Amish way of life and how these students are learning about it is fascinating.  I wonder if that could be a topic of exploration with students. And yes, your projected questions to ask of the teacher are great.  You can email him ahead of time and ask if he might have time for a discussion.

mfarbo's picture

Re: Placement week 2

When you say that you had the boy you were working with take notes, was he taking the notes on a Googledoc? Or by hand? I think it's very novel idea to use googledocs as a classroom but like you noted, there's something about having a hard copy. 

Is Mr. W young? He seems to use technology a lot and I'm wondering if he's more connected to the "tech generation". 

maddybeckmann's picture

Mikah, I had the boy take

Mikah, I had the boy take notes on a piece of paper. I think he liked writing it down that way. Mr. W is young and seems very connected to the tech generation. However, sometimes I think maybe he uses technology too much or does not offer students the option to maybe not use technology. Maybe there are students who don't need the technology or it doesn't fit their learning style? I think I will ask him if he has encountered students who do not like the use of tech or have trouble using it?

dephillips's picture

Field Notes for 10/24/12

What: I returned to lower school for my second official visit and started review and researching some educational apps for iPads as Lina, the Technology Coordinator for the lower school, asked me to. Lina's goal is to create a list of must have iPad apps for each specific grade for the teachers. Each grade recently received several iPads but has not put them to good use which made Lina have to take them back in hopes of helping the teachers put them into good use. Some of the apps that I researched today that I found very useful were Puppet Pals (an app that allows students to tell stories through images and audio), Simplex Spelling (tutors students through learning how to spell), and Squeebles (which allows teachers to create spelling quizzes that get presented to the student as a game where they must save certain characters). After working on researching for about an hour and a half, Lina introduced me to teachers from Kindergarten and 5th grade in the hopes that I will be able to sit in on their class during my next visit. Lina hopes that I will be able to observe how the teachers are using technology and report back to her. From just being introduced, Lina and I both saw some problems in the way technology was being utilized; the Kindergarten teachers seemed to just use technology as a fun thing to do in the morning, the 5th grade had a computer cart that was so messy that the students didn't feel like using it, and a writing class had four computers in the room but only practiced writing with paper and pencil.

So What: To start with the Kindergarten’s use of technology, using technology as a way to distract the students or just give them free time seems like a waste. Even the Kindergarten teacher we talked to the most complained about her students being distracted and unconnected which she related back to their proficiency with technology and place as the digital generation. However, the only way she was using technology was as a way to further distract and disengage her students instead of using it as a way to excite them to learn. This same teacher is going to be starting a math unit with her students where they do drills on the computer which I might have the opportunity to sit in on - maybe there this will be a better use of technology?

While having a messy computer cart doesn't seem like the biggest issue in the world, it definitely had an effect on the 5th graders opinions of the lab tops in the lower school. When Lina and I went to visit the 5th grade, she directly asked the students how the cart could be better organized and nearly half of them raised their hands. The comments ranged from leaving the computers set up and out in the classroom to designating a shelf in the cart for each specific laptop. The students were surprisingly opinionated and ready to give advice for better organization which suggests that it actually made a difference in how they thought of the laptops. Earlier Lina and I had talked about how messy the cart was and how she thought it made the students not want to use the computers, but I didn't truly believe her till I saw personally how the students reacted. The accessibility of the technology including the ease of use really matters in the classroom - the students don't want to deal with computers that take a long time to load or are so disorganized they can't find the right cords.

Along with the messy computer cart, I visited a 5th grade writing class that had 4 computers plugged in a sitting at a designated place in the classroom, but the boys were only practicing their writing with paper and pencil. While I am not saying questioning the importance of handwriting, I do think that in today's day and age it is very important to know how to write through typing. It is more efficient and I feel like most educators as you go higher in education expect students to write through typing - I have not turned in a written assignment in years. I just could not see why the teacher would not utilize the computers in his classroom until Lina said that he has been teaching for over 20 years and he has always taught with paper and pencil. There seems to be a major hesitation for change and possible innovation with technology at the lower school.

Now What: As I continue to visit the lower school, I hope to really find where the hesitation to use technology stems from and hopefully be able to help the teachers become more comfortable with technology. While this is something easy to say and think about, it is actually a huge task that Lina has been working on for over a year and has barely made any progress. Maybe we can focus our goals for the next 6 weeks of my placement, to focus purely on the 5th grade writing class. Depending on teacher willingness, Lina and I could attempt to create a portal for digital storytelling that would give the writing class a database of tools. With these tools that would include apps, websites, YouTube videos, and anything else related to digital storytelling, the 5th graders could possibly take a break of pencil and paper and learn another way to write an essay.

alesnick's picture

understanding hesitation -- taking time?

I'm struck in this rich post by the prominence of time -- a sense of urgency to engage teachers in using ipads well . . . a sense that the process has been long already, while at the same time a year doesn't sound like such a long time to seed potentially deep change.  There is also the issue of time for your presence in the placement -- it's short. These first impressions, strong as they are, will surely give way to different impressions over time, even over the short time you have, especially if you are mindful not to judge too quickly. Things have meaning to insiders of a cultural space that is often invisible to outsiders.  It sounds like you are also thinking about how to make your short time most meaningful and impactful.  How to balance process and product . . . like we've been exploring in our course?

asweeney's picture

I'd like to add to Alice's

I'd like to add to Alice's comments about time and a sense of urgency, a theme I also saw quite often in your post. Time is such a critical aspect to current dialogues about school and education structures. I feel like I often hear people advocate for the need for educaiton reform by asking questions like : Where else do we trust our children to be left for 7 hours or more of the day? We need to improve schools because our kids spend so much time there. 

Within the schools, however, it seems to me from your post that there are varying levels of concern as to how this time is best spent---the idea of technology wasting time in the kindergarten classroom is one I find myself grappling with at my placement as well, or the idea that technology use should be put on hold until we are sure the time used for it is useful. I wonder if there is value in "wasted" time? That it might be time to "explore"? Would gamers say that the time they spend exploring a new world in minecraft is a waste? After all, they usually don't have a specific goal in mind---they are just looking around, unaware if they will run into a zombie or find a wonderful cave. 

Lastly, I just wanted to comment that I think the urgency of time perpetuates a sense of consumerism--like the idea of "must have" apps. Is technology making it easier for our schools to adopt new and specific products as "must haves" instead of certain pedagogical philosophies as "must have" approaches to educating the whole child? Is this the school without a gym? Who determines what children "must have"? How does time affect this? Your post is very thought provoking!  

alesnick's picture

"not all those who wander are lost"

This is a quote from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, spoken by Strider, a character who protects the hobbit world at its borders.  I talked with another one of you about the feeling of "getting lost" in gaming -- and the sense that that is a waste of time, or a falling short of the day's to-do list.  To my mind, wandering is crucial part of learning and of growth.  If everything is planned and structured, via conscious knowings and intention, there is no room for emergence, for serendipity, for responding to the unexpected, and to learning about alternative structures that respond to other inputs or priorities.  Learning is a loop that moves between conscious and unconscious experience.  The conscious part is pretty small compared to the whole.  I think our formal ed processes could usefully give us tools and language/discourse/stories for understanding and communicating what we learn by wandering in new ideas and problems -- it shouldn't aim to supplant or replace this wandering.

Note: I also think the urgency-consumerism link is very strong.  Good observation!  And of course, schools are markets -- for new gadgets, for textbooks and tests . . . 

stanner's picture

Placement

While the middle school math class that I am observing uses a lot of technology already, the teacher (and students!) keeps talking about how eager they are to begin using iPads that were donated to the school.  I’m excited for the next few weeks when they will be integrated into the classroom, and the teacher is discussing how she plans to use them with me.  For now, while these poor children are still stuck in the dark ages, they have been practicing working with scientific calculators. The way that the teacher introduced this technological tool to them was interesting to me.  She said “We want to use our heads before we use our tools,” but then explained that “when numbers get very large, sometimes calculators are faster.”  When a student used his calculator to solve a complicated problem quickly she praised him by saying, “good use of tools!”

I thought that this idea of using our heads before our tools was very interesting.  If Andy Clark had been observing this classroom, he might have tried to argue that they are the same thing, but I thought that this was a very grounded way to introduce technological tools and not create a dependence on them for the students.  Especially in a math classroom I think that there is great value to understanding how to solve problems, and only using tools to carry out what students know how to do with numbers that are long enough that doing the math out by hand would seem tedious.

Like I said, I am really excited to see these iPads integrated into the classroom.  Sometimes these students use whiteboards to write down their answers to problems in class – will the iPads replace those?  I am going to focus a lot on what changes and what stays the same with the integration of the iPads.  Another thing that I am going to look out for is that a few of the more gifted students in the class often stay late to work with the teacher on her iPad on this cool math program to work out problems they’ve come up with during class.  I wonder if once they get their own iPads, they will work on this on their own during classtime and not be as bored while they are waiting for their classmates to finish working on something.  This is something the teacher brought up with me as a hope for these iPads – to allow the more gifted students tools to further their learning and not waste time, and to help the slower students find tools to help them catch up.  I’m looking forward to seeing if this will actually happen.

alesnick's picture

I appreciate the "heads

I appreciate the "heads first, then tools" idea, as well.  It's a way of setting a method, a priority -- perhaps Clark would agree, as well, saying that each is a tool, and has its times and places.  

I think your focus on change with respect to the ipad intro is great.  I will follow with interest!

mfarbo's picture

Field Post 1

                When I first walked into the classroom, an ESL classroom, I was struck by how unfortunate it was that two teachers must share a classroom. It is split evenly down the middle: one teacher teaches third and fourth graders while the other teaches first and second graders. The younger ones don’t use as much technology as the older students and the technology they do use is outdated. They use a Califone Card Reader and some programs on the computer. The programs on the computer don’t relate to their spelling words for the week and usually when they’re on the computers they just play matching games with words and pictures. The older grades use a SmartBoard—they use it with the curriculum, and highlight, make notes, and answer questions on it. Both the teacher and the students use it. They also use the computer station. They use it to take quizzes about books they are currently reading or practice their English speaking because each computer has a microphone and headphones.

                I found it very interesting that the students were very eager to be at the computer station. The computer station and the Califone Card reader (for the first and second graders) and the SmartBoard (for the third and fourth graders) are the only technological stations. The other stations involve reading and writing. The one student ran to the computers and actually wasn’t assigned to the computer station first and he had to be told by the teacher to find his name on the chart and go to the station he was supposed to be at. I feel like there is such a disconnect because I didn’t use a computer when I was that young and these kids know how to work these computers so well. I think the computers in this case are used effectively because the teacher can’t be at all the stations at one time and the computer provides immediate feedback.

        I think the biggest question to draw from the routine stations of the classroom is how much can teachers use technology to teach basic ideas, in this case language? Because language is a basic skill, and most children acquire it naturally without much aid from technology, how can these students use technology more effectively to further their learning of English? If there is already a program created specifically for native Spanish speakers learning English, perhaps the teacher should look into it and introduce it to her children? If there isn’t a program out there, it should definitely be created. 

maddybeckmann's picture

Interesting ideas, Mikah! I

Interesting ideas, Mikah! I am very amazed that the teachers must share a classroom! I am interested in what you said about the programs on the computer not relating to their words for the week. I wonder if there is a computer program out there that teachers could use to correlate words for the week so that the kids could see a connection. Maybe that could be a more effective use of tech. But also, I question whether teachers should change their lessons to fit technology that is available if they already have put in place a curriculum that fits their classroom best?  

alesnick's picture

immediate feedback

I can see this as a useful way to plan the use of computers in a classroom: when students will benefit from but couldn't otherwise get immediate feedback, or to free teachers and students for human interactions that need smaller #'s of participants.  

With respect to learning language, here I see a possible place for Clark's arguments.  What if we were to think of the traditional materials/tools of language learning (other people, labeling objects, trial and error) as on a continuum with computers, not as fundamentally different?  Would we think about using computers better then?

mfarbo's picture

Re: feedback

That's a very interesting way to think of it, I never really looked at it like that before. But I don't think the programs they're using are effective. I wish there was a program for them to practice their speaking and understanding rather than quiz them on vocab. 

maddybeckmann's picture

Week 1

When I first walked into the classroom, technology was already present. There were about 16 students in the classroom each working on a mac laptop computer.  The laptops came from a laptop cart shared around the school. I met the teacher an asked him what they were doing on the laptop. He commented that they were working on their typing programs and said, “I don’t care about their handwriting, it is not useful anymore. They should learn how to type”. After the typing was over and the teacher was ready to start class, and it was time for the students to pick a new classroom chore to do for the week. However to make these more fun the teacher had each student pick a position. The positions were related to government positions such as the secretary of state whose job was to great visitor such as myself and the secretary of energy who is in charge of lights and operates the smart board when called for. The kids get to choose their positions but are randomly selected using a program on the smart board that has each of the kids faces and names and shuffles through to randomly select a student.  After each student was chose for their classroom duty, the students had to take their first math test of the year. Before the test the teacher showed an inspirational video via the smart board to get the kids “psyched up”. When the students finish their test they are advised to take a piece of candy and take a walk around the school. After the walk to “clear their mind”, they are told to double check their work. While this is going on, Mr. W took me outside to talk with me. He explained that he was behind in his curriculum because he was attempting to utilize technology more.  He currently uses Edmodo which offers students a place to get assignments, grades, and blog. Parents also have access to this website to check their students grades and assignments, however he says that he is wary of this because he wants the students to become responsible for their education. Mr. W gives me a group code to access Edmodo online. 

 

I was extremely surprised at the use of technology at the 4th grade level and the massive amount of technology that seemed to be involved in each aspect of the learning, from classroom duties to test taking and even the technology that is expected to be used at home. I loved the idea of giving each child a task, but relating the task to a position. I could tell that each student felt important and that they were responsible to help the classroom run smoothly. Mr. W’s comment that handwriting was not important was really a wake up call to me. I thought about this because I had recently taking a midterm in which we used blue books. I noticed as I was taking the test that my handwriting was pretty poor and I kept think I would so much rather be typing. I question whether we should teach typing more than handwriting and whether teachers will accommodate this during a test.

 

At my next placement visit, I would like to ask Mr. W if being behind in curriculum is worth the inclusion of the technology? Why does he feel that the inclusion of technology is so important? As the teacher used the smart board to randomly select students to choose their classroom duties, is there a way to utilize this program to randomly select kids in the classroom to answer questions in hopes to keep every student engaged? Would this help kids pay attention if they did not know who would be called on because a random program would select? Would this be unfair?  

alesnick's picture

why do teachers move towards computers?

I think this is a great thing to ask your placement mentor about.  I look forward to hearing about it. I also wonder how the curric could sync with the tech, so the teacher didn't feel the tech was causing him to fall behind.

mfarbo's picture

Re: Week 1

That's so crazy what he said about handwriting! I always thought that handwriting would be relevant but I guess not, very interesting. Also, I think the classroom chores correlating to government positons is a neat idea and doubly useful because they can learn about the government set-up.

I think that using the smart board to increase participation (and even attention like you mentioned), would be useful. When I was in elementary school, teachers had index cards with everyone's names on them and randomly chose one when no one raised their hands to answer a question-this seems like the updated version of that. 

 

alesnick's picture

kids as consumers

I appreciate this thoughtful first!  First placement, and first entry here in this forum.  Thanks, pioneer!  Your point about how the tech-consumer web catches/defines/sticks to kids from . . . birth? in some cases is an important one.  How much of schooling is already about learning one's place in capitalism?  I also appreciate your sensitivity to the ways in which your own schooling experiences constituted an intial filter for this new one.  It will be interesting to see if/how this becomes a "new normal." 

leamirella's picture

1st Session

I entered into the classroom of my first placement unsure of what to expect -- this is my first placement afterall! I was to observe a classroom of first graders (6-7 years old, I'm told) and I began the session with "siesta" time which was designed to allow students to quietly wind down alone for 20 minutes after lunch. Once this was done, the students had storytime and the teacher stopped every so often in order to test comprehension. Right after this, they went straight to maths where the class was split into two sections. Then, I followed the students to their technology class where they learned to type. 

I was surprised by the freedom the students had to learn independently -- in my own experience, I know that I was given a lot more structure. Additionally, the teachers considered the class to be "large". Compared to the 29 other students that were in my classes growing up, I was surprised as 18 seemed to be wonderfully small. Further, I wasn't expected the religious background of the school to be THAT prominent -- I was aware of its religious affiliations but looking at the posters on the wall and how the teachers addressed their students, it came as a little bit of a shock to me.

Aside from these things, I was intrigued by the inclusion of a "technology" class within the curriculum. Though somewhat short, the students were being taught how to touchtype, a skill that even I don't have. The students weren't as competent with computers as I expected (coming out of the youth panel we had in class) but they were already able to tell which computer was "better". How is this so? At such a young age, to be able to tell which computer is newer and better just strikes me as a marker of the consumerism that surrounds technology  

dephillips's picture

"Better" Versions

I wonder if the students' decision that certain computers are better is purely influenced by consumerism - I wonder if it might also be based on what computer is easier to use? Personally, I have a non-Mac computer and hear the preference for Macs all the time. But honestly Macs turn on much faster than my PC which could have an effect on how student perceives a computer when they only have 20 minutes to use it and want to utilize all the time they have. While this seems like a small issue, going back to my placement where 5th grade students seemed perturbed and almost completely turned off by a messy computer cart I wonder if accessibility and ease of use is bigger factor in how students think of technology.

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