Self-Assessment and Final Reflection

Published November 5, 2011 by mjslaurent1975

Throughout the course i’ve been thinking a lot about how to apply technology to improve my abilities as an early childhood educator. I must admit, initially i did not see a lot of opportunities to apply what we learned in this class in the preschool setting. I’m a big believer in play-based learning and could only view it as taking away from this. After reviewing many blogs,  reviewing a lot of the literature out there, and listening to other participants in this class, i have gained a much better understanding of how i can utilize technology to improve my teaching practice. IT has taught me the value of the networking.  I learn best by seeing what others are doing and adapting some of my thoughts and ideas into this. This course has given me the tools to be able to network with leading experts and practitioners in the field  to be better informed of best practice in the field.  I never considered twitter to be something i would use in a professional setting.  Now i’m able to follow some of the key people in the field and keep up to date as to what they are doing in the field. Being able to gain access to all this knowledge will serve me well in the future and i’m not as intimidated as before.  I’m now ready to move from a limited apprehensive user to an individual that has the tools to explore IT and gain quicker and better access to the type of resources i’m looking for.  This i am extremely grateful for. Being better aware of a variety of applications and some of the IT tools we covered in class has opened my eyes to doing things in different ways.  I still believe a child needs to have opportunities to explore their surroundings in a creative way using a variety of modalities.  I have seen how some IT tools/games can completely draw kids in and this was an area of concern.  I’m no longer as concerned about this and can see that this needs to be carefully thought out and boundaries need to be established. Technology can be used as one of may centers that kids can choose to interact with.  It can help foster social interactions and encourage children to explore.  I am now using multi-media to create presentations to help kids gain a wider perspective on their world.  this uses their visual abilities and this is an important way they learn. Another way i will apply what i learned here is being able to show parents some important developmental steps their child is making.  Using multimedia to document a child’s development is a powerful tool  to help parents better understand their child.  It is also an effective way to show parents age appropriate behavior and help them understand this age group.  Parents are a critical  resource at this stage of a child’s life and the better informed they are the greater chance for positive change to occur.

From the eyes of preschoolers…..

Published November 4, 2011 by mjslaurent1975

Vicki Davis blog on “Five Phases of Flattening the Classroom” helped me gain an insight into how a teacher could start to implement some of the topics we have talked about in this class.  I like her layered approach to this and looking at what needs to be accomplished in a classroom before you could embark on this type of project.

Although the concept of the flat classroom mainly focused on older students, it certainly made me think of ways this type of concept could be applied in the early years. Pre-school and kindergarten kids learn through play and exploration.  Technology can enhance language use and social interactions during these early stages of development.   One idea i thought of was having kids  make a video of any topic : clouds, insects, playtime etc.  and then they can be encouraged to do a voice recording of what they are seeing.  Later this could be made into an i-movie.  Similar to the Horizon Project  “A week in the Life”  teachers from different areas could coordinate these types of exploratory learning topics and share them with different classrooms.  Kids could watch these presentations and see how kids from all over the world see different topics.  Obviously this would need a lot of teacher coordination and involvement but i find it offers some exciting opportunities to integrate IT into the preschool years.

What about the “Human Factor”

Published November 4, 2011 by mjslaurent1975

In Prensky’s article “Engage Me or Enrage Me” i was a bit surprised to see how he felt technology was the only way students would be engaged in the classroom.  I agree that technology can be an effective tool to get students more engaged in the classroom.  I’ve seen first hand with my own children how they can get so absorbed with a Gameboy or other computer games that it appears they are in another world and it takes an effort to bring them back into reality!  Yes, students do react to technology and they greatly appreciate the use of this in the classroom.  An important point i think Prensky neglects to discuss is the “Human Factor” in education.  At all the different grade levels, students are going through different developmental periods and with this there are different types of demands students are facing that technology can not address.  In the early years, i see students that can be engaged with dressing up in customs and pretending they are in a different world (actually i see adults doing this also). I’m sure there are other examples like this in the higher grade levels.  I also think perhaps the most important factor overlooked in “Enrage Me or Engage Me” is that all students want to feel a connection with the adults in their lives and the peer group they are around.  While i agree that technology can enhance engagement in the classroom, i do not think it can replace TLC.

no more sleepless nights……

Published November 2, 2011 by mjslaurent1975

As a relatively inexperienced IT person, I enjoyed the fact that IT can make me more efficient and effective in the work place. I think the ability to get easy instant access to a wide range of ideas on any given topic is amazing. There are answers to every question you want to ask! I have limited knowledge in the world of technology but it broadened and enhanced my ideas on how to use different tools in presenting information and ideas in a very interesting way! The “Pecha Kucha” is a good example of this. I was impressed with all the different topics chosen and the way different individuals went about this project. I myself was in a nerve-breaking situation. Before the day of presentations I had sleepless nights for I know that one way or another everybody had to do their part. All I can think of was ” I can pull it through” and had to focus all my energies to complete this task.
Finally that day came…and I was prepared, anxious and can’t deny the fact that I was nervous to death! Then moment past and I was able to deliver the 20 seconds of talk with 10 slides. It was a great relief and for me that was my very first time speaking in front of fellow professionals. Technology is what helped me get through this task and helped move my presentation along. Although it would have been easier to have a power point up on the screen and read each bullet point, i know this is not the best method to give a presentation. It was an achievement for me and I am proud of myself. I truly appreciate the support of everybody and of course to steve for keeping the class interesting!

21st century learners…

Published October 12, 2011 by mjslaurent1975

This video highlights a lot of interesting points regarding the use of media in 21rst
century learning.  When I first started to think about the 21rst century learning I thought about how are schools going to transform to accommodate this shift in practice? Initially I felt as if this movement was advocating dropping everything we do in schools to accommodate for the sole use of technology.  This concerned me.   I worried that students would not be provided instruction and opportunities to develop the basic skills
of literacy.   Mr. Lehmann talks about moving from the “industrial style” schools of the past where it was an “assembly line” to a place where “schools catch-up to where society has progressed to”.   He also commented on the fact that “we do not have all the answer” and that this 21rst century is in its “infancy stage”.   I appreciated the comments by Diana Rhoten from the Smithsonian Institute saying that you do not “have to throw everything away” and that technology helps put “kids at the center, not the institution.”  After watching this video, I have a better understanding of the applications this approach can have in a school and in the classroom.

All five program talk about placing children at the center of their learning by using media tools.  This is where I see the many positive advantages to moving ahead with 21rst century learning.  I see a lot of value having kids take ownership of their learning and can see how technology can enhance this.  In each of these projects, you can see how students are motivated and engaged in projects involving media compared to sitting in a
classroom and being a “consumer” of information.  Producing these types of projects would help develop intrinsic motivation.

I liked how one of the teachers talked about students would be able to cater to their strengths and create the type of presentation that would utilize their talents.

I see the amount of people in society that are utilizing technology in all aspects of life, and I can see the importance of incorporating this into the classroom. Students are perhaps the most avid users of technology and this can be seen with social media.   If
schools and classrooms do not try to incorporate this into daily life, they would be missing a great opportunity to create a community of learners.  Often you hear about the negative effects that Facebook is having on the culture of the youth but perhaps if we embraced this as educators we could utilize this powerful tool to bring about positive
change.

In each program, they talk about collaborative learning through the use of media tools.
In the early childhood years, an important approach is the play-based curriculum which is a building block for collaborative learning. John Brown also suggested the importance of play and the benefits this has on the development of an individual. Play helps younger learners combine their thoughts with action. It helps them figure out the world in which they live.  Listening to this video I can see all the other social emotional benefits with the use of project based learningwhich utilizes technology.  I can start to see how we can teach the building blocks of 21rst century learning in the early years with some use of technology and greatly expand the use of technology as students move up the grade levels.

In the closing of the video I appreciated Mr. Lehmann’s comments “what do we want ourschools to teach kids, let’s start from there.” That’s  a question I find myself asking a lot aboutteaching and what the focus of school should be and the role of the teacher.  I believe that the education of a child should not just fall on a school.  In the classroom teachers can help I see parents being an important part of this equation. I can now also see how technology can play an important role in a child’s education.