Taking Stock

 

 

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  • What are your biggest concerns or challenges with technology?  Choose two to three and describe how these things hold you back?

 

My biggest challenge to the use of technology is fear – fear of losing  or forgetting how I did something and the fear of losing what I did.    I realize I cannot keep “planting” things on my desktop without backing them up, lest I lose them if my machine/device goes haywire – but sometimes this doesn’t always seem to be on the forefront of my habits (to back up into the cloud).

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The second challenge is impatience.  When I begin a new project using a new app or program, I enjoy learning how to use it, but then something pops up and I find myself going through forums and still not able to find the answers – and the tech people are far too busy to give aid as soon as I would like it…

The third challenge is management.  How do I manage to keep everything separate – what the students are handing in via Googledocs and my other work that I need to do.  Then comes finding these things in the morass of docs on my drive – I haven’t figured out how to have them send it into a “dropbox” or folder in my drive yet – which would ultimately help.

  1.   In “Why Bother with Technology?” many reasons are given for why technology is worth the trouble.  Which two reasons are most relevant to you? Using a specific example for each, explain how using more technology could make a difference for you?

The first response I had from reading this article was Saving Time.  It’s amazing how many times we find ourselves repeating ourselves to students, time and time again about the same thing – even if they tried it with success earlier, they forget.  There is also the time spent in working with students in setting up the conferences with their parents.  As an alternative program in the main high school, we schedule our appointments beginning a week earlier than the rest of the staff with specific times – but having the students and parents commit to the time(s) given has been a headache, as well as ensuring they all sign up.  Looking at VolunteerSpot makes my wheels begin to  turn to see how effective this might be in taking this chore off the plate.  

The next item, under Saving Time would be having our academic packets saved as PDF’s on our drives, which would enable us to save paper, keep the packets safe (sharing with restrictions), and allowing the assignment part to be done online in some fillable forms for the students to use – this way we could stay up-to-date with the students’ progress in all their academic work, as well.  

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Also, there might be a way for us to do some instructional videos for the students to watch, so we could utilize the tech in the classroom more effectively, and they would be more engaged as they perform their tasks – and if they’ve questions about the materials, then they could comment on the video, which would prompt us to respond and edit, if necessary.   More engagement from both parties, and both parties finding they have power and success.

The second would be Collaboration.  My cohort and our secretary are constantly working to ensure we’re on the same page with each student.  What we might also be able to figure out is how to also involve our internships* in some of the technological modes – for instance, we have a rubric for each internship to fill out for the student(s) at the site, at the end of each cycle.  If these were online for them, then the “forgetting” process (more typically on the part of the student) is less likely, and there is more immediate response, when it is also shared with the student and case manager (the program instructors) to facilitate growth.  

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There is the ability to edit and comment on work done in Googledocs, but many times this is taken for granted by the students, and they only attack those parts which are highlighted, without taking the rest of the assignment into account.  What we’ve discovered is having them share these with other students, having the other students read them aloud to the author, helps them identify and correct problems associated with the assignment more effectively.   This also saves a great deal of time and erodes the Us v Them mentality from the students, and creates more accountability.  

  1.  After reading the descriptions of teachers who have woven technology into their work and lives, choose two specific tools that interest you and how they might be used in your work.

The use of Coggle and Popplet would also be of incredible use for our students and ourselves, in order to outline papers and to begin working on organization.  When students share these with us, then we can work with them to help them better define where they’re headed and create a better, more effective product.   I usually have students pencil out a web, and demonstrate for them how to do so – then we work together to create the best possible framework.  From there, they go and write – however, as this is on paper, they tend to lose it, or cannot fathom either my writing or their own – so these two apps would actually create a more effective tool.  

The second tool(s) that would really come in handy are Google Keep and Evernote for the students.  Students seem to lose just about anything these days, and to have these tools to help manage their notes, learning, progress, and to be able to access them in order to create a management style for themselves would be quite lovely.    For instance, when a student is working on an analysis paper, they might find some interesting titbits from a website or hear something usable.  They could just either enter the link or type a quote into their device to be accessed for use when they begin to actually create the piece.  This would save so much time!

  1. After reading “How to Implement Technology”, choose two tips you believe are most important for successful use of technology.  Explain why.

This question is a toughie!  Why?  Because they’re all steps I believe are important.  However, the most important reason has to do with relevance; or rather, Having A Reason To Use It!

There is nothing more abysmal than having to create a mock up and pretend you are going to implement something that is of no use – it’s just silly.  So, when something rears its head and says, “Hello!  Could you use me?” I have to ask myself if it is: A) Relevant; B) Efficient and Reasonable; C) More Effective for All Parties.   To be honest, I’ve needed to create so many different tools for many classes at the graduate level that held no water for me as an instructor, but it did help others.  And, as my roles change in the secondary level, I like to keep my toolkit up-to-date, while figuring out how to bring students into be successful, while feeling engaged.

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The second tip I would need to keep is to Reflect and Recalibrate.  Nothing is static in education – it evolves, or, we find ourselves mired in a swamp of our own design.  We need to reflect on how things are working – just as we reflect on assignments and student achievement – if they’re not understanding what we believe should be clear, then we need to reassess our own disbursement of the information to ensure it’s clear to all those involved, or we have nothing.  The same could be said for the tools we need to use in  technology, or otherwise.  It’s simply a given.  

Between the first and second tips I chose, all the rest will fall into place organically, or we need to have some sort of How To book on reaching goals somewhere…. 🙂

  1.  Choose one thing you learned from the Q & A section and explain how you might apply it to your work.

One thing I’m interesting in learning, now, is about screencasting.   This may be the answer to many headaches we face – in working with students to help them figure out how to accomplish many assignments, without needing to have someone hold their hand, literally.  

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If we could make short videos that explain exactly what is necessary, then they could comment back to us, either in class, or from their home – or wherever.  This might help us be more effective in communicating, and decrease the need for repetition.  This could be one of the big time savers.

  1.  Preview the 30 tool categories in Teacher’s Guide to Tech.  Choose two that are especially interesting to you and explain how you might use these in your work.

The first of these would be the research tools.  Unfortunately, students still rely heavily on Wikipedia for the majority of their information.  And, to make things worse, they really haven’t a clue as to how to cite.  Fortunately, the research tool in Googledocs helps with that; but the other tools mentioned, EasyBib, Google Scholar, Wonderopolis, and Zotero, give the students options, and allows us to explore these together.  While I can hear the students silently groaning that they actually need to do some authentic research and citations, I believe these will be something which can build a solid foundation for them should they go further in their educational careers.  

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The second tool would be Parent Engagement.  We have a number of parents who, despite phone calls home (in their native languages), still call and ask the questions that had been answered a few days ago.  Oddly, many parents will only react to a phone call, while others will demand to be emailed or texted (and texting from my personal phone is a boundary which – well, let’s just say, “Homie don’t play dat!”), and I’m not sure of a method of texting that will bypass the option of using personal devices.    As I mentioned earlier, VolunteerSpot would be wonderful, as would the Remind app (if parents and students would sign up).  Smore would be more difficult, as we have families who are not native English speakers, and this would require more effort, but it might be something well worth investigating.   

Our program, CE2, would also be able to engage our internships* using the Remind and Smore apps, by keeping those employers up-to-date with what is going on with other sites, student activities (which could impact the students’ attendance to their sites on certain days).  It would also be another form of communication that would enhance the engagement levels for all parties concerned, as well, and we could bring in the Google Calendar to make things a bit easier, as well.

*Internships – Students in our program go out to different work/job sites 3-4 days a week for which they earn credit depending on how many hours they work.  We have buses that transport them.   They are engaged in a variety of occupations – from working in educational settings, to day care, adult day care, beauty salons, technology, auto detailing and installations, auto repair, catering and food service, retail, retirement activities, warehouse production, office skills, landscaping and gardening, etc.  The students also are able to receive letters of recommendation, they work on their resumes, while at the same time, they are working on academics, either through the high school in classes, or 1:1 with us in our classroom.  

The internships are in one-month cycles – some rotate every two cycles, depending on the agreement with the site.  Students are also encouraged to locate more sites.  We also have the requirement of 5 hours of community service/volunteering, per quarter to receive credit.  There is also the opportunity for them to receive OSHA training with a card, which enables them to seek employment more easily.  

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2 thoughts on “Taking Stock

  1. What a great post. You have some really good reasons for implementing technology in your classroom! Do your students all have devices that they can use in your classroom? We have Google Chromebooks at our school and I have to say most of what Google has to offer is amazing. Google Calendar is the best thing EVA! keeps both students and teachers on track. Every Monday and Friday we update student agendas right on google calendar so they now what homework they have and parents can see it too. there are no excuses or I forgot because they typed it in. good luck with everything. I think your blog is coming along!

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