Monday, December 28, 2009

Interesting post about Digital Natives vs. Immigrants

Check out this post from GeekSugar that highlights the digital native vs. the digital immigrant.

X-mas Wii post

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Over the course of the last eight weeks, I have been engaged in the learning and creation of various technological advancements that can be incorporated into the classroom, involved in discussions on the rationale for why technology should be brought to students of today, and active in considering various expert standpoints on how and why technology has a place in modern classrooms. As Marc Prensky has outlined, the students that we encounter in the classroom these days are digital natives (Prensky, 2001). These students are well versed and well practiced in technology and spend a great deal of their out-of-school time using technology (McHale, 2005) (November, 2007). This class has opened doors to help me realize not only the need to bring technology and 21st Century skills to the classroom (Laureate, 2008), but the ways and means to provide these innovations to the classroom through the information provided by Richardson (2009).

Upon entering this class, I considered myself relatively skilled in navigating technology. I regularly used wikis, used online resources for entertainment and references, read blogs, maintained an RSS feed, used social media daily, engaged in online chats, made purchases and paid bills online, sourced the internet through my mobile phone, communicated by e-mail and uploaded photographs. Despite my regular, even heavy, use of technology, most of my interactions were one sided. During this course, I was able to expand my reader to incorporate more education based feeds and become an active part of the online education community. After creating a blog for the class, I developed a level of comfort with blogging and started a classroom blog and a personal blog. My enthusiasm for blogging has reached my coworkers and I will soon be teaching a professional development course for my colleagues on setting up, maintaining and reaching students through blogs. I was able to collaborate with my classmates to create a wiki on the various blogs we had discovered to provide a resource for one another and beyond. Though my initial attempts at bringing a wiki into my classroom was not warmly received, I feel that I have a strong baseline of understanding of wikis such that I will be able to bring them into my regular classroom instruction in the future with better success.

Undoubtedly, my greatest pleasure and success with new technology incorporation has been with blogging. My classroom blog has been met with enthusiasm from my students, my administration and my colleagues. I have found opportunities for incorporating video tutorials, providing homework assignments and attachments, fun challenges and links to games that reinforce the concepts that I am teaching in my curriculum. I believe that this avenue will allow me to engage and motivate my students in a way that will maximize both their learning and enjoyment (Prensky, 2005) (Laureate, 2008). Though there is a wealth of research and writing backing up the efficacy of dynamic incorporation of technology and 21st Century skills, the enthusiasm and interaction that I see from my students is sufficient proof for the merits of my efforts.

I hope to continue to expand my knowledge of technology by continuing to explore what is available. I have been active in participating in online communities about education and technology. Blogs such as the Blue Skunk Blog and David Warlick’s 2₵ Blog for education, and technology blogs like Lifehacker keep me apprised of new developments and technologies for the classroom. My own exploration of blog creation has enabled me to bring multimedia to my page and expand its reach via the use of links to other online resources. In order to improve my knowledge and understanding of wikis, I need to further investigate the wiki work of other educators. Currently, my knowledge and expertise with wikis is limited and I would like to see more of their potential in action from the postings of fellow educators. Understanding the potential of wikis will better enable me to find ways to best incorporate their usefulness in my classroom.

My long-term goals for the further incorporation of technology in my classroom are to maintain and improve my blog and to bring technology-based lessons to my classroom. The first goal of further developing the blog is limitless. I see potential for increased student interaction via the use of required comments, a platform for starting webquests, and a space for me to post podcasts and videos. Though I feel I have created a template and online home for myself and my students that is relatively well established, I see that the possibilities for improving the page and moving beyond the basic set up that I have established are expansive. This technology can be part of every day by bringing the class instruction and curriculum beyond the walls of the classroom and creates a better understanding of the content via the “hands-on” interaction in the medium that our students are best versed in (Nussbaum-Beach, 2008). I will meet this goal by remaining highly active in developing and improving my blog with various multimedia components and networking with other bloggers and educators. “Anytime, anywhere” is the notion that technology is omnipresent and a blog allows me to be one of the influences that my students can turn to (Friedman, 2005) (Laureate, 2008).

The second goal may be harder to achieve, but I feel will have a greater impact on the full education of my students. I would like to use technology in my classroom on a more regular basis. Be it the use of the Smartboard, computers in the classroom for research, power-point presentations and/or wiki creation for content review, I feel that the more that I do with technology in my instruction, the more the curriculum will come alive for my students and be relevant to their lives. Students will need technology skills when they enter the workforce and the 21st Century skills of working together and communicating with people all over the world (Friedman, 2005) (Hof, 2007). By including various elements of technological offerings like online chats and communications, and students posting their learnings, the children will be able to work in the medium that they are best versed in. Though complications and difficulties due to resources and funding do exist in fulfilling this goal, part of my personal goal will include being an advocate for the use and incorporation of technology in our district. My hope is that I will be able to bring various elements of technology into my regular classroom instruction such that my students do not see technology in school as a discrete event that happens occasionally, rather as a common and customary means for acquiring knowledge.

Throughout this course, I have been able toward the creation side of technological advancements that benefit education. Previously I sought out information and resources through technology, but now I feel well versed in providing and distributing knowledge online. I have read and processed the rationale presented by experts on why the incorporation of technology is necessary for today’s students and I have learned how to access, create and improve resources online to benefit my students. Most importantly though, my enthusiasm for technology is heightened and I am excited to bring technology to my students. As Dr. Thornburg said, “Learning is a human craft and a human task” (Laureate, 2008). I am happy and excited to be a human teacher with a strong interest in technology.


Friedman, T. (2005, April 3). It's a flat world, after all. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Hof, R. (2007, August 20). The end of work as you know it.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). 2008. Skills for the 21st Century [Motion picture]. Understanding the Impact of Technology on Education, Work, and Society. Baltimore: Author.

McHale, T. (2005). Portrait of a digital native. Technology & Learning. Retrieved from

November, A. (2007). Banning student 'containers'. Technology & Learning. Retrieved from

Nussbaum-Beach, S. (2008). No Limits. Technology & Learning, 28(7), 14–18. Retrieved from

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5).

Prensky, M. (2005). Listen to the Natives. Educational Leadership, 63(4), 8–13.

Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms
(2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Digital Natives Podcast

Marc Prensky speaks of “digital natives” as people that have grown up in tandem with the proliferation of technology (Prensky, 2001). My grade six students range in age from ten to twelve and live in a moderately affluent town. Even students that are from a lower socioeconomic background than most have access to technology at home. In my attempt to better understand the influence of technology on my students lives, I surveyed 90 of my students on a variety of technology based questions. In addition to the general information gathering, I was able to personally interview a few of my students about their comfort level with technology. Excerpts from these conversations are included in the following podcast.

Survey results:
Demographics:              46 boys, 44 girls, 90 students total. 
1 ten year-old, 70 eleven year-olds, 19 twelve year-olds.

·        38% of students own a cell phone, 41% of those students have internet on their phone, 85% of those students use text messaging on their phones.
·        88% own an ipod/MP3 player
·        50% have their own computer
·        69% have laptop computers at home, 100% have a computer at home
·        84% have internet access at home
·        27% have a facebook page, 3% have a myspace page
·        41% use instant messaging online
·        3% have their own blogs
·        8% have added to a wiki in some capacity
·        84% have a video game system at home, 49% of those systems are hooked up to the internet
·        72% have a wii video game system at home
Technology usage:
Among the 34 students that have cell phones, eight students reported that they spend three or more hours on their phone each day. On average, my students with cell phones spend 1.44 hours a day on their cell phones talking, texting and/or using the internet.

Based on student reported averages, my students spend about 1.3 hours a day on their home computers each day. Only eight students reported that they do not go online on an average day and the group average was 1.4 hours a day, with seven students stating that they spend four or more hours online each day.

All but 15 students play video games on a regular basis. Students spent an average of 1.27 hours a day playing video games.

74 students reported that they primarily use technology at home. Usage at a friend’s house was the next most common place, followed by school and a relative’s house and the fewest votes for the library.

When asked what they would want if they could own or have access to more technology, students wrote in the following answers:
·        Laptop (28)
·        Cell phone (49)
·        facebook (5)
·        Personal TV/Better TV (9)
·        ipod (17)
·        Instant messaging (9)
·        Various gaming systems/ video games (33)
When asked what they believed was outdated technology, the following answers were submitted.
·        Cassettes (9)
·        MP3 Player- non-ipod (8)
·        Gameboy (12)
·        Various gaming systems- PS2, gamecube, playstation, etc. (25)
·        Disposable cameras
·        Film
·        Flip phones
·        Desktop computers
·        Tube televisions- non flatscreen
·        Radios
·        Boomboxes
·        Records

Level of expertise:
59% of students reported that they believe that they are better than their parents when it comes to working with technology. Less than 6% believed that they were worse than their parents. 56% of students considered themselves to be about equal to their teachers in technological understanding, 18% believed the teachers were more skilled and the remaining 26% feel that they are more skilled than their teachers.

Favorite Aspect of Technology:
Fifteen students cited the internet as their favorite aspect of technology, with many elaborating that the speed and access that the internet affords and the availability of information are what they like about the internet. Twenty-nine students mentioned communicating with friends through various outlets such as facebook, texting, instant messaging, cell phones, e-mail and internet/video games. They also mentioned the ease of communicating for school work as well as in social capacities. Most of the other students cited video gaming systems and the interactive elements of online gaming.

Reflection on Survey Results:
I found that the survey results met my expectations. My students engage in a high level of interaction with technology and I expected that they would have access to many technological resources. I was most curious to see how they compared their understanding and comfort level with technology to that of their parents and teachers. As the teachers on our team are all in our thirties and relatively savvy with technology, I expected that students would rank our abilities relatively high. Fifty-six percent of students believed that we were on par with their abilities, but twenty-six percent felt that they were more skilled than the teachers. I would love to explore this further and see how we actually compare. As the students’ parents, on average, are a little bit older than the teachers and the children see us using technology regularly in school, I am not surprised that the teachers were ranked at a higher skill level than the parents, but I was amazed that 59% of the students believed that they are more skilled at technology than their parents. Again, I think it would be very interesting to determine actual skill levels of each group.

I was also intrigued by the level of comfort with technology that my students expressed. I was unable to use one student interview because when I asked him what he thought he would be able to do with my cell phone if I let him borrow it for a few minutes because he was laughing too hard to hear the intricacies of his ability to work with the technology. These digital natives know how technology works and feel comfortable exploring new technologies with confidence.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills

The Partnership for 21st Century skills is a website dedicated to like-minded members seeking to improve the content and quality of Information and Communication Technologies in the classroom. The site provides portals to online resources and content, articles and news releases on their ongoing efforts and clear explanations of their goals. Various corporations, advocacy groups and charitable organizations have teamed together to work towards the Partnership’s goals of implementing and seamlessly incorporating 21st Century Skills into the current educational framework of core subjects.

Upon perusing the website, I found the information and mission to be quite exciting and inspirational. I was happy to see that various technological companies and education advocacy groups were working together with a common goal of providing a fuller education to our students. As represented by the “Rainbow Framework," the core curriculum subjects are paired with the skills in life and career, learning and innovation, and information, media and technology (The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2004). Support for these curricular goals are provided by the “pools” below the rainbow and consist of many of our traditional educational supports such as professional development and set standards.

I was surprised by the partnership’s support for standardized tests as I feel that standardized tests as they are currently implemented are inadequate for measuring the 21st Century Skills that we are hoping to develop in our students. Upon further reading and reflection, I understand that the standardized tests that would measure 21st Century Skill development would look quite different from the bubble-in standardized tests that our students currently take. I was also surprised that so few states were represented in the Route 21 list of states that had demonstrated the commitment to the cause, and I was disheartened that mine was not one of them. As a lifelong Nutmegger, from Connecticut, I was disappointed that we were not on the list, especially as the New Literacies Research Lab is located at the University of Connecticut (Miners & Pascopella, 2007), I would hope that Connecticut would be represented.

Another aspect of the webpage that surprised me was the copyright date. As I am acutely aware of casting a critical eye on internet sources, especially in light of our course and this week’s discussion of what it takes to be literate whilst navigating online, it seems odd that a site dedicated to 21st Century Skills has a copyright date that is nearly six years old. It is clear that the site has been updated with new information, i.e. new releases and updated MILE guides, but the copyright date remains stagnant. As our Walden course included materials from this site in our resources this week, I am inclined to trust the site, but remain wary of the lack of updates on the copyright. The site address seems like something that is reputable as well. Along those same lines, I was surprised that so many of the links that I found from the Route 21 website went to purchasable items (Route 21, 2007). Though the Partnership’s website is touted as source for online learning materials to support 21st Century Skills, it seemed like a great deal of business and money exchange would take place through the website. I would certainly do my due diligence prior to spending any money or providing information through the site or its offshoots.

I do agree with the fundamental philosophy presented in the site’s mission statement, “[To] serve as a catalyst to position 21st century skills at the center of US K-12 education by building collaborative partnerships among education, business, community and government leaders” (The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2004). I do have some concerns with the excessive amount marketing that I encountered from the Route 21 webpage. I am opposed to the blatant marketing of the page if it is intended as an advocacy group. When exploring most websites, I am able to leave a page with ideas for implementation and examples of what worked in other classrooms. Even when I sorted the information on the Route 21 page to my grade level and/or subject matter, I was unable to find much material that I could immediately put into practice, drew my enthusiasm or inspired my creativity.

The implications for my students and me are that these goals need to be broached in the classroom immediately as we are already behind. 21st Century Skills are necessary for a student to leave school fully educated. I think that the self-assessment checklist included in the MILE guide (The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2004) is a great starting off point for educators. By completing the self-assessment for what we already do, we can identify areas of change and improvement. Initially, I believe that mindfulness of 21st Century Skills is the most important aspect of basic implementation. If we teachers constantly ask ourselves if our lessons and activities bring in the three skill subsets, life and career, learning and innovation, and information, media and technology (The Partnership for 21st Century Skills), we will begin to move forward with our goals. Ultimately, we must act as advocates for our students and ourselves to our administrations, governmental policy makers, and corporations to receive the assistance that we require in realizing these goals.

Miners, Z., & Pascopella, A. (2007). The new literacies. District Administration, 43(10), 26–34.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, (2004). Retrieved November 24, 2009, from The Partnership for 21st Century Skills Website:

Route 21, (2007). Retrieved November 24, 2009, from Route 21 Website:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mini wiki reflection.


I really like wikis, but I am not yet convinced that I am ready to put them to use in my classroom. Undoubtedly the content of wikis surpassing virtually all other sources when it comes to up-to-date reliability and multiple edits for clarity and accuracy.

Personally, just over a month ago, I was at the doctor's office having a minor procedure/test completed by my oral surgeon. Without going into too many details, it was a surgery that he rarely completed in the office and required a very specific procedure. He said that upon speaking with one of his colleagues, he learned that he was supposed to follow a certain protocol for the surgery. Through the many fingers, implements and cotton balls in my mouth, I agreed and reiterated the colleague's instructions. With shock, he asked me how I knew that when he didn't. My garbled answer, "Wikipedia."

I am amazed by how many times I have called upon wikipedia on my mobile phone to settle a discussion, remind myself of a bit of forgotten trivia or add more reliable information to a conversation.

Beyond the fun and trivia, I regularly use wikipedia for personal research, health information, and concise overviews on complex topics. I appreciate the links and references that are included in most entries as they provide next steps to the initial exploration. I remain a little hesitant about further participating in wiki creation, but feel that the mystique around adding information to an existing wiki has been broken down a bit. I look forward to participating in wikis beyond my classroom experiences as well as in work with my students.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bringing Blogs to the classroom! (How I would incorporate a blog into my class)

Blogs have many possible incorporations into classes. As I teach Grade Six Mathematics in a district with very strict guidelines on the curriculum, I often run out of time for extension and challenge activities. Many of my students are capable of going beyond the basic curriculum expectations, but need the class time for the initial instruction. As we rarely spend more than a day or two on a topic and I only have support in one class, I do not have the luxury of taking time to work on a challenge assignment with my students and need an assignment that they can pursue independently with minimal teacher guidance.

I believe that I could incorporate a blog to provide challenge activities to my students. I think that they would not only enjoy doing independent exploration, but also believe that they would take the challenge quite seriously. As Kathy Martin suggested in this week's video resources, the students not only rise to the challenge of the content in the assignment when they work on a blog, but also engage by interacting and considering their audience (Laureate, 2007). The blog would also enable me to provide resources to help prepare them for the challenge tasks via the internet. Many of the benefits of online learning that are present in advanced courses such as ours will also be present in these mini-challenges. The students will be able to work independently, but have the opportunity to collaborate as they see fit. Additionally, they will be expected to use their writing and communication skills to explain their thinking. In mathematics, we are constantly looking to find ways to encourage our students to effectively communicate their thoughts and this provides an outlet that can be easily monitored and extensive in scope, but does not take away class time.

The benefits of a blog set up in this nature are that students can be challenged, are able to work collaboratively and independently, expectations are clear but intrinsically motivated and students can access the resources in their own time. I am also encouraged by the reflection of the young man in Mrs. Martin's class in the "Blogging in the Classroom" video segment, in which he said that he found the assignments more interesting and the venue a fun place in which to learn. He also remarked that he felt that the blog assignments were more "face to face" than the writing that he usually did in class (Laureate, 2007). I was inspired by the enthusiasm and sense of connectedness that this child exhibited after using blogs and I am encouraged to incorporate the resources in my class.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2007). Understanding the Impact of Technology on Education, Work, and Society [Motion picture]. Teacher as professional. Baltimore.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Smartboard Prep

I am a big fan of incorporating Smartboard technology in my daily lessons, but have found that the time preparing the lessons and activities has become a bit prohibitive. I do not have a dedicated system in my room and need to sign out the board, projector and laptop from the library in order to use the technology in class. We only have one mobile Smartboard in our school and teachers need to plan days or weeks in advance to ensure that the technology is available and also need to "buffer" the use date so that everything can be set up and finalized the day before the lesson and returned the day following the lesson as the storage room is locked when the final bell rings.

As I said, I love the technology, but the convenience of the tech is lost when the procedures around using the technology is so frustrating and difficult. Thankfully we just had the program downloaded to our desktop units so that we can at least start a lesson in advance of borrowing the resources. Unfortunately, the inconvenience of our procedures has made me less likely to incorporate the tech as often as I would like. Upon speaking with a colleague with a mounted Smartboard at the Upper Middle School, I learned that he came in an hour to an hour and a half early each day to create his lessons. I don't know if this is feasible for every teacher or even a reasonable expectation.

I am hoping to get a mounted/dedicated Smartboard in the next year or two and hope that I will have created lessons for the majority of my curriculum within two to three years.

For those of you with Smartboards or Promethean systems, how long did it take you to create an arsenal of lessons? How often do you use your technology? How often do you use its dynamic aspects vs. using it as a plug-in whiteboard?

For those of you that do not have dedicated units, do you have access to this technology? What is the procedure for using it and do you find the technology easily accessible? What challenges have you run into and what seems to be working?

Thanks in advance for any insight or thoughts!


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Let's try that video again!

Let's try that video again!

Video on Social Networking

Though this has a business focus, I found it quite interesting! A coworker posted it on his blog, Teacher Tech Talk, and I wanted to share it!


Hey there fellow Walden students! I am excited to begin blogging and exploring technology that can be incorporated into the classroom!