Friday, July 11, 2014

The Benefits of Using Technology in Education

"Change is Imminent"

How many times have you heard the above expression? Why is change imminent? What causes change to occur? History maps the numerous changes that mankind has witnessed; changes driven by curiosity, questioning, inspirations, discoveries, and technological advancements. Without change, our world would be static; devoid of any form of development. Change is therefore an essential requirement for development and advancements to occur.

Similarly to all the components in our society, the teaching and learning strategies of education have evolved drastically throughout time. Education must parallel the technological developments present in our world today. Why? It's simple: our world has been transformed by technology. If you look around you right now, or even at the screen you're using to read my blog, you'll notice that your environment is surrounded by technological gadgets you use daily. Furthermore, today's work force relies greatly on technology whereby people need to have specific skills in order to succeed in their job. Daniel Newman identifies how technology has impacted the work force in "6 Technology Trends Transforming the Workplace." Students should therefore be equipped with the tools that will enable them to succeed in the 21st century - the Digital Era.

Although some are still skeptical about intertwining technology with education, there are those, including me, who believe in the importance of having students use technology in order to learn. The following video provides a few reasons as to how technology helps students learn better in today's world.

As can be seen, our role as educators today have changed from being the sole providers of information to guiding students into learning how to use technology in order to nurture their intellectual minds. As I always tell my students in class:

~My job is not to give you information; it's to show you how to find information on your own.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Collaborative Writing with a Twist

Q: Do your students do collaborative writing activities in class?
A: Of course they do!

Q: What are some collaborative writing activities you use with your students?

A: Roundtable and Jigsaw

Q: Did you know your students can use Google Docs as a collaborative writing activity?

A: What's Google Docs???

Although I already do collaborative writing activities in my class, yesterday I discovered how students can use technology - specifically Google Docs - to complete these activities. Google Docs is a powerful platform that allows students to work together as a team in order to complete a specific assignment/task.

Unlike the collaborative writing activities I do in my class, Google Docs enables students to collaboratively work on a document simultaneously. For example, when my students do a Roundtable activity, they take turns using a single pencil and paper to jot down their ideas and pass the paper to the next person in their group. However, if they were to perform the same writing assignment using Google Docs, not only would they be able to work together, but they can peer-edit and comment on each other's work instantly. This would also be beneficial if I were to assign a group homework, whereby students would not necessarily have to visit each other to work together on an assignment. Instead, they can simply meet online in a virtual world filled with a multitude of resources, all of which are at the tips of their fingers.

It's truly fascinating how technology offers students multiple learning experiences, especially those that allow them to collaborate and learn from each other.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Teacher-Student Blogging

How would you, a teacher, use blogging?

If you had asked me this question two days ago, my answer would've have been completely different than how I'd answer it today. It's fascinating how knowledge attained within a short period of time can extremely change a person's perception on a certain topic.

Blogging is a useful educational tool that can be applied in various ways. It can be used by both students and teachers. Bellow are some ideas of how I would apply in my class.

Create a Digital Writing Portfolio

One way I'd use blogging is to display my students' writing process, beginning with the graphic organizer, and ending with their final/published draft. As the year progresses, students can go back to their different writing assignments and determine how their style in writing has improved. I'd also allow students to comment on each other's writing portfolio, and discuss their comments in class. This writing portfolio can also boost my students' self-esteem, especially since they'd be aware their writing is viewed by the public. It can also be used as a means to show they parents how they have progressed during the year, and discuss improvements that can help strengthen their writing.

Reflection Alley

Another way I'd use blogging is as a means of monitoring and assessing my student's progression. For example, I could begin a discussion on my blog related to a specific topic, whether it is about English, math, science, or social studies. My students can then read the blog, post their comments, and we can then discuss these comments in class. Through their comments and class discussion, I'd be able to monitor and assess how my students have progressed, how I can challenge them, and which areas I need to focus on more.

These are only a couple of ideas of what I have in mind about blogging. Blogging is definitely a powerful tool that I will use in my class to enable all my students, regardless of their learning-style, to attain knowledge, become independent self-learners, and ultimately excel in the 21st century.