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2020 Vision – Are you ready?

2020 Vision
I keep wanting to go back to thinking of the “Jetsons.”

This show was so ahead of its time!

We do not have flying cars that fold into briefcases or robots cleaning our houses (granted, I would like that), but we do have Read Write Web, which has opened doors for the development of global communication in ways we only dreamed of 20 years ago. From Skype to Facebook, from Wikispaces to Wikipedia, from podcasts to vodcasts, from smartphones to Ipads, answers to how to communicate as well as learn about and reflect on our world are simply at our fingertips. The question is whether education will take a stand in all these technological advancements from this point on.
Society drives the changes in education, so obviously if the world changes education must try to prepare our students for life and employment that has not been developed yet. Education also has the ability to reach far and above what society needs now, and education can stretch students’ minds, thoughts, and experiences to help them be the problem-solving global citizens we need for the next generation.
But how will education keep up? How will teachers learn what they need to embark on innovation ideas in the classroom to inspire future cyber citizens? We cannot relay on district inservices and devices alone for the latest and greatest ideas. Technology is forcing all of us to adapt quicker to ideas we never would have dreamed when we were students in schools. We are no longer bound by societal physical boundaries, so what will change education? Board members, unions, administration, and politicians all have their own agenda and bureacratic pressure to show the world a student can perform, but ultimately who will change a student’s understanding of this new world order? Its you and me, folks. The teachers who are in the trenches, so to speak. We see what kids are facing everyday, we see how the world and global business is evolving, and we see the disconnect between now and the future. We are in a unique position to change the minds of our students not only for their personal betterment but the betterment of our entire mankind.
Heavy statement to bear, huh? Think about it. Who else in the world has this extraordinary opportunity to connect with past, present, and future all in one daily experience that can build a challenging, invigorating, thought-provoking response to our society’s global view?
Still a lot to swallow, you say? Close your eyes. Imagine walking into your physical classroom, and/or think about the discussions you have with your students. Think about the construct of this job. We are to share with these future independent citizens how to understand, make sense of, and function in their future world (THAT WE HAVE NOT SEEN YET!). We need to paint the picture of this global community’s needs, wants, and desires.
Where to begin, you ask? One day at a time. Observe your world, comment on your blog about your world, find others who are sharing your thinking about changing your teaching to meet the needs of the next generation. From going shopping to online banking, how you learn about the news of today to checking your email or Facebook, see what is happening to you as you adapt to this technologically-advancing world. Remember you are a technological immigrant trying to learn the news ways of the techno world. Your student are not; they are born into Google, iPods, gaming, email, YouTube, Kindles, and much more. Some of them are exposed to it in their homes from little up, some have seen these ideas on TV or have watched them being used, and yet some students’ families still do not own their own computer and/or internet access. You and I are to teach them all how to be responsible, insightful citizens of this future we can only predict right now.
Now, flash forward; it is April 27, 2020. You may or may not still be teaching, but you would have impacted several hundreds students’ images of this year 2020 over your time teaching. What do you want them to remember? What do you need them to leave your class understanding and experiencing? The scientific method, Pythagorean Theory, Romeo & Juliet, and the Gulf War? They are mere facts or steps to learn, but I am talking about teaching students to do more maybe even learn to THINK for themselves so they may make wise, conscious decisions in their adult lives to only change their future for the better but affect the world.
You and I will make the difference by exposing our students to technology in a way that we are both knowledgeable yet humbly learning along with them. A teacher will become the facilitator. We don’t know it all anymore; then again, did teachers ever know it all? We as teachers have more tools to guide our students to successful learning experiences than ever before. I also think the students will have more ownership over their learning than ever before in history! Teaching will not be lecture, but rather will transform to a student-to-student, teacher-to-teacher relationship like we have never seen before. Technology will force us, teachers, to create engaging experiences and conversations. Technology will give our students a freedom to learn for themselves!
Remember these changes will not happen overnight and will not happen at the same pace for every teacher or every student. However, we as teachers need to continue to persevere and be diligent, intentional, and resilient to changes in the way we do business.
We are the world!

(Think about this song and what it means to the Net Generation today!)

Future society is depending on to envision what it will require and need to engage as global cyber citizens. You and me!
The Read/Write Web has opened doors that allow not only for business advancement, but it also allows education to no longer be viewed between four walls. Learning truly occurs in the mind and heart of the learner. We educators can only lead the technologically-borne student to the “well” of knowledge and resources, but we cannot make them “drink”/learn and change without deliberate, strategic guidance along with explaining the cautions, dangers, and reality of this cyber world.
The challenge is our job involves educating the students, parents, and community all at the same time while continually learning ourselves about these ever-changing tools, apps, and devices of this technologically-driven world we live in.
Will you participate? Can you deny how you have changed as a global citizen? Can you deny knowing and seeing the gap we currently have in education today? Can you spare another moment or lesson not telling students how technology will impact their future? You do have a choice. Every time you plan or instruct a lesson you impact the year 2020. So, the next time to see technology changing you consider how it will change your students and their world because I think some aspects of the “Jetsons” are here and are closer than your think.

I build the future. I teach. Do you?


Meeting the needs of all students

Web Applications have numerous opportunities to enhance our students’ learning in the classroom. One of the great advantages is that FINALLY our students can learn with their preferred learning style with ease and confidence every time.
One application I found iSpeech converts blog posts to audio files in MP3 format. The audio files can easily be downloaded, embedded, and shared.

I like this app because it allows you the learner to adapt to your auditory learning style. You are welcome to read and listen which allows students who need to have visual cues and audio cues to be successful in learning new information. I also think this allows students to hear what they write if they have difficulty proofreading their own papers. Many students can write, but proofreading and editing is a difficult task. This audio enhancement allows the learner to be both empowered and independent as a lifelong learner.

Paperless Classroom – Embarking on 21st century education!

Actually, I have been forced to pursue this option more this year than ever before. My classroom location has changed so I am no longer near the copy machine, and this new classroom is nicely tucked in a corner where my “active” students cannot be left unattended. On top of the fact, that as a school we have discouraged from continuing our massive paper usage and told to become more creative in using all of our resources. So, by adapting to my circumstances, I have fallen into this paperless world. My only concern is the face-to-face contact in the class as I balance the use of technology by becoming more of a facilitating and technological assistant helping others. We face the computer as much as we face each other.

As for changing learning, I really think the paperless idea has a way to enrich learning. Students must be more deliberate and strategic with paperless assignments. Students also become more responsible for their own learning. All types of learners can benefit if accommodations are considered ahead of time and specific directions and guidelines are easy to follow.

In the past two months, I have modified my classroom to become more paperless while learning the principles of EdModo and its use during a novel study. I find time is the issue for a teacher as always trying to respond effective and efficiently to the learners. I also think the students are more pressured to create an assignment that will not only be seen by the teacher, but by several classmates. Some students struggle with the technology to start out, but once a routine is established, students are eager to continue the paperless learning and communicate through alternate means.

As for building a learning network, it is easier than some teachers think because students’ responses are focused and clearer than assignment completed on paper or with discussion alone. All students are accountable and the results are easy to see on the screen to be referred to at anytime for use in grading, comprehension, parent questions, or academic concerns in general. Managing the learning network is trial and error at first, but the benefits are worth it in the long run. My students are learning how to become responsible cyber citizens while responding to literature and their peers in a fun interactive way. It is a win – win for me and my students!

Big Shifts in Education: Readers Are No Longer Just Readers!

As a reading specialist, my readers see reading a very passive and, dare I say, boring part of learning. They undeniably will avoid excess reading and assume the reading is too difficult to understand or remember. Read/Write/Web has changed the definition of what reading it! My teaching practices have been adjusted by this thinking because my students have always wanted to be heard, debated with, and argue for the fun of it! So, telling my students to read and reply to a classmate, myself, or an author empowers them to read critically more than ever before. They cannot be passive readers. They are now given the opportunity to response and “be heard” like never before. “I matter” has changed the way they read and operate in the classroom. They are not only commenting for the sake of commenting, but they are commenting to a learning community that they want to impress.

This will continue to change the way I do business in my classroom. My students are coming in each year more technologically aware and hungry to use these skills in the classroom. I am excited to give them the opportunity to become responsible, active cyber citizens. My district still seems fearful of using these methods to learning in the classroom. That’s where I struggle now, and I am sure will struggle in the future.

At the start of this course, I was not aware of all the Read/Write/Web opportunities to me, as a professional, and to my students. I too was fearful to embrace this form of technology in light of my district’s restrictions and policies. Now, I feel more like a maverick with this Read/Write/Web world. If you would have told me last year I would have my own blog, participated in wiki projects, responded to teachers in forums today, I would have laughed telling you I do not see the value and my district does not allow for this type of educational experiences for me or my students on our current network. Today, I have found many ways around the district’s limitations to help my students experience and enjoy this Read/Write/Web we have today. My hope is that I can build their educational interest as we dabble with it in my classroom.

I need to remember that technology and teens go hand-in-hand. The resources available today allow teens to express themselves and challenge their learning like never before. I look at most assignments different now than ever before. I see ways to use these tools in the classroom to do what I planned on doing anyway, but it is often easier or better than I could accomplish on my own in my classroom walls. I think these ideas go along with the push for enhancing critical thinking skills in the classroom today as well. Anyone can read about an idea, but if you have to respond intellectually to the reading you are doing, where others will see it, then you better make sure you understanding what you are reading.

Response to Connectivism

In response to “What is Connectivism,” I teach learners on the lower academic levels who find this technology overwhelming at times because of its abstract nature and higher level thinking involved. They also struggle to read independently and understand materials just by reading them on the screen alone. I am concerned for these learners for two reasons when considering connectivism because their ability to partake in this “group learning” may be misunderstood or they may misunderstand what is written. Yes, we are in the 21st century. Yes, technology is changing the way we work and play everyday, but what happens when the learning theory already developed met the needs of the learners? No one theory works for all learners. According to Wang (2008), everyone keeps learning every waking minute using different learning theories. No one person use one learning theory alone. Saying that “learning is no longer an individual activity” is dangerous in my opinion. I am in the business of individualizing learning because some students still need it. One size does not fit all! My students struggle with expressing themselves in writing and navigating while reading the written word. Some of it is mere need to practice, some of it is motivation and effort (buying into the educational process), and some students’ brains I truly believe are not “wired” for this learning although they can still be productive members of society. These students would benefit from learning from others only if others take the time to check their understanding, but I am not quite sure many of them would think they have much to offer. Connectivism may meet the needs of the majority of the population, but what does that mean for the rest of the population? How will their learning be affected and changed using the connectivism theory to drive the learning in the classroom. I believe connectivism has its place in education especially with the general population, but if all teachers and schools embrace this theory I truly believe something be lost in our educational system.



Skype Ideas – Welcome to the Jetsons!!!

I remember an episode of the Jetsons where the “phone TV” is ringing early in the morning and Judy Jetson does not have time to get coffee let alone put on her makeup and do her haor so she gets her “already done perfect self” mask to wear while talking with another woman, who we find out at the end of the conversation is also wearing her “perfect self” mask to call Judy in the first place!

AH! HA! I found it! ENJOY!

Who knew it was going to be called Skype?

After using Skype, I think people have personal connection online that they never felt before. A real HUMAN connection … not just some paragraph to read or response to reflect on. This connect allows people from all over the world to connect, learn, discuss, or simply chat like never before.

The possibilities of using Skype in the future to either connect with other teachers or to help my students connect seem endless! This software eliminates the global disconnect!  Sharing ideas, learning from others, and listening to LIVE first hand experiences would be incredible for my students.  And it translates too!!!!

Keeping basic contact with others is only the tip of the iceberg! My students could discuss novels with authors, movies ideas with producers, and interact with a real survivor of the Holocaust! These students could talk and interact with other classes all over the world. This will change the business world communication thus it must change how we teach in classroom to meet the needs of future generations.

In my classroom, my students can gain better insight into other cultures, other experiences and experts all over the world! As an educator, these resources allow for live face-to-face discussion and life-changing interactions with people all over the world. Here are some other ideas:

50 ways to use Skype

Using Skype in Classroom

Blog on Skype

Can you hear me now? Finding balance in this techno world of the future

Balance is the key to life. Albert Einstein said that” Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” What’s the next “big thing”? I love learning from and playing with technology. I love learning about new tools,  I love watching my students and my own children learn new skills or play with technology. As we embark on this new frontier of learning that has been knocking on the school’s door since the dawn of the Internet, how will we teach the next generation of humans to find balance between technology and their everyday life?

I am intrigued by this topic as I spend a beautiful day typing from my sunroom. Now, don’t go all Zen on me. Yes, we all need to find balance and we all need that friendly reminder, but my concern is teaching these little techno- born people how to become productive techno-balanced adults.

I see my own children excited about using technology to learn or play. I see my students easily navigate the Internet for the answers to questions they have.  I know my tendency with the iPhone is to feel like I have the world in my hand from my bank balance and email to search engines and GPS systems. Do you see how technology is changing you? Do you see, ever wonder, how they view technology?

How are we balancing it in school? Anyone can learn how to use a computer, but who teaches them when to put it down and go out and play or TALK to a friend? I may be treading on parenting issues here, but as a teacher and parent I am concerned with how this Net Generation views technology and how the few its use in their education and ultimately their lives.

Check out the replies in the CNN Student News blog, A School Goes Old School.

Betty Bayer makes many valid points, like her phrase “Keeping up and keeping sane” in

Balance in the Unbalance World.

The blog Pruning the iBrain leaves you with some thought-provoking ideas, images, and videos worth pondering.

Read about balancing technology and human touch in Technology in Education: Finding the Balance.

That said check out the all-too-possible future of communicating in Walle:

We need to teach them balance as much as we teach the technology.