Thursday, October 27, 2005

Millenials in Your Classroom

Millenial Students



Highly engaged


Know IM address, not phone number of friends

Globally connected

Accepting diversity

Technology connected

Constantly communicating

Creating and contributing

Goal oriented

Skilled information management

Wanting to make a change


School Classrooms


Singular task

Low engagement

Passively listening

No IM, not even email

Teacher only connected

Forbidden to communicate except when told

Limited class diversity

Computer lab technology

Do the worksheet goal

Little information to manage

Do non-relevant classwork

Prepare for work world

Are you millenial savvy?

Have you changed your classroom to accommodate them?

Will they learn in your classroom?

Based on

Mike Muir's The Millenials: Who They are and How They Learn

Luolo Hong's Millenials, Mayhem, and Miracles

The Millenials

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Why do we have NETS when we don't have NEC (National Educational Curriculums)?

I am amazed at all the partners that worked on or agreed to the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS). The list of partners is very comprehensive.

However, I am very concerned that so many partners could agree on National Educational Technology Standards, while the USA does not yet have national curriculums for English, Math, Social Studies, Science, Art, Music, and Physical Education. We cannot truly talk about technology integration in students' learning until we know the curriculum or stated purposes of subject area learning.

If we really believe that technology integration exists to improve student learning, then why do we have NETS when we don't have NEC (National Educational Curriculums)?

Let's have the same organizations come together and have them establish national curriculum that all agencies accept in the same way that almost all agencies, even down to the school district level, have accepted NETS.

I realize that each national educational organization such as National Council of Teachers of English/ International Reading Association has its standards but they are not acknowledged as the curriculum that all students in all states are to follow. I know that in New York I do not hear any P-12 teacher refer to the NCTE/IRA standards; they do refer to the “New York State Learning Standards” for English.

How can NETS be so prevalent when national curriculums are not? Is technology more important than curriculum?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Improving Teaching Skills Through “Technology Integration” Professional Development

A school district hired me to do some professional development with its staff on the use of LCDs in the classroom since those teachers did not have LCDs in their classroom. These teachers would be sharing the LCD with a team or grade level. The technology director did not want his teachers to use an LCD just for lecture as some of them had done with the overhead.

I agreed to do the professional development as long as I could be creative. I changed the professional development from using LCDs to creating activities that engage students in high level thinking skills. Robert Marzano’s Classroom Instruction that Works. (ASCD, 2001) became my model. His research states that the technique of “similarities and differences” produces the greatest gain of any strategy in student learning, a 45% gain.

Each session I presented 15+ activities based on comparing and contrasting skills in their subject areas. Each activity involved high student engagement. I used the LCD as a catalyst for helping these 6-12 teachers to think differently about learning through the use of technology.

The Technology Director has arranged this professional development to be a series of sessions. After the teachers viewed and created some activities in the professional development session, I had the teachers try one technique in their own classrooms using the LCD and report on it the next session. As teachers reported their success with the short activities (developing the comparing and contrasting skill within one or two PowerPoint slides), other teachers commented that they wanted to modify the just presented technique for their classroom. One teacher acknowledged that she had not previously thought of using comparing and contrasting in her subject area and now she realized how easy it was. She had done three highly engaging higher level thinking activities when I had requested one to be done.

Many teachers will not go to “Improving Your Teaching” professional developments. However, each “technology integration” professional development can become an teaching improvement opportunity. The best way to improve how educators use technology is to improve their teaching skills first. As the teachers focus on high student engagement and higher level thinking skills such as comparing and contrasting, they use technology in very different ways than those who focus on low engagement and lower level thinking skills.

Do your “technology integration” professional developments develop teaching skills or technology skills?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Learning or Technology First?

I am fascinated with inconsistencies between concepts and talk in terms of learning and technology. I have conducted many interviews about learning and technology in classrooms with K12 teachers.

I have noticed that many educators say that technology is only a tool and that learning is the true focus. I often hear statements like “I concentrate on their classroom learning not their technology use” or “I don't care about the technology, I just want them to learn math.”

Then the educators go on to describe what their students do in terms of learning and technology. I usually hear statements like “My students use PowerPoint to show the decline of Spain,” “They searched the web for information on plants in space,” “I have my students take digital pictures to show the steps in their lab,” or “My students use email to exchange math problems with students in France.” Their words show a different focus. I notice that in each statement the technology comes first and then the learning. “My students use PowerPoint to show the decline of Spain” has a different focus than “My students show the decline of Spain through PowerPoint.” Often the educators' words show that they are still fixed on the technology.

The vast majority of teachers place the technology in the front part of their sentence and then the learning afterwards. Frequently, when I ask about learning and technology in their classes, I just hear the technology such as “My students search the web” without any indication of the specific subject area learning. I do not feel an educational focus in such statements about technology.

Sometimes I hear myself talking about learning and technology and I notice that I have put technology first. I usually stop and rephrase it instantly. I want to focus on student learning. Listen to how other educators describe learning and technology and see where their real focus is. Listen to professional development presenters or professional speakers and hear where they focus really is. What is first in your statements and theirs – learning or technology?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Deliberate Learning and Technology

In July of 1978 I saw a demonstration of a desktop computer (a Radio Shack TRS 80). Immediately I thought of ways of using it in my middle school Spanish classroom and so I bought it. However, I quickly learned that I had to program it; there were no commercial programs. I had to decide whether the student learning was worth my time in creating the individual programs. As I thought of each lesson that I was going to teach, I would decide if the computer was a useful tool for presenting or testing information. I found that I could develop meaningful vocabulary, grammar, written conversation, and cultural lessons. Once I decided to use the computer for a specific lesson, I had to be very precise about what I wanted the students to learn, how they would be quizzed, and then how I could structure the learning activities for students' success; today we call it Understanding by Design. Then I would write the computer program for that lesson.

I included the computerized lesson as one of the learning stations in my Spanish classes. Usually the computerized lesson provided a follow up to the previous day's introduction of a new concept or it reviewed a topic covered the past week such as vocabulary. Students would huddle around the computer; they took turns answering the questions. If a student was not at the keyboard, he or she wrote down his or her answer before the keyboarder entered the answer. Students were thrilled by the computer program since they knew instantly whether they were right or wrong. If the keyboarder was incorrect, then the computerized lesson provided some remediation. I felt like I had a partner in the room.

Structuring student learning for success through technology was a laborious yet rewarding task for me. Now, as I visit classrooms in many schools and have pre-service teachers report on their supervising teachers' classrooms, I wonder how deliberate teachers are in helping students to be successful learners through technology.

I find that many teachers have their students use technology since the teachers can use the technology with very little effort. On the other hand, I have found that some teachers' technology embedded learning activities result in much classroom time and little subject area learning. I feel that sometimes there is a disconnect between the selected learning and the students' specific technology use.

If teachers can be more deliberate about the specific learning they want for their students and how they will assess that learning, they will create appropriate technology embedded learning activities that allow their students to be successful learners.