A Journey Through Technology

Week 6 Reflection

Coding absolutely terrifies me, mainly because I have zero experience with it. As the week progressed, however, I have come to the realization that it really isn’t that bad, and if I spent some time learning about it, I think I could pick it up easily.

This week, Twitter, reading through the given readings, and reading classmates blogs all impacted my learning. As usual, Twitter was very helpful for me in understanding more about coding and how it could, and perhaps should, be used in our classrooms. I read through Genevieve and Brian’s blogs this week.

In Brian’s blog, he shared some statistics on the number of tech jobs in the future, and how that compares to the number of people actually working toward tech careers. I find it very interesting that more people aren’t getting trained in what appears to be the fastest growing career. I think if we can let more kids know about the possibilities, maybe they will move towards that career path.

Genevieve shared some cons that she had deduced from her readings this week, and I agree with all of them. The main theme is lack of knowledge or understanding of coding, and not being willing to try it. I will admit, I was in the not-willing category at the beginning of this week, but I can now see the value in using coding in some way in my classroom.

I contributed to the learning of others through my blog post this week, as well as through the Twitter session. This week, five of my classmates read and commented on my post, and the Twitter session that we had on Thursday was a good opportunity for me to share my understandings as well.

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Week 6: What are the compelling arguments both for and against computer coding in schools?

Coding is something that is pretty new to me. I don’t really have any experience in coding, though I do remember making programs for my TI graphing calculator in calculator, and that I had a fun time doing it. This week we are looking at the arguments both for and against coding in schools.

Pro-Coding Argument

Students want to do things in school that interest them. Gaming is huge among students today, so why not bring gaming into the classroom? Weissmann (2013) mentioned two students that won a 2012 STEM video game competition and during their interview, it came up that “these students don’t think of programming as a whole separate world the way older adults tend to, but as a tool they can use to explore their interests.” (Weissmann, 2013) If we can give students more tools to explore their interests at school, maybe we can get them more involved in our classrooms.

A different article shares three reasons that coding is important in education:

  1. Programming is rapidly becoming a foundational skill that has value across disciplines.
  2. Computer science is a powerful way to teach kids problem solving and critical thinking skills.
  3. Careers in computer science are abundant and lucrative. (3 Reasons Coding Should Be a Core Subject, 2015)

I’ve heard many times that we are preparing students for careers that don’t yet exist, so it makes sense that coding would be important for those future jobs. Technology is constantly changing, so if we can help students keep on top of the changes, they will be better prepared for the real world. Problem solving and critical thinking skills are crucial to many careers and life experiences, so it also makes sense to find new ways to incorporate those skills into the classroom.

Anti-Coding Arguments

Mark Guzdial (2014) discusses some problems with requiring students to take computer science in school. If computer science is a requirement, that means all students must take a course, and there is concern for the lower end students being able to handle computer science classes. There is also concern about the ability of teachers to adapt computer science curricula for special education students, and if not taking computer science should mean they cannot obtain a high school diploma.

There are also concerns about the amount of technology that is used in classrooms today. “The focus has been on how best to use computers as educational tools while largely disregarding the more fundamental issue of their effects on child development.” (Amico, 2014) Amico goes on further to explain that technology should only be used after student have reached the appropriate developmental stage when they have “reached the intellectual maturity to reason abstractly and process concretely on his or her own, around the age of 14.” She also expresses concern that “a child’s natural, instinctive, creative and curious way of relating to the world may be repressed when technology is introduced into learning environments at an early age.”

My Thoughts

Reading through all of these articles this week has given me quite a bit to think about. I definitely think that coding should be offered to students, maybe starting in middle school but for sure offered in high school. I do not think that it should be required for all students, however. It might be a good idea to have students all take an introduction computer or technology class, where they learn a variety of skills, including coding, and then let students decide if they want to pursue coding in more depth.

One of the main obstacles I see in implementing coding in schools is making sure that teachers are adequately trained in coding and how to teach it effectively. According to Guzdial (2014), there are not many computer science teachers right now. “In the U.S., maybe one high school in ten has a computer science teacher. Far fewer schools serving grades 1-6 have CS teachers.” (Guzdial, 2014) If we can overcome this hurdle, I can see coding becoming a positive for many students and will help us to prepare students for unknown jobs to come.

References:

3 Reasons Coding Should Be a Core Subject. (2015, September 29). Retrieved June 23, 2016, from http://gettingsmart.com/2015/09/3-reasons-coding-should-be-a-core-subject/

Amico, B. (2014, May 12). Other Skills Should Take Priority Over Coding. Retrieved June 23, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/05/12/teaching-code-in-the-classroom/other-skills-should-take-priority-over-coding

Guzdial, M. (2014, April 15). The Danger of Requiring Computer Science in K-12 Schools. Retrieved June 23, 2016, from http://cacm.acm.org/blogs/blog-cacm/173870-the-danger-of-requiring-computer-science-in-k-12-schools/fulltext

Weissmann, J. (2013, May 15). Why High Schools Should Treat Computer Programming Like Algebra. Retrieved June 23, 2016, from http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/05/why-high-schools-should-treat-computer-programming-like-algebra/275893/

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Week 5 Reflection

This week I started with a very basic understanding of the Internet of Things, even though I didn’t know that was what it was called. I will admit that I was a bit terrified of coming up with my own device, and my minimal knowledge of the IoT was a big reason for that fear.

Twitter and reading through my classmate’s blogs were the two ways that I learned from others this week. The Twitter session on Thursday was very informative and the questions brought out a variety of answers from everyone that was present. I thought the smart oven was a very cool piece of technology, and if it ever becomes cheaper I might consider getting one! Within minutes of watching the video about the oven on my iPad, I had an ad show up on the Facebook app on my android phone! What a great example of how the Internet of Things works!

I read Sara L, Kayla, Melissa, and Jessica’s blogs. We all seem to have a strong understanding as to what the Internet of Things is, and I really liked reading about the devices everyone wants to use in their classrooms. Sara wants to have a device that can select music to fit a student’s mood. So many students are listening to music, so why not have the music fit their mood in the classroom?

Kayla had an idea for a smart desk surface that could be used for a variety of things in the classroom. I think the applications of this are endless, and I can see this actually existing in the not-so-distant future.

Melissa’s device was a pillow that keeps track of whether or not students are on-task based on how much they are moving. Part of my device idea was a way to track if a student is on-task or not, so I like the idea of having the students sit on something to measure that.

Jessica thought of a device that would be similar to a Fitbit that would track anxiety levels and cognitive strain for students. I think this is great because it is hard for students to learn if they are anxious, so learning the triggers for that anxiety or knowing when to move on to something else could help a lot of students perform better in school.

My contribution to the learning of others occurred during Twitter and my blog post for this week. Two of my classmates posted on my blog this week, so I hope I was able to contribute to their learning this week.

After spending time reading blogs and conversing during the Twitter session, I feel like I really understand the Internet of Things. I am much more comfortable with the idea of designing a device that fits into the IoT because there are so many ways that IoT can be used. This week has given me a lot to think about in terms of ways that technology can benefit my classroom, and I look forward to researching more about IoT devices that currently exist.

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Week 5:Design an object that could be classified as belonging to “The Internet of Things” and describe how it could contribute to your classroom.

What is the Internet of Things?

This week our focus is on designing a device that belongs to the Internet of Things (IoT) that can be used in a classroom to benefit student learning. In order to star the design process, it’s important to understand what the IoT is. “The Internet of Things revolves around increased machine-to-machine communication; it’s built on cloud computing and networks of data-gathering sensors; it’s mobile, virtual, and instantaneous connection; and they say it’s going to make everything in our lives from streetlights to seaports “smart.”” (Burrus, 2014) This explanation makes me think of objects in our lives that can “learn” and use that information to enhance our lives.

One example of one of those objects is the Nest Learning Thermostat (Nest Learning Thermostat, n.d.). The Nest learns how you like the temperature of you house to be, and within about a week of installation, it will automatically maintain the temperature of your house how you like it to be. I remember the first time I saw a commercial for the Nest, I thought that was the craziest thing I had ever heard of. Now there are so many different devices that do similar things that people all over the world are using. In Britain, the government is encouraging energy companies to use smart meters to increase efficiency and use less energy. (Kobie, 2015) But the question now becomes, how can we use the Internet of Things in education?

Device Design

To start designing my device, I read through Max Meyer’s “Can the Internet of Things make education more student-focused?”. He mentions a few devices that currently exist that could really make a classroom more student-centered. “Teachers are freed from managing classroom procedures to focus more fully on students – and perhaps focus more incisively too.” (Meyers, 2014) This would be my ultimate goal in designing an IoT device for my classroom.

I envision my device being some sort of wearable technology that would be registered to each student. The first thing I want it to do is take attendance as soon as students walk in the room. This would free up time each day that could be better spent focused on student learning and activity. I would also like the device to be able to track whether or not a student is paying attention. If a student is not engaged in class, the device could vibrate or do something else to let the student know they need to get back on task. Keeping students on task can take up a lot of time as well, so not having to worry about that would leave more time for students to work, hopefully on things that keep them more engaged.

The device could keep track of student data over the course of a semester or school year, and teachers could compare both attendance and on-task data with student performance for analyzing instruction and future planning. To maintain student privacy, the only teachers with access to the information would be current teachers, and the information would be placed in a password-protected location that is only accessible through the school district. The data could also be coded with numbers for each student for additional security. The more I think about this device, the more things could be added. I imagine if I thought about this for a longer period of time, it could become even more useful for teachers everywhere.

References:

Burrus, D. (2014, November). The Internet of Things Is Far Bigger Than Anyone Realizes. Retrieved June 14, 2016, from http://www.wired.com/insights/2014/11/the-internet-of-things-bigger/

Kobie, N. (2015, May 06). What is the internet of things? Retrieved June 14, 2016, from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/may/06/what-is-the-internet-of-things-google

Meyers, M. (2014, December 03). Can the Internet of Things make education more student-focused? – Government 2020. Retrieved June 17, 2016, from http://government-2020.dupress.com/can-internet-things-make-education-student-focused/

Nest Learning Thermostat. (n.d.). Retrieved June 14, 2016, from https://store.nest.com/product/thermostat/?utm_source=en-ha-na-sem

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Week 4 Reflection

This week I will admit I was apprehensive about the idea of a makerspace in my classroom. I didn’t know much about makerspaces, but the readings this week, our Twitter session, and reading classmates blogs really helped in my understanding. I hosted Twitter this week with Laura, which I feel was my main contribution to the learning of others this week. The session went very well and my classmates shared their thoughts and feelings about makerspaces. This helped me see that I could have a type of makerspace in my chemistry classroom. So the Twitter session was also the main source of others having an effect on my learning for the week.

I envision that as an inquiry-type lab where I give students a list of supplies and they decide what to research. This will allow students a chance to research what they choose, within reason, of course. Safety is a huge concern for me in chemistry, so this will keep students safe while still giving them an opportunity to do something they want. I definitely feel more comfortable offering a chemistry makerspace in my classroom and look forward to trying this out sometime in the near future. This could also be a part of the flipped classroom that I want to implement this next school year, so I am eager to learn more and develop something that fits in with chemistry.

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Week 4: What is the pedagogy behind a Maker Space? What are the benefits of this pedagogy to students?

In order to discuss the pedagogy of a makerspace, we need understand what a makerpace is. “A makerspace is a physical location where people gather to share resources and knowledge, work on projects, network, and build.” (7 Things You Should Know About Makerspaces, 2013) Another explanation states that “a makerspace where kids and teachers learn together through direct experience with an assortment of high and low-tech materials.” (Stager, 2014) Agenvine and Weisgrau (2015) state that makerspaces are “about a learner-directed, hands-on approach to learning and knowing.”Looking at all of these definitions and explanations tell me that a makerspace is about students building things and learning through the process. To me, this fits well with the contructivitst pedagogy, where learning is student-centered and student-directed.

Makerspaces also help to turn classrooms into active-learning environments. “Maker classrooms are active classrooms. In active classrooms one will find engaged students, often working on multiple projects simultaneously, and teachers unafraid of relinquishing their authoritarian role. The best way to activate your classroom is for your classroom to make something.” (Davis, 2014) One of my goals in becoming more constructivist is that my classroom becomes a more active environment to get my students engaged and motivated in their learning.

References:

7 Things You Should Know About Makerspaces. (2013, April). Retrieved June 9, 2016, from https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7095.pdf

Angevine, C., & Weisgrau, J. (2015, September 24). Situating Makerspaces in Schools – Hybrid Pedagogy. Retrieved June 09, 2016, from http://www.digitalpedagogylab.com/hybridped/situating-makerspaces-in-schools/

Davis, V. (2014, July 18). How the Maker Movement Is Moving Into Classrooms. Retrieved June 09, 2016, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/maker-movement-moving-into-classrooms-vicki-davis

Stager, G. (2014). What’s the Maker Movement and Why Should I Care? Retrieved June 09, 2016, from http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3758336

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Week 3 Reflection

This week was a good week for me. I am very excited about trying out a flipped classroom, or some variation of that, starting this fall in all of my classes. Our district has started a technology plan to give teachers laptop/tablet combos that are mobile in our classrooms, and eventually give every student some sort of technology. I think a flipped classroom will work wonderfully with this plan, and I learned a lot this week about how that might look in my classroom.

I feel like I affected the learning of others this week through the Twitter session, as I was a co-host, and also through my blog post. One of the comments on my post said they could feel my excitement for flipping my classroom in my post, and that is encouraging because I want to share that excitement with not only my peers, but also my students. Twitter went very well this week, and I think we had some very good conversations about all three types of emerging technology and my classmates painted a nice picture of how that would look for different subject and grade levels.

My learning was mainly impacted through the Twitter session and also reading through Sara L, Laura, and Daysha’s blogs. Sara focused on both MOOC’s and flipped classrooms, and I found that I agree with a lot of Sara’s post concerning flipped classrooms. I really liked what she said about a student only being able to hear something once in a lecture, but they can repeat it as much as they need to with a video. Laura focused on Genius Hour, and a quote she shared really stuck with me. It was about how Genius Hour allows students to choose their own path instead of just going with the rest of the class. Genius Hour seems like a wonderful emerging tech, though looking at the posts this week, I do think it is better suited for younger grades with combined-subject classrooms. Daysha also focused on Genius Hour, and really got me thinking about what will be going on when my daughter enters into K-12 education. Daysha described one possible way for a first grade classroom to use Genius Hour, and I can only hope my daughter’s first grade class allows for such a rich learning environment!

This week really helped me feel more comfortable with flipping my classroom for this coming school year, and I am very excited to continue learning about other emerging technologies that I can use in my classroom.

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Week 3: Which emerging pedagogy appeals most to you, and might be most useful for your classroom and students? Why?

This week I looked at the options for emerging technology and immediately was drawn to a flipped classroom. I’ve been contemplating flipping my classroom for a few years, so this really fits with the direction I want to move with my classroom. Our district just put a group of teachers, including me, through some training and provided us with mobile laptop/tablets to use in our classrooms to encourage us to use blended learning in our classrooms, so I feel like a flipped classroom also fits well into their vision for our classrooms.

But what is flipped learning? “Flipped Learning is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter.” (The Teacher’s Guide to Flipped Classrooms) I teach Chemistry, which can be a hard subject for a lot of students. In the past, I have found that students tend to struggle when they try to practice concepts at home, and I have always felt that students could benefit from doing notes at home instead of in class. By having students obtain information on their own, either at home or during other parts of the school day, I will have more time in class for hands-on learning and more engaging activities.

I would give students access to resources where they can learn about topics, such as Kahn Academy, TEDEd, and Flipped Learning Network (Learning Resources, 2016) and then use class time to reinforce those new concepts. “By providing an opportunity for students to use their new factual knowledge while they have access to immediate feedback from peers and the instructor, the flipped classroom helps students learn to correct misconceptions and organize their new knowledge such that it is more accessible for future use.” (Brame, 2013) I see students so often not connecting ideas from lecture to the activities we do in class, so hopefully flipping the classroom will provide better opportunities to make those connections and build a better foundation of knowledge.

I’m excited to explore more with flipping my classroom and hope to start using it this coming fall in all of my classes.

References:

Brame, C. J. (2013). Flipping the Classroom. Retrieved June 03, 2016, from https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/flipping-the-classroom/

Learning Resources. (2016). Retrieved June 03, 2016, from http://flippedinstitute.org/learning-resources

The Teacher’s Guide To Flipped Classrooms. (n.d.). Retrieved June 03, 2016, from http://www.edudemic.com/guides/flipped-classrooms-guide/

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