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Turnu Severin pics

Sunken Soviet ship on the Danube River outside of Turnu Severin, Romania

Sunken Soviet ship on the Danube River outside of Turnu Severin, Romania

5. Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership

This standard is involving the professional development of educators rather than the direct instruction of students.  This is one standard I can say I have been deeply involved in.  Our district has had a strong focus on technology in instruction for at least 2 years now, pushing us to improve our technological abilities as well as the abilities of our students.

There has not been a great push to be involved in web-base interaction until very recently.  The use of web-based seminars has been implemented recently, and it has had a positive impact so far.  Many of the seminars we are involved in as PD are developed into Webinars that we can go back to later and interact with.
Even with that being implemented, we don’t see a great deal of actual multi-cultural interaction through web-based activities.

On the last part, dealing with the vitality of the school, I have yet to seen a high school that has a strong positive school culture.  Most classrooms are very isolated from one another and have very little interaction.  The overall vitality of the school is often left to the administration to determine and maintain, and with very little success without the interaction of the faculty and staff.  I can definitely see how technology could have a positive impact on that school culture, but without the basic  school culture in place it is very difficult to use technology to enhance what is no really there from the start.  It is difficult to contribute to the betterment of the school if this is the case.

4. Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility

Standard 4 deals with the teaching of students how to handle technology in a fair and honest way.  It addresses a teacher’s need to teach students how to use technological sources without plagiarizing, guaranteeing students equal access to the technology and fostering cultural awareness and sensitivity in any interactions with different cultures through technology.

This standard is one that my students have a very difficult time comprehending.  The idea of plagiarism is something that they say they understand, but don’t seem to have a very good true understanding of.  I have explained how plagiarism online is very easy to accomplish, simply copy and paste , but that it is the same as if they  took credit for the work of another author from a book.  Often, this idea seems to confuse them and I find that they end up plagiarizing work anyway, seemingly unknowingly.

In terms of equitable access to technology, that is something that is a battle at my school.  There are not many computers to access when compared to the population of our school, and ultimately the regular ed and honors kids seem to take priority when it comes to access to the computers we do have.  I am not sure that is a conscious decision on the parts of anyone, but it does happen very often.  It is hard to get students to become technologically savvy when they cannot access the technology at school or at home.

I would love to have some sort of cross-cultural interaction in my classroom via online activities.  I am not sure, with the limited technology access we have at this point, if that would be feasible.

3. Model Digital-Age Work and Learning

Mr. Graybeal's webpage
This is a standard that is something that is a little easier to implement. To be able to communicate and demonstrate knowledge of technology is something, with the implementation of the technology usage in Pickens County, that is much more realistic. Communication is done primarily through email and online newsletters. We are required to keep our technology up-to-date on our webpages, and often we go beyond the basics to give our students online opportunities for learning and activities.

I have found that the lack of technology at home has limited my ability to implement this fully. I place many files that would be useful on my webpage, but many of my students don’t have access to these at home because they don’t even have a computer at home… let alone internet access. I do use the technology extensively in my class, and demonstrate how to use it on the Promethean Board, but more extensive access beyond that is very difficult due to the limited access to technology.

2. Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments

In the modern educational world, it is imperative that technology be included in what is happening in the classroom.  Students will be using this type of technology in the working world, so they need to be exposed  to, and given a chance to understand, how the technology works.  Being able to develop means of teaching students how to use technology, with a way for them to self-direct their education, is something of great value to educators.  Trying to find time and means to do this is the factor that would be very daunting for most overworked and underpaid teachers.

In my classroom I find that it is very difficult to implement this standard.  As a floating teacher I have very limited access to the technology I would need to make this type of idea work.  I can see how it would be an approachable ideal if you have regular access to this type of technology needed to create this type of experience.

Recently, I tried to implement a research project that was very student-directed.  They were allowed to choose their own topics and really develop the assignments into something they had individualized.  The stumbling block for this project was the inability to access technology for them to use.  We were only able to sign up for the computers on a very limited basis, and even then the laptops we used with the school were extremely slow and prone to shut down on the students.  After this experience, I have decided that I will not be doing another project of this sort this school year.  The frustration did not outweigh the benefits and outcome.

1. Facilitate & Inspire Student Learning and Creativity

An ideal situation in the classroom should allow teachers to invite creativity through interaction both face-to-face and in the virtual realm. The teacher should be familiar enough with the content to be capable of creating new and innovative ways of getting students involved in the content. The goal of the class is to cover content while exposing students to new technology that they could use in the working world as well as in their own homes, technology that will become parts of their everyday lives in the future.

In terms of how this relates to my classes, I can definitely put some of these ideas into use during school.  We can get access to computer labs, when I can schedule the time into the instructional time.  We are limited on the number of computers we have, so it can sometimes be difficult.  Pickens County puts a great deal of emphasis on the use of technology, in fact I sometimes feel they put too much emphasis on the technological delivery of the material and not enough on the instruction itself.  Many of my students do not even have access to the internet, or even a personal computer, when at home.  So, I can definitely see it’s uses and the student’s need for exposure, but I don’t see that we have the means to truly integrate the technology to it’s fullest due to a lack of resources for the school and the students alike.