Proposal: Why Technology in My Classroom?
Learning with Technology in the English Classroom
I have worked within an educational setting for more than twenty-five years.
I enjoy working with
ideas and trying "new" approaches. As I have become more involved with
computer technology, I
find myself questioning assumptions that to change and reform education,
a district must include "cutting edge" technology. What I have found through
recent use of technology in my classroom is that one of the
basic tenets for learning is still time. Time is needed to learn how
to use the software, to incorporate the software in my personal learning,
to practice teaching it in a variety of situations, and to reflect on the
educational outcomes. I plan to use my time on work in the CTER program
to explore how to use technology to change the student's perception of
self as learner, to communicate that learning to a larger community, and
to develop further my understanding of the student-centered classroom and
constructivist learning and teaching.
Changing Student Perceptions about Learning
I was first challenged in my own thinking about learning
early in my career through my participation in an National Endowment in
the Humanities (NEH) seminar called "Literature and the Creative Self."
This seminar focused on the works of Louise Rosenblatt. Through this close
study of Literature as Exploration and The Reader, the Text,
the Poem: The Transactional Theory of the Literary Work, I
became interested in looking at the ways that I was assisting
students in recognizing the validity of personal response as well as its
importance in their understanding of their world. During this month-long
seminar, I was engaged in learning how to use drama, media, art, music,
and cross-disciplinary instruction to create an environment that invites
students to participate in their own learning. This experience was a transforming
one for me because I realized that my role as teacher was an extension
of myself as learner. Convincing others that coming to know is messy work
and takes time continues to be an issue I deal with yet today-- especially,
during this time of high stakes testing and accountability.
What is an essential question for me is the accountability
component in education. How do I guide students in ways that put them in
charge of showing their understanding and knowing through activities that
provide the context for authentic learning while addressing the learning
required by the district and the state. I do not necessarily see school
learning and real learning as exclusive of each other, but others do. Lawmakers
and educational policy makers influence what happens in my classroom. Since
we are required to complete curriculum mapping logs, I plan to use them
to see how my classroom instruction aligns with district, state, and in
the case of technology, national standards.
Communicating Student Learning to a Larger Community
While most of us are familiar with the Open House Activity
syndrome--do an activity that puts student work in front of parents-- I
think that in many cases, that is the organizer for many classrooms throughout
the year. This is not necessarily a criticism, but I think that I will
look more closely at the projects my students do. Their purpose has to
have more value than just looking "creative" or "project-based." I know
that some of them in the past made me uneasy when I applied evaluative
criteria using a rubric that allowed student work to get the "A" points
when it was slightly shy of what I would say was an "A" using my academic
climate standard. I plan to raise the "so what?" element to projects to
move them into more profound dimensions. While the American Dream Web Survey
that my American literature class constructed two semesters ago lacked
perfection, it is a touchstone for me as I continue to struggle with process
learning. Developing problem statements for the students is becoming less
my responsibility and more theirs. Providing "real" reasons for conducting
surveys, developing journals, constructing newsletters, or just reading
are coming less from me and more from them. The technology definitely helps
us move our findings into a broader community. Students who do not see
themselves as artists can still use art to show their analysis of different
texts. Creating multimedia presentations that start out as something interesting
to the individual, but then becomes a source for sparking a fellow student's
interest show students that we teach each other.
With these thoughts in mind, I am going to try to contextualize
my units as described in a recent article by Tom March in MultiMediaSchools.
I am going to try The Creative
Brief , an instructional design model created by Tom March "who designs
Web-based activities, tools, and strategies for teachers."
A more basic use of technology that I am going to resurrect
is a course web page for my students and their parents.
Developing My understanding of the student-centered classroom
and constructivist learning and teaching
The end result of my inquiry will be a theoretical base for
curriculum development, classroom instruction, and staff development. I
will be involved in professional settings that will test and strenghten
my educational beliefs. I am presently gathering readings on integrating
technology and its impact on learning.
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