Thing 4 – Reflections on Blogging

So many blogs!  What a wealth of information there is to be found in the blogging world of education.  Reading these blogs can be extremely motivating and thought provoking.  It is a great way to remain involved in what ideas are being discussed and teaching methods applied in various classrooms and communities.  The following comments refer to 4 of the blogs that caught my interest.

Reading the blog Synthesis by Shelley Wright and the struggles of her class, helped to crystallize the ideas that are being presented at our school for the coming year.  We have noticed that the students recite facts and information back to the teachers but when it comes to explaining what is being taught, that is harder to do.  In the elementary school setting, many students do not have a clear understanding of why the importance of learning simple math is going to help them as they grow older.  Why do they need to read books that hold no interest for them?  The reason is so these students can learn to take the information given to them and use it in everyday experiences – from buying groceries to building a boat that floats.  What kind of materials are needed?  How to get from point A to point B using the materials provided? These are hard concepts to understand.  Many mistakes will be made and need to be made.  The mistakes will force other questions to be asked, other ideas to emerge, and more confidence to be felt by students who are starting to understand that  in some respects leads to successful learning.

Reading the blog by a 3rd grade teacher in Seattle, Washington, Mark’s edtechblog, provided more thought concerning the reading choices of today’s youth. He states that his students may not want to read an entire book, a fiction book, because they have many other choices.  Mark himself realizes that his reading habits have changed.  He is not reading books these days but is reading blogs.  Where can teachers communicate so quickly and efficiently but on blogs.  So one of his solutions for his students is to have them read blogs of their choice a few times a week.  This is an excellent idea.  Not only will students be reading but they will have the ability to see what students from around the work and the United States are reading, doing, interested in.  What a fantastic way to bring the global world closer to home.  I am excited to do this with my own students.

Chris Betcher in his blog, Betchablog, makes some interesting observations concerning native vs. immigrant used of technology. He reports in The Myth of the Digital Native  the general prevailing assumption  that anyone born in the 90’s (natives) and who grew up with technology can use it effectively; those born earlier (immigrants) have a more difficult time with technology.  He goes on to provide his own experiences concerning contact with young individuals who are not adept at uploading, downloading, Google searches, setting up hardware, and a number of other tech related issues.  This well-written blog needs to be circulated among many teachers to help them understand that just because a person is young does not mean that youth understands technology better.  Too many times have I seen students just clicking on this or that until they have found something that will suit their needs.  The thoughtful process of doing a thorough search on Google is not readily available to all youth;  the idea of connecting a camera to a computer is alien; in short, they still need to be guided in the best use of technology.  And of course, we need to learn how to do it in order to teach it.

Interesting article concerning the $2 Interactive Whiteboard vs. the $2,000 Interactive Whiteboard. Since the SmartBoard ($2,000 variety) is readily used in our elementary school, I can see so many positive values connected with it.  I have seen 3 students at a time at the board working while the other students in the class are using manipulatives at their desk in a 1st grade math classroom.  Then they rotate.  This gives the teacher a chance to work on a specific problem with each student while others are busy and engaged.  Yes, the $2 variety is a great way to actively engage students, but I have also seen the $2,000 actively engage a large group of students while they all worked on a story line. There are times and places for each of the different tools that we use.  We are the ones who need to learn to use them wisely and well.

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