The Winding Road: Student Comprehension

I was about 8 years old when I became introduced to using technology. I remember my sister went to university and my father bought us our first computer. It was by the company Compaq and had very limited space and features on it. My dad was so excited because it was the “new way” to communicate with my sister while she was far away doing her studies!  Today, my dad is 75 years old and he is flabbergasted by the way technology has evolved within such a short period of time. Having been boring in 1939, he did not have the pleasure of having such a wide range of technological resources growing up. He cannot get over the fact that my iPhone is used for banking, weather, e-mail, camera, calculator etc. I think it is amazing that my 4 year old niece can use an iPad better than I can. I assume that she will be even more amazed when she sees her children operating new technological devices.

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There can be many ways technology is introduced in the classroom. Students are becoming more technologically aware because of the resources educators are providing them. Whether it is through videos, games, smart board, blogs etc., students are being introduced to technology and its evolving components in many diverse ways. I think that differentiated teaching is crucial when it comes to using technology in the classroom. There are many students on multiple learning levels. Thus, it is important to accommodate everyone’s learning needs for every subject. I see “technology” as a subject. I had a specific “computer class” when I was in Elementary School and High School, now it’s as if computer class is incorporated all the time for students.

Freedom Writers is a great movie I could relate to my metaphor. It is about a young teacher who encourages her class of at-risk students to learn tolerance, apply themselves, and pursue further education. I think the clip below is a great example of what can happen from a teacher being the leader in a classroom using technology. The movie was made in 2007 so just imagine how far along technology has evolved. It is also a perfect example of showing students that the teacher is not there to give you orders or boss anyone around. They are there to direct, lead and organize. I think that students sometimes become frustrated when then do not understand something right away. The same type of frustration can occur in adult life as well (e.g. when starting a new job). This is why it is essential that teachers assure their students to keep trying and never give up! Here is my favorite clip from the video:

“We Mattered.”

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It’s a long road – but it’s worth it!

A child has a natural instinct to learn. The teacher’s role should be the leader in the classroom and set goals for students. Children are extremely curious about new technologies that are being used in today’s society. It is not uncommon for a young child to already know how to operate an iPad or any other type of technological device. This makes it crucial for educators to know the best way to integrate technology within their classroom. Thus, choosing the correct path to make sure integrating it is as beneficial as possible.

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Vygotsky was extremely interested in the role of social interaction on cognitive development and argued that development first takes place socially.  This means, children observe the behaviour of the adults around them, listen to their speech, actions and interactions and then try to imitate them. Vygotsky proposed that a students’s learning ability differs between occurances in which they try to solve a problem alone and when another student or adult assists them. He refers to this as the zone of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1978). If a child is learning to complete a task, such as building a bridge with blocks, and a more competent individual provides assistance, the student is able to move into a new zone of development and problem solving.  This process of assisting can also be refered to as scaffolding. This helps to link a student’s current level of problem-solving and their potential for more complex problem solving. Overall, this means that as students learn through imitation in a classroom environment, teachers should guide them, correct them and provide challenges.

Vygotsky states cognitive development stems from social interactions from guided learning within the zone of proximal development as children and their partners co-construct knowledge (Vygotsky, 1978).

 I think this can be related to my metaphor because as a teacher educates the class how to use technology, the students are constantly watching and mimicing every step. As teachers, we should never expect students to fully understand a new idea without some sort of stuctured and supported framework. This is why it is so important to make sure they are always guided along the right path (yellow brick road). Educators can also use scaffolding to boost creativity and allow students to think critically. It can also be used if a student is having difficult understanding a certain aspect of what they are learning in hopes they they will have an “Ah-Ha” moment. However, if a student sees their teacher is constantly on Facebook or doing things on the computer that would not be considered appropriate for the classroom, the student will think that is okay to do that in their class time. It is extremely important to have a balance of what is appropriate and what is not.

For Vygotsky, the environment in which children grow up will influence how they think and what they think about (Vygotsky, 1978).

Based on the reference above, the way that teachers introduce technology to the classroom environment will influence how the student will view using technology in their future life. If a student has always had bad experiences with technology, they might not be able to use technology to it’s fullest potential as an adult. It is essential for the educator to make sure everyone is on the same page as they are introducing technology-based things in the classroom. There will definitely need to be use of examples and scaffolding to make sure the information is transmitted in a comprehensive way.

References:

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Retrieved from: http://www.childdevelopmentmedia.com/play-the-work-of-lev-vygotsky/

Follow the Yellow Brick Road!

Metaphors are used to make sense of the world and to relate to different experiences one has had or may have. Therefore, I created my own metaphor to help me understand what role the teacher portrays in a technology-mediated classroom. Technology within the classroom is a continuous yellow brick road. The role of the educator is to be a leader for students and guide their way along the path.

There were many things that influenced the decision for my metaphor. The teacher being the leader in the classroom is crucial. I believe that the goal of the teacher in a technology-integrated classroom is to keep the students focused,  make sure they do not go off track and monitor what material is being accessed. Allowing students to use technology gives them a chance to self-learn. In today’s society, new technologies are being produced at extremely fast rates. The leader has to be there to answer further questions, spark deeper thinking, and provide explanation for what is occurring or being learned. The educator is there to fill in the gaps. This is why I chose the quote in my previous post by Sir Peter Blake. Imagine what the world would be like if we depended on computers to teach us everything. Technology is always going to be there but the mind should not depend on it.

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I thought that using the yellow brick road related to integrating technology after I discovered another blog that dissected the film The Wizard of Oz. It defined the Yellow Brick Road as the gold way or standard, composed of gold bricks. They also created a table which I found super accurate in relation to using technology in the classroom. I added a few things to better understand how I related it to my metaphor:

Each step you (Dorothy/Teacher) take on the yellow brick road, contained within it are three mini-steps. (Friends/Students):

Dorothy (Teacher) and the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion (Students)   
Mini-step 1 Take step off The Yellow Brick Road Scarecrow Brain – make mistake
Mini-step 2 Realize that you’re stuck in the Woods Tin Man Heart – discover mistake
Mini-step 3 Redirect self back onto The Yellow Brick Road Cowardly Lion Courage – correct mistake
Equals One Step Taken Take a step forward on The Yellow Brick Road Dorothy You – acquire awareness
Source: http://theyellowbrickroadfreeblog.wordpress.com/the-meaning-of-the-yellow-brick-road/

When using technology in the classroom, each student takes one step at a time when discovering and learning new things. As students’ progress, they begin to discover, correct and acquire awareness for any mistakes along the way. The role of the teacher is to lead the way and set goals for the students.

What would the characteristics of a teacher with leadership skills be?
The following are things I believe are essential for good leadership skills:

Continue thinking outside of their classrooms

Take risks within the classroom

Not be ashamed to say that they do not know something

Be confident in sharing what they do know

Once we can master the skills mentioned above, we can develop skills further so that as teachers, we can lead our students as well as colleagues in improving practice and collaborating more effectively. If education systems are becoming more and more technologically integrated, then it is important for future educators to know how to transmit any information being used in the classroom properly.