Innovative Learning Blog
I am glad to have a template to start working with. The IRB template provides questions that I would not have thought of, such as "What kind of study is it?". It also has questions that I have, such as, "What is the duration of the research project?"
I still haven't decided what my driving question is or what the research will be about. Right now, choosing a topic is my main focus. I have some ideas, however, I need to narrow my ideas into one specific, measurable, assignable, and realistic, project that I can achieve within the time constraints that exists with a 18 month long master's program.
One of the areas of the project that will be a focus of mine is to figure out how to measure the data, how to collect the data, and how to transfer that data into a written, formatted, thesis paper. I take solace that Dr. Hawley's expertise is "writing" and that she has us taking baby steps in order to complete a large project.
For me, one important element in this project is that technology is infused to enhance the student learning. I also want this project to challenge me technologically. In addition, I want to focus on 21st century skills as much as I do on the skills related to the Almighty "Achievement Gap". There is so much focus on assessing writing, reading, and math skills, which are actually not on the list of 21st century skills according to "The Glossary of Education Reform"edglossary.org/21st-century-skills/
Below are list of 21st Century skills that I may embed into my project and use to measure student success.
What drives me is what drives students. I know that technology and the use of it motivates them. I also know that student choice is important. I also know that it has to be meaningful and they have to have a platform with an audience to voice what motivated them to choose their topic. Technology is the medium to which the voice is best delivered. I feel that way because students love to get their hands on technology and the technology can enhance projects as well as provide diversity of choice. I want to become an expert at facilitating technologically, innovative story telling through podcasts, blogs, movies, music, computer graphics, and text created and aided by the technological tools available.
At the heart of everything, I am most curious about "oracy". Watching the Case Study, www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfrwGZyk-bc, "Public Speaking: Oracy Skills for the Real World", inspired me to want to do further investigating on how oracy can drive literacy. In the Case Study, there is a school called School 21 that is focused on oracy, which has created an environment that has motivated and inspired students and at the same time catapulted the school into the top echelon of school's in terms of academic testing. We're so focused on writing, reading, math, and other subjects. Maybe, the whole time the answer was in our voice!
The three Case Study videos that I researched showed teachers using technology in the classroom, 21st century teaching, and innovative and creative methods to ensure student success and preparedness for a 21st century society. The three Case Studies were:
1.) "An Introduction to Technology Integration" www.youtube.com/watch?v=d59eG1_Tt-Q&list=PLvzOwE5lWqhSgJVgg7VfRkBisbmm-BFUL&index=8,
2.) "Public Speaking: Oracy Skills for the Real World" www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfrwGZyk-bc
3.) "Personalized Learning: Enabling Voice and Choice through Projects" www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCeM4lyvaAE
The first case study, "An Introduction to Technology Integration (AITI)", was more of an extended learning experience for myself, whereas the latter two cases studies were new material for me.
One of the educators in the Case Study defined "AITI" as "using your resources to the best of your ability". In this case study, the focus was on technological resources.
I am like most teachers in that I don't use all my technological resources to the best of my ability but I desire to have mastery tech skills. In fact, I am like most adults and most kids in that I love the idea of filming, photographing, creating music, and using digital tools to research, write, and display meaningful data, text, and graphics, but I am a bit fearful of it. If I'm a little freaked out about it, I imagine my students are. However, if I treat the technological tools as a cool uncharted territory in which I have my 25 assistants (my students) to help me navigate the swampy and mezmorizing views of 21st century technology, then the barrier of impossibility dissipates and there is an excitement to learn something new from both the teacher and students (assistants).
Just like the students from this Case Study, I want my students recording personal narratives, creating music, art, podcasts, and movies. My goal is to use my technological resources to the best of my ability and this Master's program is an environment to begin the process of achieving that goal.
The second Case Study, "Public Speaking: Oracy skills for the real world", is the case study that most intrigued me. A school in London, called School 21, is taking an approach to education like I have never seen and is seeing spectacular academic results. School 21's focus is on Oracy! Yes..., finally a program that says the voice must be heard from not some but all students. Voices are heard in classrooms, but so many successful students go through school by taking a backseat to the classroom. This school puts every student in the driver's seat.
We (as in most schools) test on reading, writing, math, science, history, but for some reason the biggest tool we have to succeed in a 21st century society, our voice, is never taken into account. The five minute video documenting School 21's success left me wanting to learn more because Voice is not only something that is tested, but it is the main focus of the school.
The third Case Study, "Personalized Learning: Enabling Voice through Projects", was also an interesting video in that it had a Project Based Learning (PBL) focus on citizenship and student choice that I think is missing in most PBL projects that I have seen. One of the groups of students in the video did a project on "Black Lives Matters". Another project, involving teacher's and students, was based off of the hit t.v. program called "Shark Tank".
Instead of setting up students for PBL's on the life cycle of Butterfly's, how about setting them up with projects where they can help make a change in their community (school or living)? I'm not saying butterflies aren't cool and shouldn't be read about, however, I do think students, even at a young age, need to be taught things such as social justice in order to prepare them to be active citizens making positive change in our society. There is a book called "Spectacular things happen along the way: lessons from an urban classroom (teaching for social justice)", which gives an example of how a project can be a year long project rooted by problems in the student's community, driven by the students, facilitated by the teacher, and encompassing all aspects of academic material often times at higher levels than the grade level standards.
In all three Case Studies, the videos provided statistics that proved that their method of teaching is successful. The videos also had testimonials from students about how the academic environment at their schools inspired and motivated them to come to school and learn. One takeaway was how important it is to have students use technology as a tool to explore, research, manipulate, interact, and create. Another takeaway, was the importance to have projects that are meaningful to the students and that provide a platform for their voice.
I think that "voice" is often talked about, but often undervalued. The exploration, the research, the creation of the product is what is often evaluated and valued. The delivery of voice, it's intonation, it's impact, it's purpose, it's effect on it's audience is so often overlooked and so often deemed unnecessary.
I learned a lot from each Case Study. Each of the three Case Studies were relevant to my teaching and teaching philosophies. I am excited to be in a master's program that allows me to be able to dive deeper into a particular educational topic and voice my opinion. I look forward to receiving feedback, and providing my own.
The book, The Flat World and Education, has many statistics about education that would leave a person feeling deflated. They represent issues in our education system that need to be addressed in order for teachers to prepare students for the 21st century skills and citizenship needed to succeed in a 21st Century global environment. Some of those statistics spoke to me more than others.
On page 17, it states that "America's Ph.D programs is now dominated by graduates of Chinese universities...", which is just a snippet of reality in terms of the inequality of education among different races not only in our country but in the entire world. Statistics should always be viewed with a grain of salt for they are so easily skewed by the author's intent.
However, the overwhelming stats point in the direction that there is clearly a gap between academic achievement among the different ethnic groups that make up society. The solution to this problem is not an easy one to solve because without looking at each individual student through a holistic lense and without viewing all the macro and micro causes that effect a student's performance, we will always be riding the hamster wheel of educational gaps that seem to be gaining instead of progressing or sustaining.
I take solace that I am a teacher, and even if I wasn't, there would be other teachers, such as cohort 11, that are inspired, determined, and willing to make the sacrifices necessary to ensure that the future generation does not get stuck on the hamster wheel. Teacher's are of the micro causes that effect a student's performance that can have a macro effect. It's a tough burden to take on. The pay is generally not that great, but the intrinsic rewards can be gratifying and often outweigh the burdens, stress, bureaucracy, and politics that can cause a teacher to burn out. I am honored to be part of Cohort 11-Learners who are Innovating!