For my second comic strip I decided to focus on technology as a tool that is used in the classroom at Hathaway Brown. As I stated in my pervious comic the students started by not using technology in the research of the first colonial regions. In later visits I observed how students created presentation, quizzes, and quizlets while using their iPads. I found that the classroom I observed used the reading from class that talk about the use of technology as a sandbox. It created a safe space for students to fail and try again. With the end goal being for students to continue their path to knowledge. As the students presented their part of the colonial region, I was able to see the benefits of technology being used as a tool. In the reading by Salomon and Perkin and discussed in the Effects of, Effects with discussion. we see the effects of technology including the development of cognitive ability, knowledge, and deeper conceptual understanding. In using technology, the students were able to use their iPads to explain why their colonial region was successful in certain cash crops (tobacco for North Carolina for example) using interactive maps, and transitions into images that expressed difficulties in some reasons (too wet to grow tobacco in South Carolina). When I ask my mentor teacher about her method of using technology in the classroom, she expressed that when she first started integrating technology, she was overwhelmed by how much the students already knew how to do with the iPads. The main difficulty she said was to try and stay as up to date with the technology as the kids are. Overall, my observations have showed me the importance of technology in the classroom not as an overtaking curriculum but as a tool. It showed me that technology is only as useful as the teacher allows it to be. If the educator does not understand the power of the technology, then it may be too powerful to integrate into the classroom. It is vital that our educators constantly remain up to speed with technology. We must adapt with the world.
This comic strip shows one of my first interactions in the classroom with my mentor teacher. The entire school (Hathaway Brown) is given iPad for the school year. The teacher expressed concern in so much technology usage. Often times she finds the students playing games instead of paying attention. For this reason she specifically tries to have the students step away from the technology to begin assignments. For this assignment students were assigned into one of three groups. Each group focusing on the New England colonies, the middle colonies, or the southern colonies. Once in their group they were tasked with finding information specific to the region. An example would be: cash crops, conditions, culture, religious freedom, and agriculture. Once all the information in the books was found the students were then permitted to use their iPads to further detail their notes. The websites they were able to access showed them videos, interactive maps, and photos. Once these notes were submitted the groups were allowed to start working on their slideshow that they were going to teach to the class.
This reminded me of the function of gears we talked about in class and also matched with my definition of distributed cognition. By having students first read and analyze text they are generating an idea in their head of what was happening during this time in history. Once they have built this foundation they are then able to build off of it by watching videos, using interactive maps, and other technology tools. They are able to transform their words into physical images, and then into a presentation. This also reminded me of the Morgan, Brickell, and Harper reading about the redesign of the copy and paste function. “It is a special property of human cognition that humans put between the stimulus and their internal cognitive resources certain mediating artefacts, such as signs, language, and physical tools, that altered their cognition in fundamental ways” (p126). The student in my class are doing this very thing. They are reading and pasting knowledge they find into their notes. After this is done they are then using different physical tools (technology) to find more detailed information and even express the information in a different way for their classmates to understand when they present to them.
- Who are the people at your school in charge of the technologies available to advance the learning of students? Identify as many of these people as possible:
- Director of Educational technology is Joy Howard. She technically retired last year but continues to work from Florida as a consultant. Joy is also the curriculum technology integration specialist. As far as technology maintenance there is a man named Ray (no one knows his last name) that is the break-fix kind of guy around the school. Ray also works for an outside company. There is no technology security personnel. The library media specialist only works for the elementary school since the county library is attached to the high school.
- Details of what technology is available, where it’s located, quantities of technologies (i.e. is there a classroom set of iPads for the students to work with)?
- Every student has their ow google chrome book with a 1:1 ratio.
- Are the technologies readily available and are they in working order? How do students and teachers gain access? Is there a means for reserving them? Are there required purchases by families?
- Students and teachers gain access through wifi. There is no means to reserving them since every student gets their own for the school year. They are loaned to the student and there is a $250 fee if the students break or lose the computer.
- What is the nature of the firewall blocking access to applications? Is there a process to transcend or move around the firewall? Who is in control? What is available and what is blocked and why?
- Yes, it is all through Neonet. The apps blocked are mostly porn and Hulu. Which is interesting because Netflix, tiktok, Instagram, and twitter are all not blocked. The teacher expressed frustration in the block mechanisms with the company. He had sent in several requests to block websites and apps which the company had denied.
- Significantly, pay close attention to and document who you are speaking with. What is their role or do they have a title? Who is able to direct you to the people with the most information? Who has the most and/or best information?
- My mentor teacher is also involved in educational technology. He is one of the best people I could have talked to for this blog post. I talked with a few other teachers but they directed me back to my mentor teacher. His role is technology and history educator. Anyone that is above that level of technology education was a contractor and did not necessarily spend their full time in the school.
Observing the students in My classroom
- What software applications and hardware are students using in the classroom?
- All students are issued chrome books at the beginning of the school year.
- Describe what the students are doing with the technology that you identified.
- Most of the class is run off of google classroom which I found to be very interesting. The teacher uploads all power point slides to the classroom so that students can go back and check if they miss a class or want to review. During my observation students used google docs with a preloaded template that the teacher designed. They were given the class period to design a newspaper that would be released in WWII that depicted any type of propaganda along with the assignment to write yellow journalism.
- What software applications and hardware are facilitating/impeding the conditions that make student learning possible?
- There was much less technology used than I had thought there would be. There is a smartboard in the classroom but the teacher only uses it as a projector. Students are heavily reliant on their chrome books and in the days I had spent there many students forgot to bring theirs in. The main applications used were google classroom and a few scholarly articles that were uploaded by the teacher to show examples of yellow journalism and propaganda.
- How so?
- The most important part of the conditions is access to strong wifi. The school had experienced a power outage once in the year as well as internet issues a few times and the teacher expressed that it was impossible to teach without access to wifi. When the chrome books cannot access the internet then there is nothing we can do here since we are so heavily reliant on access to the internet in order for me to properly execute my lesson plan.
Observing your cooperating teacher
- What software applications and hardware is your cooperating teacher(s) using in the classroom? Document both hardware and software.
- My teacher uses a simple dell computer where has his power point available and plugs in an HDMI so that it is able to show on the smartboard. As he progresses through his slides he uses a Bluetooth clicker in order to change back and forth.
- Describe how your cooperating teacher(s) uses the software applications and hardware.
- My teacher uses applications and hardware mainly for lecturing purposes. Anything that is given as homework must be turned in online as well. If he gives any hard paper out he will see a significant decrease in the amount of people that turn in the work. He told me that he prefers to have students write out the homework on fill in the blank but too many students were receiving zeros because of lost papers.
- What software applications and hardware are facilitating/impeding the conditions that make teaching possible?
- The google classroom that he uses is his lifesaver he says. When students miss a day they can check google classroom. When they are unsure of what is due or when the next test is, they can check google classroom. He also expressed that he can tell when students check their grades as well as how often they check. The same goes for their parents. He went on to tell me that often times parents will come in and complain that their son is failing but they check their grades all the time. The teacher can log in and show them that in fact they have never checked their son or daughters grades despite numerous emails and phone calls from him to do so.
In the words of George Washington Carver: “Education is understanding relationships”. Some of our greatest teachers may not even be one we have in the classroom. Many of my lessons learned in life have come from educators I never had as teachers. The greatest educator of all is my father
Born in Westpark, David F. Nigro Sr. started working in the steal mill at 18. He went on to spend 4 years in the mill. From 22-63 David worked at the general motors power plant. Here is where he learned the importance of hard work and education.
After battling and beating colon cancer I was born. My name mean gift. My father felt my life was a gift and sign through his battle with cancer. He would pass on his faith, hard work, tough love, and oh yeah… an overwhelming love of soccer.
My relationship with my father was not always pretty. He taught me the value of hard work often through frustration when I played bad in soccer. The only time David was not working overtime on Saturdays was when I had a soccer game. He never missed a game.
Without my father’s guidance and tough love I never would have learned the valuable lessons of accountability, love, hard work, and the ability to recognize what is important.
Remember that cancer David beat before I was born? Turns out I was traveling to his liver. 22 years this tumor went undetected and now David is hoping for a miracle.
Suddenly you were never angry with the person. Suddenly you remember all the lessons all at the same time. Suddenly you just wish for time to slow down for once.
A relationship never fades. We learn best from those we trust. I continue to learn more and more from my father. What greater lesson in life than how to battle adversity? The lesson is still being learned and I am taking all the notes I can.
Piano instrumental version (river flows into you) with a photo of my father and his brother. The photo will zoom in on my father slowly and fade to black.
The screen will fade in from black to a picture of the Cleveland Steel mill. The frame will zoom into the smoke into photo where there will be a transition zoom into the third slide
Image of the general motors power plant will transition into the screen and fade away
Cancer ribbon for colon cancer will show on the screen. Next image will be a photo of my father and I. It will slowly zoom closer to our faces together. I am a child in this photo taking a nap on my dads shoulder.
Photo of my father watching me play soccer in college where his arms are crossed and he is focused on the game. Away from the parents and not a true focus on him the slide will zoom in on him slowly.
Photo of the liver and picture of my father in the hospital bed. Photo will fade into a cancer ribbon that is now for liver cancer.
Photo of my father and I at the browns game giving him a big hug. Photo will zoom in on our faces.
Photo of my father praying as the scene will fade to black and the piano instrumental will fade out. Ending credits.
In playing The Oregon Trail more and more I am noticing how frustrating it can be to die on the trail and have to restart. This reminded me of Gee’s article when it mentions pleasantly frustrating. The principle of pleasantly frustrating is that it presents challenges that are difficult but possible to complete. The entire game can be viewed as such. The challenges in the game adjust and give feedback to the player to let them know if they are doing it correctly or not. In The Oregon Trail when you are not on the right track you will begin to lose passengers and other items you purchased. If you continue on the track then you will likely die and have to restart the journey. This can be translated to the classroom as well. School is often too easy or too hard for students. If it is too easy then the students will not be interested and will fly under the radar. If it is too easy then the students will struggle and lose hope of ever being able to figure out the solution. There is a happy medium and I believe this game has found it. As you progress and travel along the trail you make it further and further each time. The player learns more about the problems the pioneers faced with ever completed challenge.
The Oregon Trail also uses on demand and just in time information. The game teaches you how to play in the beginning and the game keeps the same balance of allowing students to practice the skills as they are being taught. The game allows you to learn on the go. As you progress through the game and fail you are sent back to the start and are expected to learn again. The more you fail the more you learn. There is a guide with you giving you recommendations as you purchase items and so on. This would be a great lesson to the classroom because often times when students learn they are frustrated with the lack of tutorial to a new subject. We can learn from this game and continue to give students access to information when they need it. This could be translated to open note quizzes. It would encourage the students to pay better attention in class knowing that as long as they were attentive and active in class then they would be able to use their knowledge on the quiz without having to memorize everything.
Gee, J.P. (2007) Good video games + good learning : collected essays on video games, learning, and literacy. Chapter 4: Good video games, the human mind, and good learning. New York : Peter Lang. pp. 22-44.