Teacher of the Year, Technology and Cool Links

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I was recently honored as my school’s teacher of the year. I am very appreciative that my colleagues would distinguish me in this way. A few days later I received a message from the district that I could apply for the district teacher of the year award. Lucky me, more paperwork! Well, I decided to do it. I wanted people to know how I felt about using technology in the classroom and I did. I spoke about the inadequacies in today’s educational landscape and how we need to move forward in our instruction, because the students are up there waiting for us. They are waiting for us to teach them how to podcast, the are waiting for us to teach them how make movies and they are waiting for us teachers to catch up so they can teach us a thing or two. We need to learn to be the experts in any types of technology and often times we will have overwhelming support by the bright-eyed and bushy tailed students in our classrooms around the world. I use to love playing video games as a child. Space Invaders and Centipede were my favorite. Games have come a long way since then, but if I look back at those games and how they grabbed my attention, that is what we need to do all the time: grab their attention and keep it! Video games are nothing more than interactive television. Instead of watching the Simpsons or CSI, you get to control the characters, you get be part of the action and this is exciting! In education, we need to let student be part of the action. We compete with cell phones and text messaging, so wouldn’t it be great to tell students to pull their cell phones out and not to turn them off and put them away. Some may think this is far fetched and that students are just going to use this technology to cheat. Maybe we need to re-evaluate how assessments are being given. At polleverywhere.com you can try this by using this website as a differentiated way to take quiz or ask a poll question when there isn’t any money in the school budget for individual responders. You might even say that every student does not a cell phone or have a text plan, I say buddy up, “pair share.” There are always problems, some students don’t even come to school with paper and pencil to work with. This will always be a problem, but let’s not make it an excuse. I am driven to, not only highlight the fact that teachers at all levels must join the 21st century, but I am also willing to help you get there. Polleverywhere.com is one of many sites that is a class ‘A’ tool for learning. Here are some others links to sites that I will be making tutorials for in the near future: jott.com qik.com glogster.com animoto.com

Cue Conference Keynote: Robert Marzano

The 2009 CUE Conference’s keynote speaker was Robert Marzano. After forty-five minutes, Marzano had jam packed his keynote speech with data and support from his ongoing research for the use of technology and interactive whiteboards in the classroom. He partnered with Promethean Technologies in this study and here are some of the highlights of his findings:

  • The longer that you use an interactive whiteboard, the higher the gains and improvements
  • More specifically, the use of any technology increases when used about 75% of time (80%-90% of use decreases its effectiveness)
  • If the teacher has confidence in using the interactive whiteboard there are further increases in gains
  • He used the term “sweet spot”, referring to a teacher who has at least two years of experience in teaching and using the board 75% of the time which resulted in a 30% gain per student
  • Use formative assessment for the whole group
  • Must keep track of records over time
  • Students should track their own learning
  • Use a rigorous rubric based approach to learning overtime
  • The power of technology is inevitably the bridge that is leading students to acquire content. However, the underlying engine that drives and facilitates technology are teachers. Teachers need to be trained in the technology that they have been given and this includes interactive whiteboards. Every classroom is different, every teacher is different and every student is different, but the commonality is the technology which is the medium that allows all concerned to be successful!