My Vision Statement

As technology is constantly changing, so should your classroom.  More and more students are being exposed to computers in schools and in the home at a younger age. By the time they reach the high school level, they have a vast amount of knowledge of how to use different forms of technology.  My goal is to put this experience into use and initiate their use of social software such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, and RSS feeds in my classroom.  When polling 22 of my Computer Applications students I found that fifty percent found it easy to do homework at home because they had a computer accessible for their use.  I was shocked to find out that only one of those students did not have a computer at home but did have internet access through a cell phone. Although this student has internet access, I would have to assume that completing some of the homework on their cell phone would be difficult.  Though I am a Social Studies teacher, I hope to implement more technology into my lesson plans to help prepare my students for whatever their future may hold for them.  My hope is for my students to leave my classroom knowledgeable about digital technologies through different methods of use, while also practicing web-based research.  Technology offers a new arena that engages and inspires all students.  I want to make sure to open up new ways for my students to learn and also enhance my current teaching practices.  Though not everyone has access outside of my classroom, I hope to use the ever-changing technological world to invoke thought and discussion in my classroom now and throughout my future as an educator.
Many are sketchy about jumping on board when it comes to new technology in their classroom but use many new technologies in their everyday lives such as cell phones, microwaves, and blu-ray or DVD players.  Many people fear using computers in multiple aspects of their lives because they are unsure of how to do a lot of things on computers. It is understandable why people feel this way, but with the proper training, support, and a little bit of effort, most new forms of technology can be of benefit in any subject area and at any level of education. Educators also fear the idea of training the students to use the technology and the time it takes to do that.  In a study done only 10 percent of teachers responding feel "very well prepared" to use computers in their classroom (Starr, 1).  They do not realize that most students have the same, if not more knowledge, of the technology being used than most of the teachers.  With a little work they will be up to par and ready to use the new technology instead of doing things the old/boring way.

There is absolute certainty that technology will have a permanent role in educational practices though there are pitfalls that come along with any new change.  A major issue with new technology and many Web 2.0 technologies is access within the school district.  Many things are blocked or censored for privacy issues, parental concerns, and the misunderstanding that they can not be used properly in an educational setting.  In 2001, almost all public schools with internet access (96 percent)
used various technologies or procedures to control student access to inappropriate material on the Internet ("Internet Access in U.S. Public Schools and Classrooms: 1994-2001" 8).  If we continue to refuse these students access to some of these sites, we are doing them a disservice for two reasons; one they can likely access them on their own time at home and two, these are technologies they will be likely to use in the future whether it is at the college level or in their career.  I have worked on allowing certain things to be unblocked in the past and I will continue to pursue this for the right of my students gaining and obtaining better information in my classroom.  Another major problem I have noticed is consistent access to computers for my students.  Having 33 students in one classroom and trying to sign out a computer lab (mobile or actual) for more than once or twice a week is always an issue for most teachers.  The only way to change this is through funding for schools which is a sensitive issue and something I feel will not be improving anytime soon.  Though there are many pitfalls that come along with any new technology, as an educator, I make sure that the promises and benefits outweigh the pitfalls and negatives of the new technology. 

Technology in My Classroom

I have always tried to use the latest technologies to aid in my teaching habits.  Things such as document cameras, digital projectors, classroom microphones, and other programs such as Audacity and Google Earth are constantly being used in my classroom to benefit my students.  I know these are not technologies that my students are using per say, but they are things that are making me a better teacher for them and making it easier for me to reach my students.  I look to be one of the first in the school, if not the district, to at least try or sample new technologies to see if it is something I could use to make my classroom more efficient and the material being taught more enjoyable to my students. 

Over the past year I have made considerable gains in using more technologies in my classroom.  In my Computer Applications class, all of my activities, lessons, and projects are posted on Moodle so my students can access them at any time.  I feel that this increases communication and collaboration in the classroom and also saves a lot of paper.  The use of Moodle in my classroom is something I look to continue to do in the future and add to some of my other classes as time permits.  The benefits of using this program outweigh any negatives that could be seen with the program.  Through Moodle I have used many different facets to introduce my students to different technologies they are bound to see in the future.  We have blogged when discussing different projects we do in the class.  Students have turned in multiple assignments via Moodle for me to view, grade, and comment without printing anything off.  We have used the wiki feature for them to collaborate on a project and discuss the project, share sources, and ideas throughout the semester.  These different technologies are vitally important to them in the future and I want to add more to my arsenal when attacking technology in my classroom.

Something new I have tried in the past year is the use of WebQuests and StAIRs for my students to complete in both Economics and American History.  The StAIR I created for Economics was used to reteach concepts such as Elasticity of Demand.  These are fun for the students and a great review for them to answer questions and decipher right from wrong on their own.  In American History my students have done WebQuests on The New Deal and will be doing another one when we reach the Vietnam unit. These are great for them to explore and find good quality information that answers questions that are posed to them.  In my New Deal WebQuest, the students were required to make a presentation about one of President Roosevelt's New Deal programs and whether or not it was effective in helping our country get out of the Great Depression.  These types of technologies I feel help my students to research on their own, pull information together, and report back on what they have learned.  These are things they could of done in the past, but they are now using new technologies to put all the pieces together.

In my Computer Applications class, I have used multiple programs to help my students with typing.  They all are required to spend at least a week of doing MicroType for my class, but then I open the door to other games such as Internet-based resources like www.freetypinggame.net and www.typeracer.com.  I try to act like a guide on the side when using these resources in my classroom and allow the students to enjoy themselves while getting better at a skill that is necessary in about every aspect of life today in our society.

I continue to use Discovery Education in all of my classes as well as Teachertube and Youtube to better demonstrate different historical events such as the Roaring 20's.  We have also used these sources to discuss different types of music which were popular throughout different points of history.  The students really enjoy this and it gives them a sense of the culture of the United States in that particular time period.  One I also use, as do most teachers, is OpenOffice as a spreadsheet, presentation software, and a document creator.  My district decided to use OpenOffice, which I disagreed with from the beginning but over time I have found it to be very beneficial and easy to use.  

Future Plan and Timeline

While I am continuing to build technology tools into my classroom, there is still a lot of work necessary for me to complete in order to become successful and achieve what the state of Michigan's Technology Standards for Students has dictated.  In order to move my classroom forward technologically, there are several areas I should focus my attention on for the next school year.  I hope to increase my exposure and knowledge of new technologies which will be of benefit to myself and my students. One thing I must always remember to address is whether or not the technology is being used for a clear purpose and is addressing an educational need rather than being something that is just fun and exciting for me or my students.  My plan for integrating new technology into my classroom is to research it first and make sure it is something that will be of benefit and address an educational need or problem to my students.  I look to use more of Moodle and it's blogs in other classes to get students sharing information on certain topics of interest.  I would also like to increase my knowledge of Moodle and other Web 2.0 technologies that are accessible to me and that would be useful in a Social Studies classroom.

In this upcoming summer, I will be researching different tools that are appropriate for a high school Social Studies classroom.  I also want to survey and find other types of technologies social studies teachers have used to reach their students.  As stated earlier, I want to try new things that will help my students now and in their future endeavors.  Not only do I want to find new ways to teach my areas but I also want to revise and refine other technologies I have used in the past to get better results out of my students. 

I am still making it a goal this year to get sites such as www.netvibes.com unblocked so my students can acquire different information of their interest which we can then blog about in my computer applications class.  I feel that by relating to their interests and allowing them some freedom to discuss what they want, students will take pride in what they do and get more from my Computer Applications class.  Another idea I have thrown around, if funding would allow in the future, would be the use of the IPad. After extended research, I have found this to be a tremendous tool that would greatly change the classroom dynamic.  Students would be able to take more with them in a two pound device.  They could read books, play educational games, research different locations or ideas, and do many other things all from one location.  I know they are expensive but with textbook prices continually increasing, an IPad may be a great replacement in the very near future for a textbook. 

I also am hoping to update my classroom website.  I created it in CEP 811 but have not kept it up to date.  I feel this is an excellent tool that makes communication between myself, my students, and their parents extremely easy.  I hope to keep classroom information on there, important events, dates, and academic material.  Parents would be able to see what their student is working on in my class and print any necessary permission slips off right at home if their student failed to bring one home.  There is also an e-mail link which would be helpful for them to easily contact me if they had any questions about anything taking place with their student or anything going on in my classroom.   

I also hope in the next year to help my students better understand how to use OpenOffice.  It has its quirks but is a good program and the kids need to understand how to use in order to get work done in other classrooms as more and more of my peers are using the computers for research, projects, and presentations.  Things such as changing backgrounds, creating columns, and using formulas need to be worked on for my students to be successful with the new programs they are using.  These are important aspects of using different programs that they will need to know the rest of their life.

Works Cited

"Internet Access in U.S. Public Schools and Classrooms: 1994-2001." National Center for Education Statistics.  N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb.             2010. <http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2002/Internet/8.asp>.
Starr, Linda. "Does Computer Access=Computer Use? An NCES Report on Teachers and Computers." Education World. Education World,          18 May 2000. Web. 16 Feb. 2010. <http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech026.shtml>.