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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Digital Youth Network

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The Digital Media – New Learner’s of the 21st Century video was amazing. In a community of school and teachers that is still relying heavily on traditional ways of teaching curriculum and is reluctant to dive into the technology pool, it is really awesome to see schools that are throwing the old-school rule book of education out the window and embracing all that this century has to offer.

I found the Digital Youth Network incredible. The school show-cased offered high school students in the area a “place to access their passion”, when they may not have the means/resources to do so otherwise. Many people interviewed in this segment commented on how every child has a passion, and that their environment can either harbor or defer that passion. So many children do not have access to the necessary tools to grow into what they love doing and as a result, find other ways of spending their recreational time – often not positive ones.

The Digital Youth Network gives high school students those tools. They have the drive as well as a good balance of guidance from teachers and independence in their own learning and creativity. They are producing final products that instill a sense of accomplishment and self-awareness. The operators of the network pool their resources as well, working with public libraries to reserve space specific to these students, giving them the space they need to put their minds to work. 

The kind of learning that takes place under these conditions is truly amazing. These students are participating in problem solving and useful learning that won’t go out of date – not just traditoinal ways of taking in information or learning facts. They are realizing their passion to become a learner. One commentator noted that many people think this digital way of teaching and learning is “killing reading and writing”. In some ways it is easy to agree with that – where are the books? Where are the pencils and paper? Are students missing out of those skills by way of engaging in this digital learning? I think that students in certain environtments have to be looked at carefully. Would they benefit from a traditional way of learning to read, write and know facts? I think that answer is a strong No. While it may seem like they are being robbed of that education that so many this is standard, traditional, “effective”…many children, especially those who do not get the support they need outside of school, need a different way to learn. 

The tasks they are taking on in their digital classes are based on traditional literacy skills. Students participate in their project based learning and understand the skill set needed to complete the task. They are building on our traditional literacy skills writing scripts, making diagrams, etc. By this way they are learning, they are getting to know themselves as a learner and they are contributing to their communities.


Target Standard of Learning

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I am currently teaching 1st grade and will be moving to a 2nd grade classroom next year. As a teacher in the Diocese of Arlington, the science curriculum changes in a few major areas from 1st to 2nd grade. I am choosing to focus on a 2nd grade science standard as a focus for this course. I like the idea of integrating technology with Science, especially in a school that has limited technology use for students. 

Science Standard 2.5 – Living System 

2.5 The student will investigate and understand that living things are part of a system. Key concepts include

a) living organisms are interdependent with their living and nonliving surroundings;
b) an animal’s habitat includes adequate food, water, shelter or cover, and space;
c) habitats change over time due to many influences; and                                                            d) fossils provide information about living systems that were on Earth years ago.

I think that this standard provides a lot of opportunities for technology use and student demonstrated knowledge. I would like  to explore programs available that would allow students to use technology to classify living and non-living, demonstrate knowledge animal habitats and their components, digitally construct habitats, apply seasonal changes to these habitats and adjust according to the effects, describe in these habitats how animals are dependent on surroundings and incorporate fossils and related activities to their learning. 

Technology use in this area would allow students to participate in their learning and produce a final product to present. Students could work through creating a habitat according to their current level of understanding and make use of digital learning to represent the real world. 


Moving at the Speed of Creativity

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Wesley Fryer’s blog “Moving at the Speed of Creativity” documents a variety of issues, publications, resources, presentations, workshops and educational technologies. Dr. Wesley Fryer is a parent, educator, digital learning consultant and author. His resources and topics focus on integrating technology for K-12 teachers. 

In reading through some of his posts, a few stood out as being applicable to my own classroom with 1st and 2nd grade students. Dr. Wes reviewed an application for smartphones called AudioBoo. AudioBoo is a free program that allows users to take photos and record audio alongside pictures to document student learning. As a parent, he was able to make use of this app on a field trip as a parent volunteer. A page was set up with a login and password for other parents/teachers to contribute or review. Students recorded audio on the field trip to document their learning. This could also be used during an in-class project to document audio and pictures. I would love to use this! I will have to look into it more to make sure that the audio/pictures are not published automatically to other AudioBoo users, and that the information can remain private to select users with the correct login information on a protected page. I think that kids would love to participate in this and also see the finished product!

Another posting from Dr. Wes that caught my eye showcased a teacher who used some cooperating students and youtube to create in-school videos that teach students proper school procedures and how to follow school rules. The students demonstrated how to correctly walk in the hallway, use the bathroom, etc. I think, especially for younger students who are still learning school rules and classroom procedures, that videos can provide a way for students to see the right behaviors modeled and know exactly what to do and follow. 

Check out Dr. Wesley’s blog here