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1.  Teach Students to Fail

I have found that I personally live my life this way.  Many times, even today as an adult, I get advice from my parents, colleagues, teachers, friends, etc.  If I don’t agree with the advice, I don’t follow it and more times than not, I am proven wrong.  But this is the way I learn; from my mistakes.  My relationship with my mother is especially like this; she gives me advice, I don’t listen, and she ends up being right.  Every Time.  I always have to learn the “hard way.”  This is an important thing to teach your students, if not necessarily in a lesson plan, in a passing piece of advice that might not have anything to do with anything.  Students look up to teachers (hopefully) and teachers need to let students know that it’s ok to not succeed every time, it’s ok to not get 100% on a test, it’s ok to fail.  You learn from your mistakes and then you can improve.

2.  What Qualities Make a Passionate Teacher

I thought all of the habits were true but the two that stuck was number 1 enjoy teaching and number 4 get personal.  Those are the two biggest ideas that I try to follow as a teacher.  Nobody ever became a teacher to get rich and while the summer vacations, weekends, and long holidays are amazing, the number one reason I’m a teacher (and decided to go get my masters in education) is because I love teaching.  Hands down.  I love getting up and going to work.  Every day is different and I’m never bored at work.  As the article said, your students know when you are not enjoying yourself and therefore it’s harder for them to enjoy what you are teaching.  It’s also extremely important to get to know your students.  My relationship with my students does not stop at being their music teacher; I want to get to know my students.  What is their favorite subject? What sports do they play? What’s their favorite activity to do on the weekend? Talking to your students shows an interest in them which in turn shows them that they matter to you.  As a teacher, your job does not end at 3:30 pm and your relationships with your students do not end once they are out of your classroom or even out of your school.  It’s important to show students that they have just as much of an impact on your life as you (hopefully) do on theirs.

3.  Inhibiting Your Students’ Digital World

This article is good for two reasons; one, it gives tips on how to integrate technology into the classroom as a beginner teacher and two, it provides ways to connect with your students.  Tip number 2, use the kids’ expertise, made me remember an incident that happened in my own classroom this past school year.  We were the recipients of a huge monitor and computer on a rolling desk.  It was annoying at first, considering the sheer size of the object, but we quickly adapted.  My co-teacher and I are relatively tech savvy individuals but one day we could not figure out how to turn the monitor on.  We tried everything.  One of our 5th graders, a boy with many behavioral problems who could care less about music class, offered to help us.  We gladly accepted his gesture and turns out he is a computer whiz.  I don’t think he actually was able to fix the problem but he knew of many other tricks to try and solve it than either of us knew.  We thanked him profusely for his attempt to help and he seemed very proud.  For the rest of the year he wasn’t perfect (behaviorally) but something changed; he seemed to respect us more and we respected him more.  He had shown us that he wasn’t some lost cause that had to be endured three times a week in music class, he was a child whose strong suit was technological abilities.  From then on, whenever we had a technology based issue, we made sure to ask him for his help/advice.  I think I had a bit more patience with him and I like to think that he tried a bit harder to behave.  It just goes to show that it’s important to know your students and more often than not, they probably will know more about technology than you do.

Mobile Learning

I read this article and found myself not sure if I agreed with it or not.  I do firmly believe that social media websites and integrated technological programs should be included in a teacher’s curriculum.  I am unsure if I believe students should be able to bring their personal mobile devices to school in order to access these websites/programs.  The school should ideally be able to provide devices (mobile, tablets, laptops, computers) to enable students access.  Students with their own mobile devices would obviously be allowed to use them at home or after school hours in order to collaborate with classmates or complete assignments.

Mobile devices should enhance learning, not interrupt learning.  Allowing students to use personal mobile devices during school may distract them from the assignments and hinder their learning, especially if they are focusing their time on texting and/or accessing social media websites for not school-related assignments.  My question is; if students are working with a classmate on a project in school, why do they need to have access to mobile devices? Shouldn’t they be able to talk to the classmate face to face during school hours? After hours is obviously different and then of course, students should use mobile devices to communicate.

As a teacher, I worry that allowing mobile devices in the classroom will end up like this:

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The students are clearly not paying attention to what the teacher is (or is not? he looks like he’s doing nothing) teaching.  Plus the cell phones are “hidden” under the students’ desks so obviously they are not really supposed to be using them at that point in time.

It should look like this:

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And note, these students are not using cell phones! Although honestly, if any child this young has a cell phone, that is completely ludicrous.

As stated before, I agree that it’s important to include technology as learning tools as well as actual technological learning tools but I think cell phones or other devices that allow students to text with each other are unnecessary.  Students do not need complete freedom and it would be impossible to monitor and control their conversations on their personal mobile devices.

In case anyone is interested, this is where I am currently doing my blog posts: Aloha from Maui!! 🙂

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Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up

I thought it was interesting that high school girls were more likely to use technology to support their schoolwork than boys (Table 2).  It makes me wonder if the future generations will see an increase of women in the workplace due to girls being more invested in technology.  On the other hand, girls seemed less interested in a STEM career path (Chart 7).  This doesn’t necessarily mean, though, that girls cannot or will not be able to use their technology skills in other career choices.

I also thought the discussion of iPad v. smartphone was important as well.  Obviously, if schools want to incorporate more technology-based lessons/resources/assessments, they will need to take into account the fact that they will most likely need to provide devices for their students.  Many of the students want to be able to use their own devices, especially if it’s their smartphone, but then, how does the school technically (and legally) monitor this? My worry as a teacher would be that students would use their devices for other purposes; socializing, cheating, browsing the internet for non-school related things.  I also feel that iPads are a better resource than smartphones because they are bigger and easier to see/read the information.  But again, you would need to monitor these devices and I’m sure that a class set of iPads is more expensive than a class set of smartphones.

The most interesting point to me was the digital footprint.  I am always very careful of what I post online, especially via my social media.  Pictures, articles, and posts are usually personal, albeit not revealing, and always something positive.  I stay away from political and other controversial issues and I hate people who only use their social media websites as a platform to complain.  My fear as a teacher is that students would be inclined to post whatever they wanted/felt like at the time.  Posts that could ultimately get them in trouble, either with adults or with their friends.  Most teenagers feel invincible and who doesn’t like to brag?  The article essentially said that most teachers/parents feel the same way I do but that the students themselves have a different viewpoint on digital footprints and are more cautious than adults gave them credit for.

So, how does this help us as teachers plan for instruction? Many teachers, myself included before taking this class, are resisting the change because, well, to be frank, most people, myself included, flat out do not like change.  And I think that’s what the bottom line is; people do not like change.  Well, times are a-changin’ and it’s best for teachers to be on board.  I’ve said it several times and I will say it again, students need guidance.  How can we give them guidance if we have no clue what they are doing? We need to be on the same page as our students; this will help build relationships with them and make us relevant to them (one of my favorite phrases).  If we are relevant to our students, they will be more interested and engaged in what we are trying to teach them.  And what’s wrong with using technology in our lessons? It provides differentiation and is 100% more interesting than reading textbooks or listening to a lecture.

I think of myself as a technology convert.  There are still many many aspects that I do not know how to use/am not even aware exist but I am going to do my hardest to incorporate technology somehow into my classroom.