Assistive Technology

There have been many topics discussed in my education courses this week surrounding differentiation and modification within the classroom. Assistive technology fits into this category. Assistive technology, for me, is defined as providing certain students with technologies that allow them to better complete their course work, communicate, interact, and be present in the culture of our classrooms. Assistive technology is a broad category, ranging from bigger text on a test for a student who may be extremely nearsighted to iPads that use symbol-to-speech mechanics that allow students who struggle with verbal communication to have their ideas heard.

These resources are important to be as an educator because they allow me to better help my students achieve the goals I have set for them; they allow me to create an equitable, rather than equal, education for all. I would be able to access these resources through the members of staff that specialize in assistive technology at my school. These members of staff are experts in this area and are likely to have several ideas surrounding which kinds of assistive technology would best benefit the student.

I think this best relates to the topic of whether or not technology is a help or a hindrance within the classroom. Assistive technology shows just how beneficial technology can be to the educational system. Instead of technology being viewed as a negative, it should be understood as a way to help the non-traditional student (that being an incredibly general term here) achieve in the same way as their peers.

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Management of Student Devices in the Classroom

In the modern era, cellphones are a key piece of almost all of our lives, including our future students. As a future educator, it is important that I have a good grasp on the polices that I plan on implementing within my classroom surrounding technology use within it. I find it both ignorant and naive to assume that students are going to live without cellphones or to keep them perpetually locked in their lockers throughout the entire school day. Instead, I need to be capable and flexible in my policies surrounding technology, particularly cellphones, within the classroom.

For me, I don’t view cellphones being out and present in the classroom to be an immediately negative aspect. Instead, I understand it to be quite common in our modern era. With that in mind, I think it is important that I be understanding and flexible with student’s cellphones that are present in the classroom. If I see students focused on my lesson and what is occurring within my classroom, I find no issue with a student answering a quick text or Snapchat in my class. These brief distractions can be a relief to students, removing the anxiety that may surround them if I ban them from looking at their phones entirely. Moreover, I think it’s key to understand the difference between a student that is briefly looking at their phone and one that is distracted, aimlessly scrolling through their many social medias. This is a distinction I need to make with my students.

In order to get this message across, I would do the basic thing of including a paragraph in my syllabus outlining my views on technology, specifically cellphones, in the classroom. On syllabus day, I would clarify what is or what isn’t acceptable cellphone use. Really, I would want to emphasize that I expect them to be able to act as adults and resist temptation as much as possible. Giving back that kind of power to the students shows them that I view them as adults rather than children. That kind of mentality always seems to be more successful with students than coddling them and taking away their power. More than anything, I would want it to be a last resort to take away a child’s phone. I want to communicate to them that I am giving them the choice first and foremost, but that I will uphold my control of classroom policies when need be.

In all actuality, however, all of these ideas surrounding my policies depend on my schools policies surrounding cellphones and technology within the school and district as a whole. Due to this, I would want to directly ask what those policies are during my interview: “What are the policies this school holds surrounding technology or cellphones within the building and/or classroom? I want to make sure my own policies align with the schools as a whole.” The clarification aspect of the question is key to the development of my policies as a future teacher.

Beyond all else, I understand that cellphones are present in all of our lives. I need to incorporate this knowledge into my policies as a future teacher. Above is how I feel I would do so.

A Synthesis on Teaching with Technology

After reading chapter two, “Teaching with Technology” within Future Ready Learning, I was better able to understand how technology is meant to be incorporated into classrooms across America, specifically my own. The largest issues surrounding the

educational system in America, in my opinion, have to do with how to make education both more meaningful and more tangible to the modern student. It isn’t acceptable to state that all students learn best through a teacher lecturing at them as they take notes with a pencil and pieces of paper. In fact, it not only desperately clings to the past methods of teaching, but also hinders the student incredibly. Student’s, more than ever, should be facilitating their learning more than the teacher—those who are doing the most work/talking, are likely doing the most learning as well. When technology is incorporated into the classroom, this makes student lead learning more accessible to the student as well as more relevant.

Whether educators are willing to admit it or not, technology is now a huge part of our lives and, therefore, a large aspect of our student’s lives. Educators are now in a place of the facilitator than they are  lecturer. Technology’s presence in the classroom allows for an easier means of facilitation and student lead education. Technology allows for easier access to information for both teachers and students. More importantly, educators are able to co-learn with their students when using technology because of the vast amount of information available through technology. Technology also allows an educator to form a bridge between students that may or may not have technology accessible to them outside of the classroom. Really, it offers a means for education to be more applicable, accessible, and meaningful to students. Who wouldn’t want this?

I think for me, the biggest part of technology integration in my classroom will come from an active use of computers or smart boards. Not every school is in a one-to-one district; there may be very little access to computers in the school (no more than those in the library or on a few laptop carts). The most important thing I can do is make sure student’s are educated in how to use technology in an academic way, even if we aren’t using it every single day. If I’m not able to have computers in my classroom every day, I will work to integrate it as much as I possibly can, but I also value traditional discussions or note-taking—I don’t see students as inherently hindered without computers in front of them every day; they are only hindered when technology isn’t even posed as an option for them.

My biggest question surrounding technology’s effective integration into education is how can I use technology in a way that doesn’t provide more of a distraction than it is a benefit? I would never want technology to take away from the learning I want to occur so I want to find a balance between these two things.

 

 

 

 

 

A Reflection Upon Class Thus Far

It truly has been an eternity since I last blogged; forgive me if I sound horribly rusty or this post is all over the place. My purpose here is to write about my thoughts, feelings, ideas, questions, etc. about the course thus far. This is a broad task, to say the least. I often find myself in situations such as these, and more often than not, I sit and stare at my computer screen, wishing I knew what I wanted to say. So here it goes:

Image can be found here

I understand that this class is meant to educate me on technology in the classroom, but for someone who is constantly using technology in her everyday life, much of it seems to be rather self explanatory. I know that I cannot possibly possess all of the skills that I need to bring into my future classroom, and all of the websites/resources we’ve been given thus far are incredibly useful, but for a class to be entirely dedicated to technology in the classroom seems to narrowed. If it makes anymore sense, I wish that this class had been combined with another education related course in order to accomplish multiple things necessary to become a future educator rather than just one. Also, I would have really enjoyed seeing all of these tools/concepts we’re being taught put to action among the students we will all be teachong. This is more or less unimportant, but I feel that getting this overall reflection on the course will allow for a better flow of more specific ideas.

Aside from this, I can focus on how I want to use this in my future classroom. Realistically, there is no way to avoid technology in the classroom—it is a huge part of all of our lives now. Instead of remaining resistant to it, as many teachers have in the past, I will enter into my classroom understanding that my students are living in a digitally driven society. If I refused to utilize technology for educational purposes in my classroom, I would not only be living in the past, but I would also be hindering my students from becoming actively engaged and responsible digital citizens.

This idea of digital citizenship has come up several times over the past few weeks and it is a topic I am deeply invested in. As a future English teacher, I can understand the importance of knowing how to use the internet for academic research purposes. Of course, this is only one aspect of being a digital citizen, but it is largely important for my future content area. Imagine, if I refused to use technology in my classroom: how would my students understand a credible website from a non-credible one, the difference between sites ending in .com vs. .org, the difference between direct quotes and paraphrasing, how to cite all research accurately to avoid plagiarism, etc. You get the point.

As obvious as the integration of technology into the classroom may seem, there seems to be a lack of urgency surrounding the issue. This class has begun to show me how important it is from day one to incorporate technology into education. The moment an educator falls behind on the advancements in technology, their lessons fall behind as well. Technology is a major aspect of both our lives and our students lives; education needs to have a grounding in our students lives if we want it to impact them—if we want it to stick. Technology integration is a way to do this. Moreover, the integration of technology allows for teachers to show students how to use technology in an academic, rather than passive, way. While students may view the internet as a way to watch their favorite Youtubers or post their latest picture to Instagram, we as educators have a responsibility to show them that the internet can be used for so much more.

I think its important to ask an overarching question for the course: will my own ideas surrounding technology in the classroom be any different by the end of the course as compared to how I feel about it now?

We as future educators have an obligation to our students to educate them beyond the standards assigned to each concentration. As they move forward into the adult world, they need to possess the skills to become an active member in society. One of these skills is the understanding of technology. When we use technology as a means of education in the classroom, we aren’t just teaching them about Romeo and Juliet or the difference between a colon and a semicolon. We’re teaching them how to use technology in their professional and personal lives for the future.