Sunday, September 13, 2009

One to One Learning

I love that personal computing devices offer students a way to express their opinions without being called upon in front of the class. Incorporating a private learning space for students to get their thoughts down allows those who are uncomfortable with verbal participation to still interact with the class. I wish that I had a personal computing device throughout high school. As a student, I always take notes and think to myself, but when it comes to verbalizing my thoughts, I struggle. However, I have found that once sharing my thoughts with a small group, I am reassured that my ideas are valid, and have no problem sharing with the class. With a personal computing device, I would be able to organize my thoughts, validate them in my head, and then share with others. Using the "private space" would allow me to fit into the "public space" of the classroom much easier. My experience as a student is supported by Liu and Kao's study in the reading-- use the personal computer to do individual work, then share that work with a group and discuss your findings through large shared displays. I think that this way of learning and teaching promotes a socially supported learning environment (something I hope to have in my classroom).
Here's a parting quote from the reading to sum up my point: "Where individual computing devices succeed as private learning spaces, interactive whiteboards excel as public learning spaces. When paired with the necessary software and wireless connections, they can make transitions between individual or small-group learning and whole-class learning smooth" (6).

Interactive Whiteboards

During the first day of class, Professor Nillas asked us to think of some positives and negatives of using technology in the classroom. I remember one of my "negatives" was that technology took away from hands-on learning and that it catered to the tech-saavy students. I definitely found a lot of evidence against that statement in the reading. Interactive whiteboards actually are one of the greatest supporters of differentiated or personalized learning in the classroom; and after learning more about the SMART board in class, I can see how that would be true. For example, the SMART board supports visual-aid learners, hands-on learners, music learners, etc. I also found it really cool that when using interactive whiteboards, such as the SMART board, the lessons are actually personalized for the class. The students write on the board, move things on the board, etc. to their understanding/learning ability. No two classes will have the exact same experience on the board during one lesson! The students will be working together; student participation and interaction is encouraged.

I did find it interesting that the article emphasized the integration of so many different technologies in the classroom. There are several schools that aren't able to afford those luxuries. I have talked with some of my friends, and most of us didn't even have a SMART board in the classroom. As amazing as it would be to have those luxuries in the classroom, the article wasn't realistic to the common classroom today.

I have observed in classrooms at BJHS that do have the use of technology such as SMART boards, and the class as a whole is just more lively, if that's the right word to use. The focal point of the classroom is the board that the students are interacting with together. The atmosphere is creative, responsive, and student achievement is improved!

Interactive Whiteboards

I, like many of you, am very excited to be doing our first project using the SMART board. However my initial reasoning was not very strong. I was just super excited to write on the board with the fake pens and play with the cool settings. After reading this article I am even more excited. I knew that interactive whiteboards were great, but I did not realize the magnitude for which they benefit the classroom. The most important benefit that I got out of this article is how they appeal to a large variety of students' learning styles.

Many students find staring at a chalk board for any extended length of time to be boring. Thus, for students with attention disorders who need change to keep them focused, the interactive whiteboard will help them excel. Using an interactive whiteboard allows for many changes of backgrounds and introduces interesting twists to ordinary lessons. For visual learners, the increased accessibility to multimedia will help suit their needs. Kinesthetic learners will enjoy being able to touch the screen in a lesson that usually would not be hands-on. The list goes on and on, and I believe teachers will be able to reach out to all learners using the interactive whiteboards.

I wonder if there are critics of this new technology. If so, what is their reasoning. From my experiences, interactive whiteboards only make education better. Last year at BJHS, I saw more hands in the air to participate than I thought was possible. The students were so eager to write their answers on the screen. I hope that we are all lucky enough to have such technology in our classrooms once we become teachers.

One to One Learning

I, like Kathleen, found it very interesting that there was such a strong emphasis classrooms combining personal computing devices and interactive whiteboards. In many schools' cases, funding these technologically advanced learning tools could be a great issue. Of course it is ideal, and there are numerous advantages that result from such great tools, but it would be extremely expensive for every classroom to be equipped with this equipment. I'm sure as technology continues to improve, these tools will become more and more common in a majority of classrooms, but in some lower income schools, desktop computers are still a rarity.

We did not have any smart boards in my high school, but my senior year calculus teacher used a tablet PC for everyday notes. That particular classroom was one of the few in the school to still have chalkboards. The tablet PC was a wonderful way for her to focus the students' attention on the lecture for the day. She also often showed illustrations of new concepts that could have been foreign if we had not seen the animations. With technology growing at the rate at which it is, I would not be surprised to see personal computing devices and interactive whiteboards become more popular. They both find great ways to improve a student's learning experience, allowing him or her to participate more, see other students' responses, and compare his or her answer to the teacher's.