Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Technology In Secondary History

Technology is probably one of the last things that come to mind when people think about history or social science. This field of study has been sort of traditional in the sense that teachers give the notes, students take the notes, and then they are tested on it. Sounnds kind of repetitive? Boring even? That's because it is. History is in dire need of innovative teachnologies to bring a sense of excitement to each lecture. Technology is out there, but I do not feel as though history teachers at all leavels use it enough. The only technology I have seen in the field is a powerpoint lecture. Is that really the extent of technology in the field? I hope not, and I say that now as a student who continues to seek knowledge in the field but I also say this as a future educator. I love history, and I have done well with the somewhat "old school" way of learning the material, but that is perhaps due to my visual learning tendencies. Today however, we live in a society that is so strongly driven by teachnology that if we do not find new, creative ways to incorporate it into our material we risk losing our stduents interest. One staple of the field has ben research, and subsequent research projects or papers, and that is yet another use of technology. This may not be the best thing to do in terms of keeping the students excited though. I know from personal experience thus far in my adademic career I strongly dislike research papers. I cannot deny that they force you to learn quite a bit about whatever your topic is, but I think the length of the papers along with the citation process scares students today. If my field contihnues to be technologically limited to a powerpoint and research for a paper, then it will continue to be looked down upon by the students we teach. However, the internet is a wonderful tool for finding things that will help bring the normal every day lecture to life. Things like virtual tours of places teachers mention will help supplement the lecture material by putting an image to the text. Using something like this will also aid us teachers as we strive for differentiation of instruction. Another possibility that I thought about irocically enough due to this project is a blog! If I were to give my students a historical scenario or figure and tell them to give me their thoughts it could be effective in a few different ways. It will obviously incorporate thechnology, but it will also give my students the freedom to think critically about about a situation from different points of view. I could then follow up that class blog by splitting them up into groups for a debate based on thier responses. Technology can increase my students' excitement, and then also help me build from there to do another activity with them. History is a subject and field in which you have to respect the past, but that does not mean we have to keep technology in the past along with the material we teach. Technology can serve as a breath of fresh air to a subject that is so focused on where we were. It could not hurt the subject or its teachers to introduce them to where we've come at least from a learning standpoint. There have been innovative people and technologies throughout history that have changed its landscape forever. Something like Johann Gutenberg's printing press gave people access to bibles and religious doctrine, and it was given to them in their native language. Today our increases in technology are obviously different and much more advanced but the idea is the same. The technology is there to truly make history a special subject to learn, but it is our responsibility to do some research, find it, and then of course implement it. History is in need of change for the better, and hopefully technological advances along with the insertion of young teachers who have also grown up in this tech crazy world will help bring it to the surface. I love the subject I am about to teach, and I would love to see some of my students share that love if they learn using thechnology. It may make a teacher's job more difficult at times but in order to be great, even in education you have to take risks; you have to go outside your comfort zone to bring material to life for your students.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Copyright: Fair or Foul

When I think of Copyright and its importance to us as teachers, one of the six rights of the copyright owner comes to my mind. That is not to say that I do not acknowledge both the existence and importnace of the other five rights, but personally fair use ways the heaviest on teachers. Looking at this from a broad point of view, the reasoning for my belief is quite simple. If we do not have proper permission to use the various sources available to us, then that will make our effectiveness as teachers, and our overall careers very challenging. Copyright laws are extremely multi-dimensional; with different guidelines for what, how and how much we can use based on the different style of media. Knowing that the law is very complex, it is imperative that teachers know both how to claim fair use because it is crucial to being able to utilize many great sources. However, as aa history teacher I am lucky that most of the sources I will have to use are in the public domain. Government sources are in the public domain, and whether I am teaching United States history or world history I will be able to find and use sources that are relevent to my course. Perhaps the most important aspect of fair use, and at the same time the most overlooked is the fact that it is the individual teacher's responsibility to claim fair use. It is our responsibility to claim fair use, and to make sure that what we are trying to use clears the four tests of fair use. Not only do we need to take responsibility for proving fair use, but we also need a deeper knowledge of the inner workings of it in order to correctly go through the tests. Another dimension to fair use is having to prove it for every piece of copyright protected media teachers ill use. When I first heard about fair use in the Copyright For Schools textbook, I naively thought that it was only applicable for certain copyrighted items such as dittos from a workbook, or a poem from a collection, but it was included in the copyright law to be applied to any and all material that is used in a classroom setting. I feel like many aspiring teachers never think of copyright having any bearing on what they will do on a daily basis, but that could not be more wrong. I'm not at all saying that I was keenly aware of the implications of copyright law, I wasn't; but being in this course and reading the book has awakened me to its importnace. It is simply something that teachers cannot overlook and must have at laest adequate knowledge of. While I originally singled out fair use as my biggest concern, I'd like to amend that by saying that I believe the entire copyright law is critical. I have to take advantage of this class and the book to ensure that I am prepared. Copyright law is a big piece of the puzzle if I want to make myself a smart, dedicated teacher. There are so many great sources I can use for my class and for my students, but if I don't take the necessary steps to prove fair use and legallly use my intended material I am doing my students and injustice. Teaching will not purely be about content knowledge, differentiate instruction, and a knowledge of how each of your students can best learn but also about a knowledge of the copyright law. Copyright law is a sum of a lot of parts. Naturally there are going to be intracacies within the law given the fact that there are so many different types of media available. I must have an understanding of the limits and guidleines for each because it will honestly make a challenging job just a little bit easier. My first year of teaching is going to be chalked full ofchallenges so if I can get a grasp on the copyright laws I will have one less thing to worry about.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Issue With History Today Could Be Two Fold

When I think about my field and the issues that face it, I simply think of student interest. History is not exactly the most invigorating of subjects at any level, much less at a secondary level. The sad truth that current history teachers as well as future ones like myself have to face is the fact that there students often times do not show the same zest for our subject that they do for some of the others in school. Unfortunately, many students take the "why do I have to learn about something that already happened?" approach instead of taking their history classes as an opportunity to learn about the past as a way of better understanding how we got where we are now, and perhaps where we will be going in the future. The fact that history is a study of the past is concrete, but students have to realize the opportunity the subject brings to develop critical thinking; critical thinking that can help them in their academic futures. However, the purpose of this post is not to place all blame on students. Kids will be kids, and their daily history class odds are is not going to be the greatest part of their week. We, as history teachers, must accept that fact for what it is. In fact, I believe the "issue" in my field goes both ways. On one side are the students and their unfortunate lack of interest, but on the other side are us, the teachers. One of the best weapons in a teacher's arsenal is the concept of differentiated instruction. Obviously, this helps any teacher regardless of their subject matter I believe history teachers must turn this idea from a simple concept into a reality. In my personal experiences in history courses thus far, it has been almost exclusively power point lecture, which is fine if the teacher puts in the work, and has the personality to carry the class. Current and future history teachers have to know the challenge ahead of them, and attack it head on by incorporating new methods of presenting the past. We must present the past in a contemporary, and entertaining way, as a means for our students to better retain the knowledge they need. Something like the occasional video, skit, group project or even debate can not only force students to see multiple views on a historical figure or issue, but also raise their excitement towards learning more about the topic outside of class every day. So much of history seems to be straight forward cut and dry; it is our job as teachers to change things up from time to time. History does not have to be a boring course which students dread attending on a daily basis. It doesn't have to be, but we must make the effort to diversify and enhance our instruction so that there will be a group of engaged and eager learners in front of us each day. I personally love the subject that I plan to teach, but it does bother me when I say my major to friends of mine and see their eyes roll back in their head. Maybe it sould bother me, maybe it shouldn't but I do not have to justify my career or subject matter to my friends. My job is to convey my knowledge of history to my future students,and hopefully cultivate a passion for the subject I love within a few of them. I respected teachers I had in the past that really put in the effort to make their classes different, and I plan on honoring my teachers by doing the same for my students. I truly believe that ending this issue begins with us. If we take our jobs seriously as we should, our instruction will improve, and our students interest and engagement will increase as well. I have a great chance to lead by example as a teacher, and if I show passion and love for history, hopefully my students will take something valuable from my class. I'm not saying that every one of my students has to become a history teacher, but at the very least I hope their respect for history and understanding of it is more profound. To end with a cliche, "you can't really know where you're going until you know where you've been."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Technology in the Classroom!/2012/08/educational-technology.html Education today revolves around education; there is really no argument against that if you were to look at today's classrooms. The possibilities are seemingly endless; smart boards, laptops,movies, powerpoints, and perhaps the most obvious but importnat technological asset schools can rely on is simply the internet. The internet is an absolutely incredible tool for a teacher to improve his or her lesson. Not only can we utilize it to improve lessons but maybe even more important is that the internet can help us vary our methods of instruction to reach all types of learners to ensure the success of every student. Also, future teachers have an advantage in the technologically driven classroom. We have grown up surrounded by many different technologies, and therefore are exposed to them both during our careers as students as well as our eventual career in teaching. However, being exposed to technology throughout our lives as students does not mean we will be competant when it comes to presenting the different programs to our students; that is are challenge for current and future teachers. Even a teacher who has been set in their ways during a thirty year career has to adapt. That seems to sum up education with the technology now available. If a teacher's school and by extension his or her classroom must first know how to operate it, and then be willing and able to use it to differentiate instruction. This is a huge benefit to both parties concerned. The teacher's can stay up to date and affective using technology, and the students will remain engaged and eager to learn if the teacher uses technology. Technology is present at all levels in one way or another. Having the technology at the teacher's and student's disposal is a gift, and will only help them during and after their careers. However, there is one driving force that can dictate the extent of the technology available, and that is of course money. Whereas private schools generate their own money, public schools recieve federal money at least partially based on how their students do on the state standardized tests. It is critical for students to be exposed to technology in the classroom as early as possible but a lack of money can hinder that exposure process, which can possibly hurt them when high school and college come around. The bottom line is that technology does not only drive the educational world, but also the work force. The biggest reason to have and benefit to having technology in the classroom is that students at all levels will learn how to work it as early as possible. Technology can help any student enhance his or her learning experience whether they learn visually, kinesthetically, or by listening there will be a technology that can supplement a teacher's instruction so that they can grasp the material being presented in class. Any teacher that is reluctant to use technology (myself in a way) will be doing themselves, and most importantly their students an educational injustice.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mr. Milana's Visions of Technology

It is almost impossible to major in education today and not anticipate having to use technology. Quite honestly, technology has become the name of the game in education. The above image of a teacher giving a lesson to his classroom using a smartboard seems to be a perfect illustration of where contemporary education is headed or perhaps where it already is. The need for technologically competant students places added pressure on them to know what they are doing coming out of high school, and because of this, the teachers have an added responsibility to be competant in technology themselves. If we are not able to understand and affectively teach the technologies that our students must know we are doing ourselves and the kids a disservice. I agree that technology is essential to the success of students today, however my opinions on its affect on a student's learning may come as a surprise. I have been educated in the same technology driven classrooms and schools that many students today are, but I do not plan on doing everything with technology as a classroom. From my personal experiences as a student I perfer a classroom where technology is a compliment to normal, or some might say "old school" teaching methods. I support the use of things such as PowerPoints for lectures because they allow me as a teacher to upload images that will compliment the text on the slide and maybe help my students to better understand its main points. I may be looked down upon for not fully embracing technology but it will "heavily" influence my lessons. Despite my desire to limit my use of technology, I will have to adapt my methods in today's schools in order to survive. Despite my desire to only use technology for things like projects or showing a movie, it is all around me and I will be using it every day. Being a teacher in today's classroom is really a matter of "survival of the fittest" or perhaps that is more accurate if I rephrased it to say, "survival of the most competent." I must know the ins and outs of every technology I will be using as a means to best prepare my students for their futures in college and most importantly, the professional world. For my own personal reasons, I must know how to efficiently navigate technology in order to keep my job. I am reluctant to venture out and use the abundance of technology available to me, but the bottom line is that the world of education has forever changed. It is now my responsibility to learn about and use technology, so that I may improve my lessons and keep my students well versed in the skills they will need to be vital contributors to the work force after their days in school come to an end. My students' days in school may eventually end, but by choosing teaching as my life's calling that means my learning will never stop. Instead of being reluctant to learn the techologies necessary for survival in teaching today, I need to turn that into an enthusiasm and willingness to learn. It is that willingness to learn that will ultimately make me a better teacher, and that does not only go for technology but for every aspect of my career. I will be given an incredible gift to make a difference in young people's lives with my eventual certification as a teacher, and I will be best qualified to make that difference if I am right there with my students in terms of technological advancements, as well as their likes, dislikes, hopes and dreasms. Teaching is far more than notes on a powerpoint, it is the daily interaction with children that will make my chosen "job" something I love to do. As the old saying goes, "If you find something you love, you will not have to work a day in your life." Technology in the Classroom 9/4/12