The end of the semester is quickly approaching for the two courses that I am currently taking, Introduction to Educational Technology and Introduction to Authoring Tools. The semester has gone fast, but taking two courses on top of taking care of family and teaching duties has been a challenge. Tomorrow, I have my last classes before I complete my final reflective posts to the discussion boards. I am eager to find out what my instructors thought of my final projects.
Already, I am trying to apply what I have learned in these two courses to my instruction in the classroom. In fact, my final projects have been geared toward what I can use in my school. I had a professional development day in the high school today, where the requirements were introduced for all classes in the school to do a formal research project. Both I and a colleague introduced the notion to our administration of doing digital technology projects in the lower grades as a way of building the research skills that will be required of all students as juniors and seniors when they can then complete formal papers. Additionally, our principle has approached me about performing podcasting training for all teachers on the next professional development day.
I am very excited and geared up about what I have been learning. It is great to study material that can immediately make an impact on the job in the classroom. I can actually say that everything that I have learned about blogs, wikis, websites, audio remix, digital storytelling, video remix and copyright I have already applied to conversations that I have had in school with my colleagues with the notion of introducing these type of projects in the coming semester in my classroom.
I was reading an article carried in the Asbury Park Sunday Press yesterday that someone in my family had come across and clipped for me. The meat of the article was trying to make an argument against compensating teachers with higher salaries for completing advanced degrees at the masters or higher level. The article was quoting conservatives who claimed that virtually all research that they had at their disposal on the subject had shown that teachers with advanced degrees showed no more student achievement in their classes than teachers with only a bachelor's degree. The article went on to try to sell the notion that the public was wasting millions of dollars paying teachers for higher educations.
Reading the article, I was having a "You've got to be kidding me" moment. As the article stated that the majority of teachers already had advanced degrees, the author was missing the point entirely. The effect on the classroom when teachers have higher degrees is that the teachers who do not have advanced degrees, and their students, benefit also. A teacher does not work in a vacuum in a classroom, but in a collaborative environment where all good teachers are reflecting on their best practices and sharing that knowledge with other teachers. The knowledge that teachers with master's degrees possess is shared with their colleagues on a daily basis, raising the bar for all of them.
I am currently completing a master's degree in educational technology. Sure, some extra money is nice, but the main reason that I am putting myself through this work is so that I can bring new ideas and learning paradigms into the classroom. I am educating myself with technology literacy skills so that I may bring that knowledge into my classroom and share it with my students. I am doing it to be a better teacher, regardless of whether or not someone who writes articles for a newspaper, and who has never spent a day in a classroom teaching, agrees.
I attended the Optimum Lightpath Educational Technology Conference last week and found that I was not one of the 10 lucky winners of a $10,000 grant to upgrade my classroom with technology. At least writing the grant application was a learning experience, and the next time that I do one I will only be better at it.
The conference itself was interesting in several respects, the first of which is that I was one of only a few teachers in attendence. Most attendees were technology directors, principles or superintendents. Also, many schools brought along a platoon of individuals. The conference featured a key note speaker from Cisco and a panel discussion featuring educators, technology coordinators, curriculum coordinators and a representative from the technology office of the NJ Department of Education. The key note speech used examples that were a bit far out of the box, but I found the discussion panel session to be very informative. All in all, it was a professional development day well spent.
I watched this video from Will Richardson while completing my weekly coursework for my Introduction to Educational Technology class and felt that it did a pretty good job of explaining what I could not fully articulate to my fellow teachers. I.E.: Why I am completing a Master's in Educational Technology
I had the good fortune of being the unfortunate fellow that had to apply for a grant today. I knew that gathering and composing the information into a coherent document would be a lot of work, and I literally did not leave the classroom all week due to the time constraints required to get the application in before tomorrow's deadline. I know that writing a grant application has a learning curve and that it would be truly miraculous if I won it for my science department, but, boy, would I be stoked if I did! Equipping two of the science classrooms with ceiling mounted computer projectors, dual touch Smart Boards and wireless Smart Slates would be an awesome way to crank up the interactivity between my students and the curriculum.