For my “Interview Three” assignment I decided to interview 3 different colleagues at my school, all in various positions, to get their thoughts on technology integration and discuss my app, “Virutal PenPal”.  I interviewed each colleague and recorded their answers via the VoiceMemo app on my phone. I then was able to easily transcribe their responses into the computer (rather than try to awkwardly type them in real time). It is amazing how such simple technology makes our lives so much easier! Here are their responses:

Jen Goldberg – Elementary Technology Specialist

  1.     What does a “21st century ready” or “career ready” student look like in the elementary school setting?
  • Students need to be able to work collaboratively, gather and evaluate appropriate information, solve problems, and create using technology.
  1.     What do you think it means for a student to be “Connected to the world”?
  • Students today have access to more information than ever before. They can connect, either synchronously or asynchronously, with people and information from anywhere in world.
  1.     How do you think we can meaningfully integrate technology into the classroom to create a more “connected” learner?
  • Technology should be seamless. In other words, it shouldn’t be a stand-alone lesson or tool. It should be infused into all subjects as necessary.

Helga Porter – Elementary Math Specialist

  1.     What does a “21st century ready” or “career ready” student look like in the elementary school setting?
  • I think that a 21st century student looks like they can handle the 8 mathematical standards practices. Students can make sense of problems and persevere through them. They can explain their thinking, they have critical faculties about them. They learn to criticize ideas instead of people. They learn how to be patient, they can also take what they are learning and learn how to apply it but all of those things have to have a social component. They have to have that society component. What they are learning, what they are doing is supposed to go out and help society.
  1.     What do you think it means for a student to be “Connected to the world”?
  • Similar ideas I think that students need to, if they are connected to the world they understand that the world is bigger than what they see on a daily basis. There are impacts to how they behave and what they do and it really does affect others and their future.
  1.     How do you think we can meaningfully integrate technology into the classroom to create a more “connected” learner?
  • When technology is learned in isolation I don’t think it’s very helpful. I think that in order for it to be meaningful and relevant it has to be attached to curriculum, it has to o be a means to an end, not just something to learn.

Ellen Berger – ESL Teacher

  1.     What does a “21st century ready” or “career ready” student look like in the elementary school setting?
  • I would think an ESL student it would be to be able to use technology. I have taught a lot of students to use “Google Translate” online and that has made a huge difference once they know how to use that. I’ve actually had students come in and not know how to use a computer at all. I’ve tried to run a mouse on the screen. So I think definitely the technology piece and advocating for but you really have to instruct that on top of instruction so students are using it appropriately.
  1.     What do you think it means for a student to be “Connected to the world”?
  • I think when students first come to the United States and they don’t have any English language skills they feel really isolated and in particular there are other students here where no other students speak their language so I’ve seen two students in particular that started out not talking to anyone not playing with anyone and I definitely think again, that technology help and just sharing cultures is something that really helps. For students to be able to use things like powerpoint that I taught them to use and they were able to do a whole powerpoint on their culture. So like their country’s flag, the way they dance things like that and then share that out with the class which was really cool. We also did a project on different holidays for the different cultures  and we posted stuff out outside the classroom and online so the students could kind of review it and we each did something from that country. Like we made lucky money bags from China and we made a Diwali lantern and we made a Persian rug. We all got to share about it and we also looked up those things on Youtube. I told the students where to find these things on YouTube (safely) and we were able to watch it actually in real time and see for example how people actually made tiles or what the lanterns looked like in real life. Then students were able to share with their classmates too. So it makes them comfortable and they kind of even though language is lacking they start to become friends. Now I even have a couple of students that are best friends.
  1.     How do you think we can meaningfully integrate technology into the classroom to create a more “connected” learner?
  • One way is of course teaching them to do Powerpoint and be able to share that out. Being able to use “Google Translate” is a huge one as well. Now students can just jump on and use that service on their own. I also use a program called “Raz Kids” and usually it is used with younger kids but our district actually has a bigger license where its “Raz Kids: Writing and Reading”. So what I do is a assign a reading and I have the books that they do here. But when students go home or even there are certain days that I will have them do it at school, they have to listen, read and write about the same book but it’s all online. The students actually love it. They are really engaged with it because as they work they can build a little robot and a rocket once they gain starts. I can also actually message students on it as well. Students can’t yet message the teacher back students get really excited when I message them and they can get points for reading the message and then they can buy more stuff for their robot so they are really engaged. It is totally academic, through the reading and listening skills there is a lot of different little options on there where they can click on a word and it will define it for them or say it for them and it really helps them with English. And through this program I have seen kids jump a lot of levels in their reading in a short amount of time.

Reflection:

What I love about what all my colleagues said is the thread of integrating technology meaningfully. I think it is not enough to just throw technology at students and hope that it is successful. I think that technology truly needs to be a mixed in to the curriculum and used to enhance learning rather than as a substitute for it. I think “Virtual PenPal” would be a great way to integrate technology into the classroom in a way that enhances and goes beyond what is possible without technology. I think an app like “Virtual PenPal” allows students to access content, material and experiences that they would not otherwise have without the app. This to me is meaningful use of technology because it adds to a students learning rather than just merely engaging them in it.

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