Technology Standards

NETS-S_LogoTechnology skills and standards…What are they? What do my students need to know? Is there a scope and sequence or curriculum that I should follow? What have my students learned in previous grades? What will my students need to know for the next grade? These are questions that many teachers have. I can say that I don’t have every answer to each one of these questions, but I would like to share some resources that can begin to point you in the right direction.

In the year 2014, it is no longer enough to just say that our students are “using” technology. Instead, as educators in the 21st Century, one of the most important tasks we have is to help our students explore, analyze and learn using the technology. As ISTE states on their web site, “Digital age skills are vital for preparing students to work, live and contribute to the social and civic fabric of their communities.”
ISTE, the International Society for Technology in Eduction, is the main source when it comes to technology standards.
“The ISTE Standards (formerly the NETS) for Students (ISTE Standards•S) are the standards for evaluating the skills and knowledge students need to learn effectively and live productively in an increasingly global and digital world.”
These standards might be a little different then other types of standards in that they are more general and aren’t grade-level specific. This can be somewhat exciting and frustrating at the same time. In some instances, the vagueness might make you feel that you aren’t “meeting” the standards. The exciting part of them being open-ended, is that this provides for great customization for your classroom, grade level, or school. You can use your specific areas of curriculum to plan for the implementation of the ISTE Standards.
To help educators in their planning and implementation, ISTE has created Profiles that provide a variety of engaging, learning activities. The profiles are divided into four grade ranges and, “…provide a set of examples for preparing students to be lifelong learners and contributing members of a global society.”

So on to the resources. As mentioned above, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is the authority when it comes to learning, teaching and leading in the digital age. The links below are all part of their site.

  • ISTE Home – Learn more about the organization.
  • ISTE Standards – This is the main page for all standards-related links.
  • ISTE Standards for Students – Resources specific to the student standards. (Includes a Spanish version.)
  • The ISTE Profiles – It’s important to remember that these profiles operate on the assumption that students have regular access to a variety of technology tools.
  • NETS-S Implementation Wiki – This is a great new resource that I just came across. It contains very practical ideas of how to implement the ISTE Standards. Being that it’s a wiki, you are able to create a wiki account (or use your current account), join this wiki and offer thoughts, questions and comments to other teachers’ ideas.
  • ISTE Standards for Teachers – So we’ve covered the students’ standards, interested in what’s expected of you as a teacher? ISTE has standards for teachers as well.
  • ISTE Standards for Administrators – These standards help administrators support their staff.

In conclusion, your school, district or state might have a specific scope and sequence and/or set of technology standards. In many states or school districts you might also find that technology skills are embedded within other items like “21st Century Skills.” The important thing to remember about the ISTE Standards is that they encompass the student as a digital-aged learner, not someone who is creating a PowerPoint at a certain grade level. Use the ISTE Standards as a framework to help you create authentic, digital learning activities for your students.

Source: “ISTE Standards For Students.” ISTE Standards For Students. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2014. <http://www.iste.org/standards/standards-for-students>.

“Tech” Resolutions for the New Year

FireworkI’m sure I’m not the only who catches the re-energized “bug” each year when the New Year rolls around. I organize. I de-clutter.  I work out. I find new blogs to follow. I plan great projects to undertake for the new year. You get the picture. I often get more accomplished in those first couple weeks of January than any other week of the year! (I wish I could get an injection of this energy and optimism several times during the year.)

Well, just as we resolve to lose weight, budget our money, watch less TV, etc., why not consider a few professional resolutions as well? While reading a number of blogs and tweets related to keeping your new year’s resolutions, I came across a few helpful tips that I’ve summarized below. I feel that these same strategies can be applied to our professional development, just as easily as our personal lives.

  • Take baby steps. If you drink 4 diet Cokes everyday, don’t go cold turkey. Try to cut out one a day for a few weeks and then another and then another. Be sure to pace yourself.
  • Make it manageable. We all know life happens!! Don’t set yourself up for immediate failure. Evaluate what type of change you can truly manage with your life.
  • Write them down. This is one I always have a hard time with. Writing down a resolution or goal helps make them “real.” Take it even a step further and share your goal with someone else. They can support you!
  • Remain positive. It is so easy to only see the things we aren’t doing well. Choose to not focus on the times you don’t reach your resolution, but do take time to recognize your accomplishments and successes.

So, there’s the pep-talk. Let’s get to work! One of my favorite resources is “Educational Technology & Mobile Learning”. This blog is a wonderful resource for educational web tools and applications. (When you visit the link I’ve provided to the specific post, be sure to click the home button so you can follow the blog via number of social media outlets.)

An older post caught my eye today when I was taking a “Twitter Break.” (I will explain this idea in a future post.) The post, entitled “Teachers Ultimate Digital Kit 30+ Great Educational Technology Guides.” contains a collection of guides that were developed over the course of several months. These guides cover everything from blogging to QR Codes to flipped classrooms to creativity and everything in between. And they are more than just a quick overview. The guides provide a complete overview of the topic, accompanied by images, diagrams, video tutorials, and examples to help inspire you. Finally, you are provided with a webliography containing links to related resources.

To help you organize your “Tech Resolution” I have created two different goal-setting forms. (One is a SMART form.) This is the “write it down” aspect I mentioned above.  TTC Goal Setting One & TTC Goal Setting Two (SMART Form). Take a few minutes to skim the 30+ topics. If you come across a completely new topic, take some time to click around to learn just enough about the topic to see if interests you. Now what? First, don’t feel overwhelmed! Even if reading through this list feels like reading Chinese…take a deep breath! You don’t need to be great at everything to be a great teacher! As I mentioned above, take baby steps!

At this time of the school year, most of us are sitting down with administrators for our mid-year evaluation. If you are looking for a little more direction in the area of technology, use this document to help establish a new goal, or to even help you refocus on a previous goal.

In closing, think about this…in the end, are you really trying to “reach” a goal, “keep” a resolution or form a new habit? Keeping this in mind might help you keep your focus in the right place.

Using Twitter in the Classroom

Twitter is a social microblogging site that enables users to create social and professional learning networks. This free service allows you to share in short, 140 character phrases an answer to the question: “What you are doing?” You can also follow other Twitter users to see what they are doing. The limit of 140 characters requires users to be concise and to the point. Twitter is an informal way of staying in touch with others. One thing I like to share with people is that you DON’T have to have a Twitter account to follow others…you just need to know their user name. For example, you can follow The Teacher’s Corner (user name is teachercorner) by visiting this URL: http://twitter.com/teachercorner

Watch this “Twitter in Plain English” video to learn the basics.

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