Bringing home economics into the 21st century (autosaved)


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Bringing home economics into the 21st century (autosaved)

  1. 1. Bringing Home Economics into the 21st Century Part I: Project Description “No artist is ahead of his time. He is his time. It is just that others are behind the time.” -Martha Graham “It may not always be profitable at first for [schools] to be online, but it certainly is going to be unprofitable not to be online.” -Esther Dyson “If you’re afraid to be wrong, you’ll never be original.” - TED GUY I would like students in my classroom to view class as more valuable in their lives and to be taught in such a way that it complements the technology age in which they live. Life Skills would take on dual meaning if technology became an additional structural support to student learning such that as students learn traditional life skills they are also learning technological life skills that they will surely need throughout high school, college and upon entrance to the work force. A mobile computer lab would facilitate this endeavor as technologies can be used for media inquiry, construction, communication and expression. A document camera and projector would allow students to see demonstrations and examples more clearly as well as showcase student works. These technologies can support teaching and foster learning on a daily basis by transforming student learning from the 1950’s to the 2000s and beyond. “Today’s students grow up in a technologically-mediated world and their thinking, behavior, and emotions are heavily influenced by new technologies.” (Zhao 2003) Technology in any classroom setting is beneficial as long as teachers appropriately use and repurpose technologies to best fit their learners and circumstances. I want to infuse learning with technology by truly teaching with it
  2. 2. as a partner in my classroom. Students are digital natives in a world evolving digitally. Consider the frequency of paper and pencil use in the “real world” work force. Using tangible resources such as these in presentations, communication, and submission of works are nearly obsolete. Why not take education where the world has gone and where our learners have always been? Part II: Putting Your Cards on the Table Howard Gardner contends that the understanding of truth, beauty, and goodness is necessity to productive citizenship and that “without such understanding, people cannot participate fully in the world in which they -- we—live.” (Gardner 1999) Truth, beauty and goodness are parts of my class every day and come in the form of lessons in decision making, risk taking, setting goals, conflict resolution, money management, friendships, family dynamics and so on. I teach Life Management for sixth through eighth grade students, at a Title one school in a suburb north of Detroit. A large misconception of what I teach assumes that of a class taught from June Cleaver herself, Wife Skills: Cooking, Baking, Sewing, and How to get your housework done in your pearls! In fact, the wide array of topics are far more trivial than the typical cooking and sewing Home Economics classrooms of the past. As it must be to suit the demands of our world, educational critics and cynics, and to best prepare kids for what is to come in their lives. I don’t feel that my students necessarily struggle with the concepts or subject matter, but I do believe that they have a certain fairy tale belief for their lives that will come magically opposed to in time with hard work, ambition, and perseverance. The demographic of my school is also culturally diverse which lends to the fact that many students still assume that their mothers and sisters will follow them around until they are married
  3. 3. tending to their every need. This however, cannot be true because these sisters and other girls that they are relying on to “tend” to them, are planning to attend college and have careers before they plan to be wives and mothers. National statistics support that 57% of college students are now women, a reversal since the 1960’s and beyond the 50/50 split campus ratios of the 1970’s. (Marklein 2005) As girls march forward, boys tend to be falling behind and also relying on blue collar jobs that were once widely available. Unfortunately, those blue collar jobs are drying up, especially in today’s economy fraught with sky-rocketing unemployment rates. Fortunately, as an educator, and more importantly a Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, I have the opportunity to prepare all students, despite gender, for the world by bringing together the skills they acquire in other core classes such as math, science and language arts with real world applications so that they can have future success in their lives. To many, my class may not seem so trivial or challenging because of the preconceptions of Home Economics being a blow off course. Nevertheless, I believe that if I firmly embed a technology framework into my curriculum and create a challenging academic transition, students may feel more enthralled and thus challenged by the experience of learning. Dweck (1999) states that: Challenges, set-backs, and effort are not threatening to the self-esteem of those who are concerned with developing their potential; they represent opportunities to learn. In fact, many students [say] that they [feel] smartest when things are difficult; [and that] they gained self-esteem when they apply themselves to meeting challenges. If my broad curriculum could effectively be paired with the integration of technology and proper challenges, students could walk away better equipped with skills for wherever they
  4. 4. choose to go in their lives whether it be college or the blue-collar work force, and would be adequately prepared to be productive citizens in the world in which they—we—live! Part III: The transformation I would like to see in my teaching and in my students’ learning explained through the six facets of understanding. “Learning often becomes associated with drudgery instead of delight.” (Lumsden 1994) Explain: I recently purchased a book that I believe is about to be a great supplementary tool in my classroom entitled, 1001 Things Every Teen Should Know Before they Leave Home (Or Else They’ll Come Back!) While I wouldn’t have time to directly share them all with students, I can teach them many of the lessons that are going to prepare them for the world, at home or away from it. Interpret: Regardless of the job market, kids have to be properly prepared to be on their own, to be productive citizens, and to be able to provide for themselves and give back, somehow, to others. How can parents possibly cover everything they have to teach their children so they can “make it”?! That’s one big launch after the teen years, and studies (as well as the 2000 census) indicate that that won’t be the last launch because a full fifty percent of those teens move back home in about five years, and stay for a while! Apply: While my class is not a core subject area, it is chocked full of valuable information and lessons that tie together things students have learned in other classes such as budgeting, problem solving, communication, identifying and using resources, and the list could go on and on but the idea is that my class helps kids answer the omni-present question, “Why do I have to know this?” Other than moving into higher classes such as calculus and chemistry, they don’t have to learn how to invert and multiply, how to write an eight sentence paragraph, or use the scientific method! Perspective: They do, however, have to know that the application of learning these
  5. 5. lessons, will assist them in their lives because they will be equipped with skills to tackle issues they face as growing adults. Empathize: Number 116 of 1001 Things Every Teen Should Know Before they Leave Home says that, “They should know what they’re capable of doing for a living. Not just what they’d like to do.” Number 12 says, “They should know the media are selling them on a lifestyle that is essentially unattainable.” Number 7 says, “They should know that just because things get difficult, it’s no reason to believe God is on vacation.” Number one says, “They should know adulthood is not for sissies.” Finally, number 997 says, “They should realize failure can lead to maturity.” Self- knowledge: I realize that I am only one teacher and one person in the lives of my students. I know that to love learning or further, guide students to apply learning and to love that is a big job. Brophey (1997) says that motivation to learn is a competence acquired through general experience but stimulated most directly through modeling… and direct instruction or socialization by significant others (especially parents and teachers).” Daily use of technology already occurs with most students. However, it is not in a way that fosters learning and develops skills for life- outside of networking. Technology is a resource that can complement any curriculum and support learning in ways that are unfathomable. In fact, technology can be seen as the new dynamic in the traditional student-teacher relationship. However, it is undeniable that the most important influence in student learning and achievement is still teacher quality. Yet, if that teacher models the love of learning, core subject area lesson application in life, and the desire to seek out information, ideas and possibilities through the use of technology, what student would slip into the cracks?!
  6. 6. Assessments will be designed in such a way that answers will often be subjective to the learner and best fit the lesson each student needs... Through daily use of pre or post class blogging, online student work creations, presentations, as well as multi-tasking with research processes during class activities will guide class instruction. The idea is that through stimulated learning, technology can enhance the classroom experience for both teachers and students. If students can be aroused to make the most of learning with technology inside the classroom, they may be inspired to use it for learning throughout their lives. Part IV: What role does technology play? Nicholas Necropante once stated, “Computing is not about computers anymore, it is about living.” I find this statement to be profound because in my classroom, I believe I teach students skills to guide their lives so that they can be more independent and productive citizens of the world. But given the technological divide between us and them, why do they need us when they can “Google” anything? Is the answer the difference between knowing and understanding? Do we help students to understand the things they know by providing them with experiences to facilitate such understanding? Prensky (2005) writes that: Pragmatically, our 21st century kids’ education is quickly bifurcating. The formal half, “school,” is becoming an increasingly moribund and irrelevant institution. Its only function for many students is to provide them with a credential that their parents say they need. The informal, exciting half of kids’ education occurs “after school.” This is the place where 21st century students learn about their world and prepare themselves for their 21st century lives. The title of my class is “Life and Living.” This class title is broad and can be interpreted in many ways. I revel in this description (or lack thereof), because it allows me to create a
  7. 7. classroom where the instruction is jointly teacher and student driven. If students are interested in a certain topic, we can entertain that topic for as long as needed. This is wonderful because I truly feel students are learning about topics that interest them. However, due to this freedom, students do not always take my class seriously. Also, there is only so much knowledge I can bring to the table without preparation or an experience in my own life with which to share with students. This is where technology comes in. I feel that with a classroom set of laptops, a document camera, and a ceiling mounted projector I can address all the issues that I struggle with in my classroom. Zhao (2003) states in What Teachers Need to Know About Technology, that: Teachers at the mechanical level of understanding often try to repeat what technical manual prescribe or what they are taught. They are less inclined to repurpose technology for their own uses. On the other hand, teachers at the generative level of knowledge are creative and frequently reinterpret technology for their purposes. They adapt technology instead of adopting it. I have developed a multi-step plan to address the issues of lack of focus and delays due to teacher research with the usage of technology. The first issue that I wanted to address was that students did not always give my class the respect that I feel it deserves. Being a non-core subject, my class does not get the same attention as a class such as math. My classroom seems to contain more joy than most classrooms, but it lacks a bit of focus. In observations of other classrooms, I sought out technology that would work in my setting. I found that a document camera would be most beneficial. This device, combined with a projector, would allow me to give notes in a traditional academic style. This is not my standard procedure, but this setup would be familiar to students
  8. 8. and would make them focus a bit more. Also, in a cooking demonstration, the camera could show the ingredients being mixed without having a mass of students surrounding me and hoping they can see. This is just a few ideas I have for using the document camera. The aforementioned projector will have multiple uses as well. Occasionally, I show educational videos to my class and there are often complaints that students cannot see the television clearly. The projector would create a larger image on a wall or screen that students could see more clearly and would eliminate the excuse that homework was not done because a viewing angle was obstructed. This projector could show anything from my computer, so the daily agenda could also be displayed and would give students a better idea of what to expect. The final piece of technology that I seek is a classroom set of laptops. This is the pivotal piece of my futuristic dream classroom. Every day when students log in there will be a question for the students to blog about. These questions can be on a multitude of topics ranging from apples to Zaire’s policies. The blog will allow students to respond to a question and read other students responses and comment. This interaction is also viewed by the teacher and can help in driving the discussion. If students show a particular tilt in their responses, I can react to that and clear up any misconceptions that they may have and lead them in a meaningful discussion. During that discussion, if an issue arises that I cannot answer or wish to not answer, I will have a student designated as the “researcher” and she will look up the information for us while we discuss. As a realist, I understand that if students are given computers, focus may be worse. However, I have addressed this by having only one researcher and the rest of the laptops will be closed during the discussion. The role of researcher will be changed daily. I realize that this
  9. 9. style of teaching is a more reactive style as opposed to a proactive style. However, in my experience I have found that when students are given ownership of their education and they know that their voice is heard, they will work harder and be more intent on learning. Of course I hope to have general knowledge of all the topics I will be bringing up in class and there is an overarching plan for the curriculum, but the day-to-day tasks are driven through student input. At the end of each class, the students will be given another chance to blog. There will be a short response to the current day’s discussion and they will be able to ask any questions they may not have been able to ask in class. Also, there will be a thinking point for tomorrow’s blog in which they will be able to post “big” questions or topics that they would like to discuss in class the next day. This will excite students to learn and create a more interactive classroom. “Today’s students grow up in a technology-mediated world and their thinking, behavior, and emotions are heavily influenced by new technologies. If technologies are appropriately incorporated, students could come to school for that certain thirst for learning and knowledge that has seemingly become so rare. Through the usage of technology, my classroom will become a place where students are eager to come. However, whereas they used to arrive with the expectation to have fun, now they will arrive with the expectation that they will have fun AND learn about topics that interest them. They will also have governance and choice over the class and that will make them more focused and intent on learning. The role that technology plays is the conversion from a teacher-led curriculum to a student-driven curriculum, which is a monumental shift not only for my class but for education as a whole! Motivating students to learn seems simpler if done with tools with which they are already familiar and fond of! Kids know how “cool” technology is. Teachers have to learn to “bend the rules” with technology to
  10. 10. push their students to be invigorated with energy to learn. “Technologies including standard productive or office software, blogs, wikis, and GPS systems were not designed for teachers, and as such, teachers must repurpose them for use in educational contexts.” (Mishra & Koehler 2009) Technology truly affords teachers a route to constructivist teaching. As we know, “learners do not passively absorb knowledge, but rather construct it from their own experiences.” (Dils 2001) I do not want to be a “transmitter of knowledge”, I want to guide my students to create their own meaning in lessons so that they are truly of value in their lives. Part V: Evaluation The measure of the impact in the technological transformation will be subjective. A control group, as possibly suggested, could be unfair to learners and therefore I would not consider it in the strictest of forms. I could however, interview students to find how their experience in my class has changed from one year to another with regards to the technological integration. This would be possible in part, due to the fact that my class is required for all students in seventh grade, thus any who have the eighth grade class where the technology will be fully incorporated will be able to have a baseline from which to compare their ideas and feelings for my class and instruction. “As 21st century educators, we can no longer decide for our students, we must decide with them… We need to include our students in everything we do in our classroom, involving them in discussions about curriculum development, teaching methods, school organization, discipline, and assignments.” Prensky (2005)
  11. 11. I could also prepare a survey using a web technology such as survey monkey to attain ideas from students. A pre and post survey could be useful. A pre-class survey could help me to gain a better understanding of my students’ technological skills as well as their thoughts on technology and its use in school. Collaborating with students could be a place where teachers have lost out over the years of education! Digital tools are like extensions of students’ brains… Encouraged to share their expertise, students can be a teacher’s best resource for suggesting better access to technology, defining kinds of technology that teachers should be using in the classroom, and showing teachers how they can use specific hardware and software tools to teach more effectively.” (Prensky 2005) A post-class survey could determine student’s opinions on how well I integrated technology, their attainment of knowledge and understanding of class concepts as related to the technology. I once heard someone say that attitudes are precursors to real behavioral changes. The more I considered this statement, the closer I believed it to be true. Dweck (1999) contends that, “even college students’ views about intelligence and effort can be modified- and that these changes will affect their level of academic achievement.” While students happily enter my room, remain engaged, and participate in class activities, I do not believe that they take learning in class so seriously. If I could change their attitude, I may also be able to change the behavior and actions of my students in regards to their own learning. I would also be willing to commit to a once a week teacher journal in the form of a blog to reflect on how I feel my students are progressing technologically as well as grasping concepts within my curriculum. The blog would also give me an opportunity to truly reflect on my teaching and make very conscious choices as how to move forward to best match the needs of my students and their learning. In addition, my reflective blog will be a form of modeling, which
  12. 12. as we know is a powerful tool for motivating students. In asking my students to take part in electronic journaling via a blog, I am encouraging them to write, and in so doing myself I show that I value learning and writing to them. “Adaptivity, along with connectivity is where digital technology will have its greatest impact on education.” (Prensky 2005) According to Zhao (2003), if I “increasingly incorporated technology in [my] instruction, [I] may begin to observe improved efficiency of the instructional process and notice changes in student learning and engagement.” This in effect, would prove achievement of my goal of increasing student learning and value of my class if I noticed such changes through the student surveys, writing and my own reflective journals. Part VI: Technology and its discontents Developing information literacy, technology skills (in students) The use of classroom laptops will provide students with the ability to utilize technology skills as well as develop information literacy. Through the use of various technology based programs, students will be able to communicate, collaborate and evaluate, hence improving information literacy. With access to a world of information through the use of “connected” laptops, students can easily become distracted and overloaded with data smog. With proper training students can learn to filter what is valuable and what is superfluous information. Students need information literacy and technology skills in order to maintain focus and accomplish any task at hand. When working in a computer lab, I often find that students become sidetracked by other places on the internet and need redirection or just don’t know how to comprehend the amount of resources and information available to them. As the use of technology will increase with use of technology in the classroom, students will require training in information literacy for
  13. 13. technology. A way to begin such an operation could be a simple discussion followed by a task such as a webquest wherein students are more closely guided in the sites they should visit. Younger students could be limited to only one or two sites with more freedom to roam as they learn to filter through and organize the data they retrieve. These skills will be essential for their future in college and the in work force. Meeting the diverse needs of students, assistive technologies, particularly through the Universal Designs for Learning (UDL) Social and Ethical uses of technology and healthy practices in the use of educational technology Using Technology to facilitate/Develop Creativity and Critical thinking skills in students With the availability of laptops for all students and a projector to show their accomplishments, using technology to foster creativity and critical thinking skills is endless. Listing technology as the center of a day’s activities intrigues students and sparks up their creative minds. Learning compels them when it involves something of their favor such as technology. The old school methods of paper and pencil often intimidate students because then they feel they have to have real artistic or creative skills. Today’s technologies such as Jing, Movie Maker and I-movie, Adobe Elements, Adobe Premier, digital cameras, and more provide students with out-side the box thinking opportunities. In addition, creativity can be more than how we often define “art,” it can also be creative writing and thoughtful commenting using technologies from simple word processing, to blogging, to students collaborating in Voice Thread. “A creative attitude is at least as important as creative-thinking skills.” (Sterberg &
  14. 14. Williams 1998) If students can just be sent in the right direction, their confidence soars and they have the opportunity to connect to learning because they feel compelled to learn. Using technology to engage in professional development & Leadership My plan in developing myself professionally is an unending process with no beginning and no end! As made evident in the wiki on Professional Development and Leadership, PD need not be formal. Professional development can occur any time a professional takes time to review, experiment or even play with a new technology. Upon review of such a technology, one may find that there is a purpose for it in his/her classroom, irrelevant of the purpose for which it was designed! Mishra and Mishra (2001) state that, “Often we create instrumental reasons for learning (it will get us a job, allow us to function in society, and so on…) …We just love to know… We love to understand because it gives us pleasure.” Much like our own students, professional development frequently makes teachers take on the “drudgery of learning” attitude. However, if teachers are compelled to learn, the PD may not be so bad. My plan demonstrates with the idea of lead by example. I know the staff members in my building are often curious as to what I and others are doing, especially when it comes to technology and ideas to boost student achievement. It seems like resistance may be a very serious issue at many schools, however, our staff are extremely open to learning, sharing resources and collaborating with one another! I did not previously discuss this, but we are blessed with a time to collaborate with one another on Monday mornings. Every Monday morning, almost all school year, we meet with one another to analyze data, discuss ways to increase student achievement, and better our teaching practices. This often allows for opportunities to share ideas and possible technologies within our classroom. We also take a
  15. 15. great deal of ownership in our professional development and even do it with our own initiative. While our district provides us with PD, we also create our own accessing the resources we have within ourselves. My opportunities and experiences as a leader are abundant and recurrent. Teaching K-12 online With the addition of a classroom set of lap tops, students will have access to online search and references, therefore teaching k-12 online will be made possible. References • Brophey, Jere. (1997). Teaching. Educational Practices Series-1 • Cunningham, Joan. (2008) Between Technology and Teacher Effectiveness: Professional Development. • Dils, A. Keith (Spring/Summer 2000). Using Technology in a Middle School Social Studies Classroom. International Journal of Social Education vol. 15.
  16. 16. • Dweck, C. (1999). Caution: Praise can be dangerous. American Educator, 23(1), 4-9. • Gardner, H. (2006). Changing minds: The art and science of changing our own and other people’s minds. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press. • Harrison, Harry H. Jr. (2007) 1001 Things Every Teen Should Know Before they Leave Home (Or Else They’ll Come Back). Thomas Nelson Publishers. • Lumsden, L. (1994). Student motivation to learn. Eugene, OR: ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management. • Marklein, Mary Beth. (2005). College Gender Gap Widens: 57% are Women. USA Today: Education. • Mishra, K. (2001). My First Student. With an introduction by P. Mishra. • Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2009, May). Too Cool for School? No Way! Learning & Leading with Technology, (36)7. 14-18. • Prensky, Marc. (2005, December/January). Listen to the Natives. Educational Laeadership. 10-13. • Shulman, L. (1999). What is learning and what does it look like when it doesn’t go well. Change, 31(4), 10-17. • Zhao, Yong. (2003). What Should Teachers Know about Technology?: Perspectives and Practices, 1-14.