Sunday, January 25, 2015

Digital Resources for training and learning

Teaching and Learning-Digital Natives

The area my school is in is quite transient, all students qualify for free lunch, and poverty is a theme for almost all of them. Many do not have computers at home, and depend on smartphones. Many students have these or access to their parents smart phones.Yes, they do want instant gratification and rewards. They expect their technology to be instantaneous. If it doesn't power up immediately, they begin to frantically push buttons repetitively (our PC lab is pretty outdated, running XP). However, they don't know how to efficiently use a keyboard (tab vs. moving the mouse and clicking in each box, the number keyboard and num lock, hunting and pecking, searching efficiently, etc). They don't respect the technology ( I have seen them bring in devices with cracked screens). What they do well is searching for images for words and vocabulary they don't know, prefer Tumblebooks online over real books, avoid reading and would rather see it on YouTube, and click through tutorials without watching. Many of my students want to avoid reading at all costs. 
The author suggests using video games for learning. I've done this, in fact I have several games for each topic in math. Our curriculum is largely based on technology and we have few textbooks. Herein lies the problem: engaging games they enjoy. I have games related to each concept. From a kid's POV, some are not so exciting. They use a game for long division. However it's not as fun as the multiplication games where they race other students in the class, getting a turbo blast each time they get the problem correct. The long Division games are basically the paper/pencil version, except it gives them prompts to remember each step. Boring, not engaging to them.As Prensky illustrates in the article, Digital Natives grew up learning from TV and games, thus their natural inclination towards youtube. They have parents who can't do long division, who tell their kids to look up a tutorial, hence their predisposition towards YouTube.
One thing I have noticed is they don't test well using technology versus traditional testing. I use a program for math online testing where they don't have to show their work and they almost always fail. I then give them a paper test, with the instructions to show their work, to retest their wrong problems. They then do great. I think it is just too easy to click through the test if you don't have to show your work. Some students have claimed the paper test is easier, even though they are the exact same problems.
I use a complete curriculum online for reading and math. It has many features, it calculates data, students can watch an animation, they can track their own progress. The book reads to them. In class, I called to all to the Promethean board and we all read as a group. They don't like working in partners or independently for reading, because they have to actually read the whole thing without direction. As a group at the board, they have guidance. It's no wonder they hate reading, every game and book has a YouTube video or a read aloud. They did not grow up needing to read to get information. My students lack the prior knowledge you would expect to see in 4th and 5th grade. They don't make connections or think about things in a common sense kind of way. Perhaps because they do not have the life experiences that children 20 and 30 years ago always had.
I do see connections with Prensky's article and my own students. McKenzie's article mostly focused on critiquing Prensky and the lack of scientific evidence. I get that, however, I didn't really glean any new information regarding Digital Natives.
I do agree student behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs have changed. We were just talking about this in a meeting. It seems students from all social status and demographics have seem to shift towards this "No, I can't" attitude. It seems they have more power than ever and believe certain aspects of school are optional when they are not. Perhaps due to a shift in parenting where kids are so overprotecting and shielded from difficult decisions that they cannot cope? Reeves discusses this "generational transition" and is quite relevant to today's students.

Friday, January 16, 2015

About Me


My name is Karen Wilfong. I am currently near completion of my M.Ed in Instructional Technology with an emphasis in Administrative and Organizational Studies. I received a B.A. from University of Michigan with a major in Language Arts/Education and a minor in Integrated science. I have experience within a diverse range of industries. I worked for a manufacturing company in inside sales, the medical field, health services compliance for the county, I taught science in Utah, digital publishing services for an educational publisher, and an educator at a charter school.

I also enjoy reading comedy articles and is one of my favorite places to do that. I have laughed hysterically at some of the articles. I also like to read lists, listverse is another favorite read. I especially like to read about weird, unusual oddities and reading true crime books because the psychology behind it is fascinating. I enjoy learning new, unrelated things and my favorite way to learn is through reading, the favored mode of learning by me. Please use the following links to see my ePortfolio and examples of prior work.

Weebly: ePortfolio
Twitter: @KalynnWilfong