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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What Are You “Feeding” Your Students?

Real Simple Syndication, also known as RSS is a great way for teachers and students to consume published works online. In today’s 21st century, there is a wealth of information online just waiting to be explored by both teachers and students. RSS feeds provide online users with an opportunity to consume and organize information on the Internet in a more efficient and relevant way. One of the greatest aspects about RSS feeds is that the information of the web comes to you. You do not have to search everyday to find relevant topics and interests. Instead, by using RSS you can subscribe to certain websites, blogs, and news sites to receive updates. Students and teachers can set up an RSS feed reader that allows them to collect different RSS feeds that they subscribe to. Google Reader is great because it is free and you only need a Google account to get started.  Once you set up your account, the rest is just a matter of finding the content you want to subscribe to.  I personally have been inspired to give RSS a deeper look because I feel that it can be a great tool for busy professionals. As a prospective teacher, I may not always have time to check a particular site for new information and news. However, with the help of RSS, I can still receive the information I desire without having to constantly search for it in my busy schedule. Students can even use RSS feeds for current event projects, research topics, or even student blogs. Overall, online users can use these feeds to locate information easily, classify and categorize information, as well as maximize their time without dealing with spam issues. The following is a video that outlines this RSS feed process.

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    Portfolio Assessment in the 21st Century

    Portfolios are a great assessment tool to use in the classroom as an alternative to more traditional forms of educational testing. In general, a portfolio is a systematic collection of one’s work that can be used for a number of purposes. In the classroom, teachers can use portfolios to document student progress, display student accomplishments, and evaluate student development over time. In addition to this, portfolio assessments provide teachers with the opportunity to measure each student’s achievement while allowing for individual differences. Moreover, teachers can also foster students’ self-evaluation skills by encouraging them to reflect on and assess their own progress and accomplishments. Students will be able to see improvements through stages of growth and learn the importance of self-evaluation for future endeavors.

    As an educator in today’s technologically advanced society, I have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to prepare students for success in the 21st century. According to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills website, “People in the 21st century live in a technology and media-suffused environment, marked by access to an abundance of information, rapid changes in technology tools, and the ability to collaborate and make individual contributions on an unprecedented scale. To be effective in the 21st century, citizens and workers must be able to exhibit a range of functional and critical thinking skills related to information, media and technology.” Students in today’s modern classrooms are digital learners growing up in a world that is constantly changing and developing by the minute. However, teachers are still criticized for their lack of technology usage in the classroom. Perhaps this is the reason why “so many of today’s students feel they have to power down and feel disconnected when they come to school” (Schrum and Levin, 2009, p. 29).

    One of the ways that teachers can prepare students for the 21st century and use technology to augment learning is by incorporating electronic portfolios into the curriculum. Usually referred to as e-portfolios, electronic and digital portfolios are a great way to document and showcase student progress and learning. Students can collect, reflect on, and store their work digitally, so that it is easy to access, organize, update, and share their accomplishments with teachers, parents, and other students. Electronic portfolios can communicate evidence of student learning in a variety of curriculum areas, and offer a number of advantages for both teachers and students. For example, when creating these digital portfolios, students gain a sense of personal ownership regarding their work. They are not only responsible for keeping a collection of their work, but they also take part in structuring and organizing their portfolio. Additionally, digital portfolios promote student creativity. They encourage students to emphasize the aspects of a concept most relevant to them in meaningful ways, while placing the responsibility of demonstrating knowledge and integration across concepts on the students. Furthermore, the whole system of constructing a portfolio has real world characteristics. For example, when interviewing for jobs, interviewees use portfolios everyday: teachers, artists, models, etc. I have even created my own portfolio!

    Digital portfolios create an elaborate and detailed story of students’ efforts, progress, and achievement throughout the year. Teachers can choose from a variety of different resources online if they decide to use electronic portfolios in their classrooms. Some examples of these online resources are listed below.