Aloha Kitty, left alone in the hallway after her owner has gone to bed.
I’m requiring students in my technology course to keep a blog. I think it’s an excellent way for them to learn about the technology and hopefully develop habits of reflective practice. One of my course goals is to teach students to use Internet tools to develop their personal learning networks. To help them focus their networks, I want them have a learning goal, so for their 1st post, I am asking them to answer the following:
Since I’m asking students to create learning goals and develop habits of reflective practice, I think it is only fair that I set the example and create my own learning goal. The students that I will be teaching are primarily pre-service elementary education candidates while my experience is primarily in secondary and post-secondary settings. To best serve my students, I feel it is important for me to improve my understanding of teaching in the elementary school setting. I am teaching in a pre-school co-op and am also teaching a Sunday School class for older pre-school aged children, which does give me some insight into working with early elementary aged children, but not as much with older elementary aged children. I’ve done quite a bit of reading on child development, which also helps some, but I think I need to spend time talking with, and possibly observing, some of my friends who are elementary school teachers. Also, I may be able to contact some additional teachers when I attend the local elementary school’s School Community Council (I’m a community representative). I’d love to hear from any elementary school teachers out there–what do you wish you had known before you stepped in front of your 1st classroom?
Tomorrow, I’ll be in front of a classroom again! I’ll be teaching 1 section of a 1-credit technology course for teachers and later in the week, I’ll be teaching 2 sections of a 3-credit science methods course for elementary school teachers. I’m excited and nervous. It’s going to be a busy week for me, as I’ll also be teaching my older son’s pre-school group on Tuesday and Thursday. We’ll see how quickly I can change gears.
Six years ago, I applied for a PhD program. I wanted to further my ability to make a difference in the lives of children. Also, I was comfortable in the university environment and didn’t want to leave. I loved my coursework, I loved teaching college courses, and I loved working at the university’s Center for Teaching and Learning. I was eager to do research.
Things changed a little when my son was born. As I spent more time with him, I became less eager to do research, but I was still interested. I plugged along and made slow, steady progress. Then, when my daughter was born and died shortly after; I lost all interest in research. Now it’s a year later and my interest in the kind of research I was doing for my dissertation hasn’t come back. I’m interested in plenty of other things, but I no longer care about being a university professor. I have finally admitted this to myself and officially ended my career as a doctoral student. This decision is not without regret, but on the whole, I feel better having made it.
I am fascinated by the Internet’s ability to expand personal learning networks and create opportunities for self-directed learning on an almost infinite number of topics. One of my original motivations for blogging was to observe the impact of blogging on my personal PLN firsthand. My passionate interest in PLN made it a natural choice for my dissertation topic, but as it turns out PLN won’t make even the slightest appearance in my dissertation. Instead, my dissertation deals with pre-service teachers’ ability plan technology-enhanced lessons.
Over the past few months, I’ve occasionally wondered if I would have found it easier to work on my dissertation if I hadn’t changed my topic. During the past week, I’ve decided that it really doesn’t matter. I’m interested in how people learn and in the efforts people make to help learning happen; from that perspective, either topic provides plenty of interest.
This week’s progress
In the past week, I’ve read and outlined seven articles related to my dissertation. Two of the articles related to a specific problem I am trying to solve. Specifically, my conditionally approved prospectus states that I will use a rubric to score student responses on a pre- and post- assessment. One of the conditions of approval is producing the rubric that I will use. Two of the articles I read this week will help me craft my justification for a particular rubric. (At the time of my defense, I was waiting for the release of the results of the study containing this rubric.)
Two of the articles were literature reviews that I wish I had read before designing my study. I feel that these literature reviews provide perspective on the larger field of teacher education related to technology integration. Someday when I am advising graduate students, I will require them to read literature reviews related to their area of interest before selecting their topic. If they can’t find one, then I believe they have prematurely narrowed their topic. In my case, I feel that (as of December 2009–I’m currently playing catch up) I had read most of the literature related to technological pedagogical content knowledge (also known as TPACK or TPCK), but I should have looked for literature reviews on the broader topic of teacher education and technology integration in order to better understand the context of my study. I may have made some adjustments to the design of my study or framed my questions differently. If nothing else, I would have had a stronger defense.
The remaining three articles were reports on various attempts people have made to teach teachers how to teach with technology. Some articles provide useful citations for my literature review, some are of note for methodological or contextual similarities to my study.
As I’ve read, I’ve remembered that I like reading articles, which has been helpful for regaining motivation and momentum. I met my dissertation progress goals last week and got to enjoy my reward. I’m currently waiting on four specific books from the library, so while I’m waiting, I’ll start transcribing the interviews from my study. I expect transcription take most of the next two weeks.