Teaching Students Digital Citizenship

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standard 4

4. Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility – Teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices.

a. Advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources.

Program Standard 1

1. Expectations – The teacher communicates high expectations for student learning.

1.2 Element – Communicating with Students

1.2 Example of Proficient – Teacher’s explanation of content is appropriate and connects with students’ knowledge and experience.

Digital Citizenship

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The internet has become an integral part of education as it enables more dynamic classroom learning. However, it also poses risks to young students and the laws and codes of acceptable conduct can be confusing. It is important for teachers to help children understand the importance of safe, responsible use of online resources. On the International Society for Technology in Education website, Mike Ribble describes essential elements to consider when navigating the web. These fundamentals are meant to provide teachers with a way to approach the subject with students and ensure that they are covering all of the pertinent information. Ribble (2014) suggests that there are nine basic components to digital citizenship:

Respect

1.Digital access: Advocating for equal digital rights and access is where digital citizenship starts.

2.Digital etiquette: Rules and policies aren’t enough — we need to teach everyone about appropriate conduct online.

3.Digital law: It’s critical that users understand it’s a crime to steal or damage another’s digital work, identity or property.

Educate

4.Digital communication: With so many communication options available, users need to learn how to make appropriate decisions.

5.Digital literacy: We need to teach students how to learn in a digital society.

6.Digital commerce: As users make more purchases online, they must understand how to be effective consumers in a digital economy.

Protect

7.Digital rights and responsibilities: We must inform people of their basic digital rights to privacy, freedom of speech, etc.

8.Digital safety and security: Digital citizens need to know how to protect their information from outside forces that might cause harm.

9.Digital health and wellness: From physical issues, such as repetitive stress syndrome, to psychological issues, such as internet addiction, users should understand the health risks of technology. (Ribble, 2014)

The complex nature of these standards makes it necessary for educators to explicitly instruct students on how to responsibly use the internet so that they can become engaged and active members of online communities. Like in any community, there are standard behaviors expected of conscientious online participants. It can feel like the internet is not a part of real life so students are not always on their best behavior or participating in productive activities. Online bullying is a major issue that educators need to tackle directly in their classroom. Teachers need to stress to students that anything said or done online is just as real as when they are interacting with one of their classroom peers.

In classrooms, online activity is not just used for connecting students with one another or collaborating with classroom communities around the world. The main thing it is used for is research. The reason the internet is such a great resource for finding material is because it is constantly updated and added to. However, that amount of information can be overwhelming. Students often feel that anything found online is reputable so it is critical for teachers to instruct them on how to distinguish good sources from bad ones. Educators play a huge role in how students learn to conduct research and those skills are important to life-long success. 

It is also important to help students understand that not everything found on the internet is free to use and adapt. Copyright laws and creative commons licensing can be a difficult topic so it is imperative that teachers take the time to go over the intricacies of it with their students. Many young children believe that laws and acceptable behavior are not relevant online because it feels disconnected from reality. It is crucial to teach them that their actions always matter and that there will be consequences if they break the law online. Once students have learned all of the aspects of proper digital conduct, they will be empowered to elevate their learning using the vast array of material the internet has to offer.

Reference
Ribble, M. (2014) Essential elements of digital citizenship. International Society for Technology in Education. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/explore/articledetail?articleid=101

Using Collaborative Communities To Improve Professional Teaching Development

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standard 5

5. Engage in professional growth and leadership – Teachers continuously improve their professional practice, model lifelong learning, and exhibit leadership in their school and professional community by promoting and demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources.

a. Participate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning.

Program Standard 8

8. Professional Practice – The teacher participates collaboratively in the educational community to improve instruction, advance the knowledge and practice of teaching as a profession, and ultimately impact student learning.

8.1 Element – Participating in a Professional Community

8.1 Example of Proficient – Relationships with colleagues are characterized by mutual support and cooperation.

Teachers are by nature communicators. They spend most of each day conveying ideas to their students. They are inherently a part of a community within their own classroom, yet, many teachers find themselves secluded. The educational system is set up so that teachers are separated from their peers for most of the day only interacting with their students. Donnelly and Boniface (2013) argued, “One of the most salient issues for practicing teachers is isolation” (p. 9). They continued to elaborate that this reality is caused by the fact that teachers do not have many chances during the day to work with their colleagues. However, an integral part of professional development for educators is collaboration with others in the field. Technology has created ways for teachers to virtually connect with each other whether they are from within the same school or located across the globe. For EDTC 6433 (Teaching with Technology) I explored how to use online communities and tools to help improve my professional practice and model lifelong learning skills that will aid my students in becoming proactive learners.

The act of teaching can be transformed through joint effort and strong teacher cooperation whether it is found within schools or through online communities. Another student in EDTC 6433 shared an article extolling the benefits of peer partnerships for educators and how collaboration helped to create more dynamic lesson plans for their students. The administrators in this article took great care to foster a culture of community within their school. Although these teachers were located in the same school, they still found it difficult to find time to physically meet up so they made use of technology to communicate. They enhanced their communication by using Google Drive to create and share files (Edutopia, 2015). These teachers made excellent use of technology to collaborate more easily and effectively with peers within their school.

While the Internet is a wonderful tool to connect busy teachers within schools or districts it can also be used to connect educators across the globe. Scragg (2013) compiled a list of websites used to host educational communities. Web sites like Twitter have been used to create teacher communities where educators can talk about current issues and follow one another as well as host virtual “meet ups.” Other websites like We Are Teachers, Teachers Teaching Teachers, Share My Lesson, and Classroom 2.0 were all specifically designed to allow teachers from across the country and around the globe to connect and share resources (Scragg, 2013). These communities allow individuals to develop their practice by posing questions or providing advice to fellow educators. These online groups allow teachers to share open educational resources with one another and enrich their own experiences by exposing themselves to ideas they might not have otherwise discovered. This type of open sharing allows teachers access to innovative material which will benefit their professional practice. When teachers are able to constantly better themselves their students will model that proactive behavior and benefit as well. Online resources like these will play a large role in my teaching practice and I will use technology to make sure that I remain connected to my colleagues.

References
Donnelly, D.F. & Boniface, S. (2013). Consuming and creating: Early-adopting science teachers’ perceptions and use of a wiki to support professional development. Computers & Education, 68, 9-20. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.04.023
Edutopia. (2015). Teacher Collaboration: Matching Complementary Strengths. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/practice/teacher-collaboration-matching-complementary-strengths
Scragg, S. (2013) Online teacher communities. United Federation of Teachers. Retrieved from http://www.uft.org/linking-learning/online-teacher-communities

Course Reflection For Survey Of Instructional Strategies

Program Standard 4

4. Content Knowledge – The teacher uses content area knowledge, learning standards, appropriate pedagogy and resources to design and deliver curricula and instruction to impact student learning. 

4.1 Element – Demonstrating Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy

4.1 Example of Proficient – Teacher’s plans and practice reflect familiarity with a wide range of effective pedagogical approaches in the discipline.

teach

In their book—Models of Teaching—Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015) explored various methods of instruction and their uses in the classroom. They explored standard techniques like memorization and the use advance organizers as well as explicit and direct instruction. They also surveyed less conventional ones such as inquiry and inductive strategies along with nondirective teaching and group investigation approaches. While this book investigated many different types of classroom instruction, one thing it made clear was that the best teachers employ a wide range of tactics with their students.

The student led approaches offer learners the independence to explore topics important to them. With this method Students will be more engaged in learning because they have the flexibility to discover issues and subject matter that interests them. This strategy can be difficult to implement because it requires the standard classroom hierarchy to be dismantled, however, the benefits are well worth the effort. “The model creates an environment where students and teachers are partners in learning, sharing ideas openly, and communicate honestly with one another” (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015, p. 285). Student centric learning allows teachers to create a cooperative environment where inquiry based learning and group collaboration can flourish. These strategies create more connected students capable of working together and empathizing with one another. If done well, self-directed models engender in students not only the desire but also the capacity to become life-long learners.

While it is crucial to implement less conventional learning styles in the classroom, it is also important not to neglect the standard models of teaching that have created a solid groundwork of education. Explicit and direct instruction can be the best methods of conveying new information depending on the subject matter. It is essential that teachers develop the skills necessary to determine the best teaching strategy for conveying different kinds of information. When learning foundational skills it is often best for teachers to convey the information in a direct manner so that students will not be confused by the topics being discussed. Ultimately, students cannot explore subject matter independently without first understand a basic level of comprehension so explicit instruction is necessary in order to enable less structured learning. Joyce et al. (2015) explained, “Direct instruction plays a limited but important role in a comprehensive educational program” (p. 340). While explicit teaching may not always yield the best learning results in certain situations there are times when will be the most beneficial. The most effective teachers understand that different kinds of instructional strategies lend themselves more readily to different content areas. Those educators are able to produce the best learning results from their students by creating a dynamic and engaging learning environment.

References
Joyce, B.R., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015) Models of Teaching: Ninth Edition. New York, NY: Pearson. [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com
Media
 The photo in this post has been unedited and was found on Flickr following creative commons licensing.

Helping Students Understand Copyright and Fair Use

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standard 4

4. Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility – Teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices.

a. Advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources.

Program Standard 1

1. Expectations – The teacher communicates high expectations for student learning.

1.2 Element – Communicating with Students

1.2 Example of Proficient – Teacher’s explanation of content is appropriate and connects with students’ knowledge and experience.

Technology and online resources are an integral part of most classrooms today. Students actively participate in online research in the pursuit of new skills and knowledge. Schools are increasingly using educational web 2.0 platforms to create classroom blogs that students can create and add content to so it is important for them to understand how to responsibly use intellectual property that does not belong to them. The International Society for Technology in Education addresses this issue in their fourth standard by stating that educators need to demonstrate to students how to use digital information in a conscientious and legal manner. In order for students to use content ethically they first must understand copyright, fair use, and creative commons and how they all relate. For EDTC 6433 I researched how I could teach these complex issues to young students without confusing them on the subject matter.

Fortunately, many educators have previously dealt with teaching copyright and fair use in the classroom and shared their resources and lesson plans online. Borovoy (2015), in her article “Five-Minute Film Festival: Copyright and Fair Use For Educators,” complied a list of useful websites and created a YouTube playlist with helpful videos on copyright, fair use, and creative commons. The first video in the playlist is particularly helpful because it follows a teacher through her lesson plan on fair use and demonstrates how she engages her students in the subject matter. Borovoy (2015) even provided a link to a pdf of the worksheet that the teacher used in the video. This article provides teachers with a starting point on how to teach the subject of copyright, fair use, and creative commons and even presents links to external websites with helpful information. However, it does not provide a concise guideline for how to deal with issues of copyright, fair use, and creative commons. Burt (2012) did just that in his article “The Educator’s Guide to Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons” and also provides many useful tips on where to find content that can be used and how to do so ethically and legally. However, even with all of the information available it can still be difficult to tell what content is safe to use even with proper citation or credit.

Another student in EDTC 6433 shared a resource from the American Library Association that helps individuals navigate copyright issues. On their website there is a page that provides copyright tools like their Public Domain Slider (which helps determine the copyright status of a work published in the United States), their Fair Use Evaluator (which helps determine is the use of copyrighted material is covered under fair use), and their Copyright Genie (which can be used to determine if a work is copyrighted and calculate its terms of protection). The ALA website even provides a tool that allows educators to determine educational exceptions to copyright law (Copyright, 2016). All of the resources described will help me grapple with these complicated but important issues with my students so they will be prepared to use all the content the web has to offer in a safe, legal, and ethical manner.

References
Borovoy, A. E. (2015) Five-Minute Film Festival: Copyright and Fair Use for Educators. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/film-festival-copyright-fair-use
Burt, R. (2012). The Educator’s Guide To Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons. The Edublogger. Retrieved from http://www.theedublogger.com/2012/02/09/the-educators-guide-to-copyright-fair-use-and-creative-commons/
Copyright Tools. (2016) ALA: American Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/copyright-tools

Helping Students Develop Self-Esteem

Program Standard 5

5. Learning Environment – The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional and intellectual well-being.

 5.1 Element – Creating an Environment of Respect and Rapport

5.1 Example of Proficient – Teacher-student interactions are friendly and demonstrate general caring and respect. Such interactions are appropriate to the age and cultures of the students. Students exhibit respect for the teacher.

It may seem obvious that students need to develop healthy self-esteem to flourish in school and make educational gains but all too often the emotional aspect of learning are marginalized or completely forgotten. Imbuing students with a sense of worth can help them understand their own self-efficacy. In order for students to learn they have to first feel like they are capable of learning. Without that understanding students will not put forth the effort necessary to succeed. Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015) emphasized, “Strong self-concepts are accompanied by ‘self-actualizing’ behavior, a reaching out toward the environment with confidence that the interaction will be productive” (p. 309). Helping students realize their potential can unlock their willingness to try unfamiliar things. It is important for teachers to do two things in order to help students develop: help students understand that failing is a necessary part of learning and model behavior indicative of positive self-worth.

self esteem

Failing is an integral part of learning and it is important for students to understand that so they can use it to their advantage. However, in a society where achievement is highly valued students get the message that missteps are an indicator of overall failure or low intelligence. The reality is that just the opposite can be true. Individuals who understand that trial and error is a part of the learning process stand to reach higher levels of achievement than those who do not. Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel (2014) assert, “A fear of failure can poison learning by creating aversions to the kinds of experimentation and risk taking that characterize striving” (p. 90) Teachers cannot assume that this concept will be intuitive to students and explicitly remind them often. It is also important that teachers remember to praise student efforts over their intelligence. Praising a child on their efforts tells them that the hard work they put forth resulted in the desired effect while praising a child for their intelligence sends them the message that their success is inherent and that effort is not required to succeed.

While it is important for teachers to constantly remind students of the benefits of mistakes and to boost their confidence by noticing their efforts it is equally if not more important for educator to model these behaviors. Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun argue, “In many ways, students become what we model for them, and part of our influence on them depends on our own states of growth—our own self-concepts—and how we communicate them to children” (p. 302). It is crucial that teachers take the opportunity to use their own mistakes as an instructional moment to demonstrate to students that it is normal and expected. They can use those moments to show students productive ways to proceed forward after a setback and establish a positive learning environment in their classroom. When teachers exhibit strong self-esteem and are confident in their own learning process students will begin to mirror that sentiment.

References
Brown, P.C., Roediger, H. L., & McDaniel, M. A. (2014) Make It Stick. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com
Joyce, B.R., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015) Models of Teaching (9th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson. [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com
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The photo in this post has been unedited and was found on Flickr following creative commons licensing.

Facilitating Nondirective Learning For Long-Term Achievement

Program Standard 6

6. Assessment – The teacher uses multiple data elements (both formative and summative) to plan, inform and adjust instruction and evaluate student learning.

6.2 Element – Designing Student Assessments with an Emphasis on Formative Assessment

6.2 Example of Proficient – Teacher has a well-developed strategy to using formative assessment and has designed particular approaches to be used.

Carl Rogers once stated, “The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn…and change” (Mentis, Dunn-Bernstein, & Mentis, 2008, p. 89). He believed that it was the teacher’s role to facilitate learning for students and create a productive environment without explicitly directing them. This type of education requires teachers and students to become partners in learning instead of relying on the traditional classroom hierarchy (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015, p. 285). This method can produce many benefits for learners and have long-term results. Students who understand how to effectively learn new information on their own and then retain that knowledge can do so independently for the rest of their lives. Students who enter college with this kind of self-reliance stand to do far better than those who have always relied on teachers to provide them with direction. Nondirective teaching may seem like a passive endeavor that leaves teachers little to do in the classroom but that is not the case.

carl rogersEducators have an important role to play in this type of teaching and their support and encouragement is crucial to student success. Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015) asserted that “…the teacher’s goal is to help [students] understand their own needs and values so that they can effectively direct their own educational decisions” (p. 289). Teachers must work to understand their students’ thinking so that they can help each one of them on their educational journey. Questioning is a large part of this teaching style because it serves to not only show students that the teacher is interested in their development but also allows teachers to push them to grow and achieve without directing their learning. Teachers can ask students non-leading questions to get them to think about issues and their own learning in ways they might not have otherwise investigated. Joyce et al. (2015) stated, “ The nondirective approach maintains that the most effective means of uncovering the emotions underlying a problem is to follow the pattern of the students’ feelings as they are freely expressed” (p. 290). These types of questions allow students to openly explore their opinions without fear of judgment which can help negate any pessimistic attitudes those students might have had about learning.

While this method of instructions has the potential to unlock motivation in students, it can be difficult for educators to institute effectively in the classroom. Nondirective teaching actually does require a great deal of teacher involvement. Teachers must be available to nurture their students’ emotional need while remaining unbiased which is a large task to take on. In order for teachers to not bring in their own personal experiences and opinions they first must work to identify and bring any preconceptions to the surface. This task is not a simple one as most people are largely unaware of many of their own underlying ideals. Even if educators are able to remain neutral and not influence their students’ thinking this kind of teaching tends to bring out unexplored emotions in learners. Joyce et al. (2015) suggested, “The nondirective environment raises the emotional elements of the situation more than the intellectual” (p. 295). This type of introspection and development can lead to unpredictable and uncomfortable conversations. Teachers must mentally prepare themselves to deal with unexpected questions and situations. However, despite the potential difficulties inherent to nondirective teaching it is still an important tool for educators to explore. When done well it has the potential to create more conscientious students capable of self-motivated life-long learning.

References
Joyce, B.R., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015) Models of Teaching: Ninth Edition. New York, NY: Pearson. [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com
Mentis, M., Dunn-Bernstein, M., & Mentis, M. (2008). Mediated Learning: Teaching, Tasks, and Tools to Unlock Cognitive Potential. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
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The photo in this post has been unedited and was found on Pixteller following creative commons licensing.

Role Playing As A Means To Drive Democratic Education

Program Standard 5

5. Learning Environment – The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional and intellectual well-being.

5.1 Element – Creating an Environment of Respect and Rapport

5.1 Example of Proficient – Teacher-student interactions are friendly and demonstrate general caring and respect. Such interactions are appropriate to the age and cultures of the students. Students exhibit respect for the teacher.

democracyDemocratic education aims to help students broaden their worldview and create more caring, empathetic citizens who are able to relate to their peers across socioeconomic and cultural differences. It is based on the idea that in order to maintain a flourishing society people must learn to respectfully interact with their fellow citizens despite differing ideologies. Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2012) argue, “Any view of how people should develop has to refer to the inescapable fact that life is social. A social being cannot act without reference to his or her companions on earth; otherwise in the quest for self-maintenance and autonomy each person may conflict with other people making similar efforts” (p. 249). Getting students to explore issues from a perspective other than their own can have profound affects on how they learn to relate to other people. In a society where privileged groups often enact laws that affect everyone it is crucial for citizens to be able to take into account the needs and desires of people outside of their own experience. This quest is important to many educators but it is difficult to engender this kind of environment in a classroom in an authentic way.

One method for encouraging empathy and exploring issues within classrooms is role playing. This technique allows students to explore uncomfortable or tense issues in a safe and non-threatening way that can help them resolve issues and learn how to more successfully communicate with their peers. Joyce et al. (2012) postures that “Role playing provides us with an opportunity to model the behaviors that begin and maintain interactions and build integrative interactions and, thus, relations” (p. 261). Implementing this skill in classrooms takes extra planning and effort from teachers but has the potential to breed a more respectful and thoughtful environment. In the long term students will learn to communicate with each other more effectively and solve their own problems in a mutually respectful manner. Joyce et al. (2012) states, “This basic social model generates the positive feelings that encourage us to manage conflict politely and seek civil solutions in a civil, democracy-encouraging fashion” (p. 261). Democratic education is centered around the idea that schools should help encourage students to become better citizens and role playing can help achieve that goal. This practice has the potential to not only help students succeed in school but also develop skills necessary to succeed later in life.

References
Joyce, B.R., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015) Models of Teaching (9th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson. [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com
Media
 The photo in this post has been unedited and was found on Flickr following creative commons licensing.

Using Technology To Create A Classroom Community And Effectively Communicate With Parents

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standard 3

3. Model digital age work and learning – Teachers exhibit knowledge, skills, and work processes representative of an innovative professional in a global and digital society.

c. Communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital age media and formats.

Program Standard 7

7. Families and Community – The teacher communicates and collaborates with students, families and all educational stakeholders in an ethical and professional manner to promote student learning.

7.1 Element – Communicating with Families

7.1 Example of Proficient – Teacher communicates with families about students’ progress on a regular basis, respecting cultural norms, and is available as needed to respond to family concerns.

Engendering a sense of community in classrooms is such an important part of student success and technology can be a great way to help busy parents become more connected with their child’s learning. The International Society for Technology in Education recognizes communication as an important part of teaching and in their third standard encourages educators to find meaningful ways to use technology in this endeavor. For EDTC 6433 (Teaching with Technology) I researched how to use technology to communicate relevant information and ideas to students, parents, and peers to engender a sense of community in the classroom and to seamlessly connect adults with their child’s learning environment. This will be an important aspect of my future teaching because I believe that home life greatly affects academic success and that bringing the two together can improve how students approach learning. Many parents would like to be more involved in their child’s education but simply do not have the time to physically participate in the classroom. Technology is a way to bridge the gap between a student’s school and home life in a meaningful way.

Graphic found on the Pearson Website.

Schools are starting to use web portals, social media platforms, blogs, and apps to keep parents constantly updated on their child’s learning. In fact, these kinds of web 2.0 tools have become so prevalent that they are becoming the standard in many schools. “They have become commonplace technologies that support social networking with peers, teachers, families, and friends” (McPherson & Blue, 2012, p. 2373). Teachers now have more resources like edmodo.com, edublogs.org, and kidblog.org which are specifically designed for use in the classroom. They can now set up websites and classroom blogs on platforms expressly intended as a safe space where students can create and post content. Parents can easily access classroom calendars, upcoming events, and student projects all in real time. This kind of networking has the potential to make parents more involved in their child’s education. While websites and blogs are a great way for parents to see what is happening in the classroom, apps can be a great way for them to receive individual notifications about their child. This can be especially helpful for parents who need to be able to quickly reference information on the go. Another student in EDTC 6433 shared an article describing several free apps that help teachers communicate with parents. All of the apps described in that article allow parents to receive updates from teachers directly to their mobile devices. Two of most interesting apps discussed are called BuzzMob and Collaborize Classroom because they integrate full classroom websites with a convenient companion app that can be accessed by teachers and parents on their phones or tablets (McCrea, 2013). All of these resources have the potential to connect parents to their child’s school and classroom in ways never previously conceivable.

However, it is important to remember that sole reliance on this kind of communication can alienate some families. Teachers must be mindful of that fact that some families do not have access to technology or the internet in their homes. So if technology becomes the dominant way that teachers communicate with parents it may create an even greater divide between home and school for some students. Technology should be used to help teachers offer parents a vast array of contact options and each family’s personal needs and preferences should be taken into account. Some school districts are trying to help parents by creating technology centers and by offering technology training to them. With the ever-increasing demand for technology skills to be taught in schools it can only benefit students if their parents have a level of fluency in the subject matter as well. Other school districts are not only training parents on how to use computers but also checking out laptops or tablets to families. These schools understand that along with the technology families also need to be able to access the internet and are helping them apply for it at reduced rates. One administrator is even trying to get free internet access for all of the community members in the district (Fleming, 2012). Nevertheless, many districts cannot afford to help provide families with these kinds of resources so it is important to take individual situations into account and use these resources as supplementary to more standard forms of communication. With the use of technology teachers can reach out to and connect more parents to their child’s education in a meaningful and interactive way.

References
McPherson, S. & Blue, E. (2012) Using Web 2.0 Tools to Develop New Literacies in Teacher Education. Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2012, pp. 2369-2382. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/p/39937
Fleming, N. (2012) Schools Are Using Social Networking to Involve Parents. Education Week, Vol. 32, Issue 11, pp. 16-17. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/11/07/11digitalparent_ep.h32.html
McCrea, B. (2013). 7 Free Apps for Keeping Parents and Teachers Connected. The Journal: Transforming Education Through Technology. Retrieved from http://thejournal.com/articles/2013/06/11/7-free-apps-for-keeping-parents-and-teachers-connected.aspx
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Image found on a Pearson website and the statistic is from a State of Parenting Poll found on the Parent Toolkit website.

Collaborative vs. Cooperative Learning And Their Place In Democratic Education

Program Standard 2

2. Instruction – The teacher uses research-based instructional practices to meet the needs of all students.

2.2 Element – Engaging Students in Learning

2.2 Example of Proficient – Most activities and assignments are appropriate to students, and almost all students are cognitively engaged in exploring content.

collaborative-vs-cooperative-copy

Democratic education can have a profound affect on students in terms of how they approach their peers and their learning. This educational method “aim[s] to develop ideal citizens who could live in and enhance society, who could fulfill themselves in and through it, and who would even be able to help and revise it” (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015, p. 248). Thus it is important for students to be able to work collectively towards common goals in the classroom. This style of teaching can help students develop many skills pertinent to life after school and will allow them to explore topics through divergent perspectives. When done effectively, democratic education has the potential to create more thoughtful, engaged, and tolerant students capable of considering viewpoints outside of their own. Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015) asserted, “It appears likely to nurture interpersonal warmth and trust, respect for negotiated rules and policies, independence in learning, and respect for the dignity of others” (p. 255). The positive effects of democratic education are apparent so the question is not whether to implement it in classrooms but how to.

Both collaborative and cooperative learning are engaging ways to get students thinking democratically and collectively. These terms are often used interchangeably but are in fact two distinct teaching approaches that teachers can employ during group work. Collaborative learning is the process of students working together to gain new insights and direct their own learning. Students have more individual efficacy which drives them to teach their peers new information by presenting their unique perspectives on a topic. Students generate their own goals and do their own research to find resources pertinent to their self-determined learning target. Often times multiple perspectives and outcomes are present at the end of the learning process (Roberts, 2004, p. 205). This collaboration allows students to set aside their own ideals and to see issues from perspectives outside their own. Contrarily, cooperative learning is recognized as group work directed by the teacher and not the students. The teacher provides students with resources and a learning target and students work together to come to a single consensus and produce one outcome (Roberts, 2004, p. 205). While this type of learning does not afford the same level of student efficacy as collaborative learning, it does provide students with vital cooperation skills that will help them succeed in life after school. Both of these styles of teaching have individual merit but they can also be used in conjunction in classrooms to help student learn a wide range of cooperative and collaborative skills.

Often teachers utilize a blend of the two styles to their benefit. They can provide students with the opportunity to explore in groups and pick their own learning outcome within a range of topics controlled by the teacher. Teachers can also direct learning by picking the subject matter for student to explore but still allow them freedom to research it independently. When teachers learn to seamlessly integrate both collaborative and cooperative learning, or elements from the two, the benefit to student achievement and engagement will be noticeable. Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, and Stone (2015) stressed, “By intentionally incorporating the elements of positive interdependence and individual accountability, teachers set the stage for students to be responsible for their own learning, the learning of those in their group, and the ability to demonstrate what they know, understand, and are able to do” (Chapter 3, para. 14). These methods of teaching can require more flexibility and planning from teachers but the benefit to students is well worth the effort.

References
Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom Instruction That Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement (2nd ed.) Denver, CO: McRel [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com
Joyce, B.R., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015) Models of Teaching (9th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson. [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com
Roberts, T.S. (2004) Online Collaborative Learning: Theory and Practice. Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing. [Kindle DX version] Retrieved from Amazon.com