Thursday, February 24, 2011

Technology Self-Assessment: 2.0

I perused the results of the NETS-T Module"Design Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments" after taking my teacher technology self-assessment. I chose this standard because with computers becoming ever more ubiquitous and considering how easy it is for technology to do so much for us, including thinking, it's paramount that future generations of people not fall into the trap of letting computers stunt their learning. Instead, they must incorporate it into conventional ways of developing critical thinking skills.
I happened upon one resource in the form of an article by James McKenzie called "Beyond Cut-and-Paste: Engaging Students in Wrestling with Questions of Import." The piece stresses the importance of teachers getting students to learn how to use the Internet to gather information that they can in turn use to arrive at their own conclusions, as opposed to giving them questions that can be answered by doing a simple Google search. 
As someone who values critical thinking and wants to teach younger people how to use their own mentation and reflection to teach themselves as opposed to parroting even me, this article very much struck a cord with me; as a future language arts teacher, I have every intention of structuring my classroom around the students funneling material through their own analytical capacities to make sense of things. I like the fact that McKenzie proffered an example of a history teacher asking students to answer questions of judgment pertaining to historical figures, and then turning the students loose to examine first-and second-hand resources that they can find on the Internet, weighing said evidence and using it to support their own answers. This is how the Internet should be used in the classroom, and I do think that not enough teachers understand this.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What can Al say about he, himself, and him?

My name is Alex "Al" Sandwell. I have lived in Southern California almost all my life, having first been born in San Diego, where I lived for two years until I moved with my parents and younger sister to my mom's hometown of Kansas City, Kansas. We lived there for another two years before moving back to SoCal and settling in Ocean Beach; when I was six we moved north to Escondido where I have been living ever since. I attended elementary school first at Rose Elementary School, then at Conway Elementary School, before commencing middle school at Rincon, which I attended for sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. I went to high school at Escondido Adventist Academy.  Upon graduating from EAA in the spring of 2006, I immediately begain attending CSUSM, where I have been studying ever since from which I will hopefully graduate this spring.
I have always been a bit of a bookworm and wished more people would simply have more sophisticated interests than following the latest celibrity gossip. I read a lot about so many random topics, from biographies to European history to current foreign affairs and would just wish that people broaden their horizons. I've thought about teaching history, or politics, but I think that the root of the issue is the unwillingness on the part of so many Americans to have any intellectual pursuits whatsover. Rather than gripe about it, I want to be pro-active. Hence, I feel that teaching high school English is what's calling me to action.
As far as where I am on the technology continuum, I feel like I know enough about computers and education technology to get by but that my expertise needs some serious brushing up. Admittedly, I don't even own a laptop, and I seldom text, so I feel as though that is something I am almost learning all over again every time I actually do it. I do, however, feel as though I received perfectly adequate training vis-a-vis computers in both elementary and high school. I don't really feel too strongly one way or the other about "the whole computer thing" as I really just treat it as another facet of modern life and don't think too deeply about it.
I suppose the one feature of the CSUSM/COE mission statement that spoke to me the most is the emphasis on educational equity and social justice and active, collaborative learning, as those are values I believe in very firmly and am utterly committed to as a future educator. With my technological aptitude being mediocre at best, and believing that education is a two-way street, with both the students and the teacher ideally learning from each other, I am very much thrilled at the prospect of acquiring new skills both in this class and beyond.