Being a teacher now is tougher than ever before. After reading about things like TPACK, the Framework for 21st Century Learning, and the Evolution of Thought and Practice, my mind is spinning.
The truth is, producing a well rounded, educated, competent, considerate, successful person who is capable of “adulting” in the 21st Century is a huge responsibility. Teachers have their part cut out for them. It seems like there is no end in sight to the areas of competency that we need to attend to.
That being said, the frameworks we were given to look at this week at least provide a starting point for wrapping my feeble mind around it. I’m sort of a visual/linear type of gal, so I really appreciate lists and venn diagrams to help me envision what the possibilities could be.
Aside from reeling over the magnitude of all of this, I feel like I connected a little bit to one small first step that could lead to much more. On the scale of evolution of thought and practice (where teachers are rated according to their level of ability to integrate technology effectively), the final step is from “appropriation” to “innovation.” I want to get to “innovation” so that I can help teachers to make technology an “ever-present transparent” tool for students to construct knowledge and demonstrate it creatively.
In order to do this, I think we need the “thoughtfully playful attitude towards understanding the landscape being created by these new technologies” that Mishra talks about. Having the time, resources, and environment to play and explore (as we do each iCARE session) with technology is helping me grow my comfort level remarkably. Can we do the same for our school’s teachers and students? This is what I need to figure out. How can I make this happen at my little school site? I think about the stewardess on the airplane, telling me to make sure I take care of my own oxygen before trying to help others. But do I have to be an expert first in this situation? Or can I just be a model for others in the area of playfulness with technology? What are your thoughts?
Things are coming into focus! This week, just as things began to feel like a large cloud of anxiety hovering over me, Happy came to my rescue. I doubt I would have been able to write about any context for my driving question without the clarity that came from an hour in a Zoom room with Happy. So now that I'm feeling more focused, I will attempt to look into a funnel view of my driving question.
To what extent will parent involvement in home literacy activities enhanced by school-to-home communication technology affect student achievement in early literacy skills?
When I think about my essential question in the context of the world, differences in communication among cultures comes to mind. Since part of my focus addresses the use of technology as a tool to communicate with parents, I wonder how different cultures would view this idea. Additionally, cultural differences would definitely come into play when considering different views of responsibility for education (parents vs. school). Parent involvement is likely viewed and valued differently from culture to culture.
How important is this question at a national level? I learned that the Elementary and Secondary Education Act significantly addresses the importance of parent involvement and shared accountability for student achievement, which is very interesting and applicable to my study.
The topic of parent involvement as a predictor of academic achievement is really well studied nationally (and somewhat globally). We've all heard it many times. However, I’ve read (and experienced) that getting parents to work with their children at home can be challenging. My literature search has revealed that while technology is now commonly used as a tool to engage parents, its effectiveness is very inconsistent. While I was able to find a few studies about the effectiveness of parent intervention on early literacy, none of these programs included a technology for parent-school communication component.
Do we need to know if technology supported family intervention programs can boost student achievement in early literacy skills in California? When I think about the reading we did in Darling-Hammond about California, I am so sad. The incredible differences in quality of education across the state combined with inconsistencies in state initiatives and policy tell us that we need all the help we can get. If the answer to my essential question is “yes,” then we are able to identify at least one thing we can do (mostly on our own) to improve outcomes for students.
I am often invigorated by how frequently the word “innovation” is used in our district. I like that it is found all over our goals. I think that my essential question proposes an innovative way to engage parents in helping our youngest children to set their paths toward success. I am excited to use our brand new district-wide parent communication tool as a way to get parents involved in their children’s learning and share my findings with district leaders.
Although there isn’t a plethora of literature on my specific question, some of the articles I have been reading suggest that there is hope that building a simple, quick to implement home early literacy program can be done. The fact that our school district has implemented a communication tool that is accessible to nearly everyone (our school’s delivery statistics tell us that approximately 96-97% of all of our parents are able to receive messages) is very exciting! The challenge will be in adapting this tool to deliver effective support, encouragement, and two-way communication that leads to successful implementation of the literacy activities.
At my school, I have not seen a highly successful early literacy program in effect. I have been at my school for the past 6 years as a teacher, and 15 years as a parent (my kids are really spaced apart). While homework has always (during my time) been a part of the Kindergarten program at our school, there has never been an intervention program where parents are instructed in how to deliver early literacy activities and supported by communication applications. I believe I am the first to try this out!
My hope is that if we find success, teachers and families will be willing to invest just a little energy into changing the way we do things to help our youngest learners! My last thought for the evening surprisingly circles back to the beginning of this blog: international context. As one of the most (possibly the most) diverse schools in our district, I want to keep in mind the possible cultural differences that I discussed earlier. In order to get true buy-in from parents, I will need to try to make myself aware on this topic. Any thoughts?
Seems complicated, doesn't it? Using the new cool tool, bubbl.us, I was able to "mind-map" all the ideas I have been having about where my research interests lie.
The IRBPH proposal development document was full of very specific questions that helped me to think through this web of questions. However, it provoked a few more questions. These were sort of deal-breaker questions, too.
Since I began the Touro program, I have known that at some point I was going to use it as a resource to tackle a certain problem. Each year, a significant group of our youngest students (many are on free/reduced lunch programs) are found to be drastically below in achievement on early literacy skills assessments. It seems as though they enter school already in the achievement gap. While we do our best to provide high quality, effective interventions at school where students do make significant growth, it isn’t enough. Students remain in the gap.
My essential question is: Can parent involvement in home literacy activities improve student achievement in early literacy skills? I also have an additional question: Can school-to-home communication technology enhance the achievement?
Here's my problem. I know this seems like it's already been done, and done, and done. However, most of the research I was able to pull up addresses how parent involvement can be a predictor of achievement. Fewer studies came up in my search about what specifically works to make a positive intervention, and I didn't find much with a focus on early literacy.
Another thing. If I choose a parent home literacy intervention program to implement for my study, does my study become all about the effectiveness of that specific program? Realistically, I just want to improve things for my students and I want to find out what will work in my setting. After all, Falk and Blumenreich tell us that action research is "a study of a situation that is driven by a desire to improve that situation."
One more thing. Is it wrong that I also want to include technology as a part of my study? Am I all over the place? Is it okay to have more than one thing you are looking at in a study?
As you can see, I have a lot to sort out! Thankfully, I feel like the IRBPH document definitely lined so much of it up in my head so that these important questions can be answered and I can be on my way to finding some help for my students.
This quote puts an image of some strange machine (US education system) with cogs and pieces catching and misfiring, steaming, spitting out screws and parts, going haywire. Kaput!
As I read, what I really wanted was some sort of flowchart to explain who has what power from federal to state to local districts in order to analyze the broken machine a bit better.
Ken Robinson reminds us that reforming is amending something that already exists, while transforming turns it into something completely different. After reading Darling-Hammond, one learns that a main differences between the US and the “winning” countries is that we reform, and reform, and reform. And none of the changes stick--even when there are multiple major litigations that reveal the most obvious problems. Meanwhile, winning countries overhaul their systems and see the transformations through.
According to Darling-Hammond, a focus on the following practices have skyrocketed once “kaput” systems (Finland, Korea, and Singapore) into the lead in preparing their population for the 21st Century:
Ken Robinson seems to agree with Darling-Hammond with the added emphasis on individualized education, because no two learners are the same or have the same strengths.
Thinking and writing about these highlights in the content for this week helps me to process what I think about all of it: It seems like in the US, our system creates barriers rather than, as Ken Robinson says, “a climate of possibility.” I think of our schools like his analogy to Death Valley. Waiting for the right conditions to explode with growth. Can I make it rain in my classroom?
If the world of technology, our world, is already growing exponentially, we need a thunderstorm.
While I may not be in the position to control federal, state, or even district systems, there are a few things I can do from where I stand.
Meanwhile, in the time it took me to write this blog, 8,328,000 songs were illegally downloaded. I did the math.