Since I am working toward my licensure in middle school education with a specialty in English, I chose to look at the Middle School: 6-8 Magazine Publishing example of the Technology Integration Matrix. I thought that the teacher did an excellent job of splitting her class into multiple small groups. Middle school students thoroughly enjoy active small group assignments, which encourage oral language development, among many other essential literacy skills. Also, assigning tasks to each small group is essential for task management and accountability in the classroom.
The magazine publishing assignment addresses several of the factors that students need addressed in an ever-increasing “web 2.0” environment (Johnson, Levine, Smith & Smythe, 2009). One of these essential needs includes formal instruction in new literacy skills, specifically visual, information and technological literacy (Johnson et al., 2009). Although the video did not explicitly state whether the teacher first instructed her students in the various aspects of designing a magazine, this would be the first step in beginning this assignment. Since there are also many different types of learners within a classroom (some of which learn best by doing), this assignment could easily aid to differentiation within the classroom.
A second example from the TIM included the Visualization and Characterization videos, under the constructive – language arts category. The teachers did an amazing job of helping their students explicitly visualize the story of Tom Sawyer after having read it. A lot of struggling readers have difficulty visualizing the story in their heads as they read. This project would help those struggling readers, while still challenging the average and advanced readers; this would also lead to a high level of differentiation within the project.
However, the teachers introduced this project as the only alternative to a writing assignment on Tom Sawyer. While visual literacy skills are essential, they are not an equal substitute for writing skills. In order to fully supplement those essential writing skills, the teachers could possibly assign a wrap-up writing assignment based on the students’ experiences with film making. To make the writing assignment more interesting and relevant, they could have each small group (film writers, costume designers, etc.) design and write their own wiki page based on their experiences filming. Since nearly 64% of online teenagers (12-17 years old) already engage in at least one type of content creation, this can prove to be a socially relevant task (Solomon & Schrum, 2010).
Although I have only witnessed a small minority of technological experiences in the classroom, I remember a specific experience from this past summer during my practicum. I helped to teach a summer enrichment program with a UMW professor for secondary students in English classes. We presented an author who wrote in a satiric manner, subverting the writing category in which he chose to write: he wrote prose on the missed connections category on Craig’s List (Brian Oliu, So You Know It’s Me). Each student, after having seen multiple examples of this type of subversion, had to choose their own form of technology to subvert and write a piece of prose for that website.
This technology assignment would fall under the cell titled “Authentic-Infusion.” The assignment required students to link their learning activity to the real world by creating a similar subverted piece that could be published online. However, it did not require students to set goals or plan activities, which is why I did not classify it as goal directed. Since we provided the learning context by showing multiple examples, I classified it as infusion, rather than transformation, which would require higher order thinking which might not be possible without technology.
Johnson, L., Levine, A., Smith, R., & Smythe, T. (2009). The 2009 Horizon Report: K-12 edition. Retrieved September 2, 2012, from http://www.nmc.org/horizon-project/horizon-reports/horizon-report-k-12-edition
Solomon, G. & Schrum, L. (2010). Web 2.0 how-to for educators. Washington, DC: International Society for Technology in Education.