English/Language Arts Education
Although K-12 teachers are frequently exhorted to maintain classroom websites, little is known about how they view or accomplish such work. To address this gap in the research literature, the study described here used qualitative methods, including computer-mediated interviews and document analysis, to explore secondary English teachers’ perspectives on how they designed and used classroom websites to support their pedagogy. Participants included 20 teachers with varying professional experience from five different school districts in the northeast United States. Data analysis was framed by sociocultural perspectives on literacy and technology. Participants reported five main reasons for creating their websites: (a) conform with school or district expectations, (b) communicate with parents, (c) help students catch up on in-class information and assignments, (d) position students for postsecondary success, and (e) respond to external pressure. Their uses for their websites ranged from providing online versions of existing in-class resources and materials to providing additional opportunities for interaction beyond class. Their efforts were supported and influenced by district administrators and by peers.
Middle school teachers’ use of digital curricula incorporating dynamic technology has been found to support student learning of complex algebraic concepts. This article reports on pilot research involving collaboration among faculty from a public university’s college of education, educational researchers from a nonprofit research organization, and school district leadership from a large, urban school district. The purpose of this paper is to document a series of inquiry-based professional development sessions provided to middle school teachers on the implementation of a digitally based mathematics replacement unit emphasizing algebraic concepts. The professional development experiences allowed the participating teachers to implement the digital unit successfully using a variety of instructional approaches.
The integration of technology in teaching is still challenging for most teachers, even though there has been a historical growth of Internet access and available educational technology tools in schools. Teachers have not incorporated technology into their teaching for various reasons, such as lack of knowledge of technology, time, and support. In this study, three beginning science teachers who successfully achieved technology integration were followed for 3 years to investigate how their beliefs, knowledge, and identity contributed to their uses of technology in their classroom instruction. The findings demonstrate that the participating teachers were all intrinsically motivated to use technology in their teaching and this motivation allowed them to enjoy using technology in their instruction and kept them engaged in technology use. The major findings of the study are displayed in a model, which indicates that the internalization of the technology use comes from reflection and that teachers’ use of technology in classroom instruction is constructed jointly by their technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge; beliefs; identity; and the resources that are available to them. The study has implications for teachers and teacher educators for successful technology integration into science classrooms.
Social Studies Education
The purpose of this study was to examine a group of fifth graders experiences, beliefs, and opinions during the construction of digital historical agent profiles. This research study examined a project in which students were engaged in the learning of historical content and were asked to convey information about the life of someone from the past through the medium of the present and future using a social networking profile page. The profiles were constructed while examining American Revolutionary period content, which included a primary focus upon historical agents from this time period. This study was constructed to gain a better understanding of how students engage critical historical thinking skills through investigating and developing conclusions about the history and lives of historical agents while utilizing technology. It was found that authentic historical inquiry was achieved, historical thinking primarily occurred at a novice level, and students engaged with the technology and found the creation of a digital historical profile to be a more interesting way to convey their knowledge of the content.
The researchers in this study undertook development of a webquest evaluation rubric and investigated its reliability. The rubric was created using the strengths of the currently available webquest rubrics with improvements based on the comments provided in the literature and feedback received from educators. After the rubric was created, 23 participants were given a week to evaluate three preselected webquests using the latest version of the rubric. A month later, the evaluators were asked to reevaluate the same webquests. The statistical analyses conducted on this rubric demonstrated high levels of reliability.
As the nation’s economy continues its irrevocable shift from manufacturing toward idea-driven, creative industries, our schools — and the teaching and learning enterprise at the heart of our schools — need to undergo a transformation as well. The result of such a transformation needs to be a type of educational experience and expertise that will not only support but also ignite participation in — and leadership for — an idea-driven, creative economy. Equally important as supporting a new economy is educational experience and expertise that supports a global citizenry. This paper argues for the importance of 1:1 laptop environments and related professional development initiatives as the catalysts for a new learning ecology that provide the dynamic educational reform described above.