My Mission Statement:
I will promote and facilitate using a digital platform for educators supporting English Language Learners. Through collaboration, I will mentor colleagues on how to create and integrate digital resources effectively to navigate the digital world safely with their students.
Society expects students to be tech savvy and able to navigate computers, yet how we reach digital readiness is not clearly laid out. We live in a society where public schools are evaluated by student data and test scores. Students take tests such as the SBA, ELPA21, MAP, and these are all online. We know our students are more than test scores. We want them to also be able to interact with technology to better understand the world and how they can contribute to society. With no funding, the question is, how can English Language Learner (ELL) educators use technology to better support our students?
Working in an open-concept, high poverty school that still lacks a computer lab, with a 1:4 ratio between student and computers, leaves our students at a severe disadvantage. My district has nearly 7,000 ELL students, who are a diverse population with a wide range of academic needs who come from 147 countries (Seattle Public Schools, 2016). Research shows that ELL teachers lack access to apps, tools, and resources that other content areas are able to find (Knutson, 2015). Encouraged by Howard Rheingold’s passion for collaboration and networking, I want to reach out to educators with hope to see a positive change in the next few years.
Inspired by Mark Ribble, I want to intentionally introduce the concept of Digital Citizenship to my students and colleagues. Ribble defines Digital Citizenship as a “the norms of appropriate, responsible technology use” (Ribble, 2016). This connects with the need to explicitly discuss the transformation of learning and the role technology plays in our lives. Digital Citizenship creates a foundation for how to use technology that can then be enhanced by tools that support our curriculum goals.
What can I do to get others to buy in? I need my colleagues to not feel that I am adding to their workload, but providing strategies and opportunities to enhance and assess student learning. I will facilitate intentional discussions looking at how educators can work together through a shared platform, so that we are not left behind as technology advances in other content areas. Howard Rheingold mentions, “Many of our children learn to code switch between two or more oral languages, and we can teach them to switch between different presentations of written language and different modes of analysis” (Rheingold, 2012 p.35). Therefore, I believe educators can also code switch between the state English Language Proficiency standards (for ELL students) and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards.
Three guiding principles influence my direction as a mentor based on my current teaching position.These principles include: creating opportunities for equitable access, modeling digital etiquette and safety, and implementing technology-enhanced learning experiences using differentiation.
Guiding Principle 1: Creating Opportunities for Equitable Access
(ISTE Standards for Coaches 5a and 5c)
As a digital education specialist, I will remain mindful of diverse cultural and academic needs of students. Knutson validates my concern for equity, when he questions how there can be over 30 platforms to teach kids to code, yet we are still waiting on innovative technologies to support our bilingual students (Knutson, 2015). With our district facing a $74 million budget deficit for next year I don’t foresee them rolling out new technology, however we need to be intentional with how we provide access to technology at school (Seattle Public Schools, 2016).
In Fall 2016, The Seattle Public Library Foundation published a startling fact regarding internet access for Seattle residents. A report conducted in 2014 by the city, found that more than 90,000 residents still lacked access to the internet at home. In addition, nearly 60% of households earning less than $20,000 per year were able to afford access (Seattle Public Library Foundation, 2016). Many of our minority families fall into this category, especially in Southeast Seattle. These are the students we need to identify and provide strategic digital education at school.
By recognizing staff and students home languages, cultural assets, and prior knowledge, I will use digital education as a way to bridge prior knowledge with new knowledge to make content more meaningful and comprehensible. By surveying students, colleagues, and parents, I will identify barriers to equitable access, leading to intentionally designed learning opportunities for all students.
Guiding Principle 2: Model Digital Etiquette and Safety
(ISTE Standards for Coaches 5b)
Moving beyond access and opportunity is modeling how to navigate the digital world. Carrie James takes a close look at youth today and how they see the world both offline and online. In recent years, several studies have brought attention to the lack of empathy online and ethical dilemmas we encounter. This is often overlooked by parents giving their children access to the Web (James & Ribble). In addition, we as educators need to educate parents on what is trending with youth, how to create boundaries, and openly address the disconnect between their virtual actions and real life consequences (James, 2014).
To make the shift from “trusting” students to do the right thing to explicitly modeling, I believe my colleagues and I will need to discuss our expectations as a team. Many of these children are the translators and tech support for their parents already. We need to have parents involved from various cultures and languages to better understand the need of our community. In a region where the majority of students speak a language other than English at home, we need to work as a team to successfully educate our children how to safely traverse technology that is foreign to us.
Guiding Principle 3: Implement Technology-enhanced Learning Experiences Using Differentiation
(ISTE Standards for Coaches 2e)
ELL educators are always asked to be intentional with how they differentiate their lessons to target the specific needs of their students. This can be daunting when you have a class featuring various languages, cultures, ages, proficiency levels, and educational background. Ribble reminds us, “Technology is not the answer to the issues within education, but it can provide avenues to begin addressing them” (Ribble, 2013, p143). We live in a world where many of us are inundated with unsolicited advice, adverts for programs that claim to be the next best thing, and frequent changes to district, state, and national educational standards.
Rheingold reminds us how to be mindful and purpose driven when pursuing technology integration. In his book “Net Smart”, he mentions, “Knowing how to blog, tweet, wiki, search, innovated, program , and/or organize online can lead to political, cultural, and economic value” p.89. If this is the world we need to prepare our students to live in, we need to look at how we can excite them about learning, building upon their strengths.
So how can we as educators, decide which programs to invest in? Excited by an article, “Developing students’ digital literacy” in Jisc (2016), I want to get others on board in this collaboration process. I want to support teachers in the classroom with how they can utilize technology for differentiation without feeling like I’m giving them more work. Instead, I want to have tools that measure specific learning targets for ELLs.
What does this mean? ELL educators are asked to assess Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing. WIth students at various proficiency levels, this is where technology can come into play. Through intentional planning, targeting student academic needs, teachers can utilize technology in small groups allowing students to use various programs, apps, skills, to demonstrate their understanding of a given learning target. I believe there is technology out there relevant to my mission. I just haven’t found it, yet.
ISTE Standards for Coaches. (n.d.). Retrieved December 04, 2016, from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches
James, C. (2014) Disconnected: Youth, the New Media, and the Ethics Gap (Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press
“Developing Students’ Digital Literacy,” Jisc, September 22, 2015
Knutson, J. (2015, September 14). Where Do English Language Learners Fit Into the Ed Tech Revolution? Retrieved December 11, 2016, from https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/09/14/where-do-english-language-learners-fit-into-the-ed-tech-revolution/
Rheingold, H. (2012). Net Smart: How to Thrive Online Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, chapter 1: “Attention! Why and How to Control Your Mind’s Most Powerful Instrument”
Ribble, M. (n.d.). Digital Citizenship. Retrieved December 04, 2016, from http://digitalcitizenship.net/
Ribble, M. & Northern Miller, T. N. (2013) “Educational Leadership in an Online World: Connecting Students to Technology Responsibly, Safely, and Ethically,” Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17:1
Seattle Public Schools (2016) 2017-18 Potential Budget Deficit. Retrieved December 11, 2016 from https://www.seattleschools.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=627&pageId=16717519
“Your Gift Helps People Make Connections.” The Seattle Public Library Foundation: The Next Chapter (Fall 2016).