Sunday, November 27, 2011

Standards...Are they important?

In education, there is one question that always seems to come up: "Is the standards really important?" My college professors, colleagues, and administration reinforces the idea of standards being essential when it comes to lesson planning because it makes sure every student is getting the necessary information.  Being an educator in Colorado, the Colorado State Standards are constantly on my mind! It has been drilled into our heads that they are vital to use during lesson planning and teaching our students. So, I've become quite knowledgeable about the Colorado Science Standards. However, since I've gone back to school to study instructional technology, I took this week to research Information Literacy and Technology Standards.

I looked at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, The American Association of School Librarians, the Colorado Department of Education, and 21st Century Skills by NCREL. Each organization had their own set of standards; however, ironically, it was all the same! Some organizations websites were a little easier to navigate and find the necessary information fairly quickly, but once I found the standards, I realized it was all the same.

The most surprising discovery was the Colorado Department of Education uses the National Standards created by ISTE. The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) has always had its own set of standards for Colorado students. However, the CDE has deemed the ISTE's national standards to be acceptable for Colorado as well. This definitely made me feel like Colorado is becoming more in sync with other states and organizations. Of course, I have appreciate the high expectations Colorado State Standards requires of our students, but using the national standards proves that the nation also has high expectations with information literacy and technology.

By creating my matrix of information (using webspirationpro), I found that I kept writing the same words such as: Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Digital Responsibility, Innovation, and many others. With this type of visual, I was able to see how twenty-first century skills are interrelated to Information Literacy and Technology Standards. Another realization was that these skills and standards just describe good teaching!

As an educator, I, personally, believe it is important to make your classroom as creative and innovative as possible. It is my job to keep my teaching current and relevant, especially in this new digital era. When I was in middle school, there were overheads and powerpoints, but nothing compared to iPads! I've noticed that many educators are "afraid" of the new technologies; however, they don't realize that it is created to help them! During my research, I found iPad apps that can be used in my class; however there is so much more than just iPads and iPod touches. I also came across many different websites that offered free teacher tools. The key is for teachers to stay educated on the newest technologies, so they may be able to meet all their students' needs.

As a way to share my knowledge, I plan to use my matrix when teaching at professional development classes. As part of my position of science co-department chair, it has been one of my duties to create classes that teachers need to take as part of their professional development. So, when I'm asked during my classes: "Are Standards important?" I can say YES!

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