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Hi! My name is Erin Sanchez. I am a high school English teacher in

Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Currently, I am out on maternity leave; I had my
first child (a boy!) on December 16th, and I am enjoying 12 weeks of FMLA
until March when I will go back to my classroom. I decided to join this
program not only because of the convenience of it being online, but because
I have become increasingly more interested in acquiring new skills in
technology education. I am a relatively young teacher; this is my 8th year,
and I started right out of college. I have a relatively strong foundation in
using digital media and technology in my lessons; however, what I seem to
be struggling with lately is how to maintain the integration of these skills
while adhering to our extremely rigorous and specific Keystone-based
curriculum. As our district continues to add requirements to our classroom
curriculum, I am finding it more and more difficult to find appropriate ways to
use the technology and align it with our standards (which are the Eligible
Content pieces from the Keystone Literature and Composition exam). I
suppose I hope to gain better knowledge and comfort with even more
technological advances in education so that I am more able to integrate
these into my lessons while maintaining my responsibilities as a Keystone
course teacher.

Ten years ago, it was 2006; I was a sophomore in college. I was training
to be a teacher, and looking back on my time as a student at Penn State at
this time, it is almost laughable to think about what I learned! Of course,
there were many useful courses and readings; these gave me a strong
foundation of knowledge about what pedagogy really is and how my overall
philosophy of education would evolve. However, when we had practicum
courses or application courses, almost all of what we learned in terms of
HOW to teach has gone out the window. When I was a sophomore in college,
we were learning about how to use actual digital cameras to enhance a
visual in a lesson. We were just starting to use online classrooms like Angel in
my classes. We were being taught to use videos and the Internet to aid in our
research. Since that year, SO much has changed and evolved. Instead of
teaching students to search the web, we are having them CREATE websites!
We are teaching them to design content rather than just learn it (Pear Tree

Education, 2013). Instead of teaching students to email us their questions,

they are texting, tweeting, or posting their questions to social media so they
can collaborate with the entire course.
The most important lesson that I learned this week through our reading
was being reminded that digital and technological literacy has major societal
impacts. I am having a difficult time figuring out, though, whether this
literacy impacts our economic growth, or whether our economic growth
impacts our literacy! UNESCO is an agency designed to promote
educational reform and sustainable economic development (UNESCO,
2011). Their primary belief is that education is key to the many factors that
will enhance a society and its people (UNESCO, 2011). While I agree with
this, the article seemed a little outdated, even though it was written in 2011.
The examples it provided included teachers using digital presentation tools,
projectors, videos, and audio files. I think in societies such as ours, we should
start reaching out and expanding past the generic and basic uses of
technology; I know we can only use what our districts have provided to us in
many cases, so that is an obstacle, but even then, we need to remember,
then, to be facilitators to students not lecturers, and let their creative
abilities lead the way. In this way, I believe we will create the citizens that
UNESCO hopes to cultivate.

Technology literacy in the digital learning age means something
different almost every day. I keep thinking about the company Apple. Apple
products, in the past ten years, have evolved at a rapid rate. Think about the
iPod shuffle to the iPhone today. In fact, we are all learning how to use one
iPhone and then Apple will announce the distribution of the newest version.
This is what technology literacy is: learning how to break down each NEW
version of old technologies, learn how to understand completely new
technological advances, and ALSO learn how to CREATE our OWN new
technologies for use in our lives. The Apple reference is kind of what happens
in my district. We are told to start learning a new feature of technologybe it
Google Apps, Fusion, Glogster, etc., we are given a required set of training on
it, and then in a few months, we are told to forget all that we have learned
and to start learning something completely new. Our district cannot keep up
with technology, and I fear that unless we have a fix for this soon, we, as

educational professionals, will not be able to cultivate our students into

technologically responsible and literate citizens.
I keep thinking about all of the positive aspects that this digital age has
brought to our lives as educators, but there are some definite obstacles as
well. I think we sometimes try to use technology in PLACE of content, when
really we should be using it as a tool (Pear Tree Education, 2013). Our
districts are not able to keep up with the ever-changing technology, so we
are wasting money on digital media tools that we will never really be able to
use or teach to their fullest extent (Pear Tree Education, 2013). As a
relatively young teacher, I am continuing to learn and adapt quickly. I have
become someone who my colleagues go to when they need help with digital
content. However, I do sometimes feel bogged down by our strict curriculum
requirements because of all the state testing, and I feel that I sometimes
make the mistake of using technology for the wrong reasons. For example, I
have my students use the computer and the Internet to complete research
about history instead of lecturing and having them take notesbut when I
really think about it, they are just Googling facts. This proves that I as well
have a difficult time keeping up with all of the technological changes while
also keeping my lessons aligned with standards. This will be something that I
hope to explore and rectify within this course and this program!

Hi Irene,
Hi Irene,
It's nice to meet you! Your post caught my eye because of your first section- I
can't believe your district has a 1:1 iPad ratio. Wow, what a treat! I'd love to
hear how you use them in your classroom. That is something I dream about!
We have a BYOD ( bring your own device) policy where I teach (a high school)
and while some students do, many of them don't. There comes times when I
really want to do something more interactive or contemporary, but I just
don't have the resources. I used to sign my classes up for computer labs
when I wanted to try something digital, but now, with our district focusing on
Keystone test scores, many of our labs are taken up day after day for the
electronic test- teachers are required to give their students at least two
practice tests, which takes up at least 2-3 days of instruction for EACH

practice test, so the labs are really out of the question these days. Alas, I am
jealous of you!
You also mentioned something that I can relate to on a very personal level. I
often consider myself "technologically literate" because I too am willing and
ready to utilize technology in my classroom, but I also often feel as though it
isn't enough. My personal struggle with this is that I am often feeling
overwhelmed by the expectations set on us to use technology but to also
align it to our new standards as enforced but standardized testing. I am
ready and willing, but like you, many of my surrounding teachers are not,
and this makes for a difficult transition into the digital age. It really would be
most beneficial if ALL teachers could get on board because when teachers
buy into new initiatives, the students do too! We have many teachers in the
building who grumble when our administration introduces a new program-whether it is a new teacher website, enforcing the use of Google
Education, or a Podcast they want all advisories to listen to, they just don't
seem to want to add anything to their plates. On one hand, I understand
their frustration because it does seem that as soon as we get accustomed to
one new thing, technology advances and we have to learn something brand
new! I do believe that is just the way it is these days, and in order to be an
effective teacher, we have to just tackle those obstacles as they arise!

Hi Leslie,
Your post had me thinking about my education experience as well! I am 29
years old, so we were in school at the same time. I too remember having to
do research the "old school" way. If we didn't have the resources (which,
early on, we didn't) we would have to use our own brains, or, God forbid, real
live BOOKS in a LIBRARY! It is really a different