Sunday, December 26, 2010

Reflection- Reaching and Engaging All Learners Through Technology

Throughout this course, we explored the various tenets of Universal Design for Learning, UDL, and Differentiated Instruction, DI, and identified myriad applications of technology that could aid in the development of UDL and DI lessons.  I was most struck by three main elements of the course, assessment strategies, using technology to share information, and using alternative final projects with technological incorporations.
Drs. Smith and Thorne reviewed the merits and uses of formative, ongoing and final assessments, stating that educators can use up-to-date assessments to understand what must be covered, ensure that they are progressing appropriately through the curriculum, and review the breadth of student learning at the conclusion of the unit of study (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009a).  I have always incorporated various assessments in my classroom, but have found them frustrating to prepare, tedious to correct and cumbersome to inform instruction as I have nearly one hundred students and a fast paced curriculum.  Realizing that technology can automate much of the paperwork aspects of the pre- and ongoing assessments, I am enthusiastic about increasing the frequency of ongoing assessment in my classroom without making more work for me.  As the burden of multiple assessments is lifted, it opens the opportunity for online student surveys that allows teachers to learn about their students as learners, their interests, and learning preferences (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009b).
Mathematics instruction tends to be traditional, lecture-based with rote calculations in class and for homework, and pen and paper tests and quizzes.  I see the potential of alternative instruction and activities, especially with the inclusion of technology.  The presentation aspect of UDL, which encourages various representations of concepts (Rose & Meyer, 2002) is improved dramatically with technology.  Multimedia, web quests, software, excel based graphing lessons, and manipulatable resources on active whiteboards can all allow students to approach the curriculum from an angle that personally resonates with their interests and learning styles.  Additionally, as our students are digital natives, by bringing technology to the classroom, we are speaking our students’ language and engaging them in the way they choose to interact with the world.  If we use technology to meet student interests and needs, we engage them as learners and individuals.
I am most excited about using alternative and technology rich means of sharing understanding.  Though I must administer our grade level common assessments, I have begun to find opportunities for students to show their understanding through various creative means in addition to typical tests and quizzes.  Students can show their understanding of concepts via the creation of infographics, VoiceThreads, PowerPoint presentations, slideshows, podcasts, digital drawings, movie makers, and various other resources.  Once created, students can share their work on blogs, wikis, and hosting sites, or they can use the blogs and wikis to share their learning in written and/or visual formats.  We acknowledge that math is more than computations in a vacuum and is more applicable and understandable in a real world context, but we continue to test in traditional methods.  This course has shown me the vast means of expressing curriculum concepts in alternative manners than just traditional assessments.
Our students are digital natives and they will enter a workplace in the future that will undoubtedly incorporate various technologies.  Not only can we prepare our students for this environment, but also we can improve interest and engagement and create meaningful learning experiences by incorporating technology.

References:
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2009a). Assessing Students [Motion picture]. Enhancing learning through linguistic and cultural diversity. Baltimore: Author.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2009b). Learner Differences [Motion picture]. Enhancing learning through linguistic and cultural diversity. Baltimore: Author.
Rose, D., & Meyer, A. (2002). Teaching every student in the digital age: Universal design for learning. Retrieved from http://www.cast.org/teachingeverystudent/ideas/tes/ 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What can you do with Google Docs?



-Nancy

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Application 4 UDL video



I was unable to close caption the video, so please find the text below:


Universal Design for Learning, or UDL, exists to ensure that resources including buildings and educational content are accessible for all.  Initially an ambition of architects to design with varying needs in mind rather than retrofitting pre-designed buildings, UDL has been translated to the educational setting.  At the heart of UDL is the notion that though some resources and/or technologies exist to help people, like stairs into a building, those are not sufficient for all people.  To accommodate for these varying needs, architects incorporated resources including ramps, sidewalk cuts, elevators, and wider doorways.  The byproduct of meeting the needs of people with specific requirements was the ease of use for others with non-prohibitive, yet complex needs.  In providing for those in wheelchairs, for example, parents with strollers also reaped the benefits of ramps and elevators.  Education realized that this concept of universal design, or thoughtful preparation for various needs, helps to enable all students to learn in ways that respect and accommodate for varying needs, preferences, and styles.
The three main principles of UDL are Representation, Action and Expression, and Engagement.  Together these concepts ensure that differentiation occurs throughout the educational process.
Representation speaks to the need to provide information in varying manners.  From educational thinkers like Gardner and his theory of multiple intelligences we know that not every student learns the same way and Lev Vygotsky let us know that students need to build upon their prior knowledge and learn within scaffolding structures.  UDL acknowledges these thinkers and encourages teachers to provide information and instruct in varying manners and with multimedia incorporation.  More than just lectures, UDL incorporates dynamic student interaction, videos, music, interactive games, self-paced explorations, and tiered instruction.  The intent is that one or more method of instruction will meet the academic needs of a student and they will have the opportunity to learn in the manner that best suits their learning style and preferences.
Action and Expression are the goals of providing students with multiple venues for demonstrating their understanding of concepts and ability to complete skills.  Student selected projects allow ownership and personal investment in the work.  Even simple projects and assignments can be open to modification and interpretation, but UDL also encourages the inclusion of student selected problem-based and project-based learning.
Engagement is what makes the learning experience meaningful for the students.  Student interest and enjoyment lead to meaningful and thus lasting educational experiences.  Whether the students select their foci or the teacher uses their knowledge of their students to create activities the match the interests and lives of their students, it is the meaningful engagement that sparks interest and encourages effort.
Technology affords educators with the abilities to be in more than one place at one time, brings resources from various places into the classroom, and can enable students to bring the classroom home.  The mission of UDL is to encourage student specific instruction, review, and assessment.  Through technology and virtual resources, teachers can differentiate for students while still allowing and encouraging students to work independently.  Multimedia including podcasts, academically centered music videos, online games, and tutorials can aid in the dispersal of information while students can use various software and online resources to help with the communication of what they have learned.  Inherent in the medium of technology there is increased interest and entertainment, lending itself to engagement for students.
As our school is just beginning to incorporate SmartBoards into our classrooms, we have a unique opportunity to jump in with both feet.  Using our new technology to its best advantage, we can provide our students with various multimedia exposure, improve engagement and interest among our students, and utilize the technology as a showcase for student work.  Internet enabled technology is a portal to a wealth of information and resources that can help to provide unique learning experiences for our students.
Brain research supports the concepts underlying UDL and seems to parallel the three principles of UDL.  The brain networks that support learning are, first, the recognition network that partners with the UDL principle of representation as they both deal with the intake and understanding of concepts from patterns and images.  The strategic networks of the brain learn by doing and thus mirror UDL’s action and expression focus of creating and sharing what you have begun to understand in a manner that makes sense to you.  Finally, the third network, the affective network, deal with the emotional connection to the content and hence matches the goal of encouraging engagement in UDL lessons.  Each student has strengths and weaknesses in each of these areas, but lesson planning with an understanding of what brain research tells us and adherence to the concepts of UDL will allow students to make the concessions and decisions that allow them to be successful.
UDL seeks to ensure that although they may take different pathways, all students are heading to the same goal.  It differs from traditional lecture-based instruction in that students are encouraged to work in accordance with their preferences, learning styles, and strengths.  Variables like demographics, language skills, and academic readiness can be addressed or removed as a factor via the use of creative instruction, assignments, and assessments.  Students whom are differently-abled in any way can form their work around their skills rather than be forced to conform to standard expectations.
Technology can individualize an educational experience via real-time feedback, various means of sharing one’s understanding, and the sheer volume of educational resources available.  Though technology is not without its complications, it brings the 21st Century Skills we hope to share with our students to the classroom in an authentic and meaningful manner.
The website, www.CAST.org offers a variety of tools and resources for students, parents and predominantly teachers to incorporate UDL concepts into classrooms.  The “Learning Tools” section of the webpage provides multiple links to resources both on and beyond the CAST offerings.  The Book builder site allows teachers to create their own online books so that students can use the benefits of technology, like text to speech, to aid them as they read.  Not only can you create your own books, but you can also access books shared by other educators.
The National Center on Universal Design for Learning’s website, www.udlcenter.com exists to share the justifications for incorporating UDL into the classroom.  Their videos, information and exemplars help to make the general concept of UDL come to life and make sense.
The Tom Snyder Productions page, in association with Scholastic, shares among other things ways to use technology to create student specific learning experiences.  The technology allows students to work on topics with the added benefit of visuals, interactive activities, and skill responsive problems.
These resources, among the others offered can allow our students to meet curriculum requirements while receiving the academic support they need to be successful and challenged appropriately.  We cannot meet with each student for individualized instruction and/or create educational experiences that match each child’s learning style, however we can use technology to support our goals and our students.  Universal Design for Learning seeks to ensure that every child is successful and will help us meet that goal as well.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Final Blog Post/Reflection

The GAME plan provided a structure to my goals that made moving towards and achieving them less daunting.  Though it is typically easy to identify hopes, the pathway to success can be difficult to define.  After identifying my goals in the GAME plan, I found the planning of the actions I would take to be more effective than simply attempting to pursue the end goal.  Monitoring and Evaluating the plan ensured that I did not get bogged down in the initial plan and allowed myself to adapt and reflect upon my goals as I moved towards them.  My two goals were to improve communication of curriculum content to parents and students via the use of technology and to model and teach an ethical and responsible presence online (NETS-T, 2010).  I feel that I have made great strides in both areas. 

The incorporation of SmartBoard lessons, creating more depth on my blog, and increasing communication home have helped to make me a better teacher.  I feel that I am reaching further and helping my students create more connections than before.  My examination of ways that I can use technology to reach my students undoubtedly helped with this goal.  Regarding the implementation of ethical usage of resources in technology, I have made great strides in using citations and modeling ethical use.  In order to add my own creative elements, I have used more original work than borrowed images.  I have worked with a variety of students in helping them set up blogs of their own.  Via modeling and a “blog group” that meets periodically, we have confronted issues of fair use and citing sources.  I am very pleased with my ongoing progress on these two goals.

In working with these goals, I was able to explore a variety of technologies and means for implementing my goals.  I used screen capture tools to collect information from class and original images to add to my blog.  I have participated in professional development to learn about the capabilities of my new SmartBoard as well as engaged in independent research and practice.  Like most digital natives and technology enthusiasts, much of my learning has come from independent discovery and trial and error.  This learning along with knowledge gained via class assignments and applications will greatly affect my teaching.  Prior to constructing the collaborative learning assignment and the digital storytelling lessons, I did not believe that those types of activities would lend themselves to mathematics instruction (Cennamo, et. al., 2009). 

The readings, examples, and videos showed that with a bit of creative thinking, these strategies are effective in all classrooms.  Not only do I intend to implement these teaching strategies in my class, but I am also seeking out examples of successful implementation in other classrooms.  For example, I have been incorporating mathematical music videos in my classroom on a regular basis as both a learning tool and an example of a type of digital story that we will create later in the year.  Additionally, I have attempted to use technology to make my lessons more exciting and allow for more student involvement.  Without a doubt, I have increased my students’ involvement in my lessons by making interactive elements in my SmartBoard lessons.  Finally, I have taken the notion of the multistepped GAME plan to heart and have thus used that approach on a variety of specific tasks as well as my larger technology goals.

Overall, I feel that the more I am exposed to and educated about technology for the classroom, the more opportunities I have to improve my teaching.  I am continually encouraged and excited by the programs and resources that I encounter in my classes and enthusiastic about their implementation.  Our lesson planning during this course opened my eyes to resources that I did not realize could actually work in my classroom.

Resources:

Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology Integration for Meaningful Classroom Use: A Standards-Based Approach. (Laureate Education, Inc., Custom ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

National Education Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS-T) located at:http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/NETS/ForTeachers/2008Standards/NETS_T_Standards_Final.pdf

Monday, October 18, 2010

Using the GAME Plan Process with Students

Delving into the goals established in the NETS-T has helped me to become a better teacher and a more responsible member of the online community.  I believe that the NETS-S goals can do the same for our students.  The six goal topics listed below all coexist to ensure that students are well rounded in their technology education.

·       Creativity and Innovation
·       Communication and Collaboration
·       Research and Information Fluency
·       Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
·       Digital Citizenship
·       Technology Operations and Concepts
(NETS-S)

By receiving an education in all of these arenas, students will be able to navigate their schooling in a dynamic and exciting way while preparing themselves for the workplaces that they will eventually enter.

In order to ensure that these goals will receive appropriate care and attention, I believe that the GAME plan will allow students to develop their skills while still playing a part in their education.  Though the teacher will establish the basic goals, students will be able to help shape the actions that they take within the goal.  Ideally, I, as the teacher, will be able to shape their activities so that the students can help to determine their foci and activities.  I believe that the monitoring and evaluating aspects of the plan would be shared equally between teacher and student.  Though of course the teacher needs to monitor, adapt, and evaluate the classroom procedures, the role that the students play will be even more meaningful and effective.

I believe that it will be necessary to approach one topic at a time and in conjunction with curriculum topics that offer opportunities to incorporate technology and the specific goals.  As with almost any other curriculum, these goals should be part of a spiraling curriculum so that students are regularly revisiting these topics and applying them in increasingly sophisticated manners.  The topics can also be approached as “essential questions” or “essential themes” throughout the year.  After working towards these goals over the course of the year, students would be able to answer questions like, “How can spreadsheets help you learn” or “How could you creatively use technology to share your learning?”

References:

National Education Technology Standards for Students (NETS-S) located at: http://www.iste.org/Libraries/PDFs/NETS_for_Student_2007_EN.sflb.ashx

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Revising my GAME plan

NETS-T 3. Model Digital-Age Work and Learning c. communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital-age media and formats (NETS-T)

Applications in Instructional Practice/Ongoing Goals: My learning and research has directly influenced my instructional practices.  I have implemented elements of this goal in my classroom instruction, in my online presence, and by educating colleagues.  Technology is ever-present in my classroom and I have branched away from the easy, typical elements that require little involvement.  I began a discussion group among teachers in my school that seeks to improve SmartBoard use.  Our interactions allow us to share what we have learned and troubleshoot any problems that we encounter.  I continue to work towards regular implementation of new and engaging lessons in my classroom and on my blog, but still struggle with the investment of time that this requires.

New Learning Goals:  To further implement my goals on this topic, I intend to require participation on my blog.  I will have homework assignments that require a brief narrative answers that can be shared on the blog.  I believe that this venue will be exciting for my students and hopefully inspire their best work, much as the teachers spoke of in this week’s DVD (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009).

Extending Current Goals:  To extend the goals of this topic, I would like to help students create their own lessons.  I believe that the students are capable of bringing a new perspective to our classroom activities and I would like to see what they could add to my efforts.

Learning Approaches for Next Time:   Through my navigation through this particular goal, I have come to realize that I need to define my expectations.  I was easily swept up in possibility as I explored this topic and found it difficult to narrow myself to manageable tasks.  I believe that I will be more successful if I break down my goals into mini-goals that I can readily achieve and then continue to progress.

NETS-T 4. Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility a. advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources (NETS-T)

Applications in Instructional Practice/Ongoing Goals:  My ongoing goal is to continue using and modeling proper use of citations online and in my classroom.  I have more to do with actually encouraging and helping students use citations in their work.  At this point, my students have not had the opportunity to make a creative, technology rich project in math class and thus I have not had the chance to share proper citations in their work.  I hope to schedule computer time in conjunction with an upcoming class activity.


New Learning Goals:   I would like to extend my current goal to include a “cheat sheet” for my students.  Much like a citation guide, it would be a mini-version suited for a sixth grader.  Complete with examples and hints, students could use this reference guide to help with their work.  I believe that an easy “user’s guide” would allow students to meet expectations of properly citing sources while not being overwhelming for the students.

Extending Current Goals:  To extend the goal I have already established, I would like to create shareable resources.  As an amateur photographer, I would like to take mathematics/school themed photographs that will be available for free use among fellow educators.  Students can also help by creating their own artwork for sharing.  I believe that by creating the images ourselves, the lessons of citations and giving credit will truly hit home.

Learning Approaches for Next Time:  My experiences with working toward this goal reminded me that I need to establish a philosophy, not just a goal, when determining how I want procedures in my classroom to develop.  A good portion of my work towards this goal was in trying to establish a belief system for citing work.  Though I believed in the fundamental principle, I needed to determine what my expectations for my classes were.  Recognizing this need prior to starting my work would have streamlined the process and have helped me not waste effort going in the wrong direction.

References:

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Program 10. Spotlight on Technology: Social Networking and Online Collaboration Part 1. [Educational video]. Baltimore: Author.

National Education Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS-T) located at:http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/NETS/ForTeachers/2008Standards/NETS_T_Standards_Final.pdf

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Evaluating my GAME plan progress.

NETS-T 3. Model Digital-Age Work and Learning c. communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital-age media and formats (NETS-T)

Efficacy of my Actions: My research and efforts towards creating my own lessons have been quite effective.  I have been able to incorporate a few dynamic lessons in my classroom and feel confident that I can continue to bring more technology to my lessons.  My blog has been successful in being a repository for interactive web activities and my students have become increasingly involved in the blog.  Additionally, I have used our school website to communicate with parents and students with decent success.  As soon as our parent portal is open fully, I believe that the website will be even more successful.

Applicable Learning:  I spent some time working with the different programs available to me to find what the capabilities are.  At this point I feel comfortable navigating the technology and the available resources.  Much of my learning has been achieved via practice and trial and error, thus my learning has been focused on my needs.

Still to Learn/New Questions:  I still need and want to learn how to make the processes a little bit quicker.  Any automation that I can create or work with will make my goals much easier to attain without taking such a great toll on my schedule and me.  Does anyone know of any programs that help with multitasking?  For example, I use tweetdeck to view my facebook and twitter feeds simultaneously and I use an RSS feed to read all of my favorite blogs, but I do not have a seamless process for taking classroom technology/activities and posting it to my blog and website.  The cumbersome nature slows me down more that I would like.

Adjusting my Plan:   The biggest adjustment that I have had to make is the recognition that I cannot always use technology in my lessons.  Though I love to bring technology into my classroom, not every topic needs or benefits from the introduction of technology.  Additionally, I realize that time does not allow for technology integration in every lesson.  I do what I can to bring supplemental technology to my students via my blog, but I need to step back and accept that it is okay if I focus on some topics and leave some to be developed later.

NETS-T 4. Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility a. advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources (NETS-T)

Efficacy of my Actions:  I believe that my actions to date have been effective.  My research has yielded tremendous information, but I am still somewhat stagnated at my philosophy.  I have incorporated the beginnings of citations on my blog and I am pleased about that progress.  I have not yet formally taught the concept of documenting to my students, but look forward to finding a time where the lesson supports that discussion.  I was very pleased with the short discussions I had with my classes when I sent home a photograph permission slip for my blog.  As I saw in the previous suggestions of my classmates, taking the approach of being the subject or creator of the intellectual property has piqued my students’ interest in this topic more than the opposite side of the coin might have.

Applicable Learning:   Much of my learning has been through formal sources with a dash of common sense.  Using accepted documenting formulas, e.g. APA, I have attempted to create a simplified version that makes sense in a blog format and for students in 6th grade.  I have also sought out a variety of exemplars from online sources to help me determine what I think will work for my needs.

Still to Learn/New Questions:  I still need to determine what my philosophy will be in respect to my expectations of my students and my own work.  I would greatly appreciate any commentary that others could provide.  Should my students fully document any images that they use or would a shortened version suffice?  I tend to think that they should, especially since this will not occur too often.  Should I include full documentation when I use a picture on my blog?  Due to the frequency with which I blog, this could be prohibitive.  Additionally, most blogs that I see usually just include brief credits such as, “Photo from Reuters.”  It could clutter the blog format if I include an extensive credit, but is it wrong to require more of my students than I require of myself?  I would really appreciate any and all feedback that you can provide!

Adjusting my Plan:  The focus of my work seems to be centering on my usage of images and other creative elements that I would like to include on my blog.  I want to model ethical usage of the intellectual property of others, but do not want it to overwhelm my lessons, webpage or blog.  I have not yet decided how I will modify this aspect of my plan, but I am very open to the thoughts of my classmates and look forward to your input.

References:

National Education Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS-T) located at:
http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/NETS/ForTeachers/2008Standards/NETS_T_Standards_Final.pdf

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Monitoring my GAME plan progress

NETS-T 3. Model Digital-Age Work and Learning c. communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital-age media and formats (NETS-T)

Finding Resources: It has been a pleasure beginning to find the resources that I need to work on this goal. I have used SmartBoard resources available online to find, download and adapt for my own use. Additionally, I have found a multitude of games and multimedia resources to supplement my lessons and blog. I need to continue to explore and begin to look towards the technologies with which I am not as comfortable such as wikis and podcasts.

Modifications Needed: I need to ensure that I do not bite off more than I can chew in this arena. There are so many resources available, that it can become overwhelming. I am going to modify my goal to include quotas per unit of study so that I do not burn out and I do not overwhelm myself. Too many times I have begun looking for one element to add to a lesson or a blog post and I end up finding more resources than I can handle, often for topics other than the one I was researching. If I make it my goal to plan a great dynamic lesson for one or two topics and a truly engaging blog post for another one or two topics per unit, I will begin to build a library of quality technology rich lessons/posts that will serve me well for years to come but will not be overwhelming.

Learning: The school provided website, FinalSite, and Google’s Blogger have been wonderful repositories for my work and have allowed me to be creative in what I put online. I am in the process of learning how these two separate programs can work together, e.g. linking a document from my FinalSite page to my blog. I have also learned that I need to be an active proponent of using the page in order to encourage my students to use the technology at home. The more I provide, both informational and enjoyable, the more my students utilize the page and the more they get from the resources offered.

New Questions: The major question that I feel I am struggling with is “are these resources being used?” This primarily falls to the blog elements. As I stated earlier, the posts are a large investment of time and energy and I often worry that they are not being taken advantage of. Though my students continue to report that they are visiting the site, I need to find ways to encourage them to participate and get involved in the resources that I have made available. I question how I can incorporate blog elements into homework without penalizing students that do not have access to internet at home. It can be difficult to get computer time during class, so I am unable to provide class time to complete the assignments.

NETS-T 4. Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility a. advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources (NETS-T)

Finding Resources: I have been able to find resources on this topic quite readily. If anything, I may have found too many. Various means of documenting resources exist and I have not found one that I prefer or a way to modify existing plans for my sixth grade students. I really do welcome any assistance that anyone can provide on this front.

Modifications Needed: I need to modify my expectations and realize that this process will likely take some time. Students (and teachers) can be resistant to the extra work associated with documenting resources and unless I find an easily implemented means of documenting, I fear that documentation will not take place or that avoidance will occur. Just yesterday, I was about to place a picture on my blog, but realized that I could not determine the actual creator of the image and therefore elected to omit the visual from my post rather than risk citing the wrong source. I need to find image libraries that are searchable and trustworthy so that I can know how I should be citing my images. I also want to explore the possibility of incorporating more of my own images (photography) on my page so as to ensure that I have the right to use the image. This development ushers in the new concern of protecting my own, and eventually my students’, intellectual property.

Learning: Thus far I have learned that I still have some philosophical issues to iron out before I can really move forward. Once I find a type of documentation that I feel comfortable with and can implement without too much burden, I believe that this process will be much easier. I have also come to realize that virtually everything online seems to be stolen from somewhere else. This realization was not necessarily unexpected, but it complicates my goal. Aside from documenting images, I have learned that documentation has not been too difficult. As I believe that I will not ultimately use full APA or MLA documentation, it has been easy to simply cite the source of games, links or information with a brief note or parenthetical comments.

New Questions: I have come to realize that I need to define my philosophy and my expectations for students and myself regarding documenting sources. Additionally, I have begun to question if using images from the internet can be justified when it is nearly impossible to determine original sources.

References:

National Education Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS-T) located at: http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/NETS/ForTeachers/2008Standards/NETS_T_Standards_Final.pdf

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Carrying out my GAME plan

I have begun to implement my GAME plan in measured steps and have considered what I need to do to progress further.  My goals are to use technology to assist with communication of information and content and modeling and teaching responsible use and documentation of resources in online communities.

NETS-T  3. Model Digital-Age Work and Learning  c. communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital-age media and formats  (NETS-T)

Resources:  In order to meet my goal, I will need resources that include technology, colleagues, and less tangible resources.  The technology that is required includes a blog interface, a school website with a parent portal and the ability to post resources and links, an email distribution list, and software/hardware that allow me to create and manage class information like Publisher and SmartBoard.  Online multimedia, games, and informational websites will provide additional resources.  I will use the skill, creations, and input of colleagues within my building, district, and online sharing communities to assist, supplement, and inspire my work.  Finally, as I hope to make my lessons and offerings dynamic and engaging I need adequate time, inspiration, and drive to deal with the trial and error aspects of creative lesson planning.

Additional Information:  To help me move forward, I need to understand the capabilities of the technology I use and the usefulness of the various options.  I must also better understand what materials and resources are free to use and how I should acknowledge the use of materials created by others (This ties in with my second goal).  I want to reflect on the incidence of use of the materials I create to ensure that the efforts are not for naught.  I also need to continue learning about the various technologies I hope to use while working toward my goals.

Steps so far:  I have a blog established, but I am working to provide links that are more informational, increase the use of meaningful games, and provide exciting activities on the page.  I am creating various original resources as I create lessons and notes with my new SmartBoard.  Our school has recently begun using a new website that allows for increased communication with parents and students, though not all features have been rolled out thus far.  Preliminary information and parameters have been implemented and I continue to explore potential applications of the features on the website.


NETS-T  4. Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility  a. advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources (NETS-T)

Resources:  I will consult with the Media Center Specialist to review fair use policies and establish a collection of resources from which we are permitted to use materials without asking express permission, e.g. subscription services.  I will also use resources like APA citation manuals and online referencing guides to determine best practices for citing resources online and in the classroom.  Creative commons will be used to collect and share resources.  The last resource that I will use will be blogs to determine accepted protocols in the online community, extra credence will be given to blogs with an educational focus.  Ultimately I will need a student friendly version of the rules so I can share them with my students.

Additional Information:  I need to know what fair use practices say about use for educational purposes as I am not fully informed about what can and cannot be used without expressed permission.  I need to determine what type of citations are required by my district and the technology I use, e.g. blogger and our website host.  As I have a limited understanding of how creative commons works, I need to explore and participate in that resource sharing site.

Steps so far:  I have used simple citations, i.e. “from the Weather Channel,” to begin citing the images I include on my blog.  Additionally, I have tried to use photographs that I have taken to illustrate my posts, post links to notes and images rather than copy and paste, and embed items with inherent authorship stated such as youtube videos from the original author.  Finally, I have been cognizant about recognizing the ideas and suggestions of my students in my work; students are always referenced in my blog and my classroom when I use their ideas.

I hope to hear from you, my classmates, if you are aware of any resources that have helped you with either of these goals or if you see something that I have overlooked when it comes to additional information.  Unfortunately, I can only see these topics from my own eyes and I am quite sure that there are angles that I have not covered.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts, suggestions, and feedback.

References:

National Education Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS-T) located at: http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/NETS/ForTeachers/
2008Standards/NETS_T_Standards_Final.pdf

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My GAME plan

As “digital natives,” my grade six mathematics students interact with technology regularly and successfully.  Outside of school, they use technology to communicate, for entertainment, and even in the most mundane of tasks.  Televisions, internet connections, touch screens, and more are pervasive; accordingly, the children that have grown up using these technologies are skilled with the medium and engage with little hesitance.  The same cannot always be said of the educators that attempt to enlighten them in school and thus we see a “powering down” (Prensky, 2008, p. 42) of our students, a move toward static interactions and a reliance on learning activities that do not match the 21st century world in which we live. 

I consider myself an acclimated digital immigrant and a bit of a technophile.  My students see that I use and enjoy technology on my own and that it is incorporated into our class activities.  Despite my enthusiasm and skill, I have strides that I would like and need to make for the benefit of my students.  By exploring the ISTE NETS-T standards, I was able to identify two areas that I need to improve and believe that the GAME plan identified by Cennamo et. al. (2009) will help me improve my use of technology in the classroom.
    
NETS-T  3. Model Digital-Age Work and Learning  c. communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital-age media and formats  (NETS-T)

Goal:  My goal is to ensure that I use technology as a means to deliver content in a meaningful and improved manner.  Technology should assist in the delivery of information, not be the focus of class activities. 

Action:  In order to meet my goals I need to commit to creating at least one lesson a week in which technology assists in the instruction of the concept.  I will use resources such as colleagues, professional online forums like blogs or resource sharing sites, and text connections to broaden my instructional approach.  In respect to technology, I would like to use available resources such as active whiteboards, internet resources, software, multimedia, and public posting venues to improve my lessons and the communication of our content.

Monitor:  To ensure that this implementation is beneficial to my students I will check for understanding via traditional and new methods that incorporate technology.  Additionally, I will monitor student reported interest/engagement as well as my anecdotal observations regarding student enthusiasm.

Evaluate:  To ultimately determine the success of this change in my teaching style I will assess students on the content via the use of various strategies to ensure that students are able to demonstrate recall, application, and interpretation of the content.  Additionally, I will evaluate this endeavor on the enjoyment and engagement of my students through reflective discussion.

NETS-T  4. Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility  a. advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources (NETS-T)

Goal:  My second goal is to model and teach safe, appropriate, and legal use of technology.  My focus will be primarily in the areas of respectful online communication and use of non-self-created items.

Action:  I will provide students with venues for online interaction within safe confines and give them rules for online communication via both online postings and classroom discussions.  Safe usage guidelines will be shared with parents and students and I will engage in regular monitoring of student interaction online.  I will also research ways to document appropriately the use of others’ content on my blog and in my classroom.  I will use resources like creative commons and teacher sharing forums to populate my creative work to ensure that I model appropriate use of resources.  Additionally, I will utilize the skills of our media center specialist to help improve my skills and educate my students on this topic.

Monitor:  To monitor my progress on this goal I will oversee my students’ interactions online and work with them as new concerns arise.  Regarding copyright and intellectual property, I will review my work to ensure I have documented sources properly and collaborate with colleagues to ensure that our entire staff uses resources fairly.

Evaluate:  Though it is difficult to quantify the effectiveness of my work, I would expect to see adherence to expectations in 90-100% of posted material.  Be it the work of my students or my work online and in the classroom, I hope that we all move towards safer and responsible presences online.  Our skills should continually grow and develop.

Technological interaction is much like a new language and community.  We must learn how to interact within the culture in an educated, safe and respectful manner.  It is an ongoing process and I am excited to make improvements in these areas.
  
References:

Cennamo, K., Ross, J., & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology Integration for Meaningful Classroom Use: A Standards-Based Approach (Laureate Education custom edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

National Education Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS-T) located at: http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/NETS/ForTeachers/
2008Standards/NETS_T_Standards_Final.pdf

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Reflection on my Supporting Information Literacy and Online Inquiry in the Classroom course.

Final Reflection:


Throughout our course work in “Supporting Information Literacy and Online Inquiry in the Classroom” we learned about the benefits and methods of implementing inquiry based projects.  Inquiry projects require students to get involved with the content and interact with the material so that they learn via practical interaction rather than passive memorization.  As a math teacher, I have fallen victim to traditional class lessons especially as time constraints and expectations for performance on standardized tests are increased.  I have tried to incorporate projects and activities with an inquiry style, but I often wait until after our early spring standardized tests when our pace is less frenzied.  My fear has been that without traditional instruction, students will miss important concepts.  What this course work has shown me is that although the process is different, the level of understanding and comprehension is as good, if not better, than traditional, lecture style education.  Engaging with the material, students are able to form a working understand of the material via interaction, thus facilitating a relationship with the material and leading to a sense of investment and ownership with the content (Eagleton & Dobler, 2007).  The philosophies of constructivism and socioculteralism support the notion that students learn more when they make something and interact with others in order to learn and inquiry project provide opportunities for students to engage in these activities (Eagleton & Dobler, 2007).  By further incorporating technology in the inquiry project, student interest is increased and the project integrates modern relevance to the project.

A significant component of successful inquiry work is the incorporation of the new literacy skills that speak of the adept use of technology.  This includes the searching, navigation, assessment and synthesis of technological resources.  These new literacy skills ensure that students do not just merely fumble around online hoping to find what they need.  They use search techniques and specialized search engines to ensure that the search yields worthwhile results (Eagleton & Dobler, 2007 and November, 2008).  Students use techniques such as REAL, Read the URL, Examine the content, Ask about the author/editor and Look at the links (November, 2008) or ABC from Beth Phillips where students assess the Author, Bias, Content, Dates, Editor/owner (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009b) to determine the viability of the information.  Dr. Douglas Hartman reviewed that new literacies encompass Questioning, Searching, Evaluating, Synthesizing and Communicating (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009a).  I am impressed by the direction that teachers can provide students as they work within these new literacies while still encouraging independence.  Via the use of modeling, strategic approaches and guided practice, students are able to develop their skills to become better consumers of online information.

As I move forward, the content from this class will change how I ask students to collect information.  Previously, any internet searching that my students completed was much more hit or miss.  I would encourage them to go to their favorite search engine, type their topic into the search box and then just explore the results.  After our coursework, I have come to realize this process could be streamlined and focused.  Additionally, I believe that the techniques for determining the reliability of a website are so important to incorporate into classroom instruction.  Too often, we provide our students with pre-cleansed information where they do not need to cast a critical eye at the information they see.  The vastness and independent publishing aspect of the internet require that students be critical consumers rather than collectors of information.  I believe that these skills will certainly serve my students well in my classroom and well beyond.

For my own personal development, I would like to continue to explore the communication aspect of inquiry learning.  This would manifest in two ways, opportunities for my students to share their knowledge and manners of instructing my students in a dynamic style.  Though I have learned about myriad presentation options including VoiceThreads, slideshows, wikis, blogs, etc., I want to learn the best ways to bring these technologies into my classroom and how to instruct my students in the use of these programs.  As I tend to be “self-taught” in most technology mediums, I often miss features that I do not use and my knowledge is limited by my vision/creativity.  I would like to learn programs more thoroughly so that I can open up all functions and options to my students.  Additionally, I hope to broaden my knowledge of technology so that I can instruct my students with technology incorporation.  I am lucky to have just received an active whiteboard in my classroom and I want to use it to full advantage.  Online tutorials and extensive explorations of technology will build upon my base knowledge.  Participation in technology workshops at my school will allow me to understand the programs that are available to all students.  I continue to request enrollment in training within district and I actively seek out technology courses and continuing education outside of school.  Additionally, I am active in online communities and blogs that discuss technology, often with an educational focus like dy/dan, lifehacker, Blue Skunk Blog, 2 cents blog and Let’s Play Math.  I believe that my best resource for furthering my education on this topic is my enthusiasm and excitement for technology!

References:

Eagleton, M. B., & Dobler, E. (2007). Reading the Web: Strategies for Internet inquiry. New York: The Guilford Press

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009a). Program 2. New Literacies. [Educational video]. Baltimore: Author.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009b). Program 6. A Teacher's Perspective: Evaluating Information Online. [Educational video]. Baltimore: Author.

November, A., (2008) Web Literacy for Educators. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.