Monthly Archives: February, 2014

ISTE Standard Four: Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility (EDTC 6433)

In addressing ISTE Standard 4: Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility, we were asked to reflect on the question of How can you demonstrate understanding of local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in your professional practice? Teachers have the responsibility their students to model good practices using technology. We should practice what we preach because students will notice if we set different standards for ourself than we do for them. In the primary grades, though, it is up to us to teach the basics about Internet safety, as their exposure to technology will increase rapidly throughout the coming years.

In reflecting on the trigger question, I decided my focus question for research would be: How do I introduce students to Internet safety and etiquette in an age-appropriate manner, better preparing them for what they will encounter in later grades? 

My search continually brought me to pages for intermediate and middle school curriculum. Resources for basic primary-level introductions to internet safety were lacking, which was scary since many students find themselves online at or before the primary ages. I found a BrainPOP video about Internet safety, but it seemed to be a little advanced for such a young age. BrainPOP, however, also has a primary component called BrainPOP Jr. They also had an Internet Safety video and accompanying activities. While BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. are both subscription video services, these videos are free to use without pay.  The video focuses on many things students may encounter online: stranger danger, not giving out personal information, notifying an adult if anything seems strange, and only using adult-approved websites. According to Ribble and Miller, “Students need to realize that when they feel uncomfortable in a situation, they need to report it to someone in authority” (2013, p. 140) and this curriculum addresses this recommendation at an early age. I think this may be a great introduction to Internet use at the beginning of the year – perhaps requiring they complete the quiz and review it with their parents before they can use the Internet for classwork.

My classmates recommended other resources that included interactive games. While BrainPOP is fun for whole-group instruction, when students have the resources to do activities as individuals, it could become a more meaningful lesson. My group member, Darryl, showed me Disney Australia’s Surf Swell Island, which allows students to adventure with Mickey and friends to collect gems by answering questions about Internet safety and Netiquette. Kids could enjoy answering questions with the familiar faces, but would need to be taught some of the vocabulary and information prior to playing – it could surely be used as an assessment tool, though.

Audrey and Courtney both shared examples of how other teachers are helping their students learn about Internet safety and citizenship. Courtney’s resource, a video from The Teaching Channel in collaboration with Common Sense Media, shows a teacher’s lesson about Internet safety as taught through creating superheroes in comics and pitting them against the evils that can be found on the web. This is very interactive and allows students to place themselves in the superhero world while solving real-world problems that can arise. Audrey’s resource, a blog post from Jacqui Murray, is essentially a lesson plan that she used to teach her 2nd graders about digital citizenship. It includes a list of resources that can be used throughout the year to touch up on the things they learned through this lesson.

These lessons can be taught over a computer or without the use of technology. They can be whole-group instruction or focused on individual progress through an activity or lesson. There are so many different ways others have introduced Internet safety – and it is never too soon to prepare our students for the dangers that await them online. Of course, I think a key piece is to make parents aware of the dangers that can be present, even at a young age. Most of students’ Internet use at this age is going to be at home or on a parent’s smartphone or tablet. Giving parents tips on how to ensure their child’s safety online and having students discuss what they learn with their parents could be the key to keeping kids safe 24/7. This Hand-out is a flier I created to give to parents when teaching the unit on Internet safety.

Resources:

Ribble, M. and 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) p. 137-145.

ISTE Standard Three: Model Digital-Age Work and Learning (EDTC 6433)

In addressing ISTE Standard 3: Model Digital-Age Work and Learning, we were asked to reflect on the question of How can you demonstrate knowledge, skills, and work processes representative of an innovative educator in a global and digital society? I wanted to focus on demonstrating my use of technology in my work. I decided my focus question for research would be: What resources are available to help teachers better collaborate with other educators in their schools? As I am a relatively young teacher and may be more familiar with technology than some of my future peers, I wanted to delve deeper into using technology that I could use to collaborate with other educators, both to benefit my own teaching and in hopes that it would inspire my peers to reconsider the role of technology in their own teaching.

As someone who grew up with technology, I have grown accustomed to using the Internet in everything I do. Thanks to my dad, I had the privilege of living in the house with the first broadband, the first LED bulbs, and the first HDTV on the block. His passion for the new and next great innovations allowed me to familiarize myself with a broad range of technologies before leaving middle school. Leave me without the use of technology, however, and it would be as if you had taken a limb.

Surprisingly, though, according to studies of young educators who also grew up with modern technologies, individuals from the Net generation “do not independently transfer their use of new technologies to teaching and learning environments” (Kumar and Vigil, 2011, p. 146). We must find ways to utilize the technologies on which we have come to depend to further ourselves as teachers and to the benefit of our students.

The resource I found most beneficial was a website called Common Curriculum.  In its most basic form, it is an online planner, allowing the user to create a schedule, create lessons within the schedule, then align those lessons to Common Core State Standards. A feature I find perfect for the goal of collaboration is that you can allow certain people to view and comment on your lesson plans. For new teachers as well as more experienced ones, commentary on lessons can be just what is needed to make a good lesson great or to avoid common pitfalls when teaching a certain concept. Imagine being able to do this without even having to schedule a meeting. Once they have access, collaborators can also drag and drop lessons to their own plans, then edit those plans to better fit their students. Setting up basic lessons off of which other teachers can work can expedite lesson planning – giving teachers back some much-needed time. While it may take some persuading to get many teachers to go digital with their plans, modeling the ways in which such a tool can be used and showing the results might sway them. My classmates, Darryl and Audrey, recommended other learning management systems that had similar collaboration with other educators, as well as ways to collaborate with parents.

The old go-to for group papers, Google Docs, could also be used when collaborating on documents that would be used for all classes in a grade level, such as an explanation of or rubric for a project, or across grade levels, such as a school-wide newsletter with contributions from each class. Each contributor can edit the document simultaneously. This prevents wasted paper when editing by hand and prevents the headaches caused when one person edits a document in a word processor your computer refuses to recognize. Since Google Docs stores documents in the cloud, you can also make edits at home or on your smartphone. The ease of access for all parties makes it a useful collaboration tool.

References:

Kumar, S. and Vigil, K. (2011). The net generation as preservice teachers: Transferring familiarity with new technologies to educational environments. Journal of digital learning in teacher education 27(4) 144-153. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ936543

Student Roles as Habitat Protectors

H5 – Honor student potential for roles in the greater society. Students often wrongfully believe that their live does not interact with society as a whole. Though often fully often absorbed in their own lives, they don’t see how their life affects other people and the world around them. While some teachers try to emphasize to students that they are just one of many, an excellent teacher will help students investigate their role in greater society. Before I left my first internship site, the combined 4th grade classes took a field trip to Carkeek Park in order to see salmon at the end of their migration. The key question asked by our guide was “How do we play a part in salmon migration?” Though stumped at first, after a game and some observations (Image 1), they soon realized that they do play a role in the salmon life cycle.

Image 1

Image 1 – Students observing salmon in Carkeek Park streams.

In the game, students ran through an obstacle course pretending to be “salmon” evading the foes and woes of their life cycle. Young fries had to make it through powerful turbines, away from the fisherman’s hook, out of the mouths of orca whales, and safely back to their streams as spawning adults. Adding the “pollution” obstacle made the game even harder, and many “salmon” had difficulty making it through the man-made hydropower turbines. This activity made students more aware of the physical challenges that faced salmon before humans contributed to the mix, allowing them to become aware of the little things they do that affect salmon habitat.

Groups then switched and we went on a scavenger hunt by the stream (Image 2). We saw salmon at the end of their lives, struggling to make it to the spawning grounds, as well as those who had already spawned. Our guide also pointed out to us the drainage pipes that released water from our street drains (Image 3). Having one of those drains just outside the portable classroom, students instantly were able to recognize that what they put down that drain would go directly to an important piece of salmon habitat.

Image 2

Image 2 – A student looks for important pieces of salmon habitat in the scavenger hunt.

Image 3

Image 3 – Our guide showed students how important it was to know what we were putting into stormwater drains, as these drains lead directly to streams.

While students had often been told how important it was not to litter, they hadn’t often been told why. This field trip helped them realize their role in society – as a generation that recycles and uses chemicals sparingly knowing the hardships they can cause wildlife. Thanks to this half-day in the field, they now know one more way in which their choices can have an impact on society.

EDMA 6432: Reflection 1

In my Elementary Math Methods course, I have already felt an incredible shift in how I think of teaching Math. In my student teaching, Math was the first course I began teaching. Unlike the Reading course I took last quarter, I came into this course having contextual knowledge about how what I learned could be applied to the classroom.

For my first mini-lesson, I chose to try a new approach to a topic I had already taught in my classroom – prime numbers. When I taught it to my students, it went terribly. Exit tickets proved that few students were able to retain all of the information I threw at them. I used a direct instruction approach and, while I tried to use some Talk Moves as described by Chapin, O’Connor, and Anderson (2013), I ended up doing nearly all of the talking. My mentor teacher and I would have to reteach the topic, since in 4th grade it is critical for students to know what prime and composite numbers are and be able to work with these definitions.

In teaching the mini-lesson to my peers, I decided to do an “example/non-example” style lesson. In order to do this, I would have to help the students link information, as looking at and defining groups of numbers can be quite intimidating for many students. Bringing in arrays helped students visualize these numbers and see that there were multiple ways to arrange composite numbers in arrays, but only one for prime numbers. The planning for my mini-lesson ended up taking less time than planning for the original classroom lesson because I knew what pitfalls existed and what resources could benefit my students – so I made sure to adjust for those in the mini-lesson presented to my peers.

I also found this project to be a good place to experiment with something I’d seen before and wanted to try in Math. My mentor teacher, inspired by an online video, used gestures to accompany simple definitions so students could better remember them during Reading. I came up with gestures to accompany definitions for prime number and composite number and my classmates responded very positively to them. It was the encouragement I needed to try this method in my own Math classroom.

I believe what I’ve learned aligns well with HOPE standard E1: Exemplify professionally-informed, growth-centered practice. As I learn more about what I teach, I am able to better apply what I learn in my courses to what I do in the classroom. In trying new practices and methods, I am allowing myself to grow professionally and better serve my students.

Reference:

Chapin, S. H., O’Connor, S., and Anderson, N. C. (2013). Classroom discussions in Math. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions.

ISTE Standard Two: Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments (EDTC 6433)

In addressing ISTE Standard 2: Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments, we were asked to reflect on the question of How can you design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessments that incorporate contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning and develop knowledge, skills, and attitudes identified in the student ISTE and State standards? This question was very broad, and fairly wordy, so I dissected it into parts. I could focus on one of many pieces, but decided to key in on authentic learning experiences  and maximize content learning For students to be truly engaged and excited about their limited time on the Internet, I thought it would be useful to have students guide their own exploration. Unfortunately, that comes with the issues of focus and safety for students in their Internet use.

Given the problems with allowing students to guide their own learning, I decided my focus question for research would be: How do I allow my students more freedom on the Internet to research topics of their choice while ensuring they stay on-task and safe on the web?

In researching this question, I was hoping to find one specific answer. However, in education, nothing is ever that simple. It seems as if the best method in helping students stay on task is actually a multitude of methods, some having more to do with good practices in the classroom than practices that are only applied to technology time.

The first idea was to purchase a system that allows teacher to see what their students were doing, as well as lock out keyboards, screens, and mouses for students to better focus during instruction. While there was little public information on the price of these products, but I found an article about a program called LanSchool that was installed in the Lake Washington School District (McCrea, 2009). While the article was focused on secondary students, it showed that these resources can be useful to any teacher who would like to monitor their students’ activities on the web as well as have a way to ensure students will not be on their computers during instruction time. I was later told by a classmate, Darryl, that programs like LanSchool cost about $7 per student. While that would be a wonderful tool for teachers, budgets don’t often accommodate for tools like these.

The next idea was that best practices are best practices. Period. Whether on computers or using chalk and erasers, having a solid lesson plan and engaging material is going to provide the best assurance for a focused classroom. This blog post from an English Language teacher, recommended by my classmate Audrey, provides some basic tips on helping keep students focused. They include having a well-thought-out plan for the task, time limits on benchmarks, and reminding students that computers at school serve a different purpose than computers at home (Salsbury, 2011).

If we expect students to behave in a certain way when using technology, we should not assume students know this. We must be explicit in teaching students what to do and how to do it, especially when their understanding of how to use the Internet is almost completely based in their at-home use. According to Orlando, “Assuming that your students will pick up a new technology on their own is a recipe for disaster. You must also be explicit about how you want them to use these systems to avoid them going off in the wrong direction” (2011, p. 9). Showing students what to do before they are set off to do it on their own, or using a screencast to later show students who are absent, can help students better understand expectations on the Internet.

In the end, though, keeping students on task and safe on the Internet is truly about knowing and being able to trust your students. Using monitoring programs, creating an engaging task, and showing them what to do can only go so far if your students cannot earn or keep your trust. Ensure that they know that technology use is a privilege, not a right, in today’s classrooms.

Resources:

McCrea, B. (2009). Keeping on task in a digital environment. Retrieved from http://thejournal.com/articles/2009/12/03/keeping-on-task-in-a-digital-environment.aspx

Orlando, J. (2011). Save Time and Teach Better with Screencasting. Teaching with technology: Tools and strategies to improve student learning. Retrieved from https://bbweb-prod.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-921629-dt-content-rid-1638776_1/courses/EDTC6433_Y1201342/Teaching%20with%20Technology%20Tools%20and%20Orlando.pdf

Salsbury,M. (2011, November 5). Zeitguest: Keeping students on task online. Retrieved from http://www.teachthemenglish.com/2011/11/zeitguest-keeping-students-on-task-online-by-marina-salsbury/