In an elementary classroom, it is difficult to begin integration of technology. Developing the trust required to put a hundred-dollar piece of electronic equipment in students’ hands takes time. Using HOPE principal P4, practice the integration of appropriate technology with instruction, requires a leap of faith with your students, but allows that leap to be appropriate for their ability and responsibility levels. We have begun using iPad games as review before math tests. After students have learned the material, they get a day to play on the iPads – using a game that will help them better understand the concept or deepen their learning. Last week, we used iPads to work with money.
Technology allows students to get excited about material. My students’ eyes light up when they see the stack of iPads on the windowsill. The room develops a dead silence as students become captivated by the screen. The Counting Money App forced students to think about money in a way that was different than what was in their book. What they had been working with so far was being given a set of coins, then having to find the value of those coins. The app gave students a money amount and challenged them to find which coins would make that number. Further challenging students to use the fewest coins possible, they had to think critically about what they had already learned. The app was also useful in that it fully engaged students, allowing me time to work with specific students who had been struggling with the concept. The results are encouraging. Scores on student post-assessments were 3s across the board, save two students. I cannot fully attribute their success on the app, but it did provide a fun review that gave them more practice with coins and their value. Moving forward, I can see myself using similar technologies in my first year of teaching. Students see them as a reward for hard work during a unit, while I am secretly sneaking in more practice before their assessment.
In addressing ISTE Standard 5: Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership, we were asked to reflect on the question of How can you demonstrate that you are continually improving your professional practice, modeling lifelong learning, and exhibiting leadership in your school and professional community through the effective use of digital tools and resources? Learning about all of these resources is fruitless unless you continue to develop your utilization of digital resources. To continue on the path of learning, I wanted to choose a trigger question that would present me with resources I can use in my current setting. Although I may be at another school next year, I still want to familiarize myself with the technologies available to me in case my first classroom also has any of those technologies or ones similar.
My focus question for this standard was What resources and communities are available to further help me with incorporating my school’s available technology? When searching for technology ideas, I found it disheartening to see a well-implemented lesson only to realize I didn’t have access to that technology at my student teaching site. I wanted resources specific to technologies I can access, specifically the iPad and SMART board.
Prior to this year, I had never touched a SMART board before. Even during the first half of the year, I was in one of four classrooms in a 14-room school that didn’t have a SMART board. My current mentor teacher uses it constantly and encourages me to use it in my lessons. I wanted a good jumping-off point where I could see how others use SMART board technology and perhaps even use some of those ideas to help familiarize myself with how to create my own projects. I found the SMART exchange, which allows users to share and borrow SMART board lessons from other teachers. Since this site is hosted by SMART Technologies, the creator of SMART boards, the downloads should be trustworthy. Courtney, my classmate, also shared two other SMART board sharing sites, one from Have Fun Teaching and the other from Teq. Both have a wealth of inspiration for my future use of SMART boards. My classmate Darryl directed me to a Facebook page I could follow, Smartboard Lessons for Teachers, but while he does have some ideas for SMART boards, the page seems to be more about pedagogical articles and clever pictures. It could be worth the follow for the sake of entertainment.
Darryl also shared a resource for the iPad, a digital booklet from RM Education filled with lesson ideas for the iPad. While the ideas in there are for older students, taking those ideas and modifying them for a younger audience could be much simpler than creating an idea on your own. Using them as inspiration can be a good first step toward using iPads in the classroom.
My other classmate, Audrey, shared a resource that really ties together this whole course that we are taking. It is a blog/wiki called Educational Origami. This site is created by a teacher named Andrew Churches who is passionate about changing the way teachers think about technology integration in the classroom. What is particularly interesting is how he relates Bloom’s Taxonomy with Rubrics that relate to a digital task.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, “Professional learning should support and develop educators’ identities as fluent users of advanced technology, creative and collaborative problem solvers, and adaptive, socially aware experts throughout their careers” (2010, p. 45). By using these resources, I feel as if I can guide my own professional development in making myself more fluent, creative, and adaptive in my use of technology in the classroom.
U. S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology. (2010). Transforming American education: Learning powered by technology. Washington, D.C.
In my Teaching with Technology course, we were asked to create either a Digital Storytelling or WebQuest project. While WebQuest seemed like a lot of fun to create, I think I might have gone overboard with the extent of the project. Additionally, I felt that being experienced in movie-making would be a more useful skill at the primary level, as students typically do not have the level of self-regulation required for an extensive online project like a WebQuest.
My original plan for Digital Storytelling was to give a brief history of the Olympic Games. Watching the opening ceremonies, I was inspired. Unfortunately, I wanted to have authentic, primary source images, which were hard to come by. The only images I could find for the Ancient Games were of naked men – and I’m not sure how my 2nd graders would handle that. Any modern images, too, were strict with permissions and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to risk using someone’s Creative Commons picture of the copyrighted Olympic Rings logo – it seems like a scary “limbo” area. After assembling all my pictures and music, I scrapped that project in favor of a new one.
The second project I decided to do about a historical figure I admire. It didn’t take me long to realize who I wanted it to be about – and the bonus was that he died long enough ago that all images and cartoons of him would be in the public domain in the United States. I wanted the final project to be a brief biography of his awesomeness. I took this opportunity to better acquaint myself with Movie Maker and Audacity, not necessarily to create something for my 2nd graders, so the audience is more mature. Many will remember his accomplishments from any US History class, but this is designed to be either a refresher or very general introduction to Theodore Roosevelt.
I still encountered some issues, though, with audio. I was told to keep recording, even if I stumbled up, because the Audacity program could record over those. After much frustration, the best I could do was delete the stumbled portion altogether, and the remaining recording would combine. Since I had recorded the whole thing, without stopping to re-record, timing never quite lined up. In the finished product, you will hear my voice catch quite a few times – that was a result of this issue. I did re-record a few times, so these catches are minimal compared to the first few drafts. Next time I work with this audio editing program, I will be a perfectionist in the moment of recording instead of in editing, since my recording skills are far more advanced than my editing skills at this point.
This type of project can help engage students, since they are typically more interested in watching a video than a live person. This addresses ISTE Standard 1: Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity in that it can both me used as a presentation style of new material as well as a way for students to showcase what they’ve learned. I think my next digital storytelling project could go over very well in Religion class. Sometimes reading a story in the textbook is much less effective than having someone read the story with related images that would engage more senses. Adding some media variety to this class might make it more exciting. Having students work with this type of program, though, might prove difficult since recording audio on our iPads could get fairly noisy. It could be beneficial for a longer-term project, though, when we could dedicate more time to production quality.
While researching ISTE Standard 4 in class, we were asked to create a Glogster that addresses digital citizenship. My finished product addresses questions students should ask themselves before posting on any website – whether for personal or school use. While it is not necessarily appropriate for my second graders, many students don’t understand the consequences of what they are posting until it is too late. I wanted to address a few traps that I had been caught in when I was younger: not remembering that there is a human with emotions on the other side of the line, giving out personal information, misinterpreting others, and being a little…erm…free with my word choice. This was when I was about 12 – before my parents even realized I was using chat rooms, so they had no time to address the problem until I had already put myself at risk. For me, this poster is personal.
Glogster is a blogging format that, instead of being text-based, is created using images and graphics. While the end products I have seen are fantastic, I had some difficulty using the format. As I went, it became a little simpler, but as a child of the Northwest, I kept wishing it was more like Microsoft Publisher. As a linear thinker, it is hard for me to be creative without it turning out a jumbled mess – honestly, I cut a lot of the words I originally had and still feel like the final product is very text-heavy. While Glogster is great, especially for creative people, it’s not for me. Since I am only on a free trial, I’ll just stick with Publisher.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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/
In addressing ISTE Standard 1: Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity, we were asked to reflect on the question of How can you use technology to facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity, and innovation? The technology available to teachers today is above and beyond what was imagined when some of today’s teachers were just beginning. Integrating new technologies can greatly benefit students, but it is up to the new wave of teachers to come in with the knowledge and skillset to be able to utilize these technologies for the benefit of their students.
In reflecting on the trigger question, I decided my focus question for research would be: How can I use technology to help students see real-world applications of what they learn in class, making it more engaging and meaningful?
In my initial searches, I found many amazing ways high school teachers have incorporated games into classroom learning. Many strategy games require the use of mathematical strategy or historical knowledge, such as Angry Birds or Sid Meyer’s Civilization (a personal favorite). Elementary education, however, seemed to be behind on utilizing technology for real-world applications of knowledge. I did find, however, a refreshing TED Talk by Dan Roberts, a teacher from the Seychelles who uses technology as a tool for student engagement and to further their education. His students have created meaningful projects that, when published online, have gathered quite a following. Those students now know that what they learned and discovered is of interest to someone, somewhere, and is accessible to them through the World Wide Web.
This, then, reminded me of the Arizona Technology Integration Matrix (Northern Arizona University, 2011). The matrix charts Levels of Technology Integration vs. Characteristics of the Learning Environment. While many teachers are becoming fluent in the basic use of technology in delivering content to children (the entry level of Technology Integration), a goal should be to use technology to transform school into a “rich learning environment where blending choice of technology tools with student-initiated investigations, discussions, compositions, or projects…is promoted” (p. 2, NAU, 2011). It would seem difficult to create a classroom where transformative use of technology is the norm, but it would appear as if Dan Roberts has done so. It seems so far and above what many American classrooms have accomplished, but it is still possible. How? That is yet another question.
Thankfully, my learning group member Courtney helped me in finding Step One. TES Connect is a website with a plethora of teacher resources, including a wonderful contribution from none other than Dan Roberts himself. His Web Wonder series introduces teachers to online technologies available for use in the classroom. These range from Exit-Ticket-style corkboard sites to chart and diagram creators. After exploring all of the options, I believe I have found many entry strategies into further integrating technology into my classroom and beginning on the track to the TIM’s Transformative level (NAU, 2011). I will also be following @tesEdTech on twitter in order to update myself on further inspiration.
Roberts, D. [TEDxTalks]. (2011, November 18). TEDxLondon – Dan Roberts. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqnAmSSKXCk
Roberts, D. (2013, May 2). Web Wonder Week #21 – Sliderocket. Retrieved from http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storyCode=6332286
Northern Arizona University (2010-2011). Arizona Technology Integration Matrix.