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 Elementary Math Methods course, we read three books that each contributed a major component of how I now approach teaching mathematics.
Classroom Discussions in Math by Chapin, O’Connor, and Anderson addresses using “Talk Moves” to help guide discussion in math. While my previous math lessons involved having students explain their thinking, I never held others accountable for listening and reflecting on what other students were saying. Overall, this lead to an unintended culture of disrespect when I should have been setting expectations that facilitated active discussion in which students build on each others’ ideas. This textbook provided useful ideas, such as giving students time to discuss ideas in small groups before transitioning into whole-group discussion, which ensures students have something to say. When students have something to say, they are more likely to engage in the conversation. In applying this to my teaching, I’m seeing students who are typically reserved in conversation willing to offer ideas, even if it is their neighbor’s idea, to the whole group conversation. I will continue to use ideas from this text to guide discussion in mathematics.
Teaching Learners who Struggle in Mathematics by Sherman, Richardson, and Yard gives useful diagnostic tools for students who struggle in learning mathematical concepts. While I have yet to become comfortable enough to use these tools in fully analyzing my own students’ work, I have been looking at their work in a new light, taking into consideration where their strengths are before looking for weaknesses in their understanding. The book places a high emphasis on finding both the strengths and areas of concern for students – something that it is important for all teachers to do whenever addressing the individual needs of a student. In seeing my students’ strengths, I am better able to use those strengths in addressing the areas of concern and planning a course of action. The students have also been very excited to hear me compliment something they are doing well in math, as these students typically do not hear much positive feedback on their math, so they are then more likely to buy in to a conversation about how to improve even more.
Teaching Mathematics to Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners by Johnson was the book I enjoyed most this quarter. As someone who has many Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) family members and friends, this text was close to my heart. This book also provided many “Points to Ponder” that help educators deeply reflect on their interactions with CLD students. At the heart of the book was that we need to better understand our CLD students and their backgrounds before we can understand the steps we can take to help them. I do not currently have a student who you would typically consider CLD, but I will surely one day, and having this book as a reference will be useful in my interactions with them.
Chapin, S. H., O’Connor, S., and Anderson, N. C. (2013). Classroom discussions in Math. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions.
Johnson, A. (2010). Teaching mathematics to culturally and linguistically diverse learners. Boston, MA: Pearson.
Sherman, H. J., Richardson, L. I., and Yard, G. J. (2013). Teaching learners who struggle with mathematics: Responding with systematic intervention and remediation – 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
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 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.
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.
H3 – Honor the classroom/school community as a milieu for learning. It is important that all people involved in the education of students see that the school is an environment of learning. If any parties do not take view the classroom as a sacred place of learning, it will hold back the educational process. If teachers do not view it as such, then they might have some misconceptions about their career. If students do not view it as such, then they will not approach the classroom to learn, thus making a teacher’s job difficult to say the least. Finally, if parents do not respect the classroom as a learning environment, they might see the school as nothing more than a tax-sponsored babysitting program.
During Curriculum Night, my mentor teacher made sure to emphasize the importance of being in school every day possible. The handed out the sheet shown in Image 1 as part of the night’s paperwork. Under the daily schedule, she reminded families of the importance of each day in the classroom.
It is unfortunate that some parents bring their kids back from a long absence, see that there was little homework, and then comment that they’re happy their child “didn’t miss anything important.” It is this mentality that needs to be stopped. In education, we already have so few days with our students. Each day is important. Each hour. Each 15-minute segment. Any mini-lesson might be the one that finally gives the students that “a-ha” moment they needed in order to no longer struggle with certain content. If they are pulled out of school early for a vacation or to get to a concert early, they might miss that key piece that they need. In my own classroom one day, I will be sure to emphasize the importance of each moment spent in the classroom and hopefully make an impact on the families’ views on the classroom as a place of learning.
H4 – Honor family and community involvement in the learning process. Having parents involved in a student’s education can open opportunities for learning outside of the classroom and can be a critical component to a student’s success. The U.S. Department of Education says that “research overwhelmingly demonstrates the positive effect that parent involvement has on their children’s academic achievement” (2003). When families know what is going on at school, they can incorporate appropriate vocabulary and questions into everyday life; no longer creating a void between “school time” and “not school time.” In order to help close this gap, Mrs. L, my mentor teacher, has a class blog that students, parents, guardians, and other interested parties can access. An update to the conventional letters home, the blog can be updated frequently, can include pictures and documents, and is more likely to be seen since it can’t get lost in transport (as school letters so often do). Mrs. L’s blog keeps parents informed about what their student is learning as well as upcoming events that may concern the community such as a book fair or PTA event. Figure 1 is a screenshot from the class blog. It is expected that students remind their parents to check the blog during the first few weeks in order to build the habit of checking the blog daily and rewards are given to students who come to class with the secret codes posted on the page; the code in Figure 1, for example, is “because,” a word we are trying to encourage the students to use more.
I have always heard of the importance of school-parent relationships, but never knew my skill with social media could benefit my students’ learning via parental involvement. In a time when most parents of young students are more connected than ever, having an online source that keeps them connected to what their children do for eight hours per day is not only beneficial, but also convenient. As technology progresses, too, I hope to remain electronically literate in order to continue to be able to communicate with parents on a convenient and understandable level. The feedback from Mrs. L’s blog is very positive, one parent said via e-mail, “I love that you have a class blog.” Mrs. L also credits it for being able to get last-minute chaperones and volunteers, as well as donations of much-needed classroom items.
U.S. Department of Education. (2003). No child left behind: a parent’s guide. Retrieved September 23, 2013 from http://www.ed.gov/parents/academic/involve/nclbguide/parentsguide.pdf