Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What is my Digital Footprint?

By definition, a digital footprint is a person's interactions with the digital world. I used to think that I was pretty connected with the digital world; however, over the last eight weeks, my digital footprint has definitely expanded! I used to use computers to check my email, write on my facebook wall, and create worksheets for my students. I was proud at how quickly I could text on my cell phone and watch my favorite TV shows with a DVR. Now, I've been open to a whole new world that includes blogging, designing online visual aids, sharing information through my delicious stacks and google docs, utilizing & mirroring iPad apps during lectures and much more!!
The truth is, the digital era is definitely in full swing! It is my job as an educator to become fully connected to this era because my students are as well. As a way to keep my student engaged, I need to be able to utilize the most current and relevant tools that are available. I look forward to seeing how much more I'm going to learn through this masters program!! Keep watching...I guarantee there is going to much much more to my digital footprint in a short amount of time :)

How has TPACK, UDL, Marzano's Nine, and Digital Equity effected my teaching style?

Throughout my EDTC600 course, I was able to learn about some concepts I have never heard about. I was able to investigate concepts such as TPACK, UDL, Marzano's Nine, and Digital Equity.  TPACK includes the idea of Technology Knowledge, Pedagogical Knowledge, and Content Knowledge are all intertwined to create the perfect educator! It is important for the teacher to not only know the content, but also he or she must be able to teach the content and utilize technology to stay current and relevant with the content. UDL, also known as Universal Design for Learning, uses principles and guidelines to meet each student's individual needs. The beauty of UDL is that it provides resources that may be helpful to meet the needs of students with special needs or learning disabilities. Marzano's Nine Essential Strategies focuses on the idea of nine topics that is vital for teachers to use in their pedagogy design. Finally, Digital Equity introduces ways to narrow the digital divide.

As I have investigated each of these concepts, I have definitely changed my teaching style for the better! I always took pride in creating lesson plans that were engaging and met the required state standards. Now, I have the knowledge to take the same lesson plans and make them even better!! I now have tools such as webspiration and colorcontrast to provide different ways to show vocabulary to my students. Things such as this blog and delicious.com, I'm able to take my new found research anywhere or have the opportunity to share with other educators. Also, I'm able to defend to my administration why I do certain things in my lesson plans. For example, I can tell my principal the purpose to iPad apps is to engage the students (a UDL principal) or Venn Diagrams is a great way to incorporate Marzano's strategy of identifying similarities and differences.

Due to my new found knowledge, the next step is to share this information with others. As I've seen in many of my observations, so many educators are feeling disgruntled in their careers. This is due to lack of knowledge of new and exciting ways to teach topics. So, it is important to provide this information to others!! Ways I plan to do this is to create professional development opportunities as well as through this blog!! 

Looking Back...Technology Professions

As I look back at my Ideal Job Description (from earlier posts), I've realized that there is much more to consider if I was ever to include Instructional Technology. As I stated in a previous post, my definition of instructional technology has expanded. So, it is only natural that my ideal job description would expand as well to include more of the components that I have learned about in the last few weeks.

Originally, this is what I listed as my ideal. Now in red, I have added a few changes:

Job Title: Science Educator, Department Technology Coordinator

Primary Objective:  To provide technology resources to the science department as a way to improve the students' learning. To enhance the current and relevant scientific topics required to be taught by the Colorado State Standards. To create professional development opportunities for educators to include pedagogy strands using NETS standards, Universal Design for Learning, Marzano's Nine Essential Strategies, and Learning Theories.

Lists of Duties or Tasks Performed:
  • Technical support for science educators for computers, peripherals, and network.
  • Support and maintenance of hardware and software for all equipment used by educators.
  • Support and training of technology resources for educators to enhance student learning such as iPads, iPod touches, UDL technological resources
  • Attend District meetings/trainings to stay up to date on all district requirements.
  • Member of ISTE or other Professional Organization; attend ISTE conferences to stay up to date on NETS standards and available resources.
  • Conduct staff training sessions on updated technology.
  • Attend trainings to remain up to date on all techniques.
  • Assist in teacher evaluation of hardware and software used in lessons.
  • Stay up to date on all changes to Colorado State Science Standards.
  • Design, Develop, Utilize, Manage, and Evaluate science curriculum using instructional technology.
  • Evaluate teacher's usage of instructional technology within classroom.
  • Communicate to principal all evaluations.
  • Create Professional Development classes to teach peers about Universal Design for Learning (with resources), Learning Theories, Marzano's Nine Essential Strategies and TPACK.
  • Be knowledgeable about NETS standards for teachers and students; be able to provide resources for other educators to incorporate NETS standards

Description of the Relationships and Roles:
  • Supervisor of school's science teachers
  • Communicate with school's principal, especially on teacher's strengths and weaknesses.
  • Problem solve with a solutions for any weaknesses expressed with a teacher.
  • Be open-minded to suggestions and criticisms from all teachers within the science department; express with principal.
  • Create an open door policy among the science department.
  • Create an open door policy for other educators to learn ways to incorporate NETS standards
Typical qualifications and experience:

  • Bachelors of Science in one or more science fields
  • Secondary Teaching License in Science
  • At least 5-10 years teaching experience
  • Knowledge/Experience of Current Technology techniques and practices
  • Member of a Technology Organization such as AECT or ISTE and attend any professional opportunities throughout these organizations.
  • Masters in Instructional Technology
  • Masters to Bachelors of Science (particularly in more than one science field)
  • At least 5-10 years teaching experience
  • Currently work with Current and Relevant Technology techniques
Other Relevant Information:
This job requires you to be a "people-person." It will entail day to day activities with multiple people and require patience when assisting others. This job will also require constant education to stay current on all technology techniques which may require traveling to conferences to stay up to date. It also will required a great deal of time to research ways to close the gaps caused by digital divide throughout the district.

Because of my Instructional Technology Program, I now know there is much more to technology than just  computers and internet. It also interconnects so many different strategies and learning theories to meet each student's individual needs. As an ideal job description, this needs to incorporate all these new strategies as well!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Looking Back.Did Instructional Technology definition stay the same?

At the beginning of my EDTC600 course, I had decided that the definition of Instructional Technology was:
"Instructional Technology gives teachers the techniques to make learning relevant and current. Because of technology resources, it allows teachers to truly enhance the students' learning experience."

Now that I have finished the coursework, I still agree with my original definition. However, I now think there is much more to instructional technology than I thought. Throughout this course, I was able to learn about the Digital Divide, TPACK, 21st Century Skills and Standards, Learning Theories, Marzano's Essential Strategies, and Universal Design for Learning. All of these topics are intertwined into Instructional Technology. This makes the definition of Instructional Technology much more in depth and complex than I originally thought! Not only does it include technology resources such as UDL strategies like AIM Explorer or ColorContrast. It also takes into account learning behaviors such as Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and Constructivism. I was able to visualize the interconnections of Pedagogy Strands using  Marzano's Nine Essential Strategies to Univeral Design for Learning and Learning Theories. Throughout this course, I learned some great new ways to visualize my research with webspirationpro, and creating my very own blog!! Because of such technological resources such as delicious.com, google docs, and iPad apps, I'm able to have my new found resources at my fingertips everywhere I go. So, looking back at my previous posts I can now say that my definition has expanded. I now believe that the true definition of Instructional Technology is:
"Instructional Technology allows educators to use learning theories, essential strategies, and standards to create a current and relevant learning experience for students. It incorporates multiple strategies and technological resources to enhance the learning for students and allow to meet all student's individual needs."

My journey into exploring instructional technology is just beginning, so my definition my expand even more in the future. As of right now, I look forward to enhancing my own educational experience through my future courses. Because of EDTC600, I plan to create a blog for my students and re-evaluate some of my previous lessons to incorporate more resources that I investigated through this course. So far, this has been a truly wonderful experience for me. I can't wait to see what my future classes will offer!! :)


When it comes to the education world, things change on a regular basis. As a teacher, I'm constantly analyzing and evaluating my lesson plans. I definitely look at everything to see what works well and what doesn't. If it doesn't work, I change it. If it works well, I still change it! It is important to truly evaluate your students wants and needs, so you can make their experience in your class a great educational experience.

The best way to evaluate my lesson plans, I like to have my students reflect on the class each quarter. I don't do this for every project or unit, but I do find it important to do this every quarter.
At the end of each quarter, answer the following questions:

1. What did you learn in science class this quarter (be specific)
2. What did you like most? Why?
3. What did you like least? Why?
4. What percentages of effort/achievement did you give this quarter?
5. Do you have any suggestions how Mrs. Gaunce can help you be more successful next quarter?

By doing this, I'm able to hear from the students what they like and what they didn't. Of course, many of them like to tell me that they hate doing homework. I have listened to them and changed homework assignments to be more focused for project completions. This is what I like to call compromise!! :)

As a way to get my students to take ownership in their reflections, I like to have a class discussion beforehand about the importance to reflections. How it helps the students really evaluate their own performance in class as well as mine as a teacher. It also allows me the opportunity to listen to my students without them feeling intimidated. This is due to the fact I have the student reflect anonymously first quarter, but by fourth quarter they take ownership and write their names on their reflections. I do this as a way to make my students feel comfortable in my class. By the end of 4th quarter the students and I have developed relationships where they feel comfortable telling me the truth about the class!

Now, that I have taken a technology class, I've learned there are multiple ways to create methods of reflection beside a written format. These include things such as blogs and polls using cell phones/iPod touches. Personally, I still enjoy the written format, but I look forward to using these ideas for some quick project reflection ideas instead of just at the end of the quarter.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Revision of a Lesson

This week, I took the opportunity to analyze one of the lessons I teach to my 7th grade students. Because of my master's program, I have encountered a few new resources, so I took some time to incorporate some of these new resources into a revision of one my old lessons.

This link shows my old lesson with some new things added. Everything in red has been added to incorporate some of my new found "technological knowledge." I used to pride myself on using technology with my students, but this week was definitely an eye-opener on the ways of how much more I can use technology!!

Revision of a Lesson: Cells

Before I even analyzed my lesson, I took a look at my old lesson plan book. Then, I used webspirationpro to design a planning tool for a newly designed cell unit. I've come to really enjoy using webspirationpro because I can take it anywhere I have Internet access!! Also, it really caters to my "visual learner" needs. It was very easy to take the research and information I had discovered over the last couple of weeks. I'm definitely becoming a strong advocate for technology because everything was at my fingertips with just a few clicks of a mouse!! When you look at my revision, you will be able to see how many things I was able to add to an already great lesson. There is something to be said about professional development!! Due to my new found "expertise" of technology and 21st Century Skills, I know I will be do a lot of re-evaluating of many of my lessons.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mining the Data - The digital divide among schools

As I've discussed in a previous blog, when it comes to the induction of the digital era, so does the digital divide. I had the opportunity to look at two different schools, one that used the hands on approach with outdoor classrooms while the middle school prided itself to use a great deal of technology. Both schools seemed to thrive meeting the needs of their students; however in completely different ways!

Things that were done well by both school was digital equity. Both schools offered technology resources. The middle school seemed to do this much more than the elementary school. There were definitely more technology gaps in the elementary school than the middle school. This may be due to lack of available resources, but it also may do to lack of confidence of technology usage by the educators as well. Based on my observations the middle school definitely showed signs that students have equal access to technology with a variety of computer labs, mobile laptop labs, and other technology devices to check out for home usage (including iPod touches!). The elementary school only had 15 computers + teacher computers. However, in the short amount of time, I realized the elementary school seemed to have more meaningful technology instruction. This was due in part to the parent volunteers that came into help the teacher. Many of the middle school teachers had larger classes making it difficult to provide the one on one attention that some students needed. In addition, there were a few teachers that didn't seem confident to use technology.

The middle school (school #1) takes pride in bridging the gap in digital divide by creating professional development opportunities for teachers to learn the different types of technological uses that can enhance the students' learning experiences. However, during my observations, I came across a teacher that doesn't seem to know a great deal of technological uses or feel confident to use it as often in the classroom. The second school (elementary school) did a great job of keeping all the teachers educated on newer tools/resources. This may be due to the size of the school. The elementary school only had three teachers and only fourth grade students. (It was a magnet school that uses outdoor classrooms as its main mission). Since the middle school has over forty teachers, there may be some lack of communication, especially with new advances such as technology resources. A way to solve this problem can be offering more professional development opportunities. I know the middle school has creating its own technology team. By having the technology team create free classes for teachers, this may help.
On a side note, the middle school seems to working on digital equity by encouraging teachers to attend ISTE conferences and other classes offered on technology resources. The elementary school has not done this because of lacking of funding. However, there are many opportunities by joining ISTE or researching online. The key is to give these teachers that opportunity with time and guidelines from someone that does know new information.

Throughout my observations, I realized how important it is to stay educated on new strategies and techniques. I know it can be difficult to do, especially when you don't know where to look. I personally feel that the middle school demonstrated a great way to create digital equity by creating a committee that is responsible to learn information and teach others. This can be a great thing for other schools to do the same!

Digital Divide, does it exist?

As part of my research on digital divide, I took the opportunity to visit a couple of schools. At first, I looked at two different elementary schools; however, both seemed to show the same digitial divides. So, I decided to also evaluate a middle school that takes pride on the amount of technology is attainable at the school.

Divide #1: (Digital Divide) Lack of technology usage at homes as well as in the classroom. Many of the students have computers at home, but, according to the students, they don't use them very often.
During my observation, I only saw one class using computers out of three classroom observations. One of the teachers informed me that her class does use computers on a weekly basis, but she makes sure that her homework is not from internet/computers because her students don't seem to use home computers. When I asked the students, twenty of the twenty-three students said they had computers at home and like to play games on them. However, none of the students seem to use computers at home for education purposes. The solution to this seems to be incorporation of computers into the class on a weekly basis. Since the teacher has twenty-three students, she has two parent volunteers come in to help her with the facilitating and helping the students. I had the chance to watch many of the fourth graders create a newletter/flier with microsoft publisher. Many of the students knew how to download pictures from the internet and paste them into their newsletters. It was pretty neat to see!!

Divide #2: (Digital Equity) Lack of knowledge of technology uses
During my observations of the middle school, I took the opportunity to visit a Language Arts teacher. The first day, she used the computer/projector to show a video. The second day, she didn't even use the computer or projector. This particular teacher seemed to have a great deal of knowledge on her content, but didn't realize there are technogical resources to help her enhance the students' learning experience. I asked her if she had ever heard of "quizlet," an online flash card program instead of having the students create actual flash cards. She said: "I have not." When it comes to technology, I know that I try to take as many classes as possible to further my knowledge and ways that I can enhance my teaching. However, some teachers are still not comfortable with technology. The solution to this is to create more professional development opportunities. By creating classes that teach technology and give time for educators to learn the material (so they develop confidence) will be beneficial for the teacher as well as the students!

Divide #3: (Technology Equity) Lack of Technological Resources
At the elementary school, I noticed that there was only one computer lab with fifteen computers were available for the school. The teachers had one computer available in their classrooms, but throughout my observations, the teachers didn't seem to use them that often. I asked the director of the school if they used a great deal of technology, and he said there was a little, but they didn't use it that often because of lack of resources available to them. A solution to this is grant writing! Many technological enterprises are willing to give discounts and possiblities for donations. The key is to ask!

Digital Divide Resources

Jobe, H. (n.d.). Technology, equity, and access. Retrieved from http://www.edtechactionnetwork.org/technology-equity-and-access

Sutton, B. (2008, August 17). [SITEBlog]. Retrieved from http://siteblog.aace.org/2008/08/17/168/

Sutton, B. (2006, August 17). Digital equity: Working together for a solution. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/digital-equity

The digital divide: Issues and possible solutions. (2007, January 27). Retrieved from http://www.masternewmedia.org/news/2007/01/27/the_digital_divide_issues_and.htm

Warschauer, M., Knobel, M., & Stone, L. (2004). Technology and equity in schooling:. Retrieved from The digital divide: Issues and possible solutions. (2007, January 27). Retrieved from http://www.masternewmedia.org/news/2007/01/27/the_digital_divide_issues_and.htm