Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Technology Integration in Lesson Planning

Last week, a website that showed four different examples of excellent teachers integrating technology into their classrooms. To recap, the following link will take you to these examples.

Classrooms at Work

This week, I took some time to re-look at these lesson plans, and analyze my own experiences of integrating technology into my classroom.One of the main reasons why I decided to go back to school and get my Master's in Integrating Technology is due to my desire to learn more! I've realized that this world has some new technology source come out on a regular basis. Software seems to be created on a daily basis and hardware on a monthly basis. The funniest thing I ever heard was from the Best Buy salesman. He informed me that my computer was now officially outdated the minute I bought it! Technology is the future, so I need and want to learn more to survive!

My hopes are to take examples such as the teachers in the link above and provide my students with a memorable learning experience. Of course, every teacher wants the "lightbulbs" to click on with students, but I also want to go beyond by giving them a great learning tool. The example I liked the most from the Classrooms at Work link was the 8th grade Wild Ride. This project idea really integrated three completely different subject areas and kept the student completely actively engaged in a project-based learning experience. After reading about this project, I started to think of ways that I could integrate with my own teammates.

Project Wild is successful for a multitude of reasons:
1. The teachers involved really took the time to collaborate. Each teacher still was able to teach the students the required standards that their subjects required, but still able to find common ground with this project.
2. It was organized with a daily calendar.
3. It took a highly interesting topic such as Roller Coasters. Kids love them! So, it made it even easier since the students were so interested.
4. They created a system with the "Roller Coaster RedBook" that kept the students organized and allowed them to reflect on daily tasks.
5. Cooperating Learning - Each student was given a job.
6. Project Wild integrated technology in a purposefully way - it wasn't just there to allow the teachers time to work and not teach.
The reasons are endless, but the key is the time the teachers put in to collaborate and work together. Because of their hard work, the students truly had a great learning experience.

My goal that I have to with using technology is fairly similar to the example above. I would like to integrate technology with purpose. Over the last few years of my teaching career, I've become much more technology educated, but I'm just starting to really integrate it into lesson plans with much more purpose and meaning. Project Wild is a perfect example of a way to integrate technology as well as other subjects. I would love to do the same with my own colleagues.

Being that I'm a science teacher, I definitely understand the purpose to the "science" side of Project.Wild. Although, I don't teach Newton's Laws, this project has given me some ideas for the human body. In fact, my team and I are trying a little "integration day" for Valentine's Day to be "Heart Day." For one day, each teacher on the team will have lessons that coincide with the Circulatory System. Since this is just a one day integration, only one of the teachers plans to do integrate any technology with some research on the history behind Valentine's Day. However, each of the other teachers plan to do some great hands on activities. As a way to tie each of classes together, the students will complete a reflection sheet in the form of a heart with the four chambers as their four classes. See below for the example:

 Pathway through Heart Reflection Sheet

Just like Project Wild's 8th grade teachers, I have the luxury to work with a team of teachers. Although we do not block, it is still possible for us to create some integration among our topics. It just has to be in smaller doses. As I investigated this website, I definitely explored the 8th grade lesson the most, but I really enjoyed reading about the 9th grade lesson as well. Since I don't always get the opportunity to collaborate with other teachers, I would like to explore ways for my students to share their work with classmates from other classes.  I've used technology is a multiple of ways for science projects, but I've never explored ways for the students to share their work with people that are not in their actual science classes. The Global Challenge lesson plan provided a great example.

The the past few months, I've really learned a variety of ways to make technology much more purposeful. The best aspect is how much my students really enjoy learning with technology. The students are always actively engaged and really thrive on hands on experiences with technology. Due to this new found appreciation for technology, I'm definitely looking at ways to improve my teaching. In fact, next year, I plan to have a blog for my students to use for their homework assignments, and I'm working on creating forms on Google Docs as an option for students that prefer to use computers over worksheets. :)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Whole School Technology/Classroom Viewpoints...

Scenario #1: Hypothetically speaking, I was awarded a $45,000 grant to use for technology, how would I spend it?
This is an easy question for me. I would spend it on iPads! $45,000 is definitely not enough money for my the students at my middle school be given in a one to one option, but it is definitely enough money to purchase a few mobile labs that move from classroom to classroom. I did a little research, and this is how I would spend the money:

$20,160 = 32 iPad 2's + iPad covers + apple TV connector + connection cords + mobile cart
$20,160 = mobile lab #2 will same accessories as above
$1900 = "Mommy Computer" preferably an apple computer- this will be used for the iTunes account and creation of apps.
Total= $42,220 leaving the remaining money to be used for app purchases and any maintenance that may occur.

Now, being that I'm a science teacher, I would really like one of the labs to go to just the science department and the other to be used among the other departments. In a perfect world, it would be wonderful to have 1 mobile lab per department, but since this scenario only gives me $45,000. I would need another $45,000 to make it happen! I know it is selfish of me to to have one of the mobile labs for just the science department, but there is a little method to my thinking. I'm actually in the process of conducting an opinion poll with my technology specialist of the school I currently teach on this exact topic. I've also asked many of the teachers about iPads and how often they would use them in their own classrooms. All the science teachers, except for one said they would forego a mobile lab of laptops for a iPad lab instead. The other departments, math, social studies, and language arts, had only a few people that said they preferred iPads over laptops. Since the interest and demand seems to be more so with science department, hence the method behind my thinking.

Scenario #2: a $3,000 budget has been given to the technology teacher, how can/will they spend it.
I took the time to ask my technology specialist. She believed the money is definitely not enough money to buy anything new. So, the money would be better spent to update/upkeep last year's technology. It may beneficial to use for other maintenance costs such as batteries.

At our middle school, my technology specialist is the one that makes any and all decisions about the technology in the school. My principal really has now say, and she can use her budget however she chooses. The way she makes her decisions is based on how the teachers will use it and how it will benefit the students. I took a look at 4teachers.org's technology tool planning kit. Ironically, we are the process of such a change in the school by replacing two mobile laptops with iPads. We are now using this tool kit as our checklist. So far, so good....

Internet Safety

As a mother and teacher, I constantly think about how to keep my child/students safe. We have drills at school to protect our students from fires, tornadoes, and lock downs, but it is easy to forget that the internet can be just a dangerous! When it comes to the increase of technology and having everything at our fingertips, it is just as easy for dangerous situations to occur with a few clicks of a mouse. I've spent some time researching the topic. In the link below, I've created a top ten list that should be discussed and taught to students.

Top Ten List on Internet Safety

The biggest issue we face with our students is social networking. Many of the students have their own facebook page, twitter, or some other type of online social account. I will admit that I have one to stay in touch with family members and old friends. However, I do not wish to be friends with my students or their parents! I really believe that is crossing the line of professionalism. As an educator, it is my job to be a role model to my students. I'm here to help them learn academics as well as provide them ways to be become successful adults. I'm not an educator to be their friend. I also feel the same way about my students' parents. Parents and teachers should always keep the lines of communication open and stay consistent with students, but being friends with parents is crossing the line. I know there are a few exceptions. Teachers are human too and sometimes they do find relationships with his or her students. However, I try to maintain a professional relationship only. My district seems to have the same opinion considering the fact they have blocked many of the social networks for students and educators.
My district takes internet safety very seriously. We have a program the will flag any student or staff member that use in appropriate searches. I actually learned about this the hard way. MY first year in the district, I had found out about the program, but I thought it was only for students. Staff members do have more leniency, but they are still monitored. Well, being a science teacher, on of the topics I happen to teach is sexual reproduction. So, when I was conducting a search of slang terms that one of my students asked in my Question box, I was flagged. Within a hour of my search, my principal was in my class demanding to know what I had been doing! Luckily, all was explained, and everybody had a good laugh; however, I learned my lesson to conduct my "sex question research" at home.

Even though teachers are given a little more leniency, the district monitors our students very closely. Students and staff members are required to use a login and password to open anything on the computers. Once it is logged on the program will monitor all internet searches for that particular individual. Each month, our technology specialist will receive a report on any student/staff that was conducting inappropriate searches. Being that I work in a middle school, we do have students that like to test the limits. The most common search seems to be with the word "poop." Our specialist will give each report to the principal, and he will make the judgement call. I had a student in my class that kept attempting to look up Selena Gomez in a bikini instead of researching his biome project. The principal did talk to this student and give him some consequences for his actions. He was suspended from using the computers for one week. He also was warned that if it happened again, more serious consequences would happen. This particular student definitely learned his lesson because he couldn't work on his project at school, so he had a lot homework. Usually, the principal doesn't hold the teacher accountable, but he will definitely make us aware of situations like this one. When I made aware, I have a tendency to keep an extra eye on those students.

Despite the fact that the district has blocked access to many websites that are deemed inappropriate, there are some rare occasions that one is not blocked. If that ever happens, the teachers are required to let the principal and technology specialist know right away. They also should communicate with the parents. As long as the teacher lets everyone know, many times the situation is handled without any problems and the website will be blocked by the district. Most of the time, the parents understand that these things happen and use this as a great learning experience on digital responsibility. However, if the teacher doesn't take the right actions, they will be held accountable.
When it comes to internet searches, I like to say that I pretty knowledgeable; however, I know there are always new techniques. Luckily, I have many databases available through my school district, so it makes it a little easier to find reliable material. As a teacher, I try to teach my students about reliable sources as well. I have to admit, my district has made is much easier with databases. If I don't use the data bases, I try to teach my students common websites that are considered reliable. To make it easier for them, I like to tell them to look at the .org or .edu's first!
As a well to instill internet safety an digital citizenship into our students, our district has invested in iSafe. Each quarter, a subject area will take a day to talk about internet safety through age appropriate lesson plans provided from iSafe.org. I usually teach lessons on social networking.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Classroom Management Techniques...

When it comes to my own classroom management, I like to define it as "organized chaos." This means that when you walk into my class, it may look a little crazy to you. However, if you stay long enough, you will get a sense of the organization.  Not to mention, I know what everyone is doing! This week, I took some time to research some other teachers that have development some remarkable classroom management skills.

The following link has some great examples of classroom management.
Classrooms at work

The link shows four different classrooms that are from different grade levels and subject areas. The first link is to Char Soucy's 1st Grade Animal Research Project. During this project the students are able to conduct some research on computers, make flip books, and creating powerpoints. This particular teacher does a remarkable job creating a project that is interesting to her students as well as teaching them the importance to research and presentation. The key is she made it fun! As a way to keep her student organized, she allowed them to work with partners. Each group had a checklist and each partner was responsible for his or her part. Soucy also had the luxury of Parent Helpers. Since this seemed to be the students first real experience with research and technology, her parent helpers made it so this project was a great success. Soucy students were able to use the classroom as well as a computer lab. As a way to save time, the Internet browsers were already set to the San Diego Zoo as the default browser. This definitely saved time for these six year olds!

As a middle school teacher, I do allow a little more independence with it comes to research sites. One of the biggest challenges that I deal with is the fact so many 7th graders think that Wikepedia is a the best site to get information. So, I like to require some more guidelines to research. For example, I provided a list of reliable resources, and the students choose. I also require the students to provide a bibliography. Recently, I've started using livebinders.com. It is a free online database where you can create tabs of websites. This has been a lifesaver on time. By creating a set place for the students to find all their information from multiple resources has really helped save time!

The next link is for 4th grade Geography Project called Travel USA. Just like Soucy's 1st grade class, Mrs. Krauss' strategies is similar in the way of organizing her students in group. However, she does not have the luxury of parent helpers to keep her students organized. So, each group has a "Paper Clip Person." This person is responsible to organizes the daily tasks of the group. Since this project is spanned out for 3 to 4 months, the kids do a little with it each day.  As a way to monitor the students' daily work, each student keeps a Daily Effort Diary. As a way to utilize the limited computers, she rotates her students. Half of the student will work on the computers while the other half is in the classroom portion working on related activities. Then the students will switch.

I use this strategy in my own class. At the middle school that I teach, we have mobile labs of 16 laptops. Since class sizes range from 30 to 35 students, it is impossible for all students to be working on a computer at the same time. So, it helps creating groups. Each group will have a group leader. Group leaders are responsible to make sure all the tasks are completed; however, each group member will be responsible for the same number of tasks and each student is graded independently from each other. When I only have 16 laptops, I usually rotate; half the group members will use a computer while the rest of the group does a different activity, then they switch. Since my classes are only 50 minutes, I usually schedule the mobile labs for multiple days and have the kids switch on different days instead in the same period.

The third link was a middle school project called Wild Ride. This was a great project because of the idea of interdisciplinary content. The math teacher, science teacher, and language arts teacher all had parts that were completed in each other's class. Because of the multiple classes involved and the amount of time, the students also had a checklist called the "Roller Coaster Red Book." I just did something similar with my language arts teacher and social studies teacher.  To celebrate Chinese New Year, we devoted one day to teach Chinese culture within our contents. As a way for the students to go from class to class, they were required to fill out their "passport." It was their ticket in and out of classes. We used the passport as a way for the students to reflect on their experiences in each of the classes.

For final link was a 9th grade class completing a five week project on Global Challenge. This project had three phases. The first two phases had requirements and guidelines, but the third phase was to evaluate other groups. The best thing that the teacher did before assigning this project was to survey the students about their technology skills. This allowed him to know how in depth to make the project as well as what the students already knew with technology.

I've do something similar with my students. I give the students a survey at the beginning of the year to learn about their background knowledge of science topics and technology skills. Of course it is important to pre-assess the students before each unit, but I think it is important to look at other knowledge such as technology. This makes it easy for me to decide group leaders at the beginning of the year.

Classroom management is extremely important. The key is to take ideas and strategies like these and apply them to your classes. One thing that our principal requires of teachers to conduct one peer evaluation each semester. This gives us the opportunity to learn from others. Each teacher will have certain things that they are really good at, but nobody will ever know. So by going into others' classrooms, we can open our eyes to new ideas and strategies.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Synopsis of Change

This week I had a chance to look at a great website, PD360. It contains videos and other resources for administrators, teachers, and others in the educational field. I took the time to view a few videos from Michael Fullan. He is an advocate on school improvement and change with technology integration. There were some powerful things that were expressed. I took some things from Fullan and expanded my research. Currently, the middle school where I currently change is on the brink of change. We are looking to integrating technology with iPads. Some of the administration and teachers are receptive to the idea, yet some are apprehensive. This is partial due to fear and lack of knowledge of iPads. Below is my synopsis of change and my beliefs to the pros of such a technological advancement integrated into the classroom.

Synopsis of Change...the pros to iPads in the classroom

Friday, January 20, 2012

Place Test: Technology Endorsement trial!

This week, I took some time to look at the Colorado Place Test for Instructional Technology Endorsement. For starters, I never realized how many objectives there were to Instructional Technology. As I was reading the objectives, I found myself analyzing which ones I used in my science classroom. Then I took the practice test to see how well I knew the objectives. The link below is the test I took.

Instructional Technology Practice Test

I scored a 11/12 giving me a 92% on the practice test. The one question I missed was #10. The question was in reference to which way to assess 4th graders narrowing their internet search. I chose the best answer to be A; however, the correct answer was C. As a middle school teacher, it made more sense to have my students provide me with websites that were the most useful with information vs. giving them an assignment to look for specific facts. The answer C made more sense for a 4th grader; however, I think it is still a good skill for students to evaluate and analyze websites as well. As a secondary teacher, it is definitely in my nature to think of their abilities and my expecations over elementary.
So the objective I still need to work on is: Understand principles of planning and designing learning environments and experiences supported by technology. At least in recognizing learning environments are obviously different in elementary vs. secondary. Overall, the experience was fun and insightful!

Technology Requriements...what do they mean?

At the beginning of my teaching career, I used to think that technology requirements were minimal and mostly optional. Of course, I knew that it was important to communicate with parents and staff through emails and create assignments/assessments with work processing and test generators. However, I never thought it was vital to implement technological tools into the classroom. Over the course of my career, my attitude of technology requirements has definitely changed. Now, I believe it is vital to implement as much technology as possible. As a guideline, I've come to rely on the NETS standards for students and teachers.

Until I started looking into technology standards, I never knew that the Colorado Department of Education used have an actual standard for technology, known as Standard Seven: Knowledge for Technology. Since I only knew about the NETS standards created by ISTE, I took it upon myself to do some further investigation. In the link below is a comparison of the two:

Standard Seven vs. NETS Standards for Teachers

In my comparison, I talk about both, but that NETS standards are much better geared towards today's 21st Century Learners and Educators. Throughout my investigation, I thought Standard Seven was positive addition to teacher requirements; however it definitely needed to be revised. Of course, it was completely deleted and NETS' standards for teachers was adopted by the Colorado Department of Education.

As an educator of Generation Z, I believe it is important for me to recognize  and use standards given to us by the ISTE over Standard Seven. Since I teach 21 Century Learners, it is natural to use standards that are designed particularly for these type of learners. The beauty about national standards is that every one will be providing students the same knowledge and type of experience throughout the nation. Since I'm technically from Generation Y, I have a tendency to accept some of these new technological advancements a little more than some of my colleagues.

In my classroom, I definitely try to integrate technology on a regular basis. I find it to keep my students much more actively engaged because it is something exciting from them. However, it is important to realize when it is appropriate to use technology in the classroom. It should never be used to replace the teacher or take away from real life experiences. I still incorporate as many hands on lessons as well as real life scenarios/experiences as much as I can into the classroom. The key is to realize when technology is effective and when it is abused. Some type of technological tools that I like to use include youtube videos, webquests, online posters, and iPad apps with my students. However, I'm now realizing how many other tools that can benefit my students like blogs for out of class debates when we run out of time in class, quizlets for assessments instead of paper test. The opportunities are endless. It will just require time and motivation on my part.

Guidelines and examples for the implementation of. (2000, June 20). Retrieved from http://karenternes.com/pdf/st-7[3].pdf

The iste nets and performance indicators. (2008). Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/Libraries/PDFs/NETS_for_Teachers_2008_EN.sflb.ashx

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Technology Integration...an even more in depth definition

In a previous post, I described my personal definition of Technology Integration. According to my EDTC 614 course, the definition is a little more in depth than just tools to enhance the students' learning experiences. It also incorporates technology based practices in daily routines and management of schools. By providing hardware and software to allow collaboration and communication among all educational staff. When you take into account this in depth definition, it really does embraces the idea of collaboration. Technology integration is not done by just one person. When it comes to integrating technological components into my curriculum, I have to rely on numerous people in my building and district to make it work. For example, in order for me to provide my students with a simple webquest assignment, I have to ask my technology specialist to make sure the hardware and software are up to date and in working order for my class. In return, she has to rely on the district specialist to determine the amount of bandwidth I need for all 30 of my students to be working wireless in the same building that other teachers may be doing the same type of activity with their own students. Not to mention, I need to rely on others to share information online that may be beneficial to use.
Because of the amount of collaboration needed to integrate technology into classrooms, the TPACK framework really does examine the best way to define technology integration. Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) combines the interactions of content, pedagogy, and technology knowledge. (Roblyer, pp. 49) The framework of TPACK really proves each is intertwined with each other. As a science teacher, I definitely developed my content knowledge first, then the pedagogy came through my early years of teaching experience, now technology knowledge has become and intricate part. Since technology knowledge has become so important, I took it upon myself to analyze the requirements of a technology educator in Colorado. According to the objectives for the Colorado Place Test. It was interesting to find out that one of the objectives for technology education is: To understand applications of mathematics and natural and physical science in technological systems and processes (http://www.place.nesinc.com/, 18 January 2012). Since science is constantly changing with new discoveries, it is vital for technology to communicate and educate these new science changes. So, as a science teacher, I have to rely heavily on technology to communicate to me, so I may teach my students the accurate, up to date information.
Since I rely on technology to communicate to me, I personally believe it is important for me to share information as well. Hence this blog. This is definitely an outlet for me to take some of my new found knowledge and share it with it others.

In my previous post, I talked about agreeing with Edutopia's definition of technology integration; however, after further consideration, it is much more involved and in depth.


Core strategy: Technology integration. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/tech-integration

Program for Licensing Assessments for Colorado Educators. (2002). Retrieved from http://www.place.nesinc.com./

Roblyer, M.D., & Doering. A.H.(Ed.).(Recent edition). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Boston, MA: Allyn&Bacon.

Technology Integration ...what is it?

According to Edutopia the definition of Technology Integration is as follows:
"Effective technology integration is achieved when its use supports curricular goals. It must support four key components of learning: active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts. " (http://www.edutopia.org/tech-integration, 18 January 2012).
I completely agree with this definition! When it comes to education, it is my duty to learn all the new technological advances and the ways it can really improve my curricula. Since the newest generation, Generation Z, is so technologically advanced, we, as educators, need to learn ways to support this generations learning. Technology Integration is definitely achieved when I use technology to enhance my lesson plans and keep my students actively engaged!

It is important to remember that technology is available to enhance the learning, not to take away from the actual educator. The role of technology is to not be the teacher; however it is there to enhance the curriculum to meet the learning styles our our 21st century learners. An great example is using technology to create twitter accounts to remind your students of upcoming test dates or assignments, but not to be used to teach the students the actual lesson. Technology can be wonderful when used at appropriate times. For instance, creating webquests to provide introductions or reinforcements to vocabulary are useful, but they should never be created to just provide a teacher a day to grade papers and not teach. The role of technology it to keep the students interested and engaged, but not to be the teacher.

Because technology is available, it is expected for teachers to stay up to date. In order for teachers to stay up to date on technology, I personally believe, it is the administration/district's job to provide the proper professional development opportunities. In my middle school, we have a "cadre" of staff members that participate in technology conferences such as ISTE and bring back the information the rest of the staff during professional development days. Then, once teachers are given the tools, I believe it is their responsibility to take the time to learn the tool as well as incorporate it into their curricula. I believe that many teachers are afraid of new technology tools, but they also never take the time to really explore and learn it. With the proper education and motivation, every teacher could integrate technology into the curriculum.

Friday, January 13, 2012

21st Century Educator

This week, I took the time to really evaluate being a 21st Century Educator. I call myself that due to the fact that I teach 21st Century Learners. Since I teach these type of learners, it is my job to stay current in relevant in my teaching, thus educational technology is vital.

So this week, I took my new found research on the importance of incorporating technology as well as Marazano's Nine Essential Strategies. These are some of the things that I came up with. As I continue my education, I know that I will be adding even more to these two links.

Marzano's Instructional Strategies in Relation to Technology

21st Century Skills and Strategies

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

ReIntroduction to me....

Greetings! My name is Erin Gaunce. I'm currently enrolled in my third class at Regis University as a work towards my goal in receiving my Masters in Informational Technology. Currently, I'm a 7th grade science teacher (teaching life science) in Academy 20 School District.

Being that Integrating Technology in Curriculum is my third class, I've had the opportunity to learn a little background about the different uses of technology and informational literacy. I'm looking forward to this class to take my background knowledge and help guide me into ways to incorporate it into my classroom curricula as well as teach other educators to do the same.

Three words that best descrive my relationship with technology is: Engaged, Demanded, and Necessary

I used to think that I was pretty knowledgeable about technology, but I've realized that is not the case. I used to use computers with my students to create webquests and online posters, but I never realized how much more I could do with them!  Over the last couple of months, I've learned how to create a blog, follow blogs/wikispaces for further research, iPad apps to use in the classroom, and how everything can be put into the "cloud!"  Being that I was born in the early 1980's consider myself to be a part of the Generation Y population; however, I teach Generation Z. So, it is important to continue my education in the biggest concept of Generation Z, technology!

I look forward to sharing my new found discoveries through this blog.