Monday, February 27, 2012
SuperKids was a website that focused on educational reviews. It analyzed a variety of instructional software and how well they were for educational purposes. I took some time to look at many of the links, and was able to obtain a great deal of information. For example, Algebrator was a software program that that helped students with algebra. SuperKids used a rating scale from one to five to rate the educational value, kid appeal, and ease to use. By providing this type of rating scale, I was able to see that Algebrator was rated 4's on educational value and ease of use. This type of organization and "reader friendly" material helped me understand a little about this program even before I read the detailed review.
Overall, I thought this website was organized fairly well. It provided me with a great deal of information as well as some new apps to try on my iPad. The only thing that made me a little hesitant to use this website on a regular basis is the lack of authors. It was difficult to find the authors that wrote the reviews, so it is made the reviews a little unreliable for me. Also, I wasn't able to try out any of the software. Being that I'm a visual-kinesthetic learner, I like to try things out before I buy them.
The second website I evaluated was Education World. As an educator, I found this site to extremely valuable. It was organized very well with all the links at the top! I was immediately drawn to the Teachers link. This link has some great articles that I was able to take the time to read. Along with articles, Education World also provides lesson plans and printable student worksheets. As an educator, always looking to improve lesson plans, I found these links to be valuable. The lesson plans also contained standards and objectives, making this a site I know I can trust on for reliable material.
Along with lesson plans, Education World contained some of its own instructional software as well. Due to the lesson plans being reliable, I found it easy to trust the instructional software. I even took some time to play Penguin Waiter to practice my own math skills!!
Based on my evaluations, I recommend Education World to be the more reliable website. Although SuperKids seemed to have great deal of information, it was not as interactive as Education World. I like the ability to "interact" with the software before I give it to my own students. Based on my Evaluation, both websites seem to be good, but Education World gets my final vote!
Websites Evaluation Forms
Throughout my research (provided in the link below), I've found that there are benefits and limitations to each type of element of instructional software. By analyzing my own teaching style, I was able to come to the conclusion that each is great tool to enhance my teaching style, but never replace me.
Elements of Instructional Software Matrix
Friday, February 24, 2012
Generational Differences in Regards to Technology Use
Technology Integration in Practice
During my field experience, I was able to come to three issues with it comes to technology and teaching: lack of knowledge, lack of motivation , and the shift in teaching roles.
Through my research, I was able to discover that there are many different generations teaching to the same new generation. From Baby Boomers to Generation Y, we are all teaching Generation Z. Due to the gap in years from one generation to the next, it is easy to understand why some educators embrace technology and those that fear it. For example, The Baby Boomer generation was taught completely different than Generation Y. This is partly due to the lack of technological resources that were available in the 1950's and 60's than those that were available in the 80's and 90's. Overhead projectors and televisions were new back then, when Generation Y grew up entirely with computers and internet. So, it is understandable why Baby Boomers may be apprehensive and feel completely overwhelmed with all the new technology available, while educators from Generation Y have a tendency to embrace all the new technological resources.
I found this to be true in my field experience. The educators from the Baby Boomers generation, although great teachers, had a tendency to shy away from using as much technology, while the younger generations seem to want to use it more and more. Most of the hesitation came from lack of knowledge. The solution to this is providing the teachers with some professional development opportunities. In my experience, most teachers respond to learning new things if there is a way to incorporate it into his or her curriculum fairly easy and given the proper amount of time to feel comfortable with the new technological tool. During my interviews, there was one baby boomer teacher that was the exception to most of this generation. He really seemed to embrace technology and now considers himself to be "tech. savvy." When I asked him, how he was able to change is original outlook to embrace technology, he responded: "I forced myself to take the time to learn one thing at a time. When I realized how I could use this to make my job, as a teacher, much easier, it was worth it for me to take the time to learn." If all teachers had some type of incentive, many may be willing to embrace technology.
The second issue I found during my field experience was the lack of motivation. Although many teachers are willing to learn new ways to enhance the students' learning, if the technological resources are not easily accessible to teachers, it makes it hard to motivate them to use it. The accessibility and amount of resources available can cause teachers to be inconvenienced, so they choose to not use the technology. During my interviews, it was not the accessibility of resource, but rather the district's control of these resources. For example, one teacher expressed that it took her almost two weeks to get a website approved for her students to have access to it at school. Due to this frustration, if her students are denied access to certain websites, she won't bother to use it! The solution to this lack of motivation may be to allow a little more flexibility. I've had the opportunity to see two districts. One district only blocks teachers from viruses and pornography; however, they have leniency on everything else. This really allows them the flexibility to expand their own educational technology skills. The second district requires lots of hoops for teachers to overcome. Some teachers are willing to take the time to go through the hoops, but many do not bother, hence the lack of use of technology in his or her classrooms. I understand that many of the hoops may be for protection purposes, but teachers do deserve a little more flexibility.
The third issues I came across was shift in teaching roles. Teachers have always been the original source of information for students. Now, with new technological advances, teachers are now becoming the facilitator instead of the teacher. Some generations are not wanting to become the facilitator because they have been used to be the leader. The solution to this may be to introduce technology as a tool and not a requirement. In my personal experience as a department chair, I've always found it easier to get teachers to accept something new when I don't make it a requirement. By having technology specialist available to help teachers learn "how" they can use technological resources as tools for their curriculum can help alleviate the pressure to make it a requirement. Then having teachers model this new teaching style, may make those that are resistant to be more open to the change of teaching roles.
Overall, I found this field experience to be an eye opener for me. It allowed me to connect with other educators from different generations as well as possibility to see a variety of content and teaching styles. Hopefully my experiences may help others that are struggling with the same generation issues and issues with technology integration.
Bylery, G. (2010). Generations by generations, part i. School Library Monthly, XXVI(7), Retrieved from http://www.schoollibrarymonthly.com/ARTICLES/Byerly2010-v26n7p32.html
Gahala, J. (2001, October). critical issue: Promoting technology use in schools . Retrieved from http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/methods/technlgy/te200.htm
Houser, D. (2011). Dealing with generational issues. Profiles in Diversity Journal, Retrieved from http://www.diversityjournal.com/1384-dealing-with-generational-issues/
Olsen, K. (2012). Issues in information technology education. eHow Parentinghttp://www.ehow.com/about_5436744_issues-information-technology-education.html
Sharbel, A. (2012, February 16). ‘baby boomers’ schooled in technology . Retrieved from http://www.loudountimes.com/index.php/news/article/baby_boomers_schooled_in_technology123/
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Since Quia.com is a subscription program, I'm finding it to be safe for my students. This will definitely show my student's growth much quicker as well as have a place to create fun and engaging activities for my students. When it comes to assessments, I truly believe that the ones that I create are much more valid than "professionally created" assessments. Not to be bias or anything, but I think that my assessments are designed to make my students critically think and have proof of more of a depth of knowledge than some of the standardized tests. Our textbooks come with a test bank that coincides with each chapter. I've taken the time to look at the test bank, and I found that many of the questions are to show Knowledge, but none of the questions really address any other of Bloom's Taxonomy. Of course, showing knowledge of the content is important, but I also believe that my students should be able to evaluate and synthesize the same material.
Even though I believe that my assessments are much more valid, I look to professionally created material to help guide me as well. For example, I'm a big fan of Rubrics. Rubrics really help me provide my students with expectations as well as keep my grading fair. When I introduce a project, I usually provide my students with criteria and a rubric. Through my explanations, I really express how to receive the advanced score in detail and encourage my students to use the rubric as a checklist to the project. I've found that other teachers seem to be an advocate to rubrics because they also provide the students with detailed feedback. When I'm grading assignments with rubrics, I usually circle the score and add any additional comments as to why I gave a particular score. By doing this, my students are able to get detailed feedback as to why they received the grade they did. When creating my rubrics, I do look to Rubistar.com to help me, but I add some of my own components as well.
Professionally created assessments or aides like Rubistar.com do a pretty good job of meeting standards. However, many of the professionally created assessments are meeting national standards, which can be different from state standards. Also, most professionally created assessments do not differentiate to meet each student's individual needs. So, when using these type of assessments, it is important to evaluate them and make any revisions needed. On another note, I, personally, have a hard time with standardized assessments because they are so broad. As a 7th grade science teacher, it is my job to create an interest for science within my students. The best way to do this is by engaging them with topics that are much more in depth.
Some other ways to assess students is to use web quests. As a teacher of 21st Century Learners, I find web quests to be quite useful. I've created many web quests for my students; they seem to provide a great way to create critically thinking components as well as meet 21st Century skill requirements. Personally, I've never had my students create their own web quests; however, I think that would be a great way to challenge them! In the past, I usually provide my students with an assignment with a rubric as part of the web quest. Now, it may be more challenging for my students to write their own web quests and create their own assessment. This would definitely help them develop those 21st Century skills; which are so vital to this new era!
The only type of assessment that I've had my students create was a test. In previous years, when teaching the circulatory system, I've had my students make their own test instead of me. They were required to have a variety of questions that included Bloom's Taxonomy. Along with the test, the students were required to create an answer key. I always found this to be challenging to the students because they have a tough time designing questions that touch on more than just knowledge of the content. Now, thinking of web quests and other formative assessments, I think it is a great idea for students to create other types of assessments. This may be tricky, but providing the students with guidelines and certain requirements may prove that they can create even better assessments than any professionally created ones, or even better than my own.
As an educator, I believe it is important that we provide our students with the skills they will need to be successful in this world. Currently, most teachers are evaluated on their ability to maintain classroom management and create standards based curricula. However, I've realized many schools still do not evaluate teachers on their use of technology and ability to teach students 21st Century Skills. In order for our students to be truly successful, these should be just as important! Throughout my research and field experience this term, I've found many teachers hesitant to use technology. Due to their lack of technology, their students are missing out on some wonderful opportunities.It is understandable to be hesitant to use something that is foreign to your teaching style. However, we are now in what is considered the "digital era," so it is important to embrace technology as part of education. Over the last couple of years, I've learned to embrace it, and technology has made my job as a teacher even more engaging and fun! Maybe, if technology was part of a teacher's performance review, it may make those that are hesitant willing to learn.
Friday, February 17, 2012
As an educator of 21st Century Learners, I personally like to use multiple forms of assessments: authentic, formative, and recently I've added summative. I find authentic assessments to provide a quick check on my students' understanding and doesn't take a lot of time. These type of assessments are usually in warm up questions at the beginning of each class, review games, debates, and some Q & A sessions during lab observations. As for formative assessments, I usually give my students some type of written test or project at the end of each unit. Usually my tests are also given as a pre assessment at the beginning of the unit, so I can track my students' growth. Now, our department is working to create common assessments.
Due to the changes to the science standards and the Colorado State Assessment Program (CSAP) and Senate Bill 191, my principal is wanting each department to start the process of creating common assessments. Since Senate Bill 191 is evaluating the teachers based on student growth, the best way to accomplish this is with common assessments. However, this has created somewhat of a challenge for the science world. When it comes to science, many of the topics can be taught a multitude of ways based on the experience and risk a science teacher has with the topic. So, as a department, we have come to a way to make it work for everyone. Each grade level will create a series of 100 standard based questions and they will be put into a test bank. All 100 questions must be used (50 each semester), but the teacher may decide which questions to use and when. They must also use the same questions as their pre assessment and post assessment as a way to show their students' growth. By creating this type of pool of tests to use as summative assessment will allow the with some flexibility to their teaching style and lesson plan frameworks.
Along with the types of assessments, I have started to use technology to aide with these assessments. I've become a huge fan of some rubric creator websites such as Rubistar and quiz creator websites such as Quizlet and Quizstar. As an fun authentic assessment, I've used PollEveryWhere.com to create warm up questions for my students and they text in their answers. Usually technology has been very effective for me. I find the online quizzes to be easier for my students because they are self paced and the students take them when they feel ready. Not to mention the quizzes are scored and the grade is sent to me, which saves me a great deal of time on grading! Using tools like PollEverywhere keeps my students actively engaged, especially since they get to use their cell phones in class. These type of technological resources provide immediate feedback and allow my students to use things like cell phones in a positive "educated" way.
When it comes to tracking student growth, I use one subscription system provided by the school district. Our district prefers to use Infinite Campus. This system allows me to communicate grades with students and parents as well as see their IEP's ILP's, ALP's, and previous CSAP's scores. Our Language Arts and Math teachers also use a summative assessment known as Scantron. This is an online program that allows them to show students' growth in reading, writing, and math concepts. However, this particular program is extremely expensive, so the science teachers rely on the newly designed science common assessments that were mentioned above and Infinite Campus.
Through this week's investigation, I have had the opportunity to evaluate the type of assessments that I give my students. One thing that I've never used is a "game" system to track my students' growth. However, through my research, I've found a great website, Quia. I've used this website to create review games for the students to use to study for upcoming tests. So, I wonder if I could use those as a way to track my students' growth as well.....
Friday, February 10, 2012
PD 360 Website
The School Culture Collaboration video expressed the same type of concepts: Less Jealousy, Less Competition, Creates the whole package. One principal expressed that when teachers don't collaborate, then you may have "isolated pockets of greatness" but it won't be as the whole school. By collaborating, you will be able to get the whole package and meet each student's individual needs.
I will admit that I have had a hard time collaborating with other teachers within my department. This is due to my experience with teachers that lack the motivation to play an equal role in the collaboration. So, I, usually, am the one that seems to create the lessons and everyone just takes. I'm all for the collaboration if there are equal roles. This year has been exceptionally hard because I have a teacher that is even secretly taking lessons from my website. This would not be a problem, if this particular teacher opened the lines of communication and ASKED!! I'm always willing to share...if I can have the same possibility to borrow ideas/lessons from them as well.
However, I have been able to collaborate by using new technology tools. This year, as I embark on continuing my education in technology integration, I've been able to collaborate via internet. Along with the internet, I've been able to really take the opportunity to collaborate with others in my building that I've never worked with before this year. Technology has really helped me expand my thinking to tools that may help my students be more successful. Since I've been able to create lesson plans from others by searching internet sites, I've been able to enhance them to fit my teaching style. In return, I now know how to share my ideas with others. Hence this blog!! So, my views of collaboration are starting to change. I hope that I will be able to establish more of a collaboration within my department.
Disease Project (Collaboration Lesson)
Frog Dissection (Collaboration Lesson)
Overall, I found this to be a fairly simple thing to do because of the two specialist that I was able to utilize. Since both my librarian and technology specialist are people oriented, they are always willing to work with those that ask. I was able to come to both of them and let them know I had this idea for a lesson, and they were able to help me integrate the technology component. Due to the deadline for this particular lesson, I wish I had more time to pick their brains a little more, but I know I will be able to do this again in the near future. Personally, I believe that both lessons have been re-created are excellent due to the new technology component. The students are excited about the fact they get to make a cartoon instead of a research paper for the disease project. I had a chance to see a teacher use the software GoAnimate, and her students seemed to be having fun and completely engaged! I can't wait to see my students do the same with diseases. As for the frog dissection, it will also be exciting to see how the students react. Being that iPads are so new, they are exciting for the students. They can't wait to get their hands on them!! The app I plan to use is really going to help with dissecting. Due to the app containing pictures to go with the directions, it will make it so much easier for the students to dissect and not have to spend so much time reading the directions.
This entire experience was nothing but positives except for one negative component. All the positives include the chance to utilize someone else's expertise, introduction to a new software, and the ability to incorporate so many components (Marzano's Nine, 21st Century Skills, NET standards, Science standards) into a simple lesson. The only negative impact is the amount of red tape my district requires me to go through for technology. Since they control our software, I know that the librarian had to struggle to purchase the software and had to go through multiple people. We are now dealing with iPads in the same manner. I'm hoping that there are enough people that realize that these technological tools are only helping the students' achievement, and it will get a little easier.
Since these lessons will not be taught until later dates, I have not had the opportunity to analyze the student growth impact as of yet. However, due to my experience in teaching these two lessons, I personally think that they will provide great student growth opportunities. Each assignment is geared more for the 21st Century Learners than they were before the revision. So, being that I teach 21st Century Learners, both lessons should be perfect for them.
Student Data and Technology at a Glance
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
When working with another teacher or some type of specialist, it is important to know the purpose for the collaboration as well as each other's roles. There are many different types of templates that teachers to use as a way to communicate with the other collaborating partners. Regis University happens to have an great guideline as to writing lessons (see link).
Regis' Guide to Lesson Planning
However for collaborating, I thought the Collaborative Lesson Plan Organizer was the best (see link).
Collaborative Lesson Plan Organizer
This particular graphic organizer seemed to have all the components I would consider when designing a lesson. The first thing I always think about when creating a lesson is the standards I would cover. This organizer not only asks for subject standards, but it also asks for the technology standards. To be honest, I never have really thought about the technology standards until this year. By having that component in the lesson plan template will help keep those standards in my mind as much as my subject standards. The best part of the template is the fact it also wants you to decide which 21st Century skills will also be covered using Bloom's Taxonomy. Being that we are all educators of 21st Century Learners, this may help some of the veteran teachers remember to include these type of skills in lessons. The Collaborative Lesson Plan Organizer also lists things such as materials needed , type of technological resources needed, and the activities and assessments the students will complete. The only thing I would like to add to this particular organizer is the an area for the partners to write what each of their roles will be in the lesson. For example, the lesson I'm currently designing with my librarian will require her to teach the students how to use the software while I'm responsible to guiding the students research. Within in the organizer, I don't have a place to write these responsibilities, so I plan to add that for my own personal use.
Along with working with others, another form of collaboration is the ability to integrate technology into lesson plans. This is fairly easy due to the amount of resources that are available for educators. This week, I took some time to "google" lesson plans with technology for middle school science. Within my search, there was 82,400,000 results! Of course not all of these sources will be reliable or exactly what I want; however, the fact there are this many results made me realize how easy it is to find lesson plans! Since I'm a middle school science teacher, I narrowed my search a little by focusing on just grades 6th-8th, particularly life science content. With this search, my results was a little more narrowed; however, it still provided me with over 10 million choices. The key is to take the time to really focus your search to your content standards as well as the technology standards. Even with a narrowed focus, there will still be hundreds of free lesson plans available! Some of my favorites that I found during this investigation are listed below:
Interactive Science Teacher
Lesson Plans (brought to you by Teacher Planet)
Internet4Classrooms (7th Grade Science)
Read Write Think
21st CenturyLibarian Forum (ideas!)
Monday, February 6, 2012
In education, collaboration is the truly one of the best ways to become a successful teacher. It is vital to work with fellow teachers. We not only have to rely on one other for certain tasks, but we also need to use those with more experience. When I became a teacher, I relied on my cooperating teacher to help guide me to find my way. Due to her experience, I was able to develop great classroom management skills as well as designing innovative lesson plans. Now, that I don't have a cooperating teacher with me anymore, I have to rely on other resources. My teammates have become crucial when it comes to integrating subjects and classroom behavior; however, the internet has also become one of most reliable resources to create lesson plans. Being that we are all educators to 21st Century Learners, it is important for us to use strategies such as collaboration to create a successful learning experiences for our students.
When it comes to collaboration, it can happen in a variety of ways. Collaboration can happen within intrapersonal exchanges. Roblyer described these to methods of communicating via technology. Examples of this would be email exchanges among teachers/students and teachers and parents. Students can conduct cooperative learning through problem solving, simulated activities, and data analysis with webquests or other online activities. Over the last few years, Google Docs has become a popular way to submit work online and share with teachers and other students. The internet has changed collaboration to include other ways than just sitting next to each other to do a project or talking with one another. It can now be done virtually.
Not only does the internet change ways for students to collaborate, but it has completely changed for teachers. The main source of communication among teachers is email. For me, it has become second nature to check my school email every free moment I can. Along with email, there are blogs, wikis, and sites dedicated to just teachers. Within in a few clicks of a mouse or keyboard, I'm able to find countless lesson plans or ideas that are pertaining to my subject area. Sometimes, it can feel overwhelming how much is available. The key is to recognize how to use it.
At the middle school level, the teachers rely on technology as well as each other. For example, my teammates and I try to integrate writing across the curriculum. In order for this to happen, we definitely need to collaborate with one another. Usually, the Language Arts teacher will help us create common key concepts, communicate these concepts to us virtually, and the rest of us integrate them into our subject areas. An example of this is how I had the student read an article about declining pollinators and had to create an nonlinguistic representation of the article. The Language Arts had taught this skill to the students the day before, and she let me know via email. Then I was able to assess the students knowledge of the concept in Science.
Along with my teammates, I rely heavily on my Librarian and Technology Specialist. As expressed in the brochure, Librarians do help students achieve standards in a variety of ways, Things such as providing materials for teachers, strategies to incorporate information literacy, and purchasing databases/software, can really enhance a teacher's curriculum. By collaborating with with my school's librarian and technology specialist, I've been able to enhance my lesson plans with technological components and cooperative learning skills. The librarian and I are currently in the process of designing a project using GoAnimate for my students disease project. In previous years, I've usually required my students to write a research paper, but this year, I will enhance the 21st Century Learning by revising the lesson to include technology. With the Librarian's help, I am able to learn how to use the program, have her expertise available to the students during class time, and develop a rubric that makes the project much more effective and purposeful than just a typical, boring research paper. As a way to make sure to communicate each other's role in this project, we are using the Collaboration Planning Organizer. This will record the standards, essential questions, technological resources, and purpose to each activity. By filling out this graphic organizer, it will create a cooperative learning experience for each student as well as for the teachers.
Personally, I believe the expectations to Collaboration are respect and communication. It is important to respect each other's time, ideas, and effort. When you respect each other's time, things have a tendency to be done in a more efficient manner. When you communicate well, it can really make something outstanding. Some of the best ways to communicate may be using a graphic organizer, lesson plan template, or web based strategy. By modeling this type of collaboration, the students are also able to learn the skills to collaborate.
Collaborative lesson plan organizer. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.lrs.org/documents/lmcstudies/collab_plan_organizer.pdf
Dictionary.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/collaborate
Lance, K., Rodney, M., & Hamilton-Pennwell, C. (n.d.). How school librarians. Retrieved from http://www.lrs.org/documents/lmcstudies/CO/CO2brochure.pdf
Roblyer, M.D., & Doering. A.H.(Ed.).(Recent edition). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Boston, MA: Allyn&Bacon.
Lesson 1: Circulatory System
Lesson 2: Conservation
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Susan Patrick: Why Online Learning is a Smart Solution
The first point Susan Patrick discusses is the shortage of teachers available in critical subjects such as Physics. In fact, the State of Georgia has four hundred high schools and only eighty-nine Physics teachers. This makes it impossible for every high school to offer the subject. By providing online learning programs, students are able to access learning opportunities that may not be available to them in their high school. It also allows them a self-paced environment. Working one on one with a teacher online, allows students to work at his or her individual pace and still learn the same material as other students. Not only do the students get the chance to take a subject that may not be available at the school, the educators love the flexibility online learning provides.
Teachers are now able to teach classes that work with his or her free time as well as provides more one on one opportunities with students. Since the teachers are able to use their time differently, it provides the allotment to teach classes outside for the school times. Also, it allows retired teachers the possibility to continue teaching in the comfort of their own time and the amount of classes they prefer to teach. According to Roblyer's Summary of Elements, students need opportunities to study in unique ways, online learning provides this opportunity for students as well as teachers.
Due to this concept of online learning, it is important to provide the teachers with professional development. The best part about online learning is that it allows teachers increase productivity. They will be able to learn on their own time the new resources needed to integrate technology without taking time away from teaching the students. By providing these resources, teachers will be able to save time on lessons, save money on consumable materials, and provide feedback to students much faster.
I completely agree with Susan Patrick; online learning is great concept. Of course, I love my students, and I really enjoy connecting with them on a day to day basis. However, having the possibility to teach online classes may allow me to connect with more individuals across the state, country, and world! It allows me to work with some of my students that may need more one on one direction. I still enjoy the atmosphere of traditional school, however, online schooling is definitely something to think about...
Roblyer, M.D., & Doering. A.H.(Ed.).(Recent edition). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Boston, MA: Allyn&Bacon.