Sunday, March 25, 2012

Reflection on AUP's

As you learned in my earlier blog this week, I took the time to evaluate Acceptable Use Policies (AUP). To be honest, I never realized how much is needed to make an effective policy. This week, I learned that there needs to be six elements (a preamble, definition, policy statement, acceptable uses, unacceptable uses and violations); however, there is much more that needs to be included.

It is important to make the AUP reader friendly, organized, simple, and the inclusion of liability. In addition, schools districts really need to have another section that discusses parent responsibility. As an educator, I'm a firm believer that students will not be as successful as they could be without the partnership of parents/guardians and teachers. When it comes to technology, this partnership still definitely needs to exist in order to create digital citizenship among the students.

 Of course the school district has its own AUP, but I thought it was important to have one for just my classroom. This week, I really took the time to analyze my school's policy.

Analysis of AUP's

 Although it is a well written document, there is a lot on it, and it isn't personal. So, I created my own.

Personal AUP

I really thought this would be easy, but I found myself doing a lot of sitting and looking at a blank computer screen. It was difficult to decide what was important to include in the AUP for my parents and students. As a way to honor my school district, I included some key components from the district's policy as well as incorporating some of my own ideas.

One thing that I added that I feel is especially important in middle school is cyberbullying. Although my school has bulling discussions with students, many of them don't realize that harassing, jeopardizing someone else's school work, or just making a joke can be constituted as virtual bullying (cyberbullying). As a teacher trying to ensure digital citizenship among my students, I felt this was important to include. To be honest, my own Personal AUP is definitely a work in progress. So, I would love feedback...

I do plan to use this with my students next school year!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Acceptable Use Policies

According to the National Education Association, each school district should have an Acceptable Use Policy that includes these six elements: Preamble, Definition Section, Policy Statement, Acceptable Uses Sections, Unacceptable Uses Section, and Violations/sanctions Section. This week, I took some time to locate my school district's Appropriate Use of Technology Resources for Students, also known as, Student Internet Use Agreement. Below is a link of the agreement:

Student Internet Use Agreement

The district has one policy/agreement that is used by all schools. This allows the technology team at the district offices keep consistency among all schools. Each student and parent/guardian is required to read the policy and sign it electronically through his/her Infinite Campus Portal every school year. The students are NOT allowed to use the school's computer network until this is done. By comparing our district user agreement to the National Education Association's Acceptable Use Policies (AUP) six elements, it seems that our district has created an effective AUP.

My district's user agreement has nine sections. Within in these nine sections, each of the NEA's six elements are addressed as well as a little more definition. Although the sections are not exactly written with the six required elements at the top of each section, it is easy to find them within the nine sections of the user agreement.  The first section, Introduction, can be considered the Preamble. It explains the use of technology is important to enhance the students' education and provide resources that will allow students to become successful adults. It also states that this agreement is in place to ensure appropriate use with the school, district, state, and federal law.  The preamble as well as the definition section continues within the second section, Using the Internets and Communications Systems. Within this second section, the school district included the code of conduct, key terms and definitions, and the endorsement of educational value in technology.

The third element, Policy Section, is also expressed in Using the Internet and Communications Systems. This sections provides examples of computer services as well as what is constituted as acceptable and unacceptable technology resources. The district also informs the parents and students that using the school's access is a privilege, not a right, so it is vital for the students to follow appropriate conduct. If they don't, there are consequences.

The fourth and fifth element, Acceptable Uses Section and Unacceptable Uses Section is the third section of the agreement, Proper and Acceptable Use of all Technology Resources. This section provides specific examples activities that are permitted and encouraged as well as specific activities that are NOT permitted. These two elements are also linked to the fourth and fifth sections, User Security and Vandalism. These two sections provide a little more explanation about not sharing student logins as well as damage to hardware, software, operating systems, or data.

The final element, Violations/Sanctions Section, is addressed in the final two sections of the agreement, Reliability and Limitation of Liability and Parent Responsibility - Notification of Student Internet Use. These two sections inform users that the district is not responsible for any damages suffered by the student such as loss of data and service interruptions. In addition, parents are responsible to provide digital citizenship guidance outside of school. Specifics about consequences to violations are in the second section of the agreement.

Overall, the school's Appropriate Use of Technology Resources for Students seems to address all six elements required by the National Education Association. Some of the information could be a little better placed in accordance to the required elements; however, it seems to be a thorough and effective AUP. If I were to personally write an AUP for my own classroom, I may include some different things that my district does not address, but that information is for another blog post....

As a side note, I took a little extra time to create a wordle of my district's user agreement.
Wordle of Student User Agreement
This wordle definitly provided some insight as to what my district finds to be the most important. I encourage you to do the same with your own district's AUP. It may be quite insightful to use as well.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bloom's and Marzano's Nine...are they effective?

The answer to the question in the title is: YES! Bloom's Taxonomy and Marzano's Nine Essential Strategies have become vital roles in successful educational experiences! This week, I really took the time to evaluate both. My digging into some of my activities and lesson plans that I created for my 7th graders, I was able to visualize how well I'm using the revised Bloom's Taxonomy with Digital Bloom's as well as Marzano's Nine Essential Strategies. Below is a link to this visualization:

Digital Bloom's Integration

In addition to looking at activities, I also took a look at one of my lessons that I completely revised to integrate technology into the new lesson. Below is a link to that revision as well as an evaluation of my use of Marzano and Bloom's:

Evaluation & Integration of Bloom's in a Lesson

Due to this new found knowledge on Bloom's Taxonomy and Marzano's Nine has really changed my designing of lesson plans. I like how each gives me some guidelines and questions to ask myself. For instance, in my old design of my lesson on the introduction to Circulatory System, I used the old Bloom's Taxonomy. Now, by integrating technology into the lesson, I was able to really update my objectives to include revised Bloom's and Digital Bloom's!! This update was fairly easy to do, and my students will have a much more purposeful lesson. So, I do plan to do this will all my curriculum objectives.
I'm currently in the process of designing a blog and wikispace for my students to use next year. By including these things, I will be able to meet my science standards, NETS standards for teachers and students, as well as include 21st Century Learning skills with Digital Bloom's and Marzano's Nine Essential Strategies. In addition to these updates, I'm also in the process of revising many of my old lessons to include technology components. Of course, I will be creating lessons that are using the appropriate use of technology, so I can still incorporate other skills as well. It is important to remember that technology is used to enhance the curricula, not to replace me as the teacher. By using Marzano's strategies and the revised Bloom's Taxonomy, I will be able to make sure that I incorporate everything into my classroom, not just technology.

As a way to improve my lessons right now, I've changed my essential questions and daily objectives to include verbiage of the newly revised bloom's taxonomy. Instead of nouns, I use verbs. For instance, the objective of the day is: Students will evaluate information from fast food menus to determine which restaurant is the healthiest.

As an educator, it is important to share new found knowledge with colleagues, so they may be able to enhance their teaching practices as well. A perfect way to do this is through professional development. If I were given time during professional development, I would be able to share all the information that I posted in my blogs as well as the bloom's integration matrix. Then, I would encourage the teachers to take some of their lesson plans and revise them to include revised bloom's taxonomy and digital bloom's. If I was unable to have time on a professional development day, I may talk to various colleagues, and show them my information in my blog. I've had pretty good luck talking to many colleagues about my new found technology integration "expertise." By communicating with them, I happen to know a few of my colleagues are taking advantage of using my protopage resources. Two science teachers at another middle school even used my Web Quest: Journey through the Digestive System! I even have a friend that is currently teaching science in Australia, and she is using tons of the resources. It is pretty remarkable that technology allows me the opportunity to talk to colleagues from other schools and help them enhance their teaching practices as well!

So, my next step is to add an area to my protopage on Bloom's Taxonomy and Marzano's Nine Essential Strategies. By doing this, it may help get the information across even easier that time on a professional development day. Keep watching for this new information!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Reflection on Bloom's Taxonomy...

This week I took a look at Bloom's Taxonomy and its effect in education. To be honest, until I researched the topic, I never know how long it has been around. The whole concept on how people learn came about in the 1700's. Then, Benjamin Bloom first introduced the his Taxonomy in 1956! Over the years it has been updated and revised. In the 1990's Lorin Anderson started to update the taxonomy to include more 21st Century Skills. The revision was finalized and accepted in 2001. The biggest change between the original to the newly revised is the difference of using nouns to now using verbs. This is really create opportunities for educators to design lessons to include active engagement, an important 21st Century skill.

 When I first started my teaching career, I was given the infamous Bloom's Wheel. This wheel has definitely come in handy when setting my classroom objectives. I must confess that my Bloom's wheel still contains the original nouns; however, I have started to change my objectives to include more verbs. Throughout this week, I took some time to ask other teachers if they used the Revised Bloom's Taxonomy or the original. Many teachers responded with questionable looks and sayings such as "I didn't even know that there were revisions to Bloom's." So, I took this opportunity to show a few teachers the new verbs versus nouns. Many of these teachers realized that they already were using verbs instead of nouns for his or her classroom objectives, but never knew that Bloom's was revised to include them. Along with the lack of knowledge of the newly revised taxonomy, many educators also had no idea about the digital Bloom's Taxonomy verbs.

I must confess that I was unaware of the digital Bloom's verbs until I started my research this week. It makes perfect sense to have such things, considering the fact that we teach in the digital era. Since I didn't know about these digital verbs, I took some time to become acquainted with them and evaluate their usage in my own designed lessons. Some of these examples include:

Without even knowing about such a thing as Bloom's digital verbs, I realized that I frequently use many of these in my own lessons. If I were to make a pyramid similar to the one above, I would have to include many more examples because of my lessons that integrate technology. Some of these may include:
Creating - GoAnimate,
Evaluating - Quia, Quizlet
Analyzing- iPad Frog Dissection App,
Applying- Web Quests, Edublog, Job the Web, Quiz
Understanding- iPad Frog Dissection App, iPad Rat Dissection App
Remembering - visuwords, protopage, Cells Alive

To evaluate my classrooms objectives a little further. I took one my lesson plans and evaluated the lesson's integration of the Revised Bloom's Taxonomy and Digital Blooms. In my old version of the lesson, it only contained the old version of Bloom's Taxonomy: Knowledge. Due to my revisions and technology integrations, the lesson now contains the Revised Bloom's Taxonomy as well as Digital Bloom's! Please check out this new revision in the link below:

Bloom's Evaluated and Integrated

Saturday, March 10, 2012

What are Blogs and Wikis?

Another way to provide definitions is by using This is a great tool, especially for visual learners. Since I've been discussing blogs and wikis this week, I made a few wordle examples. These examples describe exactly what is a blog and a wiki.

Blog Definition

Wiki Definition

Friday, March 9, 2012

Blogs and Wikis...are they a good thing?

This week, I took the opportunity to really investigate blogs and wikis. In an earlier post, I included some comparison matrices that showed my research. But are blogs really a good thing? In my opinion, yes! They are great communication tools. However, they need to be used appropriately, as tools to enhance my teaching, but not take my place.  To prove my opinion, I've done some additional research as to how other educators feel about blogging. My research is in the links below:
Educational Research on Blogs and Wikis
Analysis of Blogs and Wikis

Due to my extensive research, I've decided that blogging can be easily integrated into my own classroom. I plan on doing this in a separate blog (separate from this one) that will be dedicated to opening discussion forums up to my students based on the curricula I teach. This plan will come into effect for next school year. The reason for this delay is due to having a student teacher this semester and giving her the opportunity to design her own lesson plans for the class. Having a student teacher has been a gift because I'm able to take the time to create new things like blogs and wikis!!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Blogs vs. Wikis

This week, I took the opportunity to compare and contrast Blogs and Wikis. Both are used a online communication tools. However, it seems that Blogs are used more for personal discussion forums, while wikis can be used by multiple users for group projects, homework assignments, and discussion forums. As a way to further my investigation, I decided to look at three blogs sites and three wiki sites. My findings are in the links below:
Blog Comparison Matrix
Wiki Comparison Matrix

During my investigation, I was able to find some free and purposeful blog sites. My personal favorite was I chose this one as my favorite because it is linked with googledocs, so I'm able to navigate through my googledocs and blogger dashboard with ease. I also like the way this blog site is so user friendly. In fact, I started my own blog a couple of months ago. Before I started my own blog, I had never used such a site. This site made it very easy for me to create my own blog without too much technical knowledge. Although I've expanded my technical abilities, I still enjoy using this blog site the best.
Despite being my favorite, I recently found out that my school district has restricted students to using this site, so I will have to use something different for my classroom. So, for educational purposes, I plan to use I, personally, believe that Edublogs is a great communication tool to use with my students. This site allows me the ability to group my classes, so I may have multiple class discussions or entire grade level discussion forums. Since this blog is designed for educational purposes only, it does provide a little more safety and protection for my students.
Along with investigating blogs, I took some time to search wiki sites as well. Out of three that I researched, I like the best. I chose this site for professional reasons since it seems to be accepted by my district. To be honest, provides almost too  much information when trying to set up the site. I felt a little overwhelmed with all the definitions and possibilities. However, for those that need lots of direction, this site provides it! It also provides an ad-free zone, so it provides a little more protection for students.
Based on my investigation, I like wikis a little more than blogs because of the possibilities. With a wiki, I'm able to create blogs/discussion forums, but it can also be a place for students to upload group projects and communicate other assessments.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Websites that may help with Technolog Integration

Over the course of the last eight weeks, I've discovered a plethora of useful resources. Most of the resources I found are websites. As a way to organize these new found resources, I categorized them into groups. Below is the link to my organized discoveries:

Erin Gaunce's Bookmarks

Due to the fact that I'm a science teacher, many of the websites bookmarked have to do with science; however, there are a great deal of other resources that may be beneficial to other contents and other educators. Within my bookmarks, there are over 100 resources; however, I have five sites that happen to be my favorite: Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators, Quia, Middle School Science Lesson Plans, WebQuests, and GoAnimate. Each of these sites are my favorite for different reasons.

Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators is a wonderful link because it can help any educator come up with ways to integrate technology into lesson plans. Along with lesson plans, there are assessment links with a variety of different rubrics or other tools that may assist any educator. When redesigning some of my own "old" lesson plans into "new" ones with a technical component, I found myself always looking to Kathy Schrock for some guidance!

Quia is another great resource. This website allows you to create a safe "educational" website for your students. You can create review games or online quizzes. This website also has a sharing component which allows you to "borrow" from other educators that may have designed a review game or quiz that may work for your class. It is worth the subscription!!

Middle School Science Lessons has been a favorite website of mine since I was a first year teacher! This is a great resource for science teachers that may be struggling with lesson plan ideas. Although some of the lessons are outdated, it still has some great plans. I like this website as a place to start, then I've been able to find other links or ideas to make the lesson plans fit within my teaching style. This is one that is great for those "first year teacher moments!"

WebQuests is something new that I've discovered while redesigning lessons to integrate 21st Century Skills and technology. Web quests can be a great way to develop students critical thinking and problem solving skills. There are tons of quests to choose from, our you can create your own. I actually created my own web quests for the digestive system using another Free WebQuest Maker.

GoAnimate is another website that I recently discovered. This website is a particular software that is fairly new, yet a great way to integrate technology and 21st Century Skills into curricula. I've had the chance to see some students play with this and LOVE it! I loved it for the possible to develop students critical thinking skills!

Overall, websites are great resources!! Since we now live in this new "digital era" that is constantly evolving with hardware and software, it is always possible to look to the web! As an educator, my lesson plans get better and better because of websites like these. As a science teacher, it is my job to teach my students the most up to date science facts. With new discoveries all the time, the quickest place for me to find information is through the internet. Now, with my new found knowledge on technology integration, I plan to incorporate websites like some of those listed in my Protopage into more of my curriculum. I hope some of these resources can work for you as well!

Reflection on Technology Integration

Over the last eight weeks, I've had the chance to really explore technology and ways to integrate it into education. Throughout my career as a science teacher, I've always been a fan of technology; however, I never realized how valuable it was for education. In the past,  I looked to the internet to help me learn about new science facts to teach to my students, use other teachers' lesson plans that were shared when teaching something new, and communicate with parents and students. Now, I have a new outlook on the ways I can have my students use it!

At the beginning of my eight week journey to discovering integrating technology into the curriculum, I agreed with the following definition:
"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. " (, 18 January 2012).
I still stand firm in my agreement. Over the last decade, teacher's roles have evolved into much more than just teaching a subject. We not only have to teach our students the required state standards, but we also have to educate them on ways to be successful adults! We now have standards that include character educations and 21st Century Skills. One of the best ways to incorporate all the expectations and standards is through technology integration.

Before this master's program, I used to think the integrating technology into my curriculum just meant that I have my students use computers for projects or a web quest here or there. Now, I realize that technology integration is vital to my students' success! In order to integrate technology it involves much more than just computers. It involves collaboration with other technology experts and time and motivation on my part in order to create GREAT curriculum to meet all my students' needs. If I have these things, then my students are able to stay actively engaged, learn to collaborate well with others, and connect to real life experiences. If my students have these, then they will become successful adults.

Throughout these eight weeks, I've also had the opportunity to discuss and see technology integration among other educators and his or her own classrooms. I've had the chance to talk to others that are considered to be from a variety of generations. From Baby Boomers to Generation Y, we all have the same duty: to teach Generation Z. So, it was wonderful yet frustrating to see how some of my colleagues embrace or fear technology. Those that chose to embrace technology really seemed to create successful educational experiences for his or her students. Teachers that seemed to use very little technology did not seem to be creating the same type of atmosphere. Although all the teachers I observed are terrific people, those that choose to use more technology just seemed to create classrooms for 21st Century skilled students. I'm now realizing that some teachers that don't want to use technology is mostly due to lack of knowledge. So, with some my new found discoveries, I'm hoping I can bring some more guidance to those that do want to learn!

Along with looking at some of my colleagues technology integration, I also took into my own curriculum. I've always taken pride of following Colorado State Science Standards and integrate more technology than some of my colleagues. However, I used to create lesson plans that used technology for more research and knowledge based purposes. I never really used technology to help students develop other skills such as problem solving or critical thinking. In fact, before my master's program, I never even knew that NETS standards for students and teachers even existed. Now, I find myself looking at every unit to make sure it includes these standards. If the unit doesn't integrate at least three or four of the NETS Standards, I've changed the unit to include them! This is my way to make sure my students are able to still learn the content, but also develop 21st Century Skills.

I still believe that technology should NOT replace the teacher; however, it can be a great way to enhance the teacher. By integrating technology, teachers are now able to provide his or her students with a learning experience that includes standards and skills to becoming great 21st Century adults!

I've still got a lot more to learn, so stay tuned to even more of my new found discoveries like the  integration of technology.....

Reflection on Redesigned Student Lesson Plans

Over the course of these eight weeks, I've taken a few of my old lesson plans and redesigned them to integrate technology. Below are some of the lesson plans:

EcoPeanut Puzzle
Journey through the Digestive System
Respiratory & Excretory System Review
Frog Dissection
Disease Project
Circulatory System

Writing innovative lesson plans can be a challenge; however, I think that I achieved my goal to do such a thing. All these lessons not only integrate technology, but also 21st Century Skills. Being that I'm an educator of Generation Z  and 21st Century Learners, it is my duty to take the time to create lessons that will be worthwhile and purposeful for my students education. Each lesson uses a variety of technological resources such as QR codes, iPads, Web quests, online subscription software and databases, and many more. Personally, I found it fairly easy to integrate technology into these lessons. The challenged I faced was making sure the technology was appropriate and didn't take away from me as the teacher. I like to always preach that technology is a tool, not a teacher, so I wanted to make sure that my lessons were true to this statement.

Many of my lessons did not address as much of my classroom management, so I would like to take the opportunity to explain how I run my class. At the beginning of the year, each of the teachers in our building take the time to go over classroom expectations using our acronym "SOAR." This stands for safety, ownership, active engagement, and respect. As a science teacher, I spend a great deal of time discussing safety due to lab rules. I also like to reiterate the ONE rule in my class "Don't talk when someone else is talking." Being that I teach middle school, I like to keep things as simple as possible. This one rule has worked really well for me. My students know that if I'm talking, no one else is allowed. Along with my one rule, there is a three word phrase that my students have come to know quite well: "STOP and LISTEN." The students know if they here these three words, they are to stop everything and look at me. I like to describe my classroom as "organized chaos." When you first look in the room, it may look like the students are acting up, but I can ensure you that I know everything that is going on, and my students are actively engaged. Overall, my students seem to really enjoy my class and I deal with very little classroom management problems. Now, by integrating more and more technology, I expect to see my student even more interested and engaged.

Due to my new found knowledge on technology integration, I believe, I've developed some skills that will be beneficial for my students. The beauty of this program is the amount of resources that have become available to me. Without this class, I would have never taken as much time to look at so many different websites or organizing them into a page like my protopage:EGaunce's Protopage . I've also had the opportunity to collaborate with other teachers and step out of my comfort zone. The lessons that I created (located in the above links) are great examples of my new found knowledge and skills. Hopefully, they prove to be worthwhile for others as well.

As I embark on my next journey, I hope to only expand my knowledge of technology and how I can create even more innovative lessons!