While reflecting on this infographic, there were some things that stood out to me. First of all, as an educator of young children, I see a growing gap in some of the most important life skills such as problem-solving and collaboration.
It is powerful to be in the classroom and witness children who are so quick to give up when things get challenging OR when I don't give them step-by-step instructions. Often times, I like to let my students problem solve their own ideas and solutions when conflicts arise. While not all students quit easily, there are a handful who demand answers or they're going to throw a fit, shut down, stop listening/working, etc. . . So how do we reach out to those students? I like to think of it as "tricking" them into working hard. When the buy-in and engagement factor is high enough, they are willing to trouble-shoot. I love that about games in the classroom.
It is also a huge job teaching these young children how to collaborate and work well together. It's a relative new skill for them, and it's hard. It's difficult for adults to collaborate effectively often times! That's why I love to start teaching those skills early on. The gaming atmosphere allows students the ability to work in teams, share ideas, trouble-shoot ideas, make plans, revise plans, and try again!
When studies show 95% of teachers finding games to be an effective teaching tool, why isn't it being pushed MORE? Teachers and administrations seem to be willing to do anything and pay any amount... yet technology isn't always brought up as an effective tool? Why? Is it because some teachers don't feel comfortable? Probably. Is it because technology is expensive to fund and hard to keep updated? Probably. Is it because of fear? Probably. But clearly, infusing it into the curriculum is CLEARLY worth it.
This class has provided a massive amount of knowledge, experience, and inspiration. I loved designing and creating a website through Weebly, where I was able to immerse myself into the process. I found the creative control and ability to organize in however manner I please to be invigorating and essentially, a breath of fresh air. It strikes me that this is how our students in the classroom like to learn, too. Even in the elementary level. I was inspired to branch out more of my assessment options to allow students to express their creativity in more of a powerful, creative way hoping they'd feel the same invigoration as I did.
I learned a lot about technology integration. I was initially a bit prideful to begin with, as I felt that I was already integrating technology pretty successfully. I'm glad I was knocked off my high horse a bit, because I learned so much! I can humbly say I was nowhere near using best practice with technology, and now I can move forward in a more effective, engaging way. I loved all the resources we explored through the textbook (which I had to buy in paper copy too, just so I could keep it to peruse through much longer!), online links, and discussion forums. I feel that it will take a long time to work everything into my Units, but one step at a time, I feel like I can make some big improvements in my classroom.
Mostly, I learned how important infusing technology into every day of a elementary classroom. It is critical. With the future of society progressing as rapidly as it is, and the need for technology-fluent learners growing with even more vigor, I know that I need to do more to prepare the future leaders of the country and world to be technology literate. I felt a deep passion begin to take root about technology integration. There are no excuses, it can be infused ANYWHERE. It is critical, and I will move forward using what I know to spread this passion throughout my school and district.
I feel like a changed educator, and I want to be part of the change happening in schools across the world. I want to spread EFFECTIVE technology practices into curriculum. I want to help draw the stigma away from "play-time" or "wasted time" or "too difficult for an old geezer like me" that circulates the schools. I want to show the zest, creation, and power that technology can bring into the classroom. I want to plant a passion in students to code, or create, or collaborate with technology.
Content: 70/70, My website is full of rich content. My blogposts were written with deep thought beforehand, and consistent connections to real-time and professional practices.
Readings and Resources: 20/20, All readings were done and resources explored. These things were cited in blogposts and assignments.
Timeliness: 15/20, not all assignments were posted early in the week. All assignments were posted on time, most of blog posts were posted on time.
Response to Other Students: 15/20, Detailed responses were often made in others forums and assignments, although comments weren't always made within deadlines.
In the always-demanding world for teachers, it can be overwhelming considering how to best reach our students with disabilities. There are many strains of possible disabilities students may have, and each strain requires different accommodations. On top of the already heavy workload of a teacher, many teachers don't have the time or energy it takes to do the research and then implement the latest and greatest accommodations. However, it IS important. It IS worthwhile. Even more so than we teachers might realize.
According to the United States Assistive Technology Act of 1998, assistive technology (also called adaptive technology ) refers to any "product, device, or equipment, whether acquired commercially, modified or customized, that is used to maintain, increase, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities." Finding ways to allow all students to communicate and interact with learning is crucial. According to an article on iansyt.com, there are 5 reasons why the assistive technologies of today are important. They are the following:
ccording to the Universal Design Learning: Meeting Needs of All Students, "The UDL framework provides a flexible, responsive curriculum that reduces or eliminates barriers to learning. Using a UDL approach, SLPs and other educators offer curriculum options that present information and content in varied ways, differentiate the manner in which learners can express what they know, and engage students in meaningful, authentic learning. With UDL, more students are:
By teaching to the marginal students' needs, or the students who are below or above the average achievement level, it actually benefits the entire classroom. That's right, ALL students grow. This one change to curriculum design and the way teachers think about the "how" of teaching, can not only significantly strengthen their students with disabilities, but every other student as well.
This is the simple answer for teachers: in order to benefit 100% of the students in your classroom, you can learn to design teaching for the marginal students by utilizing the UDL principles.
When the gains are this great, the extra work is worth it. But it's nice when the extra work is made lighter. The UDL Center website provides many resources and checkpoints for integration. By exploring and putting some effort into tweaking the curriculum we teach, we will have an almost too-good-to-be-true opportunity to benefit all our under-achieving, over-achieving, and elusive "average" student.
The Ted Talk by Ted Rose called The Myth of the Average changed my life. Designing a classroom learning environment for the "average" student is not effective. The only and best way to design a classroom is for the ends, or the marginal students. One way to accomplish this is by integrating UDL strategies into our teaching.
Top five benefits of assistive technology in education. (2014, July 17). Retrieved November 20, 2017, from http://www.iansyst.co.uk/news/assistive-technology/top-five-benefits-of-assistive-technology-in-education/801736048
UDL Examples and Resources. (2014, June 11). Retrieved November 20, 2017, from http://www.udlcenter.org/implementation/examples
Universal Design for Learning: Meeting the Needs of All Students. (2017, September 06). Retrieved November 20, 2017, from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/universal-design-learning-meeting-needs-all-students
Although I believe technology integration to be a crucial piece to our students' future in order to best prepare them for a successful adulthood, I have definitely come across my fair share of teachers who don't agree. While sitting in on an interview panel for my school this past year, I asked the prospective veteran teacher how she felt about technology integration. She simply responded with "The internet is great, don't get me wrong, but I've found students love to read from paper too." I felt that there was so much limitation in her understanding to what technology IS and DOES. Firstly, she merely considered the internet to be technology in the classroom and disregarded any other technological device teachers can get their hands on these days. Secondly, her limited understanding only led her to the internet as provided a text to be read. That is one of the obstacles to technology integration at the elementary level, the teachers have a limited understanding of what it is and can do. I believe that this limited understanding comes from how quickly everything in the technological world changes. Robyler writes how everything changes quickly. Teachers who aren't tech-savvy will just get used to a program when it updates and changes the way it works, leaving that teacher frazzled and exhausted.
Another obstacle mentioned in the reading is if a topic isn't considered as important, such as Social Studies, then there may be less programs or software developed for that subject. As an elementary teacher, I'm expected to integrate Social Studies into my main curriculum. If I don't teach reading strategies to a Social Studies topic, chances are there won't be enough time to fully cover either subject well. However, being limited in my choices for Social Studies can also limit my technology integration for Reading and Writing as well. However, part of my job as a professional educator is to take the good, bad, and ugly - and then make the best of it.
Finally, one of the biggest hindrances I've found in my own teaching career is the cost that sometimes comes with the technology. My school this year did buy a Math program with a great online piece. Teachers and students have many options online to integrate into instruction and practice. This program, however, cost a lot more in order to have rights for the digital side. Another example is Buncee, which was fun to use and I loved, but have no funding to cover in my classroom. This year, I was lucky and inquired if there was room in the school budget to purchase my classroom an online writing and testing tool. However, many things my school can't purchase and I find myself spending my own money.
Overall, I feel education is moving in the right direction. It is clear that technology is the future and the students need to comfortable using it. Although there will always be obstacles, there are always more ways to overcome these things and improve.
Roblyer, M. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
The advantages of infusing technology into content areas is the reason I began my journey in the EdTech program with Boise State University. The technological side of teaching came easier to me than others, and that led me to explore it more. I loved finding things that were engaging, fun, and valuable that could be integrated into my teaching all day long, then share that with my co-workers. The more I did this, the more my passion grew. Eventually, I learned that there was an app or game or something that could be used in every single subject throughout the day. Considering the future of our students and the way technology is advancing in society, I felt it was critical for our students to become comfortable using technology in many ways.
One important thing for teachers to understand is that the word "technology" isn't limited to internet or google-search-research only. Many teachers I've come in contact with over my professional career shun at the idea of using technology because they have a limited understanding of what it is and what it provides. For that reason, it makes sense that they only consider using technology when they're writing a research report on a topic. They use it for 1) researching a topic and then 2) typing the report. This is a great first step for teachers to begin their partnership with technology, but it shouldn't be their last. Another problem I've heard of is that technology is just "fluff" and not meaningful in teaching. Their knowledge of the vast resources has probably overwhelmed them to not look very carefully for valuable uses, or they've had limited exposure to the more poorly put together resources.
The arts and sciences can be enhanced with technology use. The Core standards themselves, can be enhanced through integration of technology. For example, this week I was researching resources I could use for a Lewis and Clark unit I teach my fourth graders. I had already included video clips in the unit that helped engage my students, but I wanted to use technology to deepen students' understanding more. I discovered a Google Earth extension that mapped out the whole Expedition's journey, but was interactive in the fact that it allowed students to click at points along the way to watch videos, view real pictures or primary source documents, or read information related to that stop. Not only could students zoom in and out with the Google Earth features, it becomes much more realistic and visual for them to see how long the trek was, especially while walking! The technological piece made the Unit more engaging, exciting, and educational. There was a clear and meaningful purpose for using the technology to enhance the unit and lead to better teaching and better learning. No teacher could call the use of Google Earth "fluff".
There are also many ways students can explore the arts through technology. For those students interested in art, music, or production in their futures, using an iPad to record themselves or put together presentations with the iMovie app is a great resource. The app makes it simple for students to add music (legally purchased), video clips, or images to present an idea. Students could create a drama script, then plan and produce their show. They are practicing all the essential skills: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. There is a high degree of creativity and collaboration that is sometimes hard to create within classrooms. This is a much more meaningful experience for learners. Students can branch this idea out into many other avenues. For example, students could set up a News Reporter booth, and record themselves orally describing their research.
Finally, there are many, many, MANY resources available for enhancing instruction. Just one example I've seen is an online interactive owl pellet dissection. Sometimes I've had funding to buy the real deal for my classroom, but I don't always have a spare $50-$100. However, the dissection of an owl pellet aligns perfectly with my science standards of teaching about ecosystems and food chains. It also allows students some hands-on experiences practicing the scientific method by starting with this question: What things might we find inside an owl pellet? Students love being able to explore this on their own. If I can't afford the real owl pellets, there are online options for students to dissect a virtual owl pellet. There ability to bring hands-on science is increased with technology while also limiting the cost to a teacher's budget. Who can complain about that?
All in all, technology isn't "fluff" and it has real, valuable meaning. Teachers who are brave enough to explore for themselves will find countless ways to enhance their content instruction. Technology will help students advance in their futures by allowing them the chance to get comfortable with the interface now. I believe all teachers want to prepare their students for successful futures, and technology must be a key factor within their curriculum.
Something I have always felt passionate about was that school needs to be a safe, fun place for the best learning to happen. I didn't think about sitting around playing random games with my students, but finding purposeful games that taught focused and specific concepts for my students to play. I knew that as a student I loved to learn through gaming, and in my own teaching career I've seen how gamification really reaches more students - specifically those boys that don't always like coming to school. So it has been a goal of mine to infuse my teaching with effective practice of the standards through games. In my earlier days, I made my own games. Partner games that were printed on paper and shared with students was a huge hit. Then, as I continued my own education and learned more skills, I discovered the world of digital gaming. The more I experimented, the more hooked I became. It was even better that with some games and sites, I was able to keep data on my students and their progress and growth. I became obsessive in finding new things to engage my students. I enjoyed this week of class because I was able to explore even more sites that I wasn't already aware of. I loved the articles I found which inspired me even more.
In an article titled "New Research Proves Game-Based Learning Works—Here’s Why That Matters" I read about what I already knew to be true from my own classroom experience, that using the game-based approach really engages students and actually works. When a game is focused around teaching a specific standard, students are given the extra practice that teachers desperately try to put into their lessons, and in many cases, students ASK to play more. This article cites a study done with over a thousand students and 13 teachers. The teachers reported a "dramatic increase in student engagement among students who participated in the game study."
Ultimately, we need more studies done to continue proving these effects, and the authors encourage teachers to be willing to participate in studies like this. The article was hosted by Legends of Learning and the games in the study were from the site. I registered for my free account and experimented with several of their science-themed games.
In my opinion and experience, what learning all comes down to is ENGAGEMENT. If a teacher can effectively plan a lesson that engages students in gaining or finding information, and plan practice activities that engage all types of learners, then students will learn more. Sometimes it's hard for teachers to figure out how to do this. A simple experiment would be to try adding more game-based opportunities into the day.
My favorite game-based sites:
In closing, one issue that I have battled myself and see in the future is the fixed mindset of many teachers who like teaching in what is beginning to be called the "old-school" way - or the paper/pencil/textbook way. They don't want anything to do with more technology in teh classroom, they don't even want to try. The truth is, the students of today are changing. They interact with ipads or smart phones on a daily basis at home. Even TVs of today are "smart" TVs and do things much more sophisticated. Their brains are more stimulated more often with these screens. While NOT arguing that this is the sole and only best way to teach, I know that without some form of stimulation or engagement that actually transfers to the students of today, learning will halt. Students will become bored and hate school. If a student doesn't want to come to school, they won't learn while they are there. Digital gaming, along with any form of enhanced engagement, is the real key to better learning.
New Research Proves Game-Based Learning Works—Here’s Why That Matters – EdSurge News. (2017, March 6). Retrieved October 23, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2017-03-06-new-research-proves-game-based-learning-works-here-s-why-that-matters
I understood that districts and schools protected themselves with some form of policy surrounding technology. I didn't attach a name to the concept as an Acceptable Use Policy or AUP. The name of the policy is pretty straight-forward: a policy outlining what is acceptable use of internet and technology in schools.
I value my role in preparing students for their futures in the technological world. I understand that this means teaching students how to be competent with the internet and other technological tools. This shouldn't just be teaching students to be competent, but how to be safe and responsible as well. The Super Book of Web Tools for educators states the idea that we all know as educators: times are a-changing. Any teacher knows that new policies, procedures, and implementation plans are a regular scene in the classroom. But, something that hasn't changed- and never will- is the critical role in developing a good relationship with students. That will never be replaced. Best practice involves getting to know and understand student passions and interests. This quote stood out to me, "Eks( tlio tmlt ckkd tolgmnec led o|unz nt sntm tmo ldqlegnec togmekhkc~ so eks mlqo lt kuvecovtnzw%
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Teachers don't have time for complicated. They need ways of teaching that is simple to put together, yet effective and simple to learn from. That is what makes using word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations a perfect option for busy teachers. This is what Roblyer (2016) refers to as the "basic suite".
Most everyone these days will recognize at least one of these tools. Teachers probably would find it difficult to teach without using a presentation tool at least once through the day, and a student experiences word processing programs almost immediately in elementary schools now. This is because it is simple, effective, and available to most everyone. Robyler states, "Perhaps no other technology resource has had as great an impact on education as word processing." There are numerous advantages related to presentation and alignment, spell check, revision history, and graphic insertion. These make teaching and learning quickly effective and engaging. It is also stated that, "A teacher can use it to support any directed instruction or constructivist activity." This makes it flexible, and highly valuable. As students are introduced to this technology, and gain confidence through practice, they are becoming technologically prepared to excel in the current, modern society and job force.
Spreadsheets are used throughout the education world from creating and managing budgets to organizing a gradebook. They are a major time-saver. They help answer questions regarding numbers and data, graphs, and statistics. When students begin asking questions and exploring with information, they can learn to effectively navigate spreadsheet software to gain deeper understandings.
Presentations are a powerful tool that has proved its effectiveness in a variety of ways for many years and generations of teaching. As the teacher/learner relationship evolves, so does the power of presentations and different delivery techniques. It is most effective if used in the correct way that aligns with appropriate pedagogical practices. When there are a limited amount of words and bullets, engaging pictures or videos, lending itself to a variety of learning styles, interactive components, and slides are created with a high degree of visual appeal, a presentation can be extremely powerful. However, the best way they can be used is when the creative power is given to the student to show learning. Robyler (2016) states, "Having learners become the designers and experts of content, in the end presenting their work to the class, can serve as a powerful technology integration lesson for any domain of learning."
The focus on these tools has led to the creation of many practical apps for teachers and students to use. Things just keep getting better and better. I have loved exploring the various apps associated with Google such as Google Docs, Google Slides, and Google Classroom. Students have the ability to create, collaborate, and engage with their learning like never before. As the teacher, I can see their revision history and know exactly what has really been or not been done. I can leave a comment on their work, and so can their peers. I can give more immediate feedback during their learning process which is a valuable tool for students when focusing on improvement. There can never be a lost paper, or something left at home, or any dogs eating their homework. I can't imagine teaching without the basic suite of technological tools, and I love learning how to more effectively use them.
Roblyer, M.D. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching. [Kindle Edition]. Retrieved from Amazon.com.
I've always loved using and integrating technology into my teaching and curriculum. It seemed to come more naturally to me than other teachers, and I noticed right away how my students engaged with it more willingly than other styles of instruction. I knew there was a right and a wrong way to go about teaching with software programs, but I didn't always understand where that line was.
"Computer science remains one of the fastest growing industries across the world and preparing the future workforce is critical for economic success (2017)." The NMC/CoSN Horizon report 2017 K-12 edition helped open my eyes to the true value of coding as a literacy. I knew of a few teachers who taught coding in their computer lab time and I had thoughts like yeah, that's fun and all, but there are other ways to use that lab time that's more meaningful to my teaching. I'm ashamed of myself now. If my main teaching goal is to prepare my students for a successful future as a contributing member of society, and it is, then surely introducing and encouraging students to play with coding helps reach that goal.
My teaching philosophy has always centered around a Constructivist approach, with hands on learning and exploration, with group collaborative projects, with self-discovery and intrinsic motivation. Sure, there are times when this seems hard to accomplish all my teaching criteria through that lens, but there was something in the report that took hold of my heart when it said, "Developing the future workforce is important, but coding literacy at its base level can also help students build transferable skills. Using tools such as the programming language Scratch, students have an avenue for innovation, invention, and creative expression." Wow- teaching students creative expression through coding too? I'd never thought of it that way, but now it rings so clearly in my mind. This goes hand-in-hand with another class I'm currently taking that is solely focused on using Minecraft: Education Edition in the classroom. There is a coding aspect within the game that students love so much. The teacher has shown us ways to use minecraft as a medium for group collaboration, problem-solving, and creation. If I'm allowing my students the ability to learn these life-skills in an applicable way for their real future, then I feel like I'm doing my job.
So the Horizon report has informed my teaching by changing my views on coding in the classroom setting. It's not just for the future computer science majors, it is for everyone. It will be needed more and more in the future innovative world, and children can begin learning it at age four! Not only will everyone benefit from the ability to code, they will benefit from the repercussions of learning to problem-solve with a team, create an original idea or concept, or take constructive feedback and reflect.
Freeman, A., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Davis, A., and Hall Giesinger, C. (2017). NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2017 K–12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.
a In an ever-evolving world, it is more and more important to continue evolving as well. This doesn't mean changing everything that is good, but having an open mind to the changes that might bring the better, more efficient ways of life. Educational technology is a prime example of this. Technology has always been part of education. From a simple pencil, to the original microcomputers, to the newer hand-held devices, and all the ways between, education has benefited from technology. More important than technology, however, is always a teacher. According to Robyler (2016), "We need more teachers who understand the role technology plays in society and in education, who are prepared to take advantage of its power, and who recognize its limitations. In an increasingly technological society, we need more teachers who are both technology-minded and child-centered."
A Constructivist approach to teaching keeps the child's natural curiosity and sense of adventure alive through questioning and exploring topics. Integrating technology into curriculum easily fits itself into this approach to teaching because there are so many ways to allow students to explore topics on their own through technology. Another piece of a Constructivist approach to teaching is the concept of creation. Modern apps through computers or hand-held devices literally allow children the power of creation at their fingertips. Not only do children have a stronger desire to do these activities, there is a lot of extra knowledge a teacher can gauge from these sorts of activities. In such a technological real-world, there are huge benefits to students being introduced to these things at a young age while in school to better prepare them for a realistic future. Using these technologies also naturally creates an opportunity for inquiry-led projects where students can work together in teams to research, plan, and create products. This is very similar to many real-world careers and the skill to work effectively in a team is highly valuable. As life often shows, too much of a good thing is a bad thing and to maintain a classroom solely revolving around a Constructivist approach could prove to be detrimental if the teacher sees holes forming in educational thinking and computing. The Behaviorist approach that aligns with more of a direct way of teaching explicit information can be helpful in assisting technological education in the classroom. For example, setting up routines and procedures for technology safety might be taught more explicitly with steps to follow and no room for exploring. Together, the approaches work together to create a rich, effective learning environment within a classroom.
As educators quickly realize, there are some issues and drawbacks to using technology integrated into the curriculum. Not all technology-inspired activity is good for students. Teachers need to be aware of , and take steps to prevent, activities such as cyber-bullying or privacy issues. Teachers can teach students proper "netiquette" or etiquette while online. These things include never giving out personal information to anyone while online, avoiding harsh feedback that they wouldn't be comfortable saying face-to-face, and learning to properly cite information online to avoid plagiarism. Sometimes, having access to technology is also an issue. Not all classrooms have the same access to computers or computer labs. Sometimes, there are server issues which can slow lessons down, or even completely stop them from time to time. Software might not always be available to all classrooms due to funding limitations. Finally, the digital divide is an issue where not all students have computer and internet access at home limiting their ability to complete assignments as homework.
Even considering the drawbacks to integrating technology into the classroom, there is still a greater advantage to prepare students for their future by introducing technology into the classroom. Whether the teacher is using it to display information, or present it differently, or the students actually have it in their own hands to learn and create, their futures will benefit. I believe it is up to the teacher to understand the role of technology and how to best apply it in their classroom for their students. It is a teacher's job to sift through the less usable aspects of technology and present the most valuable treasures to the students, allowing them an opportunity to use inquiry to guide and explore for their own learning.
Roblyer, M. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (7th ed.). Massachusetts: Pearson