TCI 501-Demonstrate the Effective Use of Technology Tools in the Classroom

UNDERSTANDING:

Innovative teachers bring innovative technology to the classroom to support instruction. Technology is a pivotal piece that impacts student learning in many ways.  Tammy Stephens, Ed.D of eClass4learning explains that there are countless “technology strategies that fit how today’s students prefer to learn and how technology can be used in instruction to improve student engagement” (Stephens, eClass4learning). In order to push towards technology in any classroom, it’s necessary that a teacher understands and recognizes the big difference between computer hardware and computer software while understanding which technology tool to utilize at what time.

While there are many computer hardware tools that are meaningful and are proven to increase student engagement, there are a few that I would like to discuss that are purposeful to upper elementary classrooms and beyond.

  • Dell Computers: I firmly believe learning should extend far beyond the teacher’s instruction, but it’s not to say that computers are substitutes for inspiring teachers. A Dell computer (or any computer for that matter) provides the ability to get the information students need anytime, anywhere. Computers in the classroom can have an enormous impact on student learning and support instruction. This is particularly important when my students are working on a novel study or student projects and would like to present the information via PowerPoint. I’ve seen student grown in language acquisition for students who learn with multimedia platforms as well as an increase in student motivation. In the area of language development, my students who are ELL have shown growth since our novel study of Maniac Magee. My ELL students used our classroom computers to develop a PowerPoint to summarize chapters 1-10. With the help of images, sounds, text, and videos, my ELL student that struggle the most has been able to link certain images and vocabulary words as we progress through the chapters. Computers are a powerful way to connect between instruction and motivation.
  • Much like with computers, I believe students are to be exposed to laptops in the classroom or the school library. Fortunately, my school has a set of 30 laptops available for 5th grade students and can be shared between the 5th grade team. When laptops are rotated between teams and my class is able to use them, I’ve seen that laptops have a great impact on student learning. Laptops are handy when students work on taking notes during novel studies. Rather than taking notes with a pencil and paper, laptops allow students to scribe the words they want to write at a much faster pace. Not only are my students practicing the skill of keyboarding, but assignments are getting done and this is due to the motivation of using laptops in the classroom. I have also seen peer collaboration amongst my students while laptops are in use. Jennifer Magnesi of Ehow explains that “students who excel at computer usage have been given the ability to tutor their peers who may not be so adept at using technology in class. This has given teachers the chance to allow their students to help each other, giving each student in class the time and attention to grow and to learn” (Magnesi, eHow).
  • Tablets are essentially computers on the palm of your hands. They are portable, light weight, and only cost a fraction of a computer. Tablets have the capabilities much like computers and can access web information. Though my school does not have tablets readily available to for student access, I believe exposing students to tablets will be beneficial for students who are sensory learners. At the school I last taught at, there were 10 tablets available for every classroom. For students who are sensory learners, tablets can be wondrous. Tablets provide that extra support for teachers beyond their instruction with students who learn through touch. After a math lesson, I have my sensory learner students grab a tablet and practice similar problems taught. By doing so, these students not only receive extra practice, but it also creates an excitement level from paper to the digital world.
  • If a classroom does not have a smart-board, then I believe a document camera will serve in its place. I use the document camera in my classroom religiously. It is my go-to device to enhancing instruction. I project my morning entry task on the document camera. Students know where to look to as they walk through the door for instruction on their morning task. It eliminates the effort of verbalizing what their task is. Instead, the instruction of their entry task is posted and students know their responsibility as they walk through the door each morning. By creating a system as students enter the classroom, I have noticed it helps with behavior management tremendously. The document cameras can project information to the students at a large scale and revert to PC screen at the touch of a button. The function on my document camera that I look forward to using the most is reverting from camera to PC. From PC, I can pull up videos and stream online websites that is directly projected onto the screen. In the classroom, this function serves as our “home theater” as we stream ecosystem videos. For my students who are visual learners’ benefits from this as information is enlarged and videos cover the entire screen purposefully.
  • Every classroom with digital cameras with video capabilities is able to capture timeless moments at an instant versus a classroom that does not own one. Cameras with video capabilities in my classroom are used by students. Students record one another during oral presentations once at the beginning of the year and again at the end of the year. When students are behind a camera, they will naturally try harder. As a class, we did our first recording earlier this month and some things that I picked up on is that students’ oral language and communication skills had a slight improvement. I am anxious to have our second recording at the end of the year to see even more of a progression in communication skills.
  • Since my students are getting into novel studies, thumb drives can be a very useful hardware tool to have. While students are taking notes via laptop during our novel study sessions, they are constantly saving information on their thumb drive to refer to when they are creating their final presentation project. Thumb drives can really impact learning as well as support instruction for teachers. Before students create their final presentation project, the need to review information saved is a must. Since my classroom is an eco-friendly class and we are trying to go paperless with projects, students must be able to access information by having a thumb drive.
  • Ipods with recorders are an expensive, yet an innovative tool that students should explore with in the classroom. I frequently load podcasts into ipods for students to listen to. Some of my students have never held an ipod before, something that is so small yet so complex. These students usually are the ones that race to grab an ipod and listen to the podcasts that I load each time. For my ELL students, ipods can really make a difference in their learning. Listening to the podcasts encourages my ELL students to access prior knowledge and vocabulary words to make meaning of what they are listening to. I have seen growth through using ipods with my ELL students.

Computer software plays an equally important role in the classroom. Teachers must know which software to use that will benefit students as students are beginning to explore with the technology.

  • Microsoft Office is a software tool that is constantly being used in the classroom, both by the teacher and student. Microsoft word and PowerPoint is frequently used by students to develop their project. These two software tools have become a daily use in my classroom and because students are frequently using this software, they have become “experts” at using them and the “experts” help the students who are less familiarized with Microsoft. For myself, I use PowerPoint to present new vocabulary words for the week, while providing pictures and meaning to go along with each word. This is helpful for my ELL students as they make connections between the words and pictures.
  • Inspiration is a software organized graphically to help young students as well as students who are visual learners think critically. Learning can be mapped in many ways, but this software does it all for you. It organizes, integrates new knowledge, and focuses on critical thinking which an important piece to increasing student engagement. For 5th grade students, they are required to think more critically in literature, and this is due to the demands of the CCSS. Having this software helps even my most advanced learner dig deep into literature questions.

Website: http://www.inspiration.com/

  • DreamBox Learning is a software tool learning platform that teaches math at a beginner to advance. From the eSchool News Staff of Fifty of the best ed-tech products for schools, “students give right or wrong answers to questions, the software adapts the level of difficulty, scaffolding, sequencing, and pacing of the problems they see—ensuring that every student works in his or her optimal learning zone, from struggling to advanced” (eSchool News Staff, 2012). “This a great tool to use for intervention to make connections between the math learned in class as well as what students are doing in DreamBox.” I believe this tool can make a big difference for students who struggle in math as well as provide the opportunity for students who excel in math to work on advanced mathematical problems. The key thing is making the connection between math learned in class to what students are doing in DreamBox. By not utilizing this program, we are doing our students a disservice in their learning.

Website: http://www.dreambox.com/

  • FluidMath can be a great software tool to use in the classroom as well. It is a tool for tablet users that “features accurate recognition of handwritten math symbols, allowing teachers and students to share concepts and explore ideas electronically” (eSchool News Staff, 2012). For students who are sensory learners, this is a great tool to use in the classroom and definitely increases engagement in math concepts. Math is a subject for students that require constant reinforcement so that students can grasp the concept. I would love to use this software someday soon with my students as I see the positive aspects of it.

Website: http://www.fluiditysoftware.com/

IMPLEMENTATION:

My classroom is equipped with a document camera, a projector screen, four classroom computers as well as Microsoft Office software that are installed in each computer. Granted, my classroom does not have a SmartBoard, but we use any technology that’s readily available in the classroom to learn.

  • My document camera is used religiously in the classroom and does not cease to amaze me with the features that it offers. I use my document camera to display images as a mean to hook my students in for the lesson I am going to teach. For students who are visual learners, this impacts their learning greatly. I post directions for their entry task every morning using the document camera and my visual learners now exactly what to do. Every Monday I introduce new vocabulary words associated to the novel unit. Along with the words are pictures and meaning to enhance comprehension for both my visual and ELL students. During my close reading lessons, I isolate a single paragraph for deep analysis with the students. To enhance my lesson, I create PowerPoint slides to define meaning of the figurative language used by the author in the paragraph, as well as pictures to go with the meaning. The document camera is a powerful tool when I want to convey my thoughts out in words and pictures for my visual learners and ELL students and make a connection to their own learning. The document camera is not only beneficial for visual/ell learners, but for students who have poor eyesight as well. I can zoom in on the document to a single sentence or phrase that I want students to critically analyze and think about. By using the zoom and freeze feature, this gives access to students who need to see large prints and can critically think along with the class.
  • Computers serve many purposes in my classroom. I view computers as tools that are aimed to improving classroom experiences and to motivate students. While it’s widely used for the creation of presentation product, computers in my class are used in other ways as well. Another way that I use computers in the classroom is by having students take Accelerated Reader test which are a great assessment techniques for me to understand where each student is in their reading, and see the progression over time. Computers are also use during “tech-time” which is at the end of the day. This is a fun period for students, especially for my newcomers and ELL students as they have had little to no exposure to computers. During “tech-time” our technology specialist comes in and introduces new and old features for students to be familiarized with and to hopefully become confident users. Our technology specialists cover the basics such as finding the start menu and how to copy and paste. The new features presented are exciting to my students. The computer specialist introduces features such as creating boarders around a document in Microsoft Word, how to add foot notes and how to add music to a PowerPoint slide.
  • Microsoft Office is heavily used by my students. Students use Microsoft word to write reports or finalize writing pieces such as narratives, expository or persuasive. Writing a report does not have to be a daunting task if there’s technology involved. Students tend to WANT to finalize their writing piece by typing it up. During our most recent wrap-up of a novel unit, each student was required to present the book in a new and exciting way, through their interpretation of the book while hitting some key ideas of the book. Students leaned towards creating a PowerPoint show to display their work and they did in many creative ways. Within some PowerPoint presentations, students are adding audio clips of music, transitions, and images to enhance their presentation. Due to their success of creating a PowerPoint slide show with added enhancements, we give thanks to our technology specialist.

INTENTION:

  • The classroom document camera is a hardware tool that’s used in my classroom on a daily basis. I use the document camera to display morning entry work, directions, or pictures to hook my students in for the lesson I am going to teach. This tool is not only user friendly, but is my instruction means MUCH more when I use the document camera during close reading or math. For my students, math in particular is a visual subject and should be taught using a lot of visuals and examples to enhance the concept. My core lessons in math such as creating arrays for a multiplication problem require the document camera for many if not all of my students. When students get to see me represent a multiplication problem in an array, it means much more to them than telling them to represent it. Modeling is key and it starts with using a document camera to reach out to all of my students. Ken Royal from Scholastics Inc. believes that “The document camera may be the easiest technology to integrate into the classroom since the chalkboard” (Royal, 2009). Document cameras are truly simple to use and have functions that are easy to understand such as zoom and freeze. This is a tool that my classroom cannot live without!
  • Classroom computers are important technology tools used in my classroom as well. The different skills that the students learn by using and exploring with computers are priceless. I know that a few of my students are from low income families that do not have access to a computer at home, so having a computer in the classroom and utilizing it the correct way with these students can create a jump in their learning as I am already seeing. These students are getting the right support through our technology specialist which has been a helpful factor to their motivation. Although AR tests may seem daunting to certain students, my low income students see it as an opportunity to interact with a computer while testing. My classroom computers are not only used for testing, but for keyboarding skills as well. Laurie Patsalides of Bright Hub Education believes that “students gain more word processing skills when learning to type: skills they will need in college and the workplace” (Patsalides, 2013). Technology is ever changing and to better serve our students in today’s technological world, we must expose and teach technology in order for our students to be successful in the real world.
  • Microsoft Office has been around for decades and is still widely used by teachers, students and other professionals. Students use Microsoft Office (ie: word, power point) when they want to convey thoughts during a presentation to the class. Chris Kyriacou of Skilledup explains that “Microsoft Office is an essential tool for any individual in today’s digital age” (Kyriacou, Skilledup).With the use of technology during any presentation, it becomes much more interesting and students are more engaged in the topic and presenter. With wrap-up of our first novel study, student’s engagement level heightened as they busily put together their presentations of understanding of the book. For the optimal learning experience, I believe there should be a balance between teacher directed and student directed situations. In the case of students presenting their knowledge of the book through PowerPoint, it is student-led and is a powerful to their learning.

 ANALYSIS & REFLECTION:

Today’s learners are highly visual learners and use digital media in ways that engage learning. To continue this interest of students, we as educators must understand their desires for technology and how to best implement technology in the class to increase best practices. I’ve learned through the course of teaching that technology is an essential tool to bring in the classroom and can really change the dynamic of learners from disengaged to promoting active learners. In the classroom, the students and I use the technology that is readily available at hand. The technology that keeps most kids engaged would be the computers in the back of the room. Upon completing a novel study, students have choices of how they would like to present their understanding. Student’s choices include writing a report using Microsoft Word, creating a PowerPoint slideshow or designing a brochure that targets the key ideas of the book in their own, creative way. Giving students choices is powerful while paired with technology can create an undeniable dynamic for learning amongst all students, especially my ELL students. Brad Kuntz of ASCD explains that as teachers, “we can provide opportunities in class for students to learn and demonstrate their mastery using technology. We can create innovative activities and projects and allow students to use technology as part of classwork” (Kuntz, 2012).

In teaching with technology, it can support instruction immensely. An example would be using the document camera and using the various features that it offers (zoom, freeze, revert to PC screen). The role of technology in the classroom for students is to lend themselves into exploration. Other technology tools that I have students explore with to enhance engaged students is through using digital cameras to record students’ oral presentations, classroom computers as well as laptops provided by the school library for quick note taking during novel unit studies. These are the major technology tools used in the classroom day in and day out.

Through this course, I have explored with many software’s that were not made known to me otherwise. I realized that there are countless tools available that can help students from math to ELA, ranging in ability levels to meet each individual’s need.

  • A future goal that I have for myself is to attend professional developments on integrating technology in the classroom provided by the district to increase best practices in my classroom within the next two months. These courses are offered by the district’s technology leader and they are primarily focused on document camera and the calibration between my laptop to desktop computer and projector screen.
  • Another future goal is to explore with Microsoft Office 365 within three months and compare/contrast the advantages/disadvantages of Microsoft Office 365 to the current that I use: Microsoft Office 2014.
  • Another future goal is to hopefully provide every student with access to Microsoft Office at the convenience of their own home within the next five months through PTA funds.

WORKS CITED:

Fifty of the best ed-tech products for schools. (2012, July 23). Retrieved from http://www.eschoolnews.com/2012/07/23/fifty-of-the-best-ed-tech-products-for-schools/5/

Kuntz, B. (2012, June). Engage students by embracing technology. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/newsletters/education-update/jun12/vol54/num06/Engage-Students-by-Embracing-Technology.aspx

Kyriacou, C. (n.d.). 10 Reasons You Should Be Using Microsoft Word. Retrieved from http://www.skilledup.com/learn/digital-content/10-reasons-using-microsoft-word/

Magnesi, J. (n.d.). What are the positive effects of computers in the classroom? Retrieved from http://www.ehow.com/info_7994455_positive-effects-computers-classroom.html

Patsalides, L. (2013, May 1). Why and How to Use Computers in the Classroom. Retrieved from http://www.brighthubeducation.com/elementary-school-activities/5638-benefits-of-computer-time-in-the-classroom/

Royal, K. (2009, October 1). Best in Tech 2009: Document Cameras. Retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3752578

Stephens, T. (n.d.). Ten Technology Strategies to Engage the Digital Generation. Retrieved from http://www.eclass4learning.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/engagementwhitepaper.pdf

TCI 501- Create and Establish an Active Online Presence

UNDERSTANDING

The online collaboration tools that I believe impact educators professionally are Pinterest, Instragram, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Wikispaces.com, teachertube.com, Spellingcity.com, wordpress.com, Edutopia.org, ProTeacher.com, and Edublogs.org.

  • Pinterest is a great online tool that allows virtually anyone to replicate ideas already created so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Users on Pinterest can “pin” what they believe is interesting to them and the “pin” can be saved in an organized category that the user has created. Educatorstechnology noted that “Pinterest has some educational potential that we need to capitalize on in our teaching” and that Pinterest can be used in several ways for educational purposes such as getting inspiration through other Pinterest users on classroom décor ideas, lesson plan ideas, and most importantly, creating an online professional community amongst other teachers on pinterest through personal interaction. Pinterest should not be used as an online platform to kill time, rather a platform that can help one develop as a teacher. “You might not have thought about using Pinterest as a personal development tool, but it works for that as well. There are ideas that can help you push your teaching to the next level” (Educatorstechnology, 2013).
  • Instagram can be a very useful online collaboration tool. Instagram users can follow people of interest and examine photos that represent the user. For me, I use instagram as a means to find inspirational quotes that I can present to the class as an entry task.
  • Twitter is another great online collaboration tool for educators to grow professionally. National Education Association (Nea) believes that “by following other educators’ tweets, teachers can keep up with the latest trends, news, and happenings in education, as well as communicate with fellow educators” (Nea, 2014). Twitter can impact educators greatly by having dialogue exchange with other educators to see what’s working and what’s not. Beyond educational leaders, twitter users can follow people of interest and the options are endless.
  • Facebook is the most popular social network on the web. Facebook is very similar to Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest in that Facebook allows users to follow people of interest and receive “feeds” from those followed. Teachers can join professional communities and use these Facebook communities to interact and exchange ideas. Teachers can also create Facebook Groups that can allow teachers to communicate with parents. Clara Pek of Ed Week speaks highly of Facebook and explains that, “educators can share information such as upcoming school trips or provide contact details” (Pek, 2013).
  • Google+ is much like Facebook, but is geared more towards young professionals. Google+ is a newer online platform than Facebook, but has many features that attract educators as these features play an important role for educators. Educators on Google+ can “hangout” a “free service offered by Google+ that allows educators to deliver virtual lessons to their students and give remedial work those in need of it” (Ed Week, 2012).
  • Wikispaces.com is an excellent tool for teachers and students to create “wikispace classrooms”. By definition, a Wiki is a platform that allows collaborative editing of its content and structure by its users. Because of this freedom, everyone has a say and creates instant collaboration without emailing. The con of using a Wiki is that the content tends to get messy since it is being edited by multiple users. Nonetheless, wikis can impact educators greatly. An example is Wikispace.com. Wikispace.com users can create classrooms that promote active student engagement and can be used to formatively assess student’s content knowledge. Educators can then make informed decisions on their teaching based on students’ input within the wiki content.
  • Teachertube is an online tool that I use frequently. Much like youtube, teachertube was created just for teachers to stream educational videos as well as blog and join different groups within teachertube. There are many beneficial videos that can enhance a lesson for a teacher. What I find helpful is that videos are categorized by topics and can make searching a video for a lesson much quicker!
  • Spellingcity.com is a great tool to use when you want to reinforce practice of spelling words to students. This online tool can impact educators as it allows the educator to quickly gauge at students’ spelling records without collecting and checking papers. The spelling scores of students are done by Spellingcity’s automated record-keeping feature. This is a big time-saver for teachers, and going green is never a bad thing.
  • I frequently use wordpress.com to blog and follow educational users. I also use wordpress.com to leave comments on blogs that I feel are insightful. Edutopia.org, Edublog.org and proteacher.com are great online collaboration tool as well as they provide articles on the most relevant topics in education as well as allowing users to become part of professional online community topics. By definition, a blog is a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group that is written in an informal or conversational style. Blogs such as edutopia.org, edublog.org and proteacher.com serves as a portal for teachers to interact and collaborate professionally on blogs of interest. These blogs are loaded with articles that relay important information to education and to some educators, certain articles that talk about tips and tricks can enhance best teaching practices to educators. Proteacher.com is one of my favorite online collaboration tools. There is a wide range of topics to join. Those that join range from new teachers to veteran teachers. I love the idea of threads. Everyone who is a part of the online community has a voice. New teachers can bounce ideas off of veteran teachers and use the ideas to enhance best practices.

IMPLEMENTATION:

The online collaboration tools that I believe are important to use to impact myself and other educators professionally are Pinterest, Twitter, and Edutopia.org.
To get the most out of Pinterest, I have created a pinterest world filled with ideas that interest me which I have organized by category. There are many ways that I support learning using Pinterest. I follow teacher users that have already pinned great resources in their profiles and follow certain boards from these users. By following specific boards, I will receive updates whenever something has been posted and I will immediately see it on my feed. Within the boards that I follow, there are classroom décor ideas, anchor chart ideas for math or ELA, project ideas, craft ideas and management ideas. The endless ideas available on Pinterest (especially classroom management ideas) can impact educators professionally as educators pick and choose which technique best fits them. For my own grade level purpose, I mainly follow users that have resources pinned for 5th grade teachers. This in turn impacts other 5th grade professional users that follow me and my boards as they can also receive updates on the 5th grade materials that I pin. There is a system and cycle that connects all the users together and receive updates from one another instantly as resources are pinned. Recently in our study of informational text, I recreated an anchor chart through a user that I follow on “evidence based terms”. This anchor chart became the core of my lesson as students are taught how to use evidence based terms when they are citing directly from the text or making inferences based on the support around the text. This became a meaningful and successful lesson due to the visual of the anchor chart. Though my lesson covered the basics of citing from a text, the complexity of this skill will be taught in greater depth as 5th grade students move to middle school and prepare them for high school and beyond. This anchor chart will help 5th grade students with the move towards college and career readiness (CCR) as pushed by the CCSS.

Twitter and edutopia.org are just as beneficial for educators to grow professionally. As an educator, I use Twitter to stay informed with education and anything new that might be taking place by reading and reflecting on articles that arise on my feed. The articles that I look into the most are articles relating to the Common Core State Standards as these standards are mandated for all public school teachers and it is always beneficial to stay informed, especially with the new standards in regards to best practices. Many professional users that I follow post student engagement articles filled with tips and tricks that I am not shy to use in my own classroom. The Danielson Framework as adopted by my school district that assesses teachers comprehensively, targets student engagement as one of their criterions. Through implementing ideas from the article on student engagement, my building administrators have seen growth in the area of student engagement during my pre-observation. Of course, there are seven other criterions that are assessed and I will continue to use Twitter to read articles that focus on the seven other criterions to help me grow professionally. I use edutopia.org to mainly participate in high collaborative communities and their discussions on articles as well as read related articles on comprehensive assessments. Curriculum night was recently held at my school and I had the luxury of hosting it in my classroom. Parents and grandparents attended and I had a high count of attendance in comparison to my 5th grade team. I came well prepared to answer any tough questions thrown at me by parents, and sure enough, a concerned parent asked me about the CCSS which was the toughest question that night. The topic discussions in edutopia.org prepared me for that question as I pulled from my bank of knowledge of the article on the CCSS. Rest assured, the parent walked away feeling more informed of the new standards and felt confident that I can help her child be successful and meet the new standards.

INTENTION:

Edutopia.org, twitter and Pinterest are the three great online tools that support learning as well as have an impact on educators professionally.

Edutopia.org is a powerful online tool that I believe anyone in the education field can benefit from. This online tool has a format design that’s easy to navigate for both educators and parents. What’s nice is that Edutopia.org features the latest and greatest articles that appeals to educators that are written by reliable sources. To read up on the author of an article, you simply click on the name of the author and you are given a complete, professional profile of the author. The articles are written using research based information so that you know what you are reading is reliable. Another powerful aspect of each article is that they are recent. Many articles that are relevant to educators and offer many ideas teachers can try out on their own in their own classroom. Many articles also provide tips and tricks from experienced teachers which is a great tool for new teachers. As an educator, I want to read the latest and greatest from reliable sources whom I can trust and with edutopia.org, I trust each author with their expertise and experience of this field of work.  The topics of each article can have a great impact on educators professionally as it provides great insight into the topic at hand. Collaborating in professional communities is also another aspect of edutopia that is powerful for educators. Outside from their own PLC group, educators can be a part of other PLC groups through edutopia. This provides learning opportunities for educators beyond the PLC group they are already with at work.

Twitter is another powerful online collaboration tool that educators should explore and use to have a great impact professionally as there is abundance of resources for educators to stay informed. William Ferriter of ASCD explains that Twitter can be a way to “share resources and lend quick support to peers with similar interest. For educators who use this tool to build a network of people whose Twitter messages connect to their work, Twitter becomes a constant source of new ideas to explore” (Ferriter, 2010).  In twitter, you could “look inside the minds of motivated peers to learn about the new projects they were undertaking, the research reports they were studying, and Web sites they were exploring” (Ferriter, 2010). Twitter makes this possible. The hashtags used on Twitter is also a powerful feature. It allows users to view other related articles or thoughts associated to the hashtag. The abundance of great reads and exploring new ideas makes Twitter a tool that all educators should use.

Pinterest is a collaborative online tool that is growing by the day and if educators aren’t already on it, they should be. Pinterest offers many creative and innovative ideas from teaching to landscaping to beauty and health. The list of topics is endless. Besides the many great topics to pin, for educators, pinning teaching materials can change one’s world greatly. Pinterest offeres free printables that many other sites charge. Kelly Walsh of EmergingEdTech states “Pinterest has an overabundance of lesson plans and printable games that teachers can incorporate into their curriculum” (Walsh, 2013). “As teachers discover the power of using Pinterest as a teaching tool, we are seeing an increase of this site being used in the classroom and for homework assignments” (Walsh, 2013). Finding free teaching materials that align with the state standards is hard, but it is easy with Pinterest!

ANALYSIS & REFLECTION:

There are many online tools out on the web, but not all of them are resourceful as we would like. When you find the right ones as a means for teaching and growing professionally, use it to enhance instruction and work towards becoming a more proficient teacher. Throughout this course, I’ve searched many online tools that appear helpful, but the ones that I use personally would be Twitter, Pinterest and Edutopia.org to both find tools for teaching as well as help me develop a better framework for teaching. Online platforms such as Twitter, Pinterest and Edutopia.org all provide helpful and insightful information/tips that can be applied in the classroom. I’ve already utilized many of the tips and tricks offered on Twitter in my pre-observation and have seen growth in my teaching practices.  Online collaboration tools also offer a domain for teachers to have discussions and get feedback from other teachers/professionals. These technological tools not only offer online collaboration, but “technology also changes the way teachers teach, offering educators effective ways to reach different types of learners and assess student understanding through multiple means” (Edutopia, 2014). This course provided me with extensive knowledge on choosing great online tools to enhance my profession and help my students in return with the knowledge that I’ve acquired through these tools.

  • A future goal that I have for myself is to provide my colleagues with the most relevant, collaborative web tool that will benefit them within the next month during our PLC meeting.
  • Another future goal that I have for myself is to compile relevant articles that share tips/tricks in education for my colleagues within the next month in our PLC.

Source Cited:

30 ways teachers can use pinterest. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/05/30-ways-teachers-can-use-pinterest.html

Can tweeting help your teaching?. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/home/32641.htm

Pek, C. (2013, August 16). New how-to guide for using facebook in the classroom. Retrieved from http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teaching_now/2013/08/a_how-to_guide_for_teachers_using_facebook_in_the_classroom.html

Walsh, K. (2013, January 16). Three ways pinterest is getting used by teachers. Retrieved from http://www.emergingedtech.com/2013/01/three-ways-pinterest-is-getting-used-by-teachers/

Why integrate technology into the curriculum?: The reasons are many. (2014, April 13). Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-introduction

William, F. (2010, February). Digitally speaking / why teachers should try twitter. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb10/vol67/num05/Why-Teachers-Should-Try-Twitter.aspx

Link

Implementation

Please check out my self-created engagement surveys here.

The engagement surveys I created are a 4 part survey that identify four main targets: parents, school staff, students, and community members. Each survey consists of ten rated statements from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree”.

Engagement Analysis

In teaching today’s society, there are countless barriers students and educators are faced with. Among them are academic, societal, and psycho-social barriers. By focusing on these barriers and attempting to move in a progressive manner, I believe educators enhance access to education and will in turn have a lasting effect on classroom practices and student engagement.

Social Attitude:

Social attitude towards an individual with disabilities is one of the major societal barriers in education. IIP Digital of the U.S. Embassy states that “When parents, school administrators and community members believe that impairments make a child less worthy of being educated, or less able to benefit from education, it is unlikely that children with disabilities will be given equal access to education.” This barrier impacts classroom practices and student engagement in those children absorbs societies rational on disabilities, making it tough for educators to gear their mind towards individuals with disabilities in the classroom. In turn, I believe students with disabilities in the classroom feel burdened and are less likely to have a positive experience in school as his/her peers. Students with disabilities deserve the same equal rights to education as their peers. Society’s notion that students of disabilities are less deserving is unjustifiable. I strongly believe educators who have the heart and mind can slowly change society’s thoughts on individuals with disabilities. Educators can overcome this barrier through community outreach programs to “raise awareness and dispel myths about disabilities” (IIP Digital, 2013).
Educational Environment

When mainstreaming students with special needs, having the necessary materials and training to teach with is vital to their success. “While teachers do not need an advanced degree in special education, they should be trained in how to interact with children who have visual impairments, hearing impairments and other special needs” (IIP Digital, 2013). Without the necessary materials and training offered to educators, educators are limited in what they can do to help students with disabilities achieve in the classroom and in turn, students are less engaged. For students with disabilities to truly benefit and have an exceptional education experience in a mainstream classroom, teachers must teach with knowledge to each student’s disability and needs. More training and quality materials will allow for optimal learning experience these students deserve because “not only will this help schools better accommodate students with disabilities, but also send a message to the community that all students deserve such an education” (IPP Digital, 2013).

Individualized Learning/One-Size-Fits-All-Education

With society being racially, ethnically, economically, and linguistically diverse, the idea of one-size-fits-all does not apply in today’s classrooms.  Students who are neglected of individualized learning will not benefit from the optimal learning experience he/she needs to be successful and “to help students reach this potential, teachers need to individualize the learning process as much as possible” (IIP Digital, 2013).With the one-size-fits-all model, students are unable to gasp this learning method. Alfie Kohn, American author and lecturer, expresses that the one-size-fits-all education does not work and “declaring that everyone must reach the same level is naïve at best, cynical at worst, in light of wildly unequal resources” (Kohn, 2001). There is no excuse for one-size-fits-all education. According to Andy Powell, CEO of Independent Education Foundation Edge, “one-size-fits-all education system does not enable all children to thrive in their own way” (Powell, 2014). In fact, Powell further explains that “we need to move towards a system of mass customization, based on a strong common core of essential skills and knowledge, which allows young people to develop their own particular talents and aspirations. Young people will learn if they see learning as important, meaningful and worthwhile” (Powell, 2014).

Support Systems

“Parents and educators who feel overwhelmed and do not know where to go for help can create barriers through inaction” (IIP Digital, 2013). Many parents with students of disabilities and educators who teach inclusive education often feel lost at sea with the lack of support and practical help. This affects teaching practices in those teachers with minimal background and support from administrators. Although educators may be aware of the disabilities, the support and help must extend far beyond that to truly meet those needs of students with disabilities. Teacher and parents both need a strong support system to help special needs students move forward. Luckily, “many societies now have advisory groups, which typically include disabled individuals, to help school administrators and governments make smarter policy decisions by informing them of the unique needs of disabled students” (IIP Digital, 2013).

Technology

Implementing technology use in the classroom plays a big role in changing the education environment. However, technology is expensive and many schools prefer to teach the traditional way because of the resistance to change, lack of professional development, lack of innovation and access. Karehka Ramey of The Guardian explains that refusing to use technology tools in the classroom “will leave many schools backwards” in a time where our society is growing technologically (Ramey, 2014).  Many teachers who refuse to change old tactics set students of the 21st century back in time. Rather than receive training to implement technology, teachers who are resilient to the change will teach traditionally straight from the curricula, subject by subject, lowering students engagement level in the classroom. Students of the 21st century need to feel stimulated and engaged in the materials learned and technology can help with that. As Ramey states, “technology provides easy access to academic information, ability to learn easily which results from the use of visual learning in the classroom which is facilitated by technological tools like the smart white boards, and the ability to learn from anywhere” (Ramey, 2014).

Achievement Gap

The achievement gap is arguably the most talked about issue in regards to education barriers.The issue of achievement gap is especially concerning to teachers with non-affluent and/or black and Hispanic students because of the troubling performance gaps. Through the rising demands of NCLB, teachers recognize the urgency to close the achievement gaps among affluent and non-affluent students. The achievement gap is impacting diverse classrooms. Mary E. Walsh of The Whole Child and Executive Director of City Connects explain that “until we address poverty, the achievement gap will persist” (Walsh, 2013). Walsh further explains “to provide opportunity of upward mobility, teachers must instill best teaching practices to ensure success whether that means coordinating with families and community agencies, working with school counselors, and customizing to the needs of each student”. Because the achievement gap exists, teaching practices have enhanced and teachers are now finding that holding each student to high expectations can also help close the gap. When teachers hold students to high expectations, students will feel valued and not underestimated.

Resources:

Kohn, A. (2001, June 10). One-Size-Fits-All Education Doesn’t Work. Retrieved from http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/onesize.htm

Overcoming Barriers to Equal Education. (2013, August 28). Retrieved from http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/pamphlet/2013/08/20130823281583.html?CP.rss=true#axzz34kzMA6jc

Powell, A. (n.d.). We Need An Education System That Excites Children. Retrieved from http://www.teachingtimes.com/articles/revolution-education-system.htm

Ramey, K. (n.d.). Barriers to the Effective Use of Technology in Education. Retrieved from http://www.useoftechnology.com/barriers-effective-technology-education/

Walsh, M. (2013, June 10). Support All Students to Close the Achievement Gap. Retrieved from http://www.wholechildeducation.org/blog/support-all-students-to-close-the-achievement-gap

Engagement Plan

Characteristics of school and community:

Northern Lights Montessori School is nestled in the heart of downtown Redmond and Redmond Town center. It is an independent school that runs year-round with roughly 100 students that attend ranging from pre-school to 2nd grade. Many families with students who attend are Redmond natives and work for top software companies around the area such as Microsoft and Schakra Inc. Our classrooms provide ample space for students to work, explore and learn. Our school has many parent volunteers who enjoy spending their time in their child’s classroom, connecting with the staff as well as fund materials for after-school activities. The schools as well as the community are tightly connected in improving the learning as well as lifestyle for the students of Northern Lights.

Rationale for resource selection:

We are a school that provide and make sure all students are nurtured and receive top notch education. Parents are always pleasantly surprised of the quality education their child receives. Northern Lights make a great effort to enforce a sense of community, family, and school involvement to increase engagement. Since these students come from well off families, the primary focus and desires from these families is to make certain their child is exposed to recreational, yet educational sites that help to further enhance the private school lifestyle and learning development of their child through exposure of critical landmarks of the community and working alongside to ensure commitment of engagement with the community at large.

Resources:

School website

http://norlightsmontessori.org/

Our school website provides information for parents regarding any updates in the school or classroom happenings.

Kids Quest Museum

http://www.kidsquestmuseum.org/

Northern Lights and Kids Quest in Bellevue are partnered up to provide science education for students every year around May. Students are given opportunity to explore and play with water wheels, air and velocity with handmade airplanes and much more.

Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center

http://www.pps.org/great_public_spaces/one?public_place_id=75

Many school events such as talent shows and graduation ceremony are held at the Old Redmond Schoolhouse. Being that this public structure is old and historic, it gives students a chance to learn more about their city and the history of the building. Old Redmond Schoolhouse provides a sense of “place”. The community of Redmond has a strong attachment to the building as it provides not only history, but utilized by organizations for meetings, family socials, business luncheons, potlucks, reunion and social gatherings.

King County Library System & summer program

http://www.kcls.org

This is a great place for kids and families to connect. The summer program features many hands-on activities for kids to be stimulated and engaged throughout summer.

Redmond Fire Station

http://redmondfireandrescue.org/

Northern Lights often invite firefighters to come into our classrooms to educate the students on fire safety towards the beginning of the year.

RYPAC- A Center for Teens

http://redmond.gov/cms/one.aspx?objectId=4187

The Redmond Youth Partnership Advisory Committee (RYPAC) is a program for teens within the Redmond community. This program offers opportunity for youth to develop leadership abilities as well as deliver humanitarian projects within the community.

Boys & Girls club

http://positiveplace.org/Pages/Home.aspx

Redmond is fortunate to have this recognized program in their community. Boys and Girls Club of King County helps students succeed academically, build good character and citizenship in young community members, as well as encourage healthy lifestyle.

YMCA works

https://www.ywcaworks.org/Page.aspx?pid=441

YMCA works, located conveniently in Redmond offers low-income families transitional housing and other services for families in need. Our school supports YMCA works and often times parents of students support by donating goods to help the community. Twice a year, we take a field trip to this site to drop off goods and reconnect with members of the community. This gives us a good opportunity to teach Northern Lights kids the value and purpose of giving back.

Friends of Youth Center

http://www.friendsofyouth.org/

Friends of Youth is also another program that Northern Lights as well as the community support. This program assists youths and teens from homelessness as well as assisting young people the right path to choose once after high school.

Analysis & Reflection

Throughout this course, I’ve learned a tremendous amount on student engagement and assessment tools that measure the engagement of schools and community. Although I currently co-teach at a private Montessori school, having this knowledge is still beneficial and can heighten future learning opportunities that I can take with me. My 1st grade classroom is operated much like a public school classroom which make these new teaching practices applicable and relevant.

Creating my own engagement plan that target a wide population was very interesting and a fun experience. Doing so, I got a taste of what it’s like to be on the other end of the education word and felt the stress level of the administration. It is no simple task to create an engagement survey and the steps that follow the engagement survey are not simple either. This course definitely opened my curiosity about engagement tools and assessments.

The most important teaching practice I took from this course is student engagement and how to best achieve that. Since I currently co-teach in a 1st grade classroom, it’s important for my co-teacher and I to plan and figure out the best way to heighten student engagement. Co-teaching has had many benefits to students’ learning. Students are receiving the same information taught by two teachers simultaneously. I refer to this as “one brain two bodies.” Students will also be divided into two groups and the lesson will be taught simultaneously. This helps with management and the teachers are responsible for a smaller body of students versus the entire class. When I divide the class into two, I find that the students are more engaged as they are less distracted by other students. Since there’s a smaller body of students when I divide, students will zone in on the lesson and become more engaged. Often times, I will pull selected students who require the individualized learning experience and my co-teacher will teach the rest of the class. By planning and structuring the class this way, I can easily keep students who require individualized learning engaged in the learning process and be less distracted by their peers.

Collaborative learning between students has a lasting effect on learning and student engagement. Melinda Dooly, author of Telecollaborative Language Learning, explains that with collaborative learning, “students are actively exchanging, debating and negotiating ideas to increase students’ interest and learning” (Dooly, 2008). I have seen the exchange between my students each time they are put in collaborative groups. My 1st grade students understand the importance of working together towards a common goal and it’s nice to see them respond to this request.

Keeping lessons rigorous and actively promoting student engagement are teaching practices that increase buy-in. When a child is actively engaged in a lesson, he/she will better retain the information and enjoy learning. These teaching practices should be reinforced and the important role they play in students’ education.

A future goal I have for myself is to continually develop and learn from new teaching practices to enhance student engagement. I plan on attending professional development courses on best educational practices.

Another future goal I have for myself is to rigorously use the new teaching practices learned and select the teaching practices I feel are necessary to share among my colleagues and school.

Resource:

Constructing Knowledge Together (21-45). Extract from Telecollaborative Language        Learning. A guidebook to moderating intercultural collaboration online. M. Dooly (ed.). (2008) Bern: Peter Lang.