Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Flipping the Classroom... and Shaking Things Up!

This is a project for a professional development course I have been taking... I'm thinking about taking my traditional classroom and flipping it!  By doing this, the students would view "lectures" and supporting media during their "homework" time (on their own) and use class time for projects and interactive activities.  I think this would be a major change for students who are so very used to the traditional setting, but I also think that if they will give it an honest attempt they would see a huge difference in their understanding.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Still learning... 2nd Attempt at Scratch

Sometime ago, in a course for my Masters, I had an assignment to create an animation.  Two programs were recommended; those being Scratch from MIT and Stykz.  I attempted both and found them difficult to use and felt that I didn't have the time I needed to learn them.  So I set off on a task to find another animation tool that was Web 2.0 friendly.  I made the animation and completed the assignment and never looked back.  Until recently...

The curriculum director came to me a few weeks ago and asked if I was interested in taking a two workshop on Scratch and whether I would teach a game design class for the coming school year.  Not being one to turn something like this down I jumped at the chance!  We will see where this journey takes me.

I attended the workshop over the last two days and this is my attempt to embed a finished product that I created during the training.  I hope to find additional ways to share the animations and games that are produced.

Link to the Scratch project  click here.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Applied Technology... in Student Effort and Assessment

This week’s videos and readings discussed how we can use the technology tools to not only actively engage our students, but also how we might have them understand and reflect using their own knowledge gained by using these tools.

Student effort was a topic that was of great interest to me.  I find it a challenge to motivate my students to provide more than just the effort needed to pass, but maximize their potential.  Future success can be determined by effort today.  When students learn to provide maximum effort they will gain maximum results. “The instructional strategy of reinforcing effort enhances students’ understanding of the relationship between effort and achievement by addressing their attitudes and beliefs about learning” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007).  This is very true, yet is difficult for a teacher to address.  However, it is necessary that teachers work to correlate student effort to achievement in order for the student to realize future possibilities. By using technology to develop strategies for involvement, teachers can reinforce students’ input and self-assessment to assist them in taking charge of their learning. “Technology makes it easier for students and teachers to track the effects of effort and facilitates more immediate feedback” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007).

In terms of assessment, Solomon & Schrum also address the importance of involving students in their own assessment process.  Technology can provide not only tools for students’ to assess their own learning, but can also be used for authentic assessment.  “Perhaps the most obvious use of Web 2.0 tools for assessment would be for students to be able to show what they know in a wide variety of media” (Solomon & Schrum, 2007). The using technology tools such as electronic portfolios including word processing, spreadsheet and database programs in assessment is an engaging tool “in which students must use knowledge to fashion performances effectively and creatively” (Solomon & Schrum, 2007).


Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 155-164.

Solomon, G., & Schrum, L. (2007). Web 2.0: New tools, new schools. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education, 168-176.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Technology, Professional Development and Learning Communities

This week our video and reading focus was on several topics, including technology intervention, cooperative learning and professional development.  One of the statements in the readings that really interested me was “We often provide “just in case” training rather than “just in time” training” (Solomon & Schrum, 2007).  As I read this I began to think about my own recent summer professional development trainings. Many times as teacher we are presented with professional development just as we need to begin to implement it.  This does not give use much time toTe “chew on it a bit” and “digest it”.  I personally need time to reflect on the usage and how to implement it into my curriculum. I think this leads to frustration, mistakes in how it is put into practice and presentation, and a lack of willingness, on some teachers’ part, to use the technology. Teachers need the same opportunities as students to discover the benefits of new technology tools, especially if they are expected to use them immediately in the classroom.

Another issue that was discussed was professional development and emergence of professional learning communities, which in a sense is like the Personal Learning Communities learned about in a previous course. Another statement from a reading, “a strong feeling of community increases the willingness to share information, the passion to support each other, and the collaborative efforts to complete joint activities.” (Solomon & Schrum, 2007) Reading this made me think about how it might be useful in my school.  We do not really have formal professional learning communities.  In fact, I feel just the opposite.  I see a specific committee group of teachers who are involved with the implementing of a grant-funded program as almost a clique.  I feel that I use technology as much as or more than others do, yet when I try to share my activities and “new” technology a teacher from this group the response is less enthusiastic than I expect.  I feel that, as teachers we are not unified in our endeavors in the implementation of technology and this will not be helpful to the success of the program.

Solomon, G. & Schrum, L. (2007). Web 2.0: New tools, New schools. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education, 99-116.

Image retrieved from http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_hZGA_G-F1Rc/Sd1GJRnRSsI/AAAAAAAAAZk/ypYpXAPEX_k/s1600/Wordle+-+Now+New+2.jpg

Sunday, September 16, 2012

CAST BookBuilder eBook

I found the eBook interesting to make.  It is a little difficult to maneuver the program, but with a little time I think I can manage to make it easier to navigate.  I like the idea of using the eBook to share information with my students.  It is often difficult to find to find material for students what would be a good source for vocabulary, basic or detailed information, however I am a little concerned about the juvenile appearance of the book.  I am not sure how high school students will receive this, but I also believe that with more practice and time to include more up to date images the tool could provide to be both beneficial to students and interesting enough to capture their attention.

This is the link to an eBook constructed on CAST's UDL BookBuilder


UDL Lesson Plan

UDL Lesson Checking Accounts LB

UDL... Creating a Blueprint for Learning That is Not One Size Fits All

This week the assignments and lessons provided some new topics, specifically the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and eBooks from the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST). Both of these topics are something that I was unfamiliar with, but after completing the videos and readings this week I feel like the ideas presented are what teachers want to do for their students. As teachers we want to reach all students, so we plan for this in the preparation and implementation of daily instruction. The UDL model is a means to producing lessons in which all students are successful, regardless of ability or learning style.   This just seems like common sense and I believe that teachers would naturally and automatically want to embrace this for the success of their students. I believe that most teachers try to focus our efforts in an informal way by using the UDL model, but the structure of the format allows for teachers to incorporate many methods into the curriculum. This ensures that all students’ needs are met. Also a topic I found interesting in the UDL model, was the three brain networks – recognition, strategic and affective - the “what”, “how”, and “why” of learning (udlcenter.org, 2012). By dividing these concepts into categories, the development of curriculum is in an easier format to ensure all students’ needs are reached.

The eBook assignment was fun to create, and I can see many opportunities for me to use this in my class.  I teach a content area that is ever evolving and the adopted “textbooks” currently in use can be and usually are outdated.  The discipline has many subjects under one umbrella so to speak and this hinders adoption.  I am not currently teaching it but I teach an educator exploratory class and I think my kids in the future could benefit from the knowledge of the CAST website, UDL lesson creation and eBook uses to ensure differentiation in instructional practices and that all students’ benefit from instruction.  I may even include this at the end of the year as part of my Child Development class in preparing them for  Child Guidance classes.

National center on universal design for learning. (2012, 02 28). Retrieved On September 16, 2012) from http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/whatisudl

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Technology... and Student Diversity

This week the focus on our readings and videos are on the impact of technology to students and the classroom. In the student-centered learning environment it is important that all students be allowed to learn.  This includes all students in diverse learning levels. I currently teach classes in the Career and Technology (CTE) area of Family and Consumer Sciences, where students from all levels, Gifted and Talented (GT) to Special Education (Sped) are included.

The readings that addressed the need for differentiated instruction to meet the needs of these varying levels of students were the most interesting to me. Pitler focuses on the objectives teachers and students need to concentrate on to accomplish the goals of learning. In this he addresses the use of technology, such as e-mail, blogs and communication software, to set and communicate goals and objectives (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007). He and his colleagues also state that “this is not only a great tool for setting student objectives, it also is a wonderful way to differentiate student learning” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007) .  Schacter also concludes in his piece on current research, “there is, however, evidence in some of these studies that learning technology is less effective or ineffective when the learning objectives are unclear and the focus of the technology is diffuse” (Schacter 1999). I find this true in my classroom, as all students seem to enjoy and learn from using various types of technology. I use technology not only in delivery of instruction, but to manage assignments and homework, through the use of a learning management system.  I use this LMS to communicate the goals and objectives of daily learning.  I have found that when the students have a clear understanding of the goals and objectives of learning, they can easily go to work on the assignment, project, or activity, and they are more in tuned to what they should be learning. When objectives are not clearly stated, the students are lost and confused, often questioning and seeking more guidance.

I found one statement in Page’s writings on using technology for differentiated students to be interesting. “At-risk students who had obviously been alienated from their peers have, after computers were introduced to the learning environment, been consistently observed interacting closely with other students in computer-aided assignments (Diggs, 1997)” (Page 2002). Once again I find this true in my classroom.Students from all learning abilities and socioeconomic backgrounds begin working together to complete the assignments successfully. I am surprised at how they all help one another. Some students will have a better understanding of the material more than others. Another statement I found interesting was, “Computer technology, when integrated into the classroom for significant periods of time, may also have more significant effects among students classified as low socioeconomic status” (Page 2002). My school is currently at the end of a three-year grant program in which technology and computers were immersed into the classroom.  We are currently waiting to view the results of student achievement from the past two years to see if the technology has indeed improved overall student achievement, and where, if needed, we can make improvements.

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Chapters 1, 15-38.

Schacter, J. (1999). The impact of education technology on student achievement: What the most current research has to say. Santa Monica, CA: Milken Exchange on Education Technology. Retrieved from http://www.mff.org/pubs/ME161.pdf.

Page, M. S. (2002). Technology-enriched classrooms: Effects on students of low socioeconomic status. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 34(4), 389–409. Retrieved from the International Society of Education at http://www.iste.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Number_4_Summer_20021&Template=/MembersOnly.cfm&ContentFileID=830

Sunday, September 2, 2012

One Perspective... in Constructivism

During the first week of readings, several new learning theories were introduced to me. The one I that I seemed to connect with the most was constructivism. I really enjoyed reading about this theory, as it is based in the principles that learners “consider learning to be an individual and personal event.” (SEDL, 1999) I feel that this is so true that “learners bring unique prior knowledge, experience, and beliefs to a learning situation.” (SEDL, 1999). The theory acknowledges that learners bring their own unique prior knowledge, experience and beliefs, that learning is controlled internally and considered, knowledge is constructed in many ways, learning is a process of accommodation and assimilation or rejection, learning is both active and reflective and social interaction provides multiple perspectives.

I often see my students respond to the information I present to them.  Their responses are varied.  Some seem to accept and retain the information easily, while others need time to process it and find some connection to it. I believe many of my students come to my class with some basic knowledge of the content they will be learning and can immediately see the connection to their own experiences.  I am learning that I need to continue to work toward a more learner-centered classroom and shed the teacher-centered, traditional idea of instruction.  Although this is a little scary, because it requires me to give up some control in my classroom; but it is necessary to adapt to the method in which my students can involve themselves in their own learning process. Group projects, student teamwork, field trips and guest speakers and collaborators must all become a part of my daily lesson planning to create an environment that is student-centered and student-influenced.

Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, (1999). Learning as a personal event: A brief introduction to constructivism. Retrieved on September 2, 2012 from http://www.sedl.org/pubs/tec26/intro2c.html 

Adams, S., & Burns, M. (1999). Connecting student learning and technology. Retrieved on September 2, 2012 from http://www.sedl.org/pubs/tec26/flash.html