Technology and Classroom Use – Survey, Data and Report

Technology is huge. More and more districts are putting technology into their classrooms, and into the hands of their teachers and students. Having the technology is great, but there’s more to it than simply having it. Are teachers set up for success in regards to integrating it into their classrooms? In a time when we are so quick to try out the newest gadgets, are we doing everything we can to be sure our teachers, and consequently our students, are even prepared to use what they already have?

To find out, I surveyed the third grade team at the elementary school where I currently teach in southeast Michigan. My colleagues and I are lucky enough to be in a 1:2 technology situation with six chromebooks and six tablets in each room, but I wondered what else could be done to help teachers feel more prepared for integrating technology in their classrooms. We have the technology, and we are integrating it, but we need to do more. How comfortable and confident are teachers with integrating technology, and how can their needs best be met? The best answers come from the mouths of the teachers themselves. My survey is available here. Check out the infographic of my survey data below, and click here to read my report analysis. Questions and comments are more than welcome, as well as any ideas YOU may have for integrating technology successfully!

Technoloy and Classroom Use (1)

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Dyslexia and Raz-Kids

Dyslexia is a special learning need which is extremely complex. As teachers, we need to be prepared to teach students with dyslexia, but more importantly, we must make sure we are setting them up for success in the classroom. In a time when more and more teachers are evaluated based on their students’ reading scores, we must be sure that we are doing everything possible to help our most struggling readers. In my white paper on dyslexia and technology to support students with dyslexia, I found interesting research on brain imaging and the cause of dyslexia. I describe the differences in the white and grey matter of the brains of people with dyslexia and of people who do not have dyslexia. From there, I discuss an interesting article on how silent reading time may not be as beneficial for our students with dyslexia as we thought. Finally, I explain how Raz-Kids (a website and app) can effectively support students with dyslexia. I also include a screencast to show exactly how it works. Raz-Kids provides resources and options for students, but it also provides a monitoring piece for teachers – in this way, students are supported because teachers are able to monitor student progress. Any comments or questions are appreciated. References for my white paper are cited at the end of the paper.

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(photo credit: Freeparking. (30 May 2007). Rosina Emmet Sherwood, girl reading 1888 [photo]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/freeparking/521525494/.)

Silent reading time may hurt, more than help, our students with dyslexia. It is our job as teachers to help these students progress as readers.

Reference:

Freeparking. (30 May 2007). Rosina Emmet Sherwood, girl reading 1888 [photo]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/freeparking/521525494/.

InfoDiet Reflection

This week in CEP812 we were asked to reflect on our current information diet – the information we consume, and how/why we consume it. The danger with gathering information online comes in the form of what Eli Pariser refers to as “filter bubbles” – the information we see is individualized; it is what the internet thinks we want to see, not what we need to see (Pariser, 2011). I use facebook a lot for information. Many of my facebook friends are teachers, so I see a lot of information I can relate to and agree with. I read blogs of educators who teach third grade. Why not read more about what works in their classroom, and see if it could work in mine? Recently, I was having difficulty finding resources to teach making inferences. I began by “googling” and stopped every time I found a lesson for a book in my classroom library. It was a quick, easy way to find resources. I tend to do this with other comprehension strategies, too – as a new teacher, I just do not have the resources built up on my own.

Eli Pariser mentions that we need to make sure the information we gather is relevant, but more importantly, that it challenges our viewpoints and makes us uncomfortable (Pariser, 2011). I generally do not go looking for information that makes me question what I am doing in my classroom. For example, when I googled “third grade making inferences”, I immediately omitted viewpoints and resources from grades other than third, and from strategies that may not be making inferences (but may be related!). If the lesson is for a book I do not have access to, I keep looking until I find one for a text I do have. I could potentially be passing up on an excellent resource, simply because it is a challenge to locate a text.

In order to push my thinking and challenge my ideas, I revisited my RSS feed from CEP810 and added three new resource sites to it:

ProfHacker – The Chronicle of Higher Education: I see my students in the present, as 9 year olds… not in the future, as college-bound teenagers. This needs to change! I need to think more about whether I am instilling the appropriate values in my students that they will carry through the rest of their school careers. I am building the base of a solid education, and my students are relying on me for that.

Blended Learning Environments: I always thought I couldn’t have blended learning in my lower elementary classroom, because I have never had experience with it (or know anyone who has). I realize now that it is possible. I need to believe in my students and help them see what they are capable of producing outside of my classroom. I need to believe blended learning is possible so my students can see themselves as successful with it. I need to open my students’ eyes to the possibility of learning outside of school.

Scoop.It!’s Common Core Online: My facebook is always full of “these common core assessments are too hard”. I also tend to think this way. I need to realize that common core is here to stay, and make sure my students are prepared to meet the standards. Rather than complain about the assessments, I need to stay informed so my students are ready. I have every right to disagree, but I also have the incredible responsibility of educating my students to the best of my ability.

 

(photo credit: Roberts, Kayleigh. (2014, April 2; updated 2014, June 2). Is Picky Eating an Eating Disorder? Living With Selective Eating Disorder and No Vegetables [photo]. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bustle/picky-eating-an-eating-disorder-living-with-selective-eating-disorder-and-no-vegetables_b_4986010.html.)

Just like being picky while eating prevents us from trying new things, being unconsciously picky with the information we receive prevents us from expanding our minds.

References:

Roberts, Kayleigh. (2014, April 2; updated 2014, June 2). Is Picky Eating an Eating Disorder? Living With Selective Eating Disorder and No Vegetables [photo]. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bustle/picky-eating-an-eating-disorder-living-with-selective-eating-disorder-and-no-vegetables_b_4986010.html.

TED Talks (producer) with Pariser, Eli. (2011, March). Beware Online “Filter Bubbles”. Available from http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles?language=en#.

Why people are stupid… and how becoming an informed citizen can help

This week in CEP812, we were introduced to James Paul Gee’s book The Anti-Education Era to help us understand why people are “stupid”. Building on last week’s exploration of problem types, we thought about what limitations exist that prevent us from solving big, complex problems smartly. What stood out to me the most in Gee’s text was the idea of humans developing what he calls a “mental bush consciousness” in which we only gather the knowledge which we feel we will actually use (Gee, 2013, p. 138). If knowledge doesn’t seem to affect us personally, or if we cannot figure out when in the near future we will use it, then why bother learning it? My response to Gee’s text goes into more detail behind the origin of this “mental bush consciousness”, and how I am helping my students to have a more modern mindset by becoming informed citizens in the classroom. Once we realize the importance of knowledge acquisition, we will become more informed citizens and be able to solve big, complex problems smartly. Any comments or questions on my response are appreciated. Happy reading!

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The first step in solving big, complex problems smartly is to become informed. Learn about what is happening around the world, and you will begin to see a solution in sight.

[photo credit: Sackton, Tim. (6 May 2012). Don’t Forget the Passports [photo]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/sackton/7006934854/. ]

Reference

Gee, James Paul. (2013). The Anti-Education Era. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press

LLC (Palgrave Macmillan).

Sackton, Tim. (6 May 2012). Don’t Forget the Passports [photo]. Retrieved

from https://www.flickr.com/photos/sackton/7006934854/.

The beginning of CEP812… well-structured problems and tech solutions!

I am so excited to continue my journey through MSU’s MAET program! Though it was nice to have some time off over the holidays, I am really excited about beginning CEP812 this week. Our first assignment taught us about problems we may encounter in the classroom – well-structured (a problem in which there is one solution), complex/ill-structured (more than one solution), and wicked (solutions may create more problems).

My students are expected to show fluency for their multiplication facts by the end of the school year – meaning they need to correctly answer between 90-100 out of 100 multiplication problems, in five minutes or less! Multiplication facts are considered to be a “well-structured” problem in the classroom because there is only one solution for them – if you multiply 2 by 3, you will always get 6. Even though this is the case, I really felt my students needed some extra practice with learning their facts – and they needed a self-assessment component. I definitely do not want them practicing their facts with incorrect answers!

Check out my screencast here. It introduces the interactive site called the Arithmetic Workout. It’s really fun… I can’t wait to let my students give it a try, and build their math fact fluency!

See ya later, CEP811!

Writing my final blog post for CEP811, I can’t help think: this was a challenging course. I needed to be challenged. I needed to be pushed out of my comfort zone to grow as a lifelong learner and educator. I feel different than I did seven weeks ago…

Part A: Professional Assessment & Evaluation

After being immersed in the “maker movement” through this course, I have a newfound understanding of exploration and how to evaluate and work with students. I’m seeing now the process of learning is just as important as the end result. It is one thing to arrive at the answer, but it’s important to be reflective on the journey you took to get there.

I want to give my students more time to explore concepts and discover new ways of learning. They need time to find new strategies that help them and potentially their peers. This self-guided discovery is something they will always remember. I can see it in our upcoming science unit on water – we use the extremely hands-on FOSS science kits. How nice would it be to take the time for students to really explore, learn, and have fun at the same time? Students completed a project this year where they created a musical instrument by repurposing items at home. I want my students to tell more about the process of finding their materials and creating their instrument. Did they try out a few materials before deciding on the final ones? What challenges did they encounter when they were creating?

My Squishy Circuits kit was nice to work with because all you needed were batteries. I could see this working in my classroom, but I do believe it would be more worthwhile in 4th grade where students learn more about circuits. I can imagine 4th graders would take the learning to a whole new level.

Another major concept of this course was Universal Design for Learning – being sure all student needs are met. I plan to keep up with the UDL guidelines to be sure I’m best meeting the needs of my students – and asking them outright what else I can do to help them as learners.

Part B: Personal Assessment & Evaluation

This course was challenging, plain and simple. I was challenged with a maker kit that I had never heard of before. I was challenged with finding educational research to support my ideas (and proud to discover I was implementing some learning theories). I took a lot of risks developing my own game for my students, and took more risks by evaluating myself as a teacher/designer of activities (with the UDL guidelines, for example).

I worked harder in this course than I think I ever have. I enjoyed reading recent educational research to see how my ideas followed popular theories of learning. When I plan my lessons now, I think about what learning theories I’m supporting and which students will need more support. I look a little more around my classroom now to make sure the learning spaces I’ve set up are what my students need, and find myself wondering the same thing when I enter a colleague’s room.

Having a project chosen by the MAET curator to share with the program was the boost of confidence I needed as a lifelong learner. It showed me that yes, in fact, someone out there in the world was seeing my work. I find myself taking more pride in my work and going the extra mile because I know it could help someone else out there who stumbles upon it.

An an ed tech integrator, I’ve got some work to do. I will continue making sure that I’m really integrating the technology, and not just using it because it’s available. I plan to instill a sense of urgency in my students so that they understand the importance of technology as a learning tool – when used in the appropriate way, of course!

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I want to show my students what I’ve learned from this course – that taking risks is good for the soul (and the brain!).

[photo credit: Blumenthal, Roy. (19 Novemebr 2008). Preparatory Drawing for Warwick Cairns — The Good News! Take More Risks! [photo]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/royblumenthal/3043438508/.]

Reference:

Blumenthal, Roy. (19 Novemebr 2008). Preparatory Drawing for Warwick Cairns — The Good News! Take More Risks! [photo]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/royblumenthal/3043438508/.

UDL and Race to Round!

This week in CEP811, we were introduced to Universal Design for Learning. UDL is both a framework and guidelines that teachers can follow to make sure that all learners can be successful – working to overcome the “one-size-fits-all” curriculum that we are sometimes faced with (Cast, 2011, p. 4). We were tasked with taking a look at our maker activity from week 2 and imposing the UDL framework (see the guidelines with my notes here) on our activity. My lesson was a game that helps my third graders practice their rounding skills to the nearest ten and hundred. It was created with a Squishy Circuits maker kit involving play dough, a battery pack with wires, and fun LED lights. Small groups of students make their way around a game board and practice their rounding skills as they go. You can access my revised lesson plan by clicking here – the red font shows changes from week 3, and the blue font shows revisions with UDL.

I was glad to see that I was already doing a couple of things to support UDL. One of the main things was that I reviewed the rounding process whole-group before allowing students to play the game. This aligned with UDL guideline 2.1 – clarify vocabulary and symbols. By reviewing with the class, I was making sure that all students understood the skill they were going to be working on when they played the game, and took the time to make sure all vocabulary and symbols associated with rounding were clarified.

Another thing I was doing with my lesson that aligned with UDL guidelines was the use of open number lines. I decided to include these back in my week 3 revision to the lesson. The open number lines actually provide opportunities for students to use multiple tools for construction and composition (guideline 5.2). I am so glad I thought of this – it really does ensure that all students have available resources in order to be successful with my game. It also helps my students to stay organized, which aligns with guideline 6.3 on facilitating managing information and resources. Since all they need to do is write in the missing numbers on the number line, I don’t have to worry about number lines being drawn wrong. It is one less step students need to take in order to play the game, and I can help them to do this.

There are a few major revisions I would like to make to my lesson to be sure it is more closely aligned with UDL guidelines. To promote an understanding of rounding across all languages (UDL guideline 2.4), I would need to work with the ESL teachers in my building. I have two students who also speak Arabic, and by working with the ESL team I can ensure that these students understand how to round and play the game.

I noticed that I needed to provide more methods for comprehension for students when they play the game. To align with guideline 3.4 on maximizing transfer, I decided that if I was to create some type of handout to go with the game that reminded students how to round, they could use it with their open number lines to help them round.

I did not have any type of objective posted for students, and I feel that I should. This aligns with UDL guideline 6.1 on helping students with appropriate goal setting. Did my students really understand why I was having them play the game, and what they were supposed to take away from it? By posting the objective where they would be playing the game, students would be reminded of why they were playing and realize that it is more than just a game – it is a tool to help them learn and practice their skills.

The last major revision I would make to my lesson is to differentiate for different groups of students. Guideline 7.1 emphasizes the importance of individual choice for students, and guideline 8.2 discusses varying the demands and resources in the lesson in order to optimize challenge. If I was to create a few sets of cards that students could lay on top of the game board, different groups could practice with different numbers to provide more personalized instruction and engagement. I would be very specific with my groupings and the cards that are available to each group. This would make sure that my lower students use easier cards and my more advanced students can still practice rounding with more difficult numbers.

All of my UDL revisions would require some extra planning and creating on my part, but is definitely worth it if it means that my students are being challenged – in a positive, rewarding way!

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To help ALL students succeed, we must always be asking the question – are we “open” to revising what already works, in order to make it more readily available to our students?

[photo credit: Markito. (8 November 2013). Open welcome note entry sign [photo]. Retrieved from http://pixabay.com/en/open-welcome-note-entry-sign-208368/.]

References:

CAST (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.0. Wakefield, MA: Author.

Markito. (8 November 2013). Open welcome note entry sign [photo]. Retrieved from http://pixabay.com/en/open-welcome-note-entry-sign-208368/.