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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Reflection on Effective Bridging of Technology and Instruction

As I began to understand what this course, Bridging Learning Theory, Instruction and Technology entailed, I also began to investigate as well as express which theory I lean toward or used the most.

The more I reflect on my own personal learning theory, the more I realize that I continue to evolve and grow and do not prefer to be boxed into labeling my beliefs and teaching styles. With this said, I found that I adhere to mainly the constructivist and cognitivist theories with a little mixing of behaviorist. Bruner stated that learning is “an active process in which learners build new ideas or concepts based on their current/past knowledge” (Duffy and McDonald, (2008). Piaget “suggest that the adult’s role in helping the child learn was to provide appropriate materials for the child to interact and construct” (http://www.child-development-guide.com/child-development-theorists.html#theorists1). I believe that each child possess different learning styles and strengths in which I try to incorporate all modalities of learning in order to reach all of my students at any given time. I am a very intuitive teacher and also believe that most students learn best by actually experiencing things through touching, building, creating, and owning. I have always believed this meaning this portion of my personal learning theory has not changed upon the completion of this course. However, what has resulted from this course is the awareness of how to better implement technology using these theories.

Through this course, I have been enlightened to technology terms and tools that I have not heard before. One such tool that I have continued to use since being introduced via this course is VoiceThreads along with Concept Mapping. I have already utilized VoiceThreads in teaching concepts for reading such as main idea, cause and effect, and fact and opinion. This next week, I will take the next step and place my students in cooperative groups in order for each group to create their own VoiceThread. The second tool I have explored is Concept Mapping. In fact, the concept map I created for this course has been referred to on many different occasions in my class for reading, social studies, and science. I look forward in continuing to use concept mapping more easily as well as extending this technology tool for my students to create their own.

My first long-term goal is to keep abreast of current trends and applications in technology. There were many things we did throughout this course in which I had not heard of before. This first goal can be obtained by seeking more professional development classes, which focus on technology, as well as completing my masters through Walden University. My second goal is to add new technology tools to my lessons. As I begin to incorporate more technological tools, I want to ensure I am utilizing them correctly in addition to really benefiting my students and my lessons. Instructional time is limited and valuable. I want my students to be able to take these tools and use them with me being a facilitator. As I think of the technology and tools that exist now, I wonder of the advancements that will happen by the time my students and own children reach their college years.

The only consistent and steadfast element of technology is that it is changing on a daily basis; how we communicate, share ideas, make presentations, and even work in collaborative groups. It is a never-ending process. I hope to expose my students and even myself to different ways of incorporating technology as much as possible. This class has really opened my eyes to a lot of possibilities of using these tools as both instructional and learning.

Child Development Theorists...Major Theorist of Child Development. (n.d.). Retrieved September 11, 2010, from Child Development Guide http://www.child-development-guide.com/child-development-theorists.html#theorists1


Lever-Duffy, J. & McDonald, J. (2008). Theoretical Foundations (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Voice Thread

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Constructivism in Practice

This week's articles and videos examined the constructivist theories and their relationship to technology in the classroom. Within the chapter, Generating and Testing Hypotheses, Data Collection, and Web Resources were discussed and explained. When Generating and Testing Hypotheses was explored, I thought the example given of fifth graders who used Microsoft Excel to learn about compounding interest and saving money can lead to strong earnings over time was pretty powerful. The goal was not to learn about math or graphing; however, they were hidden in the use of this technology tool.

As far as data collection tools, I have never heard of a USB connectable data probe before so this was new for me. This activity for higher grades does indeed show many instructional strategies. It definitely adheres to the constructivist theory of allowing students to create their own meaning through experience.

Web Resources was the part of the chapter I like the most. I love linking to the various websites to find what parts I can utilize the best. I really liked the Plimoth Plantation's You Are the Historian website. It allowed the students to learn via a virtual fieldtrip about life back in colonial times. My son who is six has been ‘inventing’ for years therefore By Kids for Kids: How to Invent was a personal favorite to explore with him. Although he invents with legos, we still enjoyed it.

I believe that as I stop and think about my classroom theories that I do use the constructivist theory at times, but I feel I align more with the constructionist point of view.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Concept Mapping

Discovering Tennessee using concept mapping

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cognitivism in Practice

This week's readings, Orey presented four roles of cognitive tools and gave examples of each. These include information seeking, information presentation, knowledge organization and knowledge integration. Two instructional strategies that relate to the cognitive learning theories are cues, questions and advance organizers and summarizing and note taking.

"Presenting information involves the organization, format, and verbalization of knowledge conveyed through cognitive tools" (Orey, 2001). Examples include graphic organizers and concept maps. Using concept maps allows students to start at the top with the main thought and work their way down to the less general concepts. Concept maps are used frequently in elementary schools to prepare for writing paragraphs. I can now see where they would fit into other areas to strengthen the students' learning.

Summarizing and note taking strategies focus on "enhancing students' ability to synthesize information and distill it into a concise new form" (Pitler, 2007, p.119). These strategies force the students to weed out what is not important and what is. I still use this strategy to jot down key words and cues and also to summarize in my own words, therefore, I will be more likely to remember the information being presented.

Orey, M.(Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Behaviorism in Practice

Behaviorist theorists believe all behaviors can be unlearned and the key element to this theory is reward response. I wish that held true with all students, but I don’t believe that it does. I do use many methods that go along with the behaviorist theory such as contracts, consequences, reinforcement, extinction and behavior modification, and therefore, I believe it does have a place in education and educational technology today.
According to Standridge, “simple contracts can be effective in helping children focus on behavior change” (Laureate ) I have seen this work when dealing with children that need minor behavior changes. However, I have had students who were dealing with lots of issues, and contracts did not work. Honestly, I felt it was more of an imposition on my part to constantly monitor behavior every thirty minutes as some contracts are done. Usually these contracts were set up by our guidance counselor but left up to me to maintain. I do use both positive and negative consequences. I use a ticket system all during the day when I catch students doing the right thing. On Friday, they cash in five tickets for a piece of candy. I also use treasure box. Just as Dr. Orey stated in the video about his own son and his classes, most teachers use clip pulling for punishment, but before a student moves their clip, they must tell me what rule is broken. The point is for students to take ownership in the rule they broke so that hopefully, it won’t happen again.
There are times when behaviorist technology applications are appropriate and effective. Currently, our system is using istation as a means of testing, drilling and practicing for reading intervention. This is the fourth year we have used it. Even if a child does poorly on the initial testing, the program is designed to raise self- esteem as well as academics. The commentator will say, “Keep working hard and try your best.” The students love it. There are other programs out there that praise students for their hard work. It motivates the students to work harder.

I do think online educational programs need to be evaluated constantly by the classroom teacher. There needs to be a purpose in the program not just a usage of time in the classroom. “Researchers find that reading for understanding online requires the same skills as offline reading, including using prior knowledge and make predictions, plus a asset of additional critical-thinking skills that reflect the open-ended, continually changing online context” (David, 2009, p. 84).

Orey, M.(Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Main_Page
David, J. (March, 2009). Teaching Media Literacy.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Appplication 8 Understanding the Impact of Technology in the Classroom

Even before starting my endeavor in obtaining my masters on integrating technology in the classroom through Walden University, I knew I was not very technologically savvy, but through this class I have created and accomplished things I never thought I would have been able to do.

Being a special education teacher within a Resource setting, there are more times than not that I do not include any technology in my classroom or lessons. After completing this class, I feel more confident and compelled to have at least some type of technology during each class. Until I become more efficient, I can start off with baby steps-perhaps having students start and update a weekly blog or even experience skyping with other students or dive into the wiki world. My intent would be to expose my students to technology within another type of classroom setting in addition to what they are being exposed to in their regular classroom. When my Kindergarteners to Third graders reach middle or even high school, think of all of the technological inventions that will have been invented. Through this class, I have learned new skills that I will be able to incorporate into my classroom to ensure my kids are on the road to increasing their Web 2.0 skills, which will eventually lead to being a commodity in the workforce.

Knowing I did not posses adequate technological skills, through this class I have realized the importance of preparing myself for this 21st century in order to become a more effective teacher as well as for the betterment of all my kids, school and home. How do I adequately prepare my students at school? Do some of my students know more about technology than I do? I know my own teenager does. After hearing answers for a podcast assignment, I wonder what life will be like for kids even in a few years. I know the little things I am doing in my class- working together as a team, giving my students more control and responsibility in their learning, and having my students answer questions about ‘how’ they achieved their answers are great skills for helping them down the road. After completing this course, I realize I must do more in the classroom to allow them the capabilities of using more technology.

My classroom strategies and techniques are already learner-centered. After initial assessment at the beginning of each year or when a student enters my class, I formulate a plan for each student to succeed best based on their learning preferences and methods of modality. Each student has certain responsibilities in order to reach their potential at that point. After a student-teacher conference, we talk about what they are having difficulties with and what they want to accomplish, I have my students write down their goals. My goal is assist their learning and keep them on track. Now that I understand what having technology skills and knowledge entails, my perspective has changed in that my students are already coming in to my class with skills, such as email, websites, gaming, applications on phones, even Webkinz.

Since starting my master’s degree with Walden, I have been seeking more information from visiting educational websites to reading more articles and blogs that relate to various educational topics. These websites, articles, and blogs are providing me with more information about current trends, technology ideas for the classroom and for the special education student, brain based theories, etc. Through the continued reading of magazines, websites, and blogs, I can keep abreast of ways to use technology to increase student achievement and become more of an effective teacher.

Set two long-term goals (within two years) for transforming your classroom environment by which you may have to overcome institutional or systemic obstacles in order to achieve them. How do you plan to accomplish these goals?
1) I would like to receive a smartboard and projector to use for all subject areas. Two years ago, I wrote a grant, which enabled a colleague and I to purchase two e-beams, therefore I foresee myself writing another grant in order to obtain the smartboard and projector. After hearing my colleagues in this course discuss the uses of a smartboard and doing some of my own research, I feel certain being able to utilize this type of technology would make my teaching methods more exciting for my students and enhance my student participation and attention. Accomplishing this goal does not mean “receiving a smartboard”, that is not the goal in itself. This goal would be met only after I was discovered enough to utilize the smartboard to its fullest potential for the betterment of my teaching and my students’ learning.
2) Until recently, I never heard of using ipods within the classroom setting, but I have signed up to take a workshop through my school system and have discovered all of their uses. I would like to have a set of ipods where I could download reading stories, math songs, and even social studies and science information for my students to listen to at their own present level of performance. Since ipods are considered a ‘luxury’ instrument, they are not readily available throughout my school system. With this said, I have heard of some of special education teachers using them in various settings, therefore writing another grant through the special education department would provide the funds for this project.

After completing this third course through Walden, I feel I have gained more hands-on and immediate knowledge that I will be able to share with my students. Overall, I have found useful tools from all of my classes to incorporate into my classroom. I cannot wait to see what the next class holds for me. With the start of the 2010-2011 school year just weeks away, I will be sure to share my newfound info with my colleagues and students on blogs, wikis, and podcasts. These will become a part of my vocabulary inside and out of my classroom. I know I will be on board of this 21st century adventure and am recruiting others as well!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Podcast: Profiling the Kids of Today

Podcast interview with 3 kids about their daily technology use, gadgets, and skills.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Evaluating 21st Century Skills

Evaluating 21st Century Skills


My reaction to the web site:
This is the first time I have ever looked at this website. Obviously, lots of time and effort went into designing the website. Personally, I found it a bit confusing as well as a platform for selling different books and materials pertaining to the 21st Century concept. Upon first exploring this site, it seemed as if that was all I was finding, authors plugging their books. Also, when I was exploring different links, I was getting lost and not able to find certain information or pages again. But as I continued to explore the site, there appeared to be a lot of well-known businesses affiliated with promoting 21st century development. This got me thinking about the corporations within my own backyard and the potential and positive impact they could have on the schools around here. One of the businesses is well known for shipping parcels all over the world, but less well known for helping the schools. These companies are getting free tax incentives to stay here which in turn lowers tax monies to fund our schools.

What information on the site surprised you?
Reading the Mission Statement was a nice surprise. This really helped me cement what the 21st Century philosophy is all about.

“Mission Statement”: To serve as a catalyst to position 21st century readiness at the center of US K12 education by building collaborative partnerships among education, business, community and government leaders.
Another surprise was learning that some states were already partnered with businesses and were actively engaged in this program. I wondered if my state of Tennessee has taken the initiative to become involved.

Another surprise was the article about NEA’s partnerships for 21st Century Skills to promote global competence. This article detailed the importance of incorporating 21st Century skills into today’s curriculum and for all students Pre-K through College. Additionally, it stated the importance for educators to revamp their teachings strategies and curriculum so that all students are able to thrive in this global society.

Do you disagree with anything on the site? Explain.

As I found and read the overview of State Leadership Initiative stating in preparing students with the 21st century skills and in order for them to succeed in life, that all students need to be successful in school, work, and life and maintain all of these skills. Not every student is college bound. Not every student has the academic ability to master grade level curriculum and the desire or assistance to seek higher education. Not every student has a supportive family life to help them succeed and it is left up to the teacher to do everything. 21st Century skills must always include the traditional basic core subjects of reading, writing, and arithmetic. These subjects must be taught competently and never left out even when technology is moving to the forefront.

What are the implications for you students, and for you as a contemporary educator?

Becoming more enlightened with the reality of needing 21st century skills for the students of today was never more apparent as I explored this website. Realizing that I need to start instilling some of the skills my students will need to be able to integrate effectively in tomorrow’s workforce upon graduation is a bit overwhelming. If I was a middle or high school teacher, it might be easier to understand the urgency of trying to fit technology and 21st century skills into my daily lessons. But knowing I teach elementary special education students and only having one hour for reading per day, I don’t have enough time to cover their individual IEP goals and the reading curriculum and now this. Please don’t misunderstand me; everyday I teach my students communication and collaboration skills and how to get along with each other and even with those for whom they don’t agree with or care about. I also teach my students to have high expectations for themselves, as I have for each of them, and to be hard workers and always try to stretch themselves while giving their absolute best.
With all of this said, I am a teacher, whether it’s elementary, middle, or high school, and we are all teaching the same students, just at different times, so I need to do my part in preparing our students for the global society by finding ways to adapt more of the 21st century skills into my classroom.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Blogging from the Classroom

While exploring the world of blogs and trying to become more familiar with them, I was also thinking how I would incorporate them in my classroom. Deciding to google “blogging with special education students”, many sites suddenly appeared to my discretion. John Lloyd author of Teach Effectively! Blog http://www.blogged.com/blogs/teach-effectively.html stated this blog was intended to be used as a source for current news and opinions about effective teaching focusing on children with special education needs. John Lloyd shares how to use this blog as a tool of information as well as provide examples of how to reference properly.
As I was thinking of what purpose my blog could serve, it occurred to me to create a centralized location for collecting information and ideas which correlates directly with the specialized materials, curriculum, and instruction our school district requires of the special education teachers. It would be simple to gather teacher contact information and spread the word of this collaborative ongoing adventure.
Since the majority of special education teachers from my district are asked to use the same reading and math curriculum, we could compile a plethora of ideas of how to enhance and/or provide supplemental activities for each lesson. This blog would offer more of a venue for teachers to share ideas, concerns or even student’s work, allowing student’s access wouldn’t be productive.
I believe creating a blog for teachers at this time while planning for possible future expansion to include my students would best serve my needs as well as provide the needed time to practice my blogging techniques before extending to students. (Plus there is a confidentiality issue which encompasses special ed students)
I currently teach special education within a resource setting for K-3 graders.