Module 8 Self-Generated EDTC-6431

Module 8 Self- Generated Topic

New and Improved Poster Boards

I this last reflection I would like to discuss a few ideas. First, in this Module 8, I introduced two tools Glogster.com and Tagxedo.com.  Both of these tools are helpful with the ISTE standards of communication and collaboration.  I think they could benefit and enhance students and teachers creativity.  Secondly, I also would like to expand on my feeling about this class throughout this summer quarter.

Glogster.com is a tool that supports students and/or teachers with projects and presentations.  This tool allows the user to create a “poster-like” arrangement and to add video, pictures, music, links, etc.  Additionally individuals can develop a visual experience for the audience that is unique and impressive.  Glogster.com takes the user through processes that foster creativity and individuality.  Whether students work together or in a group each piece that is brought to the “poster” would be a distinctive part of the whole.  This could be a great way to have students and/or teachers collaborate on projects and still give them a sense on individuality.  This could empower students and/or teacher to expand on ideas in a different way than the old cut, paste and draw with markers on poster boards while refining their skills through multiple types of media.

I also explored  Tagxedo.com that is similar to the tool Wordle.net that I presented earlier in the class. As stated on the website “Taxedo -turns words — famous speeches, news articles, slogans and themes, even your love letters — into a visually stunning tag cloud, words individually sized appropriately to highlight the frequencies of occurrence within the body of text.”  This is another way of expressing individuality and turning an idea, speech, song, presentation into something more visually stimulating.  This in turn could promote critical thinking and help to simplify confusing ideas or heavy text by highlighting or emphasizing key words or ideas.

Lastly, I wanted to focus on the class as a whole.  I was extremely scared at the start of this quarter and especially for this Learning with Technology class.  I think my first thought was “what the heck have I gotten myself into!”  Once I recovered from the initial straight uphill climb out of my ideas of yesteryear and into the present focus on embracing technology it wasn’t so scary.  I felt comfortable expressing my apprehension and then my understanding of the tools presented throughout this class.  I even enjoyed telling others, outside the class, of my new technological discoveries.  I have enjoyed the discussions and the thoughtful sharing of ideas and encouragement of fellow classmates. The continued support from classmates for the different uses of each tool presented was great.  The self-generated topics posed another wealth of knowledge and individual expression of what each individual’s strengths and focuses are.  I found these two last modules to be very interesting and full or rich resources (almost overwhelming at times).  I hope to go forward with a new sense of taking chances and trying new things whether it be a technological tool or a new experience.  I think that this class became an opportunity for me to grow and I am thankful for this growth.  I found this quote that summed up what I was feeling, “Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.”  I do believe that my mind is more open because of this class.

References:

Malcolm Forbes (1919 – 1990), in Forbes Magazine, http://www.quotationspage.com/search.php3?homesearch=education&startsearch=Search

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Module 7 Reflection EDTC-6431

Module 7 reflection EDTC-6431

Self-Generated Topic

Using Technology to Support Reading and Writing

This week we  had the opportunity to explore and develop a module on our own.  We introduced a self-generated topic for education with technology.  I choose to look at the benefits of using technology in the classroom and at home to support learning reading and writing.  I presented two websites readeo.com and readinga-z.com for the purpose of this module.

Readeo.com provides a great way to have children practice reading to others and the opportunity to listen to books being read to them, all while using technology.  I thought that this would be a great tool to use with families, grandparents, aunts/uncles, friends, or other support systems.  Stakeholders could share via reading to and listening to books, thereby staying connected with each other; I liked this idea of inter-generational learning experience.  I also thought this would be a great way for children to read and present books to their families, their classmates or just simply to have them listen to the way they read.  Teachers could use it to focus on inflection and intonation. Children could also pick a book that they are interested in which may serve as a way possibly motivating a child who might otherwise have had a hard time engaging.

Secondly, I presented readinga-z.com.  This website was quite comprehensive.  I thought the myriad of multi-faceted curriculum offered was amazing.  It offered books to print off for students to take and practice at home, tests, level appropriate lists, stories, reading comprehension, writing comprehension…etc.  It also catered  to state specific standards.  Although, this may be an expensive initial investment readinga-z.com received good reviews and seemed more comprehensive than some other reading resources that I reviewed.

Overall I was impressed with these two tools.  I think that as has been said throughout this whole course so far we have to use technology wisely.  Find out what tools work best for you and the group of students that you are working with and implement those tools into your “toolbox”.  Additionally, I enjoyed thinking about how I could incorporate families and support systems into the curriculum.

Reflection Module 6 Technology Integration and Concepts-EDTC 6431

Reflection Module 6

Technology Integration and Concepts-EDTC 6431

This week we focused on two websites: 180 Technology Tips and Community Clips.  We also read several articles that presented and supported different ways to integrate technology into the classroom.  Additionally, we watched several videos about various schools that have had tremendous success integrating technology into the classroom. Within all of this shared information I realized I am feeling more and more comfortable with the thought of technology and how to integrate it into my future classroom.

As I researched 180 Technology Tips and Community Clips I found the information to be a bit basic, even for me.  Although both may be full of simple processes to help support technological integration they did not demonstrate tools or ideas that I do not already know.  However, I feel that these tools have a place and they can be extremely useful to those teachers who have no real computer skills.  They could be the simple, daily reminder that we as teachers always need to be ready and willing to learn more and try new things.  I have signed up to receive the 180 Technology Tips and, although I may not need any or all of them, I will be reminded of different uses and tools that are constantly at my fingertips.

The readings that we were presented with this week covered multiple areas of integration.  I appreciated how The 2010 Horizon Report: K-12 Edition explored how, “technology is increasingly a means for empowering students, a method for communication and socializing, and a ubiquitous, transparent part of their lives. Technology is impacting all of our lives, and especially the lives of students, in new and expanding ways.” I thought the adoption timeline for age specific skills in relation to technology was enormously helpful.  The article resonated with me, reminding me that technology is very much a part of our students’ lives; but it is what we as educators choose to do with it that will make the difference: to promote skills that empower students should be our goal.

Furthermore, I appreciated seeing the actual uses of technology in the videos presented.  While I know that not all schools or districts have as much funding as those presented in the videos, it was amazing to see the integration and total adaptions these schools have taken.  With that being said many of our class discussions revolved around the funding, or lack thereof, for this technology.  Throughout these discussions some brilliant ideas were shared.  I really appreciated my classmate, Jennifer Simonson’s idea, “…why not create a vocational class that teaches students to be the school and possibly district IT ‘help desk’?  Teachers and administrators could use this class to field questions and submit work requests.  The vocational students could teach mini-lessons in classrooms around the district.  Students are great resources.  We should be leveraging their knowledge too to fill the technology information gap that exists between students, teachers, and administrators.”  This simple yet powerful idea not only helps teachers and administrators to improve their individual skills but it promotes teamwork and collaboration all the while empowering the student.

All-in-all this week proved to be another profitable week for collecting tools and integration skills.  I feel that each week I am getting a better idea of what may or may not work in a classroom.  I am learning that as with much of life, one must always be trying new things.  I love the idea of embracing the student’s skills and building a curriculum around this while empowering their desire to share their knowledge. I found this one last article, Empowering Students as Agents of Change, which demonstrates the idea that together we (students and teachers) can all learn!

References:

“2010 Horizon Report: The K12 Edition.” Our Web Publishing Platform — NMC Words Pressed. Web. 10 Aug. 2010. <http://wp.nmc.org/horizon-k12-2010/>.

Module 5 Digital Citizenship-EDTC 6431

Reflection Module 5

Learning with Technology EDTC 6431

Digital Citizenship

This week we explored digital citizenship through two divergent types of technological intervention.  One was a website about digital citizenship, called DigitalCitizenship.org, which offered: tools, tips and resources on how to promote responsible digital citizenship.  The other, CreativeCommons.org, encouraged use of ideas, materials and works by others to “Share, Remix, Reuse —Legally”.  Both websites offered a different approach to promote digital citizenship emphasizing that everyone should be a responsible internet user.  We also had the opportunity to read many articles and watch a supporting PBS documentary that underlined the possible dangers of an unsupervised internet user and the motivation for wanting to teach children to become accountable digital citizens.

Throughout this week, many discussions centered on the visceral emotion that is felt when sensitive subject matter is introduced; cyber-bullying and proper netiquette are two of these sensitive subjects. Being a responsible digital citizen is important for not only the safety of children but also for the safety of you.  In order to teach this, I believe that, we are going to have to start in the elementary years.  Much like the social citizenship lessons children learn in the elementary years, digital citizenship should be focused on in order for children to learn the respect and responsibility needed for their online playground.  Children need to learn with the tools necessary for these new technologies and total digital immersion they are sure to face in their future.  I discovered an additional website, CommonSenseMedia.org, that offered a link expressly for educators, there are also sections for parent reviews (for movies, books, games, websites, music etc.) parental advice (by grade and by topic) and community discussions!  In the educator section I was amazed by the amount of supportive information and curriculum set up to help promote digital citizenship.  The parent portion would be a great jumping off point for sharing information and encouraging participation at home to build skills for a safer environment for students.  This could help encourage parents to be more actively involved with their children and to development their computer “savviness” at a younger age.  I think that I will re-visit this site as well as the DigitalCitizenship.org site often as I take off into this new world of teaching technology.

I also wanted to reflect on the emotional and palpable tension that was encountered throughout our discussions this week. I enjoyed my classmate’s perspectives; I really feel that we, as teachers, have an opportunity and a challenge to face when teaching digital citizenship.  Many people were cautioning being too involved with proper netiquette and that it is the responsibility of the parents.  While I agree that there needs to be a balance of home/school supervision, I think that a cooperative focus in the classroom could be very beneficial for encouraging both the student and the parents to come to some sort of cohesive idea of what digital citizenship is. I located ans article, “She Used to Be Pretty”: Schoolyard Bullying Goes Online, about cyber-bullying, online communication and online harassment which paraphrased Nancy Willard’s  article  An Educator’s Guide to Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats. The focus of the piece is “when teens operate anonymously behind screen names, they perceive themselves as invisible and untouchable. And when they don’t directly experience the damage online bullying does to their victims, teens feel little empathy.” What a frightening thought. Later in the article she says girls  “…are now considered the ‘power users’ of online communication tools and then that ‘this kind of power needs to be tempered with ethics training.”  I was struck by the basic yet chilling truth of this statement.  Why are we not teaching this important skill of ethics and the internet?

Additionally, I thought the idea that was offered for peer education for students and teachers was great.  I encountered a video that shared one youth’s change from internet junkie to teaching rights, guidelines and responsibilities to younger children. This Edutopia.org video offered an inspirational way to look at how older students could be inspiring to younger children.

Lastly, I want to express my amazement for CreativeCommons.org.  This is a site where you can learn about copyright laws and engage with a community that is willing to share their creations and ideas at different levels for consumption and creative manipulation. This website demonstrates what it truly means to be a responsible digital citizen. I think this will make collaboration, creativity and sharing of materials so much more accessible and current.  This tool could encourage creation of ideas, which might have been too much work in the past, to become the reality of the future.  I am excited to explore this tool more for myself in the future for lesson plans and curriculum development.

Overall, I really enjoyed this week’s module.  I think anytime that I see people discussing passionately and feeling so thoroughly about a topic I am forced to look closer.  I think that this week I was able to see the necessity of constant engagement and creation of new material to promote responsible citizenship whether it be digital or not. I see it as another opportunity to lead by example and or teach by example.  As Theodore Roosevelt said, “The first requisite of a good citizen in this republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his own weight.”  I think he was onto something, don’t you?

References:

Edutopia, (Release Date 5/27/2009), Digital Youth Portrait: Virginia, Edutopia, retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/digital-generation-profile-virginia-video

Noonan, Kaley (July 2007) “She Used to Be Pretty”: Schoolyard Harassment Goes Online, Edutopia Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/she-used-to-be-pretty

Willard M.S., J. D., Nancy (April 2007), Educator’s Guide to Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats

Retrieved from http://www.cyberbully.org/cyberbully/docs/cbcteducator.pdf

Critical Thinking, Problem Solving & Decision Making- EDTC6431

Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making

Module 4 Reflection

EDTC-6431

This week focused on interesting articles and tools having to do with critical thinking, problem solving and decision making.  I have really enjoyed the conversations/discussions with everyone this week as we all seem to be feeling more comfortable sharing and responding to one another.  I thought the tools WolframAlpha.com and Bubbl.us that we explored this week seemed like something I could add to my educator “toolbox” for future use.  The articles that we read provided great interpretations and in depth thought about technology in real life: concept mapping, project based learning and problem solving.  I think for reflection purposes I would like to focus on two of the topics from this week that made the biggest impression on me; project based learning and critical thinking.

I love the idea of project based learning (PBL) as it seems to have many of the “hands on” aspects of teaching that I hope to embrace for the future.  I was slightly taken aback with some of the conversations this week that it was too much work for the teacher or that the teacher doesn’t really participate in teaching while the project is going on. I have to say that I disagree with both thoughts.  Although there might be a lot of front-loaded work in getting the project organized and developed I don’t think PBL just lets the students free to learn all on their own.  I think through all the videos and evidence that I explored this week that teacher input, direction and guidance is very current throughout the entire process of PBL.

I found an additional article and video on Edutopia, Why Teach with Project-Based Learning?: Providing Students With a Well-Rounded Classroom Experience, that exhibited teacher involvement in all aspects of PLB.  Here, not only are the teachers in the thick of it with the students the entire project but they are engaging students and encouraging them to think further and deeper than they might without the guidance of the teacher, thus developing their critical thinking skills.  I find it even more amazing that this type of learning can happen in more than one class congruently.  For example, what students might be doing in physics might also be part of their health and fitness class.  Teachers are encouraged to work with one another developing lessons that flow from subject to subject broadening students interest in, understanding and knowledge of a subject.  It seems that PBL can reach multiple learning levels and styles.  PBL addresses the idea that the student can be a “manager and director” of what  they want to learn with a teacher there to escort them in the right direction and to help them think critically. 

Critical thinking, it seems, is the key to PBL and to becoming a lifelong learner.  You can look up the definition for critical thinking in many places and come up with something similar to this one from yourdictionary.com “The term critical thinking refers to the thought processes used to evaluate information and the practice of using such conclusions to guide behavior. The process of critical thinking is associated with accuracy, logic, depth, fairness, credibility, and intellectual clarity. The word “critical” is not used to imply negativity or pessimism, however. Critical thinking merely means that one must not automatically accept the validity of the information he or she is given.”  Through the PBL model the student is forced to think critically- to question the validity of information. The student is challenged to find information on their own or with a partner and ask additional questions.  The student is encouraged to not take the information at face value and learn it as traditional classroom have offered in the past but to question and research and process on a deeper level.  This week we explored a great tool to accompany the critical thinking process.  Bubbl.us is a tool for concept mapping.  To evaluate the way a main idea or subject is connected or related to another idea or subject is another way of developing critical thinking.  The relationship between ideas and concepts is a very powerful way of seeing the complexity and legitimacy of a given idea. Additionally, through class discussions two other tools were shared that offer a different way to create documents for idea connection and concept mapping; wordle.net and kidspiration.com

We also explored WolframAlpha.com an astounding website that provides instant answers to questions ranging from science to history, nutrition to geography and just about everything in between .  While many intriguing and well versed discussions occurred about this tool I am still perplexed as to the realistic application in the classroom.  I am left wondering if it will truly be a tool for teaching or more for research on the part of the teacher.  Although I think WolframAlpha .com could be useful to explain logical steps to a problem or provide additional information to an already researched project, I would hesitate to introduce this tool to students without clear and concise guidelines of its use.

This week was fun.  I became really excited about how, when and where I will be using these tools. I know that I am barely starting this whole process but I feel like with all the tools that we have learned about in this class that my “toolbox” is starting to fill up.  I think that each of these tools will help me to become a more successful teacher.  I do know that I hope use PBL to inspire creative and energized critical thinkers and hopefully thoughtful, future, members of society.

References:

Edutopia, (Release Date 2/28/2008), Why Teach with Project-Based Learning?: Providing Students With a Well-Rounded Classroom Experience, Edutopia, retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/project-learning-introduction

Research and Information Fluency -EDTC6431

Research and Information Fluency

Module 3 Reflection

EDTC-6431

I have really had a great week this week. I have found a better balance of time this session.  I learned about our new tools and explored these tools all while having great ongoing discussions which have been exciting.  Although, there seemed to be a rather large amount to get through this week, it all seemed to be seamlessly connected.  The online tools, twitter.com, diigo.com and citeUlike.org all offer another way to connect, share information and research to promote a new teaching opportunity. However, I am still unsure of the viability of some in the classroom.  Our readings provided the basic knowledge of these tools, insight into research for students and teachers and an in depth retrospective of technology over the last 20 years.

In the reading, Beyond the Book, the author explains how the superintendent, James Tenbusch, is teaching students to think critically, to become researchers and to focus on the bigger picture. “Students, more than just typing keywords into Google, learn how to come to an answer independently, using their own ideas about the lesson, subject, or debate at hand. According to Tenbusch, schools teach kids how to read, write, and add, but they generally don’t teach them how to speculate, hypothesize, and free associate.”  Tenbusch goes on to provided examples of how to get started and references to research sites and strategies finding multiple sources.  This article coincided nicely with our exploration of diigo, a tool used for social bookmarking, annotation, archiving and organizing.

I found diigo to be extremely user friendly.  diigo provides options for collecting, highlighting, storing and sharing information- all at the click of a button.  I even signed up for our class group page and have shared a few items of interest with the class.  I can see great value in this tool as I move forward and begin the collection process that will become part of my curriculum.  To be able to share this with other teachers and to be a part of groups of like-minded and engaged individuals while keeping a personal record of sites I have found useful ,as well as any notes about these sites, is incredible.  I feel like diigo offers what facebook, twitter, email, blogging, annotating and organizing site all offer separately but conveniently in one spot.   I am sold on this tool!

I also explored twitter and although I have signed up and become part of this classes twitter group I am not altogether sure I am convinced of the value in an elementary age setting.  I recognize that it could be a useful tool for sharing information among teachers but I have a hard time picturing the practicality in the class room itself.  However, I did like the ideas throughout our discussions this week of using for daily thoughts or updates for parents so that they could know what was happening in the class. When I signed up and began the exploration of twitter I found the constant spew of trivial tweets overwhelming and ridiculous but once I set up a group to follow it narrowed the number of tweets and focused my interests.  I think I have to give twitter more time, like I said in one of my tweets, the jury is still out.

I really enjoyed the video from Edutopia, Using Today’s Technology Tools to Study Yesterday’s, and valued the span of technological tools and hands on tools this school incorporated into this project.  It was amazing to see the teachers work as a collaborative team to expand the students’ knowledge.  Through the guidance of the teachers each group of students was able to present their own unique and working design.  The students seemed empowered by this project and genuinely involved in every group doing well as they competed for the best design.  I attached this additional video to show another example of project based learning from an elementary school in Waterville Washington.  The teacher, Diane Peterson says, “kids use their own personal level” when addressing the abilities of students with regards to art, science, technology and math.   They work together with local farmers and staff from the University of Washington to form relationships and integrate each individual’s knowledge through group work and shared technology.

Overall I found this week full of useful tools to explore more.  I am sure that I will continue to use diigo and will have to wait and see what the verdict is on twitter.  I think that information fluency is key, and, with diigo I found that fluency to be user friendly, easy to organize, re-visit, and annotate.  I think that the more tools and techniques we have for research and sharing tools with other teachers and students the better off we will all be.

References:

Moses, Alexandra R. (August 2008) Beyond the Book- a New Role for Your Students. Edutopia Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/student-web-research-technology-literacy

Edutopia. (Release Date 6/25/08)  Using Today’s Technology Tools to Study Yeasterday’s Edutopia, Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/ferryway-video

Edutopia, (Release Date 3/8/2005) Overview: Technology Empowers Student Fieldwork, Edutopia, Retrieved from  http://www.edutopia.org/toad-tracking

Communication and Collaboration – EDTC6431

Communication and Collaboration-EDTC6431

Module 2

Well I have to say I feel like I am getting into the swing of things, finally, with this class.  Although I have let the technology explorations take over my every free moment it has been worth it. My kids and husband would probably have to disagree though.  But, I feel much more comfortable then when I first started.  We explored Podcasting, Microblogging, Google Wave this week and the impact they have on distance learning, remote collaboration and social and emotional learning.  Through this exploration a recurrent theme kept popping up in many discussions:  Setting limits in this limitless world.

Firstly, while I have to say that the digital youth portrait of Dylan that we viewed intrigued and impressed me it also it made me question when enough is enough.  Although he seemed to be a very happy, engaged and immensely talented young man, I have to wonder how socially adapt he may be in a non-virtual world.  His creativity and boundary-less collaboration with world-wide projects astounded me but his social behavior with his friends all revolved around a virtual reality.  This was also a main theme in many of the discussion this week.  One classmate even referred to it as a “digital leash”.  I think it is so important to find balance between a virtual vs. real world and the socialization in both. So I am left wondering about the social and emotional reality of learning that Dylan is able to glean from all this interactive virtual absorption.

Secondly, I explored the world of podcasting.  While this is not a new thing to me, I feel that, I learned many new uses for the classroom.  I especially like the Radio WillowWeb and the collaboration of the students to create exciting and engaging presentations.  Not only were the kids working on reading skills group skills and social skills they had to use inflection and intonation to convey a certain emotional  state for the listeners to understand the meaning of each show.  I liked the idea that you could do this with younger age children and empower them to use and develop listening and constructive critiquing skills.  Thus involving student’s social and emotional learning.

Lastly, I examined the trend of Microblogging by reading 7 Thing You Should Know about Microblogging and exploring through two different mediums, Google Wave and tumblr.com.  I admit that I have not been a big fan in the past of the Twitter-type microblogging, I did see value in this type of communication when examined through an educational perspective.  I found Google Wave to be quite exciting for both educational and personal use. I found it to be simple and fairly user friendly.   It seemed like all the features of e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, Google docs, You-Tube, iTunes, etc. have been assembled into one spot.  The playback feature is genius for a teacher to see a development of a project or idea and could also be helpful for anyone coming in later to a conversation.  I was blown away by the instant language translation feature and can’t wait to give it a try.  Tumblr was not as exciting for me.  Although I eventually figured out some of the features I felt either boxed into my little page or overwhelmed by the huge sea of blogs out there when I tried to explore.  I did not see as much value in this tool for the classroom but as a tool for social networking, hobbies and sharing your ideas, videos, pictures, poems etc. it could be great.

All in all this Module 2 Communication and Collaboration was very interesting.  I have learned about tools that I hope to use in the classroom and for personal use.  I have accepted that it will take time and that not all tools are going to be necessary or developmental/age appropriate.   It will be important to pick and choose what works with individual curriculum and classes.  Especially since each cohort of students will have a different abilities and challenges; each year of technology in the classroom will need to be tailored for that.  I think it is important to remember to be open to new things, new thoughts and new challenges and to set specific time so as to not become immersed in only work and no play.  Life does continue outside this technological world and it is important to be part of that, too.

I have included this article as another opinion about setting limits for children and screen time.

Children and Emotional Intelligence: Why Limits on technology Matter

http://www.allbusiness.com/labor-employment/human-resources-personnel-management/13874890-1.html

Educase. (2007)  7 things you should know about Microblogging, Creative Commons.  Retrieved from http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/