Thursday, April 24, 2014

Reflective Post...

It never fails that when the start of a new semester comes around, we always seem to think that the end of that semester is eons away. In actuality when you start getting into the class and doing all the work it involves you start realize how close and how fast the end is.

When I first started this course, I honestly thought I was going to be learning about technologies that teachers used in their classrooms on a day to day basis. Now you might say well some teachers do use what we learned in Intro to Tech every day. True, but I thought that we going to learn about projectors and Mimio boards, not the vast array of technology that we now know how to use. Before coming into this class I would've never imagined that I’d be making my own teacher page or that I’d make my own digital story or even knew what WikiSpaces was. Being in Intro to Tech has opened my eyes to a world of technology and way on how to implement that tech in my future classroom. It has also taught me not to be scared of technology. Just everything else in the world technology can be good or bad it just depends on how you use it. There are so many ways that technology can help your students learn or help students get engaged and hooked on what is being taught. For example, doing a collaborative project with students like the Wiki we had to do. That project helped encourage teamwork and helped, me at least, talk to and get to know other classmates.  Another great resource (that I thoroughly enjoyed) was the “Poll Everywhere” site. Many schools have a “No Cellphone” policy, but why? If students like to be on their phones and let’s face it so do some teachers, why not use that to our advantage. You could have you students take a poll at the beginning of class to see what their prior knowledge about topic is, then lecture or even watch a video, have them take another poll, and start a discussion from their poll answers. They’d be learning without even realizing it. Another resource I found that would work great in a classroom was having students setting up their own blog. Any student can write a summary about what he/she read in a chapter and then answer some questions, but when a student knows that what they write is out there for everyone to see, literally, then they take much more pride in what they say. I also enjoyed the website that were given to us as tools such as and How many times can you honestly say that you come across a cool website and want to tell your friend or whoever but can’t recall the name and say “I book marked it on my computer”. Well with Delicious you can retrieve your bookmarks anywhere.  Overall, I can say that I really enjoyed the class and yes the work is a lot but it’s well worth it. I think maybe if the journal posts weren’t due at the same time that a big project was due, like the lesson plan or the Webquest, it’d be easier and less stressful. But again, all the work that you do in this class isn’t busy work, its work that helps you practice whatever new technology you’re learning.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Chapter 11: Engaging Students in Performance Assessments and Reflective Learning

Focus question: How can students and teachers use digital portfolios as tools for learning?

Answer: Both teachers and students can use their digital portfolio as a learning tool by going back through their portfolio and reflecting. Reflection is a process of self assessment in which the learner  examines past actions to see what to keep or change. Whether you are an "old" teacher who has been teaching for many years or a new teacher, a portfolio (digital or not) can help you see how much you've grown and changed. The good thing about digital portfolios is that you can store all your accomplishments online and chances are that you'll never loose them, especially is you use apps like "iLife" and "TaskStream".  Students who are going for any type of career goal can use portfolios as well to keep a record of all their accomplishments either for a certain class or just because they want to see their progression during their time in school.

In this chapter we talked about, exploring the possibility of using student participation systems as learning assessments. Participation actively engaged students in whatever content is being taught at the current time. This can allow the teachers to conduct quick assessments to see whether or not his/hers students have grasped the concept. One example the book gave was classrooms using Clickers. Clicker have many advantages including real time feedback, they encourage active learning, and promote student involvement. In the chapter it was also discussed how involving students in the process of their performance evaluation and in the process of "how to teach" a certain concept can help a student be more engaged in learning. Just because a student is involved in the decision making does not mean they are in control. Teacher would still be responsible fro delivering the curriculum and assessing said curriculum but how learning happens and how evaluation happens would be formulated through honest discussions, debate, and decision- making between students and teachers. Such mentality is found in Democratic School and Classrooms. In these types of classrooms students take responsibility fro making decision about classroom rules, themes for study and how they set personal goals and document their progress. A great way of documenting progress is by creating an e-portfolio or a digital portfolio. By creating such portfolios students can access them anywhere, they would be more portable than regular paper portfolios, and they can enhance a student's computer skills. There are some drawbacks like users needing to be computer savvy, or some students may not get feedback from their classmates or readers, and some students may spend more time on the aesthetics of their portfolio than actually highlighting their work. Portfolios can be another way for educators to asses students and their work. Teacher can also use online surveys to preassess what students know about a certain topic. Websites like "Zoomerang" or "Surveymonkey" are great tools, or to incorporate technology in the classroom a teacher can use an app like "Poll Everywhere" where students can text in their answers. Assessments will always be central to a teachers line of work, whether it's your supervisors assessing you or you assessing your students.

                                                  Photo credit to Wesley Fryer via Flickr
                                                  **example of a Poll Everywhere poll.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Chapter 10: Promoting Success For All Students Through Technology

 ¿¿ How can technology engage and inspire learning for diverse students??

Technology helps diverse learners by breaking the boundary that may "separate" or "alienate" students from their peers in the classroom. Technology makes it easier for students to participate in learning by helping make connections from what is being taught in the classroom to the "real world" or a student's life outside the classroom. Therefore making learning more interesting and relatable. It also allows for events in history to be seen in a new light. Students from other countries may find our history boring or any history for that matter, especially if seen through a standard textbook.But if students were to see actual footage of lets say Pearl Harbor or the Iraq war, history is then seen in a new light which keeps students engaged. Creating class websites and blogs, doing research and projects collaboratively is another way technology helps bridge the racial, gender, and language gap amongst students. A great example of a group project would be having students use Goggle Docs to do a research paper. Google has a program similar to Word that allows you to see what all the people in your group type and add to the paper. What better way to get everyone to work together.

Photo Credit to Dell
A child with Autism using the Accent 1000 to communicate

Chapter 10 talked about the many ways that technology can promote success for any and all types of students. Everyone thinks of technology as just computer where you can type of a research paper or create a PowerPoint presentation but technology has become way more than that. Beginning with students with disabilities, assistive technology has come a long way. From text reading software, speech recognition software, and interactive electronic storybooks are ways that even a child with a disability can learn. Even if students do not posses any type of disability, technology can still do wonders. For example all through school you are taught about "Main Idea", word cloud can help those students who don't fully grasp the concept of main idea or are struggling to find it by showing them the words that appear most often in a given text. The use of word clouds, handheld dictionaries, Google Earth, virtual field trips are all examples of having and implementing a universally designed classroom. Universally designed classroom are great because they  change the way the curriculum is delivered. Implementing UDL (universally designed learning) keeps students constantly engaged, especially among students with different learning intelligences.

....I like the song in the background :)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Chapter 6: Fostering Online Learning with Educational Websites and Apps.

What are the advantages & complexities of online learning and virtual schools?

Students and families who enjoy the idea of anytime, anywhere learning are drawn to online schooling. Many students like the freedom from a fixed school schedule that online learning provides. They can also do the work at their own pace thus eliminating pressure to hurry and get an assignment done. Online learning also has the ability to provide learning to anyone from a home schooled student to a student with a medical condition. Another advantage of online learning  and virtual school is that it is less expensive. School who are are facing financial constraints benefit from online schooling because there are fewer teachers which means less people to pay and for the most part online teachers get paid a lower salary compared to their colleagues who are physically present in a classroom.

Critics though say that online schools are very isolating in nature and that because of this students have less social interaction, have fewer opportunities to learn collectively, and receive less individualized attention from their teachers. The lack of full time educators doesn't help. Critics also say that students in online schools are not preforming well on standardized tests. A study from Stanford University found that students in virtual schools and charter schools preformed significantly below their public school counter parts (Center for Research on Education Outcomes, 2009).

Personally I am not a big fan of complete online schooling, especially if you are able to go to a regular school, whether it be public, private or what ever it may be. I took an online health class in high school and I didn't like it. I don't learn if I'm not face to face with a teacher.

**Chapter 6 talked about online learning and different websites and tools to help teachers engage students in online learning. Bookmarks are a great way to organize sites that one may find useful in the classroom or even outside the classroom. I'm sure that we have all bookmarked a website we've found interesting on our computer, but the only time we can access it is when we are on our computer. So if you wanted to show your fellow colleagues a site you found that has great vocabulary activities you couldn't unless you had your own computer with you. Social bookmarking allows you to bookmark your websites but instead of being limited to one computer you can now access your websites from any device. I found both information alerts and RSS feeds to be pretty cool ideas. An information alert is a notice letting you know that new information about a certain topic has just come available in an electronic format. Google has information alerts called Google Alerts and they're free to anyone with a Google account. RSS feeds are somewhat simliar to information alerts except that RSS feeds give subscribers access via email to news and information. Webquests, virtual field trips, and video conferencing are also great tools to use in the classroom. Webquests are inquiry driven activities that are designed and guided by teachers. Students in a webquest move from one web resource to another to gather and learn about a topic. Virtual field trips allow students to visit other places around the world without ever leaving the classroom. Google Earth has an impressive collection of virtual field trips. Like virtual trips, videoconferencing allows students access to places and people they wouldn't otherwise be able to meet or see. Online learning and virtual school have come about like never before. In the year 2000 online learning had a mere 45,000 students to more than four million in the year 2011 (Staker, 2011). As of 2010 27 states including the District of Columbia had full time virtual school serving students statewide, with Florida's Virtual School being the largest. As seen in the above question, there is much debate about the pros and con's of online learning. 

 Google earth picture of the midsection of Florida.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Chapter 8: Communicating and Collaborating with Social Media

If only there was a way to incorporate email and text messages into the classroom.....

Oh wait there is! There are many ways an educator can use emails, or text messages as part of their learning environment. The book gives examples like using email to establish connections with libraries, museum, and other universities where students can pose questions to professionals and receive a knowledgeable response. Of course sometimes it might take a little bit for someone to respond but at least there is interaction between the students and the professionals. The book also gives an example as to how teachers can use text messaging to help students learn spelling. I didn't quite understand how that would help, but instead of spelling you could use texting to take a class vote or a poll about a certain topic that you might be covering in class. For example: Do you see technology as a hindrance or resource in the classroom? Text your answer to 22333 and within your response include the numbers 317609.

Hindrance or resource

Chapter 8 talked about the different type of online resources and strategies that could be implemented in the classroom. Out all the types of communication technology (emails, sms, discussion boards, teacher made websites, blogs, and wikis) the one that i thought would have more impact with students was the Educational Networking. In other words, social networking but for educational and professional purposes. Students and even adults are constantly checking or updating their social media sites, why not incorporate that concept into the classroom? By using "Ning" users can create their own social networks, whether it be private solely intended for students use or public where anyone can join. Teachers can then use this to use this to engage with students beyond the classroom. Teachers could also become instantly available to students by having office hours online. I know that that is something you see more when you get to college but you can apply this to elementary, middle, and high school. Of course the thought of be available 24/7 to students might keep teachers away from this option but you don't have to be available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Teachers have lives you know. You can set designated times when students can reach you just like if you had normal office hours. Educators could also use online discussion boards, whether they be blogs or another type. The issue with this strategy is that there will be times where some or one student isn't actively participating. It is then up to the teacher to make sure that he/she is asking open ended questions so students aren't just answering with one sentence. The teacher must also make an effort to provide rapid feedback to the students' responses otherwise no one will continue participating. A Wiki is another great way to engage students learning. A Wiki is a website or blogspace that is collaboratively edited and maintained by a group of people. By having students create their own Wiki, students work together to solve a problem and discover key concepts for themselves. Below is an example of an educational wiki.
Ah Bon!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Chapter 5: Teaching Information Literacy and Digital Citizenship

Have you ever wondered what Search Engines really are and how they work??

As we all know a search engine acquires information from the internet for our use. A search engine itself is a software program that uses networks of computers to access information from its many databases. With the use of "Keywords", search engines narrow a sear to specific instead of general categories.

                                                                not this ---->

                                                                      ...and this--->

<--- and this too!

Chapter 5 talks about the the internet and its vast capabilities can change how students, teachers, and even the general public can learn and access information. With all the knowledge and information that the internet has to provide, it is up to educators to teach and learn how to distinguish what information is "good information" and what isn't.  To give you an idea as to how much the internet has grown; " By 2010, the Internet had surpassed newspapers and radio in popularity as a new platform on a typical day and now ranks just behind TV" (Purcell, Rainie, Mitchell, Rosenstiel, & Olmstead 2010. With the power of the Internet at our disposal comes learning certain types of literacy and overall responsibility. As internet users we must understand how to locate, gather, organize, interpret, synthesize, manage, present, use, and evaluate information found on electronic sources. (Small, 2011 pp 2,5,13,21) The evaluation of a website is key in weeding out what information is valid and what is not. Using the five criteria of Accuracy, Authority, Objectivity, Currency, and Coverage one can weed out information easier. Obviously if some guy named Bob is sitting in his garage writing information about tornadoes based on what he has seen in the movie "Twister", we can clearly see that he has not authority or accuracy. Sometimes it isn't that easy though. We might be able to see a bias or objectivity in a piece of information, and not all the time do websites have their "last updated" date posted. It's up to us to use our better judgement and to also realize that not every bit of information out there is ours for the taking with out giving due credit. You may not see taking information from online as plagiarism, but it is. When in doubt, always cite. Whether its from a credible source or some website you just stumbled upon with no author (I would hope you don't use that site).

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Designing lessons and developing curriculum with technology, CH4

Technology can be considered a great tool when it comes to the world of teaching. It can help you find an answer to a question in an instant, and it can help a student become engaged in learning. Technology can help a teacher who is struggling to come up with a lesson plan for a certain subject. There are many websites with templates for already made lesson plans. Technology can also enhance an educator's lesson plan by maybe adding a video clip pertaining to what is going on in class that day. Technology can also assist teacher in better assessing students by having students prepare papers or presentation with the computer applications that are available out there like Word, Google Docs, and PowerPoint. Assessing students isn't just limited to tests and quizzes anymore, technology has broaden that scope.

At first I couldn't get into this chapter, but once I started reading about Educational standards and standardize testing I found it pretty interesting. I think that as students in Florida we can all relate to how sometimes learning isn't fun anymore. All we here all day is "you need to know this for FCAT" or "this is going to be on the "FCAT". I completely agree that it should be the teachers driving the curriculum not the standardize test. I believe there is a whole week or two in March devoted to testing. Students take their FCAT (Math, English, Writing, and Science) and then if I am not mistaken they take the NRT's. How can you really assess a students just based off one form? Some students just don't take tests well. I am one of those. My hands start shaking whenever it comes to test time and I get jittery. I believe that student assessments should be comprised of a combination of both tests and performance. Just because a child doesn't do well on a test doesn't mean that he/she doesn't comprehend the curriculum;why not have them come up with a presentation to summarize what they have learned.

I also found surprising that there were websites with already made lesson plans for teachers to utilize. I'm not sure why since you can just about find anything on the internet, but  I just thought that you had to come up with your own. It's really helpful to have such tools available especially if you are a new teacher.