Endless Possibilities

Endless Possibilities

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Building Block Technology in the Classroom

As I prepare to become an Instructional Technologist I am often taken back by the way everything fits together. A fellow co-hort member, Marty, likened it to a puzzle on Marty reMarks. I personally enjoy how everything builds on top of what I have already learned or am creating. For my Selection and Integration of Technology class final project, I connected all my prior assignments such as evaluating my classroom for 21st century skills, gradual release of responsibility lesson, technology integration matrix, and my universal design for learning lessons. I evaluated my gradual release of responsibility lessons for the 21st century skills present. Then I linked my lessons integrating technology to the technology integration matrix. From this point I checked to make sure my lessons met the universal design for learning principles. If they were lacking in this area I modified them to meet the needs of my learners. Then I configured the appropriate place to put my cybercitizenry lesson for my students would probably be before my gradual release of responsibility lesson started. In the end, I really enjoyed stepping back and looking at how one assignment  built on top of previous one and in the end they all linked together.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Universal Design for Learning in the Elementary Classroom- Apps for iPad

Photo Available: http://www.flickr.com/photos/askdavetaylor/4509519723/
I should state that I have never used an iPad in my classroom. It is something I would love to use, but simply like most teachers just don't have the funds at this time. I co-teach Language Arts with the special education teacher in my third grade classroom. Together we work out strategies and methods to help all of our students meet their learning goals. We recently had the conversation about how helpful iPad could possibly be in our classroom with our students in special education. We thought that not only could certain apps help those students but they could benefit all of our students. I had to admit that while I had done some research on assistive technology I had never researched iPads as a possibility. I knew they had capabilities to assist students but I was not familiar with any apps or how they were used. So I'm thinking these thoughts and along come an assignment in one of my graduate classes to research assistive technologies and share what I find with the world. I went to researching apps for iPad that I felt would be assist special needs students in my classroom. I put this information into a Google Presentation and gave examples of how I envision students using ten different apps. Some of them are free and some you have to pay for. I personally think that these apps can be used with any age level and will make their learning easier and allow students to feel less anxiety. I also found myself wishing I had an iPad so I could try out some of these apps myself. I guess that will hit my wish list for the next year.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Digital Citizenship
What is it?
Whom does it effect?
How can we teach other about it's importance?

What is digital citizenship? Well the standard definition according to Mike Ribble from his digital citizenship websiteis a concept which helps teachers, technology leaders and parents to understand what students/children/technology users should know to use technology appropriately. Digital Citizenship is more than just a teaching tool; it is a way to prepare students/technology users for a society full of technology.

Whom does it effect?  The answer is simple...Everyone!

How can we as instructional technologists teach students, parents, and teachers about digital citizenship? Well....check out my plan on my Digital Citizenship website. There are nine themes to digital citizenship and I chose to focus on the three I personally thought were important to my third graders, their parents, and my fellow teachers at my elementary. I focused on digital communication (how students communicate), digital etiquette (online manners), and digital security (self-protection). I designed three separate classes so to speak. These classes can take place mainly online for students and parents at anytime so there is really no set schedule. It would be my recommendation that students and parents learn about digital citizenship right away at the beginning of the school year. Teachers, however, will need to be taught in a professional development day environment. The idea here is to have teachers take the skills and knowledge they receive during the training back to their classrooms and modify it to fit the age levels of their kids. I just feel that it is vital that all persons involved in these classes walk away with the realization of why digital citizenship is so important for student success in the online world. I have place my intended outcome for this plan or classes on my website. All of my links and resources are available for you to view and use if you would like. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

21st Century Classroom Evaluation

Recently in my Selection and Integration of Instructional Technologies class we were asked to look at our classroom and do a walkthrough evaluation based upon the characteristics of core instruction. Here is the walkthrough I completed with my classroom. I am personally very interested in authentic assessment, so that was my area of focus.

My Manages By Wandering Around Walkthrough Form and Technology Infusion Data

Note to reader: Highlighted bullets are the ones I do.
Characteristics of Core Instruction, the following topics and items were taken from Iowa Core Curriculum sessions and reflect the Characteristics of Effective Instruction outlined by the Iowa Core.MNW 1:1 program: Data on how and when technology is used in the classroom.

Evaluator's Username
Joni Walvatne

Teacher Observed
Joni Walvatne

Student Centered Classroom
  • Students at center of learning, teacher facilitating process
  • Cooperative or collaborative learning taking place
  • teacher leading students to the answer not giving it out
  • students have choices
  • students are engaged in challenging work
  • teacher questions and probes
  • Not visible during walkthrough

Specific comments about Student Centered Classroom
Students often are given choices on project assessments. They are presented with a variety of choices and choose one that is appealing to them. They work in collaborative groups and are always questioned to prove their knowledge. They have to be able to explain how they came up with their answers. Higher order thinking is often seen and is a goal of the teacher to encourage this type of thinking. Students are encouraged to challenge themselves and use available resources to acquire knowledge.

Teaching for Understanding
  • problem or project based learning
  • hands on, minds on
  • students think and demonstrate understanding
  • visual learning (conceptual models, graphic organizers, webs, etc.)
  • factual knowledge is transferred to usable knowledge
  • students involved in designing, problem solving, decision making, and investiagating
  • summarize targeted concepts and skills
  • multiple means of presenting information
  • Not visible during walkthrough

Specific comments about Teaching for Understanding
I attempt project based learning in my classroom in a variety of ways through a variety of subjects. It is great to give students multiple ways to learn and present knowledge, which meets their individual needs. This also gives them a voice in their learning and helps them to teach others and while doing so opens the doors for more learning moments to occur with both individuals. I like project based learning because of the higher order thinking that is forced to take place.

Assessment for Learning
  • formative assessment is used as a tool to adjust teaching
  • essential concept and skill is clear and evident to the students
  • teacher provides criteria of quality work
  • teacher provides examples of both high and low quality work
  • self or peer assessment is evident
  • a collaborative classroom environment
  • assessment for learning takes place DURING instruction
  • variety of feeback to students (web, tapes, oral, written, video, etc)
  • Not visible during walkthrough

Specific comments about Assessment for Learning
Assessment is something I’m always trying to develop new ways to accomplish. I do many projects and alternative type of assessments. Traditional book tests are often used as well. I think as far as summative assessment I am fairly decent at accomplishing. Formative is probably something that I could stand to focus on improving. I do it, but I want to do it in a variety of ways rather than walking around observing or doing the thumbs up, sideways, down approach.

Rigor and Relevance
  • Quadrant A
  • Quadrant B
  • Quadrant C
  • Quadrant D
  • opportunity to set goals
  • expands on prior knowledge
  • Not visible during walkthrough

Specific comments about Rigor and Relevance
I aim for quadrants c and d, but we do a lot of a and b. The goal is to make the lessons into quadrants c and d, but this obviously takes more creative facilitating and thinking on behalf of the teacher. Students set goals in spelling by monitoring their progress. They set goals from the pretest to the postest. They usually have a goal to improve by correctly spelling all their words. However, we work on setting achievable goals. I now have changed things a little and we do individualized spelling. They no longer have pretests but rather are required to choose words that are just right for them. My co-teacher and I brainstorm words together using phonics as our guide and not only do students learn phonetics but they also are spelling more challenging words. They set a goal based out of how many of the twenty words they have chosen that they believe they can spell correctly on their test. Again most have a 100% goal, and usually achieve that goal due to the fact they chose the words and know what they need to do to achieve the goal, but there are those who struggle and getting 75% is good for them. They also set goals in math for timed facts. Before we start the timer for fact sheet two they have to set a reasonable goal based on their score from fact sheet one. Then from that point on they use a line graph to chart their growth from one test to the next. Students are always expanding on prior knowledge daily, due to the fact that I never move into a new lesson before first finding out what they know.

Teaching for Learner Differences
  • plans for variance in learning
  • assesses the interests and needs of individual students
  • learning goals are clearly stated
  • flexible grouping (supplemental and intensive)
  • engages students in self reflection, collaboration, and learning choices
  • works in variety of settings (large group, small group, individual)
  • engages students in self reflection
  • not visible during walkthrough

Specific comments about Teaching for Learner Differences
I plan with the special education teacher for the language arts parts of my lessons. We look at our flexible grouping of students and determine what we are going to teach based on their needs. We have a lot of project based, authentic learning happening as much as we can in our lessons. During this block of times students have chances to work in a large group, small group, and on their own. These types of groupings occur daily.

Technology Infusion
  • web 2.0 tool being used
  • technology used as a reference
  • technology used as a textbook
  • technology used to differentiate learning
  • technology used for collaboration or communication
  • Using technology to create a "product" or "project"
  • technology was not being used during the walkthrough
  • Other

Specific comments about Technology Infusion
I use web 2.0 tools as much as possible in my classroom and primarily use Google tools with my third grade students. I like using technology for differentiation because students can generally choose from a variety of tools to accomplish the same task. I also like to have them use Web 2.0 Tools to create products. We use tagxedo to evaluate prior knowledge, do a PWIM (picture word induction model), practice spelling words, or as an alternative assessment.

Joni’s Review of her Walkthrough:

I have what I would consider to be a student centered classroom because my students are the center focus of my classroom and are responsible for their learning. However, I think the definition of a student centered classroom leans more towards the idea that students are responsible for their own learning and I know that my classroom is not quite there yet and may not be for some time. I act as the facilitator as much as possible, but have not yet truly integrated myself into that role for a variety of reasons. These reasons range from being in a school district that is just slowly starting to embrace 21st century learning to not wanting to give up control. I have begun the process of becoming the facilitator but feel there are more times than not where I become more involved, direct instruction, and end up having to sometimes lead them to the answer. I use questioning techniques and allow students as much choice as possible in their learning. Do they have free reign? No.  Students work in cooperative and collaborative groups when beneficial. Project based learning is often seen in my classroom but is not the only type of learning that happens. We also do as many hands on activities as possible, along with student demonstrations of their knowledge. This is where students often have choices. They have choices in project based learning, and are definitely involved in designing , problem solving, and investigating. They are exposed to information that is sometimes the same information presented in a variety of ways. Rigor and Relevant lessons are taught as much as possible for students to make connections between their learning and real life. Sometimes they work alone, with a partner, or with a group. Sometimes we do activities with the elderly at the local assisted living complex. High school students also come in and work with my students on a variety of projects. The one area that I noticed on my walkthrough that I’m personally weak on is doing a formative assessment during the lesson. I usually do a simple thumbs up or down, question time, have the students work through a question or two and show me, do a walk around, or just watch faces. I just generally feel that I need to find different ways to assess students on what they know.

My focus characteristic is assessment.

Authentic Assessment
The type of assessment I’m specifically focusing in on is authentic assessment because it is very interesting to me and assessment is the one area I have been trying to improve on in the last three years. I have also included project based learning, which of course usually includes authentic assessment. I say this because students normally choose and create projects that interest them. They all have to show me that they have mastered the skill or concept being taught. However not all of my assessments are authentic. In fact to be honest, 75% of the assessments I do with my class are not what I consider to be authentic. We do DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) and MAPS (Measures of Academic Progress) in both the fall and spring. We also complete ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills) and the (SRI) Scholastic Reading Inventory. The SRI is done three times a year. These are all standardized types of assessments. Since there are so many standardized tests given to students in the 21st century I think it is important to assess them on what is real to them. I want them to show me what they know. I can gather what they don’t know from all of the standardized tests that our district requires them to complete. I have used authentic assessment techniques in all the areas that I teach, but I would like to be able to do it more often.

Videos about authentic assessment:
Authentic Assessment in Special Education with Dr. Betty Wiggins
This video was of special interest to me, due to the fact that I co-teach with a special education teacher in the language arts area. We are constantly discussing authentic assessment and how to make our assessments meaningful to students. We both dislike standardized tests and hate that they are tests which have basically no meaning to the personal lives of students.

Changing Education Paradigms with Sir Ken Robinson
This video was mentioned in the video with Dr. Betty Wiggins, and discusses why education needs to and should change. Discusses the issue of schools producing students like factories produce batches. There isn’t much individuality, they are all pretty much seen as having the same amount of knowledge.

Aligning Authentic Assessment with Effective Teaching and Learning Practices
This webinar is presented Marc Chun, Director of CLA Education, CAE (Collegiate Learning Assessment) who discusses aligning assessment with our curriculum. Aligning what we teach and what and how students learn with assessment.

Information regarding Authentic Assessment from the University of Wisconsin-Stout
Awesome site! Full of resources and excellent information about assessment in the classroom.

Assessment Training
This website was shared with me by Sara and has some available books and articles regarding assessment if you are interested in learning more.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Technology Integration Matrix

Recently I have been looking at the Arizona Technology Integration Matrix. I found it to be quite interesting to see how one can follow the matrix from left to right and take one technology tool and apply it to each phase. The ability to adapt any technology tool to each phase is very unique. I like it because I teach my third graders how to use a variety tech tools as we go along throughout the year. We have what I call, "tech moments." When I am introducing them to a tool they are unfamiliar with, we have to spend a certain amount of time manipulating the tool until their comfort level using the tool has risen. Then I can take that tool and more readily adapt it to fit my curriculum or lesson goal if I so choose. This means that I may start at the entry level and before long be able to move it to a goal directed lesson where the technology tool has been infused into my lesson to help teach the content.

I went out and located five different instances where technology was being integrated into the elementary classroom. I then placed it on the Technology Integration Matrix where I thought it fit. Remember this is my opinion only, so if you feel it goes elsewhere after checking out the matrix than feel free to leave a comment and explain why. I would love to hear your reasoning. It will allow me to see another perspective. I have provided a link to my Google Doc which is where I have placed the five instances on a table mirroring the Technology Integration Matrix. I have provided a link to these instances as well as the grade level they have been taken from. I connected them to my classroom too. You will discover that there are three lessons or instances which include two technology tools and one strategy that I have never used in my classroom. These tools include iPads and Skype with the strategy being Digital Storytelling. From this point you will notice that I have taken three lessons and remarked on how I would move them up on the matrix.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Final Project on Famous Iowans

Well we the Cookie Cutters, presented our final project today. Over the past week we worked with Web 2.0 Tools, Google Docs, Second Life, Podcasts, and Digital Video making. I have talked about this in previous bloggs. However I'd like to share my reflection on how our presentation went. We worked very well as a team, in fact I think our collaboration was superior. We each worked on the content by choosing famous Iowans and creating a page on our website specifically for them. We each took the time to find links that were fourth grade friendly and posted them on the individuals page. Then we found pictures of each Iowan and posted them on their corresponding pages. We each had a role in our podcast and had a lot of fun writing the script for interviewing Grant Wood. When it came to making the moving we worked together in finding pictures, adding music, and recording voice. Then we worked on editing our podcast and vodcast. This took a little bit but Gabe and Sara figured it out while I created rubrics for our students.

The best part was presenting to our fellow classmates. They seemed to be engaged as we made our presentation and shared why we chose to focus on Iowa History or more specifically Iowa History. They were given time during our presentation to do part of my fourth graders assignment. This was to find a famous Iowan that they were the most like or had the most connections with and write down at least 3 things they had in common with that individual. We also were able to ask their opinions on alternative assessment and what they might suggest adding to the lesson to allow for student customization. This would also allow for more alternative assessments to be present. My friend Lisa suggested Glogster as another way to have students present their work. I enjoyed their ideas and liked hearing how they could modify our lesson and apply it to their own classroom settings.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lights, Camera, Action

Well.... in my EIT class today we offically became movie makers. My group and I did what is known as a vodcast. If your wondering what a vodcast is, Dr. Z suggested checking out Rocketboom. We took still pictures and set them to music and added our voice recordings over the music. It looks like an advertisement! We had a lot of fun. Our vodcast was about the life of Grant Wood. We used iMovie for our creation today but you can also use Photo Story along with iDVD. Of course iMovie and iDVD are for MACS and Photo Story is an easy download for those of you like me who normally use a PC. I truthfully have the most experience with Photo Story, but last year I made a movie using iMovie for my students to remember their fourth grade experience. I'll have to learn how to upload that to my blogg! When we finish our group vodcast I'll have to upload that to here too. I think I'll have to have our group expediter help me with that one!

Check out The Cookie Cutter's group website which has a podcast and vodcast in it! Also check back for example videos that I personally have made. They're so much fun once you get started life will never be the same!

Photo Available: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28248484@N06/4482821927/

Quote of the Month

Choice, not circumstances, determines your success

By: Author Unknown