Learning

My Learning Manifesto

As an educator for 20 years, I decided to go back and get my Master’s in Technology and Leadership this year. Why, at the ripe old age of 42, would I decide to do such a crazy thing? Because, I feel like I would like to finish my career teaching others how to use technology in the classroom to further learning. I don’t know where exactly, or how, I will do this but it is for sure a long-term goal. One of my assignments for my masters was to write my philosophy of teaching, or learning manifesto so here it goes….

  • All children can learn. Do they learn the same? No. Will what works with 75% of the class work with the other 25%? Most certainly not. I believe that all children can learn but as teachers we have to keep data and figure out how each child learns best. This is an almost impossible task to do some years but all we can do is our best. So we have to try to address as many learning styles as possible and vary our instruction to include these.
  • Once a sufficient base of knowledge has been built, students should experience how learning will help them in the real world. This may not be very popular with some of my peers but it must be said. I am all for teaching in all the new and innovative ways. But if a child, say a kindergartener, does not know their letters and sounds, how will they learn how to read? Using technology to help this is great, but I think too often we as educators are getting away from the basics too much and trying to address too much. At the same time, my teenage son who is a sophomore at Career and Technical High School in Pasadena ISD will be earning his high school degree while also earning certifications in his chosen field of Computer Maintenance. Great way to use our schools and teaching to show kids what their “real” lives will look like. But he still yearns to know who is going to teach him how to pay bills and taxes, which is a valid concern. Can we use technology and our schools to simulate real life? I think we can.
  • Pushing kids too far, too fast, especially in the early years, doesn’t work. The new common core, and here in Texas, our TEKS, are expecting children to do things that their brains may not be developmentally ready to do. With more kids than ever coming in with gaps in their learning, we are skimming over that and pushing kids to do things that are so out of their wheelhouse. For example, my district expects every kindergartener to leave on a guided reading level D. 20 years ago, when I started teaching, children who were developmentally ready to read picked up on it in the classroom without being explicitly taught to read. Do I love guided reading? Yes! I get so much useful information from these kids when we are working on reading in small groups. But do I think they will all fit into the level D mold by the end of the year? Nope. My own two children, who were before the push for guided reading in kindergarten, were very different in their approach to learn how to read. My son was content to wait until he had to, which was in first grade. My daughter taught herself how to read at the age of 4. By 4th grade, they had both mastered guided reading all the way to level Z, which is equal to 7th grade. Because they were able to read when they were more developmentally ready, they ended up in basically the same place.
  • All parents are not created equally, so we cannot expect all children to come in with the same knowledge. Parents these days are working under such a varied number of circumstances, that expecting all the children to come in and, for example, know their letters and sounds in kindergarten, is not realistic. Some children spend large amounts of their lives in situations where no one is really talking to them, or reading to them. Technology, although so very powerful, has also become a babysitter of sorts for our youngest children.   Keeping them quiet in restaurants and stores is the new normal. And while technology can certainly enhance a child’s learning, there still has to be some meaningful adult interaction with both the child and the technology. My children both knew their alphabets when they went to kindergarten and they learned that “organically” by reading alphabet books with me all their lives. Many of our children these days have one parent, or both parents working to keep the family afloat and spending less and less time interacting with their children. I use apps such as Class Dojo to keep my parents in the loop concerning discipline, and an app called Bloomz to share important class information, and more importantly, links to support learning at home. By using Symbaloo, I can give my parents access to web-based content that supports what I am doing in the classroom.

Bloomz bloomz

Symbaloosymabaloo

  • Living in a state and working in a district that encourages technology and its’ use in the classroom has bettered me as a teacher and has really expanded my own children’s learning as students. The state of Texas, in 2013, earned an average of C- on DLN’s Digital Learning Report Card, putting it 12th in the country. This rating has helped to introduce new ideas in Texas, such as letting kids earn credit by mastery and not by educational hours and using funds in much better ways (Myslinski 2013). I really feel that the district that I work in is pushing the boundaries of education and technology. Of course, school districts always seem so behind the business world, but with support from our Education Foundation, teachers like myself have received grants for technology in our classrooms. And having the Career and Technical High School shows just how far we are willing to go as a district to prepare our kids for the real world. We still need businesses to invest money and time in our schools, from the very earliest age, to help us prepare children to be workers in the future they will face.

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Technology in workstation grant

 Shelby


Professional Learning Communities

Being a part of a Professional Learning Community has been a very interesting experience for me. I have followed certain groups on Facebook for years, but never fully realized that they are considered PLN’s. Branching out in to the Twitter world and ISTE has expanded my view on so many areas, both in technology and early childhood education. Burt (2014) states that “developing a Personal Learning Network is an empowering, transformational process, which fundamentally transforms your professional learning and teaching approach.”

First, I want to talk about my experiences on Facebook since they are more substantial than the other two. I have been a member of several groups including Simply Kinder, Texas Kindergarten Teachers, and Kindergarten Teachers Unite. I don’t think I have posted myself, but I have participated in many discussions through other posts that have given me new ideas and directions for my classroom. One of those is Bloomz, which I am using as a parent communication tool in my classroom this year. It has allowed me to communicate with parents about all aspects of my classroom in an almost Facebook sort of way. I have read in my groups of parents using it as a platform to be rude to the teacher and be negative, but I have not had that problem at all. My partner teacher (who teaches math to both classes) also uses it and we have put each other as administrators to our classes so I can share the same information with her class also. Through the boards on Facebook, I also discovered a page called Free Technology for Teachers. It has given me so much information, and so many ideas of apps and programs that I want to try out. I have found that is very useful for me, since Facebook is my primary source of social media.

Twitter is a new area for me. Well, not new. I’ve always enjoyed reading tweets from celebrities and from my favorite shows and movies. But using it professionally is a new experience for sure. I have not really begun to tweet professionally myself, as I only have 10 followers and I really haven’t had much to tweet yet. But I am following several people. One that I enjoy reading is from Edutopia. They have had some great articles and videos that I have watched since starting Lamar that have to do with technology in the classroom. I have also been able to follow people that follow them such as Lucy Grey. She has some great tweets with articles, connections to individuals, events that are coming up such as Global Collaboration. She has become like a google of Twitter for me. I can bounce off her posts in so many directions and really enhance the amount of material I am consuming. I follow my district PISD Technology twitter, but they really haven’t been that active since our Technology Conference in August. I think they are really missing out on the chance to spread so much information to teachers in the district about cool new happenings in technology and sharing some really good articles. The ECE Webinars Twitter looks to be promising to me when I have more time to devote to webinars. It is difficult to find information out there that addresses the little ones that I teach.

I joined ISTE at the beginning of our class. I wish I had more time to really dive in and look at all aspects of this. I joined several PLN’s on ISTE but have found that I can only explore them one at a time or it can become so overwhelming. All of the PLN’s on ISTE have good articles to read about the particular subject they address, book studies that you can join, and discussion boards. I am most drawn to the discussion boards as I find that is where I learn the most. Hearing what other people are doing with technology in classrooms is, to me, the most exciting part of being a PLN. There are so many educators out there trying new apps and programs, sometimes even creating them. I find it nearly impossible to keep up with the changing technology but discussion boards are the easiest way for me to try. I have explored the general ISTE PLN, and also the Literacy Network and the Early Learning Network. I am still trying to wrap my head around the Game Network and the Online Learning Network. I have looked into the Teacher Education Network but was a little put off by the negativity that I saw that particular day. I will need to go back and revisit that one. Today I joined the Ed Tech Coach network and the Digital Citizenship network, based on my future goals for my career and recent discussion board postings that we have had.

Finally, I do follow some teachers and innovators out in the Instagram world. Although the discussion is limited to comments, I have seen some interesting ideas, heard of some conferences coming up, and have even heard of an online collaboration tool called Blab that I want to explore further. I would love to be able to have a four person chat with some of the most amazing teachers this country has to offer, just to pick their brains for ideas. That to me would be the most beneficial kind of learning.

I am very thankful that this class required us to go out and join more PLN’s. As a busy educator, that is not something I think I would have done on my own and I feel that this is just going to enhance my teaching in the classroom and my experiences at Lamar.

Facebook

These are some general kindergarten groups that I find helpful to bounce ideas off of.

Simply Kinder -Kinder teachers ask input on anything kindergarten related https://www.facebook.com/groups/975566595791892/

Kindergarten Teachers Unite – Kinder teachers ask input on anything kinder related https://www.facebook.com/groups/2221987454/

Texas Kindergarten Teachers Kinder teachers in Texas discuss Texas issues and how to address them https://www.facebook.com/groups/900312986681314/

This is a blog/website that  posts great stuff daily

Free Technology for Teachers  https://www.facebook.com/FreeTech4Teachers?fref=ts

Twitter

Edutopia – Education posts and articles  @edutopia

Tilisia Thibodeaux – Professor for Digital learning and leading at Lamar  @TechieTilisa   

Tech Learning – resources for K-12 digital technologies to transform education   @techlearning

ECE Webinars – free webinars by Early Childhood experts  @ECEWebinars

PISD Technology – my school district technology department  @PISDTechnology

Jonna Mcgaughy – kindergarten teacher, 1:1 classroom, Seesaw ambassador  @drmcgaughy

Common Sense Media – parenting advice and resources for tech issues  @CommonSense

NetSmartz Workshop – online safety education  @NetSmartz

Dr. Tim Clark – technology tools and digital content @BYOTNetwork

Steven Anderson – educator, speaker, blogger  @web2.0classroom

Ed Tech K-12 Magazine – tech issues facing K-12 leaders @EdTech_k12

eschool news – K-12 educators using technology in the classroom  @eschoolnews

Edudemic  – connecting education and technology @Edudemic

Early Childhood Tech – developmentally appropriate educational technology, apps, interactive websites  @ECTech

ISTE

Digital Citizenship Network – The Digital Citizenship Network supports educators in ensuring the appropriate, safe and responsible use of technology. The Digital Citizenship Network offers perspective and structure for learning with technology, providing examples of how educators can use technology appropriately and responsibly to help students become more creative, resourceful and interactive with peers around the world.

Early Learning Network – The Early Learning and Technology Network is an advocate for developmentally appropriate technology use in early learning settings. The Early Learning and Technology Network promotes and facilitates the advancement of meaningful technology integration in teaching and learning experiences for young children. The Early Learning and Technology Network connects the early learning community with one another to explore and implement developmentally appropriate, high-quality, balanced and relevant use of technologies with young children in all early learning and educational settings (birth to age eight).

Games and Simulations Network – The Games and Simulations Network is dedicated to understanding and advancing the use, integration, design, development and evaluation of games, simulations and virtual environments for learning and teaching.

Literacy Network – The Literacy Network is devoted to the topic of reading and literacy and works to help educators find information about the types of technology that can assist in teaching reading skills and the programs that can enhance literacy instruction.

Online Learning Network – The Online Learning Network is a network of educators involved with computer-based communications—either stand-alone stations or in combination with other media. Members are able to share experiences and learn from each other through various professional development and networking activities, including webinars, online resource databases and ISTE Conference and Expo events.

Teacher Education Network – The Teacher Education Network members include higher education faculty teaching in graduate and undergraduate programs, graduate students, K–12 teachers, administrators, information technology specialists and curriculum specialists teaching and conducting research in teacher preparation and instructional technology.

Ed Tech Coaches Network – The Educational Technology Coaches Network promotes the development and collaboration of educational technology coaches who support the professional growth of teachers as they use technology to enhance learning.

**ISTE descriptions are taken from www.iste.org

Instagram

I follow many teachers and former teachers on instagram to get a wealth of good ideas.

Bright Concepts for Teachers A second grade teacher/blogger who shares ideas and collaboration for the early grades  https://instagram.com/brightconcepts4teachers/

The Kindergarden – teacher who shares pics of ideas from her classroom and her TPT store  https://instagram.com/thekindergarden/

Crayons and Whimsey – kindergarten teacher/blogger who shares great ideas https://instagram.com/crayonsandwhimsy/

Mrs.Prices Kindergators- kindergarten teacher/blogger who shares great ideas  https://instagram.com/mrspriceskindergators/

Teachersworkstation – Texas teacher creating elementary teacher resources  https://instagram.com/teachersworkstation/

Learning With Mrs. Langley – first grade teacher/blogger  https://instagram.com/learningwithmrslangley/

Hello Jen Jones – reading specialist, staff development provider/blogger https://instagram.com/hellojenjones/

Mrs. West Knows Best – Canadian teacher in Scotland  https://instagram.com/mrs.west.knows.best/

First Grade Fairy Tales – first grade teacher/seller on TPT  https://instagram.com/firstgradefairytales/

Totally Elementary – kindergarten teacher/seller on TPT  https://instagram.com/totallyelementary/

Burt, R. (2014). Step 1: What is a PLN? Retrieved from http://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org/pln-challenge-1-what-the-heck-is-a-pln/


Assessment

When I got the assignment to create an online assessment tool, I was completely overwhelmed.  I teach Kindergarten.  They can barely do assessments one on one with me.  But I marched on and created two Powtoons to teach the TEKS K.D and K.H concerning print concepts.  I then created a Kahoot! to assess learning of the materials which you can view here.

I haven’t actually used this one in my classroom to assess this concept, but my partner teacher created a Kahoot!, see here,  to address the Social Studies portion of our Kindergarten report card.  We had the children do the assessment in the computer lab with the help of our technology teacher on IPad mini’s.  They didn’t even know they were taking a test and it made that part of the report card a breeze for me us to assess.

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Teaching Parents to Use Technology at Home

One issue that we as teachers are finding is that our littles love to go home and try out new technology that we have purchased here at school for them such as Raz Kids.  But I would get messages that they couldn’t log on and children would tell me it wasn’t working.  So I did what any other overworked problem solver would do.  I created a video tutorial for my parents to help them navigate the program the first time.  I know they found it helpful and I found it a big strain off of myself.  So enjoy this How to go to Raz Kids for homework video I created by using screencastomatic for the first time.


Sharing Some New Tricks with my Staff

love to try new things.  And when our tech liason allowed me to make a screenomatic for a training she was doing, I jumped all over it.  More chances to play with things and see how they work. 

  I hope the parts of our faculty that are visual learners were able to take this back to their room and go through it step by step.

I also love to research how things that I stumble across on TPT are created.  I was paying $5 a month for QR listening centers to use during my station time.  How could I not share this with other hardworking people in my building.


My Past, Present, and Future in Digital Learning and Leading

This was a difficult assignment because I know where I’ve been and what I am doing now, but I have no idea where I am going.  I want to go on to be a district ed tech person or an instructional liason at a school in the district.  But I have no idea where I will really end up in the future.


Constructing Meaningful Connections

“Too few Americans are aware of the radical changes in kindergarten practice in the last ten to twenty years. Children now spend far more time being instructed and tested in literacy and math than they do learning through play and exploration, exercising their bodies, and using their imaginations.” (Miller & Almon, 2009). As a Kindergarten teacher for the last 20 years, I have seen the curriculum and the structure of Kindergarten change dramatically. I remember the days when my students had access to a dramatic play center, an art center, blocks, a science center, and many other appropriate options. Now, I am confined to have “stations” that only have an obvious link to literacy or math. If I include blocks in my classroom, they have to be used to spell out sight words or create letters of the alphabet. Dramatic play could no longer just be a home center, there would have to be some kind of reading or writing component that is addressed in the center.

The ideas of Thomas and Brown in A New Culture of Learning reaffirm the idea that I have had that what we are doing to children in the Kindergarten classroom is not preparing them for the future. By taking “play” away, we are not engaging their passion, imagination, or constraints of play to create learners who are getting the information that they need easily and naturally. We are not using enough peer learning and collaboration to help children become “collective” learners.

I have started to bring back some of the elements of play in my classroom over the last few years. But many have had to be concealed as “literacy stations” so that I am following the guidelines that I am given. I am using technology as one way to reintroduce “play” in my classroom. By using such tools as online resources that resemble games, the students are more engaged in their learning. I have also added my sensory bin back into the classroom. Yes, I had to drop some foam letters in it to validate having it in my classroom, but watching the discovery that is going on with the materials is very rewarding.

The challenges of the current system feel insurmountable at times. I am given a timeline of what to teach, in what order and for how many days, in all of my subject areas. There are teams coming out from the district level observing our reading groups and writing time and giving feedback that is often developmentally inappropriate for young children. I am still trying to figure out how to deal with the challenges on a daily basis. As a veteran teacher, I am dealing with the idea that I remember what Kindergarten used to be. Many new teachers don’t have that idea and that is scary to me.

By taking my classroom back to a student centered environment, I feel that my school will be affected by the students from my classroom going in to first grade with a more diverse background. Using technology in my classroom, in connection with more play, will allow the first grade teachers the ability to take them further and create learners that are already questioning the “what ifs” and looking at various sources of information to get their answers. I am the first person to tell my children that I don’t know an answer and then I show them all the ways that I can find out information to help me come up with an answer.  I feel like that is teaching them context more than content. By being a role model of learning to the youngest of our learners, I think that they are shown that there is more information out there to look at.

It can be a daunting task to get people to think more holistically about learning environments. I think it is a bit easier in the earlier grades because we are less confined by teaching to the tests as the upper grades are. I really think to see a change in learning environments really occur, though, we have to see a change from the top down in our schools. The districts really have to step down a bit from micromanaging our every move, and let us do what is right for the learners that we have today. I am proud to say in the realm of technology, our district is allowing and even providing tools for students as young as fifth grade to begin seeing all the information that is out there for them to absorb. I would still like to see much more of this, at younger ages, to really impact our learning environments.

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). ˜Aœ New Culture of Learning cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. S.l.: Createspace.

 

Miller, E., & Almon, J. (n.d.). Crisis in the Kindergarten. Retrieved from http://www.allianceforchildhood.org/sites/allianceforchildhood.org/files/file/kindergarten_report.pdf


Learning

As an early childhood educator, most of my experiences in college regarding how children learn were based in the teachings of Piaget and Montessori. I came out of college with a cognitive theory view, along with a Gardener-like multiple intelligences view and that has served me quite well the last 20 years. But as I’ve grown in my teaching, and society has changed over the last 10 or so years, I have had to add to my philosophy of how children learn. Looking back now, I have been using bits and pieces from all the major learning theories, along with adding in some of the different subsets of those learning ideas.

I believe that learning in general, especially among our youngest of learners, is about brain development and hitting on those right times to learn specific information. I think that it is a combination of genetics and the environment that promotes how children learn and what they are going to find easier and more difficult. I think that you have to be in the right mindset for true learning to occur, so being in distress or angry, frustrated or mad, will not serve the learning process. I believe that if we can teach children how to move themselves into their ideal learning area, we will help empower them to be the masters of their own learning. If we don’t address the hurts and hang-ups first, then we are not making the best use of the time that we have with them.

I believe that children learn by doing. This is very evident in the constructivism learning theory when they address that “learners create knowledge as they attempt to understand their experiences.” (Driscoll, 2000, p. 376) While some background knowledge is necessary and provided by the teacher, in the early childhood classroom, letting the children learn by manipulating and doing things is really the most effective way to solidify learning.

Bloom’s taxonomy is a useful tool when designing learner outcomes that include deeper level thinking skills. I use this tool in my classroom when I feel that I need to push the learner a little deeper than even I think that they can go. Some of this taxonomy stems from the teachings of the cognitive learning  theory. Teaching the learners “how they learn” also comes from this style  theoryand I feel it is very important, especially for our youngest learners, to understand where their learning comes from and how to increase the depth and understanding of it. It is not enough to simply explain something to them, it is more necessary to explain how they can use what they have learned to get more information in the future and how they will go about organizing all that they have learned in a way that is meaningful to them (Bates, 2014).

I use brag tags in my classroom and I feel that this approach is based in the behaviorist theory that certain responses become associated with certain stimuli. When the children reach a certain goal, such as knowing all their letters, they will get the reward of placing the brag tag on their backpack. We try to use brag tags in a variety of situations, not just knowledge-based activities, such as participation in school events, mastering curriculum, and social situations.  I think that helps us feel that we aren’t just “dangling the carrot” for the rote learning but also for participation and trying to master social skills.

Gardener’s multiple intelligences are very evident in the activities I incorporate into my kindergarten classroom and in my own children’s learning. (Lane, n.d.) I believe that we all learn differently and that we are stronger in some ways of learning than in others. Both of my children are very musical, and over the years I have seen that one of the easiest ways of getting information to stay in their brains is to put it in some kind of musical format. This is much easier to see in the more rote memorization and skills, but it can be very evident when they are given options of projects to complete. My children will almost exclusively choose the project that is in their most comfortable and strongest intelligences. Rarely, will they push themselves outside what is easier for them and do a project that is outside of their “strongest” intelligences.  I am not sure if it is because they feel the most comfortable in the intelligence that they have chosen or if it is truly the easiest place for them to learn and create.

I had not heard of the online collaborative theory in those terms but I feel that those are very strong ideas for how children learn. I fully believe that technology can be used by teachers to facilitate and foster collaboration in the classroom. I also believe in the concept of scaffolding, which takes into account children’s prior knowledge. Today’s kindergarteners are coming in with a big gap in their prior knowledge and teachers do not know what is to blame. Using scaffolding and prior knowledge is so very important, especially in the youngest learners, to make sure there aren’t any gaps and that they have the strong foundation on which to build all other learning. (Bates, 2014)

21st century learning was also a new theory for me. Well not so much the ides, as the title of the theory.  As technology has become more prevalent in our society, I have seen many of the ideas become more important in the classroom.  I believe that as teachers we do have to teach all aspects of living in a society that is so based in technology, and by not doing this we are not preparing our students for the world that they are growing into.

I think that if at all possible, authentic learning is the easiest way to “hook” our children into learning. If the learning addresses something they are interested in, and it is not just work for the sake of work, then the learners will be more engaged and ready to take the information and apply it to real world learning. (Mims, 2003)

I believe that my views on the use of different concepts of how children learn are very similar to my teaching philosophy. I take little bits and pieces from all around and use them with the children in my classroom. If something is not working for a particular child, then I look into other ways to work with them, maybe of a different style than mine, to help them learn. This flexibility in my beliefs of both how children learn and how I can teach are a result of being a teacher for the last 20 years and encountering children of all shapes, sizes, learning styles, and backgrounds.

Now, how do I learn you may ask? I am a person who will not learn if I am not doing something concrete. I am very firm in my beliefs that sitting passively while someone tries to put knowledge in my head is the absolute worst way for me to learn. I need to have technology be at my disposal during learning so I can look up information and find out what my beliefs are in what I am learning about. When I am cut off from technology, I have a hard time focusing on just the one viewpoint that I am being given. I am very much a learner who loves to learn about all the different ways that I can access information and how I can use it to make myself the best person I can be.

So, when I tried to nail down my beliefs in the the different learning theories, I began to realize that just like any great recipe, over the years I have taken bits and pieces from all areas and used what I feel makes for the best learners. There is no one way that children learn, so there is really no one way that we can teach if we want to reach all learners. By using this information, I hope to keep growing my knowledge about all the different kinds of learning and adding to my long list of strategies and practices to make me the most effective teacher that I can be.

Bates, T. (2014, July 29). Learning theories and online learning. Retrieved March 13, 2016, from http://www.tonybates.ca/2014/07/29/learning-theories-and-online-learning/

 Driscoll, M. (2000). Psychology of Learning for Instruction. Needham Heights, MA, Allyn & Bacon.

Lane, C. (n.d.). Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. Retrieved March 13, 2016, from http://www.tecweb.org/styles/gardner.html

 Mims, C. (n.d.). Meridian Article: Authentic Learning: A Practical Introduction & Guide for Implementation. Retrieved March 13, 2016, from https://www.ncsu.edu/meridian/win2003/authentic_learning/

Siemens, G. (2005, January). Connectivism:A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved March 13, 2016, from http://www.itdl.org/journal/jan_05/article01.htm


Designing a Course

Using environment and situational factors when planning lessons and outcomes for our students in a course can be a challenging task. The first hurdle in creating an outcome for students is creating a “big, hairy, audacious goal”. For me, this was zeroing in on the specific TEK that I wanted to address but making the goal broader than the TEK itself. I came up with the BHAG of having my students function as developmentally appropriate digital citizens. The reason I put in the “developmentally appropriate” part is that I am a kindergarten teacher and the skills that I want them to gain are vastly different from the skills I want, say my 5th grader to have.

The next challenge was looking at the learning situation, the nature of my students and their characteristics, and the characteristics of myself as the teacher. My lessons will be given in a live classroom setting with face to face instruction to my 15 Kindergarten students. There will not be a “home” component except to have something signed about halfway through. I have taken in to account what Texas wants my students to know, along with our expectations as a school and the expectations of society as a whole regarding digital citizenship.

Most of my students will come in with little to no prior knowledge with the subject, but most of them will have interacted with some sort of technology before coming to me. I will use the idea of “safety” throughout because children are comfortable with the idea of being safe and like to be told how to maintain their safety.  Then, I had to look at my comfort level with the subject and what kind of teacher that I am to help my deliver my instruction in the best possible way.

The next step was answering some questions so I could come up with some very specific learning goals. I had to answer what I wanted my students to have gained in a year from my lessons, which I hope will be a strong digital citizenship foundation on which to continue building.

I had to decide the key information, which I found was more like vocabulary and what the main ideas I want my students to understand from my course. I identified words like digital citizenship, safety, cyberbullying, and acceptable use to name a few. Then I came up with the main ideas of what is digital safety and rules, what is fair use, and what is cyberbullying and how can you stop it.  I had to look at the kinds of thinking that I thought I would address and the integration goals for my course.

I looked at the human dimension goals of my course and came up with the goals of learning how to control themselves on the internet and learning that you can’t control what others do on the internet but you can control how you react to it.

Finally, I had to look at my changes and values that I wanted my students to adopt and what I wanted my students to learn about as good students, and self-directed learners.

My end result was a three column table with a general course outline for my 6 week course on Digital Citizenship.

Goal:  To have students function as developmentally appropriate digital citizens. 

Learning Goals Assessment Activities Learning Activities
Learners will identify and explain what it means to be a good digital citizen.

Learners will recognize key vocabulary involved in being a good digital citizen.

 

Digital citizenship book page per child

Classroom discussions

 

Watch An Introduction to Digital Citizenship https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zD_CANwFASU

Go through teacher created PowerPoint with the specific vocabulary such as digital citizenship, safety, cyberbullying, acceptable use, digital safety rules, fair use, copyright laws, intellectual property, and responsible use

Brainstorm ways to be a good digital citizen.

 

Learners will describe acceptable use and define what it means.

Learners will help construct and sign a classroom acceptable use policy.

 

Acceptable use policy

Classroom discussions

 

View acceptable use video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zD_CANwFASU

Teacher will go over the dos and don’ts with technology in the classroom.

Students will brainstorm why these are necessary policies for using technology.

 

Learners will identify digital use rules in the classroom.

 

Rules book created in Story maker

Turn and talk about the rules

 

Teacher will go over PowToon created with the rules for digital use in their classroom.

Brainstorm why these rules are important. Have students come up with examples of situations they might use them in.

Students will define rules to their classmates.

 

Learners will identify and  illustrate fair use guidelines in the classroom.

 

Fair use posters per group

Classroom discussion

 

Go to Copyright kid’s website and click on useful information to explain what fair use and copyrights are. http://www.copyrightkids.org

Brainstorm things that we could copyright in the classroom.

 

Learners will explain what copyright laws are on the internet.

Learners will create their own work for the internet and give proper credit to themselves for doing this.

Artwork created and put on the

Internet with proper credit given

Classroom discussion

 

Use My Creative work lesson plan from Common Sense Media for this lesson.

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educatorsrs/lesson/my-creative-work-k-2

 

Learners will identify what cyberbullying is and how to deal with it if it happens.

 

Cyberbullying poster to hang up around the school (instead of tip sheet)

Classroom discussion

 

Use Screen out Mean lesson from Common Sense Media

http://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/lesson/screen-out-mean-2-3

Brainstorm ideas for posters to make to hang around school.

Fink, L. D. (n.d.). A Self Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning. Retrieved March 20, 2016, from https://www.deefinkandassociates.com/GuidetoCourseDesignAug05.pdf


Significant Learning Environments

Just like my previous post, this week I was looking at creating my learning environment using Understanding By Design (UBD). Using both the Understanding by Design template and Fink’s template have allowed me to focus in on what do I want my students to be able to do before constructing the activities that I will use to teach the concepts. It has made me think long and hard about what activities will support my goals for the students, not just finding activities that relate to the topic.

At first I thought that the Fink template was not going to be useful for a Kindergarten classroom, but after figuring out the “logistics”, I really like the short but concise way it makes me focus my attention on my goal for the students throughout the planning process. I like the way that you choose your assessment piece first, and then plan backwards from that. The UBD template really helped me focus on the essential questions that I want my students to focus on, even if they do not come up with every answer. I also like the way that when listing the activities, you look at exactly what how you will achieve the results (WHERETO).

I have not been in college for 20 years, so much of this information is not something that I have heard before. It is a very uncomfortable process to go through but I feel like the lessons and units that come out of the moment of “discomfort” are well worth it.

Understanding by Design Template


Stage 1 – Desired Results

Established Goals – (5) Digital citizenship. The student practices safe, responsible, legal, and ethical behavior while using digital tools and resources. The student is expected to:

(A)  adhere to acceptable use policies reflecting appropriate behavior in a digital environment;

(B)  comply with acceptable digital safety rules, fair use guidelines, and copyright laws; and

(C)  practice the responsible use of digital information regarding intellectual property, including software, text, images, audio, and video.

Understandings – Students will understand that….

  1. Being a good digital citizen is a life skill for their futures.
  2. There are laws and rules that govern how we use the internet.
  3. Cyberbullying is using the internet to bully someone.
  4. There are ways to deal with being cyberbullied.

Essential Questions –

  1. What is being a digital citizen?
  2. What is an acceptable use policy and how is it used in the classroom?
  3. What are rules and why must we have them?
  4. What is fair use and what is it used for?
  5. What are copyright laws and how do we know what is copyrighted?
  6. What is intellectual property and how do we give credit for it?
  7. What is cyberbullying and how can you get help if you are being cyberbullied

Students will know…

  • What a good digital citizen looks like at their age.
  • The following vocabulary terms: digital citizenship, safety, cyberbullying, acceptable use, digital safety rules, fair use, copyright laws, intellectual property, and responsible use.
  • The current copyright laws.
  • Students will be able to…
  • Identify and explain what it means to be a good digital citizen.
  • Recognize key vocabulary involved in being a good citizen.
  • Describe acceptable use and define what it means.
  • Help construct and sign a classroom acceptable use policy.
  • Identify digital use rules in the classroom.
  • Identify and illustrate fair use guidelines in the classroom.
  • Explain what copyright laws are on the internet.
  • Create their own work for the internet and give themselves credit.
  • Identify what cyberbullying is and how to deal with it if it happens.

Stage 2 – Assessment Evidence

Performance Tasks

  • Create a page for a digital citizenship book.
  • Construct and sign an acceptable use policy created by the class.
  • Create a digital rules storybook.
  • Create a fair use poster.
  • Create an original piece of artwork and put it on the internet giving themselves proper credit.
  • Create an anti-cyberbullying poster for display in the school.

Other evidence

  • Classroom discussions
  • Brainstorming sessions
  • Self-assess understanding of key concepts by sharing them with the class.

Stage 3 – Learning Plan

Learning activities

  • View Introduction to Digital Citizenship video (H,W). Teacher created PowerPoint with key terms for the unit such as digital citizenship, safety, cyberbullying, acceptable use, digital safety rules, fair use, copyright laws, intellectual property, and responsible use (E). Brainstorm ways to be a good citizen (E).
  • View Acceptable Use video (H, E). Teacher will go over the dos and don’ts with technology in the classroom (E) and then ask students to add any they can think of (E, R). Students will brainstorm why each is necessary for technology use (E, R).
  • Teacher will go over a PowToon created with the rules for digital use in our classroom (W,H). Students will propose any rules they think need to be added and the class will discuss if it should be (E, R). The students will brainstorm why the rules are important and situations they might need them in (T, E, R). Students will then define the final rules in the classroom (E).
  • Go to Copyright kid’s website and click on useful information to explain what fair use is and what copyrights are (W, E). Students will brainstorm things that we could copyright in the classroom (E).
  • (My Creative Work Lesson by Common Sense Media)Time capsule activity, defining word credit and original (H, W, E). Time capsule self-portrait and publishing work (E, E). Share class norm for crediting creative work (E). Wrap up questions to assess understanding (E, R).
  • (Screen out the Mean lesson by Common Sense Media) Discussion about what they know about bullying (W, H). Discussion about vocabulary online and cyberbullying (E). Go through what to do about cyberbullying handout and share scenarios with class. Brainstorm ways to deal with these scenarios (W, E, R, E). Assessment questions for understanding (R, E).

Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding By Design (Expanded Second Edition ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.


Mindsets and Learning

Mindsets are such a tricky thing.  Dr. Carol Dweck has done amazing research on the two different mindsets that all people can have.  When children are in their fixed mindset, they want to succeed, for the sake of being the best and the brightest.  They feed off hearing that they are the “smartest”.  Children that are in their growth mindset find success in “stretching themselves” (Dweck, 2003, p.17).  These are the children that enjoy being challenged and growing their skills, even if failure occurs.  Over the years, I have had both types of students and the differences in the way that I approach learning with them are tremendous.  It is so important for children to be in their growth mindset because that is where they “grow their brains”, making neural connections that didn’t previously exist.  If we only have children in their fixed mindset, they will crumble when they aren’t the brightest or best at something.  They won’t know how to make themselves better learners or how to strengthen their skills.

Dweck has four steps to changing our mindsets (Dweck, n.d.).  They are:

  1. Learn to hear your fixed mindset voice.
  2. Recognize that you have a choice.
  3. Talk back with a growth mindset voice.
  4. Take the growth mindset action.

How can I use these in my classroom to affect my students and their mindsets?  The easiest way with the little ones that I work with is by setting an example.  When I feel myself slipping into my fixed mindset, I have to jump at the opportunity to use it as a teachable moment.  Going through the steps out loud, with my thoughts where the children can hear them, will be my most powerful tool.  When my students hear me “thinking through” problems, they are more attuned to the steps that I am taking to remedy the situation.

I have also already started to use the power of “yet” in my classroom.  In Kindergarten, I hear a lot of “I can’t do it”.  I have begun making my students rephrase that to “I can’t do it, yet!”  Their little eyes light up when I tell them that there are things that I can’t do but I hope I will be able to do in the future.  It gives them a sense of hope and I feel like I am using my most powerful weapon, the weapon of being a good example.  Children learn by watching the adults in their lives, and I plan on taking my 7 hours with them to show them how to learn about the power of yet.

There are so many resources out there.  I typed in growth mindset in Pinterest and came up with an entire board full of books, videos, posters, and teachers pay teachers products that I can purchase.  Here is the link to my board https://www.pinterest.com/shelwillis/growth-mindset/.  The number of resources out there is mind boggling to say the least.  Many of the books I already own in my personal library and I am fortunate enough to be able to print at no cost in color.  So getting materials ready for my classroom should be an inexpensive and easy feat.

I hope to promote the growth mindset organically in my classroom, meaning whenever the opportunity presents itself.  I feel like my Kindergarteners learn better when I use the moment to do my best teaching.  I will try to keep in mind what Alfie Kohn says about attending to “deeper differences between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.” (Kohn, 2015).  I want my students to become intrinsically motivated to push themselves further, not by what I say, but by their own inner voices.  This is the greatest challenge I will have but I am up for it.

If you have enjoyed reading about my thoughts on Carole Dweck’s Mindsets, please read my previous blogs.

In my posts I discussed learning in a broad sense here, and my personal philosophy on learning here.  Then I experimented with backwards design with Fink’s three column model here.  Finally, I explored backwards design with the UBD model here.  Please let me know what you think of my ideas on learning.  Thanks!

Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House.

Dweck, C. (n.d.). MINDSET. Retrieved March 31, 2016, from http://mindsetonline.com/changeyourmindset/firststeps/index.html

Kohn, A. (2015, August 16). The “Mindset” Mindset – Alfie Kohn. Retrieved March 31, 2016, from http://www.alfiekohn.org/article/mindset/


Lessons Learned From the Field

Looking at the global research and information out there about technology innovations has been a very eye-opening experience for me. It is very easy to find ourselves in the bubble of our school or our district and become unaware of what is going on around the world with technology and education. Examining what has worked, not worked, and lessons learned with various initiatives around the globe has really solidified my thinking on what I need to be looking at in terms of Appy Hour.

I want to start by looking at the 2015 Horizon Report. Although it is not laid out in a way that it is easy to see what works, doesn’t work, and lessons learned, I was able to extract a few ideas from it. Finland stands out in my mind as a system that is working in terms of technology and education. They are looking at assessment more in terms of creativity and less in terms of grades and standardized assessments. They are also looking at rethinking what a school day looks like, with instruction carrying over throughout the day, instead of the bell to bell system we are used to here. There is a rise in STEAM learning that will only benefit out students as critical thinkers. Ideas of what could be done better include better copyright policies for teacher and student work, having preservice teacher education include more digital training, and rethinking the roles of teachers in the classroom. The lessons that I have learned from reading what is going on in the Horizon report is that the way it has always been doesn’t mean that it is the way it should always be. We need new strategies in authentic learning which includes models and training strategies for teachers. I also see a trend in professional development that shows it is becoming more of teacher’s responsibility to go out and seek what they need for their individual classrooms.

The eSkwela project, based in the Phillipines, was an interesting case study in implementing and using Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in an area plagued by lack of access to educational opportunities by both out of school youth, and adults who did not complete schooling. What I saw as working in this project was the teachers saw ICT as a tool for education. It was seen as a way to make “learning (as well as teaching) a lot more interactive, flexible, and fun with the use of ICT” (p.18). It was also a successful project in that it addressed some of the problems in access and equality in education to the different regions. The project had the usual growing pains associated with infrastructure and training programs. They also had some issues with dealing with external parties and the changing political atmosphere of the different regions. The lessons I learned from this study are that a program such as this needs community support to be successful and that good training programs must exist for the teachers to use it.

The ICT Handbook (parts 1, 2, and 3) had many great ideas and things that worked. The successful idea of this handbook to me was the idea of how learning could be for all people, anywhere and anytime. Using ICT could address such problems as rural schools not having access to good teachers, multigrade schools using their teachers the most effectively, and using the dual shift idea to have children do some of their learning independently throughout the day. There was much discussion of enhancing the quality of teaching through the use of ICT and many examples of case studies throughout the world where technology was used to reach people who may have been forgotten otherwise. The problems, as with most ideas in ICT around the world, were lack of teacher training, bad infrastructure, and the issues of out of school and illiterate children. The lesson I learned from the three sections of the ICT Handbook are that technology is only a tool. It cannot fix bad policy or bad leadership. And, if teachers are not convinced of its usefulness and trained properly, it will not be used.

The IPad “debacle” in the LA Unified School District is a great tool for looking at what can work, what might not, and to learn some lessons from it. What worked in LAUSD is not much. There was a lack of vision put forth from the beginning which caused the whole idea to implode. What did not work was the school district getting “caught up in the ed tech frenzy without fully thinking through why technology is important in the first place” (Lapowsky, 2015). The school district failed to implement a large scale deployment and failed to follow Apple’s guidelines for deployment. The lessons learned from these two articles are that without vision, no matter how cool or big an idea is, it will not be successful.

When reading the ICT Innovative Schools article, I was struck by how much ICT can work in the school system if used in support of teaching and learning and how more student centered learning occurs when ICT is leveraged correctly. ICT can be a change agent, but only for those who are excited about using it. Teachers who were not convinced of its usefulness were able to avoid using it. As in most technology initiatives, connectivity, access, and gender equality were issues in this article. Also, home access could be a stumbling block to ICT success. I learned that if ICT adoption does not center on the teacher and professional development, it will not work. The teacher’s pedagogy and beliefs must be addressed for a successful ICT implementation to occur.

The Mobile Learning articles in the different regions of the world were probably the most eye opening to me. I did not realize the scope of initiatives that is occurring globally, even in countries that are in their infancy of mobile learning development. Throughout all the articles, I could see that things that worked in initiatives were when the teachers believed in the technology and how it could change learning. Also, parent and social belief was important. Some of the biggest problems globally are the lack of access to high speed cellular networks and to phones that have the capability to run the more sophisticated apps and programs.

While the US and Canada have a pretty good cellular system and access to mobile technology, our biggest obstacle is the professional development of teachers to using these technologies in the classroom and the widespread belief that phones are a distraction and shouldn’t be used in school.

In Africa and the Middle East, the programs using mobile technology are predominantly small scale and funded by private corporations or donor agencies. Most of their experimentation into using mobile technologies is focusing on the health and human services sectors.

In Asia, while phones are very common, the cost of the level of phone to use in education and the carrier costs are quite expensive. Also, the rural sections of Asia do not have access to as many services. Parent perception of phone usage is also a major obstacle in Asia, as parents are concerned about social media use.

In Latin America, initiatives are still in the early stages of development. Many initiatives in mobile learning in Latin America right now focus on administrators and the management of educational information. Broadband access in the region is still limited, and it is still very expensive for most of the population. Literacy rates in the region are also a barrier to mobile technology use.

In Europe, there are multiple projects related to mobile technologies. They are still struggling, as with Asia and North America, with teacher and social attitudes about mobile technology in education. They fear that social isolation can occur with too much mobile interaction. Europe, much like North America, has embraced somewhat many initiatives to expand mobile learning in the educational settings, especially in the UK, Denmark, and the Netherlands. Europe seems to be the most advanced in addressing using mobile technology in their policy.

When looking at all the different mobile learning initiatives around the globe, some lessons seemed to repeat over and over again. It is obvious that the social stigma of mobile technology as a distraction has to be addressed globally before it will be an accepted tool in education. Also, teacher professional development has to be addressed, both in their attitudes towards mobile technology and their pedagogy. Teachers need to see how useful and how relevant using this technology can be to their students and how it can be helpful to the student’s entry into the workforce. In many areas, the infrastructure has to be updated and faster mobile technology needs to be available at affordable prices to make the best use of what it can do for students.

Most of the articles and research that I sought out on my own have to do with professional development and technology because my innovative idea is Appy Hour, which is a professional development innovation. Many of the assigned readings also addressed professional development marginally, but finding articles specifically about professional development around the globe opened up a whole new way of thinking in terms of my innovation project.

The article about teacher training and technology contained an overview of some case studies and lessons learned. These studies were conducted in Armenia, Brazil, China, Guinea, Singapore, and South Africa. What worked in these case studies was that they all used professional development to train teachers how to use technology in the classroom. The way that they choose to do it was very different. In Armenia, I learned that web based training can be an effective tool for teachers and it can be a lower cost option to face to face trainings. China used television as their delivery method for training of their teachers. The teachers had to pass exams to receive credit for their trainings. Singapore has been focusing on IT training in their teacher education programs along with in-service training. Their systematic approach is what made them successful. I can imagine without a clear vision, none of these projects would have been as successful as they were.

The article about the ICT training courses in Jordan showed that having training courses for teachers in ICT related knowledge and skills improved their perceptions of its use in education. It is important to consider timing and how we train teachers, follow up, school culture, teacher’s beliefs, the workload of the teachers, and their motivation when considering training them in ICT (Abuhmaid, 2011). There was some overload noted in the study for both teachers and mentors. But I like the fact that there were mentors for the teachers to touch base with and I took away the importance of having mentors in professional development in technology.

The models and best practices article was a compelling resource for me in terms of technology professional development. I especially liked how they stressed that all “staff” should be involved in the implementation, including principals. “Teachers and school leadership are the main agents of change at the school level” (Hooker, n.d.). The things that worked in this study is laying out the pros and cons for each type of professional development and giving ideas for how to implement many different ways. It was sort of an overload of information though. I learned, again, that mentors and working together as teams seems to be the most effective way to deliver staff development in technology. In the appendix, there is a list of models of professional development and when it is most appropriate to use them. I will find this very helpful when looking at revisions to my Appy Hour plan next week.

The SAGE open article on teacher’s perception of technology use in schools was a validating article for me in terms of my Appy Hour idea. I was not surprised to read that “more than half of teachers equipped with computers only use them for administrative functions, and only half of their students report using technology more than once a week (Mundy, Kupczynski, and Lee, 2012). I think learning about some of the strategies of the Teach Up program can be useful when looking at professional development in technology. The study confirms my suspicions that teachers need to know how to use technology at a basic level in addition to how to use it in their classrooms. There is much talk about mentoring in this case study, using digital natives as interns to support teachers throughout the year. What I learned from this case study is the use of digital natives as a “mentor” could be a key idea to improving my idea of Appy Hour.

And finally the CITEd research article on learning from case studies in technology integration was a nice way to round out my research about professional development. I liked how this article took several case studies and came up with four main challenges about professional development in technology. These include adequate time, scheduling or access to computers, adequate equipment, and timely professional development. The idea that works in this article is that without access to the website that published the individual case studies, I could not have learned about their results without this article. It really made sense to me how they took the individual studies and found four emerging themes throughout. The lessons I learned from this research is that I have the right idea going in terms of my Appy Hour, I just might need to adjust some of my approach to better serve the faculty.

Abuhmaid, A. (n.d.). ICT Training Courses for Teacher Professional Development in Jordan. Retrieved May 1, 2016, from http://www.tojet.net/articles/v10i4/10420.pdf

Capper, J. (2000, November/December). Teacher Training and Technology: An Overview of Case Studies and Lessons Learned. Retrieved May 01, 2016, from http://www.techknowlogia.org/TKL_active_pages2/CurrentArticles/main.asp?FileType=PDF

Chambers, B. (2014, August 28). L.A. cancels iPads-in-the-schools program: A failure of vision, not technology. Retrieved May 01, 2016, from http://www.macworld.com/article/2599988/lausd-ipad-cancellation-is-a-failure-of-vision-not-technology.html

Hooker, M. (n.d.). Models and Best Practices in Teacher Professional Development. Retrieved May 1, 2016, from https://www.infodev.org/infodev-files/resource/InfodevDocuments_294.pdf

Horizon Report 2015 K-12 Edition. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nmc.org/publication/nmc-horizon-report-2015-k-12-edition/

ICTs for Education: A Reference Handbook. (n.d.). Retrieved May 01, 2016, from http://www.ictinedtoolkit.org/usere/p_page.php?section_number=0

Lapowsky, I. (2015, May 18). What Schools Must Learn From LA’s iPad Debacle. Retrieved May 01, 2016, from http://www.wired.com/2015/05/los-angeles-edtech/

Learning from Case Studies of Technology Integration. (n.d.). Retrieved May 01, 2016, from http://www.cited.org/index.aspx?page_id=101

Mundy, M., Kupczynski, L., & Kee, R. (2012, March 13). Teacher Perceptions of Technology Use in the Schools. Retrieved from http://sgo.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/03/05/2158244012440813

Turning on Mobile Learning Global Themes. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2016, from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002164/216451E.pdf

Turning on Mobile Learning in Africa and the Middle East. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2016, from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002163/216359E.pdf

Turning on Mobile Learning in Asia. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2016, from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002162/216283E.pdf

Turning on Mobile Learning in Europe. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2016, from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002162/216283E.pdf

Turning on Mobile Learning in Latin America. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2016, from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002160/216080E.pdf

Turning on Mobile Learning in N. America. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2016, from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002160/216083E.pdf

Turning on Mobile Learning in N. America. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2016, from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002160/216083E.pdf

Venezky, R. (n.d.). ICT in Innovative Schools: Case Studies of Change and Impact. Retrieved May 01, 2016, from http://www.oecd.org/site/schoolingfortomorrowknowledgebase/themes/ict/41187025.pdf

ESkwela: Community-based E-learning – UNESDOC Database. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2016, from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001833/183307e.pdf


Professional Development In Technology Integration

The last few weeks, I have been pouring over research and case studies worldwide involving professional development and technology integration.  This ties in to my Appy Hour idea by showing me what is working and what needs to be adjusted.


First Digital Badge

After completing my Digital Citizenship class over the summer, I earned the first ever Digital Leading and Learning badge!  What do you think?


Digital Resources

My children cannot imagine a life without technology being at their fingertips.  Frankly, neither can I at this point.  I remember my daughter as a toddler figuring out how to rewind the TIVO to watch her favorite part of a show over and over again.  And that was normal in my house.  Being that I am older, technology has not always played such a substantial role in my life.  My exposure to technology, at least personally, began in the mid 1980’s while I was in intermediate school.

http://whenintime.com/HTimeline.aspx?tlurl=/tl/shelwillis/technology_timeline/

What we did with those computers in intermediate was basic programming.  After that, my computer experience was limited to what my parents could afford and what I was exposed to in school (not much!).  By the time I got my first laptop, I was about to start my student teaching experience.  I used it just as a word processing tool, as there was no real access to internet at this point.  Fast forward to the 90’s, where I got my first cell phone and began playing around with using that for communication.  By the early 2000’s, we had AOL dial-up internet, I was enjoying chat rooms, and we had begun to purchase one of the many gaming systems we would own in the future.  I was still using my flip phone, which I held on to well into 2011.  We purchased a laptop and high-speed internet around 2005, and then our world began to change.

Then came the Apple revolution in my home.  My husband ordered a first generation IPAD and it was delivered to our door the day they came out.  For the 2nd generation, he stood in line at Best Buy.  We bought an IPAD mini for a vacation.  And we have never really looked back.   Ironically, our comfort level with Apple stops at phones and tablets, as we are not very capable at using a Mac computer system.

Fast forward to today.  I have 5 computers available for students to use in my classroom.  I have a Smartboard.  I have 2 Ipods that I won through a grant several years ago.  I have added two Kindle Fires that I purchased out of my own money.  I use resources such as Nearpod, Pinterest, Kahoot, and You Tube to enhance my content.  I am constantly searching for new and interesting ways to do what we have always done in our Kindergarten classroom.  My students spend a large portion of their day in stations, where I try to build in technology as much as possible.

Technology has impacted my life, whether I like it or not.  My car has a push button start, so I couldn’t go anywhere without technology.  I am very dependent on my navigation system, but can still read a map if necessary.  I use my cell phone all day, every day to communicate with my family and friends.  My kids even text me from their rooms.  I use social media to keep up with friends and family, and platforms like You Tube to learn how to do things that I could never imagine doing.  When the internet goes out at my house, it can become a very anxious atmosphere almost immediately.  I’m not always comfortable with the level of dependence on technology that I have, but I am also not willing to give up the convenience that goes along with it.

The easiest way for me to stay current with technology is through my personal learning network. My network consists of using Twitter, and Nuzzel, to weed out interesting articles written by experts all over the world.  I also use Facebook groups to find out about new tools and how teachers are using them in the classroom.  I try to stay on top of what is new with ISTE, although I think this is an area I really need to work on more.  I have to be aware that this is a necessary part of my professional development if I want to be an effective teacher to my students.  Egar (2013) states that we have to use technology as a tool for collaboration and show our students how to use it in their futures. The workplace that our children will have is nothing like the workplace that we have.  If we stop fighting this, and stop trying to do things the way we always have, then our students will be better prepared to work in the future.

As of now, I feel like I do much more consuming in my personal learning network than contributing.  I do have some videos on my You Tube channel that I have created and I do share my WordPress posts on my Twitter and Facebook accounts.  I have recently become a Bloomz Ambassador and I hope to stretch myself to do things that I find very uncomfortable, such as webinars, and conference presentations.  I am comfortable enough now with the level of knowledge that I have obtained to begin to put myself out there a little bit more.

Resources

Eger, J. M. (2013, October 2). Technology and Education: The Tipping Point? Retrieved August 28, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-m-eger/technology-and-education_b_3698440.html
All images in the timeline were retrieved from Creative Commons.

 

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