Mary Ewart's bPortfolio

EDTC 6433 – Technology – Meta-Reflection – Standard 12

 

Determining how to best use technology in the classroom is a problem that can be more challenging than someone might expect. At the beginning of the course, we set goals for our growth and technology use, and then worked through the course to achieve our goals. Our learning through the course supported our goals work, and we were able to take our weekly classwork and apply it directly to our classrooms. At the beginning of the course, I felt I had a reasonable proficiency with technology and I wasn’t sure how much I was going to be able to learn. However, as I worked through the course I realized just how much I had to learn. This learning can be seen in my weekly blogs.

My reflection on my growth as related to my goals is below:

  • My digital citizenship goal was, “I am going to intentionally teach students appropriate digital communication skills and appropriate usage of resources found on the internet. I will do this by providing 3 10 minute lessons on appropriate usage of digital content by December 2014.” I met this goal moderately. I found it incredibly difficult to present lessons of any length not directly related to the content, so instead, I chose to teach this while embedding it into assignments. In my Foundations for Calculus class, we had these conversations when they worked on their problem solving PowerPoint presentations and Law of Sines and Cosines problem assignments. As I introduced these assignments, I reminded students of appropriate use of materials, and as I worked with individual students working on these projects, I reminded them of appropriate usage, and how to give credit for work that was not their own. This class is predominately seniors, and many just needed a reminder that the rules that apply in English and history classes still apply in mathematics. For my Algebra 1 classes, I accomplished this by introducing the concept of an infographic by having the students read and explore three different infographics all related to digital citizenship. Students really responded well to this introduction. As with my Foundations for Calculus class, I also worked with students individually as they worked to create their infographics.
  • My collaboration goal was, “ Create 1 Haiku Wiki assignment for students to complete by December 2014.” I met this goal, but I used a discussion board instead of a wiki because I felt it worked better for the assignments. Students created presentations or problems, and then posted them to a class discussion board, where they responded to their peers work in a specific way.
  • My communication goal was, “Find at least 3 resources for each new unit that I can post to Haiku that will help parents and students understand the concept and connections to other units and real world situations.” I was able to accomplish this goal for Unit 4 in Algebra 1, which was the only full unit I taught since the setting of my growth goals. I will continue to do this as I got great feedback on it from students, colleagues and families.
  • My presentation goal was, “Create an assignment where students create 1 infographic related to Unit 4 Algebra 1 material by December 2014.” This was a success. My Algebra 1 students really went above and beyond in the creation of their infographics, and I feel that they understand the way a function can be modeled in the real world so much more than in previous years.
  • For professional growth, I had two goals:
  1. Participate in one twitter chat related to secondary math education by the end of first semester.
  2. Present information about one technology tool to my department by the end of the year.
  • I really tried to participate in a twitter chat, but unfortunately, nobody chatted on the day I tried! I will be doing more research in finding another twitter chat related to secondary math teaching and I will prevail! I have not yet presented a tool to our entire department, but I have shared many resources with the department members who are on the same content team as I am. I will continue to do this, and will be presenting to the entire department before the end of the year.

I worked hard to find technology projects that would extend the teaching I was already going to do. I wanted to make the assignments authentic and not to just add technology. I also wanted to find ways that I could make my life as a teacher easier by using the technology. To achieve that, I focused on picking goals that would help my students learn more by adding technology. The infographics that I used really allowed students to master the concept of a function that models a real world situation. The problem solving PowerPoint assignment was an extension of the normal problem solving process that we use in class, and it allowed the students to use technology to communicate their results in a different way. I chose to do this because in the future, those students will have to be able to communicate using technology in the workplace on a daily basis. As far as my professional growth goal, I just was not able to figure out what to do with a twitter chat. I think if I had found a chat that was more “chatty”, it would have been easier to do, but since nobody appeared to be chatting, there didn’t appear to be a moderator, and there was nothing for me to say, I wasn’t able to participate.

I really don’t like not being able to complete a goal, so I am committed to figuring out a twitter chat. I will do some more research to try to find a chat that is active and related to my content, and I will participate. Additionally, I am going to try to find more ways to integrate technology in a way to make the abstract concepts in Algebra and Calculus more concrete. I’d like to find ways to use technology to investigate future concepts. Overall, and on a broad scale, I am committed to working to add one technology activity per unit to each class this year. Next year, I’d like to do the same thing. By doing this for a few years, I should have a good mix of learning techniques, and I can continue to work on making the projects and activities applicable and authentic. I anticipate being able to gather some ideas for those activities from twitter chats, once I can figure them out.

I feel my role as a teacher leader with technology is two-fold. First, I think my role is to continue to explore and try new technology. Trying technology can sometimes work really well, and other times, be a complete disaster, but you will never find new tools until you try to see how they work in your classroom, with your students, and with you facilitating the activity. Second, my role is to share what I learn and experience with my colleagues both in my department and as a school. Technology can be scary for teachers to try, and I have found that teachers are much more willing to try new things if it comes from a colleague who says it’s valuable. As I continue to experiment and share my results with my colleagues, I hope that they start to feel comfortable exploring and trying out new technology on their own. I feel that is the mark of a good leader; someone who can show and guide others, and also inspire confidence in others to try new things.

Some additional artifacts are:

Annotated Bibliography – Integrating Technology Presentations Using Infographics In The High School Classroom

Tech Final Presentation – Ewart

Sources:

Gallagher, K. (2014, April 27). How  Real Kids Create Real Infographics. Retrieved

November 4, 2014, from

https://www.edsurge.com/n/2014-04-27-how-real-kids-create-real-

infographics

Manners Matter Infographic. (2014). Retrieved  November 4, 2014, from

http://www.knowthenet.org.uk/infographic/be-careful

trolling-can-happen-anyone

Tolisano, S. (2011, September 6). Creating Infographics with Students. Retrieved

November 4, 2014, from

http://langwitches.org/blog/2011/09/06/creating-infographics-with-students/

Wong, D. (2013, February 26). 5 Inforgraphics to Teach You How to Easily Create

Infographics in PowerPoint. Retrieved November 4, 2014, from

http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/34223/5-Infographics-to-Teach-You

How-to-Easily-Create-Infographics-in-PowerPoint-TEMPLATES.aspx

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Twitter Chat Instead of Edcamp

This week I wasn’t able to attend the Edcamp in Seattle because I was working with my National Board cohort. I was really disappointed to miss this event, especially because my husband had just recently completed a conference run in a similar style – where the participants drive the sessions – and he had such amazing things to say about it. My make up assignment was to research about twitter chats, and participate in one related to my teaching area. This was also something that I wanted to do as part of my technology growth plan. It is very hard for me to participate in off-site conferences – largely due to the fact that I have young children, so I was really looking forward to a way to connect with other educators without having to leave my house! I did some research and decided to try my hand with the #mathchat chat that supposedly happens every Thursday at 4pm. Unfortunately, I was not successful. My understanding of a twitter chat is that a moderator often posts a question, or series of questions, and then others respond and crate a dialogue. There was nothing happening today at 4pm…I have read through the twitter feed for #mathchat, and have discovered some fun resources, silly stories about teaching math, and plenty of sale pitches, but not the community coming together that I had hoped for. I’m not giving up! I will try to find and participate in other twitter chats, but I can’t say my first try went very well.

I don’t want to focus on just the failure, so I would like to share some successes of this last week too. My Foundations for Calculus students just completed a problem solving project that involved them creating either a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation of their solution to a complex problem, then posted it on a Haiku discussion board and commented on the work of 5 of their peers. This activity went beautifully, and the students were able to come up with some amazingly creative and informative projects. I’ve used Padlet.com in my Algebra 1 class almost daily as a way for students to give me information. I’ve used it for exit tickets, and had students take pictures of their work for the post. I’ve used it for warm ups and to access prior knowledge, and I’ve used it for students to work as a group and then share out their thinking to the rest of the class. It’s a collaborative tool as well – there are times I use one Padlet for both periods of Algebra 1, which allows them to see the work of others who aren’t in their class period. These are all very powerful tools that have allowed me to create assignments that are authentic and applicable in my classroom. Currently, my Algebra 1 students are working on infographics for diagrams of real world functions. I’m very excited to see how it all turns out.

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Research with Technology

This week our online class focused on researching a topic from our technology growth plan by working through the Big6 process. This is the first time I have been exposed to the Big6, although as I was working through, I found that I naturally work through this process as I tackle any large task. The first step is intentionally defining your task. For me, this meant I had to decide which aspect of my technology growth plan I was going to focus on. I opted to research about creating infographics; because that is the most student-centered activity that I am implementing, and therefore, is the one that is going to require the most work on my part to prepare for. Next, we went on a search for information, attempting to find the very best resources along the way. I discovered that, for this topic, my go-to search engine (google) was really the best for providing me with relevant resources. After we organized our links in an easy to access space (diigo), we then synthesized and evaluated as we put our work into an annotated bibliography.

This process was good for me to go through for several reasons. First, this forced me to really think about what I was trying to accomplish. I often get lost when I start researching different ideas online. One site links to another, and before I know it, I am 4 topics away from the one I was attempting to research. This is sometimes really great because I find ideas that I didn’t know I was looking for. Other times, this can be a problem because I lose to good resources I was discovering along the way. Second, this process had me thinking about how I could really use them. There were several sites that I found that I didn’t include because they just weren’t unique enough, or didn’t provide me with enough information. Although I learned from those sites, I just didn’t need to focus my time because they weren’t “the best of the best”. Lastly, summarizing the content and evaluating its effectiveness as it related to my classroom was a huge tool. Just like I learn a topic most clearly when I think about teaching it, when I have to summarize and considering a site’s usefulness the information becomes something I have a hard time forgetting.

Technology is invaluable in this process. I am from a generation that had to learn what a search engine is, but I did have computers and access to web searches from middle school on. The majority of my research in college took place in online databases with full text articles. I might have set foot in the actual library five times in four years of college. Without technology, I doubt I would have access to as many resources that are as up-to-date and pertinent, especially about using technology. I feel that things change so quickly, and new tools are introduced so regularly, that without a way to share them almost instantly, we would all be very behind.

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Presentation

To be honest, as we were presented this week with all the amazing ways that students can use technology to present in the classroom in ways that are authentic and enriching, my first (and overwhelming) feeling was frustration. There are so many ways to use technology in humanities or science classrooms in ways that make instruction better and learning more valuable for students. My struggle for the entire 11 years I’ve been teaching is how I can bring those things in to a math classroom. It becomes difficult to teach new math concepts without some sort of direct instruction, and then it becomes an issue of time – how do I fit it all in and still allow students to receive the necessary instruction to cover all the content. The more I consider this, the more I come back to the idea that presentations are a synthesis of information. Presentations are used to take information, connect it to other pieces of information, and make it accessible to others. I think the reason I struggle with putting this in to practice in math is because we don’t have a lot of time to allow students to do this.

This path of thinking led me to consider where I could apply this type of synthesis to my classroom in a way that won’t jeopardize the instruction I know is key to student learning in math. The first place I came up with is during review. My Algebra 1 team gives students 2 classroom days for review each unit. Instead of spending a day on a review game of some sort and a day working problems and taking questions, I think I am going to try an experiment. I love the idea of an infographic – and the fact that students can make one using PowerPoint (a tool they are already very comfortable with). For a future unit, I am going to ask students to work on an infographic to cover the important concepts in the unit. I will introduce it at the start of the unit, so that students know it is coming, and can be thinking about/working on it as we go, but I will also give those 2 classroom days over to student work time. I’ll set up a discussion board or wiki on Haiku and have students post and comment on each other’s work (thanks to Sam for such a great idea in class). I found a great blog about using infographics in school particularly with PowerPoint. The second idea I came up with is related to a weekly problem-solving lesson I do each week. Currently students are required to present their solutions using a 5-step writing structure. While I have had huge success with students’ ability to solve problems by teaching this structure, I think changing the response medium at times could enrich this lesson. I’m thinking that after I have taught a few more problem-solving strategies, I could give each student a problem that uses one of the already taught strategies. Students could have a week to work the problem and complete the standard write-up. Then they could use the next week to come up with a way to present to solution. I am thinking a Prezi or Glogster would be a good way to make that happen. Problem-solving is an area in the classroom where I have more flexibility in timing, so adding another week or two to one problem wouldn’t cause stress with then trying to fit the missed curriculum in somewhere else.

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Digital Citizenship

My students use technology daily. They use technology for school, at home, for work, for social interactions, for reasons even they themselves are unsure of. In my research on digital citizenship this week, I found a fascinating PBS program entitled “digital_nation life on the virtual frontier”. While the entire program is 90 minutes, I think even the first chapter is an eye-opener for educators (and it is less than 9 minutes long, so you can fit it in, I promise!). Our students have grown up in a world where technology has always existed, and yet our society has been inventing the rules for our interactions with technology as we go. This has resulted in generations of students who aren’t quite sure what is and is not appropriate when interacting as a digital nation. As an educator, technology has made my job much easier and much harder. I have amazing resources at my fingertips, and can open my students’ eyes to where my curriculum fits in the world, but I have to teach and model appropriate practices as I go.

One way I can work to incorporate this in my classroom is by modeling appropriate email communications when I interact with my students, as well as parents and other educators. I can also provide explicit teaching and resources on this in my classroom. While researching this topic, I found three great resources for this (a ISTE article, a StoryboardThat activity, and an RIT handout). I teach 2 classes that are primarily 9th graders, 1 class that is primarily 12th graders, and 2 classes that are a mix of 9th – 11th grade students. While I think that the ability to communicate professionally using technology is a “must have” skill in their world, I don’t want to stop there. I would like to also teach students about their place in the digital world; how they can use their power to have a positive impact on others. I would like to put it all together to teach students how they can produce information that can be helpful for others, how they can do this in a way that respects copyright, and how they can present it in a professional manner. Coming up with ways to do this is a priority for me, as I realize that I have a long way to go when it comes to promoting digital citizenship in my classroom.

Haiku

Here is the activity embedded into Haiku and ready to go!

On a side note, in the process of completing the coursework this week, I was introduced to padlet.com. This is a site that allows multiple users to post comments, or virtual sticky notes, to a board that is visible to others who have the link to that particular padlet. I have been looking for better ways to let my students post their group work in a way that is accessible to others, and will allow me to sort responses by similar “big ideas”. This tool will let me do just that! I am going to try it out on Monday with my Algebra 1 students. I already have a “thought bubble” activity planned asking students to identify difficulties associated with solving a particular literal equation. I was able to put the prompt into a padlet board, and embed it into Haiku. I am going to ask students to work with their groups to identify the difficulties, as I was going to do before, but instead of just having students share out, I am going to ask students to post using their netbooks to the padlet. Then I can revisit it when everyone has completed the activity, and students in my 2nd period class will be able to see 6th period responses and vice versa. I am really excited to see how this activity ends up! I always love to find new ways to incorporate technology in a way that enriches and extends my classroom.

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ISTE Standards and My Classroom

This week we learned about the ISTE standards and were asked to take a self-assessment. In taking this assessment, I became very aware of two basic truths about my classroom:

1. I use technology daily to provide information to my students.

2. My students rarely use technology in creative and collaborative ways .

Those two truths are ones that I have been thinking about for quite a while. As a teacher, I use technology daily; I…

1. Prepare all direct instruction/group work/partner activity instruction in PowerPoint, using colors, size, fonts, images and funny images in order to make the information engaging and accessible to all learners (including IEP, ELL, 504, gifted, etc).

2. Use those PowerPoint presentations in ActiveInspire on my ActiveBoard and with my ActiveSlate so that I can interact with the contact as I teach it and move around the room allowing proximity to students as needed.

3. Save all lessons as PDFs, and post them to my Haiku site daily. This allows students to access information if they were absent, check it if they are unsure they took their notes correctly, and for parents or tutors to see the information as I presented it. I also add instructional videos and sites I find that I think will be helpful if students are stuck or want more information.

4. Create all homework and activities using a computer and with various software programs to allow students a multi-leveled and as engaging as possible homework assignment. Homework and activities are posted on the Haiku site, as well as completely worked out solutions so students are able to analyze their own mistakes and determine where their errors are.

5. Search for activities and instructional ideas to help make the ideas more or accessible for my students.

I’m pretty proud of the above work. It takes time and energy and I think overall, it makes my class better for my students on a regular basis. However, as I read through the ISTE standards, I realized there are many ways my students aren’t accessing the curriculum themselves in creative and collaborative ways. In my reflection on this, I decided to search and see what other teachers are doing to use technology in secondary math classrooms. One idea I found was the It’s A Party lesson plan. This lesson centers on solving multi-step equations, which is coming up in my Algebra 1 curriculum next week. After instruction, it has students work on a wiki to create equations and then solve each others’ equations. This activity seems like something I can easily do with the Haiku wiki options. I am considering implementing a wiki where students create and solve equations  in to my curriculum as a review activity for the end of this unit. I am hoping to find one activity for each unit to implement more student technology use and creation, and this seems like a good place to start.

 

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Here I go…

Here I go…on to a Masters degree in Teacher Leadership through Seattle Pacific University. After teaching for 10 years and earning LOTS of continuing education and post-graduate units, I have finally decided to bit the bullet and earn a degree for all my time. I’m excited to embark on this adventure, although I am a bit apprehensive about how I am going to manage my time adding more things to do into my already packed schedule!

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