Graphic Representation and Reflection

If I had to use one word to describe educational technology, it would be “evolutionary”. After reflecting on what I’ve been learning over the last 6 weeks, the one thing that is constant in educational technology is change. Take one of my first blog posts, for example, where I paid tribute to the laser disk. Technology in education has obviously changed since I was in the 7th grade, and it is changing more and more rapidly. This only means that it is our responsibility, as educators, to keep the pace and use current technology with our students so they may have an authentic real-world driven educational experiences that become more meaningful as they enter the workplace and beyond. Closing the technology gap is an issue that I can have control of, to some extent, and using technology in the classroom is not without it’s drawbacks. Technology that is ever-evolving takes support, know-how, time to learn, implement, and teach. When these pieces fall into place, using technology in the classroom creates life-long learners of both teacher and student.

Click here to see my depiction of what educational technology means to me.

As a means to reflect on the course as a whole I was asked the following questions:

What challenges did you face in this course? The pace was fast, and that was probably the most challenging aspect of the course for me. Also, setting up so many new accounts, learning to navigate Moodle and WordPress at the same time proved frustrating at times.

What strategies or other creative resources did you use to address these challenges? I became organized real fast with a work setting and schedule. At times, when the “moodling” became overwhelming, I enlisted the help of Tara Bract meditations via podcast:)

Which artifact do you feel was your best and why? I enjoyed doing the graphic representation because it helped me bring the class into focus and allowed me to reflect on how I would apply my new knowledge in light of a new school year fast approaching.

What is one thing you plan to do in your school or business as a result of this course? Do one small, deliberate thing each semester to close the digital divide!

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School Evaluation Summary

Recently I reviewed the Central School District’s Technology Plan against the Maturity Benchmark’s survey. I was impressed with the variety technological resources available to staff and administration, as well as students and parents. Progress reports are now sent home via email, rather than mailed paper copies. Administrative systems are online. Most staff fully embrace technology use in their daily lessons.

Overall, I would place the Central School District in the Integrated Stage. While Central is very dependant on technology, student technology use is not an indispensable component to instruction. All teachers use grading, attendance and mail electronically and students have regular access to these systems as a way of assessment and communication. While most administrative functions are paperless, not all communication requires technology. Comprehensive plans, policies and procedures are reviewed and revised, however the latest public assessment dates back to 2007. Overall, CSD is an advocate for technology training of all personnel, and while most teachers and staff utilize CSD’s technology resources to their fullest potential, integration of technology across all curriculum has yet to be developed.

Click here to view my school evaluation summary.

Storyboard That!

Technology trends and expectations for the classroom are growing exponentially.  The shift to creating deeper learning experiences for our students in the classroom is apparent, as emphasis in the classroom focuses on application, synthesis and creation, not simply content knowledge. As I work to create a more creative classroom framework, integrating more learning opportunities by creating, and implementing engaging assessments, become paramount.

Using more technology to implement innovative pedagogical practices is quickly becoming the norm. There are always several apps and websites that are on my “need to explore” list before the start of each school year. And each year I tend to tackle one or two new technologies for use in my classroom. Last year I created quizlet sets for practice in my classroom. It worked really well as a means to review before tests, even as a way to introduce new content. Some students would even use it outside of class to study, or (gasp!) get ahead. After learning more about flipping the classroom last week, I certainly could Quizlet as a means of assigning homework outside of class. My junior high students would come to class completely prepared with their vocab memorized at the beginning of a new unit! This would mean I could spend more time teaching the language in context, using TPRStorytelling and reading authentic texts with my students! My 44 minutes of class time would be spent richly immersed in the language! In a perfect junior high world, this would work. But language learning is not about memorizing a set of vocabulary words at home by yourself. It is about hearing one word over and over in a contextual setting, because this is how we speak. But I digress…

Another way I used technology last year was through Kidblog. I have to say, this was a huge success! We blogged about French villages and trips we took in France while staying the year in a workaway assignment. This new technology took time to use and create, but it was worth the efforts and occasional headache. By the end of the year students had created 8+ blogs, and commented on their classmates adventures all across France. This assignment hit on what the NMC Horizon Report is calling for in terms of technology use and real world engagement. My students loved this assignment!

Having said all of that, I’m not sure that using this technology in the classroom made them more proficient in French. It definitely provided opportunities to create and engage with the culture and language, but did they learn more French? I’m not so sure. Does it matter? Maybe not if they were engaged in the assignment. But students are in my class to learn to speak French and when they can do so, they feel successful. How do they learn to speak French? By listening to people speak French. It’s my responsibility in the lower levels especially, to provide tons of comprehensible input. At the higher levels this becomes easier through technology use and authentic text, but the input cannot come from technology alone. Especially in the level 1 and 2 classes I teach.

Yet a new technology I will try this year in my class is StoryboardThat. Again, will it help my students learn to speak more authentically? I’m not sure it will. However, using StoryboardThat could be a great tool for creating and placing the student at the center of learning. It is up to me to give the students the tools they need to communicate in a certain scenario. Then, it will be their turn to “output” using a storyboard they create. Students can share their storyboards on my website and we can even re-enact them in class using volunteers. Reading several storyboards gives students the repetition of comprehensible input they need in order to comfortably output. I created a storyboard of a cafe scene as an example to show my class. Because this program is free and quite intuitive, using StoryboardThat in my classroom for creating different speaking scenarios will fulfill a goal of highlighting the student at the center of learning. Stay tuned for some examples and a review on how my students engaged with this program.

Annotated Bibliography

After spending a significant amount of time researching the concept of the classroom flip, I came away with a new excitement for teaching French to my students. Because a majority of our PLC time last year was spent discussing ways to engage students using higher level questioning techniques and strategies, this concept was one I was already familiar with, to some extent. However, I was curious to know how I could make it work with basic and basic/intermediate L2 (second language) learners. It is my goal is to use as much of the instructional time I have with my students in the L2. So this created a dilemma for me because composing lessons in which students would discuss concepts in the L2 was not realistic for my learners. However, after a bit of research I creatively  came away with a few new ideas for integrating technology and peer-centered teaching in my classroom.

I enjoyed the article of the WebQuest based learning, because WebQuests can provide scaffolding for students during self-directed and peer-centered learning, while retaining the integrity of the L2. In addition, I’m realizing that not all of my lessons need to be completely peer centered, as it is simply not a realistic way to begin to learn a foreign language in my classroom. However, integrating “homework” where I can introduce content via video clip or other sites such as Quizlet, may be realistic and worthwhile approaches.

Given the research and theory for language acquisition in a K-12 setting, a completely flipped classroom is not the key to successfully learning the French language. However, using technology to discover authentic text and video while interacting with peers will provide an enhanced level of engagement in my classroom.

For more information, check out my annotated bibliography here.

RSS in Education

This week I had the opportunity to explore the use of RSS in education. After reflecting on how I might use this in my 8th and 9th grade French classroom, I came to the conclusion that it could be a really cool tool for students to use outside of the classroom, as authentic and cultural enrichment. While, in accordance with the French I and II BSD curriculum, culture is taught in my classroom in conjunction with language acquisition, having students create their own RSS feed, linking directly to their school provided gmail accounts, will be a great way to encourage total cultural exploration where there is often little time to do so in class. I have a feeling students will enjoy choosing feeds to follow that are of interest to them. For instance, they may choose to follow a French soccer team, or a fashion blog. Whether students choose to follow feeds in the target language or in English, the goal is total cultural immersion, creating interest and promoting lifelong learning. I plan to implement this lesson plan early this fall. It was created using the Boise Instructional Model for lesson planning. Stay tuned for updates!

Digital Divide/Digital Inequality

Presenting is a skill that, as educators, is necessary to perfect. When giving presentations it is essential that they are interesting, legible, informative, visually appealing and thought-provoking.

After educating myself on the possible consequences of the digital divide for our students, I know more than ever, that it is essential that we close this gap. If no effort is made by educators to use technology, and/or spend money to provide it to schools, other social and economic gaps will continue to grow in our community.

I plan to incorporate this knowledge into my classroom consciously and deliberately. Essentially, I plan to improve my effort to create an evolving microcosm of real-world technology use and advancements in my classroom.

If I were given an infinite of time to devote to this subject, I would love to create an assignment where my students outline a service project for promoting technology use in schools that provide funds and other means to close the technology gap within our k-12 system.

For further reflection on closing the digital divide, click here.

Code of Professional Ethics in Educational Technology

Reflecting on professional ethics creates a readiness to handle scenarios like the one I described here. The development of professional ethics and educational technology are closely liked because technology is constantly evolving and creating more and more interesting ethical dialogues pertaining to a variety of scenarios. One could argue that the development of technology is beneficial for professional ethics, given the fact that changes will continue to open new dialogue, creating new ways of thinking while promoting readiness for ethical debate. These changes are inevitable and directly affect my classroom. Why not become more familiar with the AECT Code in hopes of readying myself to have open, informative and non judgmental dialogue with students when ethical scenarios arise?

The laserdisc

My first educational technology memory is that of our middle school librarian demonstrating how to use a laserdisc. This was the next big thing…literally and figuratively. Clearly, it didn’t turn out that way, but the memory put a smile on my face. Of course, there was also the overhead projector. My biggest pet peeve in elementary school was probably when my teacher would lick her finger to erase the vis-a-vis markings. Going all the way back to early elementary school, I remember doing DIP on the blackboard with white chalk. I teach in a historic building and I still have a blackboard in the back of my classroom. It’s pretty cool, actually!laserdisc-in-hand