Module 1 Reflection
I was extremely heartened by the various articles from the Edutopia text. As a teacher, I obviously have experienced firsthand the power a teacher wields on a student’s education. However it would seem that many teachers have not been adequately prepared to take on this enormous responsibility. Thus I read with interest about the various exemplary teacher education programs being described in the text. I firmly believe in Curry’s emphasis on “real classroom experience” (204). I also applaud their decision to actually develop technological instruction tools, rather than simply teach how to implement them. In the article, Joanne Herbert is quoted as saying, “It (technology) should allow you to do things that you couldn’t normally do in a classroom” (206). I have committed that quote to memory with the hopes of having it inform the work I do in this class. I also garnered some practical classroom ideas from the article about CITE (Cincinnati Initiative for Teacher Education). The article mentioned some “valuable tips” that the prospective teachers learn, such as “accepting silence as a way to allow a student to formulate an answer or comment, keeping cereal or crackers on hand for kids who come to class hungry and speaking more softly to calm a class” (211). All of these are practical ideas that I can immediately implement into my classroom.
The various educational websites that I explored also provided me with some new ideas for my classroom. As an English teacher, I really enjoyed the English Page website that featured an array of crossword puzzles. I particularly liked the crossword puzzles devoted to grammar review. Grammar is a subject that many students find boring so in the future I could have students do the crosswords on this site as a means of teaching and reviewing the fundamentals of grammar.
The article “Motivate While you Integrate Technology: Online Assessments” offered specific ways to use online assessments that I had never thought of. For example, although it makes complete sense, I had never thought to randomize the test questions or close the quizzes. I also appreciated to advice to “have a back up plan” because I have had problems in the past with technology not working exactly as planned.
The third article that truly captivated my interest was “One Computer Classroom”. As described below, I have worked mostly with schools that have limited technological capacity. But this article reveals that I have not always been as creative with my classroom computer as I could be. For example, I really like the idea of cooperative learning centered around the classroom. The students would take on various roles, such as “typer, mouse operator,” etc. to perform various tasks, such as writing a group story or completing a research activity. This approach would allow more students to engage with the classroom technology.
Sadly, I do not have much experience using technology in the classroom. Both of the public high schools where I taught had very few computers in them. Each classroom did have one computer and there were at least two computer labs in each high school. However it was somewhat difficult to schedule time in the lab due to the high demand. Thus many students’ experience with computers was limited to the use of the classroom computers. In my own English classroom, the computer tended to be used as a station or learning center, similar to the description in the “One Computer Classroom” article. Students in that center would have individual time on the computer to do research about the various topics we were exploring. In reflection, however, I wish that I would have utilized our classroom computer for cooperative learning, as also described in the article. By doing so, more students would have gained exposure to technology. Currently, in my job as an English instructor at a community college, my students and I have a great deal of access to a computer lab, as well as an LCD projector. As a result, I am attempting to present material via Power Point presentations and incorporate more online learning activities, such as grammar exercises. I also recently took a course on Blackboard and although I am not in a school that has a Blackboard, I am hopeful that I will someday teach in one and be able to implement all that I have learned.
Module 2 Reflection
The “Cooperative Learning” website was tremendously helpful since it put into words what I always have intuitively believed about why students should work in groups. I also really liked the many ideas that were suggested, such as “Think-Pair-Share”, which seems to be really simple idea that could be used several times in each class. I also will definitely try the “RoundRobin Brainstorming” and think that students would greatly enjoy this activity as well.
I also found the MidLink Magazine website to be extremely inspirational. I enjoyed scrolling through the many examples of “exemplary student work” from classrooms around the world. I particularly enjoyed reading about the “I Love New York” project and feel that it is one that I could easily replicate in my classroom. I will check this site often for more ideas on innovative classroom projects.
Lastly, I gained tremendous insight from the link to Multiple Intelligences and Technology. Since I became familiar with Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, I have always tried to keep them in mind when designing and implementing lessons. So I was thrilled to have suggestions about how to do so with technology. I sometimes struggle with how to best help my bodily-kinesthetic learners and the ideas suggested for these learners were both practical and interesting.
Module 3 Reflection
Although I ultimately have big plans for myself, such becoming the Secretary of Education J , my professional and leadership goals for the next 12 months are more modest. My primary goal is to assume more leadership roles at the community college where I currently teach. For example, I intend to volunteer for the curriculum development committee. I also plan to facilitate one of our staff professional development sessions. I have gained valuable insight from this course and another one that I took in the fall, which I would like to share with my colleagues in a workshop format. Lastly, I will lead through my example as a classroom teacher. The only technology that the majority of our teachers regularly utilize is PowerPoint. In implementing some of the new technologies and cooperative learning ideas I have been exposed to in this class, I hopefully will encourage other teachers to do so as well.
The selection of readings from Edutopia offer specific ways to be a leader in a school. For example, I really enjoyed reading about the husband and wife team who worked diligently in order to become National Board certified. Since the wife, Marilyn Forrest, is an English teacher, I was able to read about the various requirements for my content area, such as the “Student Response to Text” portfolio requirement. This essay motivated me to seek more information about National Board Certification process and all that it entails. As a result, I have decided to begin this process within the next three to five years. “The Digital Superintendent” article again reinforced the many positive uses of PDAs within schools, such as giving all students exposure to computers in a more individual manner than before. Several local schools are experimenting with PDAs, and I hope to eventually teach in one of these schools. Thus that article was particularly noteworthy.
I found a great deal of helpful information about students with learning disabilities at the “Making Technologies Work in the Inclusive Classroom” link. I particularly liked the article, “Accommodations for Students with LD” because it presented the various accommodations that can be used for LD students, such as allowing the use of tape recorders or having students perform tests and written responses directly on the computer. Many of these accommodations, such as making certain that all verbal instructions also have been written out for the student, are easy to implement but would help LD students tremendously.
The website “Barry’s ClipArt” is easy to navigate and offers some great resources. The majority of my students, ranging from my high schoolers to those whom I teach at the community college level, enjoy adorning their word processing assignments with clip art. However the images often are limited. So perhaps having new images to explore when working in the Writing Center would motivate the students to write even more than usual.
The “Chain Stories” website also provided me with a tool, in this case a lesson plan idea, that I can easily implement in my English classroom. Many of the adults whom I teach are not native English speakers nor are they very familiar with basic Internet functions, such as emailing. The Chain Stories activity will allow students to work on their writing and creativity skills while also becoming more adept at emailing. This is precisely the type of activity I could use in my classroom.
Module 4 Reflection
The Edutopia article about the Urban Academy was inspirational on many levels. I really like how the Urban Academy uses outside experts in many different classes and also tailors the various learning projects to the individual students. Both of these ideas are easy to implement into my classroom and can be accomplished with the use of technology. For example, if an outside expert, such as a business person, artist, author, etc., can not make it into the classroom, we could use video conferencing to allow the expert to still teach the students and answer their questions. I also was struck by the basketball analogy used at the beginning of the “Toward Genuine Accountability” article to reveal that we simply are maintaining an “illusion of accountability” (104). One of the recommendations to remedy this situation is to involve more teachers in all grades and subjects to work on this issue. Again, this goal can be achieved through technology. Teachers can easily email with one another as to how they are meeting the standards; in my current job, we often share best practices with one another via email since our meeting time is limited. So once again, technology offers a viable solution. The article “Appropriate Assessments” also was thought-provoking and provided several excellent teaching strategies. For example, I am eager to try out the teaching technique used by Eric Mazur; basically he stops every fifteen minutes during his lectures and has students discuss a difficult question. The students then discuss it as a class. This simple idea can help engage students more fully in class.
The textbook articles and the module 4 information also addressed the need for alternative assessments. In the past, I have had great success with student portfolios. However, I would like to integrate technology into the portfolio requirement by using electronic portfolios as opposed to the paper ones I have assigned in the past. Furthermore, I always have utilized rubrics in order to remain as objective as possible when evaluating student writing. The module information included the positives of rubrics, all of which I definitely agree. In the future, I intend to add a technology component to many of the rubrics beyond just the word processing that I now require.
The Alternative / Performance-Based Assessment website was a fountain of helpful information! I would like to incorporate many of the suggested assessment ideas, such as pantomimes, photos, games, etc. The site offered many specific ways to use technology when assessing, such as through Internet transmissions and story boards, which could be electronically generated.
Similarly, the “Online Reading Activities” website offered many specific suggestions for classroom activities. The activities featured on the website seem to be targeted more toward remedial or ESL readers. So this website could be used with exactly these students. It also could be a featured website when doing writing centers.
Lastly, the “Criteria for Project Based Learning” website provided me with specific guidelines to keep in mind when developing projects to evaluate students. Although I already knew many of these guidelines, I appreciated the refresher about making certain that the learning environment is safe and that the project is based in the real world. An example of a mini-project would be for students to research a minor societal problem and then write a letter to the editor (of the local paper) about a solution for this problem.
Module 5 Reflection
When I read the title of this module, Using Multimedia Software, I immediately felt nervous and apprehensive. Incorporating “multimedia” into my classroom seemed so daunting. But then I began the reading and felt much better, empowered even. To begin with, multimedia just means using more than one type of media, which I can do! These media can be as simple as a photograph, a type of media I readily use, to a more complicated type, such as a PowerPoint presentation, which many students really love to use.
Creative Writing: I generally have students of all grade levels write a personal narrative at one time or another. In order to make the narrative seem authentic, I require students to use dialogue in at least two places. This website has some great tips for students on how to use dialogue effectively. Furthermore, it suggests using a computer to record your dialogue and then listen to it in order to make certain it flows well, which is an excellent idea.
The Animation Factory website is such an incredible find!! I can easily download many templates in order to save myself a great deal of time. For example, I could envision my students really liking the animated clip art and 3-D illustrations. My students like to enhance their journals, projects, etc and this website will provide them with a means of doing so.
As an educator, I always want to model fair use policies for my students and South Burlington website makes that task much easier to do. I can personally use the free materials listed and I also can encourage students to incorporate them into various projects and assignments.
Module 5 Reflection, Part BAs a result of this course, my confidence regarding my ability to integrate technology into my classroom has increased dramatically. I am therefore more willing to try the technology that is currently available to me. For example, through this class, I have been introduced to many interesting websites and even free downloads. So I have been using the classroom LCD projector much more frequently to demonstrate these websites and downloads to my students. Recently, for instance, I shared one of the free Clip Art sites, as well as a site for backgrounds and images, with my students( http://school.discoveryeducation.com/clipart/ and http://district.sbschools.net/ite/multimediaresources/graphics.htm). I also plan to assign students to explore some of these new websites by using the computer in our classroom as a research station. For example, I am currently planning a unit on diversity and will include diversity in learning styles. I was inspired by the information in Module Two regarding the many different types of learners. So one of the lessons will involve having students take online assessments in order to gain information about their particular learning style. I still worry about becoming too reliant on technology or making technology the focal point of a lesson since our school’s computer system often experiences glitches, making us unable to access it. So I am wondering if other teachers encounter this issue and if so, how they surmount it. Lastly, I would like to find out more regarding how teachers monitor what students are viewing when doing research on classroom computers, particularly if the computer is in a station. Clearly making certain that acceptable use policies are in place will help prevent problems. But teachers also need to be aware of what sites their students are on. I need to learn how to monitor students’ computer use even when the students are working at a station or classroom center where I am not.
Module 6 Reflection
Chapter 2 in Edutopia, Project-Based Learning Online, was particularly helpful for me. For example, there was a description of a “Holocaust / Genocide Project from iEARN” that I will consider using when I teach my own Holocaust unit that centers around the book, Night by Elie Wiesel. In the past, these unit has culminated with a project selected by the students from a choice of ten. The majority of these projects integrated technology, ranging from an Internet research component to a virtual tour of the Holocaust Museum. But I could now also incorporate the iEARN projects as an option and the fact that these iEARN projects connect students all over the globe is especially appealing. The “Laptops for Learning” and “Handheld go to Class” chapters offered me a vision of what truly “connected” schools are like. Since I have not had the fortune of teaching in a technologically advanced setting, it was interesting to read how these technologies were utilized to make project-learning easier and more compelling for students. Students were able to participate in projects with students from all around their school, their city and even the world, which is exciting. I imagine that I would use both laptops and handhelds in a similar fashion -- to connect my students to other students and also to promote more project-based learning. I also gleaned a great deal from the “Assistive Technology” chapter, which highlighted my ardent belief that all students are capable. In the past, we teachers had to be highly creative in how we reached students with various disabilities but technology has eased that challenge. For example, I have taught many students who could greatly benefit from having their textbooks scanned by a computer and read aloud to them and will explore that option.
The “Learning without Instructors” website initially caught my eye since I generally teach older, often adult students who seek independent learning. But the website offered much more than ideas for independent projects. In fact, I spent a great time reading the information on At-Risk students since my remedial classes often are filled with students who have been assigned that label. I really liked the very doable suggestion of developing mini projects for these students and making certain that these projects get completed, thereby promoting a sense of accomplishment.
The PowerPoint activity and template site was a fantastic discovery as well. The site will enable me to easily use Jeopardy via Power Point in the classroom, which students likely will enjoy. I really liked the example of the Humanities Jeopardy on the site since that is one I could envision using and having fun with in my classroom.
Module 7 Reflection
Although I frequently use projects as a means of learning and/or assessment, I never really understood what inquiry based learning was until I read the information in this Module. I am familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy and in the past have tried to target the various levels of critical thinking in different lessons. But I never really thought to create targeted lessons that focus on having students ask, investigate, create, discuss and reflect. So this module proved tremendously helpful in exposing me to a new way of devising a lesson. I also gleaned a great deal of quality information from Edutopia. The article, “An Ounce of Prevention”, really resonated with me since I taught an elective Conflict Resolution and Peer Mediation class for five years in a Washington D.C. Public High School. While teaching there, a tragic incident occurred that made me vow to infuse conflict resolution into my English classes as well. One of my English students was murdered after having an altercation with a former student. Had the “emotional intelligence” of these boys (as described in the “Emotional Intelligence” article) been addressed, Andre’s death may just have been prevented. Since this tragedy, I have directly and indirectly taught many of the concepts mentioned in this article, such as “I-Messages” and “win-win situations.” So I was heartened to read the data cited in these Edutopia articles, for example, “Reading, Writing, and Social Development”, regarding the efficacy of teaching emotional intelligence and social development.
The websites also proved to be tremendously helpful as well. For example, I really liked the “What is Inquiry Based Learning?” site since it helped clarify many of the questions I have about these type of assignments. The information here helped me to see inquiry as a part of multiple intelligence learning and thus another way to address students very different learning needs. The site also reinforced how involving students in their learning helps them to learn more.
Furthermore, as an English teacher, I found the “How to Write an Essay” website to be extremely valuable since it broke down the components of an essay in a easily understood manner. Students could read through the information on this site while at the computer “station” in our classroom. Although I present this information on how to write an essay in other lessons, it would be worthwhile for students to read it via another source.
The Microsoft Lesson Plans link gave me specific ideas as to how I could use Excel in my classroom since it allows an educator to search the database by content and program. Through this link, I was given the idea of creating a timeline via Excel. In the past, students have created their own personal history timelines as prewriting for their personal narratives. But they did so by hand. Now I can teach them to use Excel to complete this assignment.
Module 8 Reflection
Like most teachers, I believe strongly in the importance of parental involvement and work hard to get my students’ parents involved. However, it is not an easy task! One of the ways that I reach out to parents is through frequent phone calls. In the beginning of the school year, I call each parent within the first two weeks and introduce myself. I also make certain to say at least one positive comment about their student. Throughout the school year, I continue to make calls, in order to let parents know what is going on. Many times when I have phoned to share a student’s success, the parent has voiced surprise at receiving a “good” phone call from a teacher. The article on “Cultivating Parent Leaders” really spoke to me for many reasons. I am on the board of a literacy non-profit organization called Turning the Page and we also facilitate parent workshops in order to make them feel more connected to the school. One of our most successful workshops is teaching students to work on literacy skills with their children regardless of their own literacy level. I also really enjoyed the article, “The Many Meanings of Community Involvement” and was particularly intrigued by the concept of parent “wish lists”. They seem like such a simple yet effective way to reach out to parents. Although I currently am teaching at a community college, I will recommend the use of parent wish lists when I return to the high school level, hopefully within a year or two. It may seem simplistic to just ask parents what they would like to see happen at their children’s school but it will make them feel like they have an authentic voice.
The Chat with the Nations lesson is incredible. The idea of exploring other cultures by having my students interact with other students from these cultures can be utilized in many of my current units. As an English teacher, I am often teaching my students about other cultures as a way of enhancing their understanding about the settings of various literary works we read. This would be a great way for them to learn firsthand about other cultures.
As an English teacher, I also was thrilled to find the Online Library of Literature at Literature.org This website is a great resource since it will allow me to find entire texts, such as all of Edgar Allen Poe’s works which I regularly use, for my students if I can not find them elsewhere. I will be able to use excerpts that I am unable to locate in the school library.
The other resource that I will directly benefit from is the Citing Sources page on the Duke University Libraries website. My students greatly struggle with how to cite their sources and I also struggle with how to teach them to cite. So I could use this site in a center and have students read through the information together.
Module 9 Reflection Part A
As always the selected readings from Edutopia provided a great deal of thought-provoking material. I really connected with “Supporting Good Schools is Good Business” because it closely relates to what my husband, Jeff Edmondson, currently does as the executive director of Strive, which is a partnership “to bring together all those looking to ensure that every child succeeds every step of the way, from cradle to career”. Although my husband and his colleagues began Strive here in Cincinnati, it is now being replicated in many other cities throughout the country. As a result of my husband’s work and my various school experiences, I strongly believe in bringing together all sectors -- business, health, mental heath, law enforcement, etc. -- when looking to enhance educational quality. I also really enjoyed the “Building a Bridge to Science and Technology” article because it clearly exemplifies the success that can be achieved when we make accommodations for all of our students. By giving the female students “hands-on experiences in science and technology”, the Techbridge program offers female students a unique experience that builds their confidence and inspires many of them to continue in the sciences. The article was a reminder of the importance of individualizing education for all of our students. I also was greatly interested in “The Virtual Mentor” since I have tremendously benefited from being mentored and also enjoyed being a mentor to other teachers. So I also feel that students should have the experience of being mentored. But the logistics of mentoring within the confines of a school building often are complicated. So it makes sense to tap into the power of the internet in order to connect teachers, students and mentors. And according to the article, the Telementor Program has had a “positive impact” in “academic as well as social/psychological arenas”. Lastly, I also found the “Back to Class for School Board Members” to be personally relevant since our local school board members often seem out of touch with the realities of the classroom. So I like the idea of the West Virginia orientation in order to educate school board members. Maybe I can convince Cincinnati’s school board also to return to school!
Although the text readings provided me with ideas on engaging the community on general school issues, the module information and website links brought me back to the issue of technology. For example, the Internet Child Safety Regulations website provided a ton of excellent information, as well as more links, to educate myself on various safe use issues. Similarly, the Hacker High School website is an incredible find. I could easily use several of the described lesson plans with high schoolers. I particularly liked the information in Lesson 11, which focuses on creating safe passwords. Furthermore, I could easily replicate the activity on the Playing it Safe website, which asks students to convince parents and teachers to allow them to have the Internet at their school. This exercise would force students to analyze and then refute possible drawbacks to having the Internet. Lastly, although the Journaling website did not directly relate to the use of technology in the classroom, I got a great deal of information from it. I regularly use journals in my classroom and have tried a few of the journal types shown on the site. But the website introduced me to several new types, such as metacognitive journals, which I am eager to try out with my students.
Module 9 Reflection Part B
According to my research, the state of Ohio does have Internet filtering legislation. However, this Internet filtering legislation does not apply to all public schools. But the district where I currently reside and soon hope to teach in (Cincinnati Public Schools) does have Internet filtering software that filters out certain key words and sites. I am in support of Internet filtering software. On a personal level, I will use Internet filtering software once our four children are old enough to use the computer competently. Thus I see no reason why I would not apply that same standard to my students.