Blog Archives

School Evaluation Summary

image

This was a truly valuable exercise. As a technology teacher and tech support person, I have been involved in the technology process from the inception of our school four years ago. It really opened my eyes to where we are in the growth process. We have recently developed a technology committee and I plan on going back this committee soon to pass on the information I have. We will hopefully be moving forward with a plan to make my school more of a 21st Century school! Thank you.

Evaluation Summary:

Survey:

Technology Use Planning Overview

image source: NETP 2010

The general goals of an educator have remained the same over the last century. Our goals include preparing students for the workforce or college. My mother graduated from high school in 1947. In speaking with her, the goals of her school were to help them in reading, writing, typing and basic math skills. The opportunities for women in that era were generally limited to nursing, teaching, or secretarial work. As an educator today, I am preparing students for a much different workplace. Employers are expecting skills on a resume to include exceptional problem solving ability, adaptability, critical thinkers and a knowledge and comfort level with the use of technology.

Technology has changed the way we think and communicate. It has also made a monumental impact on education. In preparing students for the next phase of their life, it is imperative that educators consider how to incorporate technology in their everyday lesson plans. It is a daunting task. How do we go about doing this in an effective way? We need a plan — a technology plan.

In 1992, Dr. John See was one of the visionaries who began the discussion of developing an effective technology plan (See, 1992). He believed that a technology plan must have short term goals. I agree with this idea completely. Technology evolves and changes continuously. Much of the technology today likely will be obsolete in five years from now. Hence, this is why a short term plan is important. I do believe, however, that a long term vision is important. This long term plan would likely be more general in nature and not include specific types of technologies.

In designing a technology plan, everyone from the administration to faculty need to be on board. We need to answer several questions in our plan:

  • How do we use our current technology? Do we use it to its capability?
  • How does technology enhance a lesson plan?
  • How are we going to provide tech support for this technology? Is there training involved?
  • How do students currently use technology out of the classroom? What do they already know?

The National Educational Technology Plan (2010) created a concrete model for the design of a good technology plan. They discuss the engagement, assessment and implementation stages which are very useful to follow in developing our own goals.

See believes that providing the infrastructure is not enough. It is not the point of a technology plan. As the famous Chinese proverb says, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” A school with a lot of technology is just that — a school with technology. For technology to be useful, both teachers and students have to be able understand how to use the technology effectively. It needs to be integrated in all different curriculum and used consistently.

I have been fortunate in my career to be employed by forward thinking and innovative districts. Part of my job as a math/technology teacher is to be the district technology representative for my building. I am part of a group of individuals that is constantly reassessing current technology use and sharing best practices for using technology within our schools. It has been a great learning experience for me as an educator. My goal is to give all of my teachers the tools/ideas needed to enhance the educational experience for our students. I want them to be excited about the opportunities it creates as opposed to the initial increase in their workload. It allows us to speak directly to authors, talk to survivors of the Holocaust, etc. in a way we never did before. It brings education alive!!

See, J. (1992, May). Developing effective technology plans. The Computing Teacher, 19, (8). Retrieved from: http://www.nctp.com/html/john_see.cfm

U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology. (2010). National education technology plan. Washington D.C: Author. Retrieved from: http://www.ed.gov/sites/default/files/netp2010.pdf

Digital Inequality Assignment

This assignment asked us to create a hypothetical task force to research the issue of Digital Inequality.  We chose to research the issue as it pertained to the state of Tennessee.

Throughout the last decade, internet use has opened up a wide spectrum of opportunities.  We are able to communicate, research, shop, look for employment, etc. more easily.  Can I imagine living without it?  Never!  I am one of the fortunate ones.  This assignment opened my eyes to the Digital Divide and the Digital Inequality that exists in our world today.

According to numbers released last year by the Department of Commerce, 40% with annual household incomes below $25,000 in 2010 reported having wired Internet access at home, compared with the vast majority — 93 percent — of households with incomes exceeding $100,000.  That is incredible when you think about it.  So, what do we do?  As part of the task force, we were asked to look at seven possible options for reform. The options (as well as our rankings) are listed below:

  1. Install computers in all public libraries in the state and expand the hours when the computers are available. (Ranked #3)
  2. Expand staffing and other resources so that public schools can be open to the public after normal school hours, on weekends, and during the summer months. (Ranked #7)
  3. Provide individuals in disadvantaged communities with computers. (Ranked #6)
  4. Provide high-speed Internet and mobile access for all state residents.(Ranked #1)
  5. Subsidize Internet Service Providers to provide low-cost Internet to all state residents. (Ranked #2)
  6. Provide information literacy courses to enhance computer skills and enable knowledgeable use of digital technologies.(Ranked #4)
  7. Develop free online educational content, giving first priority to content most relevant to lower socio-economic groups before content that is relevant to the rest of the public. (Ranked #5)

Our task force evaluated each option and ranked accordingly.  Our general feeling was that the majority of options were much more realistic if coupled with another option.  The goal of our task force was to provide access (reducing the Digital Divide) as well as providing instruction for use (reducing the Digital Inequality).  One without the other is pointless in my opinion. As you can see with our rankings, our priority was to provide access to the infrastructure first and foremost.  We chose to offer internet at users homes first as opposed to extending the hours of public facilities for convenience purposes.  Our second priority is to provide courses to help the public use the internet to its best capability.

So, how many of my own students are in this situation?  I don’t know, but I need to find out.  I teach in a relatively rural area in a lower-middle socioeconomic area.  We definitely have a “haves” and “have nots” differentiation between many of our students.  My plan is to somehow incorporate a survey within a lesson in our English classes (they see all students) to determine my next step.

I really enjoyed collaborating with others (our alpha group) from all over North America on this project.  That is incredible in itself.  It is very easy to use and can definitely extend the learning of us and our students as well.  We had planned on using narration (either Camtasia or VoiceThread) for our project, but ran out of time.  I am having my students use Voice Thread as part of a Linear Programming group project and it has been a great tool to learn for myself and my students.

Standards Addressed:

2.4 Integrated Technologies:  We integrated different technologies (email, chat, videoconferencing) to produce and present information.

3.2 Diffusion of Innovations: We identified strategies to implement change.

4.2 Resource Management:  We discussed the cost effectiveness of different strategies and prioritized them accordingly.

Tech Trends Assignment

Games have been around for certainly as long as I can remember.  Even the term “game” itself tends to describe a positive and fun experience.  Years ago, I would not have described myself as a “gamer” (still am not really).  Back then (15 years ago), I thought gaming was a waste of time and brain power.  I had one experience years ago that changed my thinking.

As a new teacher, I was asked by students to be a “computer group” sponsor.  So, as with any new teacher wanting to get involved, I agreed.  When I went to the first meeting that day, I encountered not a “computer” group but a “gaming” group.  I don’t even remember what game they were playing, but I have never seen a group of kids (most of whom were not great students) so ENGAGED!!  I could barely get their attention.  My first thought was to turn off the game right away, but I decided to jump in and see what they were doing.  I hate violence in games, but the strategy needed was incredible!  It required a lot of analytical and algorithmic thinking to be successful.  At that point, I remember thinking I need to work with this and use it in my classroom.  Have I?  Well, not exactly.  Time has gone by and I haven’t done much with the concept of integrating game based learning into the classroom.  My hope is that will change.

Alice is a 3D programming environment that helps students visualize the ideas of Object Oriented Programming — objects, functions, methods, etc.  I just started using it in my Intro to Programming class last year as an intro to Java and the kids love it.

The lesson I have created below is not for my programming class, but for my Algebra class.  For my Programming final last year, students were asked to create an interactive quiz in Alice (on any subject).  I created one to quiz my students on systems of equations.  I used it last year and now my students always want to be quizzed in that method.  If I had the time, I would absolutely mix in more games.  It tests the same material but in a much more engaging and interactive way.

Here is a demo of the quiz:

Standards Implementation:
1.1 Analyzing instruction to deliver better methods for presenting material.
3.1 Using resources (Horizon Report) to improve learning.

RSS for Education

The concept of RSS feeds is a new tool for me believe it or not. I had an idea of what it was but had never contemplated using it in my classroom and had never used it personally.   So, how can I use it in my own classroom and in my own school?

  1. The creation of my Learning Log has convinced me to have my own Computer Science students create a blog for reflection and turning in their work.  Beginning next week, I am going to teach students how to create a WordPress blog and have them create a post for each assignment.  They are to link their assignments and reflect on the purpose of the particular assignment.  Where do RSS feeds come in?  I can subscribe to the RSS feeds of each student’s blog and I will have all of their assignments in one place (instead of having to go to each blog).  I can see all assignments in one place by grouping the feeds accordingly.
  2. As our school webmaster, I absolutely need to put a RSS feed link on my website.  It is crazy I haven’t done so as of yet!  This feed will allow parents/readers to check all new updates of the website in one place instead of having to browse through the entire website all the time.
  3. RSS feeds can be used to keep up to date on the most recent world events.  For classes such as Social Studies, this concept can be utilized very well to have students keep up on current events by having feeds to their favorite news websites.
  4. If students have a particular project in class that they are required research to complete, they can use a RSS feed to help them.  This will give them the most up-to-to-date information they can get as the feed will be available as soon as the article is posted.

RSS Feed Link

How does this assignment align to AECT standards?

This assignment utilizes 1.1.3 which has developed a skill using electronic communication (sharing feeds).  It also uses 2.3 and 2.4 by organizing information found online into a database to create a singular location to find information needed on a particular topic.

Learning Log Assignment

I am a big fan of WordPress.  I have only used it relatively recently to organize my posts for my boys tennis team and to use as a resource for my MHS teachers.

This assignment utilized Standard 4.4 and Standard 2 by assessing our ability to utilize technology to organize and share information electronically.

Introduction Video

I created the Introduction Video in Goanimate.com.  I wanted to try a different avenue for presenting myself and information.  I feel Goanimate.com has a lot of potential for creating entertaining and creative videos.  I believe this is a great way for students to present information.  It is fun tool and it utilizes technical skills as well!!

If I were to do it again, I would definitely include more characters and more movement.  I am still learning.

AECT Standard 2.4:  Integrated Technology

I definitely feel this video served as a means of using technology to present my reflections of who I am as well as why I am in this program.  It forced me to organize my thoughts and try and present the material in an interesting way (obviously utilizing technology too).