A Time of Reflection

As the semester (and this class) comes to a close, I thought I’d reflect on the goals I set forth for myself (in this earlier post) and how I think I’ve done so far with them.

  1. Use technology to empower students and encourage creativity –  My Goal: Give students a choice and provide opportunities for creativity by allowing and encouraging the use of technology to demonstrate learning.
  2. Use technology to connect students to new conceptsMy Goal: Use digital resources to help students make connections to new concepts and to engage students in their learning.

While I have not given my students a choice just yet, mainly because I am still learning what kinds of choices I can offer them, I feel that I am on the verge of allowing students to use creativity and use technology to help them connect to the concepts they’ve learned.  And, I have this class to thank for that.  The culminating project, which was a digital storytelling project created for my Algebra 1 Honors class, will allow my students to write, model, and solve real-world problems and then tell the story of how they accomplished that.  In doing so, they will use the Internet, online graphing calculators, and Prezi.  Additionally, they will use creativity in writing their own real-world problems and in creating their digital presentations.   I am really excited about working to meet this goal in the near future.  This project (its “wiki” page and web resource and Prezi for telling their story) serves as way to help me meet my second goal of having students use digital resources to help students to connect to the learning.

This class and this project “forced” me to use the tools I was learning and, as a result, allowed me to start meeting the goals I set for myself.  Additionally, I feel much more knowledgeable about the tools that are available to me and my students.  Never in my life did I think I’d be blogging and tweeting, creating a wiki page, creating a curriculum/resource page, creating a digit project for my students, creating rubrics online, learning to embed videos and presentations, learning to create Prezi’s, learning that attribution must be given for images and learning to do that correctly, reading weekly news articles on e-learning and educational technology to stay knowledgeable on the topic, reading and writing about research, writing reflections of my learning activities, and so much more. Whew!

It’s been a great class.  I’ve learned a lot.  And, I look forward to learning more and to slowing but surely integrate more and more technology and tools into my classroom.  I know that in doing so, I will be enhancing the learning experiences of my students and even helping myself to be a more efficient and effective teacher.

Thanks, K. Thompson and  EME5050!

Culminating Project Complete!

Several weeks ago, I wrote my first blog on what I planned to do for my digital storytelling, culminating project for my educational technology class.  Here’s is the original post.  Then, a few weeks ago, I posted a sample student project and asked for your feedback.  After many hours of work and fine-tuning the project, I am happy to say that it is FINISHED!

I know I sound pretty excited about this.  That’s because I am, but not just for the obvious reason that I it’s nice to have the hard work behind me.  I am also excited about this, because I believe that I will actually use this project in my Algebra 1 Honors class.  Not only that, I believe I have learned some very important skills or, at least if I haven’t quite “learned” them, I am much more aware of the technologies available for use in my classroom to both enhance student learning and help me to be more productive.  I’d say that is a “win-win” situation!

Okay, so that’s a lot of enthusiasm for one post.  To give you an idea of just what I’m so excited about, please take a look at my completed project and feel free to comment (good or bad; I promise it won’t hurt my feelings. It could actually help me to improve the project before I turn it in or at least before I use it with my class in a few weeks).  Thanks!

Quadratics in the Real-World: A Sample Digital Storytelling Project

As I wrote about a few weeks ago, I am creating a digital storytelling project for Algebra students in grades 7 and 8 for a graduate-level educational technology course I am currently taking. This week, we were asked to create a sample student project to which students can refer in developing their own digital story. As I created this student sample, I considered what it is I would expect students to be able to do and what it is they should include in their own projects. This the resulting student sample project (click here).

I would absolutely appreciate any and all comments and feedback regarding the sample. Specifically, I would like to know if the information, as it is presented, is clear. Does it make sense to a general audience? Will students be able to utilize this sample to adequately guide them in developing and creating their own mathematical digital story? Please, don’t limit your comments to these questions, but provide constructive advice to make this sample project better for student use.

Thank you in advance!

Digital Storytelling: A Student Project

In a recent post, I set a few goals for myself, goals that would help me move toward integrating technology in the classroom to engage and empower students. I still think these are good goals but to be honest I’ve dragged my feet a bit and done little in the way of implementation. Fortunately for me, motivation has come in the form of a graduate school assignment. The assignment is to plan a digital storytelling project for my students. This blog will outline my preliminary plans for this project.

You may wish to view the short presentation on my last blog post, but at a minimum, you should know that digital storytelling is the use of media and technology to “tell a story,” but as it relates to education, it is a learning tool for students.

Digital Storytelling Project for Algebra Students
• 7th grade Algebra students will work in groups of 3 or 4 to create a digital story (lesson) using Prezi or PowerPoint.
• Student groups will select a concept previously covered or one that will be covered before the due date of the project.
• The purpose of the digital lesson will be to (1) provide a review of the concept, (2) present a real-world problem, and (3) demonstrate use of the concept to solve the real-world problem.
• Students will use their online textbook resources, Algebra Nation online tutorial videos, Khan Academy videos, and other web resources to gather information regarding their concept and to decide how best to present the concept (All resources used will be documented.).
• Students will use the same resources above to either locate or gather ideas about how their selected concept can be used to solve a real-world problem. Additionally, students may look at print or online magazines and newspapers.
• Students will select a real-world problem or write one of their own (Problem to be approved by the teacher.).
• Students may use webcams, tablets, cell phones, and flip cameras as needed to record audio and/or video needed for their digital story. (Students may use their own devices and school laptops and desktops will also be available for use.)
• Students will be shown examples of digital stories in math and other curriculum areas for ideas for their own digital lessons.
• Students groups will be scheduled dates to meet with the teacher for project updates and advice, though teacher facilitation and advice will be ongoing.
• The digital lesson will be created using Prezi or PowerPoint and must include audio and video elements.
• The digital lesson must allow for either (1) a stopping point for class discussion and/or (2) a short end-of-lesson assessment.

With digital storytelling, students gain valuable technology skills, use creativity, work cooperatively, gather and communicate information, and make decisions. These aspects of digital storytelling will benefit students, but they will also work nicely as I implement my own technology goals (Use technology to empower students and encourage creativity and use technology to connect students to new concepts.).

I welcome any suggestions, resources, and ideas for this planned project.

Toward More Interactive Learning

In previous blog entries, I’ve pondered ideas about how to become a more connected teacher and how to start incorporating more technology into my classroom. These ponderings have led me to create some goals for myself. Thus far, my goals have been to use social media to interact with other educators to create a personal learning network, to use more digital media to both engage students and to help them make connections to new concepts, and to encourage students to use technology to demonstrate their learning. As all these ideas continue to form and as I continue to read about educational technology, I’ve run across some interesting ideas about how teachers can make learning more interactive for students.

According to a recent article in eSchoolNews (Broderick, 2015), “to make a real difference, educators have to integrate technology in a meaningful way” in order to connect with today’s student, who readily and easily accesses the internet, plays video games, and connects with peers using various social media platforms. What this means is that teachers should employ methods to make learning more interactive for students. The eSchoolNews article points to three (though I’m sure there are more) ways to do this:

  • Incorporate gamification into lessons – Gamifying lessons takes advantage of students’ enjoyment of video games and competition to engage and involve them to a higher level. Examples of gamification include team competition review games embedded in presentation software (such as, “Jeopardy” as a part of PowerPoint) and “quiz show”-type games that can be accessed as a mobile app on student cell phones. One teacher I found has even developed his own interactive online video game to support curriculum (Check out his blog: http://gamifyingmyclass.com).
  • Make lectures and lessons a two-way conversation – Students engage in communication almost constantly through social media, and the eSchoolNews article points out that students “often have difficulty adjusting to traditional classroom lectures, where they are expected to silently take notes while the instructor speaks.” (Broderick, 2015) To make lectures more interactive, the article suggests teachers include questions into lesson presentations (slides) and to use response technology (clickers, response apps on cell phones) to “give students a voice in the classroom.” (Broderick, 2015) From a teacher’s standpoint, another positive result of this is that student responses to embedded questions act as a formative assessment, checking student understanding of the lesson.
  • Crowdsourcing learning – According to Broderick (2015), crowdsourced learning is essentially a “next step” form of peer instruction in which students “participate in the learning process, communicating with fellow students to explore solutions and formulate responses.” By using student responses previously discussed (See #2 above), the results can be used to “facilitate peer instruction,” which goes further to provide students a voice in the classroom and utilize the “collective knowledge” of the class to improving student learning.

While I admit that I have don’t have the coding skills to create my own game of our math curriculum, I do feel there are suggestions I can take. Because I use presentation software for my daily lessons, I can begin to enhance these lessons by embedding questions that allow for student response (Note to self: Locate classroom set of “clickers.”), I can allow students to respond to results and instruct their peers on any deficiencies, and I can incorporate review games. 

Broderick, M. (2015). 3 ways teachers can make learning more interactive. eSchool News. Retrieved on March 6, 2015 from: http://www.eschoolnews.com/2015/03/05/ideas-interactive-726/2/

What Good Teachers Do With Technology

I have to admit that the more I learn about technology and the use of technology in education, the more excited I get about the possibilities of how I can use it in the classroom to engage students and promote learning for a lifetime. On the other hand, there is so much new technology (software, hardware, devices, apps, websites, portals, widgets, and on and on) that I am also overwhelmed with just where to start and start in a way that will have an immediate impact on my students. What are some sound strategies? What are some good goals of technology in the classroom? While I found many examples of what good teachers are doing with technology, I narrowed them down to the following two examples. I chose these because I feel, as a relative technology novice, I will be able to easily follow the lead of these teacher as I move toward my own technology integration:

  • Use technology to empower students and encourage creativity – One recent report on eschoolnews.com (Daccord, 2015), cited an example whereby a high school teacher allowed students to choose just how they wanted to demonstrate their understanding of a complex topic. In previous years, the teacher required students to write a comparative essay, but now he allows student to use iPads create video tutorials that explain, demonstrate and even teach the concept. My Goal: Give students a choice and provide opportunities for creativity by allowing and encouraging the use of technology to demonstrate learning.
  • Use technology to connect students to new concepts – In her article on Teachnology’s website, Alejandra Rice (2010), discussed her difficulties in helping students to connect to abstract concepts or to lessons on places they’ve never been or objects they’ve never seen. Because students had no prior experience with these concepts, places, or objects, they were unable to make the connections necessary for learning to take place. Rice detailed her experiment with first showing pictures to eventually showing videos and using resources on the Internet to take students on a virtual tour. She found that students were more engaged in the activities and more easily made the connections needed to learn the concepts. My Goal: Use digital resources to help students make connections to new concepts and to engage students in their learning.

Daccord, T. (2015). 3 things great teachers do with technology. eSchool News. Retrieved on February 13, 2015 from: http://www.eschoolnews.com/2015/01/26/great-teachers-technology-072/3/

Rice, A. (2010). Connecting through technology. teAchnology. Retrieved on February 13, 2015 from: http://www.teach-nology.com/tutorials/connecting/