Saturday, April 26, 2014

EDUC 7726 - Socratic Seminar Reflection

This past week I had the opportunity to take part in my first ever Socratic Seminar.  Initially I was a little hesitant about the assignment, since I had never taken part in such an exercise.  Prior to class I read through information about the seminar provided by our instructor and watched a few videos examples as well.  What I noticed initially as I observed the first group taking part in the discussion, no two seminars are the same.

As an observer during the first seminar, it was very hard for me not to join in on the discussion.  There were many topics that were discussed that I so desperately wanted to express my opinions and findings from the data, but I knew I could not talk.  I especially wanted to comment on a point that my classmate Tim made about having technology specialist in the schools to help teachers better use technology in their classrooms.  I firmly believe that the data we looked at prior to the seminar demonstrated that teachers truly like to use technology in their classrooms, but some do not feel that they have enough professional knowledge to implement new technologies.  A technology specialist is something I feel is definitely needed in a school or district, but this individual needs to be different than the technology person who works with purchasing and installing software and updating the equipment.  I wonder what the results of survey would look like if schools had technology specialists that provide professional development and instruction to the teachers on the latest and greatest technology uses in the classrooms.

When I had the opportunity to be an active participant in the Socratic Seminar, I found myself multitasking a great deal.  In addition to responding to the opening question, I was listening to my fellow classmates discuss their points and findings while trying to find my own data and findings to contribute to the discussion.  I sort of felt like a member of debate team while watching the opposing side discuss their argument and trying to find information to continue the conversation, but not necessarily contradicting what was said since it was not a debate, but rather a discussion.

The one question that was discussed during my Socratic Seminar session was how teachers could assess students' learning with the use of technology.  I was very interested in this topic because our school uses digital portfolios to gather data on our students and we use it to see the progression they make from year to year with the use of technology.  One of my comments that I made and I still am thinking about the answer to the issue is how to determine the baseline data that we would use for each student to determine if they have learned anything through the use of technology.  It would be important for schools to create a pre and post test that they would use for the students to gather data.  The biggest issue I foresee is that each student could potentially be at different level of competence when it comes to technological abilities.  Schools would need to be prepared to differentiate the instruction for each child depending on their baseline data.

Overall I was very pleased with the Socratic Seminar.  On my drive home from class I was trying to think of different ways I could introduce it into my classroom.  We just recently did a project in my class where the students collected data on different questions pertaining to pizza.  I thought it would be interesting to have students take part in a Socratic Seminar on the findings of their data and even have them research other topics about pizza online.  I could create opening questions about pizza and have them use their findings to validate their responses.  I am sure there are many other ways to integrate the Socratic Seminar into my class and I look forward to exploring many more!


Saturday, April 12, 2014

ED 7726 - Week 2 Technology Lesson

This week through my ED 7726 I had the opportunity to pretend I was a technology leader for a school.  As the technology leader, I was responsible for making recommendations on a lesson and helping a teacher embed technology into their lesson.  As I was making my recommendations I was keeping in mind the Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition (SAMR) model designed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura.

If you are not familiar with SAMR, it is a model that offers educators a way to see how they can embed technology into their lessons.  The substitution portion of the model provides teachers with ideas where they can substitute technology in for common practices used in the classroom.  Instead of note taking in a notebook, teachers can have students take notes using a resource such as Simplenote or another online note taking resource.  The important part of the substitution portion is that the teaching and learning does not change due to the implementation of the technology.

The augmentation portion of the model is very similar to substitution.  Prior to cloud computing, many teachers used Microsoft word to create worksheets and handouts for class.  Now teachers are able to create the same resources but using Google Docs.  They can choose the print out the worksheets or they can share the item with their students online if they too have Google accounts.  The sharing of the worksheet is not changing how the teaching or learning is occurring, rather it is providing an alternative way for the students to receive the activity while using technology.

When teachers venture into using the modification portion of the model that is where they will begin to see the teaching and learning change slightly.  With modification, students are able to use technology to have a personal stake in what is produced and learned in the classroom.  While providing recommendations to the lesson I chose to look at for my task this week, I realized that the teacher was initially using the modification stage in the model when she created her lesson.  She was having students work in groups to create a multimedia presentation on the topic of operations with integers.  The students were to choose a topic about integers and create a slide show demonstrating how to solve a problem of that specific topic.  Having the students use a slide show presentation was a way for the teacher to modify the lesson using technology.  She could have simply had the students stand in front of the class and give a lesson, but instead she chose to use technology.

The final portion of the model is redefinition.  In this portion, teachers embed technology to take their students' learning to a level that would not be possible without technology.  A great example of redefinition can be seen again in the lesson I reviewed this week.  After the presentations were complete, students could share their presentation with other students not only in their own classroom and school, but also with students in other schools in other states and countries.  There are a variety of online resources available that can match schools and students up with one another to connect students and allow them to collaborate using the Internet.  

Prior to conducting my review this week, I spent some time researching the SAMR model.  There are many websites that provide excellent ideas for teachers on how to embed technology into their classrooms by using the SAMR model.  The following is a list of only a few that I found that I believe would be very beneficial to any teacher:
Educators Technology Website: SAMR Model resources (This resource also has a variety of images that outline the SAMR model)  

The following pictograph is one of many images that can be found on the site listed above.  This graphic was created by Jackie Gerstein.  The following link will take you to her article: SAMR as a Framework for Moving Towards Education 3.0.  It is in this article that she uses the graphic that she created below to to discuss the SAMR model.

After I spent time researching the SAMR model and reading a study written by Barbara Means that focused on the use of technology and the effects it has on student learning:  Technology and Education Change: Focus on Student Learning, I chose to review a lesson from a Pre-Algebra teacher.  Instead of rewriting the lesson in a different format, I decided to annotate the original lesson.  I did this because if I ever were to become a technology leader in a school, I would not want to rewrite teachers' lessons, rather I would want to make notes and annotate on their original lesson where they could make changes or improvements.

I reached out to three of my fellow colleagues in my ED 7726 course to support me with my review.  Thanks to them, I feel I made very good suggestions and recommendations on how to better utilize technology with the lesson.  In addition, I particularly chose the lesson because I teach Pre-Algebra and could see myself teaching the exact same lesson in my class.  The following link will direct to the annotated version of the lesson with the comments provided by myself and my support system: ED 7726 Annotated Technology Lesson - Elizabeth Ferry  

Saturday, April 5, 2014

EDUC 7726 Week 1 - Aligning Technology With Classroom Standards

Each time I begin a new class through the IT&DML program, I often wonder what new information I will learn.  The first assignment for the EDUC 7726 class has provided me with an opportunity to take my prior knowledge of classroom strategies and standards and align them with technology that will enhance the learning experience for my students.

My fellow classmates provided exceptional examples of how they use technology to support high yield teaching and learning in their classes.  The following is a link to the examples:  Using Technology EDUC 7726 Examples.  I wanted to include these examples in my post because they could be used by a variety of teachers.  In addition, they also demonstrate high yield teaching strategies created by Robert Marzano and John Hattie.

As a teacher, I have sat in plenty of professional developments where the names Marzano and Hattie were  mentioned multiple times as people to reference when providing better instructional strategies in classrooms.  I was familiar with both Marzano and Hattie, but I never actually spent a lot of time aligning their strategies with the use of technology.  In case you are not familiar with both of their strategies, let me give you an overview of what both of these gentlemen use to educate teachers on high yield instructional strategies.

Robert Marzano has nine strategies for high yield instruction strategies.  These nine strategies include:
-  Similarities and Differences
-  Summarizing and Note Taking
-  Reinforcing Effort and Providing Recognition
-  Homework and Practice
-  Non linguistic Representation
-  Cooperative Learning
-  Setting Objectives and Providing Feedback
-  Generating and Testing Hypothesis
-  Cues, Questions and Advance Organizers

John Hattie tested a variety of strategies to determine the effectiveness of each one.  As part of my class, I was asked to view the following presentation about Hattie's findings:  Hattie - Visible Learning Presentation.  In order to better understand the slide show, I decided to view one of Hattie's presentations from a TEDx Talks:

With the slide show and presentation, Hattie describes 130 different factors that could contribute to high yield learning in schools.  I was surprised of the ranking of a few of the influences, but did notice a trend in the top 20 that align very well with Marzano's nine strategies.  Student feedback and providing formative evaluation are two in particular that coincide with Marzano's setting objectives and providing feedback.  We see in today's schools a lot of this type of strategy with the use of online grading systems that allow students to view their current grades, assessment scores and missing homework assignments.  Teachers can even put in comments for students and parents to view.

To further my own education on the topic, I found the following link for a website created by the Manatee County Public Schools in Bradenton, Florida: Manatee School District - Marzano Information.  What I particularly like about this site is that there are links for five of the strategies that direct teachers to online resources.  These resources can be used in a variety of grade and content level classes to help with high yield instruction.

While researching Marzano more, I also found the following wikispace dedicated to the instructional strategies and aligning with the Common Core:  Marzano Strategies - Common Core.  These are more excellent resources that teachers can use to not only provide high-yield instruction, but also align their instruction with Common Core standards.  I do believe that the more technologically advanced are students are becoming, the more creative we as teachers need to be with our instruction.  These resources could help teachers tap into what 21st century learners need in order to succeed.

Friday, April 4, 2014

ED 7724 Introduction - Week 1

Hello everyone!  My name is Elizabeth Ferry and I am currently an 8th grade math teacher at Mauro-Sheridan Interdistrict Magnet School in New Haven, CT.  This is my sixth year teaching.  Prior to becoming a teacher, I was a military officer in the United States Coast Guard.

My husband and I both attended a service academy and after our five year military commitment we decided to leave the military to work in education.  We have an amazing son named Vincent who will be three in less than two weeks and an active puggle named Brady.  Our lives have and always will be dedicated to serving others.

My first experience with integrating Assistive Technology actually occurred before I was a teacher in my sister's classroom.  When I was still serving in the Coast Guard, I would visit her students when I was home on leave.  During my visits I would read to them a book and help co-teach a lesson.  One time, my sister had a student who required the use of a classroom microphone.  Although I felt like I was on Star Search, (for those who remember that show), I really enjoyed using it with a large group of class.  Although I have not had much experience since that time with a classroom microphone, there have been days when I wished I had it in my classroom.

My experience is very limited with other uses of Assistive Technology.  We have utilized the use of tablets, laptops, and Ipad Apps for certain students, but these uses were more for differentiation and not for an accommodation requirement in accordance with an IEP.  I have found that any student can benefit from the use of Assistive Technology as long as it is integrated properly and with purpose.  Money of course is always an issue and after looking at the syllabus I am very excited to research grant opportunities!  I am looking forward to another great course!