Saturday, June 21, 2014

EDUC 7726 - Putting it all Together Final Assignment

For my final assignment for EDUC 7726 we were asked to either summarize what we have learned or make a plan for how we would use the information from the course in the future.  At our last face-to-face class, I mentioned to a few of my classmates that I am beginning to apply for positions in other school districts.  My husband received an amazing job opportunity in Avon, CT and we will be moving to the area within the year.  In order to prepare for our move, I began applying for teaching positions both as a middle school math teacher and as a technology/digital integration specialist.  I have a passion for both areas and with my new 6th year certification in Instructional Technology and Digital Media Literacy, I feel that I have the ability to make a difference with either position.

In order to prepare myself for the possibility of receiving a position as a technology/digital integration specialist, I created a mind map using Mind Meister to organize my vision for what my role would be in a school or district.  The following is an image of my mind map:

As a technology/digital integration specialist, I have five groups of individuals that I will impact with my position.  The first group, in my opinion, will be where I spend most of my time and effort with integrating technology.  This group consists of the teachers.  I plan on assisting the teachers with whatever information and training they may need to effectively integrate technology into their classrooms.  This would include providing professional development, finding grant opportunities for teachers that focus on technology integration, and bringing experts to the district to teach the teachers.

Ensuring that teachers are aware of 21st Century skills and how to implement them into their lessons will be another primary focus of my job.  Along with creating assessments, project based learning opportunities, and fostering Personal Learning Networks within the school, I will provide the teachers with the skills they need to integrate technology to benefit themselves and their students.

The second group consists of the students.  I do not plan on initially working one-on-one with students with integrating technology, because most of that will be done with their teachers.  Although the information they receive from teachers will be in part due to what I am able to provide them with training and resources.  It is my goal to create online tools and resources that students can access outside of the classroom that will allow them to continue to integrate technology within their academic studies and professional lives.

My third focus group, the administration within the school, will need to be one of the front runners in the effort to integrate technology.  Once the teachers see that the administration is on board and embracing the digital integration move, they will follow their leaders and be more receptive to the changes.  My role as a technology/digital integration specialist will be to get the administration on the "technology bandwagon" and provide them with the tools they need to use technology in their everyday lives as administrators.

One of the biggest complaints that I hear from teachers after staff meetings is that they do not remember the material that was presented or that they lose the handouts that were provided.  My goal is to encourage the administration to integrate technology as much as possible with the professional development and staff meeting opportunities in the school.  If videos or presentations were created of the meetings, teachers could refer back to them to refresh their memory of the information.  In addition, if teachers are absent they can access the information they missed.  The administration could also implement online assessment or surveys using a variety of programs to determine if the teachers understood the information that was presented.  A few online assessment resources available are SocrativePoll Everywhere, and Survey Monkey.  This would provide feedback to the administration on what areas were understood and where more training and PD was necessary.

My fourth group is made up of the parents and community members.  It is important for the parents and community members to be involved with the integration of technology within a school or district.  If we want our students to be proficient with 21st Century skills, then we must ensure that all individuals who work with them are also prepared and informed of what skills they need.  The teachers and administrators in the schools can provide instruction and assistance during school hours, but once the students leave they will need the other adults in their lives to assist them with these skills.  Getting the parents and the community educated and involved with the process will be another focus of my job position.  This will ensure that the learning by the students does not stop at the end of the school day.

Finally, I have personal goals for myself as a technology/digital integration specialist.  Although I spent a year in my 6th Year certification program and feel as if I have a good amount of expertise in the area of technology integration, I can always be more educated and informed of the resources and tools that are available.  I have said it before and I will say it again, I am a lifelong learner.  I want to continue to learn about the latest and greatest tools and resources that are available for teachers to use when integrating technology into their classrooms.  This learning will not only benefit myself, but I want to share what I learn with others and help them professionally and personally integrate technology into their lives.  As an educator I think it is important for students to see that those who are teaching them also enjoy to learn and seek out opportunities to learn new things.

I will admit that I know my goals and plans as a technology/digital integration specialist are extensive.  Time, money, and patience will be needed to reach my goals.  I will need to rely on others, ask for help, and be willing and eager to learn in order to be successful.  As Benjamin Franklin once said, "You can do anything you set your mind to."

Saturday, June 7, 2014

ED7726 - Soapbox Presentation Reflection

Throughout my IT&DML courses I have had a lot of firsts when it comes to taking part in new and creative ways to share information.  This week I participated in a Google Hangout where we each got on our own soapbox and presented information on a topic for 8 minutes.  Besides a few technology glitches, I was very impressed with the format of the Hangout and the information that was shared by my fellow colleagues.  The time limit on the presentations was perfect for us to disseminate our information without others getting bored with the presentation. In addition, it required me as the presenter to find and present only the key points of my topic that I felt the others needed to hear rather than drag on about the subject for 30-60 minutes.

The soapbox format is something that I want to take with me when I work with my PLN at my school and within my district.  I wish we all had time to research and find information on every topic available.  In reality though, we need to strategically determine what we have time for and what can wait until a later date.  If a group of colleagues has a common interest, such as those with me in the IT&DML courses, topics can be split between everyone and 8 minute presentations can be created.  This is a great way to get everyone involved with a learning opportunity and provide as much information as possible during a short amount of time.  I think about the number of staff meetings where we sit for hours and listen to one or two speakers present.  Most of the staff is tuned out within fifteen minutes.  If staff members knew they had a role in the meeting and would be presenting information, they might be more interested in hearing others' presentations as well.

This format could also be implemented into a middle school and high school classroom.  The students could use it when reviewing for a final exam or upcoming assessment.  Students could work in pairs to discuss a topic and present the information to their classmates.  Teachers could then post the presentations online and allow for students to view them when they are outside the classroom.  Teachers could also use an online assessment program such as Socrative to create an assessment that students would complete after viewing their classmates presentations.

In addition to the format of the Hangout, I was very impressed with the information presented by my classmates.  The topics that were discussed were very relevant to everything that we are doing in our courses and within our classrooms.  I look forward to sharing the information presented with my fellow teachers and staff members at my school.

The following link will take you to my Google slide presentation on the shift of schools from STEM to STEAM focused curriculum.

STEM to STEAM - Elizabeth Ferry

Sunday, June 1, 2014

EDUC 7724 Assessing 21st Century Skills Reflection

Each week I find more and more useful and applicable information as I continue on my journey through my IT&DML courses.  For my EDUC 7724 course this week, we looked at assessing 21st century skills.  Since we as teacher are teaching 21st century learners, we should have a good idea as to what and how we should be assessing the skills they need in order to succeed in today's society.

The 21st century skills that were discussed this week included critical thinking, leadership, creativity, work ethic, problem solving, meta cognition, technology skills, collaboration, global understanding, and digital literacy.  The materials that our instructor provided to us included infographics, cartoons, and videos which focused on some of these areas of skill.  We were then asked to compare the importance of learning to the ease of assessment of each of these skills.  The following screenshot was taken of my rankings for the different skills:

I have to admit I had a hard time completing this activity.  I wanted to put everything on the more and harder end of the graph.  There were a few areas that I thought may not be as difficult to assess such as technology skills, but I think I have this thought because of the amount of information I have received from the IT&DML courses.  I see some of the others ares as harder skills to assess because we as educators are just being to implement project based learning and curriculum that require our students to demonstrate critical thinking to a level that they have never been asked to do before.

My classmates completed the same activity and it was interesting to see where they placed the different skills compared to my graph.  We all seem to be under the same impression that there are no 21st century skills that are least important to learning and easy to assess.  Critical thinking was ranked pretty high on the importance of learning and ease of assessment on most of our graphs.  This week's activities and materials had me rethinking not only my own class lessons and how I incorporate the 21st century skills into the lessons, but also how assess those skills.  There is much work to be done on my part to make sure I am doing everything I can to prepare my 21st century learners and to make sure I am correctly assessing the skills that they need.