Throughout this course I have been exposed to various media, resources, and activities that have helped me grow and develop as a professional teacher. Specifically, I have felt an increase in my confidence in utilizing specific web 2.0 technology such as blogging and wikis. One of the readings from the first week of this course inspired my learning throughout the following eight weeks: “Modern learning requires the use of modern tools – tools that connect, tools that are transparent, and tools that, in most cases, live both online and offline” (Richardson, 2015, p. 58). After reading this text, I was inspired and prepared to discover the many ways that technology can positively impact the learning happening in my classroom. Before starting this course, I mostly taught students the basics of using technology in a computer lab – we worked on typing, creating presentations, Google Sheets, etc. I led every lesson as a whole group and then the students worked independently. I have a refreshed view of the many ways that I can use technology to instill much more creative and powerful learning in my students.
My mind has been opened to the large world of Web 2.0 learning and how I can use it in my teaching. Web 2.0 technologies are focused on interaction, communication, and sharing online (Tucker, 2014). Creating a wiki-based lesson plan and then implementing it with a group of students was an eye-opening experience. I was able to see firsthand how motivating and engaging this use of technology can be to students. Dr. David Thornburg talks about the changing work environment and states that as technology is more accepted into the work environment, schedules will be more flexible leading to an increase in telecommuting and collaboration at a distance (Laureate Education, 2015a). I believe that because of this, it is even more vitally important for students to be able to work their way through an assignment or task such as the wiki assignment that I created. In this assignment, students were given very little direct instruction and were instead able to lead their own learning through the resources presented to them on a Google Site that I had created, such as different media, screencast, rubrics and examples. In doing this, my students developed vital skills for their future schooling and careers in the 21st-Century.
As a technology teacher, I have always enjoyed teaching students how to utilize technology. This course has only increased my excitement in using technology with my own students. The learning that I have done throughout the past eight weeks has also deepened my passion for working with grade-level teachers at my school to help them integrate technology into their everyday lessons. Technology is an underutilized tool that can help every child learn. There are many teachers at my school who feel overwhelmed and nervous about broaching the idea of integrating technology into their classroom. I feel that this course has deepened my understanding of how important it is that they do so. As Dr. David Thornburg shared, a teacher need not know how to use every program or tool to integrate technology into their classroom, they simply need to have an open mind and use common sense (Laureate Education, 2015b). I want to work with the grade level lead teachers throughout this year and provide simple ways that technology can be integrated into the classroom as a starting point. In my own classroom I also have been inspired to create lessons that are more student-based for the 21st century learner, such as the wiki-based lesson that I mentioned previously that I implemented a few weeks ago.
One Web 2.0 tool that I learned about that I am going to implement into my classroom is blogging. I would like to have my students use Google Classroom as a safe space to start experiencing some of the basics of blogging in education. Within Google Classroom students can write and post their thoughts, share their assignments, and ask questions of each other. A potential roadblock to its implementation would be making sure that students view blogging as an educational tool rather than a purely social one as they are used to using microblogging sites such as Twitter at home. I need to ensure that students understand that the things they are posting online can be seen by anyone and that it is important to think about what you say before you post, whether on our class blog or a personal account. To overcome this, I would do specific lessons detailing this before implementing the actual blogging into the classroom. Blogging can be used to help a diverse range of students become motivated in the classroom. In this way, it can meet the needs of 21st Century learners (Luther & Pickering, 2015). Shy or scared students who do not know how to or enjoy speaking and sharing their thoughts in class might feel more confident sharing in this way. Other students are more motivated to perform well when they know that there is an actual audience who will view their created artifacts, such as with constructionism (Laureate Education, 2015c).
In utilizing blogging, it also creates a 21st Century context for students by bringing the world into the classroom and allowing students to collaborate with one another (Tucker, 2014). I will be sure to incorporate student choice into the blogging process, as this is an important way to engage students (Rogers, 2015). Utilizing blogging in the classroom meets the ISTE Standards for Students (2016) 1c: Students use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways. In sharing their work, their thoughts, and their ideas with the class and receiving feedback through the blog, they will be meeting this standard. As a teacher I will be meeting the ISTE Standard for Teachers (2008) 1c: Promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students’ conceptual understanding and thinking, planning, and creative processes.
As a teacher, I have many goals that I would like to meet to better myself and help my students to gain the skills they need for the future. One of these goals is: By then end of the 2018-2019 school year each student in my 3rd-5th grade classes will create and regulate their own blogs for my class, leading to their increased technological fluency, confidence, and independence. I will accomplish this goal by first starting with my fifth-grade students in the beginning of the year, as I feel they will most easily adapt to utilizing a blog for educational purposes. After gaining confidence and knowledge from implementing this with my fifth-grade students, moving into the second semester I will do the same with my third and fourth grade students. I will have my students use these blogs to answer questions, write and share their thoughts, and comment on each other’s posts.
An additional goal that I have is: By the end of the 2019-2020 year I will have created and implemented at least 6 lesson plans that are wiki-based and student-led. I will keep track of my lessons and how the implementation of them went on a Google Doc that I can refer to in the future when doing the lessons again. I will collect pre and post test data from my students to measure how well they were able to learn the content when it was presented in this way versus though lecturing. I will track this data in Google Sheets. I will use this data to make changes to the lessons in the future and to help support student learning and growth as needed. I plan to work towards these goals with the knowledge that I have gained throughout this course as well as personal research that I will complete over the coming months and years. It is important that as a professional educator I, myself, never stop learning.
As a result of my experiences in my courses so far and considering the population of students that I work with, I am very interested in studying more about how to utilize technology to help English Language Learners. I work with a primarily Hispanic population and many of the students that I teach speak little to no English. My school is also one of the lowest ranked schools in Maryland when it comes to PARCC test scores. I am interested in researching ways in which I can increase ELL students’ math and reading literacy using technology. This is something that I feel very passionately about and look forward to learning more about through my future courses and personal research. I plan on sharing any findings, relevant research data, etc. with the fellow teachers that I work with, for the betterment of the school’s entire body of staff and students.
International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). (2016). Standards for students. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/for-students-2016
International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). (2008). Standards for teachers. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/for-teachers
Laureate Education (Producer). (2015a). The changing work environment [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Laureate Education (Producer). (2015b). The changing role of the classroom teacher: Part 1 [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Laureate Education (Producer). (2015c). Transforming the classroom with technology: Part 1 [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Luther, F.D., & Pickering, J. (2015). Using Web 2.0 learning environments to address diversity: A diversity-education example. Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 81(3), 28-34. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
P21. (n.d.). Framework for 21st Century Learning. Retrieved August 4, 2018, from http://www.p21.org/storage/documents/docs/P21_framework_0816.pdf
Richardson, W. (2015). From master teacher to master learner. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
Rogers, J. r. (2015). Five Easy Ways to Bring Blogging to Your Classroom. English In Texas, 45(2), 38-40.
Tucker, S.Y. (2014). Transforming pedagogies: Integrating 21st century skills and Web 2.0 technology. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 15(1), 166-173. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.