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Topic 10: Final Reflection

So it’s the end of the semester and I have to reflect on what I have learned during my PBL course. First, I can’t believe it is over. At the beginning I thought that creating a PBL was going to be difficult. I had a hard time at first thinking of an area that I wanted to focus on for this course. However, that was short lived. I knew I wanted to do something with my social studies, because we have access to laptops since our curriculum is online. I thought about what unit was the shortest and not as interesting for the students. I narrowed it down to our Early Man unit and decided to do a survival project. After that, all my assignments fell into place.

Task number two was the most difficult to develop, so I looked at other areas that I could design a task for and that was looking at possible achievements that a civilization would invent as they continued to grow. I rearranged the tasks to fit in a better place to learn about the achievements. I am glad that I changed the task and rearranged the tasks. I am very proud of my first PBL.

Also, when I started the course I wasn’t sure what a PBL was or how to design one. Each week’s assignment built upon the previous one and it became more clear how to complete the PBL. I am not sure if I would have had such a successful PBL if I chose a science concept as I did this one, but I am prepared to write my first science PBL after this semester. In fact, next year I won’t be teaching social studies, so this PBL will be put on hold for a while, but I plan to write others as I become more familiar with the new science standards.

Here is a copy of my first PBL: Survivor PBL

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Topic 9: Peer Review and Assessment

Peer reveiw and assessment can be difficult at any level, because they don’t want to hurt their friends’ feelings or they don’t know how to do it. I feel it is important for teachers to teach the students how to peer review another student’s work. I found a resource that I would use to help instruct students become better peer reviewers. It is called “Peer Assessment Ideas for Secondary” by Nicola Davison. It provides a step-by-step guide that the teacher can use to incorporate peer review into the classroom.

One resource that I would use from the site would be Peer PARA Marking. Students are given the opportunity to praise their peer, make some suggesting to improve their grade, and then the author of the work a chance to respond to their peer. The teacher is the last part where she or he acknowledges what is said to give the student more direction for their assignment. I like how it has speech bubbles with topic starters to help students write a good review based on the work.

Another resource that I found on that site was the Peer Production Line. This allows more than one reviewer to review the paper, especially if it is a longer writing assignment. There are six students that work on the production line and each has a unique role to help the author improve his or her writing. I really like this idea, because it gives the writer more of an opportunity to get reliable feedback.

These are just a few ideas that I would incorporate peer review in my classroom. It is different than what students have seen in the past and it provides a fresh look at peer review. Also. reteaching students how to peer review helps them strenghen as a writer too because they can see some of the mistakes they have done, and fix them before the review process.

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Topic 8: Post Project Reflection

For today’s blog posting, I am looking into the future, the day after my students and I are finished with the Survivor PBL.  I will need to determine the effectiveness of the PBL, if I need to make any changes, and students’ performance. To do this, I must ask myself a series of questions:

Who will you involve in the process? What will your process look like?

The students and I will be part of the process, afterall they were part of the PBL and they could provide me with their view point of the project. Students will take a survey that I generated (see Link) to get their perspective. They are asked questions like: What was their favorite task that they completed? and why? and What was their least favorite task that was completed? and why? I feel that these questions will help me find the tasks that the students might have found too difficult and needs to be revised. It will also tell me which of the tasks the students really enjoyed and I do not need to revise for student success.

As part of my reflection, there are a few questions that I would answer and they are:

  • Timelien of the project: Was teh pacing of the project too much or not enough time? Where should the teacher make the changes to compensate for the pacing issue? I want to know this because I want to make sure that the timeline wasn’t too rigid to allow some flexibility and time for the students to complete all the tasks on time.
  • What areas did the students struggle with? What task was too difficult for the students? What mini-lessons did the teacher have to create in order for the students to be successful? I added these questions as part of the reflection to look at how successful the students were during each task. If a task is too complicated, then I need to revise it and add more resources. My intention for this project to be “busy” work for the students, but another means to the end. I want the students to be engaged in their learning and challenged along the way. 
  • Do the students need additional resources? What were those additional resources? That is part of the reflection on the difficulty level on each of the tasks. I might need to add more resources without any major revision.

Is it just a one-time assessment?

I don’t feel like it is a one-time assessment. I like to change things up each year, so at the end of year two I would have the students complete the surveys and i would answer the reflection questions. This would allow me to continue to make improvements whereever it is needed.

As a side note, next year I will not be teaching social studies so I won’t be using this as a PBL. However, now that I have learned how to create my own I will begin working on one or two for science.

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Topic 7: Role of Facilitator in my PBL Classroom

Will my role in the teaching/learning process change?

As part of my MET studies, I’ve had the opportunity to study different learning styles and one that I am leaning towards is constructivism. Constructivism allows the learner to construct meaning out of his or her learning. I feel that PBL lends itself to a constructivist approach to learning. So, yes my role in the teaching/learning process will change. I have always wanted “control” of my classroom, but when I’ve given my students that freedom there is more engagement and deeper learning involved.

What are the skills of effective facilitation?

First, I need to be patient with the process and the students. It might be their first time doing a PBL and it might be a bit of a challenge for them. However, with time the students and I will be comfortable with the process. Another skill, I feel I need to have is allowing the students the freedom and letting them be in control for a change. As I mentioned earlier, students really enjoy it when they are in the driver’s seat. A PBL allows them to do that. Finally, I feel that there needs to be a lot of flexibility. I might thing the project should go one direction, but the students might take it a whole new direction that I never thought of before. This is good, because it is showing that the students are involved in the process, in their learning, and in the outcome of the project.

Will the students develop the competencies and skills needed to be successful?

For the PBL that I have created? Yes, I feel they will. I have provided a list of links for the students to start the research to eliminate any frustrations they might have. I know for me, if I start to reach my frustration level I just want to stop and give up. I feel the sequencing of the tasks will also help the students be successful. I started with a map activity and then ended with a reflection of the characteristics of a civilization activity. Every task helps to build on the other so that by the last activity they will understand what is needed to finish the assignment.

What changes will you need to make in order to become an effective facilitator in your PBL unit?

So far, I don’t see any changes I need to make. However, there is one task that I might need to reconsider. For that task, students are to identify the natural resources in the areas that will help them establish their civilizations. I keep hitting a brick wall finding resources for the students, so I might need to find another task for the students.

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Reflections from EDTECH 541

First, I cannot believe this semester is almost in the books. As I sit here and reflect on my semester, I realize that I have learned many skills that I will be using in my classroom. For my final post for my class, I will be answering a series of questions as part of my reflection. Also, I will be assessing my performance in the class.

  • What you have learned?

Until this semester, I did not use technology with my science classes. However, next year our curriculum is changing and I felt it would be a great time to change my mindset. I feel that I creative a great resource that I will be using next year. In fact, some of the resources I have already tried out this year and my students loved them. I also learned that it does not take a lot of time to work technology into my teaching. I have to be patient, research a little, and then be creative.

  • How the course work demonstrates mastery of the AECT standards?

I am still trying to wrap my head around this concept. All of my courses have identified the standards, but I have not had a thorough teaching of the standards. I am hoping that I will get some training on it when I take the Portfolio course.

  • How you have grown professionally?

Yes I have. As I have shared, I have changed my thoughts about integrating and using technology with my science students. I am looking forward to using the resources that I created this semester for this class with my students next year.

  • How your own teaching practice or thoughts about teaching have been impacted by what you have learned or accomplished in this course?

I feel that I have gained a better understanding of what is to come next year when we make the switch to the Next Generation Science Standards. For each of my lessons, I have looked at the standards and the potential resource we will be using to teach the content. I have never been as prepared to teach as content as I feel that I am now.

  • How theory guided development of the projects and assignments you created?

For my project, I included activities that would help to construct my students’ learning. The past few years I have leaned more towards the learning theory of constructivism and tried to focus on lessons that would help to facilitate that style in my classroom. However, that has mostly been with my social studies classes. Next year, I will be teaching only science and I want to encourage students to construct their own learning as they are learning the content.

Part 2: Assessing my performance

Criteria: Content 70/70

Comments: Rich in content, full of thought, insight and synthesis with clear connections to previous or current content and/or to real life situations made with depth and detail.

Reflection: I feel that I spent a lot of time on my blog posts, I feel that my responses were full of thought as I wrote my response. Many of my classmates commented that I provided a thoughtful response.

Criteria: Readings and Resources 15/20

Comments: Readings (from course text) and other resource materials are used to support blog comments. and No or limited use of APA style references.

Reflection: I could have done better with my APA references.

Criteria: Timeliness 20/20

Comments: All required postings are made early in the module to give others time to comment.

Criteria: Responses to other Students 25/30

Comments: One or more satisfactory posts with at least one satisfactory response made to address another students’ post.

Reflection: I commented on two students’ blogs every week. However, I could have provided more insight.

Total: 130/140

 

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Assistive Technologies

Capture

In order to complete my assignments, I spend half my time on my Lenovo computer at work and the other half on my Lenovo laptop using Windows 10 operating system. I did not realize that Windows had included some assistive technologies to help people with different disabilities including vision, hearing, physical, and cognitive. For this week’s blog, I will review the accessibility features that Windows 10 has and describe how individuals with specific disabilities would use those features.

Narrator

One of the features Windows offers is a narrator, or screen reader. It will read text and buttons that is displayed on the computer. The user can change many of the features to fit their preferences. For example, the user can change how fast or slow the speech is, the speaker’s voice, and the volume. Narrator can used with students that have a disability that involves their vision, students with a cognitive disability, and at-risk students that struggle with reading. The narrator will read each character that is typed or text on a webpage, making it easier for students to be successful using the computer and the internet.

Magnifier

The magnifier will allow users to magnify the whole screen or partial screen. It has different options including full screen, lens (partial screen), and docked (where it is partial but user can place it where he or she can see it better). The user can also choose to magnify it to their preference. It starts on 200% and increases by 100 after that, but it does reduce the viewing area for the user as it is increased. The magnifier can be used by students that has a partial vision loss. It will magnify the text and images to allow them to see the information easier. Another feature that magnifier has is an option to invert the colors. This could be used by students that are color blind, so that they are able to see the text and images.

High Contrast

High contrast is another feature that could be used by students that have a vision impairment or color blind. It allows the user to view text, webpages, and images using a color they can see. There are four themes to choose from in the drop down menu. The students can choose whichever theme works for them so they can use the computer more efficient for their needs.

Closed Captioning

“Closed captions let you read the words that are spoken in movies or television shows. With Windows, you can customize things like color, size, and background transparency to suit your needs and tastes” (Microsoft, 2018). It can only be used with Windows apps, like XBox Videos app.

Keyboard and Mouse

The keyboard feature allows the user to turn on an on-screen keyboard. The user then uses the mouse to interact with the keyboard. As the users are typing, the keyboard has word prediction so they can choose the word rather than typing out the entire word. Using the word prediction can help students that struggle with spelling, such as at-risk students or students with learning disabilities. As for the keyboard, students that have a mild form of a cognitive disability could use a large trackball mouse and the on-screen keyboard to answer questions for an assignment, especially if using a pencil is difficult for them.

The mouse feature allows the user to change the size and the color of the pointer. This would help students that have some vision impairment see the pointer easier. It could also help students with cognitive disabilities see it easier if the pointer was large and black. I changed it on my screen and it has made it easier for me to see, and I do not have a vision impairment.

Speech Recognition

Another feature includes speech recognition which can “dictate documents and email or surf the web just by saying what you see” (Microsoft, 2018). It requires students to complete a training to learn how to use it. This feature can be used by students that have physical disabilities and cognitive disabilities.

Microsoft has made it easier for students and adults that have disabilities use certain features with ease. This gives them the independence they need to complete assignments and enjoy the computer for entertainment purposes too.

Resources

Microsoft. (2018). Windows accessibility. Retrieved on April 18, 2018. Retrieved from: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/accessibility/windows.

Purewal, S. (2016). Windows 10 settings menu: The ease of access tab. Retrieved from: https://www.cnet.com/how-to/windows-10-settings-menu-the-ease-of-access-tab/.

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Obstacles and Solutions for Integrating Technology into the Content Area

As the digital integration lead at my school I hear many excuses, or obstacles why teachers do not integrate technology into the content area. Some of the obstacles I hear include lack of time, lack of training, and lack of resources. However, there are some solutions for those particular obstacles that can be overcome.

As for the lack of time, “common core expects students to be active learners, authors, not just consumers. Technology makes that happen by asking them to publish, share, collaborate” (Murray, n.d.). Teachers can have students collaborate on assignments using MS Word online or Google Docs. There would be fewer assignments to grade, which saves time. This also gives them the opportunity to use technology for education and not just for entertainment. In Language Arts, teachers could use sites like storybird.com to have students write stories, peer edit and share their writing with their classmates and the teacher. This also saves time, because teachers can see the process their students are making on their writing as it is shared.

For science, teachers can have students dissect a frog using a virtual dissection that can be displayed on the whiteboard, see  http://frogvirtualdissection.com/. Any content teacher can have their students use Quizlet to add study their vocabulary words. What is nice about this program, students can add the app to their phones so they can study on the go. It takes a little creativity to integrate technology into the classroom.

Another obstacle is the lack of training. Many of the apps include tutorials to use the programs for no additional charges. Microsoft has a wide range of training on their community page for teachers to learn how to use their products. For example, I have accessed it to learn how to use OneNote. It takes about an hour, but I am able to do the basics so that I can get started. However, many times there are teachers in the building that teachers can ask for help. For example, I started using Plickers in my science class, and I went to another teacher to learn what I needed to do to start it. It was a good addition for my students. “Students want to use technology” (Murray, n.d.), and many times they can figure out how to do something if the teacher gives them the opportunity to use it.

Finally, I have heard and seen where teachers complain that they do not integrate technology into the classroom because of the lack of resources. So many times teachers want to use the laptops to be told they are already checked out or they are going to be used for state testing. I know this can be frustrating. However, depending on what the teacher is using it for, many of the students would love to use their phones to complete the assignment. In science, I had students use their phones to video their paper slides video and they never complained. It just takes additional planning to have students use their own devices.

The obstacles to integrate technology into the classroom can be overcome with solutions that are easy to implement. However, it does take creativity, patience, and ingenuity for teachers to use the technology as a valuable resource in the classroom. For me, I had a hard time integrating technology in my science classes, but this semester I have had many opportunities to discover new ways to integrate technology into my teaching toolbox.

Resources

Murray, J. (n.d.). 13 Reasons for Using Technology in the Classroom. Retrieved on April 9th, 2018 from http://www.teachhub.com/13-reasons-using-technology-classroom.

Greene, K  (n.d), 50 Fab Apps for Teachers. Retrieved on April 9th, 2018 from https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/50-fab-apps-teachers/.

Muthler, S. (2014, May 8). The Best Interactive Web Tools for Educators. Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/best-web-tools/.