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Relative Advantage of Using Videos in the Classroom

In the videos, I spoke to five educators that use videos as part of their instruction. During the interviews, I asked the teachers what did they see as an advantage to using the videos in their content area. Each teacher shared different advantages of using hypermedia in their lessons. In the article “Video Strategies,” the author writes “teachers who use instructional video report that their students retain more information, understand concepts more rapidly and are more enthusiastic about what they are learning” (NTTI, nd.). This is similar to what the teachers state in my interview with them.

The article also mentions that “video is uniquely suited to take students on impossible field trips” (NTTI, nd.). Miss Manweiler mentions in the interview that she shows her seventh grade science class a video that shows cells dividing rather than watching the process over several days. Mrs. Miller likes to show videos that can take the students to the events they are learning about in history. The language arts teachers use the videos to teach different concepts like setting or the plot of a story. Miss Mason adds that the videos help to keep the students engaged in the learning when she uses the videos as part of her instruction.

I have also used videos as part of my instruction in science and social studies. In science, it helps to explain the difficult topics visually for the students. I have added music videos as a way to get the students to sing the parts of an atom using the Addams Family Theme song. It a catchy tune that the students love to sing as they are learning. In social studies, I use the videos to take students on field trips to places they have studied. The students and I enjoy the series “Digging for the Truth” by the History Channel. Each of the episodes take the viewers to the remote parts to discover the truth behind the mystery.

In the Edtechteacher article, the author writes that “classroom video projects teach students to plan, organize, write, communicate, collaborate, and analyze” (2017). I have incorporated two different types of videos that the students create in my classroom. I have used Paper Slides videos in science as a way to review content for a test. Each group creates a video that covers a different topic from the unit. The videos showcase a series of illustrations they have drawn and a narration of the content by the students. The students are engaged in the activity because it is something new and different. Another video that I’ve used was a stop action video. After teaching the students the Three Laws of Motion, the students were organized into teams. Each team had to show a series of moves that illustrates the three laws. This activity is also highly engaging and it is another way that students can demonstrate their understanding of the three laws.

In conclusion, videos in the classroom help students retain information, understand difficult material, reaches different learning styles, and it is engaging to the students. I feel that using videos is a highly effective teaching tool for the students. It gives the teacher another way to engage the students to learn.


(2017). Videos in the classroom. Edtechteacher. Retrieved from:

(nd.). Video strategies. National Teacher Training Institute. Retrieved from:

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Driving Question and Sub Questions

This week I had to look at the driving question and sub questions that will help guide my PBL. For my driving question, I have ” How will you and your band survive and establish the first civilization?” Prior to the PBL, students will have learned about the Paleolithic period and the PBL will take place at the beginning of the Neolithic Revolution. Early man went from moving in bands to establishing settlements. My PBL is about that transition from being nomadic to establishing a civilization.

During my work on my PBL and writing the driving question, I read that the question should be focused. I feel that it is focused and the sub questions help to keep the project focused too. Also, the project should be interesting to the students. Any time you have students work in pairs to create something new, they enjoy it. Also, the early man unit tends to be the most interesting to the students. With the organization and the intrigue, students will be hooked on this project.

Finally, as I was writing my sub questions, I thought about what activities the students would do as they are completing the project. The activities will help students create their final project, Paper Slides Video.

A Paper Slides Video is a student generated video where they create slides that have been illustrated. As they are creating their slides, they write a script for the narration that explains their illustrations. I have used this method in science, but they have been shorter videos and fewer students. The video that they are creating will be longer and require students to alternate jobs so that everyone has a role to completing the project.

Click on the link to see the Visual Project Organizer .

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The First Steps: Project-Based Learning

The past two weeks, we were to look for an idea for out Project-Based Learning plan. At first, I was considering doing my project on ancient Rome. I looked for a unit on the BIE that I could adapt, but I was not successful. I had spoken to my PLC at my school and that was the direction they were wanting to take also. However, with the lack of resources and our failed attempts to collaborate, I decided to take a different route.

After some thought I came up with my PBL idea for early man unit. I teach sixth grade World Civilizations and our units start with Early Man and continues through the Middle Ages. The students are always curious about the early man, so I thought it would be a unit that would be engaging to the students.

Since it will be at the beginning of the year and I want to establish the rules and procedures for the classroom, I would teach the Paleolithic period first. After giving the students the background information, I will set them up in groups of four students, or bands.

Each group will be working together to find a new location that they can settle with abundant resources. They will have to create a division of labor so they can start growing crops to set up a reliable food supply, establish a government, and create a new civilization.

They will research, problem solve, and plan how they will survive as they create a civilization. Each assignment will be developed to help them progress through the process. At the end, they will create a Paper Slides Video that explains how their band survived to form a thriving civilization. This project will help them make connections as they study the ancient civilizations throughout the year.

Grotte d’Altamira et art rupestre paléolithique du nord de l’Espagne

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons




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Relative advantage of using Microsoft Office vs. Google suites

For this week’s blog, I had to look at the relative advantage of suite software, such as Google Suite and Microsoft Office 365 Suite. At my school, we use Microsoft’s software, but we have access to Google also. For my Master’s program, I use Google Suite with a few exceptions that have preferred Microsoft Word. I am experienced with both software choices and I feel comfortable using either one of them in any setting. However, I would like to explore some of the advantages to using each of the programs in the classroom setting, Which software suite, Microsoft or Google, would benefit my students the most?

For my district, the students are familiar with the software because they have been using them since elementary school. Since Office 365 is cloud based, students are able to access the program from the district homepage with ease. If students do not have the client version of the program, they are able to download it to any five devices (per student) for free. Teachers are also able to download the program to five of their own devices for free. Since I have used Microsoft, I am more familiar with the program and I am able to help my students when they need help.

My district does not promote any of the Google programs for students to use. However, they do have access to the Google programs because they are a free resource for the students to use. The district technology department explained that Microsoft has a stricter privacy policy than Google and they do not want to risk any personal information being released. So my experience with Google Suite has come from my work on my Master’s program at Boise State University. The transition from Microsoft to Google was very smooth because they have similar features.

OurICT website states that “Microsoft and Google have been competing with one another to offer a comprehensive productivity platform for the education sector. Both productivity suites offer powerful standalone tools that work even more efficiently when they are used together” (2017). On their website they provide a side-by-side comparison of the two programs for individuals, educators, and businesses can compare the two resources so they can make a decision as to which program they will use. (See the Infographic for the comparison).

The features that I like about both suites is the share option. I have assigned group projects where they have to collaborate with one another on a single assignment. However, all group members have to contribute to the assignment. I have one student create the document and share with the others so that they can access the document. The students have used the message feature to collaborate on the project as they add to or edit the project. I have used Google Docs in the same manner in different courses that I have taken for my program. From an educators point of view, the share option is a great feature for students to use to collaborate on projects.

I feel that the ease of using either product is is an advantage to both student and educator. If students do not know how to do something, like add an image, they are able to use the help feature to find suggestions on how to complete the task. Having this feature available to students, allows the student to be more independent and frees the teacher to help other students with questions regarding the assignment.

Both programs suites can be accessed using a smartphone, tablet, or Chromebook. The devices come with Google suite installed on the devices, but students have to download Microsoft’s programs from the app store (Redding, 2016). Having access on their devices allows the students to work on their assignments anywhere they go. Whether on vacation or waiting at the dentist office, they can complete their assignment and send in their work via email.

An advantage for using Microsoft versus Google is the offline feature that Microsoft offers to its users. In Heather Redding’s article she adds that “the Office 365 mobile apps can work seamlessly with desktop-installed Office apps; for instance adding mobile Excel tables to a desktop Word document. Google’s GSuite is strictly cloud-based and doesn’t allow offline sharing between tools” (2016). In other words, if the internet is down then students are not being productive with their assignments.

In conclusion, both suites share similar advantages for students and educators. Both products allow for collaboration, easy to use, and the students can access the programs anywhere they have an internet connection using their devices. No matter which suite the students use, they will find a valuable resource at their fingertips.


Carroll, T. (2017). Office 365 Education vs. G Suite for education. Retrieved from

Pegoraro, R. (2016). Battle in the clouds: Google Apps for work vs. Office 365. EdTech. Retrieved from

Redding, H. (2016). Gsuite for Education vs. Office 365 for Education: Which is better for your classroom? EmergingEdTech. Retrieved from


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Educational Technology Trends

In the 2017 NMC Horizon report, the authors discuss six trends that has or will impact how I teach science. The trends are organized into short- (one to two years), mid- (three to five years), and long-term (more than five years) goals. The six trends are as follows:

  • Coding as a Literacy
  • Rise of STEM Learning
  • Growing Focus on Measuring Learning
  • Redesigning Learning Spaces
  • Advancing Cultures of Innovation
  • Deeper Learning Approaches

Redesigning the learning environment is a trend that has not been introduced to my school due to lack of funding. However, coding has been introduced through elective courses. I will be discussing the trends that has a direct impact in my classroom.

“In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on developing stronger science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curricula and programs” (2017, pg. 22). Since the introductions of STEM, proponents have incorporated the arts and renamed it STEAM. In my district, there are elementary schools that have been established at as a STEM or STEAM school. At my school, there has not been any movement to move in that direction. However, I am working with other teachers from my district to adopt a new textbook that focuses on Next Generation Science Standards, or NGSS. As part of the process, we are looking at textbooks that include include STEM projects. In the article, the authors share that Finland is “prioritizing interdisciplinary topics in its core curriculum for basic education through what is termed as ‘phenomenon-based learning’” (2017, pg. 22). The two textbooks that has made it to the final round include phenomenon-based learning to introduce the topic. Some of the projects students will be working on throughout the topic. I am looking forward to incorporating more STEAM learning into my science classes next year.

This year my school has continued to focus on measuring learning not in an individual subject, but across the content areas. At the beginning of the year, as a staff we look at how each grade level did on the state achievement tests. We have selected the areas that the students struggle in the most and discuss as a grade level and content area what can be done to help students succeed in those areas. For example in ELA, students were struggling with text features. One of the ELA teachers collaborated with me to include text features as part of a guided reading assignment. Our goal is that the students will become familiar with text features in ELA and be able to apply in other subjects too. Last semester I started using Plickers with my students to track their progress as they were learning their science vocabulary words. There was one student that did not see the importance of studying his words. However, after a discuss I had with the class he began to study. His name was listed daily as one that hit the 100% mark for that day and he was thrilled. He told me later that he appreciated the opportunity that he had to improve his score before it counted as a grade.

The final trend that has started to shift my teaching style is to understand deeper learning approaches. “Pedagogical approaches that shift the paradigm from passive to active learning help students to develop original ideas, improve information retention, and build higher-order thinking skills” (2017, pg. 14). Some of the approaches include Challenge-, Problem-, or Project Based Learning. This semester, I am taking Project-Based Learning as one electives for my Masters program. I have some experience with the approach, but not any formal training in it until now. Last year, I placed my social studies in cooperative groups as they studied the Middle Ages. Each person in the group was assigned a role that they were in charge of researching and sharing what they learned with the group. As they were learning about their role, the students had to write a story based on their life on a manor and how they interact with the other members of the manor. The project was highly engaging with almost all of my students (about 95%) turning in their assignment. There were many times that I would hear the students discussing the project out in the halls with other students from other social studies classes, which indicated it was a success.

In conclusion, there are current trends in educational technology that are impacting teachers around the world.  The rise of STEM learning, growing focus on measuring learning, and deeper learning approaches are trends that have made an impact on my teaching. Every year I try to find something new that I can do with my students to engage my students and these trends are ones that I will continue to include in my teaching toolkit.

Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Davis, A., Freeman, A., Hall Giesinger, C., and Ananthanarayanan, V. (2017). NMC Horizon Report: 2017 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.


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Week 2: What is PBL? Discussion Forum

For this week we were to read a few articles and then respond to a set of three questions. It was our choice as to which questions we were able to respond to. I chose group 1, which asked us to define PBL. Since I am unfamiliar with Project-Base Learning, I thought that I would use those questions to become more familiar with this approach. Below you will see my response:

Group 1: What is Project Based Learning?

Define Project Based Learning. Describe the difference between Project Based Learning and Problem Based Learning.

Project based learning falls under the constructivist’s umbrella. As students are working in a group, they are constructing their learning based on past experiences and the new information they are acquiring. Teachers are no longer the source of the information, but the facilitator. The website defines PBL as “a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge.” Edutopia adds that “project-based learning hails from a tradition of pedagogy which asserts that students learn best by experiencing and solving real-world problems” (Vega, 2012).

“In standards-based PBL, students are pulled through the curriculum by a Driving Question or authentic problem that creates a need to know the material. The Driving Question is tied to content standards in the curriculum, and assessment is explicitly designed to evaluate the students’ knowledge of the content.”

Project-based learning is an approach that focuses on students producing a product that reflects what they learned. It is an authentic visual representation of what students know. Problem-based learning is approach that focuses on students solving a problem. Both approaches allow the students to be at the center of their learning, instead of a bystander (

Why should teachers consider incorporating PBL in their classroom?

PBL has shown to foster higher-level cognitive development because students are engaged in complex problems and they no longer are passive learners. It is a rigorous and engaging instructional strategy that supports inquiry and learning for students. It helps them to solve problems and communication within a group setting. Teachers are able to differentiate and meet students where their needs are. However, the teacher might have mini-lessons to help fill in the gaps that the students are missing. It can address more standards as the students create their project. It also allows students to collaborate with other students beyond the classroom.

What are the essential components of a PBL approach to instruction?

The first key component would be the ‘driving question’ (Larmer & Mergendoller, pg. 2). This will help the teacher and students keep the project focused. Another component would be time for students to think critically, solve problems, and collaborate to complete their presentations. The “Essential Project Design Elements Checklist” that is found in our resources from is a good resource. It provides a checklist of 8 components that will help teachers create a successful PBL plan. Teachers need to make sure they list possible problems that might arise during the project along with solutions to the problems. This will save some time during the project. When teachers place students in groups, they should look at the diverse skill levels that each student has to maximize student achievement.


Essential project design elements checklist BIE. 2015. Retrieved January 18, 2018 from

Introduction to project based learning BIE. (n.d). Retrieved January 18, 2018 from

Johnson, Larry & Lamb, Annette. Project, problem, and inquiry-based learning. 2007. Retrieved January 18, 2018, from

Vega, Vanessa. Project-based learning research review. 2012. Retrieved January 18, 2018 from


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Educational Technology Vision-Mission Statement

Educational technology can be defined as “a combination of the processes and tools involved in addressing educational needs and problems, with an emphasis on applying the most current digital information tools” (Robyler pg. 29, 2016). Educational technology continues to change and revolutionize the classroom. The technology students use has gone from pencils to a handheld computer (cell phone). Their resource of information has gone from dictionaries and encyclopedias to the Internet. No longer are teachers and students confined to the four walls that surround them, but they can reach across the continent and the world. When educational technology is used correctly, it can meet the students where they are, open a world of possibilities, and engage the most reluctant student.

Constructivism is a learning theory that is driving educational technology, which is is “actively constructed in the mind of the learners out of their experiences in the world” (Nagowah & Nagowah, pg. 280, 2006). There are key factors that contribute to constructivism which include: interaction with the learners’ environment and others that are present, prior knowledge, culture, and learning activities (Larson & Locke, 2014). Constructivism recognizes “the social nature of knowledge and of its creation in the minds of individual learners” (Anderson & Dron, 2011). Students are no longer passive learners and the teacher is no longer the gatekeepers of information, but rather the students are actively constructing their own learning and the teachers are the facilitators. Teachers are using technology to help the students construct new meaning as they use inquiry-based and project-based learning approaches to help broaden their understanding of the world around them.

The goal of educational technology in my classroom is about the learning, processes and tools students have access to each day. As the digital integration lead for my school, I hear so many negative comments about using technology in the classroom. I have come up with a list of re-tractors that is part of my goal as an educator.

  • Technology is not a distraction, but an interaction with the text. Students are able to use highlight the text and take notes directly in the textbook. This allows them to ask questions, clarify a concept, and engage in their learning. There are videos students are able to watch if they want to explore the concept even further.
  • “Just one more thing” to engage students in their learning. I use Plickers, an online formative assessment tool, to help students stay engaged as they study their vocabulary. Since I started using Plikers, students vocabulary scores have increased.
  • Students can collaborate on a project if they are given the time and freedom to complete it. I have used collaboration projects successfully and they are the projects the students remember for years. One collaborative project is a paper slides video in science. Students are placed into a group of three to four students with a topic. They have to create images that explains the topic along with a script that matches the images. Then, they record the video with one student narrating, another operating their video using their cell phone, and another changing the slides from one image to the other. Every student, even the reluctant worker, is engaged as they create their project.
  • Do not throw out methods that have potential, but rather try different technology for a better result. I am a lifelong learner and I want my students to be lifelong learners as well. When something does not work the first time, I do not give up. I ask my students to be a part of the solution. We discuss what could have worked better if I were to do the project again. They enjoy being a part of the discussion because it shows that they matter to the teacher. I also want to give them opportunities to see that there are different alternatives to reach the same goal.

Educational technology is more than a piece of equipment, it is the methods that I could use to incorporate them into the learning environment. It is about the students and engaging them to want them to learn and understand the world around them. It is about a team, students and teacher alike, working together to solve problems, discover new ideas, and construct new meaning beyond the classroom.

One of the first issues that should be addressed in a classroom that utilizes technology is the acceptable use policy. Students need to be taught the proper procedures before they can begin to use the devices. Parents should also be included in the acceptable use policy so they are aware of their student’s expectations. When expectations are clearly stated, students will rise to the occasion and comply so they do not lose out on any opportunity to use a device. Another issue that should be addressed is digital citizenship. The lessons focus on Internet safety, cyber bullying prevention, and netiquette. Students are gaining access to social media accounts at a young age and they need the proper training to use these resources correctly. When safeguards are put into practice, then parents and teachers can be comfortable allowing the students to use the tools to unlock the possibilities and construct new meaning of the world around them.


Anderson,T.,& Dron, J. (2011).Three generations of distance education pedagogy. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(3). Retrieved from

Larson, M. B., & Lockee, B. B. (2014). Streamlined ID: A practical guide to instructional design. New York, NY: Routledge.

Roblyer, M. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (7th ed.). Massachusetts: Pearson.

Nagowah, L., & Nagowah, S. (2009). A reflection on the dominant learning theories: behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism. International Journal Of Learning, 16(2), 279-285.