reflective piece

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            Before taking this class my technology integration was limited.  I used the available technology  as merely a glorified overhead projector and information purveyor.  No thought was given to the National Education Technology Standards and little thought to incorporating it properly into a constructivist teaching philosophy.  ETAP 526 has allowed me to discuss and develop pedagogy with other educators who have similar questions and concerns with educational technology.  One goal of taking this class was to experience an on-line class and the social networking that comes with it.

            A main line of discussion that seems to not be going away is the pedagogical use of Blogs.  The term “social constructivism” emerged in readings and discussions.  Students constructing their own knowledge in groups are nothing new, but being able to do it with the media and interactivity offered by blogs and wikis is appealing.  I’ve often mulled the option of incorporating blogs into my curriculum.  Students would find it engaging, they are encouraged to think, and blogs incorporate literacy skills.  One lesson idea I’ve considered is having students watch a video or listen to a podcast on a class blog and then answer a question as a comment.  The main stumbling point is the precipice of the digital divide.  Many of my students do not have access to computers outside of school.  Until I can get students more regular access to computers student blogging won’t happen. makes the process of setting up a class blog simple enough, but students need the access and I need the courage to take the risk.  Just as ETAP 526 students had to practice with blogs, so to do our own students.

            Blogs are a bit more challenging than other educational technology options such as tutors.  The lesson I developed for using a web-page as a tutor for the kinetic molecular theory is a good example.  Students have a difficult time imagining matter being composed of small particles.  Textbooks and whiteboards can’t match the visualization that the tutor I found provides.  I will definitely incorporate the lesson plan into my curriculum next year.  I can search for additional lessons as well.  I’m particularly interested in finding some tutor modules on heat and temperature to help students understand the concepts of convection, conduction, and radiation.  Ideally, I would also like to have additional computers in my room to help in diversifying curriculum.  Students could then have the option of completing a tutor program, such as that provided with the textbooks we use.

            The only computer mindtool I currently have students use is concept mapping software.  For this reason I included my lesson plan on concept mapping motion as an artifact.  The lesson shows where I was at and how limited my use of computers as mindtools in the classroom was.  In the future, with additional computers in the classroom, I can have students work on a concept map in groups and then submit them for review by their peers.  Though the lesson will take additional time, the lesson will address higher order thinking.  Peer review is powerful and incorporates higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  Originally, the lesson did not use concept mapping software and was of the “cut n’ paste” variety.  Lessons that I have previously developed can also be adapted and evolve into lessons that incorporate appropriate technology standards. 

            One of my main goals for the upcoming school year is to hold my students accountable for their learning with computer technology.  Including computer use and proficiency as part of an overall assessment tells students that their work on the computer is important.  Relaying the expectations ahead of time in the form of a rubric can lay the foundation for encouraging proper student use of computer technology.  My lessons, for that matter, that include the use of computer technology, should not focus on just the New York State standards, but include technology standards as well.  Walter McKenzie’s paper forced me to think more deeply about how I planned lessons.  My overall pedagogical goal has been to create a constructivist classroom with differentiated instruction that addresses multiple intelligences.  The paper laid the ground work for building such lessons and improving my curriculum.  Within POMAT I would include a section for differentiation and look to see what level of Bloom’s Taxonomy students are working to achieve.

            A lesson I can easily begin using this method with is in conjunction with a webquest.  The webquest I have developed for this should scaffold knowledge and allow students to construct knowledge, synthesize findings, analyze results, and construct an original conclusion.  I do have a high degree of apprehension about using a webquest in my classroom.  Partly, this is because I am not sure of the degree of computer proficiency my students have.  I will have to build up computer skills prior to jumping into a webquest with the students.  Students will then know computer expectations and skills prior to their webquest experience.  This will save me and the students from what would otherwise be an unbelievably frustrating experience.  There is also apprehension because I have little experience with wequests myself.

            I was thrilled when I found that someone had commented on my Voicethread.  Another teacher had found the time to view and comment on the thread I did about energy projects.  There several options for using Voicethreads in class.  I could, for instance, have students comment on peer work.  Maybe I could comment directly onto student work to provide direct and private feedback?  My lack of experience with the medium, I believe, is limiting my vision of Voicethread’s potential.  Blogs I have a great deal more experience with and can envision its incorporation in class better.  Perhaps with more experience using Voicethread and seeing how other teachers might use it I could find further ways to integrate it into the classroom.

            I am a district leader in educational technology.  In order to lead the district and its teachers I need to exemplify best practices in technology integration.  To meet my professional goals I need to be able to successfully bring my students through a webquest.  My students need to construct their knowledge and learn using education technology.  I need further experience developing and experiencing as many technology lessons as I can.  Even if I can’t see how a tool or tutor will fit into my curriculum, I need the expertise to see where to integrate the skills, tools, and tutors into other classrooms.  ETAP 526 has been a great launching point for my instructional technology journey. 

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