Digital Learning and Leading Self-Assessment

Digital Learning and Leading Self-Assessment Reflection

The education profession is always evolving. There are always new strategies, methods, theories, pedagogy, etc. coming out. As we move into this new era that is obsessed with technology, we also see the students themselves changing. Students are coming to us with new mindsets and the ‘’real world’ is also becoming a new place. We as a society rely on technology and use it daily. For example architects are now using a ipad/tablet to draw up new ideas for buildings instead of using paper and pencil. Many careers are technology based. Since this is becoming our world we need to teach students how to properly use these new technologies. Just as, they learn about inferencing, history, mathematics, etc. they need to be taught how to use technology. I have been blessed to have had technology in my classroom, but I have not always known how to utilize technology to its full potential or how to show my students it’s potential. Like all teachers, I have always reflected on how I use technology and always challenged myself to get better use and show that to my students.

In the past when I thought about technology in the classroom, I only thought about having students use a word processor to write their stories/essays or to listen to an audio book. I only thought of using technology in its basic form. I hardly used technology in the classroom. My smartboard was just a very expensive whiteboard where students were able to go up and move icons and write on. I used the response devices for assessments but that did not give feedback to students about their answers. There was not anyone that I could go to for help in integrating technology.  During this time, I wished there was someone I could have gone to for help.

The usage of technology in my classroom has increased tremendously in the past few years. I have gone from basic usage to having students collaborate with other students outside our classroom. I have grown in the past three years. The students have been exposed to Google Forms, Docs, Hangouts, and Slides. They have collaborated with another classroom from another school in my district using Google Slides.  They had to share information with each other and add them to the Slides. Later they discussed their learning and information via Hangouts.  They got to ask each other questions and answer. Using Hangouts they also were able to play a Math Relay game, where they had to solve a math question correctly to earn points.  They used Google Forms to answer homework questions on a video that I created about a new concept in math class, and submit to me. With the video my students’ parents are also able to view them and see what their children are learning in the classroom. I have also used Remind, ClassDojo, and Smore to communicate with receive. I loved being able to get in touch via text messaging because of the fast response I would receive from them. After I showed my students a new application they were able to then use the application on their own.  For example I had created a quiz on Quizizz and used it in whole group, my students later on were able to use it independently at home and during their workstations. The same goes for SeeSaw, ThingLink, PicCollage, etc. As I reflected on my integration of technology, I felt comfortable in saying that I grew in knowing how to incorporate it the right way. As the year went by began to think about how I could grow more and reflected that I should show my colleagues some of the applications that I was using.  During our conference times I showed my colleagues how to use Remind, ClassDojo, Plickers, Google Flubaroo Add-On, ThingLink, and district. I also gave a presentation to parents about Remind and SeeSaw during one of our Family Nights.

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I am hoping that with this master’s degree I will be able to become a digital learning coach at a school. I hope that my experience in integrating technology in my classroom and using it to collaborate with others will allow me to help other teachers use technology. I also hope that I will be able to ease those reluctant teachers into integrating technology.  I want to be able to show them that technology is not something to be afraid of, it is not going to be extra work for them, and that it will not hinder them. It will actually be able to help them, and reduce their workload overtime. When they use SeeSaw in the classroom they will be able to view their work anywhere, will be able to evaluate their students work on the spot, give them direct feedback every single time. When they use Quizizz they will be able to see their students answers and will be graded already for them.  When they use Plickers they do not need to have a bunch of tablets out, they only need one device, and it gives the teacher instant knowledge of who understands the concept/question and can address any misconceptions right on the other. We also know that students love to share what they know with each other. With using Google Hangouts/Skype/FaceTime with other classrooms or professionals they are able to learn from other students. As I am getting more comfortable using technology in the classroom, I am hoping that I will train my colleagues and/or parents on technology integration.  Technology is not something we should be terrified to use, we should embrace this new era and get students to fully comprehend how technology enhances their learning.” Technology Pear Tree Education Inc. (2013), “Technology is simply a tool to aide education and learning.”  Technology in the classroom is going to be the norm and we, as teachers, need to learn on how to integrate it to best serve our students.

 

Professional Learning Communities

My journey of integrating technology in my classroom has been a long one.  When I started out as a teacher I was eager to use technology in the classroom.  It started off very small by having students use the classroom Promethean Board, using the computer to complete Accelerated Reading quizzes to having students create their own videos on showing others how to solve problems.  I would not have been able to get better at integrating technology in the classroom if it wasn’t for the support team within my school and my outside communities.  The following are some of the communities that have helped me in my digital learning journey.

Twitter Community

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I have had a professional Twitter account for about two years.  In my first year I did not add any content.  I would only use my account to search for other professionals integrating technology and how they did it.  I would also follow fellow colleagues from my district and across the country.  I would also follow the feed of the applications I would be using in the classroom.  This helped me find out the latest updates, tips and tricks for using the application, and to communicate with them if something is wrong with the application.  It was very daunting to me to post anything on twitter, so I stayed away from actually tweeting.    I always asked myself, “Can I tweet this? Is this okay? Would parents be okay with this?”  I was also upfront with my students’ parents making sure they knew what I was doing in the classroom when it concerned technology.  After my first year I made a goal for myself that the next school year, which was last year,  I would be a more active tweeter.  I gave my students’ parents my Twitter handle and made a point to tweet at least once a week.  My Twitter community became larger.  I have more followers and I have a bigger community that I can follow for inspiration and collaboration.  As I go through my journey I will be looking to my Twitter community for support, ideas, and to show my contribution of technology in my classroom.

Sheldon ISD Digital Learning Cohort

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This community was design by Sheldon ISD through a partnership with November Learning.  They asked for volunteers from the five elementary campus.  When the school year began, the teachers and a representative from November Learning met and discussed what digital learning in the classroom meant to them and how we can integrate it to help students become critical thinkers.  In the cohort we created a Wikispaces blog.  This blog was created to show our reflection in our digital learning journey, to share our technology lessons and our collaboration with other colleagues.  Throughout the school year we met once a month to talk about how we can better serve our students in their own digital learning journey, to create lessons, and to talk to fellow teachers about collaborating on lessons.  At first, all this work was very overwhelming, and I was not sure what I got myself into.  As the year went on I came to realize the value of this community.  I had a community that consisted of over 20 teachers with coaches at my disposal not to mention digital learning lesson plans.  I have used this as a reference to help me in the classroom and meet with other teachers who I can start to collaborate with so later on I can go out of my circle and collaborate with other teachers.

South by Southwest Edu (SXSWedu) Community

I was unaware of this SXSWedu community up up until a  year ago when I saw a fellow colleague tweet about them.  SXSWedu is a roughly new component of the South by Southwest festival.  The conference consists of four days of presentations, workshops and many other education related activities.  I have not had the pleasure of attending this conference, but from what I hear my colleague attended the show of  new innovations for usage of technology.  I would have a wider selection for collaboration and ways to connect with other colleagues. I have subscribed to their newsletter and am keeping up to date with the information they put out.  One day, I would like to attend this conference and I have set a goal to present at this event as well.