I. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity
Using Microsoft Word innovatively--along with Apple’s Photobooth application, and the graphics editing program Adobe PhotoShop--I generated a class newsletter for students. For initial visual impact, I used the “table” function to create a five-row newspaper-style masthead, adding WordArt lettering, two separate horizontal line images, and hiding the table borders on the final product. To stay with the newspaper theme, I used the “format” function to ensure that the text would be grouped into two columns, separated by a vertical line. The three articles included in this short newsletter were set off using contrasting color headlines and drop-caps in a decorative font for the first word of each article. Finally, I added appropriate graphic images, including clipart with the text wrapped around the image. This newsletter showed how a word processing program can be used creatively for more than just standard assignments because by taking advantage of some underutilized features in Word, I was able to model inventiveness, demonstrating to students that making a polished and interesting product does not require exotic software or equipment. Modelling the newsletter after a printed newspaper also provides an opportunity to engage students in a debate about the future of print journalism and the best ways to provide information to consumers in the 21st century.
Using Blogger, a Google web-based blog creation tool, I created a blog, a personal Internet journal. I used my blog to display ongoing commentary and discussions on various web-based projects as evidence of my ability to integrate technology into my educational work. In creating my blog, I created a URL address with my name in order to make it easily accessible for other students and I formatted my site using background images, spacing tools, and text coloring and formatting to make my blog easy to follow as well as aesthetically pleasing. Using HTML code, I embedded various examples of my educational projects and assignments, such as my presentation about the real-world issue of water conservation created through a web based tool called Prezi, onto my blog. I also created tabbed pages and posts with personal reflections on education related articles as well as links to the articles in order to engage fellow classmates and my professor in my reflections. Using my Prezi presentation, I was able to engage fellow students in exploring the real-world issue of water conservation. At the same I used my blog and blog postings as virtual environments to engage students in collaborative knowledge construction on a range of educational issues.
II. Design and Develop Digital Age Learning
In order to use digital tools to promote student creativity I created a dynamic presentation using Prezi, an online non-linear presentation tool. Using Prezi I outlined future assignments for students to explore the importance of water conservation with to promote student creativity. I inserted relevant guidelines to the assignments into Prezi, creating slides for the presentation. I then ordered the slides to create the presentation and used Prezi’s unique transitional effects to creatively move from slide to slide. Through some online research I was able to find and insert images to better support the assignments students are being asked to accomplish. Throughout my presentation I have also embedded video examples of similar projects which I also found when researching the Internet. The images and videos I uploaded to my Prezi, along with the presentation itself, incorporate digital resources to promote student learning. Through the use of digital tools and resources such as inserted images, embedded videos and the unique transitional effects of my presentation I have promoted student learning and creativity.
Using Excel, a Microsoft spreadsheet development tool, I created a math based electronic crossword puzzle that can be worked through on a computer or it can be printed out and worked through on paper. The crossword I made also works as a template for future crosswords to be created by students or by myself. Following tutorials online from Atomic Learning, I was able to format the columns and rows to create boxes for the crossword. Using conditional formatting on the individual boxes I also color coordinated the page to make it more user friendly and formated the first box in every word to turn red if the beginning letter was not correct. Furthermore I also put the clues in as comments to pop up when the cursor goes over the first box of each word, this makes working on the crossword more user friendly. But if the student wants to work on the crossword on paper there is a second sheet with the hints to print out. As a learning activity, the crossword has been customized and personalized for students who feel more comfortable working online or on paper. For students who understand how spreadsheets work, the crossword allows them to learn the nature of more advanced settings and experiment with format settings and colored text.
III. Model Digital Age Work and Learning
Using iMovie, Apple’s video editing software, I created a Public Service Announcement for incoming students of California State University San Marcos (CSUSM). I used footage recorded throughout the campus and set the piece to music. To start the movie I imported the campus footage and music into my project. I spent time cutting and arranging the footage into smaller clips to create the foundation of my PSA. To make transitions between scenes more interesting I used various fade away effects to connect pieces of footage. Using image manipulation to stabilize and edit rough footage, I was able to alter footage to better fit the needs of the PSA. I also used audio editing to fade music in and out to match the footage used. To insert relevant information, I researched facts about CSUSM and inserted fun tips for students throughout the PSA. Through my use of the tools in iMovie I have created a PSA to pass on relevant information about the CSUSM campus in the form of inserted text and relevant video. Using a variety of digital age media such as edited music and video, I have effectively communicated information regarding the CSUSM campus to incoming students, parents of students and peers.
After signing up with Diigo, an online social bookmarking website, I started connecting with peers, colleagues, and educational professionals throughout the country as a way of networking in order to find useful informational resources. In developing my personal learning network (PLN) I found groups and users interested in education, especially mathematical education. I have found seven Diigo users to follow and multiple groups to be a part of to better expand the number of resources at my disposal. At the same time, I have also researched and bookmarked various websites, learning games and online articles. In my bookmarks I have put in titles to organize my library, descriptions to record thoughts, and tags, or keywords, to make my bookmarks easily available to my PLN. Now my PLN and I can search my library for websites I have bookmarked regarding PLNs, education, cybersafety, assistive technology and special education. My digital library created through my Diigo bookmarks serves as a model for an effective use of an emerging technology tool. Using the Diigo bookmarking and tagging tools I have been able to locate and evaluate various online resources. I have also supported research and learning for those in my PLN by creating a web based library of educational resources with appropriate tags, shared my Diigo tagroll on my blog, and networked with other Diigo users.
IV. Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) Journal
Through my research on the Internet I found adaptive technology devices that can be used in a classroom with students with learning disabilities. My two areas of focus were on augmentative alternative communication (AAC), which refers to all forms of communication other than oral speech used to express thoughts, needs, concepts, etc, and input devices. Input devices are devices that allow students with motor skill issues to interact with a computer and input information in a variety of ways through specific devices such as WordQ and the Maltron Single Handed Keyboard. Through my Internet investigation, I found both a high-tech and a low-tech tool to be used in the classroom for students who are visually impaired, one is a battery operated recorder and the other a computer system called CDesk, designed to make computers more accessible to students. For my input devices I researched both a hardware and software tool for students, each for students with limited motor skills. The software device is a word prediction program called WordQ, which allows students to type on a computer easier, and the hardware device, the Maltron Single Handed Keyboard, was designed for students who are limited to use one hand for typing. After reading more elaborately about the tools I was able to write descriptions and post pictures of the learning devices, addressing the diverse needs of students. The battery operated recorder I researched provide equitable access to resources for students who are visually impaired. My research into CDesk, the Maltron Single Handed Keyboard and WordQ will make digital tools, like classroom computers and software programs, accessible to students with varying needs.
Recognizing the importance of digital education, I collaborated with a group of my peers to create a Cyber Safety website using Weebly, a tool which allows you to design websites and publish them on the Internet. Our website includes information regarding cybersafety and tips regarding identity safety, cyberbullying, cyberpredators, piracy and plagiarism, inappropriate content, and social networks. My focus for our website was the page on cyberbullying and I used my web page to define cyberbullying, discuss the penalties of cyberbullying, and provide helpful tips for students, teachers and parents. I was also able to provide helpful links to raise awareness of cyberbullying and how to stop it. Using various Weebly tools I was able to embed a video which illustrates the impact cyberbullying has on students and insert images defining cyberbullying at the top of my web page as a border. Using formatting tools I was able to make my page easy to read and sort through. This Cyber Safety website advocates and teaches safe, legal and ethical uses of digital technology through the use of graphics, video, and information for students, parents and educators. The graphics and videos advocate for safe and ethical uses for digital technology while the helpful tips provide easy access to information for students, parents and teachers regarding respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources.
V. Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership
In order to make use of existing and emerging digital tools to support student learning, I have read and reflected on articles from various publications, including a journal called Learning & Leading with Technology (L&L). I have documented these reflections on my blog in the form of reflective journal entries. In order to evaluate and reflect on current research regarding technology in education I created a membership with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). Through ISTE I was able to subscribe to the educational publication L&L and freely access the various articles, both current and archived. I read articles related to the concept of “flipping” a classroom, the potential of using social networks like Twitter as part of a Personal Learning Network (PLN), the impact homework has on students and alternatives to it, and research on using iPads in the classroom. After reading the articles I posted reflections on my blog in the form of journal entries and included relevant graphics embedded in the text along with accompanying APA format citations. Using L&L and my journal entries I have reflected on current educational research as well as professional practices. As I continue my work in education I have been able to put to use existing digital tools that I learned about from L&L, like Twitter, to continuously improve my professional practice and implement new educational strategies to support student learning.
A Personal Learning Network is a collection of individuals with common interests and goals who engage each other and share useful information online. In developing my Personal Learning Network (PLN) I have been able to connect with educators through tools such as Classroom 2.0, an online network of individuals who promote the use of technology in the classroom; Twitter, a microblogging website; and Diigo, an online social bookmarking site. I used my Twitter account to take part in a weekly moderated discussion with educators around the world about technology and education. During our discussion I gained access to new resources and reflected with educators regarding how to improve student learning. I have created an account and contributed to a forum through Classroom 2.0 to give me access to additional resources and increase my network size. I have used my Diigo account to share additional information with my network as well as bookmark resources for later use. Through Twitter and Classroom 2.0 I have participated locally and globally in discussion forums and chats which explore the creative applications of technology in the classroom. Using Diigo I have bookmarked resources obtained through my PLN to improve student learning.