1. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity
Communicating crucial information and dates to students and parents is important for every individual to succeed academically and personally. Through Microsoft Word, a word processing application, I created a visually pleasing classroom newsletter where I would be able to share upcoming events, remind parents of important dates, and provide other relevant information. Using the tables tool on Microsoft Word, I was able to create a masthead and the general layout of the newsletter. By utilizing the custom formatting feature, I was able to create multiple columns. Within the columns, I inserted a self-portrait that I scanned, uploaded, and text that wrapped around images. Using additional tools found in software, I created an appealing newsletter by adding line art, custom bullets and dropcaps to the three articles I included. Creating a classroom newsletter, the ability insert and manipulate images/texts allows me to model creative and innovative thinking through the use of technology. Being able to write and customize my own articles in the newsletter also promotes innovative thinking while engaging students and parents in exploring and reflecting on real-world issues in and out of the classroom.
Technology is a great way to reach out to students and parents. Using Google’s free blog service Blogger, I started my own blog, or a personal website which is updated regularly with important content. Once I had a Blog, I jumped right in and personalized it by embedding my work, organizing it in such a way that it is accessible to everyone, and added my own personal touch to it. My blog allowed me to format it how I liked, so I chose a background, color, and font scheme, and I organized my work in a logical and easy to follow way. I posted my journal article analysis directly to the main page of my blog, and I made separate pages (or tabs) where I used html code to embed my work such as my crossword puzzle, my presentation, my classroom newsletter, and a link to my collaborative CyberSafety website. On the side tab I foster collaboration with items like my badge that tells I am a registered member of The Educator’s PLN, and I posted links that I find share with people visiting my blog. Creating a class blog allows me to inspire inventiveness and engage in collaboration with my fellow colleagues and students by keeping my ideas open and displaying my work on my blog in a way that is accessible and easy to follow. By allowing my blog to have a comments section that is open to everyone, it provides a forum to ask questions, reflect on what I post, to take part in the creation of my blog, and it provides a place where I can discuss real-world issues and discuss how technology can solve authentic problems.
2. Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments
Excel Crossword Puzzle
Using Microsoft’s spreadsheet program Excel, I created a geometry crossword puzzle to help introduce students to the basic geometric shapes. I used a tutorial on the Atomic Learning website that instructed me step-by-step on how to create a crossword puzzle, but first sizing the cells, then inserting our words into the cells, and finally shading out the unused cells and adding color. After the basic layout of the crossword puzzle was finished, I created comments in the starting letter of each word as clues, I formatted the cells so incorrect letters would appear red and correct letters would appear green, and I created another spreadsheet page that included the clues for easy reference. By creating a crossword puzzle that is relevant to the subject matter, I was able to incorporate a digital tool to promote student learning and customize and personalize a learning activity that would address a diverse learning style. My crossword puzzle will allow my students to actively engage in their learning, and fosters creativity in the classroom.
Through the use of Prezi, a free web-based presentation software, I created a presentation that shows my understanding of the National Education Technology Standards (NETS) for grades 9-12, and how I will use them in my curriculum. I followed the Prezi tutorial and learned how to insert pictures, text, create a logical path, and video into my presentation. Next I came up with the idea of “NETS-S Around the World,” and I inserted a map of the world, showed off the different NETS-S by inserting them into frames around the map and pathing to them, and I brought it all together by inserting relevant pictures to accompany the text. By creating a Prezi presentation to facilitate understanding my content, I created a technology-enriched learning environment and allowed students to actively and creatively pursue their learning interests. This way of instruction allowed me to address a diverse learning style and provides students with a varied formative and summative assessment aligned with content and technology standards.
3. Model Digital Age Work and Learning
Mind mapping is a creative way to visually organize ideas and key points for a project. I used a free web-based service from Bubbl.us to create and organize my mindmap which contained the NETS-T standards and how I become proficient in them. I started by creating my basic layout on how I would set up my bubble points, and then I inserted the standards and what artifacts I used to meet them. I used the instructions from Bubbl.us to create my bubble points, color them so they were easy to follow, lay them out in a logical order, and fill them out with the information I wanted to present my information in a way that it was easy to follow, so I color-coded the NETS standards, the artifacts which demonstrated their usage, and how they met the standards. My mindmap allowed me to digitally represent my knowledge of the NETS-T using a new form of technology. Through the use of high-tech tools such as Bubbl.us, students and teachers can represent their ideas and pass on their knowledge in an innovative and professional way. It is a very effective way at presenting information and ideas to people of different levels of knowledge on the subject matter.
Through the use of iMovie, a video editing program that is included free on any Mac computer, I created a public service announcement on why a prospective student should attend Cal State San Marcos. I took clips of videos we had and I selected which clips I wanted to showcase. Then I put the clips into my movie and edited their length so they fit in the minute timetable we were given. Next, I added information to each of the clips in the form of text, a voiceover, and background music to make my iMovie look very professional. Finally, I compressed my movie using Quicktime and I embedded the video on a new page on my class blog. My iMovie PSA allowed me to communicate relevant information to students who are interested in CSUSM by using video and embedding it in an easy to access location on my blog. It allowed me to demonstrate my fluency in technology systems by using a video editing tool, and how I can transfer my knowledge to new technologies and situations to help others understand things better.
4. Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility
Collaborative CyberSafety Website
Using Weebly, a free website creation tool, I collaborated with five peers to create a website about cybersafety. I specifically worked on the section dealing with piracy and plagiarism, and I also helped edit the other sections which included cyber predators, identity safety, cyberbullying, cyber predators, and social networks. Once our website and our sections were created, I used the Weebly tools and dragged and dropped the features as I needed them. When I wanted to insert text, I took the text box tool and dragged it where I wanted it, and the same with pictures. I added pictures I found and I added videos I found on the Internet that were relevant to make my website look more professional. Lastly, I added advice to parents, students, and teachers on preventing piracy and plagiarism in the form of three bulleted columns that showed advice for parents, teachers, and students. By creating this website I gained an understanding on the issue of cyberbullying more clearly, and it allowed me to collaborate with my peers to inform others on this issue as well. Creating a website with so much information allowed me to advocate and teach cybersafety to parents, students, and other teachers, and promote digital etiquette and respect for intellectual property and copyrights.
Through the use of Google and Diigo, I researched how to communicate with students with disabilities. I then looked one hardware and one software tool that helps accessibility issues for students with special needs. I first used Diigo, a social bookmarking and research tool, to look up low-tech and high-tech ways to communicate with students, and hardware and software accessibility tools. On a blog post, I defined Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), which are any methods of communication used to supplement and replace speech. I found pictures of each of the tools I researched by using the Google search engine, which included visual schedules for low-tech, ZYGO text-to-speech devices for high-tech, Magic Wand alternate keyboard for the hardware, and Dragon voice to text for the software. Lastly, I put these things all together on my blog and described what each of them were and what their benefits were. By researching and creating this blog post on adaptive technology, I was able to develop and model cultural understanding and awareness on the special needs of disabled students. I was able to showcase new learner-centered strategies that provide equitable access to digital tools to all students. This allowed me to show that there were high-tech ways to help out disabled students learn, but it also allowed me show that there are low-tech and easy to implement ways as well by researching and exploring the resources on Diigo and Google.
5. Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership
It is important for us as educators to keep up on current education trends. I subscribed to the journal Learning & Leading with Technology (L&L) through my membership with ISTE. They are a periodical journal that showcase the implementation and benefits of technology when used in the classroom. After reading the articles, I reflected on what was presented creating a summary on what was important and what I learned, and I developed two questions that arose from reading it and I answered these questions. I posted all of this on my blog and opened it up for comments from my peers. An example of one of these articles was entitled “How to do More with Less,” and it discussed how to meet the ever-increasing demand from teachers, with less time and resources. I first summarized this article, and then I asked questions on the problems that can come from this method, as well as how this could benefit students. By subscribing to L&L and actively analyzing the articles posted, I was able to evaluate and reflect on current research in the teaching profession. These articles allowed me to continue on my path to lifelong learning through the experiences of teachers who are actively trying to advance the teaching profession, and it allowed me to post my own reflections online for others to use.
Professional Learning Network (PLN)
As a teacher, we have a responsibility to contribute to the profession and continue our path to lifelong learning. A professional learning network (PLN) is a network of people linked together with the purpose of sharing thoughts and ideas to improve as educators. Through the use of technology such as Twitter, Diigo, and Educator’s PLN forums, this is getting to be very easy to do and people have much more access to contributing. I used the social media website Twitter to take part in a weekly chat for new teachers called #ntchat. I listened in as these experienced teachers shared their wealth of knowledge with the intentions of helping out new teachers. I followed the leaders of this chat so I could continue to follow them, and I also signed up on a website called Educator’s PLN. Once I was approved as a member to this site, I had videos, articles, and a live forum to participate in and use to build my knowledge on teaching. The last tool I used was Diigo, a social bookmarking tool, in which I searched for articles relevant to my teaching field, and saved them to my favorites as well as following the people who linked them. By creating and expanding my PLN, I am able to continuously improve and grow as an educator through the experiences of established teachers. Twitter and Educator’s PLN allow me to participate in a learning community and help build these communities into something larger. It enables me to become a lifelong learner having an almost limitless amount of resources at my disposal, and as I grow as an educator I can contribute to the teaching profession as well.