Monthly Archives: March 2011

Learning Log – Final Reflection

Wow, I can’t believe this course is over!  I feel as though I have learned so much over the past eight weeks.  Beginning this course, I had very few ideas of how to incorporate technology into my lessons and my classroom.  I also did not understand the impact technology can have on my own personal growth as an educator.  Throughout this course I have learned the purpose of using technology while not losing the main focus of teaching – providing our students with the knowledge and skills they will need to succeed in the real world.  It can be easy to focus so much on test scores, that we forget to allow our students to explore, create, and inquire.  On the flip side, sometimes as I was completing assignments and readings in this course, I got so caught up in the technology that I had to stop and remind myself that using technology is not an easy-fix that will ensure that my students will be engaged.  How I use the technology and structure the learning process will determine if my students are engaged and truly learning.

Also, because technology is such an important part of every day life, it is imperative that we prepare our students for life in a digital society.  This fact was reiterated to me over and over as I read articles and completed assignments.  Once students graduate from high school, they will need to know how to research topics, analyze information, evaluate sources, and create quality products.  It is our duty to prepare our students for those tasks.  I believe this course has taught me many different ways and tools to guide students towards achieving that goal.

Another big thing I learned throughout this course was how to ethically use information gathered from the internet.  I feel much more confident using pictures, music, videos, or text in a legal and appropriate manner.  I also like that I can apply a Creative Commons license to what I have created and share it with other educators.  On a side note, I have become a fan of Flickr.com‘s Creative Commons search; knowing exactly how I can or cannot use a pictures is very reassuring.

Overall, I believe this course has given me a great foundation on why and how to use technology in the classroom.  I have learned techniques and tools that will help me continue to grow as a professional and as a 21st century educator.  By being taught how to build a PLN and collaborate with other teachers, I have been given the skills I need to continue my learning.  If I want my students to be life-long learners, I must first model that.  And I am now even more inspired and prepared to do that than before.

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Learning Log – Discussion Forum

Throughout this course, I’ve really learned a lot through the discussion forum.  It’s really interesting to hear the perspectives of people who are currently teachers, those who have not yet had their own classroom, teachers from different content areas, and people from different age groups.  Several times I was forced to see an issue from an angle I hadn’t thought of.  Also, those who have been teachers for a while have practical experience, while those who have yet to teach full-time seem a little more idealistic.  Things can be learned from both groups of people.  It is through the collection of ideas and learning from others that we can really teach to the fullest potential.  The discussion forum really reinforced to me the importance of collaboration among educators.  Each person has his or her own set of ideas and experiences to bring to the table.  We can all learn from one another and apply different ideas and suggestions to our own teaching.  Seeing the impact the discussion forum has had on my understanding, thoughts, and ideas, I am even more motivated to develop and maintain a PLN as an educator.


Learning Log – Inquiry-based Learning/Research project

I’m coming to the end of completing my Inquiry-based Learning/Research project.  This was the first time I have ever created a wiki, so it was a completely new experience for me.  Going into the project I was very apprehensive (as with most of the projects for this course =p).  However, it was very helpful for me to explore other educational wikis to gain an idea of how to set one up and use it effectively.  I can see how the other tools and techniques we have learned about throughout this course all come together and helped me create this unit plan and wiki.  For example, I never would have thought about trying to set up a Skype call with a museum curator to allow my students to see exhibits and learn more about a subject without actually having to leave the classroom.  And learning about Flickr and Creative Commons allowed me to add images and create digital stories without engaging in copyright infringement. I now see how the many things we have learned throughout this course have prepared me to complete this last assignment.

Also, for this final project I created a sample digital story for the unit.  I was surprised how much easier it was to create this digital story (my second) compared to the first one.  Knowing what I was doing, being familiar with the process and software, and knowing what I wanted the end product to look like helped make the process a lot easier and faster.  This encouraged me a lot because initially I thought it would take a very long time to create another digital story based off of how time consuming it was to start and finish my first one.  Now I see that as I become more comfortable and familiar with the process, I will be able to do it better and faster.  This will also transfer into the other tools we learned about in this course.  The more I become familiar with a tool and the more I use it, the easier it will become to incorporate into my classroom and lessons.

The AASL standard 1 really jumps out at me in relation to this final project: “Candidates are effective teachers who demonstrate knowledge of learners and learning and who model and promote collaborative planning, instruction in multiple literacies, and inquiry-based learning, enabling members of the learning community to become effective users and creators of ideas and information. Candidates design and implement instruction that engages students’ interests and develops their ability to inquire, think critically, gain and share knowledge.”  As I developed my lesson plans and wiki, I tried to think of ways to engage the students’ interests and spark their imagination.  I also endeavored to encourage the students to inquire about and research information and theories to help develop their critical thinking and problem solving skills.  As I prepared the unit plan, I wanted to include some aspects of UDL by providing support for lower learners, allowing students to work together (higher level learners helping lower level learners), and offer assignments with different levels of difficulty.  Finally, the culminating project of my unit plan would help the students learn from different resources, use technology to research and create, and give the students an opportunity to learn how to use and share information effectively and ethically.  My goal was to help the students take an interest in what they were learning, gain experience collecting information from various sources and tools, learn how to ethically use information found on the internet, and use creativity and imagination when creating a digital product.


Learning Log – Wikis

British Romanticism wiki

This wiki supports student learning and engagement.  It was created in place of a slide show and as a way to really involve students in learning, researching, and sharing.  By providing important information related to the unit, listing student assignments and due dates, and describing the rationale for the wiki, students can use this site to support their learning in many ways.  First, they will have access to the information they need, whenever they need it.  They also can keep track of the information and assignments.  The wiki also provides one accessible place for all the students to gather information and collaborate.  And finally, the students can engage in discussion about the information and assignments.

English/Literature wiki

I thought this wiki was a bit more complicated.  There are a lot of pages and it is set up different than the other wikis I have visited.  Honestly, I was overwhelmed by the amount of information contained on this site.  However, it does have pertinent information and homework assignments for the students.  It’s a good resource for the students because there is so much information and it can all be easily accessed.  The wiki contains video clips, tips on how to complete assignments, links to various resources, and slide shows.

Honors British Literature wiki

This wiki is exceptionally well-developed and designed.  It contains a description of the course, what is on the wiki and how it can be used, assignments and due dates, expected outcomes, and resources and information for the six texts explored throughout the unit.  By providing important information and giving the students a place to engage in discussion, ask questions, and collaborate with fellow students, this wiki will be very helpful in supporting student learning.

Gaming in the English Classroom wiki

This wiki provides resources and ideas for teachers who want to incorporate video games and virtual worlds into their lessons and classrooms.  This is a great site for collaboration among teachers.  There are justifications for using gaming in the classroom, links to tools and sites for gaming/virtual worlds, videos clips that support gaming, descriptions of virtual worlds and gaming (including links, grade level, and skills developed), and lessons plans that include the use of those tools.  This wiki supports teachers in using, how to use, and why to use gaming and virtual worlds for teaching.

 

All these wikis support either students learning or teacher collaboration.  By being able to share information, list resources and links, and provide a place for discussion and questions, these wikis help engage students and increase teacher collaboration.  Also, because wikis can be accessed from any Internet-connected computer, the sites make information available to anyone at any time.  This will help students who like to work on their own time, at their own pace.  Also, if the students forget part of their assignment, they can easily access the guidelines for the project by visiting the wiki.  While I think it would be time consuming to set up a wiki, once a teacher has experience with it, I would imagine the process would gradually become faster and easier.