Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Reflection

Photo credit: John Biehler

Like language, technology is constantly changing. When I first considered taking the EME 2040 Introduction to Technology for Educators Class, I expected it to be an easy course that I could cruise through since I was already an experienced teacher. I was up for an awakening. I expected the class would include actual teachers like me, who just wanted to be in the know about Instructional Technology today. I was in for an awakening...Not only was my ability to construct PowerPoints challenged, but I realized that I had fallen into the great divide! My classmates were at least ten years my junior! When all is said and done, I feel that a class such as this one should be compulsory for all teachers of K-12 students. We are teaching the I-generation!

This class called on my creating, evaluating, analyzing, applying, understanding, and lastly, my recalling skills; all levels on Bloom's Taxonomy, but our assignments forced us to use the upper level skills. We were challenged to create Blogs, web-quests, teacher web pages, collaborative lesson plans, Instructional Wikis and even game. We were encouraged to present personally created PowerPoint using pecha kucha. As expected, discussions were also an important aspect of the course. 
I learned a wealth of knowledge and uncovered a lot of material that I expect to use for years to come. Take for instance: blogging. I never in my wildest dreams consider taking up blogging. At first, I found the whole process tedious, but got into the hang of things. I was forced to read the text, and demonstrate my own creative expression in discussing aspects and applying it to teaching. I found that engaging and revitalizing. This is a strategy that I could use with an upper level students. There are times when we encounter books that appear less interesting than we would hope… having students blog about the topics should bring a bit more excitement and interest, especially as it demands creativity. Additionally, the use of a discussion board could force students to talk about issues relevant to their lesson. The I-generation comprises of expert typists. Once they are interested in the topic, they will talk/type about it.
I was reminded of the vast amount of technology that students have at their disposal each day and the innovative ways that teachers can use this technology to impart learning to students. One learning outcome was to develop internet based projects using technology as a medium and a goal. This forced me to work with my classmates and I will admit, it was not the easiest thing, but the exercise allowed us to become more acquainted with each other and share ideas as to how we would approach the strategies toward the goal of building the collaborative lesson plan; I am glad that I know that this process becomes easier. Building the web quest and teacher web pages were interesting and exciting.  These would be useful in the classroom both for my students and for me as teacher. With the use of the web-quest and its interactivity and the website with all the resources it should hold. The teacher of today needs to utilize the cell phones, the social media, the tablets and all the apps they possess (there is an app for everything), to ensure that the classroom is an exciting and student centered environment. Our Professor was a good model to the use of Technology in today's classroom.

In conclusion, I will end with this popular Chinese proverb: "Tell me, I forget. Show me, I may remember. But involve me, and I'll understand".


COMMON COURSE SYLLABUS . (n.d.). Retrieved April 23, 2014, from
Tell me, I'll forget. Show me, I may remember. But involve me, and I'll understand.
Tell me, I'll forget. Show me, I may remember. But involve me, and I'll understand.

Maloy, R. W., Verock-O, R. E., Edwards, S. A., & Woolf, B. P. (2010). Transforming learning with new technologies. Allyn & Bacon.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Digital Portfolios

Chapter 11 – Engaging Students in Performance Assessment and Reflective Learning

Focus Question: How can teachers and students use digital portfolios as tools for learning?

The truth is that technology is a powerful tool for assessing performance because it allows student expression in creative and dynamic ways. Digital portfolios are useful tools to both teachers and students. The purposes as similar as they are different. For the teacher, a digital portfolio is a collection of educational and professional materials stored in an electronic format. It serves as an organized collection of materials that shows a teacher’s growth and development over time. It may contain digital copies of paper materials, but can also include video, audio, PowerPoints, photographs, and other multimedia materials. I particularly preferred this type of organization as I prepared an electronic portfolio for my Principal. The first year I did it, I was the only teacher in the entire school to present an electronic version. I particularly liked it, as it allowed for easy access, it had ready-made portability, was a means for me to creatively display information, it built on my experience in developing technology skills, and allowed for the sharing of information with the wider educational community; in my time, we shared on the school’s educator’s database called “Edu-shr”; other teachers in our school were able to access my portfolio in that database. As I recall, the digital portfolio was my personal effort to display a collection of my work for the year. I shared what I was able to do and accomplish in the classroom using periodically collected data, pictures, evaluations I received from administration throughout the school year, my certificates and awards, videos of an engaged classroom in action, lesson plans and so much more. I was able to hyperlink lesson plans to the database and this I found to be more convenient, especially since I created my own interactive and interesting PowerPoints which were outlined in my lesson plans. Finally, I would forward the link to my electronic portfolio to my Administrators the evening prior to my scheduled appointment, and this allowed them to get familiar with the material for our scheduled discussion. I found this way easier than to walk around with the usual huge, white folder with the much accumulated material. Additionally, this technique was less expensive.

The fact that I was the only teacher using the digital portfolio in the school that year found more teachers opting to go digital the following year. The change from paper to digital portfolios was a huge shift from the norm. Not only did we take the electronic route as teachers, we encouraged our students to go digital as well. We traditionally had our students build well decorated, time consuming, paper-bound portfolios at the beginning of the school year. With the decision to use digital portfolios for students as well, the students would build their portfolios and that called for an increase in the technological skills and confidence of each student. They needed to learn how to use cameras, scanners, photos, illustrating software and other tools. They particularly enjoyed reading their prepared introduction for their readers (parents). We went outdoors, spread blankets, then each child was videoed as they read. These files were transferred to student-shr. (The database for students). The students developed on their writing and presentation skills. The experience encouraged new, creative expressions of ideas and accomplishments. A Digital Portfolio is accessible and portable so they got a chance to work on editing at home. The editing was on writing pieces though, since they database was not accessible from home. I recall having my students type their stories during a writing center and saving on Student-shr data base. They would eventually be required to complete it and add it to their digital portfolios. They enjoyed typing and correcting the highlighted words, then seeing the finished product. We shared these during student conferences. The video below provides snapshots of sample student digital portfolios. 

Tech Tool linkFlisti
This is a useful tool for students creating a digital portfolio. This website is said to be an easy poll builder. All that the builder needs to do is to enter a question then the possible responses and both embeddable HTML code and links to your favorite social networks are delivered instantly. Students could use a poll at the end of their digital portfolios, where readers could offer feedback from their reviews. I am sure they could appreciate this feedback.

Summary& Connection:
In learning, it helps to allow students to pursue their curiosities and become active participants in setting their own educational goals, managing their own learning, and assessing their own progress. We often don this using paper, but I feel that with the evolution of technology, we need to allow students to take the digital route. It allows them to learn different strategies, to build on their creativity and be able to share their work to the wider audience. It is time that teachers think outside of the box for the good of our students. The old ways is not always the best way.


Maloy, R. W., Verock-O, R. E., Edwards, S. A., & Woolf, B. P. (2010). Transforming learning with new technologies. Allyn & Bacon.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Technology and Cooperative Learning

Chapter 10 - Promoting Success for all students through technology

Focus Question: How can technology engage and inspire learning for diverse students?
It is my belief that technology and differentiated instruction go hand in hand if we are to promote success for all students. Different backgrounds, cultures and experiences are represented in our classrooms through our students and this demands a variety of teaching strategies in order to maximize student achievement.

Whole group is important so that the teacher can introduce and model new concepts, practice concepts not yet mastered, and review concepts. However, creating work stations like the ones above, is necessary if the teacher is to attend to the groups represented in class. Here, data informed instruction is rendered so that students' specific needs are met. Technology is useful in a writing station where instead of using paper and pencil, the students could be challenged to do pre-arranged assignments on the computer or tablet. Technology is useful where there are audio equipment available in a listening center where students may be assigned to follow in their books while the story is being read to them individually. It is useful in a read to self area where students may practice fluency by recording themselves as they read. Providing intensive instruction tailored to student needs is helpful with the use of technology, not just or the teacher but students can also track and interact with their progress.The key is to ensure that what is being taught is appropriate, structured, interesting to the students, and that the core objectives are being met.   

Tech Tool Link: Extra Large and Online Calculators
The benefits to using extra large include the reality that students are interested in the size and their lightweight. The huge size font makes them easy to read. Online Calculators are great tools that students can use outside of class. They are readily available as long as students have access to the internet. There are a few that I find useful, especially as they automatically calculate for me, making the calculation process quick and easy. Martindale's Online Center at is said to be a very useful one.

This chapter went in-depth in an effort to explain the importance of differentiated instruction and its relevance not only to those with special needs, but to the entire student body. It is important to be mindful of the reality that our classrooms are very diverse and in an effort to reach all students, we need to create groups that will enhance the learning experience. I enjoy finding ways to reach the various groups in my classroom. Creativity is a necessity when it comes to being an effective teacher. The use of technology aids in the effort to be creative. We have the computers and tablets at our disposal. Additionally, the apps and the software are in abundance, therefore there is no excuse that the classroom teacher can give for lack of performance with students.

Maloy, R. W., Verock-O, R. E., Edwards, S. A., & Woolf, B. P. (2010).Transforming learning with new technologies. Allyn & Bacon. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Chapter 9- Expressing Creativity with Multimedia Technologies
Focus Question- How can teachers create PowerPoint presentations for maximum teaching potential and learning impact?
I’ve never second guessed myself in creating a PowerPoint presentation until recently when I was asked to create a Pecha Kucha PowerPoint presentation. It was supposed to be a simple presentation, but it required quite a bit of photo research and Flickr was said to be the place to get those. I ensured that all my selections were creative commons licensed. but that I know that I did not present to the best of my ability. What then was the trouble? Was it that I had become complacent in my old ways and found it difficult to adapt to this new version of PowerPoint technology?

We know a PowerPoint presentation to be a computerized presentation using slides for visual information displays. Mostly, we try to use colorful graphics and print, sometimes even pop-ups, videos, and other attention grabbing tools to attract our audiences. Why? A PowerPoint gives visual dimension to our class presentations; it allows for text to be combined with pictures, charts, and images in entertaining ways and it is easy to use.  Are we using it effectively? In order to get the maximum teaching potential and learning impact from this multimedia presentation software package, teachers need to aim at successfully weaving interactive, engaging approaches into the fabric of their presentations. While PowerPoint presentations should be equipped with substantive academic content that  is appropriate to the needs of the students, effective teachers need to ensure that their presentations are engaging and involves the audience as best as possible. Edward R. Tufte makes a good point in his argument that PowerPoint is “presenter-oriented” and “not content-oriented, not audience-oriented because we are sometimes guilty.
I was recently reminded that if PowerPoint is too wordy, it is not effective; I have been guilty of presenting a few “wordy” PowerPoints in my time. Lets not seek to read PowerPoints to the audience, they more often than not, able to read for themselves. Require reading only when it is required of the audience, your students, for a subject area such as Reading or Language Arts. You always want to reap maximum results from this technology, otherwise, it is ineffective and boring.
Tech Tool link: PBS Learning Media 
The beauty of using a PowerPoint is that you are able to add links to videos and music. These enhance the learning process. Take for instance, PBS Learning Media; We are well familiar with PBS programs. They offer learning material in visually engaging ways and, they provide websites where resources such as lesson plans, interactive activities and other features can be accessed in order to aid in enhancing video viewing in the classroom. These videos can be embedded into any PowerPoint and add additional variety to the presentation experience.
Summary & Connection

The use of PowerPoints can be an engaging and productive experience for both teacher and students; however, to be effective, teachers should plan and use images that will stimulate thought in students, thereby promoting visual analysis and discussion. The key is to develop PowerPoints that involve learning games, display questions or brief comments and are “student-oriented”. Finally, when preparing a PowerPoint, remember that a picture is worth a thousand words.
Resources :
Maloy, R. W., Verock-O, R. E., Edwards, S. A., & Woolf, B. P. (2010).Transforming learning with new technologies. Allyn & Bacon. 
Tufte, E. R. (2006). The Cognitive style of PowerPoint: Pitching out corrupts within (2nd ed.). Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Adding Excitment to how we Communicate and Collaborate in the Classroom

Chapter 8- Communicating and Collaborating with Social Media


Focus Question: How will your teacher communication systems create positive learning experiences for you and your students?
Electronic Communication between teachers and students include but are not limited to: email, text messaging, teacher or classroom websites, blogs, online discussions, and wikis. These tools are contemporary instruments through which teachers and students interact while sharing ideas and information with each other, as well as with various audiences for educational purposes.

The choice as to what communication system to use, lies with the teacher. The interest levels of students, as well as the availability of the technology is necessary for consideration. I particularly like the tool of a class website where I have a 24/7 communication flow with students and parents. I never issue my telephone number to my students or their parents so this would be an avenue for constant connection. My ideal is a site pertinent to my classroom environment. One where I am able to post material related to the various topics which we cover; Material in forms such as links to interactive sites, videos, journals, and so on. It is a tool that keeps students and parents aware of upcoming events or reminders of assignments and their due dates.  It facilitates student communication so that students can collaborate and share ideas and perspectives on certain topics. The key is to make this site a place where my students are engaged and excited to visit. I usually like to post “Early work” - First Stop, as I like to call them, so that as students enter the classroom in the mornings, they settle down and get straight to working on this assignment displayed on the smart board. It is always important to keep students on task, so posting different activities for them to choose from in the event that they complete their assignments early is also helpful on a site. I would post these on the class’ site instead. This, I believe, would be convenient to any teacher. However, it demands intense planning, ordering and monitoring. Teachers are usually good at that anyway.

Tech Tool Link:
Website and Blog-Building Resources for Teachers – Commercially available template

You may follow the instructions above and create a classroom website using your google account. However, there are commercially available websites or blog builders such as TaskStream ( or eBlogger ( You will not find the variety or quality of graphics you desire, but these allow for password protection, and offer a ready-made publication portal for your site on the internet so both teacher and students can rest assured that their work is not accessed by just about anyone.

Summary and Connection
The choice as to the types of digital communication systems is up to the teacher. The variety is constantly diversified and so there is no need for any student in the modern classroom to complain of boredom. The digital communication systems can be used for teaching, for sharing information, for the publishing of students’ work, for getting parents involved and so much more. The key is to use what appeals to the students. They are always on the internet; they are constantly on their ‘cell phones’; everyone has a need to be heard and if opening more avenues for these voices and energies to be channeled in a productive manner is wrong, then “I don’t wanna be right”.
Maloy, R. W., Verock-O, R. E., Edwards, S. A., & Woolf, B. P. (2010). Transforming learning with new technologies. Allyn & Bacon. 



Thursday, February 27, 2014

Exploring Problem Solving with Software, Apps, and Games

Chapter 7 - Exploring Problem Solving with Software, Apps, and Games

Focus Question: How do teachers use technology to promote problem solving and inquiry learning among students?

Today's student-centered classroom engages and challenges the mind of the students. Problem solving is therefore an integral aspect of this learning environment. The reality is that problem solving and inquiry learning demand situations that engage students. In such a framework, students are required to understand the problem, use solving strategies, and to check results. (Maloy, Verock-O, Edwards, Woolf, 2010). How do teachers use technology to promote this? The identify standard and open-source software applications that are available on the school computers; they evaluate educational software and applications (apps); they compare and contrast different types of problem solving and inquiry-learning software, they analyze educational games and simulations as learning resources, they discuss with their peers so as to give and get examples of digital games for learning. A lot of work goes into deciding appropriate technology for our students. In identifying the most appropriate technology for problem solving and inquiry learning, teachers integrate these into the learning experience. It is done through mathematics, through Language Arts and all possible subject matter to establish an appropriate levels of competency in our students. Teachers can draw on technology applications to simulate real-world environments and create actual environments for experimentation, so that students can carry out authentic tasks as real workers would, explore new terrains, meet people of different cultures, and use a variety of tools to gather information and solve problems. Working on "authentic tasks"(Brown, Collins, and Duguid (1989)
There are some perspectives on Technology Mediated Learning.
Technology provides the information and tools to promote problem solving and inquiry learning. It provides the content, the materials, and the various avenues that students can follow.
Tech Tool link: MathBuster
A Child's review on MathBuster
I explored a few math learning games and apps but children find Math Buster appealing. You can play free, but there are membership options available.
Summary and Connection
There is a vast variety of problem-solving and inquiry-learning software available. There is a software for anything you mind can imagine. For everything, you will find positives and negatives. The question is, do the positives outweigh the negatives as far as technology is concerned? If that question is yes, then the technology is worth using.
Resources :
Brown, John Seely, Allan Collins, and Paul Duguid. Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Champaign, Ill.: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1989.
Cerri, Stefano A.. Intelligent tutoring systems 11th international conference, ITS 2012, Chania, Crete, Greece, June 14-18, 2012 : proceedings. Heidelberg: Springer, 2012.

Maloy, R. W., Verock-O, R. E., Edwards, S. A.,& Woolf, B. P. (2010). Transforming learning with new technologies. Allyn & Bacon. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

"Transforming Learning with New Technologies"

Chapter 6 - Fostering Online Learning with Educational Websites and Apps
A child, actively engaged in online learning 
Focus Question: What are the advantages and complexities of online learning and virtual schools?
Glenn Edwards’s son became very ill, and unfortunately, this illness at the beginning of his seventh (7th) grade school year caused his absence from school for an extended period. In order to prevent his son from being held back a year, Edwards and his wife opted to exercise the only logical option, virtual school. Like many other parents, they had concerns as to whether their thirteen year old son would become a “free-flowing genius” or “an overweight moron starving for interaction with real people”. The reality is that there are advantages and disadvantages to online learning and virtual schools and since this might be something I pursue at some point, it warrants closer scrutiny.
First, let us outline the connection between online learning and virtual schools: “Online learning is the delivery of educational experiences with computers and other technologies through organizations known as virtual schools”. (Maloy, Verock, Edwards, Woolf 2010). Then there is blended or hybrid learning, which involves both face to face contact and online learning, as is the case with my Statical Methods class. Quite frankly, I am a face to face “kind of girl”. I do not enjoy the online aspect of this course.
The advantage of to the school districts is that it costs them less. The biggest advantage to the parent and the student, is scheduling as the parent and child determine the learning schedule. More and more Florida Families are choosing this option. I am aware of Nursing professionals who work a few days of the week, and commit the remaining ones to facilitating the education of their home-schooled children. The plus is that there will be no tardies but some virual schools require excuse if the students are absent on certain days. It is not a “free-for-all”. Students work two to three hours per day and have no home work. It is said to be less intense. Additionally, parents who are concerned about their children and bullying say virtual school keeps their children engage in school, and away from the dangers of drugs and potentially negative or dangerous experiences. It is worth considering; however, not before reviewing the disadvantages.
According to critics, the disadvantage is the loss of in-person, student-teacher communication, and limited opportunities for students to interact with other students. To the family, this option works best only when there is at least one stay-at-home adult to supervise the child’s studies and assist with his assignments. Of course, computer literacy is necessary for both the parent and the child.  Physical Education is important to growth and development and since there is no online version of this subject, the parent is responsible for building a daily exercise and play routine. The fact is, online learning requires commitment and dedication. Not many parents can stick to the challenge. I am aware of one such parent; she is an Education by profession, and she withdrew her eldest son from the public school system and committed him to online learning. The process lasted only a few months, as though he was home with an adult, his grandmother, she could not give adequate help and guidance. His mother would return home, tired from a hard day’s work, only to take up the task of nurturing her son in the evening. This exercise became unbearable and soon, he was re-enrolled into the public school system. Virtual learning is not for everyone.
Tech Tool link:
This website is a very useful and free one, once you have completed registration. It is a web-based social bookmarking tool that organizes all your bookmarks in one place. Additionally, you can sort and  share these bookmarks. Also, while using delicious, you can view another webpage, capture the page, and save it to your delicious account. The video above outlines in detail the steps to take in using this technology. 
Technology has evolved so extensively, that there are so many conveniences at our fingertips. The reality is, however, we sometimes get overwhelmed by these technology and they are sometimes not for our good. In weighing the option of schooling a child in through the in class, traditional experience, versus the online learning through virtual schools, parents have need to take the time to weigh the pros and cons carefully, so that the choice is good for both their children, and the good of the rest of the family.
Maloy, R. W., Verock-O, R. E., Edwards, S. A., & Woolf, B. P. (2010). Transforming learning with new technologies. Allyn & Bacon.