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This blog will showcase my artifacts and reflections as a student in the Educational Technology Program at Boise State University. All of my posts are categorized by an AECT standard(s) and tagged by course. Eventually, this learning log will become a final portfolio for the edtech program.
I am looking forward to reading feedback from instructors and peers!
Interdisciplinary Learning can become a reality in schools if the expectations and elements are clearly presented to all stakeholders involved. I believe the biggest barrier is getting teacher “buy-in” and changing the mindset from its “my content” and “my classroom” to “our content” and “our students.” It may be help to show the video of teachers collaborating together as a start to show teachers what the possibility looks like. Yes, it takes a lot of planning. However, an administrator can provide teachers the time to create units so they are not so bombarded with changes.
The state standards for each content area must be clearly outlined and incorporated into the instruction of each unit. In addition, there still needs to be formative, standardized assessments that measure student progress toward these objectives. Nobody wants to be caught off guard after the final state results come in.
I believe learning for the students will become more meaningful and connected for the students. Having students continue a project but in a different way from class to class is true project-based learning. I would like to see a school that does this-does anyone know of anywhere?
I examined several projects on BIE project search and found several common features. The projects that I viewed the most were linked from Teach21 at the Virginia Department of Education. These projects listed the planning and “behind the scenes” guides to each project while covering the eight elements of PBL and providing student materials. Common features I noticed include:
21st Century Skills
Managing/Mapping the Project
A project I selected to share is called On the Road Again for fifth grade social studies. Students will create a game kit for children to use while traveling. The kit is to include a movie and game which will entertain and teach children to read a map, identify each of the 50 states, place them in the correct regions, and basic United States geography. This project allows students to master state objectives and allows for feedback and revision through a unique manner. To do this, the author created a “twist” in the entry event where students must test each others games and provide feedback using a rubric.
As a curriculum specialist, I am intrigued by the structure of project-based learning and how to make it more efficient for teachers who struggle with the concept. After reviewing several projects, I have came up with some thoughts as to why some schools may avoid using PBL and that will hopefully assist my own project. As a disclaimer, I have very little experience with PBL.
To begin, the projects I have viewed seem to present only the teacher plan. While there are imbedded handouts, resources, and links, there is not an all encompassing link, webpage, or folder for students to follow along with the steps. I am thinking of the elements of webquest where students can go to a link with a consistent, uniform structure to follow. I am not comparing a webquest to PBL as I understand the differences. I feel as though PBL is ill-structured and scattered to the point where it may be difficult for students to conceptualize the tasks and steps needed reach the final project outcome. My next concern is that PBL is not streamlined nor are the products linear to the outcomes. Students are most successful when instruction is scaffolded and streamlined in clear steps that lead to the end assessment. Some projects include a timeline, but it seems secondary to the project (like a resource). I feel as though the timeline should be the project itself listing clear steps, checkpoints, and products. There are so many files, links, and resources that even as an educator I get lost and lose interest in the project. Imagine keeping the engagement of the students!
I’m not going to present these concerns without a possible solution. In my last edtech class Internet for Educators, we learned about responsive web design. Imagine the PBL project as a website that smoothly transitions from task to task in a linear manner. Think of students reading the driving question, then clicking a “start or go” button taking them to the entry event. From there, they click, and the website tunnels them in to the next task. It seems more individualized, but it is structured and manageable.
Here is an example of an HTML 5 responsive design that I hope to create my PBL project with.
What Challenges did you face in this course?
This has been an interesting and thought-provoking course. There were a few challenges, however. First, there was a large commitment of time on some assignments that I did not expect. With a new job in a central office position, it was very difficult to complete assignment during the week so I often saved them until the weekend. I noticed several students completing assignments during the week before I had even started so I constantly had the feeling of being behind. However, I managed to complete everything on time to the best of my ability. I was also concerned that we only read a few chapters from the book we purchased. I do appreciate the practical and application assignments we completed but I believe a few more theory assignments would have enhanced our discussions and understanding of the standards. I am still unsure exactly how I am categorizing the assignments into the standards. At this point, I am categorizing because I have a syllabus to guide me but I would like to actually know how to figure it out on my own.
What strategies or other creative resources did you use to address these challenges?
I cleared my schedule on Sundays to complete the assignments. As for the standards, I did try researching them some but I have not found a really easy guide to their understanding.
Which artifact do you feel was your best and why?
My best artifact was probably the tech trend assignment. I spent the most time on it because I was really interested in the topic I chose. Don’t get me wrong, ethics is a wonderful topic as well… In addition, I feel as though I can actually present my research about gaming in the classroom and start up a gaming class or curriculum in my district.
What is one thing you plan to do in your school or business as a result of this course?
I feel as thought the delivery and communication of this course are what I will apply in my district. I really like the idea of using wordpress as portfolios. This year I created a New Teacher Support Program and I am having all the new teachers create a portfolio with teaching artifacts and reflections. I cannot wait until they share them at the end of the year! Also, I have introduced my Digital Age Learning Committee to Feedly. They come prepared to meetings with at least one technology article to share that can be useful for our district.
Overall, this was a beneficial course and a solid introduction to using technology in education.
For this assignment, I evaluated the technology of my school district Bright Future(pseudonym)using administrative, curricular, support, connectivity, and innovation categories. The results of my evaluation show that there is a gap between the resources available and teacher behavior and usage. It is not surprising to learn that with an abundance of devices and technology available for teachers and students, very few teachers actually plan for and implement technology in lessons. This is undoubtedly due to the lack of a district technology plan, expectations, and professional development. Our district is creating a Digital Age Learning Committee and I will present this evaluation to them to make sure our goals are inline with the categories.
For my edtech trend, I chose to research computer programming and gaming design in the classroom. I began with the site Code.org and discovered that there is a nationwide push to increase coding in schools because of the demand for computer science jobs. One thing that was alarming to me was how students are actually bored and disengaged in many computer science classes because they cannot make a real world connection to their learning. With that being said, I began to focus my research on game design in the classroom. I came across GameStar Mechanic, a program that actually teaches kids about gaming elements while they build their own game.
My Google Slides presentation above was created in a game-style format and would be presented to my school district. If I had more time, I would elaborate more on the proposal of creating a gaming curriculum. However, I would like to start a gaming curriculum of some type in my district.
My annotated bibliography assignment showcases my ability to research peer-reviewed, educational technology articles using The Boise State Library and Google Scholar. With my research I created an annotated list of sources. For each source, I summarized the main content and arguments, provided insight to the value of the source, and reflected upon how it could be beneficial.
I have had extensive experience using APA format in the past with my previous masters degree. It takes a lot of practice but just with anything, repetition is the key to mastery. The one thing I always remember to focus on with APA is to paraphrase more often than cite. I was told that you should never cite more than once in a paragraph or more than three times on the same page. The other thing that really stood out to me was using figurative language such as personification. APA formatting frowns upon this…
My only critique of this assignment is that I wish the topic was narrowed down a bit. I spent an extensive amount of time researching and found myself getting lost in it. I know we are supposed to be exploring our interests but I think as new students entering our first course we should be given an example topic such as PBL and then everyone can share what they learned about PBL on Google Plus. However, I did find interesting information about the use of learning management systems and their link to student achievement .
I have used blogs in the classroom before, but I did not realize how an RSS feed could enhance student learning. When students create blogs, it is difficult to read all of the student posts at one time for evaluation. It is also challenging when students read other students’ posts and have to sort and search through everything. With the RSS feed and site Feedly, students no longer have to do this and they can check for new posts in one location. My lesson uses RSS and Feedly to allow to students to research and share findings more effectively.
The only challenge I had in creating this plan is writing it with an audience in mind and making sure anyone could easily implement the plan. I generally have written plans in the past for my specific kids so I really had to make it general. I am no longer in the classroom but I may share this plan with our 5th Grade Social Studies teacher and see how effective it is.