WELCOME to my first blog!

Welcome! I am glad to say that this is my first blog. You are welcome to comment on the various educational technologies that I will post information on in the next few weeks. There are links to the various technologies so that you can view samples of how each of the technologies work. Enjoy!

I hope that this will help me and you increase the use of technology in the classroom to enhance our students learning.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Post-MSA DI Work Time Session

Now that MSA is complete, I conducted a March DI work time session. I had 6 in attendance; all except 1 were repeat attendees. The person that was a new attendee is a math teacher that normally tries to figure out technology for herself, but is one of the top teachers at our school that uses differentiated instruction on a regular basis in her classroom. She is a math teacher and co-teaches. Her techniques have been noticed concerning D.I. that she presents on a regular basis on how to implement D.I. into a math classroom.

She attended this session in order to get help on how to present her next session. She wanted to use all of her files and technology effectively, and wanted my assistance during the work time session. I helped her plan, layout, and explained that she could present her material just like she sets up her D.I. session by “D.I.’ing” the session. I showed her to have links to each file that she needed to present in her session. For professional development purposes, I think that this type of chain events to encourage more teachers to use D.I., on the principles of U.D.L., is now branching out of our school, into others across the county.

Most teachers in this session did not have too many questions for me; it was more shooting ideas off of me, asking or getting suggestions for their D.I. lessons. This was wonderful because teachers that are not always comfortable with technology were now on their own trying to figure out different ways to use the technology in their classroom to make their D.I.’ed lesson as before when I first started these work time sessions. Originally, I had to walk many teachers step-by-step on how to use the technology. By this session, they wanted to just discuss what to include in their lesson and the technology is now the secondary piece of the lesson. The SMARTboard technology and Web 2.0 tools are being used to help the lesson, instead of being the “bells and whistles” of the lesson. Now the technology is just helping their students meet the standard that they are teaching within the lesson. It’s not about using the technology for the sake of using it.

I also found out that there is grant money for the department chairs and co-teaching teams to create D.I. lessons after the year ends. I told the Special Education department chair that I am willing to present information on using technology for those D.I. lesson creation days. This way even more information on how to use the SMART technology and other Web 2.0 tools, like Discovery Education services can be used for these lessons. I am so glad to see that the efforts I made at the beginning of the year are now paying off. Hopefully, they have helped to ensure that our school makes AYP this school year.

Monday, February 27, 2012

5th After-school session

After a lot of talk about the after-school sessions on D.I., I was going to hold my 5th session 2 Mondays ago, but I only had 1 reply when I asked if teachers were going to stay after on that day, so I rescheduled.

I rescheduled the work time for after school today. I had 3 teachers reply so I went through with it, but when I arrived, I had 5 teachers in the computer lab. Another teacher (6th grade math) was speaking out in the hallway on their way to plan with their co-teacher, and since they have not attended my work time session before, I told them that they can plan with me. Overall, I was able to have 8 teachers stay after school today. Five teachers were returning from at least 1 previous session. One of which has attended every session, and she openly admits that she needs a lot of support and help with anything related to technology.

I am so glad that they decided to plan with me because I was able to sit down with them for 15 minutes, their SMART Response class lists were imported from their gradebook and I demonstrated for them how the response system works with the SMART Notebook. The co-teaching team was very excited to be completely set up to use the SMART response system and planned to implement it this week. They planned to speak with the science teacher on their team to discuss ways that their students would be prepared to use the SMART response remotes in their math class.

I also had 2 corrective reading teachers, 1 spanish teacher, and another co-teaching team (7th grade science). The science co-teaching team was planning their formal lesson plan on a differentiated instruction lesson, utilizing the SMARTboard and an interactive website for kinesthetic learners. The corrective reading teachers were working on a tic-tac-toe game for each work book activity to help support each scripted lesson. The spanish teacher was creating an interactive SMART Notebook lesson on conjugating the verb tener, which I suggested she use hyperlinks to videos to demonstrate examples of how to conjugate the verb.

We have not had too many formal professional development sessions during school (we normally have them every Thursday during 1 planning period), but we have been trying to make sure that students are passing their classes and administering/ analyzing our MOCK MSA data. I have already been asked when the next after school session.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

PD on using Discovery Education for D.I. Purposes

The professional development session that I conducted with the staff on our school wide work day was very successful. I made a Google Doc survey to gather data about how successful the session was. There were 36 in attendance because many teachers either called out or had other mandatory meetings to attend. I spoke to one teacher that has never stayed for my DI work time and she said that my session was the 1 out of the three sessions that she was able to create a DI activity for her classes.

With the Discovery Education account that our county has, teachers have the ability to gather several types of resources (videos, pictures, images, writing prompts, songs, etc.) to create an assignment, quiz, or writing prompt. After making the assignment, teachers have the ability to assess the students by providing them with a URL and code, the students are able to submit their answer and use whatever multiple sources of information that require to complete the assignment. It really helps apply to the purposes of UDL and the 3 main principles entailed in it.

In order to address the needs of all of my staff members, I used the SMART response remotes to gather formative data on how many have used Discovery Education before and in what form. From that point, teachers began to access what level they needed and every teacher walked away from the session a login, resources for their students, directions on how to create assignments for DI purposes on Discovery Education, and many teachers created assignments to use in their classroom.

I am hoping that by the end of February, I will be able to conduct a follow-up session on Discovery Education and utilizing it to fit the needs of the staff and their students. Unfortunately, since we did not make AYP last school year, our focus is doing anything and everything possible to make AYP this year and with MSA in March, we are in crunch time.

Based upon the overall data, the majority of the staff would like a follow up session so I plan to share the data with my principal to encourage him to plan a follow-up session.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

January DI Work Time Session, Take 1

So as soon as the staff returned from Winter Break, a number of teachers began to ask when the next DI Work time would be on the SMART software. I had 3 returning staff members from a previous session, a different new teacher than the last time, as well as the Right Start (New teacher mentor) Advisor to help learn new items to bring the many new staff members in our building (27% of 70 staff members are new to the building, at least 5 of them are 1st year teachers).

From what I gather, one of the teachers, young, but unsure about technology, was able to complete a full lesson/ activity with the SMART Notebook technology to use on her SMARTboard in class and included D.I. techniques based upon the Universal Design Learning principles. So was very pleased with herself because after having only 2 work sessions, she has become comfortable enough to a point where she barely asked questions concerning how to use the technology.

A special education teacher stayed, that NEVER stays after school for any reason and teaches a self-contained classroom. She only has 3 or 4 students at a time and does not have the technology that the majority of the staff has (she teaches out of a space that was once a storage closet). She was so excited to set up the SMART Response Remotes to gather and collect data once I showed her personally what she could use the information for and to use it to her advantage when grading her students. Although she wasn't using the SMART Notebook software but for a few minutes that day, she was glad to finally know how to use the technology and begin utilizing the set of remotes that are just sitting, collecting dust outside of her room.

Although there continues to be a small group of people attending these meetings, I am glad that the reason for lack of attendance is because of the day during the week. Mondays appear to not be good for many teachers because of their own graduate classes or daycare issues. We had only been back for 4 days, and I was able to hold a work time session, despite the end of the marking period and benchmark exams were around the corner. Thankfully, my principal and the AYP coaches (and our Middle Years Programme Coordinator) asked for me to present a session during one of our professional development days, so I plan on collecting information from the staff thus far about using technology for D.I. in the classroom and introduce another technology that is available for them in order to differentiate instruction in their classrooms.

I think that the UDL principles are perfect to explain to the staff the purpose of D.I. and the variety of ways that technology can provide that to the students when planning a lesson.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

3rd Workshop Session

I think that at this point, I want to introduce more software to the staff, school-wide, because as I go through classrooms, I see that more people are using the SMART Notebook software on a regular basis and have become more comfortable with its use. I think that differentiated instruction needs to be refocused for the staff, but an increased number of staff members are utilizing the software for that specific need.
After my third session, I have 1 staff member that has attended regularly, and 5 new attendees. The majority of staff members that have been attending are those that are unfamiliar with the SMART Notebook software. This is great to see that more and more staff members are interested in learning about the software to use for their own lessons. Each member are slowly learning how to adapt the software for differentiated instruction activities, but each member has used their time wisely while attending the sessions being offered.

I have had a number of staff members mention that Monday afternoons are “not good” for them to attend because of scheduling and their own graduate/ MSDE courses that they have to attend. They have requested that I try and schedule a different day sometime soon and consistently ask, “when is the next session?” so they could attend.

Unfortunately, January is the shortest month for the school days and I think that the staff would feel overwhelmed if I introduced anything new for D.I. purposes. I think I will stick to 1 after-school session on a Monday and ask my principal if I could have a session for the professional development day that is scheduled at the end of the month. Therefore, I could introduce a new piece of the SMART Notebook D.I. work sessions and introduce utilizing the Discovery Education online resources that the county has paid for each staff member to use across the school system.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

2nd After School Session: Dec. 12th

Monday I had 2nd work time session on D.I. with SMART Notebook technology. One of the teachers that attended last time came to this session. She is a veteran teacher and needs a lot of assistance with technology. She worked on completing the lesson that she began last month. She plans to attend next week’s session too.
The other 2 teachers that were able to stay have differing levels of comfort when using technology. One of the teachers is a 1st year teacher and is very comfortable with it, picks it up very quickly. He changed a lesson he created weeks ago and made it into a lesson that incorporates D.I. principles based on the U.D.L. model. The other teacher is a special educator. She co-teaches for language arts and humanities classes. She needed a lot of help using the technology because she does not get to collaboratively create many D.I. lessons with both of her co-teachers. So she created an introduction activity for her students and based it upon their multiple intelligences to try and address as many as possible. She was able to complete part of the activity and wanted to try and have it finished for this week.
Some of the problems that I ran into were staff members that wanted to attend; a 7th grade co-teaching team of teachers, were unable to come to the session. One of the teachers, who needs guidance creating a lesson with technology, but implements the lessons well, had car problems. The other 2 teachers in this collaborative team were driving her to take care of this problem. They came by to apologize that they could not stay and asked about the next time that they could. I explained that I would have one on the 19th (the following Monday) and they said that they were going to look at their schedule and see if they would be able to attend.
I had at least 3 or 4 other emails/ conversations with staff members saying that they planned to attend, but because grades were due that day, they were unable to do so. They asked me when the next scheduled work session would be, and said they would attend next week. So far, I have at least 10 people that may be attending tomorrow’s work session. I am also going to talk to my principal and ask him if I could have a whole P.D. session on D.I. with SMART Notebook and other technologies in January or February. In February, we are scheduled to have LeAnn Nickolsen, a specialist on D.I. to come to our school and I would like for us to present some of the D.I. lessons that the staff has created in the work sessions.
I am hoping that the session will go well tomorrow and I can begin working on having the staff members (that are in attendance) incorporating videos, SMART response quiz questions, and other online resources to help with their D.I. lesson.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Update on Loyola Internship

Well, I have to say that I am glad that the greater majority of the OMMN staff is receptive to learning new technologies. After reading some of the survey comments from my first PD session, I would have liked to have included items pertaining to specific content, but time constraints prevented me to do so. Also, almost half of the staff was out that day, which was a let down. However, it was mandatory meetings for most of them and could not be avoided. Thankfully, a great number of staff members emailed me or spoke with me about their let down in missing the P.D. session.

The first follow-up work time session with them was the following Monday. It was the last Monday before student-led conferences, so many could not attend. I had 3 come to it, but many asked when my next session was going to be. I am not sure if the teachers are just willing to learn new technologies for the sake of differentiation or if they already understand the benefits of using technology to help differentiate. Hopefully my next session in a couple of weeks will help me to understand more thoroughly what the staff's needs are regarding using technology to Differentiate Instruction. Thankfully, the special education department chair is willing to pay stipends to those staying after to create such lessons and I will be given copies of the created lessons.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Free podcast thanks to a classmate!

Try out this audiopal. I really like that this is free and it literally took me 2 minutes. I think that this type of technology could come in handy whenever a student is absent. Too many times I forget to hand out an assignment, or have to remember what the student missed, especially those that are out for weeks at a time. All I did was type in what I wanted to be said and that was it. This could easily be added into a wikispace on a homework page and the homework could be explained to a student online. So not only could a student get an explanation of homework while they are out sick, but they could begin the work before actually returning to school. Taking 5 to 10 minutes each day about the lesson or homework and posting it online can really avoid some major headaches with students trying to catch up on work, on my end and their end.

Try making your own! Audiopal

Blog Reflection

So far, I find that keeping this blog has helped me. I have been able to keep track of websites, my thoughts of the websites, and I can link my own example with each blog post.

If students were to use a blog, they could also use the blog a reflection piece. A lot of times, teachers rack their brain to try and figure out why students cannot remember material over a few weeks or any extended period of time. If students were to keep a blog, they have their OWN location online where they are able to keep track of any in-class discussion or project that they have made. Within the curriculum for the Middle Years Programme, "reflection" is a big part of it for our students. If students are able to keep a blog, they can reflect on daily or long-term projects using a blog. Also, between 6th grade to 10th grade, students have to create and maintain and change a "personal project" for the school's curriculum. A blog like this can allow for any student to maintain a project and reflect on a long-term project. Technically, a blog can easily be changed, posts can be deleted and comments can be added. Teachers could add comments about student-created projects and help students increase their own standards for their academic career. Technically, students can learn how to maintain a webpage, with the majority of the blogspot already designed for them. They can relate to this format because it is similar to a facebook or Myspace page (which they most likely already have online). However, keeping an educational blog could allow the students to expand their knowledge of what the Internet can really do to further their academics.

I'm glad that this was one of our required projects to complete for ET 630. I can use my blog as reference and (as long as I receive the AACPS training) could eventually use this technology with my own students.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Google Galore

Google docs is a wonderful tool that I think many school systems might be failing to realize the opportunities it provides for students. More and more students want a variety of products to choose from when they are given assignments in school. Most teachers require the same type of projects. If teachers asked students to create a survey, collect the data, and use the data as part of an experiment or mathematical simulation, their education becomes more real, more authentic to them. I think students need to understand the many options that are available to them. This survey for instance is as simple as editing and add. Students from all types of backgrounds can easily create such an item for a project.

Graphic Organizer

Students can also have access to creating their OWN graphic organzier to best fit their needs. Too many times the classroom is a teacher-directed instructional area. This puts the academics into the students hands. The biggest downfall for this current technology is that it can only be used and produce the drawings using Google Chrome (which I know AACPS does not currently have available). However, this option would also be nice for teachers because sometimes a teacher needs to create their own graphic organizer, but it becomes a time consuing process because they either draw the actual shape in a document, or use Inspiron or Kidspiration. These programs are paid for by the school system, but tend to be complicated and does not format a document well. Sometimes simplicity is best for teachers AND students. Google drawings allows for that simplicity to take place.