Integrating Technology

As an English teacher, I always struggled with integrating technology in the classroom.  I felt as long as I projected my textbook on the SmartBoard and used the online textbook, that I was integrating technology.  It was not until I began working on my M.E.T that I realized this was wrong.  There are numerous advantages to using technology in my English classroom.  All teachers are realizing that this pedagogical shift is imperative in the classroom.  This technology makes the learning process engaging, relevant, and authentic.

One way to make learning more engaging is to incorporate social media in the classroom. Since students are already comfortable with these tools, this tool makes learning more engaging. Educators in a high school setting are moving to a more open-minded approach with respect to social media (Mao 2014).  Social media can be an amazing way to connect to other learners and share information. As teachers begin to incorporate social media, students will become more engaged in the educational process.

While incorporating social media is important, it is crucial to increase student engagement.  Technology allows the teacher to create an engaging, student-centered classroom.  There are numerous initiatives that assist in creating this type of learning environment.  For example, Technology-Enabled Active Learning (TEAL) is a pedagogical innovation focused on constructivist teaching and learning (Shieh 2012).  Initiatives like TEAL encourage the educator to rethink the pedagogies driving their instruction.  The current move in education requires an educational shift.  Without this shift, students will be left woefully underprepared for the future job market.

Including technology in the K-12 setting is an important shift; however, it is one that many educators, and students, are not yet comfortable.  Many educators are considered “digital natives”, and their understanding of meaningfully integrating technology is minimal.  In fact, many researchers are now assessing the meaningful use of technology in the classroom.  For example, Gu, Zhu, & Guo (2013) are researching both teachers and students to assess digital natives and the digital divide.  Additionally, they are assessing the attitudes of educators while implementing the technology.  In order to gauge the success of technology integration in the classroom, it is important that this type of study exists.  Many teachers today know that technology is an important classroom component. 

Finally, there is an abundance of research to support what all teachers already know.  Integrating technology in the classroom increases engagement, relevancy, and authenticity.  Many teachers are looking to move from theory to practice (Robyler 2016). The shift is happening, and many teachers are now realizing the importance in integrating technology in the curriculum.  Technology has moved passed the whiteboard as a glorified projector.  Teachers are realizing this shift is important and beginning to make changes.


Resources

Gu, X., Zhu, Y., & Guo, X. (2013). Meeting the” Digital Natives”: Understanding the Acceptance of Technology in Classrooms. Educational Technology & Society, 16(1), 392-402.

Mao, J. (2014). Social media for learning: A mixed methods study on high school students’ technology affordances and perspectives. Computers in Human Behavior, 33, 213-223.

Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching, 7th Edition. [VitalSource Bookshelf Online]. Retrieved from https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/#/books/9780133955439/

Shieh, R. S. (2012). The impact of Technology-Enabled Active Learning (TEAL) implementation on student learning and teachers’ teaching in a high school context. Computers & Education, 59(2), 206-214.

 

Game Based Learning

 

Integrating game based learning is something that I have struggled with this year.  While I have integrated Quizziz, Quizlet, and Kahoot!, I feel like those do not really count as game based learning. While game based learning is simply described as an approach to teaching where students use games to explore relevant topics (“What is GBL?”), it seems like it should be much more than simple definition matching.  Most teachers in my building use GBL only for test reviews.  Game based learning can be so much more than that.  Game based learning includes both games and interactives that can be used in the classroom.

One reason I have struggled with this is because I have trouble finding games that fit in my high school English curriculum.  Most of the games I found on the list worked well for grade school level learners.  It was only once I changed my mindset that I was able to see how some of the games would fit in my curriculum.  For example, I found a great game called Pandemic.  This is not a game one associates with high school English; however, it hits on a number of other important skills that can transfer to my classroom.  Students work in teams to solve a problem.  This is not unlike trying to analyze a character or discover a theme.  They all require collaboration and cooperation.  The game teaches those very important skills.

Another example is Popplet.  While Popplet may not be the game many are thinking, it can be used to work collaboratively to solve a problem.  In the end, that is exactly what an online game does.  It is no different with Popplet.  Although, instead of saving the world from a deadly virus, they are exploring a theme in To Kill a Mockingbird.  I find the skills of team work and cooperation are necessary for both.

Integrating game based learning is something that I have scoffed at for years; however, I am starting to realize the value of the games and interactives in the classroom curriculum.  I realize that there are many lessons taught in game based learning that can transfer to every day life skills.


 

References:

“Game-Based Learning: Resource Roundup.” Edutopia. N.p., 11 July 2011. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.

“Small, Safe Steps for Introducing Games to the Classroom.” Edutopia. N.p., 08 Oct. 2014. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.

“What Is GBL (Game-Based Learning)?” EdTechReview. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.

Acceptable Use Policy

An acceptable use policy (from here on out referred to as an AUP) is a policy that explicitly states how the school and/or district expects its students, staff, and any other members of the school and/or district to behave with respect to technology (Common Sense Media).  This policy is typically given to members of the school and/or district in written form.  The AUP can be downloaded by any member of the community as it outlines the expectations of acceptable behavior for users within the community.  The AUP is an incredibly important document that does not typically receive the respect that it deserves.

Unfortunately, for many in education, an AUP has become as meaningless as the terms of agreement when signing up for iTunes.  No one reads the AUP because he or she fails to understand the importance of the document. Unfortunately, lack of understanding the AUP can lead to negative consequences down the road.  Many students in my school district have had consequences for violating the AUP when, they claim, they had no idea they were breaking any rules.  The school shows the student and the parent the AUP that they signed at the beginning of the school year.  Most parents and students say they did not actually read the AUP.

In order to alleviate this, the AUP has to be thorough without being overly wordy.  This can be difficult to achieve as the AUP needs to predict most situations that will arise from the community using the technology; however, if the AUP is too wordy, many individuals will not sign it.  A great way to combat that would be to have the AUP in list format.  Additionally, as my school district does, it is helpful to have a list of terms defined so all stakeholders have common definitions for the terms.  It is very difficult to disseminate all of the necessary information without being too wordy and redundant.

An AUP should address all aspects of Internet usage.  This includes, but is not limited to:searching, downloading, publishing a school website, browsing websites, all electronic communication (including social media), etc. (National Centre for Technology in Education 2012).  The Webwise AUP guidelines give a very detailed account of how to draft an AUP.  It is important for drafters of an AUP to research guidelines to make sure every aspect is covered.  Following these guidelines will assist in composing an effective AUP.

Following are four examples of AUPs used in school districts.  The final AUP is the one given to families in the school district where I work.

http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2005/tech_suite/app_a.asp#H1

http://lrs.ed.uiuc.edu/students/rtrieger/charterschoolpolicydraft.htm

http://jburroughs.org/acceptable-use-policy

https://sites.google.com/a/d428.org/1to1/acceptable-use-policy

These four examples all give very different examples of AUP.  Some of the examples are more thorough, and some give fewer details.  The problem with being too vague is that it leaves too much room for interpretation.  While I am against making it too wordy, it appears that a more thorough AUP is necessary in order to keep all members of the community informed of what is and is not allowed while using technology.


 

References

National Centre for Technology in Education. (2012). Webwise AUP Guidelines: Developing internet policy in your school.

No author given. (2016). 1-to-1 essentials-acceptable use policies. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/1to1/aups.

The Basic Suite

The Basic Suite refers to the three of the most used software support tools in education: word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation programs.  Many teachers and students around the world use these applications.  There are many advantages to incorporating word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation programs in my work environment.  I teach ninth grade Humanities English.  I work with students reading at grade level, and I teach a class for students reading significantly below grade level.  My school is currently a 1-1 school with the students having Chromebooks.  There are many advantages to using these applications.

Word Processing

Word processing applications are incredibly popular at the high school level.  Teachers can use Google Docs or Microsoft Word to name two different programs.  These word processing programs allow teachers to easily create, share, and edit lesson plans.  Additionally, it allows teachers to give students feedback on written assignments.  Also, using word processing applications make it easier for teachers to “push out” assignments on platforms like Google Classroom or Schoology.  This tool help create a paperless classroom.  In addition to word processing applications being beneficial for teachers, they are also beneficial for students.  Students can learn important life skills that will help them later in life.  My brother works for a fairly large company, and he says it is shocking how so many new employees lack the skills required for The Basic Suite.  This is something that teachers need to encourage.  Of course students can type essays, but it is more than that.  By using Google Docs, for example, students can learn important collaboration skills while working on a product.  Recently, my students had to create a product for mythology.  It was great that they all had Chromebooks and could collaborate using Google Docs.

Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets have more capabilities than most teachers truly need.  Spreadsheets can be used for something as simple as a class roster or seating chart.  The information can be important from the Online Gradebook and arranged any way the teacher would like.  Also, the Spreadsheet can be used as a gradebook or backup gradebook.  At my school, everything has to be entered in an online gradebook.  Teachers do not keep paper gradebooks anymore.  I do make sure to export my online gradebook to Excel every few weeks.  This allows me to have a back up gradebook on my computer in case there is a glitch with the online gradebook.  Spreadsheets can also be used to sort and analyze data from Google Forms.  Roblyer (2016) explains how incorporating this tool in the classroom can help students organize and store different types of data and information.  Students can also use spreadsheets.  Students can use spreadsheets to organize their tasks or to create a to do list.  I encourage students to keep track of their grades in a spreadsheet.  This helps in case a grade is entered in error.  A student can reference his or her spreadsheet in order to check the accuracy of entered grades.

Presentation Tools

Teachers use presentation tools all of the time.  Between Google Slides and PowerPoints alone, teachers are quite familiar with presentation tools.  I use presentation tools nearly every day.  While it may not be for the entire class period, I do use them to keep my classroom organized.  I can project the bell ringer, lead the class in notes, and more.  I do adhere to the rules of PowerPoints by having more visuals and fewer words.  I find that having the PowerPoint helps keep my classroom structured and organized.  Finally, PowerPoint can be used to create an interactive quiz.  Students use presentation tools all the time across content areas; however, it is important for the students to be taught how to properly create a PowerPoint.  Often times students put too many words on each slide and simply read off of the slides.  Another advantage is collaboration.  Students can collaborate on projects to present information for an assignment.  Students can create graphic organizers that fit their learning styles and preferences.  The opportunities for students to use presentation tools are endless.  The most important thing the students must learn is how to use them effectively.

Reference

Roblyer, M.D.  Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching.  7th Edition.  Pearson, 2016. VitalSource Bookshelf Online.

Instructional Software

Instructional software refers to the programs that can be used to deliver instruction or to assist with the delivery of instruction (Roblyer 2016).  Teachers often search for relevant instructional software to integrate within the classroom.  Below you will find an explanation of the five different types of instructional software and examples of each type that can be incorporated in the high school English classroom.

Drill and Practice

Drill and practice software allows students to work independently on example items and receive feedback on their correctness.  The software gives appropriate feedback for correct and incorrect answers while increasing fluency.  Additionally, drill and practice allows for students to participate in effective practice in order to commit information to long-term memory.  While there are many benefits to drill and practice instructional software, there is one major concern, too.  Many educators fear the overuse of drill and practice.  The overuse of drill and practice can lead to learner fatigue and student burnout with respect to the software.  The advantage to drill and practice in the ninth grade English classroom would be that students could practice and master key vocabulary words for each unit of study.

Examples:

Quizlet Vocabulary Flashcards

https://quizlet.com/99137448/search-for-self-vocabulary-periods-1-and-3-flash-cards/

Tutorials

Tutorials provide an entire sequence on a topic as it is considered self-contained as opposed to supplemental.  Tutorials are geared to students who are solid readers.  The students should be able to exhibit thorough control while utilizing a tutorial that is pedagogically appropriate.  The tutorial will have the capabilities of both judging responses and giving accurate feedback.  This is a great option when teachers are unavailable.  This can be used for the enrichment that so many students do not receive during the day.  The drawback to such a program is that the student is isolated while participating in such a tutorial.  The relative advantage of using tutorial software in my ninth grade English classroom would be to offer additional enrichment for advanced students.  This enrichment would be beneficial to students interested in specific areas of study (Roblyer 2016).

Examples:

Essay Punch– an online writing tutorial

http://www.essaypunch.com/

Simulations

Simulation software allows learners to choose the tasks they would like to complete.  Both physical and iterative simulations are possible (Roblyer 2016).  At times, simulation software can be cheaper than the real experience.  Additionally, simulation software allows for a user to learn from mistakes and try again.  For example, when dissecting a frog in science class, students can correct mistakes made during dissection without spending additional money for a new frog.  Simulation software is a nice way to increase student engagement.  Also, using the simulation software can give students opportunities that they would not always have.

Examples:

Google Cultural Institute

https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/u/0/home

Google Lit Trips

http://www.googlelittrips.org/litTripLibrary/grades9-12.php

Instructional Games

Instructional game software is very popular right now.  Students find it appealing and engaging.  Instructional game software can teach important non-cognitive skills like attention, perseverance, and many other life skills (Roblyer 2016).  There are a few disadvantages to this type of software.  The question that many educators have is if the true instructional value of the software can be measured.  Is it possible to determine the difference between learning and having fun?  While there can be some instructional value, it is important to use this strategy sparingly.  I use a few instructional games in my classroom in order to serve as review.  This can make reviewing for a test more engaging as all students compete against one another instead of one or two students answering a question at a time.

Examples:

Kahoot

https://getkahoot.com/

Problem-Solving Software

Problem-solving software focuses on the problem solving skills in a specific content area or a non content area (Roblyer 2016).  This particular software gives tools to assist students in solving problems.  These problems can be content or non content related.  The goal of the software is to improve interest and increase motivation. The problem with integrating with this type of software is the amount of time in can take to create and integrate.  In the ninth grade English class, NTeQ can help facilitate incorporating problem-solving software in the curriculum.

Examples:

NTeQ

https://harding.instructure.com/courses/252480/assignments/556125

 

Resource:

Roblyer, M.D.  Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching.  7th Edition.  Pearson, 2016. VitalSource Bookshelf Online.

RSS Lesson Plan

RSS is something that I was not overly familiar with before this class started.  I thought of newsfeed only as something connected to social media sites; however, the research for this class has really been an eye opening experience.  I learned an immense amount of information on what an RSS feed is, how it can be incorporated in the classroom, the information that can be found, and more.

The most difficult part of this assignment is that I feel there is still so much more to learn.  Feedly has so much to offer that one week just did not feel like enough.  I am looking forward to learning more about Feedly and how to incorporate it even more in the classroom.  I feel like Feedly (or something similar) is a wonderful way to encourage reading articles in the classroom.  If I had more time, I would have spent more time on Feedly.  I feel like I could spend hours reading and posting articles.  I hope that students feel the same loss of time in reading and researching the articles on Feedly.

While I have not yet incorporated this lesson in my classroom, I am excited to do so.  I feel that the students will show growth in reading comprehension and analysis of text.  I cannot wait to try this out.  I may be able to modify it and incorporate it second semester only.  I really like the idea of using Google Drive to create a portfolio for students to assess their own work.

Here is the link to my lesson:  RSS Lesson Plan.

EdTech 501 Definition Graph

One of the first assignments for EdTech 501 is to define educational technology in graphic form.  I didn’t want to default to PowerPoint as I am too comfortable with it.  I feel it is important to attempt new programs and methods during this course.  For this project, I decided to use Lucidchart as I found it while playing with Google+.  If you have not had a chance to check it out, I implore you to do so.  It includes numerous graphic organizers on the free version.  I can only imagine what I would get if I paid for it!  I found graphic organizers for essays that I have not yet tried, but I am hoping to integrate a few of them in the curriculum this year.  The organizers are easy to manipulate to create the perfect organizer for the assignment.  It is not like some organizers where I feel like I have to change the assignment to fit the organizer or create my own from scratch.  It would be difficult to find an organizer that could not be tweaked to fit any assignment.

My EdTech501 definition graphic incorporates what I believe is important in the ever evolving field of educational technology.  

#edtech501

Here is the definition graph I made using Lucidchart.

Here is the definition graph I made using Lucidchart.