Saturday, July 4, 2015

Self-assessment-project reflection!

Throughout MTI562, our instructor Jacqui Murray has asked us to take risks, get out of our
comfort zone and find new ways to bring technology into our classrooms.  The project I have chosen to evaluate is my week two project in which I discovered the concept of screencasts and the program Jing.  I have chosen to use the rubric for the course and self-evaluate.  In looking at it again, I completed it as a demonstration of how I could possibly use this in my classroom.  I remember doing it several times to get the rhythm down of speaking and clicking on the screen and yet if I was to do it again, I would have taken the video even further through the school website. In the video on Assessments, one of the 15 concepts of a well-rounded evaluation of a student was whether they were able to solve technological problems before asking for help.  This idea sums up the entire class the last five weeks.  Each time I have tackled a new web tool there has been no one here to ask for help but I was able to figure it out by trial and error. I did not agree at the beginning of the class, but now believe that my students must be encouraged to work through their own tech problems.  If I was to grade my own project, I would take 5 points off under completion.  I was able to figure out how to use Jing but now would go complete it with more depth. This would give me a total score of 155. 

In my own classroom, I allow students to re-write their essays if they wish.  It is always amazing to me how many students do not take me up on this offer, even though it would raise their grade.  Self-assessment is necessary to move forward.  My week two project did accomplish the goal of the class and I believe showed that I am learning. This is a web-tool I will be using and have downloaded the "yellow sun" on my computer, my husband's with a promise to teach him and my school computer.

Projects rubric:
CategorySuperior (160 pts)Sufficient (128 pts)Below Standard (112 pts)
Understanding of web tool

Shows strong understanding of activity, concept, or tool and maximize learningShows adequate understanding of activity, concept, or tool and benefit learning.Shows little understanding of activity, concept, or tool and may not benefit learning.
Practical evidence

Shows strong evidence of ideas and insights gained from this course and how they are applied to classroom. Shows evidence of ideas and insights from this course and how they are applied to classroom.Shows little evidence of ideas and insights from this course or how they are applied to the classroom.

Completed in a thoughtful and meaningful manner.Completed, but with minimal quality.Not all projects are completed and of those that are, some are minimal quality.
Grammar and Spelling

Includes no mistakes in grammar or spelling. Includes few grammar and spelling mistakes.Includes numerous grammar and spelling mistakes.

Sequenced, showing if-then thinking and the logical order required to complete skill, solve problem, or use tool. Not always sequenced, showing incomplete if-then thinking and understanding of logical order required to complete skill.Confusing making it difficult to replicate activities; little understanding of logic or if-then thinking evidenced.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

A never ending digital footprint!

During the school year I spend my days with junior and senior high school honors students preparing for their standardized tests, getting them career and college ready and encouraging them to strive for the best they can be. We use technology appropriately and demand they use standard conventions of English in their writing and language appropriate to the subject they are studying.  Honestly, they handle this very well and learn to "play the academic game."  Several years ago we were encouraged to Twitter with our classes and I set that up immediately thinking they would jump right in.  But the opposite occurred. They didn't want to Twitter with their teacher and most refused to follow the page. So I asked them why and the answer I got back surprised me.  "We are afraid you will follow our Twitter pages," they replied.  What shocked me was that they truly didn't think that I could see what they had posted.  So I did a little research on my own.  I went on Facebook and typed in several names - I was able to not only see what they posted, but all their personal information and photos as they had no security set up on their accounts. This held true for Twitter and other Internet sites.  I came to the conclusion that we have not taught these students that they have been creating a "never-ending digital footprint" that will stay with them as they enter college, the work force and beyond. In a research study done by in April, 48% of 18-34 yr. olds check Facebook as soon as they wake up, 28% check their Facebook pages before they even get out of bed.  These same students are uploading an average of 205 photos per day and every 20 minutes 3 million messages are being sent.   We are teaching generations of students that have had social media since before they entered High School and perhaps even before grade school.  In a June 28, 2015 article on ( The National Law Review,) it was cited that 45% of employers use social media such as sites like Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter to screen job applicants.  The article goes on to state that 2% of employers terminated employees for content on their social media and videos on YouTube.  When we are born we receive a social security number that stays with us our entire life.  We are foot and finger printed at birth and that is unique to each and everyone of us but the concept of a digital footprint is something not only schools must teach but parents must inform their children when they help them set up that first Facebook page in grade school.  The consequences are too high for our college graduates and high school students trying to get into a good college or enter the workforce.  In a 2013 blog on, Kat Cohen cited a Kaplan survey of college admissions counselors.  27% of those surveyed said they had googled a student to find their presence on the Internet and 35% said they found things that negatively impacted their application.  This number had tripled since the year before.  A young person's digital footprint begins the minute they log onto the Internet and enter the world of social media or blogs or anywhere they publish something.  As teachers, we must direct our students to be responsible, ethical digital citizens and show them what could happen in their future years if they do not consider the impact of their digital footprint.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Linking Things

Earlier this evening I discovered a web tool called "Thinglink."  This tool has several platforms but one especially for educators.  I immediately signed up for the free version and started.  Figuring out what this was and how to use it was half the fun and demonstrated what web tools can do for our students in a rigorous technological environment.  When my three children were very young I purchased a computer program called "Putt Putt Saves the Zoo."  I remember initially being frustrated that it came with no instructions.  What I quickly discovered was my 2 and 3 yr. old did not need instructions because they were inquisitive and had no fear.  They did not stop when Putt Putt the car hit a dead end, they just went the other way till they found the next clue. This innate desire to learn begins at a very young age and can be fostered if not suppressed.   I have watched my high school students get very excited as they search on databases for research information in a way they never did when searching the book stacks.  Web tools enhance learning in a different way and can bring back the natural inquisitiveness older students had but might have forgotten.

On the web tool Thinglink, one begins with an image then clicks to imbed links, videos, pictures, or text onto the page. It reminds me of the hands-on displays at museums that young children will explore.  I plan to use it initially in my Honors speech classes for students to look at when I assign a speech for them to watch.  I can click a box that would allow them to add links to the image that they find on-line and when we are done will have a rich research tool that all can share.  Thinglink could also be used as a presentation board to be shared with the class.  My AP students are required to read several essays a week from a variety of authors.  The authors in a unit are grouped around an essential question of a specific topic. This would be a great way for students to explore the depth of a social issue and gain perspective as to why authors are writing about it.  I upgraded to the premium version that allows me to add 1000 students. They will then be able to access the program and we can begin to publish and share.

All of learning is about making connections. I teach writing and advanced reading and if my students can link the things we read they are bound to do better on the National AP exam and will write with more depth and insight.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

To Tech or not to Tech, that is the school's question!

Working in a low socio-economic school has its own challenges.  For years we have professed to be
a 21st century school but coming out of the 20th century took over ten years where I teach.  I believe most teachers would agree that the teaching profession embraces any technology that is created. Mechanical pencils replaced pencil sharpeners in my room (though I have to admit I still give new Ticonderoga #2 pencils to all my students before the National AP Exam each year.)  Computer labs replaced typewriters and e-books are replacing textbooks.  Many years ago I asked several of my seniors who were going to be engineers to design a desk for me that would have a lid to lift and a computer would be inside so we would not have to walk to the lab each day. They smiled and said, "someday" but now each of my students will have a chrome book - even better! 

Using technology has not been the challenge.  Getting "equal access for all students" in our district has been the greatest tech problem I have faced as a teacher.  As a lifetime resident of Illinois, I can only speak of our situation. I teach in a rural district of 1300 students about an hour and a half outside of Chicago.  Up until this fall, we have shared five labs of 25 computers each and three dell laptop carts.  Most of my classes have over 25 students and we only fit in one lab in the school.  Many of our students live in homes with no internet access limiting any activities such as blogging, flipping or assignments requiring a computer.  Large districts closer to the city have had updated computers for years, yet my husband's country school where he teaches, with 75 students in the whole high school, only has one computer lab with 17 computers.  The outlook for the future of technology in his school is slim to nothing as money is very tight.  This year in the district I teach in, the school board found money somewhere and decided the only answer was to give each student a chrome book to use throughout the year.  As excited as I am about this new device, we have not yet solved how to get internet access in the homes of those students who cannot afford it and will never have it.  I think I will assign homework in the fall to my students to create a list of all the businesses around town that have free Wi-Fi and we will post it in the room so they can take their laptops and do their homework there.

Technology is the future and all students deserve the same opportunities. Until we as a country or state can figure out how to give equal access to all students, we will always have a larger technology problem that will not go away.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Georgia On My Mind!

This week I lost a colleague, friend and fellow honors teacher, Georgia Stohr to breast cancer.  She had been fighting this disease for two years and finally her body couldn't fight any longer.  No one thinks about what happens to a teacher if she is no longer there.  She died an hour before her freshmen would take her final, she died three days before her grades were due, she died two days before her students could say goodbye!  Tomorrow I and several of her fellow English teachers will go into her room and pack it up....I know what we will find.  Projects done by previous students, gum in her desk drawer for after lunch, notes she had written of things not to forget before leaving for the summer.  For you see, Georgia never thought she would stop teaching. Georgia told me the week before her death that she had plans to revamp her curriculum this summer and couldn't wait till our students got their computers at registration. I told her I was taking an online class.  We couldn't let the janitors just throw it all away.  Georgia put her heart into everything she did and her heart is still in that classroom. We will pack it up respectfully as we loved our fellow teacher and can't believe she won't be there in the fall.  Georgia taught everyday she could this semester and showed us what it meant to never stop teaching.  Though she is no longer here, she is still teaching her students and her friends how to deal with crisis and never lose hope and that is her legacy. We celebrated Georgia's life in a church Sunday with students, faculty administration and her family.  Though our hearts were broken - I will always have Georgia on my mind when we welcome a new teacher in her cleaned room and new students who heard of the teacher that never stopped teaching!
Welcome MTI 562!

Several weeks ago I decided that it was time for me to take an on-line class and magically the email for this course popped up in my email at school.  I teach in a relatively poor school but this year the board surprised us and passed an initiative that each of our students would receive a brand new Google Chrome book at registration to use during their tenure at LP high.

Next year my honors students will enter my room on the first day with a computer in their hand.  This excites me and makes me nervous and I have never been a nervous teacher.  I have always loved technology and tried to keep up with whatever our school had to offer.  Our administration has announced that we all must change our teaching and integrate technology 24/7.  But we are all unsure what that should look like. This is what has drawn me to this course.

I am excited to learn some new tricks and how to integrate some old ones into my teaching.  I know my subject area like the back of my hand but I feel I have been given an opportunity and wish to start the fall semester a bit more tech savvy and able to show my students something new they have never done before.  Six years ago we wrote a grant and were able to put promethean boards into 21 classrooms.  This new technology expanded how I present information to my students and I have loved every minute of it.  Now my students will have the capability to move beyond the board and I am hopeful I can offer them some new ideas learned from this course and am able to use technology in a whole new way.