Resources

Creative Presentations

PowToon is easy to use, includes numerous objects, characters, settings and other tools with which to create engaging and fun presentations. They can be shared in video, of Powerpoint form.  (added 9/17/17)

Digital Citizenship Resources

Brainpop is a site I plan to use with my elementary students this semester. The site is very kid friendly, and includes videos, activities, and printable assignments to reinforce learning in my technology classroom. (added 9/17/17)

CreativeCommons is a go-to for crediting my own work, so that I can share it online with others, and authorize use or revision as I see fit. (added 9/17/17)

Common Sense Media includes reviews of apps and tools as they apply to my elementary students. This source also includes a digital citizenship curriculum and printable lessons for K-12 classrooms. (added 9/10/17)

NetSmartz is designed with young children in mind and provides students with videos, activities and lessons as they apply to digital citizenship and Internet safety. Students get to know Clicky, an animated character who, with his friends perform in music videos that get kids singing and dancing along to songs about digital citizenship. (added 9/10/17)

Webonauts Internet Academy is a PBS sponsored original online game that helps students to understand their roles as digital citizens. (added 9/27/2017)

Copyright Resources

Copyright Kids is a site that simplifies copyright laws. While the design of this site leaves much to be desired, I do like the fact that the information is easily explained. It’s a resource I will be using with my students next week. (added 9/24/17)

Fair Use Elevator is an interesting site that really calls your attention to all of the criteria that make a resource “fair use”. (added 9/24/17)

Cyber Bee This fun question and answer activity is something I would use as a discussion guide on a smart board with my students. (added 9/24/17)

Be Internet Awesome is a Google created game and curriculum for students. As they explore a world called Interland, they participate in activities about digital safety, kindness, privacy and literacy. (added 9/30/17)

Microsoft Training courses are available for educators (or anyone) and provide an opportunity for them to earn badges as they complete training in a variety of content areas, including digital citizenship. (added 9/30/17)

History of Copyright I taught a lesson to 4th and 5th-grade students and included some information about the Library of Congress, that allowed me to integrate history with technology.  (added 10//6/17)

Online Safety

Safe Online Surfing is offered by the FBI, and is a collection of online games designed for 3rd-8th grade students. Teachers can create an account, which will allow them to track student use. (added 9/30/17)

Social media

Online Shopping Statistics as they relate to social media really makes you think about how we are influenced without even realizing it. These statistics are from a 2016 study by UPS. (added 10/6/17)

Access

Broadband Homework Gap is from 2015, but provides a pretty good view of the issue of internet access and how it affects students in the U.S. (added 10/6/17)

 

Digital Citizenship

Digital Citizenship should be thought of as a core skill for today’s K-12 students. The digital world in which they live is one filled with opportunities, but includes a number of dangers of which digital users need to be made aware. Many of the parents of today’s students are using technology without realizing the power of the tools they are using. Many of them have not been taught about safe and ethical use of the Internet, so they are not capable of teaching their children. That’s why it’s so important that we, as educators, understand our responsibility to these children. They live in a digital world, and need to know how to use it safely, and we are their best hope for becoming good digital citizens.

In my role as a K-5 technology educator, I spend the first quarter of every school year focusing on technology rules and digital safety, respect and responsibility. One of my go-to resources for this unit of instruction is Common Sense Media. I’ve been a registered user of this site for more than five years, and have taken advantage of the many resources offered, including posters, lessons, and parent information, much of which is available in both English and Spanish, which is a necessity in my district. A scope and sequence is provided for classes at grade levels K-12, including lesson plans for each unit. One of my favorites among the lessons is the “online neighborhood” instruction and video, both of which my 1st grade students enjoy. There are also online activities for older elementary students to play independently, including digital compass, or the teacher/classroom based digital passport. Teachers are able to create classes in Digital Passport, assigning specific activities and tracking student progress. My favorite activity in the application is one in which students create a video using music and images, crediting the artists every step of the way. In the end, the video credits the producer, the musicians, and the photographers. The experience inspires students to think differently about the credits at the end of a movie, understanding the importance of providing credit where it’s due. Another activity in this online classroom requires students to identify appropriate and inappropriate text messages.

Another website that is used for elementary aged students throughout my district is NetSmartz. Children enjoy getting to know Clicky and his friends, who are animated characters on the site. Clicky and his friends animated music videos about Internet safety, which are featured on a weekly basis, and there are accompanying activities that students can enjoy independently. I recently printed some posters about internet safety and technology use from this site, which I shared with classroom teachers, in an effort to keep our rules about technology use consistent throughout our school.

While digital citizenship should be a core skill in schools today, it needs to be taught by not just the technology instructor but by all educators. If the teachers in any school are consistent with their expectations regarding the use of technology and digital citizenship our students will be better able to recognize their ethical, responsible and safe use of digital tools.

 

Online Courses

Through my years as a technology instructor I’ve focused my attentions on free web tools and resources. As I’ve completed my most recent graduate course about online learning, I’ve continued to do so. My exploration of tools available for creating online learning environments has resulted in the following list.

Google Sites – I’ve used Google sites in the past with my high school students and with the seamless inclusion of YouTube videos, and Google apps, it’s simple to create collaborative environments, student worksheets and forms, and diagrams necessary for online instruction. Google Analytics has also allowed me to monitor how often the tools have been used outside of school hours which is a feature I found useful for measuring the success of the course.

Schoology was the online application I chose to use for this course, and seems to be the online course creator that was most often used by my colleagues. I found it easy to use with those tools I’m most accustomed to using – Google apps and YouTube videos. I especially appreciated the support for collaboration offered by Schoology. And although I didn’t necessarily use the grading feature for my course, the fact that it’s available makes this a tool I would consider in the future.

At Udemy, online course creation is free. In-depth courses can be created by anyone to use either for free or for a fee (for the creator to determine). If you’re looking to sell an online course you’ve designed, this is a great option.

CourseSites by Blackboard is free resource for creating open courses or MOOC’s, in a social learning environment. It includes assessment options and accommodates a variety of media.

Learnopia is another free online course creator. Similar to Udemy, course designers can offer their courses for free or for a charge.

While the above provide options for designing online courses, a number of sites exist that offer pre-designed online instruction, one of which was included as a resource in my own online course. Khan Academy offers free courses and resources in a wide variety of subject areas. Additionally, Peer to Peer University (P2PU) is an open source learning community that offers courses in a number of subject areas. It is run by volunteers and focuses on “learning circles” where participants can take online classes together.

 

Implementing My Online Course

I work in a K-5 school, where I teach technology. While my innovation plan and corresponding online course are geared toward professional learning with my colleagues, there are some ways in which online courses could benefit the learning of my students as well.

Because my district’s communication and collaboration platform is Office 365, it is the tool I would have to use for any student-centered online learning course in my building. Office 365 provides a safe environment for our young students to collaborate and discuss with other members of our district environment, and it is both approved and monitored by district administration. Keeping in mind that I am working with K-5 students, I would likely focus on 4th and 5th grades for any online course, since they would be most prepared to use the digital tools needed for doing so (keyboarding, terminology, login information and email addresses).

Each year, I spend a significant part of the first semester teaching students about digital responsibility and safety. I would use OneNote as my online learning environment for this “course” posting weekly assignments for students, and allowing them to submit responses (in the form of images, videos or text) within their shared notebooks. I would include instruction in crediting sources, and creating and responding to blog posts respectfully. I could choose whether to configure each assignment to be shared or to be saved privately in each student’s notebook. I would also be able to embed any required videos to student notebooks, where they could be viewed and discussed as assigned.

Another online course I could teach using O365 is in the area of creating presentations. Assignments would include the organization of student research in Word, the creation of outlines, and the ultimate development of a PowerPoint or Sway presentation.

In each of these scenarios, there would be no automatic grading, as students would each have their own independent ideas, contributions and creative works.

My Online Course

My online course is about blended learning, and it has been created for teachers in my building, so as I’ve designed it  I’ve considered  what I’ve learned in my research.  My research (and experience in speaking with my colleagues) shows that time constraints are the biggest obstacle to teachers’ use of technology in the classroom. Their workloads are more demanding now than ever, due to an increased population of high-need students, pressure to teach to assessments, and demands to learn new content and skills. For that reason, my course is meant to be used in conjunction with traditional learning in staff meetings. It cannot be used effectively by itself. Teachers aren’t comfortable enough using technology to learn about it on their own. They also don’t have time to put in to an online course, unless meeting time is dedicated for them to do so. My live instruction will accompany my course for a number of reasons. First, I want to model the blended learning techniques I’m trying to teach. Second, I want to provide support and guidance as I am offering professional learning. And third, I want to communicate that what we’re doing is important enough for administrators to dedicate time to learning more about it.

Learner participation is a key to the success of this course. While I will provide the guidance and design of the learning process, a majority of the activity will be conducted by the learners. They will participate in a number of activities during our meeting times, and throughout the weeks between scheduled meetings. Evidence of learning will come in the form of their in-class and online discussions, shared experiences, feedback, and PLC meeting minutes. Learning will be mostly experiential, including a number of cooperative, problem-based and inquiry-led activities.

I am making a real effort to make my online course an authentic one that I can use in the fall. While this means that I am not including tons of resources, what I am including is what I consider to be essential to the experience. The informal, one-on-one interaction that accompanies it (in the form of team-teaching experiences) will play a significant role as well.

Using Schoology

I have chosen Schoology as my online learning platform, and have found it to be quite user-friendly. I am most impressed with the wide selection of tools and formats with which I can present instruction, and the fact that I can include Google apps and videos seamlessly within the program.

One struggle I have been having is in regards to the use of Office 365 with Schoology. A part of my innovation plan includes teaching educators how to use shared documents and folders with their students. Since my district uses Office 365 as our primary communication and collaboration platform, I have been spending a portion of my time exploring ways to merge it with Schoology. While it complicates my process, I do enjoy the challenge it presents. My efforts to maintain an authentic learning plan are leading me toward new learning experiences and potentially some new tools that I can use in my own classroom.

Another more immediate struggle I encountered this week was in the addition of materials to my online course. One unit will be focusing on exploring the apps available on the iPads in our building. As I tried to log into Jamf (our online app management system) this weekend, I discovered that service was “temporarily unavailable” because the system was being updated.  As a result, I was unable to share images of my school’s apps catalog in Schoology. I plan to add these materials as soon as they are made available to me.

 

Inspiring Action

I created the video above using Windows Movie Maker. Narration was recorded in Audacity, and photos came from a variety of sources, mostly my own photo collection. (I enjoy taking photos of successful technology lessons in my computer lab, and keep them as a resource in my own teaching portfolio.) I included an example of a faculty email regarding technology integration, which I recorded using Screen-cast-o-matic and the Snipping Tool. These emails are typical in my role as a technology integration specialist and instructor.

The Backstory…

My digital story is based on experiences in my own school and district. Devices are easily accessible in every K-5 classroom. But they are not used as often as they should be. While some teachers use them daily, others might use them once each week. Blended learning is an intimidating concept for many teachers.While a majority of educators in my building are open to the idea of including technology-based lessons many are reluctant to do so, because today’s students are so comfortable with using technology. Many teachers are concerned with losing control over the learning process and some are more concerned with the technology being a distraction for their students. Generally, most of my colleagues aren’t confident enough with their own use of technology to guide students in how to use it.

I recognize that time is really is the educators’ most valuable asset. It’s the most common excuse I hear for them not taking advantage of my offer to help them use technology in their classrooms. Their time spent in the classroom is focused on meeting goals, addressing standards, collecting data, managing behavior, and using strategies that they have experience using. They are comfortable with what works. After school, they are grading student work, and planning lessons for the following day. It makes sense that they don’t want to waste their valuable time trying something new, when they don’t know whether it will be effective. Their priorities are on student achievement, after all… and not technology.

District administrators understand the importance of technology in a successful learning environment, and they’ve done an amazing job providing devices in the classrooms. They also offer and present professional development opportunities for our teachers, so that they can learn how to use the tools that are made available by district approved software and apps. But professional development typically takes place in a leader-centered environment. It doesn’t provide practice or opportunity for teachers to experience technology-based classroom instruction. And it certainly doesn’t provide them with time to develop innovative technology-based lessons.

If administrators want to encourage educators to use blended learning strategies they need to provide them with the one thing they need most; time to get comfortable with technology as a learning tool.  Restructuring professional development opportunities to include more learner-centered opportunities for our teachers would help to ease their burden. Allowing teachers time to communicate with one another, to learn from one another, and to collaborate in an informal environment where they can share their experiences with using technology in their classrooms, shows a district’s commitment to the shift to blended learning. Teachers with experience are perhaps the most important resource to teachers without. When allowed to get together to discuss what technology-based lessons are working successfully in a colleague’s classroom, they can individualize discussions in order to learn most effectively. Hearing from colleagues which technology-based lessons work and which don’t, makes it easier for educators to develop plans of their own. When an educator can create and introduce an innovative lesson with minimal risk, they will be more motivated to do so.

I created a plan that I call Motivating Blended Learning Educators (MoBLE for short).  It’s a proposal for my district to help their teachers make the shift from traditional education to a blended learning environment. This proposal includes a background of blended learning, with evidentiary support for its success as a learning strategy. It also includes steps to motivate educators through in-house learning experiences as well as a request for collaborative time during which educators can share and collaborate to create engaging and effective blended learning strategies. The role of district administrators should not stop at providing the tools and “how-to’s”.  They should do what they can to motivate and inspire educators to use the devices effectively. Providing teachers with dedicated collaborative time would demonstrate their commitment to making a shift to blended learning.  

 

 

Literature Review

The above link will take you to literature research for my Innovation Plan, which is currently in development. Please feel free to comment on my findings.