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.

 

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.

3rd Party Apps – TABOO?

Colleagues in my district are buzzing about third party apps that store student information. Class Dojo and Edmodo are two that many teachers have come to rely on, and suddenly concerns about the legalities of sharing and storing student information online have come to our attention. Making individual decisions to use apps in our classrooms (those that aren’t authorized by the district) means we are responsible for any potential legal issues – without the support of the district or our union.  It’s true that anything can become a legal issue these days, so the concerns are valid. But I also believe there are safe ways to use technology in our classrooms, and that we should be able to put some safety measures in place that protect our students’ privacy, and our professional use of third party apps.

One concern lies in the fact that many of these apps are free to use, and that there must be some trade-off for companies making them available. Is it possible that the data stored in these databases could be aggregated and analyzed in ways we can’t foresee? Certainly identity theft could be an potential issue, but that’s just one concern.

Another concern is that student information is being shared with entire classes of students. As a parent, I wouldn’t want my sons’ grades to posted in front of the classroom. A majority of parents support me there. In essence, that’s what Class Dojo does. Many teachers post their Dojo classrooms, filled with little monster avatars, and add and take away individual points based on student behavior or progress with the whole class watching. While the data being shared doesn’t qualify as “grades”, it is reflective of how a student is performing, and calling attention to who the “good” kids and “bad” kids are. The stigma, and potentially damaging implications just aren’t worth the risk in my opinion.

Are any of these student tracking apps worth the risk? We live in a world filled with educational applications that help us teach, collect data, and share information with parents. And many of our classrooms are filled with devices that allow students to create and problem-solve online. I’d like to know that I can safely create a class of students whose progress I can view and analyze. Is that so wrong? Do parents need to be a part of the equation? If I can see where my students are struggling, shouldn’t I be able to use that to individualize their learning plans and be a more effective teacher for them? If real first and last names aren’t used, and students aren’t identifiable outside my classroom, shouldn’t that be enough to make these apps safe to use? What are your thoughts?

Learning Networks

I have belonged to many learning communities in my twenty-five years as an educator. Until the Internet made connecting with other educators as easy as it is now, I took advantage of workshops and classes offered to teachers, in which I worked with other educators to share and learn about new tools. I’ve also attended many educational conferences, where I’ve networked with a number of other professionals who share my love for educational technology. I remain connected with many of the people I’ve met at these events, through Google +, Twitter and LinkedIn. Those that I became especially connected with are also friends on my Facebook page. I value the insight and recommendations of my professional learning network, and have subscribed to a number of blogs, channels, and print and online publications as a result of these networks.

I have had so many social media accounts, that for a time I had a hard time keeping track of them. It seemed that every time I attended a conference, I was introduced to another online tool for which I would create an account. Managing all of them was difficult. My online dashboard kept most of my information in one place, but changes to the site I was using, and its eventual deprecation made me take assessment of what was really important.

The social media platforms on which I am most active are currently the following:

Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/rhonda.kinstner)

Twitter (https://twitter.com/rhondakinstner)

LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/rhondakinstner)

While my Facebook account is based more on a personal network, I have a number of Facebook friends who play important roles in my professional development. These friends include alumni from my Lamar ETL cohort, past administrators, and past and current colleagues in the educational profession. Our Facebook discussions are much less formal than other social media posts might be, but they contribute much to my learning and provide resources to which I may not have access otherwise.

Twitter has been an important part of a majority of the educational conferences I’ve attended. Hashtags make it easy for me to follow specific threads and to locate the information I’m looking for. And though I may not know everyone I follow on a personal basis, they are all people whose experiences and opinions I value. Some of my most valuable Twitter connections are presenters from past conferences, or leaders in educational technology I’ve met through them.

I use social media to prepare for job interviews. First, I do some exploring in Twitter to locate district feeds, and I read about what’s going on in the districts, so I can incorporate any helpful information in my discussion with their administration. I also look for district technology team members on Twitter, to see what they are sharing, and what tools I should make myself familiar with.

When one of my interviews required a five minute presentation, I turned to the internet in search of a new and engaging presentation tool to use. I found one that was not only engaging, but free, and my audience loved it.

http://www.edtechmagazine.com/ Ed Tech Magazine is a source I use often for ideas. When I found an  article by Meg Conlon, suggesting the ways in which students could benefit from technology integration, I knew I needed to share it with the people I thought needed to see it most. (http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2016/08/6-ways-students-benefit-technology-integration-infographic) They are the classroom teachers in my building, who aren’t networked in the technology pages I use, but are friends on Facebook. Most of them don’t feel there’s enough time to use technology in their classrooms, so I do what I can to encourage them. I shared the article there.

http://mashable.com/2016/08/03/dropbox-paper-beta/#Z_bxeWPJAOqk  I’m a follower of Mashable, not so much for educational purposes, but as a means of staying up-to-date with technology. As a user of dropbox, I found an article about a new collaboration tool in the application to be something worth sharing with the technology team in my district, so I added a new link on our group page in Sharepoint.   I also posted it in Twitter, where I had a “like” and a “share” within an hour of doing so.

I love Tech & Learning magazine. I have been a subscriber for more than five years, and receive an email regularly with the most popular articles in technology education. This week, I found a great article comparing Edublog to Seesaw. http://www.techlearning.com/blogentry/11061   I really appreciated the comparison because we use these tools in my school.   I felt a need to share it with my TechinEdu group (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/108447) in LinkedIn, because effective collaboration and communication are such an important part of what we all strive for. I also shared it with my cohorts in this DLL program,  as I felt that with the discussions this week being based on digital tools and collaboration, it was something worth mentioning to my colleagues. I shared something else with my cohorts this week, too.  As I was responding to one of the discussion posts, I was reminded of a cyberbullying video I used to show my freshmen at the start of each school year. I’ve shared it with PLN’s in the past, but thought my new cohorts might appreciate it as well. (http://old.digizen.org/cyberbullying/fullFilm.aspx) The video is accompanied by a great lesson plan and digital resources about cyberbullying. It’s an emotional eye-opener that still makes me emotional, despite the fact that I’ve watched it at least thirty times.