Biggest Takeaways from Ed Tech

Technology cannot escape the education world. Society has reached a critical juncture in academia where a primary way to fully engage students is to incorporate technology into each unit of study. Whether it is through giving formative assessments to students through technologies, such as EdPuzzle or Zaption, assessing prior knowledge through a quick educational game, like Kahoot!, or even engaging students in controversial topics before a new lesson through Poll Everywhere, technology tools only benefits students learning.

A big takeaway from taking my Ed Tech class in my teaching credential program is that there are a plethora of ways to assess students’ knowledge, comprehension, and application with technology. Creating flipped lesson videos through EdPuzzle or Zaption enables teachers to give a formative assessment to students without having to give any examination in paper form. Adolescents in particular may be more willing to complete assignments and assessments if technology is involved. It is difficult for any student to become excited and engaged in doing any assignment, especially taking a short or long examination. However, using tech tools can even slightly spark students to become excited about completing an assignment.

All of the tech tools I learned how to use and researched more about simply reveal that there is so much more technology out there that can be explored. The teaching profession is ever changing and constantly seeks to improve students’ learning environment. I think the sheer amount of technology that is available to teachers is almost mind boggling. We think that we learned how to use a lot of tech tools, and that there is no other technologies to learn how to use in the classroom. Then we find out that we only touched the surface of technology integration in the classroom.

I am looking forward to exploring more aspects of technology and how to better incorporate them into the class setting.

Flipped Learning

In the educational world, flipped learning takes aspects of a traditional classroom and transfers them into the computer that students can access from home. Teachers can take a specific slideshow about a certain lecture, record their voices, and go through the slideshow and lecture as if their students are present. Students are able to learn about a particular topic from the security of their home, digest the knowledge, and be ready to apply their knowledge and comprehensions to more hands-on activities in the classroom. A flipped lesson can also be used as a formative assessment tool when students are asked to watch a short video about the material they had just learned. For example: if a teacher completed a lesson about President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal policies, the educator can have students watch a video pertaining to those policies and have students answer some clarifying questions along the way. EdPuzzle and Zaption are two platforms where teachers can use videos to easily add their own audio notes in certain places and stop the video in certain spots to have students answer questions that can deepen their understanding.

Flipped Learning infographic

https://edpuzzle.com/       https://www.zaption.com/

 

Having a few flipped lessons scattered throughout academic curriculum in the classroom gives teachers an additional tool they can harness when teaching students. It can be effective if there is a specific unit of study that is quite dense with material. This is especially the case with history classes, because there are quite a few periods in any country or region’s history that can take 2-3 weeks to fully teach students. Having a flipped lesson or flipped formative assessment allows educators to instead of talking about a specific topic, they can have students effectively teach themselves before class (thus fulfilling some aspects of Common Core). Teachers can then give students additional time to work on more application activities and projects in order to keep them engaged in the material.

In terms of educational technology: a flipped lesson is just another invaluable tool that is available in an ever expanding technology rich society. Students are exposed to a new technology tool that they could potentially use in a future school project for another class. They can even use a flipped lesson to explain how to accomplish a certain task in a school organization, in the community, and even at home. Adolescents want to learn more about technology and seek to incorporate technology into their lives. Teaching students how to use a flipped lesson can give students additional skills they can harness.

There isn’t anything majorly controversial about flipped learning, because the academic benefits outweigh any negative aspects of it. Students can work at their own pace with the flipped lesson; they can write down as many notes as they want without having to rush; and they have an opportunity to learn material outside of a four-walled classroom. The primary challenge to flipped learning is that not every student has easy access to a laptop, computer, tablet, or any other device for them to access the flipped lesson. Many socio-economically deprived students do not have access to technology suitable for a flipped lesson – this issue is more prevalent in urban schools. Teachers who want to use a flipped lesson once in awhile need to consider setting aside a class period for the entire class, regardless of socioeconomic standing, to have the chance to use the computer lab on campus to complete the flipped lesson.

John Bergmann was one of the first educators to push for public schools to flip more lessons to deepen student learning and questioning. Bergmann discovered that before he flipped any of his lessons he only had one opportunity to ask deep, qualifying questions to his students to see if they comprehended what they learned. With flipped lessons, Bergann realized he had more moments in the classroom where he could check student understanding multiple times to decipher their thinking. In other words: his questioning strategies improved when he flipped more of his lessons to his students. You can follow John Bergmann’s blog to read more of his flipped teaching strategies and opinions at:

Why Flipped Learning Improves a Teacher’s Questioning Skills

Mary Beth Hertz also writes in her blog that the major benefits and reasons for flipped lessons in classrooms include how they force teachers to constantly reflect upon their teaching. She mentions how flipped learning is an instructional tool that could potentially be a good reflection of John Dewey’s vision of changing the fabric of how academia is taught to students. Flipped learning is a different educational tool that pushes teachers into an academic realm that has the potential to vastly improve the quality of work, application, comprehension, and appreciation of subject matter from students. You can follow Hertz’s blog at:

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/flipped-classroom-pro-and-con-mary-beth-hertz

Finally, if you want to see what technology tools are out there to create effective flipped lessons, Richard Bryne posted on his blog 12 tools teachers can use to flip their lessons, including EdPuzzle:

http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2015/12/12-tools-for-creating-flipped-lessons.html#.V0YcU9cdcfq

Digital Citizenship

We live in an era where technology is unavoidable. Our society depends more and more on technology to help us accomplish activities and tasks in almost every aspect of of daily life. Education is no different: proper instruction in a Common Core Era requires advanced understanding and usage of technology in the classroom. However, with increased student technology usage comes the danger of students not knowing or comprehending what it means to be an digital citizen.

We learn at an early age, throughout our adolescent years, and well into adulthood how to be a respectable citizen when we interact with people in person. The digital world, while it is many times an indirect medium to people (with the exception of social media sites, such as Facebook), is still an region where people need to be aware of how to be a model citizen online. Digital Citizenship is all about learning how to be a respectable, knowledgeable, and equitable technology user in a 21st century technology driven educational world.

Online websites and other digital platforms allow people to remain anonymous when writing online, and that breeds the temptation to illicit disrespectful and injurious comments about someone or an organization. The internet is not a place to outright (for the lack of a better term) bash others’ perspectives in a disrespectful manner. Each person has the right to write their interpretations without having to feel the pressure of being ridiculed in front of literally millions of people. Cyberbulling is a relatively new phenomenon that directly affects children, adolescents, young adults, and the elderly. It is especially damaging to adolescents, because they are transitioning from childhood into adulthood. Every teenage year they are going through major cognitive, physical, and social development; they absorb every person, remark, and other outside forces to further create their identity. Technology can be used to write positive, constructive remarks about individuals, but is also a prime location for personal attacks.

Learning about what is proper and improper write online is key in any educational setting. Creating educational activities in the classroom, such as collaborative annotation of primary sources, gives students the ability to acquire and hone a new educational skill they can use with any other academic course. After proper instruction of what is an appropriate annotation – because everyone else can see the annotation – adolescents can enrich their understanding of science, math, history, English, music, and any other course that requires them to analyze specific primary sources, data, sheet music, a poem, etc.

Digital citizenship also requires students to have a deep comprehension of how to best take care of technology. Any form of technology is expensive and improper handling of electronic devices can result in someone or an organization having to spend more money on technology that should not have been damaged. Teachers have a responsibility to instruct students on how to handle certain electronic devices. Yes, students’ parents tell them how to care for their electronic possessions, and stress the importance of expenses, but that instruction should also be reinforced in the classroom.

There are a lot of resources teachers and other people can seek to learn more about how to implement digital citizenship in a classroom setting or in their lives. The International Society for Technology in Education is a great resources for teachers to discover ways to weave digital citizenship instruction into their curriculum. ISTE gives a deep description about cyberbulling and how to prevent the spread of it across the digital platform.

https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=242&category=ISTE-Connects-blog

Common Sense Media gives physical lesson plans for K-12 teachers to use in their classroom to teach different aspects of digital citizenship. There are a lot of lesson plans to explore, so make sure to carve out time in the day to explore Common Sense Media.

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/scope-and-sequence

One lesson from Common Sense Media I would either use or modify is their lesson on Collective Intelligence for 9-12 grade students. (credit for the lesson is given to the creators of Common Sense Media and the personnel who developed this lesson).

Description:
For this lesson students hone their understandings of what it means to work collectively as a group online. The focus is to determine the benefits and drawbacks to creating information about a particular topic online, for example, through wikis sites. Part of this less has students think about what it means to be synergized with each other online. The primary task includes students constructing a Wiki site of their school with relevant information.

Why is it valuable?
Learning how to work as a group with anything is one the most challenging tasks for any student, regardless of grade level. Collectively discussing with each other does not get any easier – in fact it becomes harder as people become older. With technology, working as a group is even more important in today’s technologically enhanced world. At times it is difficult for students to understand what information online is relevant to them, what information is truthful, and how much information to include online to get arguments fully explained. Having students collectively explore the advantages and disadvantages to working as a team to share information online gives them social tools they can use as they progress into collegiate life.

How would I make it my own?
I kind of like the idea of having students think about the meaning of “synergy” and how it would look like both in the classroom and in the real world. Students can gather a deeper understanding of how it looks to be well connected with each other during a major assignment. I think instead of having students create a wiki page about their school, it would be beneficial to have students create a wiki page, or some other online learning page, about a particular historical phenomenon – historical figure, major event, significant changes in economics, politics, and/or society. Students can further understand what it means to work together as they are including information onto their wiki page. They can learn how to work together to determine what is relevant.

Grade 9-12
https://d2e111jq13me73.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/uploads/classroom_curriculum/9-12-unit4-collectiveintelligence-2015.pdf

Educational Technology Tools

During my short time as a teacher I have implemented Poll Everywhere.com for a few of my lessons in different units of study. I found that Poll Everywhere directly engages students right at the beginning of my lessons, because it requires them to use their cell phones. This particular online technology tool allows educators to create various types of starter, processing, or closing for students to think about a provide a response via their cell phones. All students have to do is text a particular code to a specific six or seven digit sequence and participate in the Poll question(s) teachers provide to them.

Poll Everywhere allows educators to create multiple choice responses, wall text responses, cloud based responses, and even short answer responses via cell phones. All of the responses that students send into the given code are anonymous, so students do not feel pressured or embarrassed for their response. Poll Everywhere is a great tool to use during any part of a given lesson: whether it is before giving a lecture about some specific content, periodically during a lecture, or even at the end of class as a form of class-wide formative assessment.

As mentioned earlier, I have used Poll Everywhere in my classroom a couple of times. I primarily use it as an introductory to the day’s lesson. Because I teach history, the multiple choice questions I create are more modern-day impacting questions that students are familiar with. I recently taught a lesson about the Spanish-American War and how “yellow journalists,” such as Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, wrote sensational stories about the Spain to stir war fever among the nation and to acquire money. Before I even talked about the war or “yellow journalism” I had students text in their responses to about five questions relating to modern day media. All of the answer choices were either ‘yes’,’ no’, or ‘to an extent.’ Some of the questions included: Should the federal government regulate the media? Should the government restrict where reporters can go and see? Are news stations reliable? Does the media affect government legislation?

My students greatly discussed each question with each other and provided insightful responses for the class to respond to. With the use of Poll Everywhere, we were able to analyze the quantitative results of the three answer choices to determine what students thought about the media. As a result, the class was more focused and alert in learning about American imperialism and the Spanish-American War. I could visually see that students comprehended the material better, because I opened up the lesson with a well-thought introductory activity using Poll Everywhere. I will definitely be using Poll Everywhere again for my classes (especially to connect historical phenomenon to present-day phenomenon).

Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an aspect of education that focuses on how best to construct daily lessons in each content area for all levels of students. Each classroom is comprised of students from different ethnic, academic, socio-economic, and personality-wise backgrounds. Educators have to learn how to create a year-long curriculum that addresses all student strengths, especially for English Language Learners, IEP students, and 504 Plan students. There are three components of UDL: multiple methods of presentation, multiple options for participation, and multiple means of expression.

Students learn the most content knowledge and develop conceptual skills and understandings if educators present information and theories in different presentation formats. Giving a lecture to students using a Power Point presentation is the traditional way to teach students using technology. However, lectures can also be given without the use of technology to enhance the lesson. Students absorb and apply information more efficiently if, for example, historical phenomenon is explained through verbal and visual representation. In the 21st century, students are surrounded by media devices that give them easy access to television shows, films, and documentaries that can help them expand their academic proficiency in all subject areas. History teachers in particular can select from a plethora of documentaries to further elaborate upon specific historical phenomenon, such as the impact the temperance movement had on the passage of the Prohibition Amendment during the Progressive Era of the United States.

UDL’s second component, multiple options for participation, refers to how teachers can design lessons to allow students to be verbally engaged with their classmates. Participation can come in the form of giving an oral presentation to the class, providing students the opportunity to ask and answer questions, and especially participate through the use of various technologies. Teachers can harness various technologies, such as Poll Everywhere and Kahoot, to encourage students to become excited about learning new academic topics. Giving students the option to pick what technology they want to use to showcase their comprehensive knowledge can elicit increased student participation in the classroom during discussions and other aspects of learning. History teachers, for example, can use Poll Everywhere to introduce a lesson about propaganda usage during WWI by having students respond to Poll Everywhere questions by simply texting in their responses about specific questions about the media. The class can see their results, interpret their results, and have a discussion with their colleagues and the teacher.

I kind of have tied the third aspect of UDL, multiple means of expression, into the previous paragraph. Students are more responsive and attentive in the classroom when they are given multiple options to express their knowledge and comprehension about various academic content. Technology plays a huge role in providing students different means to express themselves. Students who are great with digital art can create a well constructed digital presentation about some scientific phenomenon. An individual who excels at video projects can create an excellent parody of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to showcase his/her understanding of the play.

Teachers must keep all student abilities and personalities into account while designing lessons. Universal Design for Learning provides almost a home base for teachers to build off of when creating lessons for each unit of study.