What are your overall take-aways from the methods/tools that you might use to differentiate the classroom environment (for teacher productivity and student progression)?
To address the first question I needed to look back at all of the resources I researched over the past five weeks. I am always looking at resources for my classroom with the grade level in mind. I teach third grade so when I look at resources I tend to skip past ones for middle and high school as well as those listed for college. I find that I must make myself look at those resources with the same open-mindedness as those meant for upper elementary. The goal is not to stay within my comfort zone but to branch out and increase my comfort zone. I also tend to get stuck on how this class is helping with increasing my math knowledge and proficiency in teaching math to my third graders. I know that my students are probably more computer savvy than I am even at 8-9 years of age. This is because they have grown up with computers where as I was not exposed to them until high school and college. I am fascinated with the amount of technology that is available for teachers to use and somewhat overwhelmed at learning and understanding all of it. I was very lucky when completing my internship to be a part of a school that was piloting a Promethean Board and the Active Inspire Software Program. I have been using one ever since and cannot imagine teaching my lessons without it. Through researching the various articles these past weeks I have found I really like to following tools the most.
- Survey Monkey
- Drop Box
- Google Calendar
- Google Drive
These tools would definitely help to differentiate my classroom environment. We currently use our classroom computers for student’s extension activities in both math and reading. My students practice math fluency through a couple of different websites and programs which can be accessed both at school and at home. Students in intervention groups for reading have access before school and during class to practice using Lexia and Read Naturally. Both of these programs are used throughout the district for student progress in reading fluency. I think it would be exciting to have my students be able to do more of their learning using technology throughout the school year. Not that I wouldn’t teach, on the contrary there would still be direct instruction when needed. Independent and individualized work would be done using other means.
Which of these may you use in your classroom in the future?
Of the tools listed above I will definitely be trying out Survey Monkey. Surveys for interest levels in subject areas can be done on paper, but in today’s age completing the survey online is more interesting and fun. Those are two things we as teachers need to look at for all of our lessons. Interesting and fun lessons result in more engagement by students. I myself use Google Calendar to keep track of my own life, but can see how it may also work for my students. The trick will be selling it to the parents. Not all parents are interested in having their child use the computer for their education. I also would really like to try the Edmodo. Creating a group through Edmodo that my students can use to engage in dialogue with their peers about their learning would be really interesting.
In addition, I looked at the resources posted by Lee for this week. I was very interested in the articles from Wired Campus on E-Books, Educational Leadership on Students Tracking their Progress, and The National Teacher Training Institute on Managing Students Computers. The article from Wired Campus discusses the new E-Books that are becoming available for college students. Not only can students read, highlight, and take notes, but their professors can track how much they read, what they highlight, and how many notes they take. This information is then put into a student engagement record for the professor. As a college student I’m thinking first, that one less book I have to purchase as they are extremely expensive, and two, wow talk about accountability on the part of the student. We cannot complain that the information was not there or that the test or assignment was too hard if we do not read the required text. Being accountable for one’s education is something that we as adult should have.
Now how to apply this to my classroom? Our district provides a login and password for our students for both our reading program and math program. They can login in and re-read the weekly story, complete assignments, and take tests, all from their home computer. I as the teacher cannot see if the students read the book at home, but I can see if they complete the assignment or completed the test I assigned. I understand that I could use the information about whether my students actually login and complete assignments for tracking engagement, but not for giving grades unless I provide my students with the opportunity to complete those assignments and test at school.
The article from Educational Leadership on Students tracking their progress was excellent. I found the information very interesting and informative. Students who are involved in creating their own learning goals and tracking their progress achieved higher success, than those who did not. The importance of involving students is sometimes lost to teachers. We feel we need to teach, teach, teach, then assess, assess, and assess again. We take the data, analyze the data, and then tell the students they need to work harder, read more, and compute faster. This means less to students than if they analyze the data themselves, reassess their goals and keep track of their progress. I really like the idea of using rubrics rather than points to track progress on assessments. Rubrics can be created in kid-friendly language so they know exactly what they are being assessed on. Also the idea of using a variety of assessments lends itself to different types and styles of learning. We will get a better picture of student achievement then just the traditional paper-pencil test.
Lastly the article on managing student computers from the National Teacher Training Institute was wonderful. Even though I only have three classroom computers I understand the need for educating students in how to use them. Many students have access to computers at home, but not necessarily the programs used at school. We want students to be able to write papers, create presentations, and collect and analyze data. The programs used for those things are not using part of student’s education, unless specifically taught. The article explains how information about programs can be taught to students using whole-group instruction, using teams to complete projects, and individual projects. It also addresses using a computer lab as well as classroom computers.