Welcome!

Join me in reading about my journey towards a Master’s Degree in Educational Technology at Boise State University.  My Learning Log will be a place to reflect on and store the artifacts created as part of this degree.  It will also be a place to receive comments and critiques from fellow students.

Netiquette and Facilitated Chat

This week we were given the task of working in a group of 4 or 5 students to create our key points on Netiquette. For those who aren’t aware, netiquette is a set of rules that detail the correct or acceptable way to communicate on the internet. As we work through the tasks that an educator would need to know to teach an online course, classroom netiquette is an important first step. Our group worked great together and I will include our finished product below.

Another task for this week was to participate in a facilitated chat. We had many optionsocialmediawallpapers that included using a webcam, verbal discussion through an internet tool, or just typing our comments. I have worked collaboratively through google docs in the past. This is a great way to work on a collaborative document but it is often hard to read emotions and typing for some is slower than speaking. Some people may find it easier to speak their thoughts than type them out. Our group decided to meet up through Google Hangout.

I really enjoyed the whole experience. It was nice to put a face and voice with names I have been seeing this semester. To me, it seemed much easier to brainstorm and bounce ideas back and forth when we could talk to each other rather than having to type everything. One person from the group initiated the call and the rest of us joined in. You have the option to display your google profile picture or to turn on your webcam. We had members that did one or the other. The conversation had a much better flow than a typed chat would have. We spent about 15-20 minutes talking and we were able to complete our plans for the final project. Each person had tasks to complete and the final product turned out really nice.

Here is our finished project:

And here are my journaling notes from this week. I read a great blog post by Alice Keeler that really made me think about digital citizenship from the viewpoint of our students.

EdTech 521 – Community Building Strategies and Rationale

Our reflection for this week centers around online community building. We were asked to join or create an online community and reflect on our experience. I joined EdWeb.net. Through my email, I had received some invites to Professional Development Webinars offered at this site. After some investigation, I saw that they offer many different communities that you can be a part of ( and it is FREE). I joined several communities that deal with mathematics (my content area), digital citizenship, and educational technology. I really like that there are webinars offered on many different topics. I also decided to make a stab at creating a Google+ community for the teachers at my school. It is getting a slow start but I hope it will be a place that teachers can share lesson ideas, Google+ WCA PLC Community.

edwebcommunities

The EdWeb.net communities offer monthly webinars and live chats. I have not had the opportunity to participate live yet but the webinars are also recorded. I enjoy that you can find a topic and go back and watch a previously presented webinar. The user’s homepage has a feed that keeps you up to date on the lastest posts. I read some blog posts and also some great discussion posts over the week from each of the communities I had joined. I really liked that I could choose communities specific to my areas of interest but see the posts from all of the communities in one place.

googlepluswcaI hope that the Google+ community I have created will take off and be a place for our teachers to share. We currently have students on two separate campuses which can make it difficult to collaborate, especially for 5th and 6th-grade teachers since they are separated. I kept the community private to only those I have invited with the link in the hopes that teachers will feel comfortable sharing. It may require that I take some of my tech training time to help teachers become familiar with Google+. Many of our teachers are not especially tech savvy and don’t know about social networking sites other than Facebook or Twitter.

Creating an online community where members of any group whether it is teachers or students can foster a sense of connection. I feel like the teachers will be somewhat concerned about privacy but I don’t believe students have the same concerns. Students are much more active online. An online community could be a great place to address digital citizenship with students. Online communities are a great place to develop relationships and share so that students who are not physically in the same place can still get to know each other.

Below I have included my Community Building Strategies and Rationale from this week’s class assignment.

 

Edtech 521 – Online Learning Activity

This week we had several options for our reflection. I chose to describe how I would adapt one traditional learning activity to the online environment.

In my pre-algebra classroom, we complete a project called Geometry Town. The objectives include teaching transversals, parallel lines, and geometric shapes. The students are given specific directions that include geometry elements that must be part of their city map. Students are asked to be creative in naming streets and buildings using a theme for their town. In the past, students were given a large piece of graph paper to draw and decorate their city map.

To adapt this project for the online environment, students will be asked to use google draw to design their maps. Students will need to design or find images to represent buildings in their city, draw streets to fit the specifications provided, and decorate their town to fit the theme they choose. Students will be asked to use a really fun new app called Recap to describe their town and why they choose their theme.

Students will use Google Draw and the Recap app to complete the activity. Students will need to be taught the math concepts for transversals, parallel and perpendicular line, and basic geometry shapes. Students will then need direction in using Google Draw to create pictures. Written instructions as well as video will be provided to assist students with using Google Draw. Several exemplar projects will be included so that students will get an idea of what is expected. A rubric containing all the required elements will also be provided for students.

I have also included my reflections on our readings for this week.

Edtech 521 – The Beginning

I am very excited to be starting my final two courses before Portfolio. If all goes well, I will be graduating in May 2017. I am looking forward to Edtech 521 – Online Teaching in the K-12 Environment. Our school began offering a small selection of online courses this fall for our Junior and Seniors. I am very interested in learning more about effective online learning. As we begin the semester, we were asked to begin journaling our thoughts and questions as we work through our readings each week. Below you will find the first week’s journal.

 

Final Project and Debrief

I am a little sad that our time in EdTech542 is over. It was intensive work to take this course over a summer semester but it is very satisfying to view the finished project.  I chose to complete a project that was initially built from history standards (of course other standards are also addressed) to prove to myself that I could create a valuable project in a subject other than math (my content area). I learned a great deal through the process and now it is time to debrief.

The project website is Germans and Rockets?

What do you know or understand best about Project Based Learning?What do you understand least?

The most challenging areas of this course for me were the Driving Question and creating assessments that really addressed the content standards. I struggled making the assessments leading up to my final project as I worked through this course. I feel like I have a much better understanding of how to “guide” students through the content standards to reach the final project outcomes that I am really trying to teach. I am still working (and understand least) how to include collaboration outside the school setting. The students in our school are still fairly new to using technology for learning (they are great at using technology to play). I feel like I still have a great deal to learn about allowing students more choice and also planning projects that really reach beyond the classroom.

What did you expect to learn in this course? What did you actually learn? More, less, and why?

Wow, I expected to learn how to put together a Project-Based Learning task. I learned so much more. As another student in the course said, I really wish I had taken this in a regular term because I feel there was so much more I could have done with more time. I thought I knew what a driving question was but I learned so much about what makes a good driving question. I learned to keep it interesting and not to state my outcome directly in the question. I learned there is a significant difference between a driving question and a learning outcome. I learned so much about the process of planning the lesson. I learned to use my assessments to guide my students through the material to the final project. I think a real “ah-ha” moment for me was the realization that if the teacher has all the right assessments in place, the final outcome will be a quality product that requires minimal correction when grading. The materials provided on the Bie.org site were so helpful as I planned out the project.

What will you do with what you have learned?

I started this process sure that I was creating a project that our sixth grade students would use this year. I am not sure they are ready. I am especially not sure our sixth grade teachers are ready. I work as the educational technologist at my school. I plan to show the teachers this project and use it to encourage the teachers to integrate more technology in their lessons in the hopes of working up to a project like this. I know that some of the teachers will be very resistant. I hope to build some smaller projects that might allow teachers to see the benefits of PBL and hopefully we can work our way up to larger projects such as this one.

I gained some extremely valuable skills through this project. I can’t wait to use them to help my fellow teachers develop engaging projects for their students.

Reflect and Perfect

It is so hard to believe that the summer semester is coming to an end. I must say, this is the reflectimageonly summer course I have taken and it was a bit intense. The time passed in a whirlwind as I also prepare to take my youngest son to college for his freshman year.

We were asked to reflect on three questions as we think about post project reflection and its importance:

Who will you involve in the process?

At my school, I am very fortunate to work under the Director of Curriculum. She is an amazingly intelligent woman who has been a mentor in many ways. Following the completion of the project, I will be working with her to evaluate the project and tweak any issues she may see. If we have the opportunity to use this project, I would also include the teachers who led the project to determine what worked and what didn’t. I don’t think you can get an accurate assessment of how the project performed without actually having students work through the project. It would be great to get feedback from students, maybe a google form, to find out what they like and didn’t about the project. It would be interesting to get their opinions.

What will your process look like?

As I mentioned above, it would be wonderful to have feedback in the form of a survey from the students. The process might involve a meeting with the teachers who ran the project, the designer of the project (me in this case) and the curriculum director along with the results of the survey to discuss any changes that might be made. If we are able to include museum curators from the Space and Rocket Center, it would be helpful to get feedback on their opinions of the exhibit proposals that were submitted by the students.

Is it just a one-time assessment?

I don’t think this is a one-time assessment. The project can continually be improved by revisiting the results each time the project is used. With each different group of students, the teachers may find different results that would allow improvement in some area. A project-based learning task is a growing task that can continually be improved upon.

I am please with the project that I have created during this class. I do believe that there is always room for improvement. Giving students the opportunity to complete the task and provide feedback will be the most useful next step.

Managing the Process

This week we were asked several questions: pblpict

With regards to Project-Based Learning, will my role in the teaching learning process change?

For most teachers, the answer is “yes”. Most teachers teach they way they were taught. We stand a lecture or walk around and assist students on work as they work individually. The role of the teacher in Project-Based Learning is more of a facilitator and/or manager. The teacher is a guide so to speak, leading the students through the process. I sometimes think of the bumper guards they put down when really young children bowl. These bumper guards keep the ball from going in the gutter. The teacher is there to guide the students through the process and keep the students from wandering “off in the weeds”.  The teacher must also act as a manager helping the students groups work out problems and issues that might arise.

What are the skills of an effective facilitator?

For some teachers, the role of facilitator/manager may prove to be difficult. It will take some level or effort to move away from the “sage on the stage” model to the “guide on the side”. In a blog post by John Larmer, he addresses the importance of “knowing the students”. He stresses the importance of pre-assessing to know what your students know before beginning the project. Formative assessments throughout the project are also important to determine if you should move forward to spend more time on a particular skill. Another important skill is the ability to “guide”.  It can be difficult for some teachers to “guide” students to think and answer questions rather than just providing the information. Allowing students to stretch and grow and search for the answers is an important skill. Infusing excitment into the project is led by the facilitator. Making the entry event something exciting that will get the students to buy-in on the task. Developing quality rubrics that allow students to know exactly what is expected provides students with the knowledge to create a project that meets the teacher’s requirements.

Will the students develop the competencies and skills needed to be successful?

If the teacher developing the PBL task clearly matches the activities and assessments to the standards that are being taught then yes, students will develop the competencies and skills they need. Through the guidance of the teacher and the formative and summative assessments students are led through a process that allows them to discover and practice the skills for the task. Students learn much more than just the content skills being addressed. They learn many important 21st century skills. They learn to collaborate with others, to think critically as they investigate, to communicate with other classmates as they work together, and to be creative and innovative in developing their project.

What changes will you need to make in order to become an effective facilitator in your PBL unit?

My greatest area of weakness is patience to wait on students to make the discoveries they need in the project. For all my teaching career, there has been pressure to cover the material required. There always seems to be a frantic push to get all the required standards covered. Taking the time needed to allow students to work, guiding the students through the learning process and allowing them to research and discover without directly providing the information is something I need to work on. Allowing the freedom to collaborate and work is important. I am excited to implement my first PBL task. I know I still have much to learn but I know the benefit to my students will be worth the effort.

 

Resources:

Larmer, J. (2016, January 29). Gold Standard PBL: Scaffold Student Learning. Retrieved July 30, 2016, from http://bie.org/blog/gold_standard_pbl_scaffold_student_learning