Student-centered Learning Curation

http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/wp-content/uploads/sites/23/2014/07/Mindshift2_illo2_72.jpg
http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/wp-content/uploads/sites/23/2014/07/Mindshift2_illo2_72.jpg

ScoopIt Curation

Curating a ScoopIt Board on student-driven learning was probably one of my favorite assignments in the MET program so far! Our assignment required us to first create a checklist of 15+ criteria, “Based on your readings, develop a checklist of 15 to 20 criteria that will serve as a tool for assessing the quality and value of an education-related curated topic” with two other students in our class. After creating the checklist, we had to “Use a tool specific for curation (e.g, Scoopit, Educlipper, LessonPaths, PearlTrees), curate a topic of your choice, applicable to your content areas and/or grade level” and then use the criteria checklist to self-assess the value of my curated topic.

I chose to use ScoopIt as my curation tool. I looked at a variety of curation tools and felt ScoopIt offered a visually pleasing way to present my topic.  Student-centered learning has been an area I have wanted to investigate further and integrate into my teaching pedagogy, so I felt it was a good fit for this assignment. After reading through and assessing articles and multi-media related to my topic, I created my ScoopIt board based on our group’s criteria:

  • Seek Specific, Current Content: I made sure all of my content fit the specific category and chose articles written within the past 5 years.
  • Select Content with an Evaluative Eye: I looked for content that 
  • Think Critically: The content I chose gives a comprehensive look at student-centered learning and allows the viewers to explore the topic in depth.
  • Sort Content in a Meaningful Way and Arrange Collection in an Organized Manner: I arranged the content to flow from the ‘what’, to the ‘why’, to the ‘how’ of student-centered learning as I felt this was the most logical approach. 
  • Editorialize to Ensure Sources are Credible: The content is curated from reliable sources including educational journals and recognized experts in the field of education.
  • Create a Meaningful Story Out of Your Content: The content creates a storyboard that is easy to follow.
  • Share Content in an Accessible Way: ScoopIt is a content curation tool that allows direct connection and publication to social media sites.
  • Invite Viewers to Join the Conversation: By posting on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ I hope to generate a good conversation about this topic.

I hope to continue developing my understanding of the importance and value of student-centered learning and make it the framework of my teaching pedagogy.

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Footprints in the Sand – My Lesson In Digital Reputation

FootprintInSand

On the Internet a digital footprint is the word used to describe the trail, traces or “footprints” that people leave online. This is information transmitted online, such as forum registration, e-mails and attachments, uploading videos or digital images and any other form of transmission of information — all of which leaves traces of personal information about yourself available to others online. Vangie Beal

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my digital footprint and what it says about me. First and foremost I am a Christian. Unashamed and saved by His grace, however I don’t always include that in my bios. Anyone looking at my regular Facebook account can clearly see my beliefs, but you would have to dig a little deeper into my Twitter to see my personal religious views. Twitter is the foundation for my PLN and serves a different purpose than Facebook. As far as Instagram goes, I use it primarily for my small business and as such, it is a reflection of my business world. Other social media I engage in (more infrequently) are Snapchat and Google+. Then I think about all of the accounts that I have for the MET program at BSU. I probably have dozens of apps on my computer/devices from the course requirements over the past year. All of those apps, including my blog, reflect my learning and goals as an educator.  All this to say, this activity is leaving an indelible mark on my digital footprint.

When I Googled my name, this is what I found on the first page:

DigitalFootprintGoogle

Only the first entry on this page is actually linked to me!  The rest of the entries are other ‘Joanna Liebermans’ that, as far as I know, I have no relation to.  On the strip of pictures, the fourth picture is the profile picture I use for grad school and professional purpose. As I progressed to the next Google page, I found the first two items linked to two social media sites I occasionally use, Flipagram and Pinterest. There is then a listing for a fundraising link for a Joanna Lieberman involved with Project100 (not me). It is not until the fourth and fifth listings on the second page that my learning logs for the MET program are listed!  These are followed by a few more listing unrelated to me.

I realize that a digital footprint is much more than what can be found by Googling a name.  As Vangie Beal said in the above quote, our digital footprints, “describe the trail, traces or “footprints” that people leave online”. As a teacher and business owner, I must be mindful and careful about the footprint I am leaving behind. Privacy settings, tags, and comments must be monitored closely to be sure my integrity is held intact. One thing I am sure to teach this digital generation of students is, unlike a footprint in the sand, a digital footprint does not wash away with the ocean’s tide.

What is Digital Footprint? Webopedia Definition. (n.d.). Retrieved June 14, 2017, from http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/D/digital_footprint.html

#Twitter #Hashtags for #PD

Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 8.53.09 AMI can’t rave enough about the benefit of following #Twitter feeds for “just-in-time” professional development (PD)!  In the few years that I have been on Twitter, I have made new friends from around the world, built a supportive & informative PLN, and added multiple ideas to my “teacher’s toolbox”.  To say Twitter has revolutionized my teaching practice and philosophy may be an understatement!

Here are a few Twitter hashtags that I regularly follow:

  • #BFC530 – BFC stands for ‘The Breakfast Club’ and we chat every morning at 5:30amEST!! Each morning, a focus question is posted and the attendees of the chat spend a few minutes responding.  The questions are always encouraging and thought-provoking; the educators, always positive and supportive.  Today’s question was: “What PD books are on your agenda this summer?” Now I have a list of about 20 more books I want to read this summer!! We usually wrap up by 5:45am.  I can’t think of a better way to start my day!
  • #TeachMindful – This is another joy booster. The idea behind #TeachMindful is ‘a Twitter Chat about creating mindful learning environments for students. Bringing calm and focus to the classroom#’ Teaching is all about the kids and #TeachMindful reminds me where my focus should be each day.
  • #edtechchat – This is a great feed for all things EdTech. The collaborators share resources, links, and ideas for integrating EdTech into your curriculum. Just this morning this link was shared: Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 8.06.44 AM

Now my mind is buzzing with how to add this to our 6th grade world geography curriculum! The podcasts and guides for adding digital curriculum to the classroom have inspired me to continue pursuing excellence in my edtech journey.

  • #SummerLearning – This is a hashtag that I just recently started to follow. Because I am enrolled in grad school this summer and am working on curriculum development for my school, I thought it would be great to see what Twitter has to say about Summer Learning. Just this morning, I found this link to a post about grammar. Even though I currently teach 6th grade science and world geography, the English teacher in me is always in-tune to spelling and grammar errors. The link includes a description of five of the top grammar feeds to follow on Twitter. Fun!
  • #EdChat – This hashtag helps keep me up-to-date in the world of education. Timely news stories and recent educational reform are often topics of discussion. Today this handy chart explaining differentiation (always a hot topic at faculty meetings:) was posted: Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 8.39.42 AM

As you can hopefully see from this post, Twitter is my preferred method of PD.  Rather than sit in an hour long faculty meeting discussing topics of little interest (sorry admin:~), I can spend an hour (or more:) following hashtags and come away with new perspectives and inspiration. One word of warning: Twitter can quickly become OVERWHELMING! I find myself jumping from link to link and before I know it, hours have passed by. I try to limit my time on Twitter but I find so many great ideas that oft times I have 20+ tabs open and my brain is whirling in all different directions.  Does anyone have a # for that?!?!

Social Networking: EdTech 543 Introduction

 

“Education needs role models who demonstrate that complex problems are solved by cooperative networks of creative & passionate individuals.” – Alec Couros

How will the use of social networking sites impact my teaching? As we venture into this course, Edtech 543, this is the question I am beginning to ponder.  I have used Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Instagram for years. Each of these social media sites plays a different role in my life. Facebook is my way of connecting with friends and family around the world. I was born in England, went to college in New York, and first started my teaching career in Florida. Facebook allows me to stay in touch with my friends and family both near and far. I do belong to a few education related Facebook groups, but I primarily use Facebook for personal contacts. Google Plus has not been a central part of my social media life. I joined when I began my graduate courses at BSU and only post to it when I create a new class assignment. I am a Wellness Advocate for a holistic healthcare company and Instagram is my go to social media site for connecting with others in the business.

So that leaves Twitter.  Twitter is the only social media site that I use primarily for professional development.  I have a network of Twitter friends with similar interests in education that I connect with on a daily basis.  I have gained valuable insight into teaching pedagogy and am often encouraged by like-minded educators in my Twitter #PLN. Last summer I was part of a Twitter book club where we discussed A.J. Juliani’s book LAUNCH: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity. My experience in reading the book was much enriched through the discussions and insights of my PLN.

Because I teach in a small, private school and teach students under the age of 13, social media has not really been a part of my classroom instruction. Most social media sites are blocked by the school’s security software and my students are not old enough to join most social media sites (although I am aware that many of my students have their own personal accounts). I am looking forward to discovering how I can effectively, safely, and appropriately integrate social media and social networking into my classroom environment. Through this course I hope to better understand the role social media can play in my classroom.

Obstacles and Solutions for Integrating Technology in a Selected Content Area

In The 10 Barriers to Technology Adoption, authors Norris and Soloway examine ten obstacles schools face when attempting to implement new technologies into their curricula. I believe that teachers frequently run into these obstacles and many schools, especially private or small school districts, struggle to effectively overcome them.

  1. Lack of vision: Schools fail to set up an effective technology plan or, if a plan is in place, it is not always communicated well to the teachers and staff.
  2. Lack of leadership: Similar to #1, school administration may not effectively communicate the technology plan or have a clear way to implement it.
  3. Lack of money: Many schools face the digital divide, a separation between those that have access to technology and those that do not.
  4. -6. Norris and Soloway combine obstacles #4-6 together into one problem: curriculum. “As schools now move to one-to-one via BYOD—bring your own device—administrators can’t expect to be successful on the backs of teacher-generated curriculum materials. Teachers are not curriculum producers; teachers are, well, teachers” (Norris & Soloway, 2011). Effectively integrating technology into the content area is perhaps the greatest challenge for teachers and administration. The amount and variety of available applications can be overwhelming to many in the education field.  Evaluating the usefulness and relative advantage of each program also adds to the difficulties. It is often left to the teacher to find an application that works well with their curriculum, obtain permission to install it, get adminstration, IT, and parents on board, and then successfully weave it into an already packed curriculum.
  1. Infrastructure – School must update servers, wi-fi, and Internet access.  All of this may be too costly for many schools and districts.
  2. Parents – Parents, often unfamiliar with educational technology, may resist what they believe are just games or toys for their children to use in school.  Communication with parents is crucial to gaining their support.
  3. Time- Finding the time to research, learn, implement, and support the integration of new technologies will take patience and commitment by teachers, administration, IT, and parents.
  4. Assessments- Many argue that technology is not effective in raising test scores and to some extent, I would agree.  When technology is sporadically and randomly sprinkled into the classroom, it is futile to expect test scores to suddenly rise.

So how do we, those of us who see the great value in improving our schools through effective technology integration, address these barriers? How do individual teachers go about effectively integrating technology into their specific content area?  “Professional development, the human infrastructure, needs refurbishing; it shouldn’t consist of random workshops or lectures that teachers suffer through on specific PD days. Rather, just as professionals in other industries are constantly honing their skills, PD needs to be an ongoing activity that is focused on helping teachers adopt essential one-to-one technology” (Norris & Soloway, 2011).

In the area of social studies, there are numerous ways to easily integrate technology, but quite often teachers are not taught how to do this or given clear expectations. Google Earth, Google Maps, and IWitness videos are just a few of the programs available to social studies classrooms. Teachers can find primary sources on websites like cia.gov and the National Archives.  Students can read about current events on sites like Newsela, which adjusts the articles based on a student’s reading level. Online encyclopedias offer updated information for research and essays. Many social studies applications are free and can easily be installed on school hardware or accessed through the Internet. Virtual field trips can also offer students an opportunity to learn about places and sites they may not otherwise have the chance to experience. Creating social studies lessons with technology enhanced curriculum can help the lessons to be more exciting and engaging for the students.  I believe it will take both skilled and trained teachers who are passionate about bringing classrooms into the 21st century and technology integration specialists who can bridge the gap between the available technology and effective implementation.

Bernard, S. (2009, May 27). How to Teach with Technology: Social Studies. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/digital-generation-social-studies-lessons

Norris, C., & Soloway, E. (2011, November 16). The 10 Barriers to Technology Adoption. Retrieved from https://www.districtadministration.com/article/10-barriers-technology-adoption

Integrating Technology Into the Content Areas

Some of the most oft heard comments from history and geography students are, “Why do we have to know this stuff?” “It happened over 100 years ago!  It’s so boring!” And yes, ancient history or even history from just a few decades ago can seem dull to the younger generation. Engaging young historians can be quite a challenge for teachers, but the effective use of technology can make history come alive.

Clearly, helping students to understand the world around them and make global connections requires the opening of classroom walls.The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has determined ten themes related to social studies standards. One of the themes, science, technology, and society, directly addresses the integration and implementation of technology. Social studies instruction is designed to help us discover and better understand our world and its people, and technology-based strategies have become integral to this instruction (Diem & Berson, 2010).

Thankfully, educators now have a wide variety of technology-based tools to enhance the social studies curriculum. Some of these tools include simulations and problem-solving environments, access to primary sources, electronic research strategies, timeline generators, virtual field trips, digital storytelling, and geospatial technologies. I have used a few of these tools in my geography classroom and have found the students much more engaged in the lesson.  Recently, prior to a field trip to Ellis Island, I introduced the students to the immigrant experience through the Scholastic website Immigration: Stories of Yesterday and Today. The students were excited to hear the audio recordings of immigrants who had made the long and perilous journey from Europe to America.  We then viewed the digital timeline and used the data to compare the number of immigrants who came to America from 1820 through 2009. The students were then able to “meet” young immigrants who have recently come to the United States.  Through the website, my students were able to watch videos, listen to audio recordings, and explore a historical timeline.  The students’ engagement increased as these technology tools were implemented.

Geospatial technologies can also increase student motivation and interest.  Teachers no longer need to purchase expensive GPS devices. Today’’s smartphones and mapping software such as Google Maps provide all the information a class of budding geographers need.  Geocaching, the recreational activity of hunting for and finding a hidden object by means of GPS coordinates posted on a website, has become a popular classroom activity. Students can go on a geocaching treasure hunt around their school grounds.  While discovering small “treasures”, students learn mapping, GPS, and navigation skills, all vital to the geography curriculum.  Google Earth has revolutionized the task of plotting locations on a map.

Blogging about history, creating “virtual” battles, and social networking with students across the globe are a few more of the ways we can teach our students to become global citizens. With today’s technological advances, the opportunities to make history come alive for our students are only limited by a teacher’s and the students’ imaginations.

Bernard, S. (2009, May 27). How to Teach with Technology: Social Studies. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/digital-generation-social-studies-lessons

Ellis Island Interactive Tour With Facts, Pictures, Video | Scholastic.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/immigration/tour/

Integrated Learning: Broadcasting and Social Studies. (2015, May 20). Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/practice/integrated-learning-broadcasting-and-social-studies

Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (7th ed.). Pearson.

Relative Advantage of Using Digital Games for Content Area Learning

In an effort to increase student engagement and performance, our high school initiated a game based learning program in our 7th-12th grade basic skills class in language arts and math a few years ago.  What, if any, are the advantages of game-based learning?

According to a Yale study of 500 second graders, “short video games designed to activate specific neurocognitive processing systems can serve as brain warm-up calisthenics to improve cognitive performance immediately following the video game” (Banville 2016). If in fact this proves true for students of all ages, then implementing video game warm ups into any lesson could assist students in getting ready for the task ahead.  Just as an athlete stretches and completes a few warm up laps before running a race, students must mentally prepare themselves before embarking upon a difficult lesson.  Could playing a few video games assist in this warm up? “The team found that by using short, 5-minute games before the full lesson, students did not only better on the training games over time but also did better on lessons that followed, but had nothing to do with the subject matter of the game.” (Banville 2016).  According to Dr. Bruce Wexler, professor emeritus of psychiatry at Yale, the games increased focus, self control, and memory (Banville 2016) among the participants.

Focus, self control, and memory are three cognitive skills vital to learning. However, what does the research show about educational programs based solely on playing games? In the Wiki Space Gami-fied, video games are evaluated for their value in teaching problem solving skills based on real world problems or events. Students engage in thinking games revolving around subjects such as world hunger and genocide in order to foster critical thinking skills.

While thinking about game-based learning specific to my content area of world geography, the games Oregon Trail and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? immediately came to mind.  Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? is based on a 1990s PBS television show for kids. According to the product description on Amazon, “Carmen Sandiego is up to her thieving high-jinks again. While children travel the globe to track her down they learn about geography, history and world cultures.” This high-interest game could definitely increase student engagement.  

Oregon Trail is another game for the PC.  Oregon Trail’s gamemakers entice kids to “travel the trails and make history come alive! Kids will build real-life decision-making and problem-solving skills as they choose their wagon party and supplies, read maps, plan their route and guide their team through the wilderness. Develop solutions to help your friends and family survive the dangers of the long journey including raging rivers, buffalo stampedes, sickness, and starvation. Discover a learning adventure that’s greater than fiction—about real people with real dreams facing and overcoming real challenges. Build decision-making and problem-solving skills as you experience the challenge of traveling the trail! My own children played these games growing up and seemed to enjoy the challenge of the game while acquiring some basic geography and history skills.

In his blog Free Technology for Teachers, Richard Byrne writes a post entitled Ten Interactive Geography Games and Maps. While some of these games are simple map location type games, others such as Placefy “present players with an image of a city square, buildings, and other famous landmarks. Players then have to choose the correct answer from four answer choices. Playing the game is simple, but the images as questions make it a challenging game” (Byrne 2010). Similarly, Geoguessr is a web-based geographic discovery game designed by Anton Wallén, a Swedish IT consultant, released on 9 May 2013. Geoguessr takes advantage of Google Earth’s street view locations and requires players to guess their location in the world using only the clues visible. Geoguessr can be played as a one or two player game. After students make their guesses based on the clues, a map opens with the exact location, the location of the student’s guess, and the  distance from the correct location all placed on the map.  These visual images are a relative advantage when teaching basic mapping skills.

An article on the TeachThought website, 6 Basic Benefits of Game-Based Learning (2013), lists six benefits of game-based learning:

  • Increases A Child’s Memory Capacity
  • Computer & Simulation Fluency
  • Helps With Fast Strategic Thinking & Problem-Solving
  • Develops Hand-Eye Coordination
  • Beneficial Specifically For Children With Attention Disorders
  • Skill-Building (e.g. map reading)

Clearly game-based learning can offer a relative advantage over traditional classroom instruction. Students may be more engaged in the lesson and cognitive skills can be honed. Game-based learning can also improve critical thinking and problem solving skills, both integral to 21st century education.

Resources:

6 Basic Benefits Of Game-Based Learning. (2013, March 15). Retrieved from http://www.teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/technology/6-basic-benefits-of-game-based-learning/

Banville, L. (2016, October 1). Brain Trainers May Kick Start Learning in Students. Retrieved from http://www.gamesandlearning.org/2016/10/01/brain-trainers-may-kick-start-learning-in-students/

Byrne, R. (2010, February 22). Ten Interactive Geography Games and Maps. Retrieved from http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2010/02/ten-interactive-geography-games-and.html

gamifi-ED – home. (n.d.). Retrieved October 18, 2016, from http://gamifi-ed.wikispaces.com/