Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Model Tech Teachers - Learning Together

Model Tech Teaching with Perseverance and Collaboration

Well, my journey as a model tech teacher has been quite a trip, but I’m not traveling alone.  It’s only been 2 months of implementing a variety of apps and programs, and I can’t believe all that I have learned and accomplished.  Collaboration and perseverance are the keys to maintaining my sanity while integrating technology into instruction.  

Julie, our in-school tech support, has gone above and beyond to teach, coach, and support me through this process.  I’m thankful for her patience, as I take scrupulous notes on scraps of paper that I transfer to a color-coded notebook, a different color for each app, which I depend on when my memory fails.   

Julie and I set up my 20 student iPads with Google Classroom, as a whole group activity with my kindergarten students which was quite the challenge jumping from student to student, helping them enter their email addresses and passwords for the first time.  Then, I learned how to flip lessons for my hibernation unit by using videos in EdPuzzle and Airplay to demonstrate how to complete the activities.  

I added the students from Carmen’s class, my grade level colleague, to my Google Classroom to share the activities.  Carmen and I used a Google form to create a follow-up activity.  I gathered data from both assignments to monitor students’ progress and comprehension which I used to drive my instruction.  

Things don't always go as planned, and there were bumps in the road along the way, like how the answer choices in EdPuzzle quizzes randomly switch positions.  When you insert audio notes for non-readers to use to complete the quiz, they may not match, so Carmen recommended that I labeled answer choices A. and B.  

Another example is when I wanted to share a photo with my students of an anchor chart, but I was having trouble with this “simple” task.  I instantly thought of a work around.  I taught the students how to take their own picture of the anchor chart on their iPads to use for that activity.  


Julie asked if a group of teachers and I would present at Waukesha One to share how EdPuzzle lessons can be modified for students from K5-5th grade.  Never would I have imagined that I would have something valuable to share about integrating technology.  However, it was a wonderful experience collaborating and sharing with my friends.  At Waukesha One, another colleague shared the SeeSaw app.  We requested it for Banting.  Students will be able to turn in work samples through this app, and I can return feedback as well as allow families to connect to monitor their child’s progress.  Also, creating this blog post is another first for me.
It has been a busy two months.  Finding time to plan and collaborate is always a challenge, and it takes me several tries to figure things out.  So why would I put myself through all this extra stress and anxiety?  Seeing the joy and excitement in my students’ faces, as they tried new things on their iPads, like creating their own addition books in BookCreator, was priceless.  

They were totally engaged and highly motivated.  Well worth the blood, sweat, and tears!    

Monday, January 16, 2017

Pushback and Evolution

I really care what my students think about their learning because I want them to be engaged and have fun with their lessons.  We have worked really hard at understanding how to use technology properly, and our first leap into a blended classroom was with flipped lessons.  Immediately, I loved it.  Although there was a great deal of planning on the front end, it freed me up to meet with small groups and to ensure that I was there for students who required extra assistance.  After a few weeks though, I realized that my students did not like the format nearly as much as I did, and they actually were pushing back.  Having taught elementary school prior to middle school, this was a big change for me.

From the students' feedback, I could tell there were some definite positives, and from formative assessments I could tell that there was definitely a transfer of knowledge.  I needed, however, to consider other blended formats which led me to the station model.  What a difference!  Not only am I seeing successful engagement, but I am also able to meet with small groups and target any skills the students need.  Students are helping one another be successful and we are working at having roles and responsibilities in our groups!  I am excited to continue to talk about this journey...