Thursday, April 20, 2017

Don’t Stop Believing… Technology is a Good Thing

My teaching journey began six years ago when I started in this school district. I was excited to join a district that was moving forward with technology and personalized learning. However, I started full time teaching five years ago at the Waukesha STEM Academy-Randall Campus. When I first started at Randall STEM, we didn’t have 1:1 technology for the students. My technology journey began with the old school laptops that took a full day to start-up and then lost power within 1 hour of using them. However, I was determined to integrate the 14 of them I had into my Math classes. When I reflected on my teaching practice, I wanted to have the students more involved in their learning, so I decided to flip my mini lessons (I use the term flip lightly). I recorded and then put them on bb9 for students to access. Well, many long stories short those laptops started becoming my friend allowing the students to be able to go back to the lesson for further investigation, help, or resource.

Now having been a 1:1 school with iPads for 3 years now, I am still learning new ways to integrate technology into my classroom. When my coach, mentor, tech guru approached me about being the anchor technology classroom with her, I was a bit nervous. She had me pinpointed on my thoughts, “What am I doing that makes me the tech expert?” I learned very early on that it’s not about doing everything perfectly or even correctly especially on the first try. That made me confident I was going to be ok because many days I have looked back just to think, “WOW, that was a swing and miss for that tech lesson…”
What I am looking forward to on this journey is bringing to life all my crazy ideas about how to integrate technology. The ideas I receive from those wonderful Waukesha One conferences can actually be a reality now. I will have a resource to help me kick start my resurgence into technology integration with my students as the guinea pigs-hope they are ready too!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

I am a Google Girl**

** with an aptitude for BB9. Google excites me and leads me to success with my students, but on my Model Tech Classroom journey, I am gaining insights on BB9 and finding the two discourses to be uniquely useful.

As I learned the ins and outs of teaching in my first year, I learned about PDPs, SLOs, PPGs, and all the LMNOP's that go into our daily teaching lives. One of those alphabet soup dishes included WICOR. This AVID strategy was highly touted in South HS and I aligned some of my philosophies with it's core values; Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization, and Reading. I felt that each of those skills were valuable and necessary in my classes, so I was on board! 

Figuring out how I personally felt most comfortable implementing these effectively was now the question. Amongst working with coworkers and curriculum coaches, I found solace in technology.

In my work with technology, I've gravitated towards using Google Apps for Education, including Classroom, Docs, Drive, Slides, Forms, and Drawing. I found that each one was easy to access and easy to understand. I started finding that I was much more organized in my own teaching and started to see an evolution in my preparation and planning (including more WICOR) when I utilized these apps. 

Example #1 

My chemistry students were missing days of lecturing important concepts and I found it difficult to catch them up. The way I simplified this process was by focusing on my Google Slides presentations and embedding them onto BB9. That way, it was easy to reference how to access the material on their own time. Additionally, I started a Google Classroom for each of my classes and found it easier to upload documents onto that site. I started to see a shift in responsibility. Students knew where to look and found it easy to catch up. This was vital for me as I traveled to 4 different classrooms and taught 3 different preps! 

Extra goodie: When I went to the Google Tech Summit Conference (thanks South admin!) I was introduced to Slides Carnival. It's a website that offers really pretty, organized, and interesting Google Slides templates that have transformed my lectures!        

WICOR values increased: Inquiry, Organization

Example #2

Google Forms is the newest and most exciting tech tool that I've been utilizing more and more in my classes in Year 2. I started my teaching firmly believing that formative check ins were highly useful and important for students. I incorporated them into my classes, but found myself not using them as I had planned. I would give the formative and not have enough time to grade them to give back in a timely fashion, or not have time in class for students to benefit from seeing their individual mistakes. I was very disheartened when this happened. 

As this was happening, I started using Google Forms. They were easy to send out and collect. A bit of my issue was ameliorated by the tech, but I still wasn't using the teaching tool as I had wanted. Then Google Forms upgraded and introduced its "Quiz Function." 

This new function allowed me to assign points to questions along with correct answers. Students were able to see where they were making mistakes instantly. I started to write my formatives in ways that allowed students to really see where their misconceptions were! Google Forms Quiz function also added in a feedback option that made the tech tool EVEN BETTER. Depending on their answer, I could add feedback via my own writing, a website, or video. This meant that instead of the formative relying on ME and my lack of time, the students would have a next step immediately.

This made me ecstatic. This is what technology is supposed to do in the classroom. This was Modification (woo SAMR) and the best part was that a) IT MADE MY INSTRUCTION BETTER and b) IT MADE MY LIFE EASIER.

WICOR values increased: Inquiry, Writing, Reading, Organization

My journey with Google continues as the apps continue to evolve. I'm finding that every month or so, Google adds a new option to their apps, such as the ability of adding more than one document per Google Classroom Assignment or post. I find ease and comfort in these upgrades since Google is such a "User Friendly" system.

Monday, April 3, 2017

We all have a story to tell

Recently, I have begun working along side my first Model Technology teacher. Like many of us, she forgets that she has a story to tell. Often we hear, "I am not dong anything special, I am sure there are others doing the same thing," when it comes to technology. Regardless, people will listen to your story. People will learn from something you share. People will set course on their own journey having heard what you have to say.

Being a Model Tech classroom does not mean that you are the high flyer techno wizard. It means that you are willing to take risks, try things with the risk of failure, be willing to assess where you are and grow from there...and most important: Share your journey. I am excited to work with this teacher to provide quality instruction with embedded technology. I am excited to hear her tell her story of growth. I am excited for her students to be our guinea pigs! Please help me welcome Deanna Day to the Model Tech Family. Watch for journey, coming soon!