My learning log will be a collection of artifacts and reflections as I work my way through the world of Educational Technology. As I complete tasks, I will upload and reflect on each one to improve my practices. My hope is individuals reading my learning log will grow and learn along with me in the world of Educational Technology.
Peer review is an important part of any classroom environment. Throughout this semester, I have learned more about both peer and self evaluation. Taking the time to reflect on your own learning has many benefits. It provides an opportunity to think about what was done well, what could be improved, and any other unanswered questions or concerns there may be about a project. Within a PBL project, there are many steps that need to take place throughout the timeline and peer and self evaluations are a great way to make sure everything has been accomplished and your end goals have been reached.
As my project as progressed during the semester, many small pieces were put together to make one big project. Peer evaluations are an essential tool to utilize. It can help to finalize a project and add any details they may have been missed along the way. Peers are people who are going through the same or similar journey through the learning process and can be a great way to provide feedback from multiple sources and not just the teacher.
One technique of peer evaluation I want to encourage in my own classroom is constructive feedback. While teaching at a primary grade level, this can be a very hard concept for the students to understand. Using rubrics and modeling correct behavior will be a key component to teaching my students about constructive feedback. This website provides many example of rubrics that can be used in the classroom. Students should also be part of the assessment process. Gathering student input for what items should be on the rubric will give students an opportunity to take more ownership of their work. If they know exactly what is expected because they helped come up with it, they are more likely to include all necessary parts.
When first beginning a PBL project in the classroom the role of the teacher becomes more a facilitator. PBL is a student-centered approach to teaching and letting our students be the explorers and inventors. As a teacher, I see the challenge in letting go of some of the control in a PBL environment. A facilitator needs to be able to provide support while giving students the opportunity to navigate through challenges and problem solve on their own so deeper learning can take place.
Providing an appropriate amount of scaffolding is key to introducing PBL learning into the classroom. Students need to see the process modeled and given examples of appropriate behavior in order to be successful on their own. The facilitator must recognize when students need more support or when to allow for more independence. An effective facilitator also asks the right questions at the right time during the process. Open-ended questions lead to more critical thinking by the students and more learning will take place.
When this scaffolding takes place and PBL projects become a normal routine in a classroom, the students will develop the skills necessary in order to be successful during a project. Not every project will turn out the way you expected, but that is another positive aspect of PBL. The facilitator must be flexible and accept change throughout the project. Each time the same project is completed, the results can be drastically different.
To become an effective facilitator some changes must take place. Teacher are used to being the one in control and sometimes even making some of the choices for their students. PBL provides an opportunity for student choice and that does not always mean success. Failure can be a big part of PBL and students are given a chance to learn from mistakes. As a teacher, this is one of the biggest changes that must happen in order to fulfill more of a facilitator role. It must provide an opportunity for choice, problem-solving, failure, and success.
There are many benefits when it comes to designing integrated curriculum in the classroom setting. If the students are connecting what they are learning in different subjects they are entering a deeper level of learning and thinking. They can take what they have learned in one subject and apply it to another. In all subjects, the students are focused on the same idea while still learning about math, science, or writing. The main idea in PBL and teaching is to keep the end in mind. What steps will the students be taking to reach the end goal? How can the students get there with multiple subjects and content?
As an elementary school teacher, I see this being a possibility since I teach my class all day. I also think that my team of second grade teachers could work together to implement this idea. I believe we could experiment with co-teaching with one another. If we could just focus on teaching one subject, we could spend more time getting more critical thinking into our lessons and provide more of an authentic experience. If we taught our own class the lesson and then switched classes to teach the same lesson, we could do more collaborating and share ideas with another class.
I also see this working in just one elementary aged classroom. I see the importance of pulling Writing in our Science or Social Studies curriculums. Time is always such an issue when it comes to fitting in all the required curriculum in each grade level. If my students are learning about different habitats in Science, I can easily apply informational writing into the lessons. This provides students with the opportunity to do their own research about a subject and produce a writing piece at the same time. We could also apply math to other subjects with estimating, measurement, economics, etc. There are many possibilities to incorporate this idea into everyday teaching and learning.
On the other hand, I also see the possible issues that could arise while trying to plan out an idea with integrating curriculum. If you are working with other teachers, everyone must remain on the same path and timeline in order for a project to be integrated successfully. There must be constant communication and collaboration happening in order for each teacher to successfully stay on the planned path. Even when incorporating this idea into just one classroom, there may be times where it seems there are gaps occurring while teaching two or more subjects at one time. The planning process is the most important step when it comes to successfully integrating curriculum. Collaborating with other teachers is a great way to work out any issues in the plan and improve it for next time. As our curriculum grows, but our amount of time stays the same, we must learn to be creative in using our time wisely and providing our students with the best experience possible.
This week was all about assessment within a PBL project. I now see the relevance in starting with the assessment once the initial project idea is developed. You want your project to be based on what your students will know and the knowledge they will have gained once the project is done.
One key aspect is letting the students be a part of developing the assessments. After all, the assessment is for the students. It is important to make sure there is relevance and the student can feel confident in showing what they have learned. Another important aspect is to make sure the assessments being developed are useful to the student throughout the entire project.
Both formative and summative assessments should be used. Some of the ideas I will incorporate in my project are student reflection journals, concept maps, and creating a presentation to share with others. Rubrics are a great way to show the students exactly what is expected of them. This week I created a rubric for what the students journal reflections should look like and a survey they will take about self and peer-evaluations for the project.
Throughout the project I want to consult my students about adjusting any assessments based on how their project is progressing. PBL is all about being flexible with the project while still following the initial timeline and concepts. While all of the different projects are developing, it may provide a unique learning opportunity that wasn’t initially planned. I want to be able to take that time and adjust any assessments as we go.
By the end of the project, I want my students to feel like they have gained knowledge about growing plants that can be applied to new situations in the real world. I want them to make the connections between our project and how the same concepts can be applied to many other plants. I also want to see that connection of how this concept can help our community and others in need.
This week I have narrowed down my topic to gardening and more specifically growing green beans. The focus this week was learning about the driving question and how to write it for a project. At first, it was a little overwhelming with how much needed to be included in one question. The first draft of my driving question is “What are the requirements needed in order for plants to grow?” I also spent time learning about sub questions and how they can be more specific as they relate to the driving question. My goal is to provide my students with an idea of what we will be learning, but leave it open-ended enough for them to provide their own analysis. I want my sub questions to be more direct but also leave room for student interpretation.
The second item I completed this week was a visual graphic organizer to show my thoughts on the learning process my students will go through in the project. I chose to use a website (bubble.us) to create my graphic organizer. This free website allows you to create a map that uses many different colors to help organize your thoughts. It was very easy to use and navigate. Creating my map was an easy but useful way begin thinking about my project and what steps my students will take to complete it. You can click here to check out my graphic organizer.
Throughout the week I have been searching and reviewing many different PBL projects. I have found that PBL can be incorporated in many different aspects. It has the potential to be successful in many different grade levels and across many curriculums. One of the biggest themes I came across this week was how classroom management plays a role in successfully completing a PBL project in your classroom. The teacher and student relationships must be strong in order for a project to run smoothly. While setting up a PBL project, the first step is to develop an idea of what you want your students to learn by the end of the project. You also need a driving question that lasts throughout the entire project. I found this checklist helpful while starting to create my project. My school has recently gained a school garden. Our entire school is involved with the garden and it is an opportunity for many students to learn and connect with the community. I found this wonderful website to use as support and gain ideas for my own project. My students will be completing a project by creating their own self-watering green bean buckets. The project will include how the opposites of light and dark will affect the growth of their plants. They will be working on using technology to create time lapse videos, presentations, and online recording sheets of their findings.
I have been introduced to Project Based Learning (PBL) for the past couple of weeks. Before starting to learn about PBL, I had heard of the concept but did not know any details about it. According to The Buck Institute for Education (BIE) there are a variety of main factors that go into creating a successful PBL environment. They include the following: key knowledge, understanding, and success skills, challenging problems or questions, sustained inquiry, authenticity, student voice and student choice, reflection, critique and revision, and public format. I have learned that PBL gives students an opportunity to explore a topic that they can relate to the real world. It is engaging and allows students to collaborate with others around the world.
Some perimeters must be set by the teacher in order for PBL to be successful. While this type of learning provides more of a personalized learning experience, that also means students may need a different level of scaffolding. Teachers are responsible for listening to their students and allowing them to be a part of the teaching process. Sometimes students might complete a project in a group setting. Creating unique groups and setting them up for success is another important aspect. Another guideline that needs set up time. Teachers must be flexible with time as there are many factors that can change the timeline of a project.
PBL is a great way for students to learn self-management and reflect upon their own learning. A part of PBL is sharing your project with others around the world and collaborating to receive feedback and improve your project. PBL provides an environment where the teacher can work closely with students and keep them engaged and diving into those critical discussions with others to create deeper meaning. I look forward to learning more about PBL this semester and creating my own project that I can use with my students.
As I complete my first semester in the Master’s of Educational Technology program through Boise State, I have a whole new perspective on technology in the classroom. Throughout this semester I have been able to communicate with other students from around the world, complete interesting research projects, and create artifacts to enhance my teaching with technology.
The main challenge I faced through this course was time management. Being a full time teacher while completing two classes for my master’s program was definitely a challenge. I was grateful that assignments were posted early enough for me to get a head start. I am a planner, so when I had to plan the times where my schedule would allow for the necessary time to complete assignments it was a bit stressful at times. The other challenged I faced was the research aspect of the course. I had been out of college for a few years, so research was something I needed to practice again. There are so many different resources online and finding the most useful and current research is a skill of its own.
Throughout the semester, I tried to stay ahead of schedule as much as possible. This helped me with my time management by not waiting until the last minute to complete assignments. I did a little work during the week but the majority of my projects had to be done on the weekends. Since assignments were due on the weekends, I tried to get started early so I wasn’t crunched for time at the end. I was grateful for the research resources that were provided within the course. It definitely help me get back into practicing my research skills again. Zotero was a useful resource for my to keep and organize my research. Also, reviewing how to best utilize the school library online databases was a useful tool.
The Tech Trends assignment was my best artifact I created this semester. I had the chance to utilize what I had learned in my 502 class this semester to create a website for my idea of students teaching students using instructional videos. I felt like utilizing my research and website creating skills was a good way to integrate what I was learning in both classes this semester. This assignment really opened my eyes to the variety of useful ways to enhance learning in the classroom with the use of technology. It made me think about my own teaching and how I am having my students create authentic presentations or lessons to teach each other.
As a result of this course, I plan to use the artifacts I have created in my own classroom. I look forward to seeing how my students use the technology to create and teach each other. I plan to continue writing grants to receive more technology for my classroom and school. I also plan to share what I have learned with other teachers in my grade level and building to help them enhance their use of technology in their classrooms.
As I reflect on the past semester, I am filled with new information and knowledge about educational technology. Before starting this course and the M.E.T program through Boise State, I thought I had a solid foundation of how technology should be used within the classroom setting. After starting this program, my eyes were opened to a much bigger world of educational technology. While having the presence of technology in my classroom has grown in the past two years, I have learned about utilizing it wisely and presenting it in a way that will help my students in becoming independent learners.
I have changed my perspective of not just having technology but using it in a way that will improve student learning and help my students grow into the technological world we now live in. Creating this graphic and reflecting on all that I have learned helped me make the connection of why technology is important to teach in my classroom. My students will grow up into a world that is even more technologically advance then it is right now. The technological skills I am teaching them will be a necessity for them in the real world. We all depend on technology in our daily lives and it has become a tool for keeping our lives organized while being a source of entertainment as well.
I have learned through the definition of educational technology that the ultimate goal is to create lessons and assignments where students are being the creators. Going through the process to get to that ultimate goal is a key aspect of integrating technology into the classroom.
I chose to create my graphic with a tool I had never used before. Piktochart is a user friendly website that has some free templates to help you get started. It was easy to navigate through and provided many graphics, fonts, and other options to create a unique graphic.
Completing the Technology Maturity Benchmarks Rubric was an eye-opening assignment as I evaluated my elementary school and its technology use. Initially, as I started studying the rubric, I predicted my school would fall into the “Islands” category for many of the sections. As I started filling out the rubric, I was surprised to find my self marking my school in many of the “Emergent” categories. After completing the entire rubric, I gave my school an overall rating of “Emergent”.
The school has really grown in just the last couple of years to involve more technology within the building. Administrators and teachers, along with the district have been supportive in supplying the school with the necessary technology and devices needed. Teachers within the building have written grants to receive much of the technology currently in the building with the support of a strong PTA. Training for staff members is available through both the school and district level. Many teachers are opening up to the idea of using technology within their daily lesson plans and utilizing it to enhance students learning.
I am really looking forward to what the school will accomplish in the near future and how technology will continue to be integrated in a positive way in the classroom. The school will need to continue to write grants and take advantage of opportunities that come along in order to continue receiving the necessary technology. Continuing to provide trainings and support will be a necessity as the school grows with technology.