These past few months have really pushed me as an educator. I am now talking about innovative learning outside of work. I’m professionally networking with friends, family members and strangers as we share our journey of technology from town to town and state to state. It is so easy to get caught up with your day to day personal and professional life that you sometimes forget that there are a vast amount of teachers in this world that are experiencing the same things that you are. As I come from an extended family of educators it is interesting to me to see how diverse everyone is when it comes to technology. Some schools force technology onto their teachers while other districts allow teachers to add technology where they feel fit. I feel that there needs to be a middle ground. Teachers should not be stressed out and want to leave this profession due to these high demands, but teachers also need to be informed about how to integrate technology. There is a fine line as to how hard to push, but something needs to change. Not all teachers are at a point in their lives where going back to school it feasible, practical or something that they want to do. How can we get teachers to network so that all students have exposure to technology and all that it has to offer?
This year I have a student teacher and I am excited to share what I have learned over the past 10 years as well as what I am learning right now. As I learn and practice with my students, my student teacher also gets to practice some new 21st century teaching strategies. I can’t wait to see how this year ends and next year begins. The amount of engaging teaching strategies as well as technology components that I am adding to my teaching, my next year’s class will be even more prepared for this digital world that we live in.
The tool that I will be reviewing is FrontRow. It is a free adaptive k-8 program that supports all students at their ability level. It is a great tool to support struggling students. This is a tool that my school site has been pushing this year for math because we have purchased the school edition version. This version allow the teacher access to student reports, printables and inquiry based lessons.
Students were able to easily login and get started with placement tests for each math strand. Once students were placed at a level they were able to get started right away. It didn’t take any time for the teacher to set up once students had their login information. Front Row is a teacher friendly program that takes very little teacher support to be effective at school and at home.
Front Row is used several times a week in my class and used as homework for students who struggle with the grade level homework. The nice thing about this program is that students don’t need your help, they just need time. I have seen improvement in their multiplication fluency and they seem to enjoy solving math problems in order to earn coins to buy things at the piggy store. If students don’t understand a math problem then there are videos that walk them through how to solve the problem.
The negative thing about this program is that it is not as animated as other programs, therefore I have found that if you use the program more than twice a week students start to lose interest. Another down side is that student don’t seem to really take advantage of the videos. I have noticed students start to watch the videos and then exit out or not pay attention. These video are not full of animations so students don’t seem to be as engaged as other digital tools.
Overall, this program offers what students need when it comes to common core math, not what they want. The printable and inquiry questions are great add-ons, but just having student access to the adaptive is well worth signing up students who could use a little extra support. I know that this is the right tool to help students who are not at grade level because it starts them off where they are and allows them to work at their own pace. Just tonight one of my students who is not at grade level in math logged in for 28 minutes and showed 88% accuracy. Front Row can be an easy way for parents to help support their child at home, just as this child did tonight on her vacation.
I plan to start teaching the digital citizenship lessons that my district has asked us to teach from common sense media once a week for 20 minutes. I know that’s not enough to finish a lesson, but I somehow have to find time in our busy schedule to fit it in.
My students use their chromebooks a lot within a day, but I would like it to be more than a typing activity or an adaptive program for math or reading. I would like my students to really start to understand how to correctly use the internet as a resource and how to create assignments digitally. For the past 4 years, I have taught third grade. I have always had my students work through the process of writing a report by using multiple sources. It is always time consuming and challenging as everything is new, yet so rewarding in the end. Now, I finally feel a little more confident to add more technology to this project. In the past, my students have only used technology when it came to finding one website to gather facts in addition to books and encyclopedias. They also used their computers to type their final drafts. Now, I plan to provide my students with a hyperdoc that gives them different links to research their animal. Students will also be asked to watch different videos to gather information though google classroom, create a reference page and create a slide presentation with a screencast. It is amazing to me that this group of students this year will not only be learning the same content as previous students, but technology literacy. This introduction to technology is a base that they can build upon for the future technology demands of school and life. While guiding these third graders though this assignment a lot of digital citizenship will be taught as well as digital literacy. As I become more knowledgeable with how to teach technology, my students gain more knowledge of this digital world that we live in today.
What is my mental process for figuring out Dervin’s article? Well, so far it has been to read, reread and read again in a quite environment until something makes sense. Trying to make a connection to my life and what I know as an educator has been hard. When I was reading these first two chapters nothing popped out at me until I read the part about the concept of gap building. This was the first thing that started to make sense. Dervin points out that “describing and explaining that moment as seen by the actor” is the best way to communicate. This raises a lot of questions for me. How can I get my students to really buy into their education so that they can start to openly communicate during this moment or learning? I need the level of communication to increase in my classroom, but how do I do that? My third graders need prompting to know what to talk about or they are off task. They need to make this self-discovery on their own without my help, but I can’t be there to help all 29 students of my students at that very moment. They are going to need to communicate and use a plethora of tools “taught by educators” to decide which one best fits in that particular situation.
If I were to teach this content to high schoolers I would not assign 32 pages of dense reading all at once. I would start with a Google Slide presentation on the first chapter with lot of graphics and quotes to break down this dense material. The purpose would be to model and explain how to attack such confusing material. Then students would work in groups to read and discuss the second chapter. Each group would create their own Google Slide presentation explaining what they believe Dervin was trying to say. Later students would present them to the class. Once all groups presented we would discuss what common ideas were repeated among the majority of the presentations. Chunking this material and working in groups will promote conversation in order to come to an agreement about the meaning of the text. I know that I myself am looking forward to hearing what my peers took away from the reading as everyone interprets things differently.
The school district that I work for has started to integrate technology into the classroom through the use of one to one devices. Computer adaptive program in both reading and math are frequently being used. Almost all students now have devices which is great, except that teachers aren’t instructed what technology aspects, what rules need to be taught and when they need to be taught. Teachers are individually deciding what and how technology is to be taught in their own classroom and there is no consistency from one grade level to the next. Students need to be taught how to use these devices and how to safely use the internet. Digital citizenship seem to be the new push this year. As of this year, the district now offers lessons on surf responsibility, fair use, privacy protectors, mannerly mail, be kind online and serf safety from Common Sense media. I wasn’t even aware of these lessons until someone from our technology department showed me during a class lesson about Google.
After going to the Common Sense website and watching the 1 hour slide and video, I realized how engaging these lessons can be for student when combined with the passport activities. The lessons themselves are great, but I think the passport will help to reinforce these lessons. These lessons are hands on and allow students to take ownership and responsibility when using a computer.
When looking at the district’s matrix for k-6 on digital citizenship the first lesson is about responsibility. I can see how easy it will be to add this lesson into a unit that I have already created on communities. Students will have ownership of the word and can apply the technology piece to what they already know about communities.
Students can start to make personal connections to digital citizenship when they play games like Interland on "Be Internet Awesome." After learning about these great resources I decided to it add the direct like to my Google classroom so students have easy access when we are working on digital citizenship or when they finish their work early. My students seem to really enjoy it and can’t wait to play it again.