Library of Congress Certificate

Here is my certificate from the Library of Congress.

My Certificate



In this Tuesday, May 8, 2012 photo, fourth grader Trevon Davis, 9, works on a computer in computer class at Moreland Hills Elementary School in Pepper Pike, Ohio. As Ohio prepares by 2014 to join other states that deliver building-by-building percentages on classroom spending to parents and politicians, school treasurers and state funding experts are struggling to shove expenses as varied as guidance counseling, teacher pensions, school buses, furnace ducts, and playground equipment into a single two-category system. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

We live in a world of expanding technology. Today’s new thing becomes tomorrow old thing. Unfortunately there is a segment of our population that does not have access to this growing digital world. Computers and internet access are beyond their reach. Low income students disproportionately represent this growing group.

Educators have realized that having a computer is just one step in making a difference for low income students and students in general. Not only having a computer but also knowing how to use the tools in an effective manner is important. In a study conducted in California, computers were randomly given to students for their use. Forty-nine percent of those students didn’t even know how to download something from the internet. A couple of things occurred from this experience. While homework participation went up, which is a good thing, so did other computer activities such as social networking and gaming. These outcomes may have cancelled each other.

As a teacher, I realize the possible impact that technology can have in the classroom. Although I would love to assign homework that would require computers and internet access, the reality is that all of the students that I teach just don’t have access. Here is where I believe teachers can differentiate instruction. At the beginning of the year, I could gather information regarding students that had computer access and use that information to differentiate home assignments. As a parent, I know I would not want to receive an assignment from my child’s teacher that required internet access and I didn’t have it. In addition, I think it would be unfair to expect students to go somewhere with free Wi-Fi to complete assignments. Appropriate class time could be provided for those students who couldn’t do assignments at home. In the classroom, I would make sure that all students are exposed to and use the technology in school and are taught how to use technology responsibly – be responsible digital natives.

I also understand the importance of teaching children how to be critical thinkers and setting high expectations for every student in my class. Since there is a positive correlation with teacher expectations and student achievement even when factoring in economic status, I don’t believe that technology alone can bridge the achievement gap. It is a combination of factors that include but are not limited to high expectations setting high expectations, family involvement, and allowing students to make more decision about their learning.

Common Sense Media

CommonSenseTraining 001

Like many of the resources introduced in this technology class, this one was also new to me.  With the new technology standards this site provides a wealth of information to assist with integrating technology as well as how to use technology effectively in the classroom when teaching.

I absolutely love having a guide to help pave the road that I am taking.  To that end, this site not only provides a wealth of resources it also provides a scope and sequence broken down by grade levels.  Although FCPS has its own technology standards which we have to implement, the information provided by common sense would be a great compliment to effective integration within the classroom.

Much of what we do now incorporates technology.  The amount of time children are engaged with technology, not including cell phone conversations and texting, takes up a substantial amount of the day.  Consequently, it is very important for kids to know how to be digitally responsible.  This resources helps with that through the lessons provided.

Flipped Lesson – George Washington

eduCanon: interactive video. unleashed.

I completed this project and am quite proud of myself.

With the help of you tube, I learned how to embed a video in a power point.  So I guess I did a little bit of programming.  I had to take some of the letters/numbers out of the url and add/change them.  The video was very easy to follow.

After I did that, I changed the PP to a Movie.  Unfortunately, movie maker would not save the slide that I had the movie on.  I will definitely save the PP for use during the year.  A work in progress.

So then I had to figure out how to insert my clip from you tube in movie maker.  The url certainly wasn’t going to work.  I finally got the video in a format that I could insert into movie maker and I was done.

Next steps . . .eduCanon.  That was very simple and I will probably use that again.

Now that I have done it one time, I think I will try to make some more for practice in August.

Social Learning Tool – Sophia

Sophia Learning I believe was an excellent choice.  It was something that I did not know about and learned from.  The site officer so many things.   It is incredible.  I really liked the fact that they offer webinars, homework help, state aligned work, professional development and still much more.  This along with many of the other sites that I have learned about during this summer session will be definitely helpful for my classroom and I will share with other teachers that I work with.


Digital Learning 24/7

Project Tomorrow’s annual Speak Up Research Project provides insight into the ways in which students today want to learn.  They have been providing insight over the past 12 years.  Most recently, a lot of their research has been about students’ use of technology and how to best incorporate that into the learning environment.  This year’s national report addressed that by focusing on the views of 431,231 students in the following learning environments:  mobile, blended, virtual, and STEM.

When comparing the learning environments mentioned in the previous paragraph to the traditional class room, the report mentions many differences.  For instance, in the blended model students spend a lot more time online, using their textbook online, taking online test, and or more likely to be self-directed outside of school.  When they talked about the virtual classroom, students expressed a high interest in taking on-line course in core subjects like Math.  The information about STEM, although not unknown, is disappointing.  According to the report, elementary school girls in grades 3-5 report a greater interest in STEM than girls in high school.  The percentage drops from 64% to 33%.

What do these facts tell me as a teacher?  Technology is here and it is a must to include in the learning process.  As a teacher, I love the idea of having self-directed learners outside of the classroom as well as inside the classroom.  I think it helps them to learn better when they have a hold of the steering wheel.  Making learning fun and memorable has to be a priority.  I use technology in my classroom but not to the extent that this class has exposed me to nor the models mentioned in the report.  I hope to change that next year!

Digital Storytelling If you give a pig a pancake

This was truly a learning experience.  It was totally new for me but I enjoyed the activity.  I think this would be a valuable way for students to experience learning through creating their own story.  What first came to mind is how students might use this technology with U.S. History.  Moreover it would be a great tool to use during my language arts block.  During L.A. students do activities like read to self, work on writing, and listening to reading.  This would be an awesome way to provide summaries for their experiences instead of using the traditional manner of writing a paper pencil summary.  It would also give them an opportunity to share their stories with the class which is a part of those wonderful communication standards.

Completing the story took a little bit longer than  the other groups but I liked the aspect of working together.  Collaboration is an important part of learning even for adults.  During that process, we use Google docs to place pictures that we were going to use for our story.  We worked together on finding pictures, editing pictures and we all contributed to the telling the story as well.

I must admit, I think I need a lot more practice with using the tools myself before I introduce it to my students.  Then finding the time to incorporate this in the classroom while still doing what is expected of me to do with the children pertaining to content.  The schedule and what and how we are supposed to teach is very scripted.

I enjoyed the experience of learning how to do this.  The story we chose, also made the experience fun.  I just wish it hadn’t gone so fast and that we had more time to create and apply what we learned.  So when school is over, I think I am going to have to do some additional practicing so I feel more confident about introducing this as an avenue of expression in my classroom.  I think the kids would love it.

Math Class Needs a Makeover

In this video, Dan Meyer discusses some of the problems with how math is taught in today’s classroom.  His stance is basically that classrooms in the U.S. are not teaching Math in a manner in which the students, future leaders, will retain the information and use it later.  He compared the way we currently teach math to how problems are presented in sitcoms – simple problem solving.  He even provided information about brain research that stated that sitcoms like the one mentioned in the video helps to create pathways in the brain that help individuals solve problems with simple solutions instead of creating complex thinkers who are able to reason about the math they are given.

As he talked about Math reasoning he stated five things that were wrong in the classroom that don’t help support Math computation/reasoning.  These included:  lack of initiating, lack of perseverance, lack of retention, aversion of word problems, and looking for/wanting a formula to solve a problem.  In addition, he mentioned that our current Math textbooks are inadequate and using them in the manner presented is like having your student watch a sitcom.  Teaching in this manner creates a smooth straight path for students to interact with Math but does prepare or equip them to become problem solvers and be able to discuss Math problems in a meaningful way.

He provided a quote from Einstein which included these words, “The formulation of a problem in important. . .  I totally agree with the information Mr. Meyer discussed in the video.  If we don’t teach our student how to make sense of a problem, we are just teaching how to solve that problem and not the skill of analyzing problems that would help when problems might be presented in a different format.  Children need to be actively involved and engaged in the learning process of math.  This can initially begin through dialogue which would help facilitate the students establishing structure for the problem.

As I think about the video overall, this is another great video that encourages me to bring it up a notch as it related to teaching my students.  This past year I had a challenging class, most of which failed the Math SOL in the 5th grade, but I was able to get the majority of them to pass the 6th grade Math SOL.  The same students that I helped to pass the SOL, were also students who had lack of initiative, lack of perseverance, lack of retention, and so on.  If it weren’t for the fact the we changed how we taught Math, I am not sure how they would have done.  Now in Math we are doing more of a Math Workshop model where the teacher meets students in small groups while other students work on Math independently, with someone, with technology, or writing about Math. Nevertheless, I have definitely noticed and experienced the problems mentioned by Mr. Meyer in my classroom

I also don’t think the textbook is very useful for instruction.  I actually don’t think I used it at all this past year, except when I had to plan for a substitute.   I basically following Fairfax County’s pacing guide and tried to find or create lessons that would facilitate learning of the new skills as well as applying that skill to problems while working independently and not in the small group.

The FlipSide with Jon Bergmann

Flipping Your Class?  Do This Puh-leeze Don’t Do That

I decided to listen to this podcast because of our recent discussion in class regarding flipped classrooms.  This podcast was part 1 of a four part series in which Mr. Bergmann talked about the do’s and don’ts of flipping a class.  When the podcast first started, it gave examples of what could initially happen in a classroom scenario where students are watching a video but have not yet been taught how to take notes when watching a video.  These examples included students asking for the video to be paused or as he stated in the podcast the teacher actually giving the notes instead of the students taking notes.

As Mr. Bergmann continued in the podcast, he began to explain in flipping a class one of the main mistakes teachers make when doing so.  The students in a flipped classroom are not taught how to watch videos selected by the teacher.  He emphasizes the point that it is not just about watching the video but moreover about teaching the students how to interact with the content from the video.  As a teacher, It is our responsibility to decide how we want our students to interact with the content we are presenting them and then to teach that approach to the students in an effective manner with practice.  The amount of practice would depend on the grade level of the students.

In this first segment, Mr. Bergmann gives directions on how to facilitate interaction with a video with the students.  Through a step by step, day by day process, students are guided through how to take notes.  The first day was more like an introduction, the second day was guided practice/instruction on taking notes, the third day students were given the opportunity to have their own devices (eliminating having to pause for the class) and take notes while the teacher walks around and provides feedback, and then the fourth day and forward students continued to practice taking notes.  Again the time frame depended on the grade level of the students being taught.

I haven’t listened to many podcast but this really allowed me to reflect on my own practices and think about how I might change them next year.  I’ve taught for a while and I think one of my biggest mistakes is thinking that my 6th graders know how to take notes from videos that I show them in class.  For me, this podcast emphasized the importance of instruction prior to production of the information you want students to gain.  Next school year, I will start my video presentations a lot different than what I have done in the past.  In the past I’ve been the person pausing and “giving” notes that I thought they needed.  This was definitely a learning experience and I do think they would be good for development.  As team leader for my grade level, incorporating appropriate podcasts in our meeting would have certainly been beneficial.

Extracurricular Empowerment – Scott Mcleod

The talk presented by Scott McLeod was one that encouraged the use of technology and incorporating that into the learning experience.  Through examples of successful experiences of some youth he demonstrates the power that technology has and how it can change things.  This could be advantageous for classroom teachers.  However according to the video, there is an obstacle for this to be effectively included in the classroom learning experience.  That obstacle is fear.

I can understand the concern.  As mentioned in the video, when most think of children using technology we worry about cyber bullying, sexting, and other phone abuse.  However there are so many positive things that could result from the use of technology.  For example, a student who may not necessarily like writing stories during Language Arts but through the use of technology in writing that student might feel empowered like the girl in the video.

I think of a teacher I observed recently during guided reading.  He used iPod’s with the students.  While conducting one group he would send questions to previous groups that he had met with.  He had set up a classroom blog for the students to respond to questions regarding their reading assignment.  It was amazing!

As teachers, I think we have the responsibility to meet the students were they are as it relates to their learning.  Everyone learns differently.  Incorporating technology effectively and authentically in learning experiences I think will make the experience enjoyable and on that they would want to participate in.  Teachers, including myself, just need to step away from fear and grasp empowerment.