Week 5

Week Five

What are your overall take-aways from the methods/tools that you might use to differentiate the classroom environment (for teacher productivity and student progression)? Which of these may you use in your classroom in the future?

Since I am not someone who enjoys technology in every aspect of my life, there is only one new tool that I would like to learn more about. This is the Confer app for the iPad. It is an app that allows a teacher to collect and organize student data. I have not had a lot of opportunity to learn and use it yet, so all my experience, thus far, comes from talking with co-workers and hearing from them what a great app it is. I am not one who wishes to waste time on seeing if it will work for me. I would rather have someone show me what it does and then decide if I can use it in my life. A teacher friend showed me how she entered letter sound data in the app. She could then sort out which students needed to work on which sounds. She didn’t have to go through all 25 children and make a note of which ones knew which sounds. The other amazing aspect of this app is that with only a few clicks and a blessing my friend could share this information with the reading interventionalist that comes in every day. No need to print off a piece of paper and give it to her. It’s all on the iPad.

I would also like to use the app to document and organize data. I think that it would be very useful to be able to show where certain students are struggling in math and reading. I think that the challenge will be to find the time to put everything into the iPad. I do all this documenting now, it’s just on paper.

I have attempted to contribute to the learning of others by twittering something useful, talking with colleagues about important tech stuff, and collaborate with my classmates on our project.

How can I use tools “in the cloud” to easily manage and deliver feedback to my students?

How can I use tools “in the cloud” to easily manage and deliver feedback to my students?

I have two tools that I like to use for my classroom. They are Dropbox and Numbers.

Dropbox is nice because I have it anywhere I go that has wireless access, my computer, or my iPad. It also works at my school computer. I no longer have to remember to bring home the thumb/jump drive. I no longer have to worry about what I am going to do if I lose the aforementioned item. I no longer have to worry about what I am going to do if I break the aforementioned item. I no longer have to worry about when the aforementioned item will breathe it’s last and it’s contents lost forever. I no longer have to worry about if I will have to track down Abby and McGee from NCIS to see if they can recover my precious documents. It is all in Dropbox. Now I only have to worry about making sure I always remember my login and password. I also hope that Dropbox doesn’t one day drop off the face of this earth and take all my brains with it.

I use Dropbox to keep track of my intervention groups for reading, parent contact, and other school documents. At this time, I do not have lot of student assessments on dropbox. This is partly due to the fact that I teach first grade. A lot of the assessments are done with pencil and paper. It would be difficult to add it to the dropbox. However, I do use a shared computer drive to track absences, spelling test results, fluency numbers, and who turns in their math calendars.

Numbers is on my iPad. I have not used it a whole lot, but the little that I have used it has been useful. The beginning of the year we had a roll-in before school started. The first grade team (six teachers) came up with a list of questions that we wanted to start out the year knowing about our new students. It was very handy to document and have in one place such information as: reading level, could they count by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s, did they know coins up to a quarter, which of the 10 basic words could they read, were they bus or pick-up, could they write their name, and were they allowed to eat breakfast at school.

I, unfortunately, have not had time to do anything else like that on the iPad. However, for goal-setting my principal just gave me a disc where I could learn about how to be more productive using an iPad. I plan on learning from it soon.

I have tried to help people learn by: twittering something useful about Dropbox, work with my teammate on our project for the class, provide a virtual pat on the back for other people who also find all this technology overwhelming and exhausting, and research ideas for this class.

Week 3: What technology tools can I use to manage and track differentiated student progress in my class?

What technology tools can I use to manage and track differentiated student progress in my class?

There are several technology tools that I use to manage and track differentiated student progress in my class. One is a computer test and the other one is a reading test.

The first is the MAPS test. It is administered three times a year. My first graders are assessed in math and reading. I like this test because it breaks down each subject into different areas. For instance, in math some of the categories are: problem solving, number sense, computation, and statistics and probability. In reading, some of the areas include: comprehension, phonemic awareness, and concept of print. I do not rely heavily on this test because it is only three times a year. I can look at it and see how they did, compare it with what I know, but I don’t use it as the absolute picture on where they are at in regards to grade level. As a school, we work hard to make sure that they take this test seriously. However, this test is not an accurate test for everyone.

The other technology that we kind of use is the AIMS test. I don’t know if this one really counts because the data has to be entered. However, once it is entered, I can pull up individual students or the entire class and compare data. This test is also given three times during the year.

In reality, I am not sure that I have a need for that much technology in my classroom. I really don’t have a burning desire to have the latest gadget or program. Yes, I do have an iPad and am trying to learn something on it so that I can use it in my classroom. However, I don’t believe that just because some people have to have everything tied to technology means that I have to also. I like the freedom of picking and choosing what I think is appropriate for my classroom and my life.

I have attempted to contribute to the learning of others by: twittering something useful, answering people’s questions if I know the answer, working on the wikispaces, and trying to find helpful links.

Week two

Week #2: What tools might provide me insight into the learners in my classroom and how might I use this information?

In my short life as an educator, I have had several opportunities to attend Kagan Cooperative Learning Trainings. You are probably wondering in your brain, “What does this have to do with an online learning community since it was (gasp!) learning that happened in the presence of actual human beings?!?!” Fear not my friend, this all has relevance! When I attended last April, I chose to attend one on multiple intelligences and one on brain-friendly teaching. Both were different but went hand in hand. Little did I know that they would totally change some of the ways I was teaching my little first graders. I would like to think that I am a better teacher because of what I have learned.

From this training I received some tools that provide me insight into my learners. I also learned how to use these tools to not only teach to the different intelligences, but also to help students grow their weaker ones. Unfortunately, I cannot find these same resources online for the ones who peruse the internet for information. It doesn’t mean that they are not there, I just can’t find them. However, I did find information that supports what I learned and is a great substitute. For instance, in Pinterest I was able to find a sheet of paper that students can color in to show what interests them. It is closely related to what we had in my Kagan training to use for an interest survey. I have that one in my classroom, but this one is a great substitute for teachers who don’t have the Kagan one at their fingertips. I also found a great model that shows the different intelligences and gives a brief description. I pinterested it for those who either are unfamiliar with the different intelligences or just need a brief update. Now I have it in two places, at school in my book or on the internet. I am so technologically advanced!

I have also twittered several links about multiple intelligences for others to peruse. I decided to put them in the wikispaces because they might go nicely in our first collaborative effort due in several weeks. I am hoping that others may be able to read them if they wish. I have found that it is probably helpful to put a very small blurb about the article by the link. This way I can contribute to the learning of others by not swamping them with links that they have to click on to see if it will interest them, but give them a little tidbit. My PLN can then decide if it is something that might be useful. Here they are in case you missed them.

http://www.institute4learning.com/multiple_intelligences.php a short article on MI

http://www.edutopia.org/multiple-intelligences-immersion-enota a school that has MI apart of every aspect of their learning community

In closing, I have found that what I have learned this week is furthering my professional practice. Even though I am a staunch Kagan supporter, there are other resources that I can use that don’t diminish what I have learned from the Kagan conferences. These new resources have strengthened my resolve to make sure that I am touching on all the multiple intelligences in my classroom. They have also given me a great reminder of the importance of them and how I can incorporate it into my lesson plans. It leaves me with these questions that I will focus on this week.

  1. Am I allowing for all types of learning in this classroom?
  2. What area am I the weakest at allowing for and facilitating student growth? What am I doing to improve this area?

My final blog for week one

We are supposed to write about our attitude we need for a successful mooc so here goes. I warn you that I debated in my brain if I should write what I thought people wanted to hear. I could not do it, because it would be a lie. The following is my truth.

The two words that keep going through my mind are “resignation” and “hope”. These are the only two attitude words that I can think of right now for someone who feels the way that I do.

I think of resignation and hope because:

I am resigned to the fact that this class is just going to be very frustrating for me. I hope that I can make it through without always feeling like I want to scream every time I turn the computer on to do class work. I am resigned to the fact that this class is designed for one type of learner (someone who thrives/learns from being on a computer for hours) and, unfortunately, it is not mine. I hope that I can still balance my free time so that I am not working all day at school and then come home to sit in front of a computer. I hope that this class does not drain my energy so much that I cannot be the best teacher possible for the 29 sponges in my first grade classroom. I hope that I still have time to walk, play the violin, read “stale” (as one person described them) books, socialize with friends, sew, and just be outside instead of worrying about if I have posted, blogged, twittered, pinterested, googled, bookmarked, etc. enough and in all the correct places to get at least a B in the class. I am resigned to the fact that I am just going to have 50 to 100 new emails in my inbox every day. I hope that I have the time to read and delete them all.  I am resigned to the fact that this class is going to be confusing. I hope that the muddy, murky, debri-filled waters clear up soon so that instead of feeling like I am drowning a horrible online death all the time, I can start swimming, exploring interesting looking channels and coves, and fishing in promising looking holes.

I have attempted to contribute to the learning of others by: talking with a co-worker, who has this class as well, and trying to collaborate on what we are doing, copying and pasting links for other people, and sharing what very little info I know or someone gave me when I twittered the other night.