CEP 810: Final Reflection

A final reflection from CEP810? Is it over already? At least this is just the start to earning my masters! I have always been interested in technology and using it with my students but now I look at it in a different way. I now try to consider how much exploration and creativity can be done during an activity and if it’s just a replacement for something that could be done on paper.

During this course there were three main activities that helped me begin to redesign my own teaching practices: the NLP, TPACK and the 21st century lesson plan.  

Networked Learning Project: I use online resources on a daily basis, but it’s often to look for new ideas not completely learn something new. It was fun to explore what other people had to say without actually talking to anyone while I was learning how to make an urban vegetable garden. I also liked that I had to blog about my project because it was a great way to express my growth, what I learned, and it gave me a chance to reflect on networked learning. I enjoyed it so much that it helped me decide to give my first graders more chances to explore online resources to enhance their learning. Lastly, I have a vegetable garden and that’s pretty impressive!  

TPACK: I loved this assignment. It was a great representation of repurposing tools. I am now looking for ways to use any tech tool available instead of trying to find educational tools, because now I know there is no such thing as an educational tool. As I mentioned in my other post, Dr. Punya Mishra’s keynote speech made me think about the difference between integrating and innovating, which is essential when using technology. I’ve shared his video with several colleagues and I have had some very interesting discussions thus far.  

21st Century Lesson Plan: I haven’t made an in depth lesson plan since attending university. Now, when I create or think about a lesson, my focus for technology is reviewing how my students will explore, create and share while keeping in mind the content being taught. it has made it a lot easier to focus on creating a meaningful lesson when I keep these three things in mind.  

Did I achieve my goals?  

  • Goal 1: Finding the best way for using innovative technology for exploratory/inquiry based learning for my first grade students: I am still working on this. With the endless possibilities of technology available, it takes time and exploration to choose the tools that will work best. I have however learned that exploring, creating and sharing can be a quick check for making sure technology is being utilized effectively.  
  • Goal 2: Helping my school continue to utilize technology effectively: I have to start somewhere and that is with my my PLN (professional learning network). Sharing with my husband and colleagues has been fun! I am also considering applying for the technology coordinating position at my current school, which my admin team has hinted I should do. I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew, so I guess this goal is still in the works.  
  • Goal 3: Incorporating a meaningful and dynamic technology based lessons on a daily basis: This is similar to goal one. I am not sure if daily is too much. I am still figuring out what works best for first grade and how often technology is being used as a tool and not a replacement.  

Questions that remain:  

  1. How can I work searching and repurposing tools into my daily schedule?  I think I speak for most teachers when I say, “I don’t have time for that” or “There is so much I need to get done!” I need to figure out a productive and consistent way of looking for useful tools without taking hours of exploration or taking the place of other work.
  2. How will my teaching change? I am searching for ways to mold what I am already doing into something more meaningful with the use of technology.
  3. Can you use too much technology? I have been very excited about all the new tools I have discovered but is there a point when you are using technology to much? I am trying to find the happy medium.

Thanks CEP 810, my prof and all my classmates for helping me happily down the road as a life long learner!


References:

Mishra, Dr. Punya. (2012, March 26). Punya Mishra – Keynote Speaker @ 21st Century Learning Conference – Hong Kong 2012 (Video File). Retrieved From https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=698&v=9bwXYa91fvQ

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CEP 810: Cooking with TPACK

This weeks focus was on tools and how educators need to repurpose them to make them educational. Our task was to have someone choose 1 bowl, 1 plate and a utensil. We then had to complete a task using only those tools.

I work at a technology-driven school. All teachers use technology, but how? For example: many of my colleagues (including myself at times) occasioanlly give students an iPad and have them play a spelling game. This is only integrating technology. What are the students exploring and creating that makes them feel that sense of purpose of that lesson? That is why technology should be innovative, giving students the chance to explore, create and share with others. My first grade team has really been focusing on innovative technology instead of technology to pass time. We have challenged our students to research questions they have and present them in creative ways. For our social studies unit the students searched for pictures, inserted them into an application, added text, exported their poster to my email and presented their findings to the class. As a collaborative team we are getting better at understanding which tools help to make our lessons more meaningful.

Our inspiration this week was Dr. Punya Mishra’s keynote speech. My favorite line that Dr. Mishra said was, “Most technologies are not designed for education. You know they are not designed for educational purposes but, here is the good thing, as users we are always redefining technology.” That couldn’t be said better. Repurpose the tools you have to work for your students educational growth.

Dr. Mashra’s speech is a great representation of where every school should be going. i recommend this video to every educator and administrator out there. It’s a simple, funny, and insightful.


References:

Mishra, Dr. Punya. (2012, March 26). Punya Mishra – Keynote Speaker @ 21st Century Learning Conference – Hong Kong 2012 (Video File). Retrieved From https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=698&v=9bwXYa91fvQ

CEP 810: Urban Garden Networked Learning Project – Final Thoughts

Well I am proud to say that I have successfully created an urban garden! Happy days! I wouldn’t call myself a garden master but I can at least say that I have earned a green thumb! Let me sum up my networked learning project.

Learning Objective: I will learn to successfully grow and maintain an urban garden.

Resources:

  1. YouTube: I found this resource to be the most beneficial, as I often use YouTube to solve a problem or create something. I am a very visual learner so using videos was easy for me to learn and retain information as I watched. I also like its feature of automatically playing a new video about the same topic after you are finished watching the one you chose. It’s also easy to navigate between videos if one wasn’t useful so you aren’t wasting time.
  1. Expat Woman: Living in Dubai is interesting and entertaining at times, especially when it comes to westernized things. Apparently growing a garden in the desert isn’t very popular, so I had to go on a hunt for seeds. Once I found them only find certain seeds in packets were available and the rest of the vegetables you want have to be bought in a do it yourself kit. Luckily Expat Woman helped me figure out the stores where I could find seeds, which soil to use, and what vegetables could survive on a balcony in extreme heat. Thank you expat help forums!

What I learned:

  1. I can garden! Woot!
  1. Plants grow well using the hydroponics system. To recap, a hydroponics system uses recycled 2-liter bottles and a wicking system to supply water to the soil and roots. With this system in place you still need to water the plants because the top gets dry but, in case you forget, it’s a good back up for busy days or forgetful mornings.
  1. Vinegar is a great home remedy for bugs that are munching on your plants. Just add a bit of water to dilute it and spritz it on the plants every morning.

For another assignment this week we had to browse through a ton of educational websites that could be implemented in the classroom. There were so many that I didn’t even know where to start but it was exciting to find new resources that I can utilize in my teaching. There are endless possibilities! In this day and age I think it is very important to be a networked learner and this project made me realize that even more. Why not use all of these great resources if they are available? If you recall the saying “two heads are better than one,” just think about all the people (heads) out there that are providing us with new information on a daily basis. It’s amazing to think that 20 years ago the only resource was to reference books or articles and now we can use the internet to search and even access books and articles as well. We have come a long way since I was a child way back in the 80s. J So yes, I will continue to be a networked learner and I am going to encourage my students to do the same. They already are in a way. 7 year olds can Google search something, save pictures and add them to documents, use iPad tons of iPad apps, or even research topics. So my next step is to make sure that they continue to be networked learners but understand which resources are legitimate. As an educator I need to teach them the skills to decipher good websites compared to bad. (i.e. Wikipedia vs. National Geographic for Kids). Digital citizenship is something that should be taught from the start of elementary and revisited each year until a student graduates. If you tech it, they will learn.

CEP 810: 21st Century Learning Lesson Plan

Tony Wagner, the Harvard education specialist says, “We need to focus on teaching the skill and will to learn and to make a difference and bring the three most powerful ingredients of intrinsic motivation into the classroom: play, passion and purpose.”  This statement is especially true with how much our students use technology. So, as technology changes and improves so shall our teaching and learning. Hence the reason for creating a 21st century learners lesson.

The lesson I planned for my techie first graders incorporates both writing and science which will be completed over 8 days. We just began new units on non-fiction writing and how plants/animals survive so I thought that incorporating the units together would be both meaningful and beneficial to my students. Students will be typing a non-fiction book about a animal/plant that they research. This is a very independent assignment that allows students to explore and create. The technology used in this lesson are iPads (QR reader) and computers (Microsoft Word/Page Flip-Flap). For my students, these skills were previously taught earlier in the school year, so if your students haven’t used a QR reader or Microsoft Word you will need to add a day or more to the plan in order to teach these skills.

In the lesson plan I wrote the content for each subject separately because I will teach the subjects separately. The subjects do not have to be combined but there may be times where there is an overlap.

Science: The first lesson starts in a whole group where a non-fiction book is read.  To access students’ prior knowledge of non-fiction we will discuss how and where an author would get their information. Students are then asked to use iPads to scan QR codes and research their own information about their favorite animal or plant. I found several sites that are beneficial for my students and made my own QR codes. Students will use a graphic organizer for each topic (habitat, young, needs and protection) and write down important facts in bullet point form (another skill that was taught previously). Students will continue this process until they are finished researching.

Writing: The writing lessons will begin by accessing their prior knowledge of non-fiction text features. As they research they will type their information as a book in Microsoft Word adding in several non-fiction text features and pictures from Google. Once the book is complete students will upload it to Page Flip-Flap which creates a digital flip book that they can share with their parents/peers.

As a wrap up students will reflect by completing the project rubric and writing what they did well and what could be improved on their own.

I like to keep my lessons simple and straight to the point. If you want any of the materials that I created or have a question, feel free to leave a comment here or on Twitter @ginganerd58. You can find the formal lesson plan here.

Happy tech-ing…I mean teaching! 🙂

CEP 810: What’s new with the Urban Garden? – An update on my NLP

Progress = nice! I have learned that I can actually grow vegetables and herbs without killing them! My husband and I have used our basil with a tilapia dish so far and we are excited to see our other plants grow so we can use them with our cooking.

To be honest, I could not be happier because I haven’t killed a plant yet! My sprouts have sprung and I am beginning to see what I can accomplish in full, very extreme, sunlight. Using the hydroponic system seems to be working. I check the plants every morning to make sure the soil is moist. Thank you Epic Gardening and  Marty’s Garden videos! Here is a quick video that shows how the seeds have started to grow!

Challenge #1: Stupid little bugs that are trying to eat my basil plant. I will admit I bought the basil plant from a local grocery story and replanted it. I was curious to see if the plant would survive with the hydroponics system that I looked up and blogged last time. I have started to see that some type of bug has been chomping on the plant. Since I have three balconies, the logical solution was to first move the basil to a different location and see if that would solve the problem. Since that didn’t work I started to research what else I could do.

Solution A: I found a website that talks about pests to watch out for in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Expat Woman has been a website my husband and I have used even before we moved to Dubai. It’s a great blog that explains things easily and includes lots of pictures, which really helps me. The website explained which bugs could be eating the basil plant. I concluded that I probably have leaf miner bugs and should snip off the leaves that have been eaten. If that didn’t work the next piece of advice was to call a professional. Number one, I don’t have the money for that. Number two, I think that method is a bit extreme.

Solution B: Of course, YouTube! I love saving money, so they first thing I searched was what can I make that is cheap and easy. I found out that using vinegar as a home remedy to keeping bugs off plants should work well. I have used this for a couple of days and we will see if it works by the time I post my next video.

Here is a picture of the before and after of my basil plant. If you look closely you can see the leaves that have been eaten. This is what I am trying to prevent. Hopefully my research will work!

IMG_3757IMG_3772

Before                                                        After

Challenge #2: Over watering. My husband laughs at me constantly because I want to check my plants every hour. The reason why my plants haven’t survived in the past was because I forgot to water them. Now I think I am over watering and that’s why my mint isn’t growing. So I started to Google it.

Solution A: I found a site called ProvenWinners. This site showed descriptions of how you know a plant is drowning and how to avoid it. I am glad I found this site, because it did help right away. I decided to plant the mint a second time to see if it would sprout in a different soil. Here is to hoping it works.

Solution B: What better way to save your plants but with Better Homes and Gardens. My mother has had a subscription to this magazine for years and I am just now seeing why that is the case.

Solution C: I have researched another way to make sure that my plants are watered. Apparently, plastic ziplock bags can also help water plants, and this may be better for my mint plant. Also using paper towels instead of shirts for the wick.

Here’s to hoping all goes well before my next post! Wish me luck!

CEP810: GTD – Getting Things Done

I just learned about David Allen’s book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (2001).  So what do I use to keep my life organized? I have a paper desk calendar and a yearly planner provided by the school. I consider myself a tech savvy individual, yet I am still using a paper list with little boxes next to it that I check off. Wow…I think it’s time to change that.

The first tool I explored was Evernote. To be honest, I only tried this tool because my husband said he had used it to organize himself during his first year of teaching in Venezuela. Here are my thoughts:

  • Can be used without 3G or Wi-Fi256px-Evernote.svg
  • Items cannot be checked off
  • Like a Word Document but has a title
  • Notes can be exported into Word Documents
  • Notes can be shared with Google contacts

When I make a list, I LOVE the satisfaction of seeing an item checked off and watching the list shrink. That is why I am going to start using Wunderlist. Here are my reasons why:

  • Can be used without using Wi-Fi or 3G
  • Can be synced with multiple devices when a internet/cellular connection is available
  • Lists can be shared by email, URL linked, or printed (I like this especially since I can share lists with the 5 other first grade teachers or my husband.)
  • Others can be added to edit lists Wunderlist
  • Items can be checked off
  • Lists can be combined easily
  • Lists can be emailed.

Checked off my blog post and now to share a tweet!