Reflective Essay

Reflection is an important aspect of being an educator.  We must practice reflection in order to grow as an individual and learn from our mistakes.  This course at Walden has helped me grow as a professional and learn how to implement new technologies into my classroom to help meet the needs of my learners.

Before this course, I was already using technology with my students and as an individual.  However, I never approached technology as being student-led and would often only allow limited opportunities for students to use technology.  This course has helped me to gain new insights on how beneficial technology can be for both the teacher and the student.  For example, learning about using Twitter in the classroom came as a shock to me.  Although I have had my own personal Twitter account for years, I was blocked to the thought of having students use Twitter.  However, I now see Twitter as a place where students can publish their work.  It also allows students to share their work with their friends and family (Wigg, G., 2013).  Twitter can also provide students with a place to write poems or explain their thoughts (Wigg, G., 2013).  Twitter has also opened my perspectives on technology as an educator.  It has become a network at my fingertips, where I can follow other educators to gain and/or share ideas (Richardson, 2010).  Furthermore, this course has opened a multitude of new technologies that I never knew existed.  Taking part in a group collaboration where we had to use a social bookmarking account to communicate was by far the most eye-opening experience.  The collaboration among my colleagues broadened my horizons as an educator and allowed me to see the amazing technologies we were all willing to try in our classrooms.  It also allowed for group communication to take place and for technology based conversations to develop.  I have learned a great deal from my colleagues and throughout this course.

Throughout this course, I have learned that technology should not replace simple tasks, but extend student learning.  It should be used to promote critical thinking and collaboration among students, teachers, and parents.  I now have a deeper understanding of the importance of technology and the benefits it can bring to a classroom.  In order to apply what I have learned throughout this course, I want to provide students with lesson plans that promote positive interactions with technology.  For example, I would like to develop project-based learning assignments that would require students to collaborate with one another.  I want to give them projects that incorporate driving questions, 21st-century skills and an opportunity for them to have a voice (Larmer, J. & Mergendoller, J.R., 2010).  This will allow students to become global collaborators, in which they use digital tools to collaborate with others and work effectively in teams (ISTE, 2016).  Through this process of implementation, I hope to provide my students with the tools that are necessary for their future.  I want to make sure I am giving them work that is meaningful and relevant that prepares them for their future endeavors.

One Web 2.0 tool I am open to implementing into my classroom is blogs.  Blogs are a great tool that can be used with first graders as a publishing tool.  Students can publish their writing, along with post pictures and podcasts to enhance their work.  After introducing it as a teacher based technology, I believe students are extremely motivated to use a blog.  The one road block that I have is the lack of technology within my classroom.  I have access to laptop carts, but many of them are checked out for upper elementary projects.  Within my classroom, I only have one classroom computer and I have checked out five laptops for student use.  This is a struggle, but I can work around the lack of technology but allowing students to work at the laptops in small groups.  Students will be able to work on the laptops during our language arts block.  They will be using our classroom blog as a way to communicate, publish, and show their understanding of a lesson through a global community (ISTE, 2016).  By using blogs in the classroom, I am using technology to facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity, and innovation in both face-to-face and virtual environments (ISTE, 2008).

I have developed two SMART goals in order to incorporate more technology into my classroom.  The first goal is that I will integrate student-led blogs into the district writing curriculum by the end of the second trimester.  I will model and explain how to use the student-led blog by presenting a variety of examples during a whole group lesson.  I plan to do this slowly and allowing students plenty of exploration time to get familiar with our blog.  I also plan to inform parents of our student-led blogs and encourage them to participate in our classroom collaboration.  My second SMART goal is to research math technologies that provide collaboration among students and teachers by the beginning of the third trimester.  I will work with my colleagues to research interactive math technologies that promote critical thinking and problem skills that students can use to differentiate their learning.  I will also collaborate with my colleagues on how to use our new math technology programs to promote collaboration among ourselves and our students.  I plan to do this during a professional development day in which we meet to talk about curriculum and the new things we are incorporating into our classroom.  Once we have found a math technology that is suitable for our students and/or our school, I will offer to present these findings to the staff.

References

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). (2016). Standards for students.
Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/for-students-2016

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). (2008). Standards for teachers.
Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-teachers

Larmer, J., & Mergendoller, J. R. (2010). Seven Essentials for Project-Based Learning.
Educational Leadership, 68 (1). Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications
/educational_leadership/sept10/vol68/num01/Seven_Essentials_for_Project-
Based_Learning.aspx

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (3rd
ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Wigg, G. (2013). Twitter Or: How I’m learning that social media is my friend. Practically
Primary
18(3), 34-35.

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