Posted in Graduate Studies

Music in the Classroom

SKETCHY I love music

I came across an interesting infographic in response to whether or not music played in the classroom (not music instruction, but music as background to work) has any affect on student achievement. There have been many reports on this over the years, and to be honest I have let my own experience as an elementary educator dictate my position on the subject. I have played music in my classroom for years and the students love it. I play all kinds of music while my students work ranging from classical to acoustic, from smooth jazz to blues, and music based on the calendar, like winter and St. Patrick’s Day. I enjoy sharing different genres of music with my students and they enjoy it as well. It sets a tone in my classroom that I feel makes it less sterile and more like home. I have never had a student complain and have even had a parent comment that her son studies better at home now that he plays classical music while he works. As far as I am concerned, music in the classroom most certainly has a place and benefits students not only in terms of academic achievement, but in terms of mood and state of mind. Of course the type of music plays a factor, I tend to play music without lyrics and not too loudly. Lately I have been playing modern music that has been remade with classical instruments and no lyrics. The students enjoy listening and recognizing the tune. On the whole music in my classroom adds to the fun and enjoyment of school.

MUSIC & LEARNING Infographic

Posted in Graduate Studies

Class Size Matters PSA

As a part of my online graduate studies in the area of Educational Technology, my assignment this week was to create a PSA (public service announcement) as a part of my Digital Storytelling class. The topic of the PSA was up to each student. I chose to do mine on one of my top three “hot button” issues – class size. (My other two areas of concern are class technology for students and teacher prep time, in case you were wondering.)

Posted in Graduate Studies

Sample Distance Education Mini-Lesson

(This post is designed to meet the requirements for the Distance Education Mini-Lesson as assigned by GCU TEC 571)

Lesson Format: Hybrid
“A hybrid lesson is a combination of modalities and technology with face to face instruction.”
I chose this format as it is closest to my actual teaching environment. The lesson is designed as remediation where direct instruction based on the gradual release model has already taken place.


SUBJECT AREA: Mathematics – Division
Number of Students: 31 (16 male & 15 female) | Age Range: 8-9 years old

Mental, Social, Physical, Social Notes:

  • Disabilities: none
  • Learning Differences:(Based on recent MAPS results in Math: Operations and Algebraic Thinking)
    • Challenge: 10 students
    • Benchmark: 9 students
    • Strategic: 7 students
    • Intensive: 5 students
  • Ethnicities:
    • Hispanic/Latino: 22
    • Asian: 5
    • Caucasian: 1
    • Native American: 1
    • African American: 1

Current Knowledge, Prerequisites, and Notes About Learner Attitudes:

The class on the whole is eager and well behaved. There is a broad spectrum of academic abilities.

Learning Styles (29 students assessed via “What’s Your Learning Style?“)

  • Visual: 8
  • Auditory: 13
  • Kinesthetic: 3
  • Auditory/Visual: 2
  • Auditory/Kinesthetic: 2
  • Visual/Kinesthetic: 1


TITLE: Division Review
SUMMARY: In this lesson we will revisit the concept of making equal groups (dividing).
3.OA.3 – Use multiplication and division within 100 to solve word problems in situations involving equal groups, arrays, and measurement quantities, e.g. by using drawings and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.
ESSENTIAL QUESTION: How could you solve problems breaking quantities into equal groups?
1. Creativity and Innovation

a. Apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes.
b. Create original works as a means of personal or group expression.
c. Use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues.
2. Communication and Collaboration
a. Interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media.
b. Communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.
3. Research and Information Fluency
a. Plan strategies to guide inquiry
d. Process data and report results
4. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
a. Identify and define authentic problems and significant questions for investigation.
b. Plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project.
c. Collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions.
d. Use multiple processes and diverse perspectives to explore alternative solutions.
5. Digital Citizenship
a. Advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use information and technology.
b. Exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity.
c. Demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning.
6. Technology Operations and Concepts
a. Understand and use technology systems
d. Transfer current knowledge to learning of new technologies.
Students will be able to solve problems breaking quantities into equal groups.
Blooms Taxonomy:

Students will remember how to solve a problem using division strategies.
Students will understand how to apply division strategies to solve problems.
Students will apply what they have learned about division to real world problems.
Students will evaluate their own division projects as well as those of their peers.
Students will create projects demonstrating their mastery of division strategies.
Relatively up to date computer (Windows or Mac operating system)
Smartphone or other device to record and upload with.
Internet browser (e.g. Safari, Explorer, Firefox, Chrome)
Ability to operate a computer.
Ability to navigate the Internet.
Familiarity with how to post to YouTube privately.
Familiarity with Discovery Education and Board Builder.
Familiarity with Edmodo and BrainPOP Jr.
DURATION: 20 minutes in class, as much time as needed at home
GROUPING: In class whole group, at home individual


ANTICIPATORY SET:  Review the BrainPop Jr video “Making Equal Groups(Since BrainPop Jr. is a paid service, access information has been shared privately with those who require it.)
Watch and discuss the video pausing at key points with the entire class, being mindful to select students from each ability level (Challenge, Benchmark, Strategic, Intensive) to contribute to the discussion.
Once the video has been reviewed and discussed, the online portion of the task will be explained including the rubrics that will be used to score them. Students will complete tasks remotely as outlined via a Discovery Education Board Builder. (For sample purposes, a guest log in to Discovery Education has been provided privately.)

ONLINE PORTION (parent/guardian permission and assistance required)

      1. Students will log into their Discovery Education accounts for the Board Builder that has been assigned to them entitled “Division Review.”
      2. Students will then visit the “Making Equal Groups” video page themselves where they will review the video.
      3. Students will complete the following activities related to the “Making Equal Groups” video page.
        1. Activity – Print out the activity page and record yourself solving the problems, explaining your thought process. Post privately to YouTube and share the link in the class group on Edmodo. Students will then review and comment on their peers’ work. (summative assessment)
        2. Division Is All Around You – Students will identify as many division problems in their daily lives as they can and have a parent record them identifying it and solving it using any of the division strategies we have discussed. The video can be privately posted to YouTube and the url shared in Edmodo for class review and comment. (formative assessment).
      4. Students will review and comment on their classmates’ work in Edmodo.


Other ways this lesson can be extended:

Students create a podcast using SoundCloud that takes a division sentence and makes it a story, then post the link to it in Edmodo for the class to listen and comment. Students could also use the same idea and instead of create a podcast, the could create an online book of it using StoryBird, sharing their completed story on Edmodo for peer commentary.

Students could create their own division Board Builder, and upload text, drawings, audio and video…serving as a portfolio of their mathematical and technical understanding.


The main area of concern would be the level of parent support and willingness to aid children this young in completing online tasks. A secondary concern is the technology literacy of the household and the level of necessary preparation students and families may need to accomplish online tasks.

Posted in Graduate Studies

Instructional Design Principles and Distance Education

The following post has been prepared for GCU TEC-571 Distance Learning in Education and addresses the following prompt: Select three instructional design principles (i.e., graphic cues, examples, combinations of instruction) that you feel should be more developed for learners within distance education courses.”

My present academic experience in an online Masters program is my first time being a learner within a distance education course. I can say honestly that the experience is mixed for me. I am excited to be pursuing the Master’s degree I wanted originally, and I am excited to be learning so much more about the rationale behind the many facets of educational technology. My current course focuses on distance education, and all I have as a personal reference is my rather short tenure as a distance learner.

Much of the discussion in my present course from the onset addresses how distance education cannot simply be treated like your traditional “brick and mortar” education, which I completely agree with. I do however think that the structure of a lesson/course can be similar. For example, lessons in an offline classroom are largely based on Madeline Hunter’s lesson plan format: getting ready to learn (review, anticipatory set, objectives), instruction (input and modeling), checking for understanding (guided practice), independent practice, and finally closure (assessment). I have been teaching long enough to see that there have been variations to the formula but Hunter’s foundation remains unchanged. I have taught solely at the elementary level, but I have been a student of all levels and I know that Hunter’s structure is not limited to elementary lesson structure. It works at all levels.

That being said, I reflect on this widely accepted and successful structure and I find it is not present in my present graduate course. It is my perception that I am provided more of a “Must Do” list of items that I am to complete largely on my own as if it were some sort of independent study. I am assigned a lecture to read as well as a text and other links to other resources, but there really is no meaningful contact with the professors or my peers, and I believe that is a major hurdle in my experience as a distance learner. Sure I can email them or leave a message for them on a message board, but that is no where near the same thing as real human interaction, (the sort of interaction you get when you attend a physical class) which I do believe is possible within the world of educational technology. The theory of Multiple Intelligences presents itself here. In our offline classrooms we are expected to consider the various “intelligences” of our learners (how they learn best) as well as their strengths and weaknesses.  That should be no different for the online learner. Lessons and courses should be designed with this in mind for both offline and online learners.

The power of interacting with your instructors and your peers, is huge and completely possible online. While my present Master’s program is the first time I have been a distance learner in terms of my “official” education as a working professional, I have realized it really is not my first time being a distance learner.

I became a distance learner once I joined the Discovery Educator Network (DEN). The first time I attended a webinar was the beginning of my experiences as a distance learner. Twitter has also added to my experiences as a distance learner in the exchanges I have had that either further contact and communication with a presenter I may have seen at a conference, or with other educators I have networked with. The groundbreaking event for me as a distance learner was the Multi-User Virtual Environment (MUVE) called Second Life (SL).  It was because of the DEN that I joined this community in 2007 and have never left.  I have used Skype more as well as a result of my exploration of SL and use of it to broaden my own personal development as an individual as well as an educator. SL and Skype have single handedly changed how I want to learn (and get the most out of my learning) as a distance learner. They have brought the personal connection that in my opinion, makes distance learning (and in turn distance educating) much more enriching and impactful.

It is my belief via my own experiences as a distance learner in a MUVE, that many instructional design principles can be addressed and enhanced to meet the needs of the distance learner. The only real limitation is the age of the targeted learner. For example, I teach 3rd grade presently and the highest grade I have taught is 5th. A MUVE like SL is best geared toward high school and higher education. However I know MUVEs like Minecraft are used with increasing regularity to instruct younger learners.

A distance course could be housed in SL, but not limited to it. Any Learning Management System (LMS) could be used in conjunction with it, like LoudCloud, which is used in my present course. It serves largely as a syllabus and message board.  With the course structure outlined in a LMS, the courses themselves could be attended in SL (at varying times to account for different time zones) to bring in that personal aspect that is so very important. As with any new software there is a learning curve, and just learning SL itself…an orientation per se, (much like one gets before they go to college) would be an excellent ice-breaker… something we all do as “real-world” educators with a new class.


I am a founding member of a virtual photography education project called VISIONAIRE, which I actively work on with two very dear friends I met in SL, one of whom is an art therapist who has worked with sufferers of post traumatic stress disorder and lives in Ireland (Wren), the other in Singapore who also happens to have real life experience as an educator as well as a photographer for VOGUE (Nariko).

Avatar Name: Nariko Okawa
Avatar Name: WrenNoir Cerise
Avatar Name: Silly Avro (aka Prisilla S. Avro)

It was through my experience as a student in this project as well as a manager that I began to see how the use of a MUVE in distance education was very real and very powerful for both the learner and the instructor. Using VISIONAIRE as a case study and Hunter as a lesson foundation, the following principles can be modified to meet the needs of distance learners.

Instructional Design Principle #1: Getting Ready to Learn (review, anticipatory set, objectives)

In VISIONAIRE it was clear from the onset that our over arching objective was to improve the virtual photography skills of each student. I remember the opening activity vividly. We were tasked with bringing to class an example of a virtual photographer we aspired to be like and one that was not quite our style and explain why. Each student came with a sample from Flickr as there is quite the thriving community of virtual/SL artists there and in SL voice, local text, or Skype we explained our thoughts behind each sample we brought to share with our instructors as well as our classmates. In this activity alone we reviewed our own virtual photography knowledge, understood the objective, and our mutual sharing served as the anticipatory set.

Instructional Design Principle #2: Instruction (input and modeling)

In terms of the actual instruction, the instructors (Nariko and Wren) lectured and facilitated group discussion via inworld voice, local text and Skype, depending on the needs of the group.They modeled via samples of their own work, or via sharing something they were working on to illustrate a point via screen capture tools like Gyazo. We congregated in a building that looked nothing like a traditional classroom. It was more of a cozy building with seating for our avatars. In truth it could have been held anywhere…in an open field, a park, another planet, etc.

With the second batch of students Wren took them on virtual field trips to different locations to challenge their use of inworld photography tools as well as post processing tools such as PhotoShop or Gimp. She also had them build their own tools in SL for use in their virtual photography.

Instructional Design Principle #3: Checking for Understanding (guided practice)

We met inworld weekly and in each session we were given assignments to prepare spotlighting different aspects of virtual photography, and then share with the class upon our next meeting (using the previously mentioned methods). Nariko and Wren would review and comment as well as our peers. It was a deeply meaningful process.

Instructional Design Principle #4: Independent Practice

As mentioned above, we were given assignments to work on for the week. A collection of the assignments from the first two batches can be viewed on Flickr.

Instructional Design Principle #5: Closure (assessment)

When a cycle of instruction comes to a close it is met with a heavy heart on the part of all participants. We celebrate achievements and all the things we have learned and how we have grown with a graduation exhibit housed inworld and promoted on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google +, blogs). VISIONAIRE students display their final projects in their very own galleries. Avatars come from all over the world to view the work of our students and celebrate the learning and success of their friends. It is quite the experience and well received by both students and attendees.

Batch 1 Graduation Exhibition Invitation (April 2014)
Batch 2 Graduation Exhibition Invitation (January 2015)
VISIONAIRE batch 2 exhibition_004
Batch 2 Graduation Exhibition space in Second Life

While VISIONAIRE is but one example, it is one I was a very active participant in as a learner as well as an educator. It symbolizes for me the very real potential MUVEs  like Second Life have in distance education, and that distance education not be relegated to two dimensional learning management systems and message boards. Distance learning can and should be as vibrant as the traditional offline learning experience.

Draxtor Despres: Education 2.0 – Not Afraid of Second Life!

Draxtor Despres: The Drax Files: World Makers [Episode 19: Virtual Chemistry]


Dickey, M. (2011). The pragmatics of virtual worlds for K-12 educators: investigating the affordances and constraints of Active Worlds and Second Life with K-12 in-service teachers. Educational Technology Research & Development, 59(1), 1-20. doi:10.1007/s11423-010-9163-4

Short, D. (2012). Teaching scientific concepts using a virtual world – Minecraft. Teaching Science: The Journal Of The Australian Science Teachers Association, 58(3), 55-58.

Wang, C., Calandra, B., Hibbard, S., & McDowell Lefaiver, M. (2012). Learning effects of an experimental EFL program in Second Life. Educational Technology Research & Development, 60(5), 943-961. doi:10.1007/s11423-012-9259-0

Yunfei, D. (2011). A Measurement Model of Students’ Behavioral Intentions to Use Second Life Virtual Environments. Journal Of Education For Library & Information Science, 52(1), 41-53.



Posted in Graduate Studies

Objective Assessments


Are tests the only objective assessment of student learning?

“If assessment is to be a positive force in education, it must be implemented properly. It cannot be used to merely sort students or to criticize education. Its goals must be to improve education. Rather than ‘teach to the test,’ we must ‘test what we teach.'” -Lockwood and McLean defines objective as: “not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased” and assessment as “the act of assessing; appraisal; evaluation.”

My test taking sense causes me to immediately respond in the negative to the question that opens this post. Are tests the ONLY objective assessment of student learning? No. There are many other forms to objectively assess student learning.

For example, students can be assessed without bias and based on facts by completing performance tasks, creating and maintaining portfolios (electronic or otherwise), creating and presenting demonstrations, and via teacher observation.

While reading and reflecting on this topic, I encountered this wonderful infographic on Edudemic:


So again, are tests the ONLY objective assessment of student learning? No.  They are one of many different types of assessment and are designed in a plethora of ways with and without technology. I believe in order for any assessment to be objective and without bias that they should be more than your typical standardized test. I am glad to see the shift away from our massive state standardized test and toward the current computerized SBAC assessment (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium). I have only seen it once with my last class because it is new, but it is more than your typical “test” and is made up of a variety of question types, ranging from multiple choice, to free response, to performance task. While tests are often the assessment used to assess student learning, they are not the ONLY objective way to evaluate student learning.

(GCU TEC 538 – Reflective Blog Post #4)

Posted in Graduate Studies

Technology Infused Classroom

technology infused classroomWhen thinking about what a technology infused classroom looks like, I found I agreed with what the Innovative Designs for Education Corporation published as it’s 10 core principles of successful “learner-active, technology-infused” (LATI) classrooms:

  1. Learning from a Felt Need
  2. High Academic Standards
  3. Higher-Order, Open-Ended Problem-Solving
  4. Student Responsibility for Learning
  5. Connected Learning
  6. Collaboration
  7. Individual Learning Paths
  8. High Social Capital
  9. Technology Infusion
  10. Global Citizenship

Learning from a Felt Need indicates that students learn best when given an authentic situation to respond to rather than simply having material presented to them.  The latter is largely how students receive a majority of the information in school. Learning from a felt need would have students learning about area and perimeter by being presented with a real life problem that required them to know area and perimeter for in order to create a solution.

High Academic Standards does not indicate the new Common Core standards, it indicates that students are expected to achieve at high levels. In order to do so they must utilize every resource around them. The teacher isn’t their only resource.  There are their peers, experts in the field of study, the Internet, as well as many other resources that reach beyond the classroom.

Higher-Order, Open-Ended Problem-Solving requires that students are able to respond quickly to problems that are presented to them and are able to “think outside the box.” Situations change rapidly in today’s world and equipping our students with the skills to be successful in the 21st Century is a must.

Student Responsibility for Learning has been a favored topic of mine for many years. It has always been my firm belief that in order for a student to achieve, they have to take control of their learning. They cannot sit back and expect their learning handled for them, they must be an active participant. They must have a say in what they are learning and how they are learning it, they must set their own goals and set out to achieve them. Educators can certainly assist students with all of this, but they cannot do it for them.

Connected Learning states that the learning students do is connected to their lives outside of the classroom. If students can see the connection between the subjects they learn in school and what their daily lives expose them to, what they have learned will be cemented.

Collaboration is a word I have heard with much more frequency over the last several years in education. It seemed to me that it was aimed primarily at teachers, in that we should be collaborating with our colleagues in order to better assist our students on their academic paths. Lately however, the word collaboration has been aimed at the students and appropriately so. In today’s world we rarely do anything in isolation. We are always working with others to achieve a goal.  Our students should be prepared for this reality and can be via collaboration on authentic educational tasks.

Individual Learning Paths is differentiation. The fact that educators need to differentiate in order to best serve their students is not a new concept, nor one I find any fault with. Students will learn best when instruction and authentic activities are geared toward their learning levels.

High Social Capital refers to the relationships students have with not only their teacher but other adults who are part of their academic journey. Students will perform best when they feel that the adults in their lives care about them, what they have achieved, what they need help in, and generally provide them support on not only an academic level but a personal and emotional level as well.

Technology Infusion requires that technology is in the hands of the students. Education has come a long way in that many teachers are comfortable teaching with technology as a way to enhance the content, but it is my opinion that there is not enough technology in many (not all) public schools so that it is in the hands of the students to create with.  It is only through the creative process that information is truly absorbed. Technology is a part of all of our students lives in some way, they need to be provided the opportunity to create with it in meaningful ways and see that there is more to technology than video games. As an aside to that statement, I am not demeaning gaming as a valid strategy to achievement, I am saying that presently much of the gaming students do is without much academic value.

Global Citizenship aids students in defining a strong sense of self when they realize there is a much larger world beyond the doors of their classrooms. Students need to feel connected to the world at large, beyond Fontana, beyond California, and beyond the United States.

So how do I plan on having a technology infused classroom? I plan on using the limited technology I have available to me and making the most of it. I plan on continuing to be an educational technology advocate and do my part within my school and my district to continue to emphasize the need for more technology so that we are better able to prepare our students for the 21st Century. My question to decision makers is, how can we prepare students for the 21st Century when we don’t have regular access to the technology we need?

Websites of Interest:
A Prezi on LATI
LATI Principles

(GCU TEC 538 Reflective Blog Post #3)

Posted in Graduate Studies

Visual Literacy & the Internet

visual literacy

Visual Literacy is not a new concept.  As a matter of fact it was concept given a name in 1969 by writer and educator John L. Debes. To put it simply, visual literacy is defined as the ability to make meaning from what we see. The fact that this concept was around before the Internet and much of the technology we have now demonstrates that it transcends the barriers of time. Even before it had a name, people were making sense of images in their own unique ways.

Educators have been using visual literacy in education for quite some time. Students are often shown photographs or drawings to make meaning of a topic they are being taught. I myself remember my political science class in high school where we studied and made meaning of political cartoons.  I remember enjoying that very much and learning a great deal about the historical period we were studying. That was visual literacy, and the fact that is a vivid memory for me all these decades later further justifies for me the power of visual literacy. Even in college, in my humanities class, we had to study images of art and make meaning out of what the message the artist was trying to convey. Once more an example of visual literacy. The issue before us now is we have the Internet…how do we continue to harness the power of visual literacy in the digital age with 21st Century learners?


There are so many images available to us on the Internet. Some of my most favorite ones are the ever popular “infographics.” I enjoy finding relevant ones and breaking them down with my students. What is most interesting to me are the things my students will identify as they study the graphic. The same is true for your traditional still image. Just today I was revisiting the concept of patterns in math and showed my students this photo:

Discovery Communications, Inc.,  . Animal print & ripples on sand dune. [Image]. Available from

I told my students I would be showing them an image. I did not tell them why or what it may relate to. Then I had them do a 5 minute quick write of whatever came to mind when they looked at this image.  I was curious to see if the concept of pattern came to mind for any of them.  After the 5 minutes had concluded, I had them share their quick writes with their desk buddy, and then finally with me.  For those who shared out their ideas, only one mentioned the concept of pattern. Several of the students wrote short stories about how they would survive in the desert or about the animals that had been there as there are animal prints in the sand.  We did discuss the concept of patterns and where we find them, and the conversation on the whole was a lively one. Many students asked if I would continue showing them photos like this and asking them to quick write as they enjoyed it. I assured them I would.


The quick write situation I described is one way I will be using the Internet and visual literacy in my classroom. The study of infographics in the way that I studied political cartoons in high school, where we scrutinized every aspect and looked for symbolism and subtle hidden messages is another. However, that is me as an educator using images with my students. How will my students use the Internet and visual literacy to communicate? In this digital age, I want my students to find images that convey something to others, that support their learning, or cause their peers to think. Not only do I want them to locate such images, I want them to create them. It is at this point where the obstacle that is ever present gets in my way. The distinct lack of technology. I know I am a broken record when it comes to this bitter topic, but it is a reality in my classroom. I wish my students each had a tablet of some kind at the very least.  The ideal would be them each having their own laptop computer to work with in class at any time. While a reality for some students in this country, and likely in this state, it isn’t for mine. I recognize that simply complaining about this issue won’t get it resolved. As always I have to figure out some creative work around to getting technology into the hands of my students to create with and to demonstrate their understanding of what they are being taught.  For the time being the solution that I have employed has been reaching out to those parents and families of my students who have technology readily available at home and know how to use it. I was thrilled to have one such parent reach out to me recently and ask how they could add an image or a video to a Web 2.0 tool we are using as they helped their child complete a multimedia project for me. I instantly recorded a tutorial for just what they needed via Jing and sent it to them. I saw that student’s completed project today and it was perfect. It was truly a bright spot in my ongoing struggle to show my students how to use the Internet in ways that support their education and demonstrate their construction of knowledge.

(GCU TEC 538 Reflective Blog Post #2)

Posted in Graduate Studies

21st Century Learning

Digital tablet and apple on the desk

The instructional strategies we use with your students are very important.  Like our students, our instructional strategies can be quite diverse.  Any teacher knows that having a wide assortment of instructional strategies in your teacher toolbox is very handy indeed. However, many of our strategies can be ‘dated’ and need to be UP-dated in order to meet the needs of our 21st Century Learners. There is no denying that technology is all around us and it isn’t going anyway. On the contrary, its presence is ever increasing. The work ahead of educators now is how to use technology to bring new life to the instructional strategies we have used over the years to reach our students.  As with anything, you cannot keep doing something over and over and not change with the times or that strategy becomes less effective.  We always need to be looking for ways to incorporate technology into the instructional strategies we use to engage our students so that they are able to construct meaning from what they have been taught.

While I am quite willing to use technology in my classroom to enhance my instruction and instructional strategies, as well as the learning of my students, my question is this: When will my school really have the technology it needs to truly prepare students for the 21st Century?  Teaching with technology is one thing, placing it in the hands of the students for them to construct meaning out of what they are being taught is quite another.

(Reflective Blog Post #1 – GCU TEC 538)

Posted in EdTech Experiment, Graduate Studies, My Opinion

21st Century Learners

I am presently attending online classes at Grand Canyon University to earn my Master’s in Educational Technology and I am very excited about the way it is already getting me thinking.  It was just what I had hoped for in bringing back some of my passion for teaching had been killed due to the drastic cuts in funding for education.  The following is one of the discussion questions I had to reply to and my response.  If you are interested in the link I am referring to, it can be found on the right side of this page under “Graduate Studies.”

“Based on the Standards for 21st-Century Learners, how prepared are students for using technology in their daily lives after leaving your classroom? What improvements might you make in your curriculum? Provide specific examples.”

First off I was quite impressed with the depth and detail contained in this brochure by the American Association of School Librarians. I don’t think I have viewed libraries in the way outlined in the brochure and that is an error on my part.  I do believe that my impression of the libraries I have access to is that they are (like my school) limited in what they can serve the community due to funding.  There is ONE library in the city in which I teach that is anything at all like what the brochure describes, but that is because it is a relatively recent addition to the city having opened in April 2008.

As to the discussion question, I feel like a broken record at times as I consider my response to this, but being that is a new class I will reiterate. My students were much more prepared for using technology in their daily lives after leaving my classroom about 4 or 5 years ago when my school had the funds to expose them to those technologies.  Technology needs replacing and updating, and with all of the reductions in education, my school did not and continues to not have the funds to buy new technology for the students to interact with.  As technology slowly shriveled I took it upon myself to do what I could to continue to expose my students to current technology.  I am a lover of technology and while I am not one of those that will run out and buy every latest gadget, I do invest in those that I feel will serve me in some way in both a personal and professional way.  This was the case when the iPad first came out.  My family invested right off and I looked for ways to bring this to my classroom.  I bring my iPad to school every day and have not only taught with it, but have had students create with it.  Granted, 32 third graders and ONE iPad is a bit of a challenge, but at least I was exposing them in some small way to what possibilities there are.  I share applications with my students and they are always surprised that they too can have the application I am using.  I often have parents asking me about applications and referencing their child telling them about me using it in class.  I love when that happens!

Just the other day I asked my students how many knew how to use a touchscreen…whether it be a tablet or otherwise and every hand went up…32 hands!  That wasn’t the case a few years ago.  I recall I had students who had no idea how to interact with a tablet and I was amazed at how quickly things change.

After years of being disappointed and frustrated at the technology situation at my school, I have noticed more and more families have access to the technology I would like to use in my classroom.  While my district has not embraced the BYOD (bring your own device) notion, I am working on doing it my way in creating an online tech club.  Essentially I will use my class website, Discovery Education and Edmodo to create assignments that enhance the curriculum that students can do at home with the technology they have access too, and with the aid of their parents.  I of course would be accessible for help as well.

As to a specific example, March is Women’s History Month.  I would expose my students to text and video to build and enhance their knowledge on the subject.  I would then build an assignment within Discovery Education where students use the Board Builder feature (much like Glogster) to meet the following common core standards:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.3.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

Students would share their completed “boards” with one another as well as present them to the class as well as other audiences.

Discovery Education:


Womens History Month:



I will be developing this idea along with the structure of Dorothy Grant’s Online Tech Club, so stay tuned!

~ Mrs. Ruiz