Final Reflection on EDU 625

Another day, another class over. I still find it hard to believe that it’s been a year since I started and I only have four more courses left! This once was perfect to take over the summer – I had plenty of time to explore the technologies each week. I’m looking forward to actually using some of the activities I created with my kiddos when school starts – in two weeks!

 , or OMG I can’t wait to use this!!!

These technologies I found to be easier to incorporate into instruction, both in the classroom and in intervention. They are appropriate for elementary and middle school, and they were fun to learn and use!

Image courtesy of powtoon.com

PowToon – a presentation technology that is entertaining and easy to learn. Plus, who doesn’t love pandas? Here is the PowToon I created for this course (a brief into to Compare and Contrast). I also ran across a webinar that was really helpful for me as a newbie. You can access the webinar here.

 

Image courtesy of Jisc Digital Media

Mobile learning, whether on tablets, smartphones, or laptops, is perfect for bite-size learning that students need to access anywhere at anytime. By incorporating augmented reality, we can take learning out of the classroom and around the building, the grounds, and the community, making content relevant and meaningful.

Image courtesy Pinterest.com

Games and game dynamics, to me, make learning a lot more fun. My kiddos know they struggle with reading, and as much encouragement and feedback as I give, as much progress as they make, they still don’t always enjoy reading (never mind coming to me!). Finding small, simple ways to include games or game dynamics can tap into that joy of learning that will help these kids go far. Story, choice and control over what comes next, immediate feedback, and scaffolding are all part of game dynamics, and fit easily into literacy intervention.

 

 

, or What I Won’t Be Using Any Time Soon…

Second Life. I found it inappropriate for elementary age kids and difficult to to figure out. I refer you to my hair debacle from the last post. Since everything in these worlds has to be created from scratch, the options are limited, and I couldn’t find islands that easily applied to my context (elementary literacy). Safety and anonymity for minors is also a huge issue. In my previous post I relayed the uncomfortable situation of continually running into a group of adults who were practicing Spanish – completely innocent, but I still felt awkward, and I won’t put my students in a situation like that.

How have the activities in this course changed my view of technology for teaching and learning?

It is much easier to incorporate than I initially thought. Coming into this class, I had a limited list of resources I used. Now, I have a much broader sense of the resources out there. Having the opportunity to experiment with several of them, using learning theory and good design principles, I’ve added to my “bag of tricks.” One of the most important lessons I learned about technology, is that the activity doesn’t have to be complex, it can be bite-sized and simple – and much easier to create!

What are my plans for incorporating technology into my instruction?

My first step is to get the actual devices. I’ve mentioned the issues with our mobile labs (and the fact that, as an interventionist, I only get my desktop) – their age and my somewhat limited access. Perhaps the best news I’ve received all summer is that my school will be piloting a 1:1 iPad program with 5th grade this year! This is a huge weight off my shoulders. So, now I’m back on Pinterest reading every iPad-related pin I’ve saved. I’m going back through my course materials and links to find some simple activities to try out first. One of the tools I will use is Google Drive. Since it is accessible online, the kiddos don’t need to download an app. Digital exit tickets here I come!

For the 3rd, 4th, and 6th grade groups, I will still use the mobile lab from time to time, but I’m most interested in infusing games and game dynamics to my instruction. In the first section I mentioned scaffolding and student choice as examples of game dynamics. I scaffold all day long, but I don’t allow my kiddos much choice. Something like “Read and Roll” is an easy way to give the kids some control in their work – and make it fun, too!

, or How Do I See Technology Changing Education in the Next 10 Years? 

Education – teaching, learning, even administration, will have to become more collaborative, if only to slog through the vast amount of shared resources and research out there. The teacher’s role will (and already is in some places) move from lecturer to facilitator, guide, and mentor. We don’t know everything about the technology that is in our classrooms, why not let the students take the lead in discovering and helping their peers? Make learning more student-directed with problems and projects that interest them. I’d like to see more elementary school-friendly virtual environments (Colonial Boston and Philadelphia, anyone?!), with security measures in place so we don’t accidentally overhear another class.

And now, faithful readers, the questions:

What are your tried-and-true, favorite technology-infused activities?

How does your school incorporate technology (what devices do you and students have access to)?

Have you run into any obstacles (funding, teacher attitudes, student or parent attitudes) in your quest to incorporate technology?

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