My Lesson Plan Adventure

In a word: difficult. That was my experience with working on my lesson plan. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because it definitely makes me think! Labeling it as an adventure helps to change the perspective from frustration to that of anticipation in something new being achieved.

I’d had virtually no instruction outside of this class with respect to how to write a lesson plan or how to go about the process in general. I felt completely lost and overwhelmed in the beginning, and never really felt as though I had a solid handle on what I was doing. I referred to the ISTE standards often and wrestled with how completely or appropriately I was addressing them. UGH! I wondered if it was normal for teachers to feel as though they’re reaching for alignment with standards, even if it felt a stretch. It was as if even if I felt it would be fun and engaging, if I couldn’t line it up with a specific standard, it was hard to justify it. That being said, I knew that the engagement of students has its own merit, even if it may not be able to be specifically explained in the context of meeting standards.

It was also a little mind numbing to ascertain an avenue I wanted to pursue within my content area standards. Holy Moses!  Combine that with considering the ISTE standards and it was a bit of the proverbial cart & horse situation, but which was the cart and which was the horse? Pretty funny, really. I’ve a new-found appreciation for my K-12 teachers!!

I did like the opportunity to think about integrating technology in the classroom! What an astounding (even if a little overwhelming) plethora of resources. I did find myself thinking about the resources that may or may not be available to me as a teacher. With any luck at all, I’ll end up teaching at this school, which highly values funding use of technologies in the classroom! Along those lines, I also considered what access to resources my future students might have. Sites such as this confirm that there are still a significant number of students, particularly poor or minorities, that don’t have internet access at home. As a teacher, I’ll certainly have to keep that in mind when using digital/technological avenues of homework or collaboration outside of class.

All in all, despite being difficult in its execution, I found the assignment enlightening in divulging just how much more I need to learn in order to plan for teaching my own future students!!!



Multimedia Creation

In thinking about how my future students could use multimedia creation in the classroom, I’m astounded at the vast quantity of possibilities, particularly in comparison with my rather tame access to technology as a 1994 graduate from high school compared to today’s graduates. What a rich variety of ways they have to access, process, learn, as well as create and distribute information!

I can envision having a classroom blog or website so my students can access information or assignments outside of school. I can envision utilizing google docs (or something of the like) to encourage collaboration and feedback. There are also the myriad of websites that do everything from teaching concepts to grading to assessing. I can see a site like IXL being used to assess students in math or provide an avenue for homework or if there’s a student that wants to work ahead or even that needs extra practice.

I foresee loving the variety that’s available in technology! I can use videos, podcasts, instant feedback with clickers, story publishing with animations, and more! I’ve quite the learning curve ahead of me, but being in the teaching profession and wanting my students to love learning, how can I not be excited at the prospect of learning new things right along with them?

Web 2.0

The first site I explored was IXL for math. It is used by my son’s school for math homework and review. It is pretty engaging with “prizes” kids earn on their profile for time spent or levels achieved. It keeps track of their progression and scores and even deciphers in what areas a child struggles to gain new concepts compared to others. It is reviewable remotely by the teacher so the teacher can see how a child is doing, too.

ISTEs addressed with this site include critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making. Also addressed are digital citizenship and technology operations and concepts.

Before using the site, one needs to know how to operate a mouse and the concept of a login with a password. The site covers math standards from Kindergarten into college, so available for all ages as long as they can read enough to understand the questions. It is good in that it encourages kids with virtual prizes and keeps track of their progress. Where it lacks is that it may not be a good fit for all types of learners, such as those that are highly visual-spacial.


The second site I briefly investigated was Quizlet. It is touted as a “collaborative classroom game that students love” with “interactive games, study modes and practice tests make learning fun and effective.” Basically, students or teachers can create things such as flash cards or quizzes to assess or review content knowledge. One can make their own or use those that others have created. It’s free, so that’s also a nice little bonus. Best guess for age group use would be about 5th grade and above. The navigation is relatively simple, so basic mouse usage and ability to follow basic written instructions should suffice for success with this particular site.

In so far as ISTE standards, really all of them are addressed in one form or another. Between accessing the information, making one’s own flashcards or quizzes, using the same made by others, navigating the site and collaborating with other students or teachers, it’s a pretty round model for at least touching on all 6 standards.


The third site was Google docs. While I’ve only begun using it this term, it’s already been handy. In so far as I can tell, one of the most convenient aspects of this item is collaboration. A shared document can be accessed by several people either at the same time, or individually, and all of the updates are shown to others with whom the document has been shared. What a great tool for group work when meeting outside of class can be a challenge. It’s also a fabulous way for editing work and asking for critiquing by a classmate before being turned in.

Appropriate age group (I think) seems to be middle school and above. My 7th grade son just got a handle on it this year and it was a bit of a pain at first. One has to have a google account set up with login and such, as well as be able to navigate and interpret other google apps and such.

This one, like the one mentioned immediately above, also touches on all 6 standards, especially since it can be used for any class or subject matter!

Teaching About Sexting & Relationships

Ms. Penland addresses the sensitive topic of sexting in relationships by a variety of avenues. There is discussion about the topic, including relevant vocabulary, a video presentation, and use of iPads by each student for displaying their views and questions. They also use the iPads for taking notes and writing about their interpretations of the vocabulary words. It is helpful and essential for students to put the vocabulary into their own words because it makes them relatable and more likely that the student will remember and be able to critically apply the information.

The iPads impact the participation for this subject by being a safe avenue for kids to write down views/questions. It provides an opportunity for kids to see other perceptions that they may not have thought of or didn’t want to ask out loud. That being said, I can see how displaying the iPad for discussion might lend to more sensitive or explicit questions not being asked for fear of being judged by their classmates. All in all, definitely a good example of being specific and deliberate in approaching this important subject matter for the students!

Informational Literacy

Can we define what it means to be information literate?  According to these folks, it’s defined as “a crucial skill in the pursuit of knowledge.  It involves recognizing when information is needed and being able to efficiently locate, accurately evaluate, effectively use, and clearly communicate information in various formats.  It refers to the ability to navigate the rapidly growing information environment, which encompasses an increasing number of information suppliers as well as the amount supplied, and includes bodies of professional literature, popular media, libraries, the Internet, and much more.” While we may be able to define it in a textbook sense, does that then mean that we can define it in a way relevant to teaching students its implementation?

As technology is continuously evolving, that naturally indicates that our methods for teaching digital literacy and what we’re teaching within digital literacy has to evolve as well. While I can see how teachers may rely on students to police themselves due to time constraints, it really seems more appropriate for schools to be intentional about teaching kids how to use digital resources. A good avenue for teaching them such skills would be actually checking and critiquing sources used in assignments and research papers. That, of course, takes time, which is a highly valuable commodity in the realm of teaching. It also requires taking the time and providing resources such as the lists on this blog post. All in all, perhaps some time could be used having older and more experienced students assess each other’s use of resources in the classroom. It would provide an opportunity for social growth in problem solving and giving feedback , which are also essential tools one needs in life!


Design in Presentations

While I was aware of the majority of the concepts in the article, I did not know the specific names for them such as 7-7-1 and signal to noise ratio and such. Because I’ve suffered through countless painful presentations (even as recently as earlier this week in class), I think I’ll be quite cognisant of inflicting the same pain onto my own students! It is vitally important to have good presentations for students to make the delivery of information engaging and relevant. My past presentations have been pretty successful in that endeavor. Because I’m so incredibly visual-spacial, I’m particularly aware of the boring, over-bulleted, abused power point.

Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants

       In recent discussions of digital natives compared to digital, a controversial issue has been whether or not digital natives (those born into the common use of technology) can be taught or related to in a way in which digital immigrants (those not born into technology, but introduced to it at some point).  On the one hand, some argue that the advances of technology enables great strides made by digital natives.  From this perspective, they’re viewed as being able to create, share, assess, compile projects and information quickly and concisely via technology.  On the other hand, however, others argue that short attention spans and inability or unwillingness to sit and read a book or write by hand are negatively impacting learning.  According to this view, ” traditional” ways of demonstrating communication or learning,  such as writing and reading without the use of technology, are still very important and need to not be overlooked. Students need to be able to take a break from technology and interact using non-technology methods.  In sum then, the issues are whether teaching/assignments should adapt to the use of relying much more  on technology, or students should still be able to write a page by hand or sit and read a full paper book for information.

          My own view is that there is still value in being able to create writings and such by hand.  Though I concede that typing may be faster and more convenient, I still maintain that there is a lot of value in doing things “the hard way.”.  For example, writing a short paper for class shouldn’t require or expect the use of technology.    Although some might object that there is time wasted in writing by hand in lieu of just typing, I would reply that it is important for fine motor skills and learning to be patient and tenacious to see results.  The issue is important because in our world of instant gratification, it’s easy for kids to want things done quickly, to not have to work as hard for something “simple”. I think there is emotional value in learning to tough it out just because. Some things in life aren’t easy and it’s okay for something to take a little more time and effort. What better way to combat laziness or becoming complacent than for it to be required to put in effort that isn’t technologically assisted? As a side note, there’s also the simple environmental aspect of being “unplugged” from power-sucking resources.

For additional consideration, here are the ISTE standards.


Some Blogs I Recommend

If you want a break from focusing on serious issues, take a look at this blog. It’s “stories from a teacher who loves her students, wrestles with her job, and mourns the fact that they used to be the same thing.” While that may sound a bit depressing, the blog is actually anecdotal and quite fun! There are stories about shenanigans in the classroom and reflections on humor that are refreshing.

A more serious blog is here. It reviews issues and discusses topics related to technology integration and the disparities in technology applications between economic groups. It also reviews new stuff and gives tips on some oldies but goodies. I chose this one because I need all the help I can get when it comes to technology integration!

Last but not least, go this spot for a wealth of teaching tools! This site has lots of videos and pics for examples of info. There is a vast quantity of topics covered including strategies & ideas, student activities, books & authors, and more!

Introductory Concepts

Technology in the Classroom: Vice or Virtue??

In recent articles reviewed in class, there was much discussion as to the merit of technology in the classroom. Is it of utmost importance to be incorporated whenever possible, avoided like the plague, or balanced like a tightrope walker balances the pole?

tightrope walking

On the one hand, people such as these advocate that kids are so used to an environment rich with the excitement and stimulation of technology, that to not have that same access in the classroom would render said classrooms dull and unrelatable. It would also stand to reason, from their perspective, that the skills used in the classroom wouldn’t transfer as well to a life where technologies are a central aspect of most functions. The flip side of that coin has folks such as exemplified here that are of the opinion that “Technology should not be used to do what can be done without it.” Then you have those that fall in the middle, asserting that technology is a great tool, but shouldn’t replace basic skills needing mastery, such as the physical act of writing.

So, there is a wide range of opinions on this matters, as is true for most things. Basically, there is the spectrum from those that want a classroom as technologically involved as possible, and the other end of the pendulum swing that would rather not use technology unless absolutely necessary. While I land somewhere in the middle, I can see how the use of technologies for writing, grading, and a litany of other activities can use various forms of technology, whether that be iPads, software, blogging, story writers, animators, and the like. That being said, I’ve a significant concern over the seemingly increasing attachment that our young people are developing to electronics. There are studies such as this and this that explain how screen time and/or exposure to electronic devices including social media, computers, and TV, are negatively impacted by the barrage of technology in their world. There are social emotional risks, increases in ADHD and obesity, as well as behavior and sleep problems related to being “plugged in” as much as is normal in our society. When socializing looks more like this instead of a little more like this, then, Houston, we have a problem.

That being said, this issue is important as one cannot reasonably deny the usefulness of technologies. There’s grading and assessment software, ways for kids to work in groups outside of school, avenues for keeping touch with distant relatives at the push of a button, apps for Apple and Android that help those with communication disabilities, and so on. In the end, I think the key is balance. It think it’s important for kids to develop the patience and fine motor skills involved with handwriting (including cursive), drawing, and calculating by hand, for example, but there is definitely a place for technology in the classroom.


What the heck is a Wiki? That’s what I asked myself when I started this assignment. (Yes, I’ve heard of Wikipedia, I just never realized from what the name.) So, a Wiki is a website or online forum that allows the participants to edit information and work collaboratively to provide content. Wikipedia is probably one of the more well-known examples of such sites.

A great things about Wikis is how they can be used in the classroom! Students can work in groups on their projects with only a computer and an internet connection. While it’s still ideal for kids to get together in person and collaborate in order to address the social/emotional aspects of groups work, there are times when scheduling conflicts or logistics make it difficult for kids to meet outside of school. With wikis they can all work on the same document(s) and build their project materials without necessarily meeting in person.

An additional aspect of Wiki use for the teacher to provide info and clarification with students on topics. There can be a discussion feed or even a feed to post resources and related items. It provides an avenue for kids that may be absent to catch up or be a part of what has gone on for the day class was missed.

All in all there are a variety of uses for Wikis and I’m only beginning to understand the very basics of their power.

Intro to Copyright

Copyright is basically the legal right of a creator or legal designee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same.

According to ASCD, the four tests for fair use with regard to copyright include:

  • The purpose and character of the use. Will the materials be used non- commercially in a nonprofit education institution?
  • The nature of the work being copied. Is the work published or unpublished? Is it factual or creative? Unpublished works have stronger protections than do published works. Although facts cannot be protected, the expression of those facts may be.
  • The amount of the work being used. Are you using a little, a lot, or all of a work? The more you use, the less likely that the use is fair.
  • The effect of your use on the market for or value of the work being copied. What would happen if everyone were to do what you are proposing? Would you deprive the copyright owner of a sale or harm the value in other ways? If you have any commercial intent, even if the money goes to a good cause, harm to the market is assumed.

The type of media is important because copyright restrictions are specifically related to the venue in which the material exists. One example relates to audio and video tapes. A teacher may use either of those without a public performance license when used specifically related to teaching content. The teacher may NOT use the same material without a performance license when used for entertainment, class reward, or something akin to a rainy day recess.

There are more specifics related to teaching, but that’s very basic introduction to the copyright topic.