School Evaluation

I enjoyed researching my school’s technology plans.  I say plans, because there is no formal plan but rather my principal has several “mini-plans”.  From doing this evaluation and talking with my school principal, I learned that she has a plan to get all K-2 teachers iPad 3 devices and Apple cameras.  She also has a plan to get a traveling cart of 30 iPad 2 devices for classroom use and 2 Kindle Fires for the library.  While I am personally very excited about this upcoming addition and am planning researching how to best integrate these pieces into the classroom, I wonder what real effects this new technology will have.  As I stated in my evaluation, the main hurdle our school faces is staff resistance do to lack of training.  I wonder if there should be an additional “mini-plan” on how to train faculty on these new devices coming into our school.

I was surprised to find that there were actual stages of development when looking at school technology; I just thought it was a game of the “have and have nots.”  I blindly thought that the schools with more money must have these excellent technology programs, yet it seems to have more to do with the vision and support of the stake holders, parents, and administrators.



Technology Use Planning Overview

In a 1983 publication, Technology in Education: Looking Toward 2020, Raymond Nickerson begins by discussing how fast technology is moving and what the implications are in the world of education.  He predicts high speed devices, wireless internet access, microprocessor-based computers, software for educational uses, and multimedia communication.   How exciting that we get to see Nickerson’s ideas come true all around us. Whether in 1983 or 2012, the goals remain the same.  We strive to create individuals who are “knowledgeable, thoughtful, versatile, creative, responsible, and even wise (Nickerson, 65).  He goes on to say that our educational goals should not be controlled by the latest “technological whimsy” but rather aid in our ability to give quality education to our students.

Education should affect one as a human being in substantive ways.  It should greatly extend one’s horizons and broaden one’s perspective.  It should increase one’s appreciate of other cultures, other viewpoints, other lifestyles.  It should deepen one’s sensitivities to other people’s rights, feelings, preferences, and hopes…it should heighten one’s curiosity and inquisitiveness; as a consequence of one’s education, the world should be a far more interesting place (Nickerson, 4).

I find that the world truly is a far more interesting place when we bring technology into the forefront.  Whether the students are going on a virtual field trip or learning about an animal they have never seen before, using technology not only presents new learning opportunities, it opens up doors that previously were never even considered.

Technology planning refers to the planning process in which educators create an effective technology-based learning continuum for students.  Whether you are creating a classroom, school-wide, or district plan, the National Educational Technology Plan (NETP) for 2010 suggests you focus on five key components: learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure, and productivity.  The NETP is an amazing resource for educators who are attempting to create technology plans.

There are two main reasons why I teach with technology.  First, technology is more than just a novelty for today’s youth.  It is the life that our students have been born into and it is our job as educators to embrace our children’s interests; capitalizing on the enthusiasm surrounding new media to reach and teach all students.  Second, I use technology to formatively assess my students, providing appropriate and immediate feedback when necessary.  Then I use the assessments to “individualize, personalize, and differentiate instruction (National Technology Education Plan, 12).”  The NETP states that we should create instruction that is individualized, personalized, and differentiated.  Individualized instruction looks at the learning pace and needs of each child.  Learning targets are the same for all students, but not every student will achieve proficiency at the same time.  Differentiation is the knowledge that all students learn differently and the act of supplying different teaching modalities to reach all students.  Again, learning targets remain the same but the process in which learning takes place changes.  Personalization is the act of giving students choice in their learning.  For example, fourth grade must learn to write a five paragraph paper, but students may all choose a different animal to learn and write about.  An effective teacher will remember all three aspects when guiding his/her classroom throughout the year.  These should be the goals of every educator whether or not technology is used.  The NETP, however, explains that using technology is a way for educators to achieve all three goals in an easier and more efficient way.

The NETP also calls us to “continue to revise, create, and implement standards and learning objectives using technology for all content areas that reflect 21st-century expertise and the power of technology to improve learning.”  This statement supports what See says at the National Center for Technology Planning that technology plans should be short-term rather than long-term.  I have found that sometimes things change so quickly that what may be relevant one year is almost outdated by the next.  I feel as though I have tried so many ways to integrate technology into the classroom, and yet I have barely scratched the surface.  Every day I find a new website or learn a new program and then I am right back at the beginning trying to figure out the best way to use it to benefit my students.

Even before reading the assignment for this week, I found the comment from See, “effective technology plans focus on applications, not technology” to be a profound reminder to all educators attempting to integrate technology into their lessons.  Sometimes I (and other educators, I’m sure) have a tendency to find a new type of technology and then try to figure out a way to use it in the classroom.  While this is not a bad way to work with technology, See reminds us that truly the important aspect of using technology in the classroom is what the students will be creating and getting out of its use.  For example, See describes the need for keyboarding skills but not to be taught as an isolated skill but rather give the students an opportunity to learn keyboarding while typing a research paper.

Personally, I have never formally attempted to write a technology plan for my classroom, but rather thought more on the content and standards I teach and then tried to add technology to engage student learning even more.  I am one of a few in my school who have tried to integrate more technology into my curriculum, but some teachers are very resistant to any change in this area.  See recommends on-site technical support, access to adequate hardware, appropriate types and amounts of software and long-term sustained staff development and in-service to aid in teacher effectiveness.  At my school, the principal is very supportive of technology-based lessons and tries to come up with creative ways to supply new technology to the interested teachers.  I think where our school administration is lacking however, is the support piece for all educators. Our school-wide targets are School Wide Positive Behavior Instruction and Support (SWPBIS), and Mathematical Thinking for Instruction (MTI) training so while our principal is supportive of technology integration; it is not where our time & money focus is.

I have come to the realization that not every lesson will be perfect.  This journey that I am on has been filled with success as well as failure.  Some plans I have made have been amazingly executed and had produced wonderful results.  Others I have had to stop before the final product ever came to fruition.  Whether the challenge is not having enough time, resources, (or in some cases knowledge) about a new website or software program, I still try because I believe in the work I am doing.

Whether the domain is English language arts, mathematics, sciences, social studies, history, art, or music, 21st-century competencies and such expertise as critical thinking, complex problem solving, collaboration, and multimedia communication should be woven into all content areas. These competencies are necessary to become expert learners, which we all must be if we are to adapt to our rapidly changing world over the course of our lives. That involves developing deep understanding within specific content areas and making the connections among them (National Education Technology Plan

Works Cited

Developing Effective Technology Plans.  (1992) See , J. Retrived April 15, 2012 from

Nickerson, R, Zodhiates, P. (Eds.). (1983). Technology in Education: Looking to 2020. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

NMC Horizon Report 2011 K-12 Education. (2011).  Retrieved March 7, 2012, from

NMC Horizon Report 2012 Higher Education Edition. (2012). Retrieved March 7, 2012, from

Technology planning: recipe for success. National Center for Technology Planning. Larry S. Anderson. (1994). Retrieved from

Transforming American Education Learning Powered by Technology. (2010). National Education Technology Plan 2010.  Retrieved March 7, 2012, from

Larry S. Anderson. (1994). Technology planning: recipe for success. National Center for Technology Planning. Retrieved from

RSS for Education

RSS for Education Bundle

This week’s technology, Really Simply Syndication, has been around for quite a while now…but new to me.  I have seen the little orange RSS square on blogs and websites for a very long time.  Even though I am familiar with what it looks like, I had no idea what the purpose was.  I actually have used RSS feed to follow blogs in the past.  I sometimes enter blog giveaways and one of the ways to enter is to sign up through the RSS process.  I was surprised to finally log on to Google Reader and see that I was following 66 different blogs and websites!  Apparently it is easy to sign up and follow sites, (which is nice for students.)

5 of the 66 websites were actually blogs that I follow from teachers at my school.  I see this as an amazing way to stay connected to school district team members.  Instead of randomly checking my team member’s blogs (which I do now) to see if they’ve updated their websites with news and information, I could be checking my Google Reader and knowing each time an update was made.  I see this as a huge time saver and am so glad to now know about this as a professional collaborative tool.  I could extend this to having it become a college level tool as well.

Another way that I have begun using this tool from this last week is to locate other teacher’s websites and blogs (teacher’s that I do not know) and stay up to date on what they are doing and creating in their classrooms.  Usually I use the bookmark tool for this, but I think Google Reader’s ability to compile all the latest posts will be easier for me to stay current with.

In a primary and secondary education setting I thought of a few ways to use it:

  • If parents were subscribed to the school district’s website, they could post things like school cancelation, date reminders, or grade reports.
  • If parents were subscribed to their teacher’s blog/website, they could stay up-to-date on all news and gain access to homework easily.
  • Students can be a part of a daily or weekly writing assignment through a class blog or wiki…some sort of question or problem of the day would be effectively implemented through an RSS feed.
  • In a government, or current event class, students could use RSS feed to subscribe to local, national, and world news sites.

I look forward to sharing this Google feature with friends, teachers, and my student’s parents very soon!

Zotero Group Library

Zotero is an amazing add-on for Mozilla.  I see this as being a very beneficial tool for students at the secondary and university level.  I have actually passed on this tool to some of my younger friends who are in undergrad programs right now.  I enjoyed playing with all the features of Zotero but still feel as though I’ve only scratched the surface of the benefits of this program.  I can’t wait to use it more and share it with my colleagues to do some collaborative reading on topics important to my team.  The notes feature will be a great asset in sharing articles with colleagues.  It seems as though there is never enough time to discuss and collaborate, but with the notes tool, we can share ideas any time.

I am always on the look out for help organizing my thoughts and I very rarely remember where I have saved certain articles or papers that I have written.  I have often said I need a better system of keeping information straight, especially since being in grad school; I’m hoping this program will be the organizational tool I’ve been looking for.  Here is a link to our shared library resource from Zotero:


Horizon Report Tech Trend

I chose to do a math lesson regarding time because that is the next topic I will be teaching.  The third grade CCS states that students will:

3.MD.1. Tell and write time to the nearest minute and measure time intervals in minutes. Solve word problems involving addition and subtraction of time intervals in minutes…

It always seem very challenging for students to work with addition and subtraction of time (Elapsed Time).  It is also a very challenging concept to teach because you have to do all the work on a clock (which you just go around and around on!)  I decided to use a simple Mobile App, a day planner, to illustrate the hours in a day much like a number line…to show that the hours are more linear and thus easier to add and subtract from.  (Not to mention that you can’t add and subtract traditionally because the hours only go up to 12.)

My learning objectives are to be able to compare an analog clog to a Day Planner App and solve 3 out of 5 elapsed time word problems on their own by using the Day Planner App, Demonstration Clock, and/or interactive web-based clock.  I realize this is only 60% correct, but this will be the introductory lesson with many opportunities to practice later on.

I feel that this lesson, although basic, has the potential to really help visual learners.  Elapsed time has a tendency to be a rather abstract idea which can be difficult to understand.

Digital Divide Embedded with VodPod

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Digital Divide Presentation using VoiceThread

Digital Divide for Michigan

I enjoyed working with my group on this assignment.  We used Google Docs to discuss ideas and share information.  We used a Google Spreadsheet to rank the 7 options given.  I really loved the Spreadsheet idea and could see this being used in the classroom.  We also used Google Presentations which I had never used either.  I had been rather resistant to Google Docs in the past and have since realized how useful it is.  When I type on my school laptop it always has some sort of delayed typing but I did not seem to have that problem on my personal laptop.

VoiceThread is a very interesting website.  Once the Power Point was uploaded I got to “play” with how to make comments.  I enjoyed the comment features, and especially appreciated that Voice Thread could call you and you could record your comments via your phone.  It didn’t have the same sound quality, but I think it worked alright.

The main barriers I had to work through were the timing of the meetings scheduled.  Having a day and night job coupled with family events was not conducive to meeting schedules.  I really felt awful not participating in this portion of the assignment.  Additionally, when I went to do my comments in Voice Thread Saturday, the site wouldn’t let me in.  I created three accounts (with my three separate emails) and finally just asked the creator of the account to re-invite me to the Voice Thread.  Once I was re-invited, I got on with no problems.  Finally, the last issue I had was the flu that had been raging throughout my classroom finally caught up to me today so after sleeping (and other things) most of the day, I finally got on to Voice Thread and recorded my comment.

Using Prezi

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Phew.  I started creating an evolution illustration in Glogster but just couldn’t get “into” it because it wasn’t linear.  I’ve used Glogster before for creating my classroom rules and expectations and liked it but didn’t feel that Glogster was clear enough for this assignment.  Next, I moved into Prezi which I had never used before.  I started off by using the hill template because I liked the idea of the evolution being a path that we’ve traveled down…but there were too many images and videos that I wanted to add so it didn’t look as neat and clean as I wanted.  So then I went straight to a timeline…not as creative and symbolic but got the job done.  I tried to give an image or video example for each of the definitions given and add some other technology uses for education  as well.  I really enjoyed playing with this program!

Hello ED TECH world!

Hello ED TECH world!

Here is my introduction video that I created for the first week of ED TECH 501 class.  I am finishing up a masters degree in Literacy at BSU but have always been very interested (and active) in integrating technology whenever possible into the classroom.  My final project for the masters program is to write on (and possibly create a website/blog) about how integrating technology into the classroom enhances learning, increasing engagement, and helps me to assess where my students are in their reading and writing skills.  I hope to gain a lot of new ideas to add to my “tool box” and share with my colleagues.  I also hope to get some good research articles to back up the need to integrate technology for my own personal interest, for the use in writing grants, and to use in my ending project due in March.