MACUL 2012

Once again, my good friend and colleague, Vicky Wickham, and I presented at the MACUL conference.  This year we presented on website creation with Weebly and on what you can do with a single iPad in the classroom.  Check out our presentation slides from this year, as well as our previous presentations, at our new website:

 

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My MAETY1 Mixbook Pages

My contribution to our MAETY1 Mixbook

I really have learned a great deal this summer through the Masters of Arts in Educational Technology Program at Michigan State University.  In addition, I have met lots of really great people and expanded my Personal Learning Network by at least 15 people.  I am excited to start this upcoming school year (after a much needed break over the next couple of weeks) and share my newfound and expanded knowledge with my colleagues, students, administrators, and others.  Teaching is an exciting journey made new again each year with each new group of students.  What other profession provides such renewal each and every year?  I love what I do and I hope my passion and excitement will be contagious and will catch like wildfire through those that I have the opportunity to encounter!

My Professional Learning Plan

Just when you think you know what you are doing, you learn that you still need to keep working at it!  I thought I had it all figured out; I was going to use a tool I hadn’t used before (“popplet”) to create my piece for this assignment.  I quickly found that the free version was not going to do what I was hoping for and didn’t want to spend more money on yet another tool, just yet.  So, plan B, I went with a program I know well and am comfortable with, Keynote.  But, just because it is a program I know well and have used often, doesn’t mean it was an easy task.  I did a few things I hadn’t done before.  I add videos to slides, yes, I’d done that before, but I didn’t know you could edit them and just use a short clip.  Woohoo!  That is a great find!  I was able to get just what I wanted out of the video without having to play a 7-minute video in my slideshow.  I did the same thing with a video I took; shortening it to what I felt was the right length of time to share.  I also added links to images, which I had not done before.  Now, if I could just upload my Keynote presentation here and know that everyone could open it and it would play properly, I’d be all set!  But alas, not happening.  So, I’ve uploaded my presentation to YouTube.  This is alright, but not what I really wanted to do with this Professional Learning Plan.  I have lots of links and a couple of text heavy slides that I think are valuable reads, considering the topic of the assignment.  In a video format, the links are not accessible and the slides are difficult to read.  Very disappointing.  So, colleagues, friends, technology aficionados, please help me out.  Part of my Professional Learning Plan is to use Twitter and blogging and my already established PLN to learn and share.  So, I’m posting my YouTube video, but I really want a better tool.  Give me some suggestions and I’ll see what I can do to improve the final product!

 

Professional Learning Plan
Click the link above to see a pdf file of my Keynote presentation

This I Believe

This I Believe Podcast

My name is Angela Clark-Pohlod.  I am a middle school science teacher with a passion for hands-on science and technology education.  I have been teaching middle school science for 14 years and have always had an interest in technology.  I got my first computer when I was just a second-grader, 8-years-old, and began writing BASIC programs for fun.  Computers were not a large part of my in-school primary and secondary education, but continued to be of interest to me outside of school during that time.  As I entered college, in the early 1990’s, I got my first e-mail account and was able to communicate with a researcher from South America to get information I needed for research I was working on myself.  Technology tools and the internet have continued to grow by leaps and bounds since then and I now find myself immersed in it both personally and professionally.

There are so many tools available when it comes to technology and Web 2.0 that it is sometimes hard to keep up and know what the latest and greatest options are to meet the varied needs of students.  I believe it is important to build a professional learning network that you can consult regularly to learn more and share what you are learning with others.  When deciding what tools to use or how to integrate technology into a lesson, it is also valuable to consider TPACK; thinking about how the technology will support the teaching strategies and make the content more accessible to students.  It is also good to look at our teaching strategies and to consider how our approaches to our students will make the content we are trying to teach them more accessible and understandable.  In my first summer of the Masters of Arts Program for Educational Technology at MSU I have learned just how important it is to  consider student learning styles and to provide students with varied options as often as possible for showing, through technology or otherwise, what they have learned.  Having students all use the same tool or resource for a given lesson may work well for me, but it may not be the best learning environment for my students.

Since technology is such a part of who we are and how we live our lives today, I believe that it is important that we spend time, from an early age or grade level, teaching students netiquette, how to work safely online and to be smart about what they put online.  It is too easy to type words into a phone or onto a computer and send them through cyberspace to someone without regard to how the receiving individual will “take” those words.  Even words that are not intended to be mean can often be misunderstood when they are sent electronically because all emotion is stripped and they are just words on a screen – this leaves the reader to interpret the tone and/or the intent behind the words.  I believe it is important that we make sure our students know the power of their words, both positive and negative.

Today’s students and a growing number of adults are “always connected” via Smartphones, iPads, netbooks, laptops, and other tools and devices.  I believe that today’s students are growing bored with school.  With the push for “Re-Imagining Education” we are called to find new and creative ways of teaching our students, from online learning and virtual schools to using cell phones, iPads, and other electronic devices in our lessons to engage our learners.

I believe that we should allow more access to today’s technology tools in our classrooms and that we should encourage our students to use them creatively to show their learning, but at the same time, I believe that there should be some times when we are all forced to power down and take a break from the constant flow of information that being “connected” provides.  These breaks do not have to be long, but I believe it is important that we teach our students to be responsible with the tools they have, when and how to use them and how to be healthy and maintain balance in this and other areas of their lives.

Wicked Problem – Textbook Issues

The “wicked problem” I have chosen to tackle is textbooks! What, you say? Well, too often as educators we find ourselves with outdated texts, texts that skim the surface and lack detail, texts that are just not engaging for student learners or we have too many students in our classes for the number of books available. All of these issues create problems in the classroom learning environment.

As a solution, I have decided to develop a website to create an interactive textbook, of sorts. On this site, students will find text and audio summaries of their text, video clips to add depth to topics of study, vocabulary, interactive quizzes for self-assessment, and much more. By creating this resource, I hope to improve the level of success in Science class. It is my hope that the site will be a resource students will want to use and that they will find it engaging, interactive and helpful.

As you have probably guessed, my intended audience for this project is my students. My intention is to start this project with my 8th grade Earth Science students during the 2011-2012 school year.  The hope is to create at least two or three complete units online for this school year.  Eventually, I would like to have resources online for all of the units covered through the school year, but I believe that will take at least a couple years of work.  Students with access via their mobile devices and/or home computers may access the site outside of school.  Other students may need some before or after school time in the school computer lab to access the website.  There are also times when I may bring in the rolling lab (a laptop cart with 25 computers) to the classroom for students to be able to spend class time on a given extension or resource.

By creating this online resource for students and presenting to students varied ways of learning the material, I believe the technology (the website and tools contained within) truly supports the pedagogy. Content is also made more intellectually accessible to students through the use of the website (technology) and the varied approaches (pedagogy) contained within.

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Wicked Problem Explained (Blog Post A)

Wicked Problem & TPACK (Blog Post B)

Group Leadership Project

Our Group’s Common Statement:

Our group took a serious look at the Group Leadership Project.  Using the TPACK framework, we decided that in order to make this a truly interactive and engaging tutorial that could be facilitated online and reused at our peers convenience, creating a website was the most effective delivery method.

The Weebly website is our tutorial and its content is divided into several pages: copyright, fair use, creative commons, links and feedback pages.  By dividing the information into pages, our tutorial can be taken in sections so that our peers could complete the tutorial in pieces as they had time.  This also allows for the content to be reused more than for a single professional development opportunity and our peers could revisit the site for information as they had questions throughout the year.  By using this format, we tried to create a product that would endure and be useful not only for the professional development time, but be an effective and constant resource.

We also used Jing to create a series of screencasts for the various content pages in the website and QuickTime Player to create the video introduction and feedback page video. Jing was chosen for screen-casting for ease of use and accessibility of the application for all of the members of our group. QuickTime Player was used for video creation because of its compatibility with iMovie, ability to upload directly to YouTube and ease of use.
In developing our final product for use as a professional development tool or piece, I learned that it is important, especially when your audience may view your content without you around to explain it in person, to have the content laid out in a clear and concise manner. If your content and instructions online are clear and concise, your audience will be able to navigate through the lesson/tutorial without assistance. Our group also felt that it was important to have follow-up support for staff after viewing the content where questions can be addressed and answers or clarifications can be given. Leading professional development requires knowing your audience in advance and being prepared for what types of questions or issues may come up. Trying to work out those glitches ahead of time will make for a much smoother final product and a better experience for your end-user.
In the future, if I had to develop a similar product again, I would interview my intended audience prior to developing the tutorial in order to lead my preparation and make sure that the content presented would be valuable to as many of my peers as possible. There is nothing worse than sitting through a professional development session (in person or online) that you feel is not addressing your needs.
Please view our group leadership project website at http://copycreatefair.weebly.com

Reflecting Upon “Growing Up Online”

Working on MAETY1 in the car from Florida to Kentucky

Working on MAETY1 in the car from Florida to Kentucky

No, not me, but I have grown up in the computer era.  I got my first computer, a PC junior, in second grade at the age of 8.  So, I’ve always been comfortable on and around computers and technology.  I grew up with it in my house and as a part of our family.  My parents both started their careers as computer programmers.  But, I can’t even pretend to know what it is like for my students and my own children growing up in the age of the internet and the technology tools of today.  My children are young, 4 and 7, and both already are completely comfortable on our family iPad, on my iPhone, on their Leapster 2 and DSi, playing Wii games, using software  on the iMac we have in our living room and navigating the few educational websites I allow them to play while supervised.  Technology and its various tools and applications have been a part of their lives and they wouldn’t have a clue what life without it would be like.  I even find it hard to remember at times what it was like prior to texting and Smartphones.  How quickly we come to rely on the technologies that we immerse ourselves in.

In watching the two Frontline videos, Growing Up Online (2008) and Digital Nation (2010), it was interesting to see the differences in the two videos, just a little over two years apart.  One, reflecting upon students growing up online from more of a social network standpoint; the earlier video focused more on student use of MySpace and Facebook, IM and email and the effect this has on students, including issues of cyberbulling.  The second video, focused more on all of the many ways our attention can be divided through and by technology and our ability, or inability, to multi-task in all things “tech”.  It also discussed Second Life and World of Warcraft, both types of virtual worlds, designed for people to work, live and play in.

I believe that the vast majority of the students I see spend a huge percentage of their out of school time on Facebook, tweeting, texting (okay, they do this in school, too) and playing games online.  This is their social time, how they interact and relate to one another.  I also believe that we should spend more time, from an earlier age/grade level, teaching students netiquette and how to work safely online and to be smart about what they put online.  It is too easy to type words into a phone or onto a computer and send them through cyberspace to someone without regard to how the receiving individual will “take” those words.  Even words that are not intended to be mean can often be misunderstood when they are sent electronically because all emotion is stripped and they are just words on a screen – this leaves the reader to interpret the tone and/or intent.  We need to make sure our students know the power of their words, both positive and negative.

I was truly able to relate to the Digital Nation video and the “always connected” concept.  I am at a loss when I lose signal on my iPhone or when I can’t access information immediately online.  I’ve even become spoiled so that when the internet connection is slow, I am utterly impatient.  I didn’t realize how much I “multi-task” while I am online until watching this video and thinking about all of the times in the past several weeks of my summer coursework that I have had multiple windows and tabs open, clicking between them, chatting in Facebook with colleagues and classmates, checking email and Twitter and the list goes on and on.  As I continued to follow one distraction after another, I had to continually re-read what I had already typed into the blog post I was working on at the time to make sure the post continued to flow despite my stop and go fashion of writing.  It took me much longer than it should have to have completed each task due to the multi-tasking or giving in to the “multi-distractions”.  The study done on students that were seen as “multi-taskers” showed interesting results on effectivity or lack thereof.  I concur that it is difficult to do deep thinking and reflection when flooded with all of the other available distractions and opportunities online.

So, what do I take away from all of this?  Well, I believe that we should allow more access to today’s technology tools in our classrooms, but I believe there should be some times when we are all forced to power down and take a break from the constant flow of information.  It doesn’t have to be a long break, but I think it is important that we teach our students to be responsible with the tools they have and when and how they use them.  And speaking of powering down… I’m at the end of a 12-hr road trip and I’ve been online for at least 10 of those hours.  I think it is time for me to take my own advice!

Leadership

It is always interesting to read about what others believe makes a good leader and to reflect as to how I see myself within those descriptions.  I believe that as an educator, I am a leader to my students both in and out of the classroom.  I find it difficult to go anywhere in public (including the online environment) and not remember that I am an educator and as such I never know which student (present, past or future), parent or colleague I might run into.  I try to keep that in mind and make sure my actions and attitude are that of a positive leader; whether in the classroom, the hallways at school, an athletic event, out to dinner, etc.

Looking at leadership in terms of the areas discussed in the Leadership lecture, I feel that I am a leader in many of these areas.  As an individual, I do read professional journals and periodicals when I can, but using Twitter  and RSS feeds more regularly this summer, I have found that I can quickly get tidbits of information that have a great payoff in the area of individual leadership.  I never realized how beneficial Twitter could be as a personal arm for professional development.  Through using it this summer and seeing how other members of my PLN use Twitter to improve and inform their teaching has inspired me to continue its use and to seek more ways to continue to keep myself informed and engaged in the best practices of my field, both in my content area and with useful tech tools to improve my content area teaching.  I am also a member of MACUL, and have presented, with a colleague, at MACUL for the past two year.

In the classroom, I have been using technology and technology tools on a regular basis for several years, both in my teaching and integrated into lessons for students.  I see myself as a leader both in my classroom, leading my students in their content and use of technology, as well as a leader for my peers, fellow teachers, in ways they can incorporate technology into their classroom.  As we have discussed, not everyone is willing to jump on the technology band-wagon all at once, but I continue to try to lead by example.

I am also a member of my districts K-12 Technology Committee, and as such, have been a part of the decision-making process surrounding technology in our district.  In this role, I attend regular committee meetings, school board meetings, and have helped to prepare and present professional development within the district.

While not specifically technology -related leadership, I am also a state executive board member for Michigan Science Olympiad.  This role places me in a position of leadership at the state level of the organization.  I provide leadership, with a group of amazing individuals, to fellow coaches and tournament directors around the state.  I also organize and host an annual invitational tournament for Division B (middle school) teams at my school to provide an opportunity for teams to practice what they have learned and test their designs prior to their own regional tournaments.

Leadership can be defined as the action of leading a group of people or an organization; the state or position of being a leader; the ability to lead skillfully, but what does this really mean?  What really makes one a leader is how they are seen by others.  I am not a leader simply because I say I am.  I can only be a leader if my actions and my words inspire people to listen and follow my lead.  In this, I feel I will always continue to grow and strive to become better.

Wicked Problem Project – Part B

Refer to previous post for a summary of the “wicked problem”

Application to TPACK:

What is the TP knowledge for the solution? (ie. how does the technology support the teaching strategies and methods?)

The teaching strategy for this project is to improve student’s content understanding by using a website designed to house content in a variety of forms (text, audio, video, practice quizzes, links to supporting articles, diagrams) for the student’s varied learning styles.  By using the online environment, a teacher may provide more opportunities to support students needs than they may be able to give in class on a daily basis in a 50-60 minute class schedule.

What is the TC knowledge for the solution? (ie. how specifically does the technology make the content more intellectually accessible?)

Content is made more accessible to students by placing online, at the rady for them.  Also, by providing content in varied forms, from text to audio to video, it can make it more engaging for students.  My goal is to empower students to become self-directed learners, determining which of the available resources online is going to meet their learning needs in the best way.  In this, I hope  students will begin to enjoy the process of learning, as well as the content being learned.

What is the PC knowledge for the solution? (ie. how specifically do pedagogical choices make the content in problem more intellectually accessible?  How will the student experience the content with these strategies?)

By placing the textbook content and supplementary resources online for students, in an easily accessible website, students are able to find the content material, utilize the resources available that they feel will best meet their learning style (this may take some guiding at first to help students determine how they learn best) and thus ultimately better understand the content.