Forever Learning

IT 465 came with many challenges, triumphs, joys, trials, and other mixed emotions. After months of hard work, I can say that I have learned a great deal from this class. I think this class is very useful and will benefit me greatly in my future as a teacher and communicator in society. The class was a step by step process that incorporated several unique tools to improve my skills relating to technology.

Like I said, the class came with challenges and triumphs; therefore there were both strengths and weaknesses. The hardest part of the class to me was the level of communication. I was terrified about working in a group with people that I would never even meet. I am a very social person, but sometimes I can come across rude and demanding if someone does not know me on a personal level. I worked hard to make myself a better communicator throughout this course. On the other hand, I have a lot of experience with technology. Between working in the computer lab at school, tutoring my dad when he is miles away on travel, and taking all of my classes online, I would say my strength is with technology. I know how to type efficiently and how to navigate many of the resources that we used in this class.

The interaction between my peers and instructor was a bit frustrating at times. I did not like having to sign in on a Friday night especially when I had already completed my work. I worked hard to be proactive in this class, but I found that many of the other people did not submit posts on time or completely dropped. I became weary of commenting on other people’s post because I felt like it was just a rush. I did not feel that all of the interaction was genuine, but it was just a way for people to come out with a good grade.

There were several assignments that I liked, but I found the greatest pleasure in creating the website for my classroom. I spent several hours on the website, but I do believe it will be one of the most essential tools in my future career. On the other hand, my least favorite assignment was the Turnitin assignment. I felt like it was more busy work than anything else, and it did not teach me how to use it at as a teacher. All of the other assignments were a great part of the learning process. I would have liked to have seen some of the assignments rearranged such as the group work towards the end, but overall, they were all effective.

There were several different tools used throughout this course. There were some that I had heard of and used and there were others that were new and exciting to me. The only software I was completely blind to before this class was Inspiration 9. I fell in love with the tool, and I will probably end up buying it in the future. Tools such as the test, rubric, answer key, Turnitin and movie were things I had heard of, but I had never actually used them. I think all of those tools will be very helpful in my future as well. Tools like the website and assistive technology are things that I use every single day.  I try to have an environment that promotes education for all people in all walks of life. The blog as a tool was also very beneficial as it allowed me to see other people’s work and to communicate on a unique level. I use a blog regularly regarding my own life, so I did not have problems navigating the software. The tool I used mostly throughout the class was the Google drive. It was the easiest way to communicate with both my classmates and teacher. The only disadvantage was making sure that it was submitted and used properly to share with other people.

By and large, I found the blogfolio very useful. I feel like this class taught me several things to improve my communication skills especially through technology. I enjoyed most all of the assignments and spent a large amount of time on each one of them trying to make them as beneficial as possible. The tutorials and examples were very helpful to understand the projects that were assigned, and I always felt like Dr. Wang was a great help. I know that the many tools and resources used with benefit my future as an educator and make me a life-long learner in society.

All things for All people

Assistive technology is a great tool in technology for students with disabilities. I believe that all things should be designed for all people. Since I work in a computer lab, I knew many of the great features that the computer has to offer for students with disabilities. I did not have too hard of a time completing this project. I found the instructions very simple and easy to understand. The example was also a great help. I did not like having to change the settings back and forth. It even distorted my screen for a few minutes because it got frozen up. I did not have troubles with any of the settings in particular, but I did find some easier to use than others.

In my classroom, I tend to use the magnifier and sound for several students. Many of my inclusion students can not read the documents on the computer, so we use the sound to convey the message. Several of my students are also young and have not had their eyes assessed, so they like to see the print on the screen bigger. I think all of the tools presented in this project are very helpful for not only the teacher but also for students. I am personally very thankful for assistive technology, and I know it is a necessary to make my job smooth and successful.

The PowerPoint I created shows the many different tools I used through assistive technology. Below is the link:

Assistive Technology

Busted

Busted is not something most people want to hear especially coming from the mouth of a teacher. Well now technology has become well-advanced, and it does not even take a teacher to catch a person cheating. Turnitin is a great website for teachers and students who are working on reports or completing assignments. Sometimes students even think they have done all their citations right, but the computer might find some glitches. I have used to website before for some of my classes. I do not usually use it unless it is required. I think it is useful for teachers, but I do not want to use it unless I see plagiarism becomes a problem in my classroom. I like to create a trusting relationship between me and my students, and I feel like some of the plagiarism software’s are just an easy way out for teachers.

I did like working on this project. It took me a pretty long time to figure everything out and work through the project. I usually just submit my work for a class and then move on, but this took much more work and detail. The first part was probably harder to me than the second. I had some problems finding information that I wanted to copy and paste. I guess I can say it’s a good thing to not be used to that. I wanted to change up what I found to make it sound a different way.  For the second part, I tried not to look back at the document and just go off of what I remembered from the first glance in order to create my own response. I was a bit nervous to submit both parts because I did not want it to be wrong. I felt like I was submitting a test or something. I had some problems in the beginning figuring out my percentage, but I worked it out. Overall, this assignment was a great way for me to advance my technological skills for my classes and for my future.

Below is a link to my file for the Turnitin Assignment

Technological_Issues_in_the_Classroom

Incorporating Technology in the Classroom

Technology is a great resource for teachers. There are several effective ways for teachers to combine English and Language Art instruction with technology. First and foremost, teachers can create everyday activities through technological software. They can also teach the children several different skills through technology.  They can develop reading skills and assess decoding skills. I know several children in the computer lab use eBooks constantly to read different books online instead of having to check out multiple books or buy books. There are also kindles just for reading that teachers can use when necessary. Teachers also have access to programs to assess students reading skills such as the Accelerated Reader program that will test a students’ knowledge on a book. Secondly, a teacher can improve student’s literacy skills through technology. Networked literacy projects Teachers can use activities with interactive storybooks and talking books, programs for reading management and intervention programs, digital storytelling, connect to online reading materials, writing blogs, video projects to motivate writing, and threaded discussions. The school that I currently work at uses a program called Edmodo. Every week I help students in the computer to complete their teacher’s assignments. The language arts teachers give several different unique assignments to improve student’s skills. This week the students watched a video and responded to a question based off the video’s content. They have also opened files to learn about different characters then go and apply it in the classroom. Being able to type assignments on books or other activities given to them through Edmodo, gives the teacher more time not having to grade papers with sloppy handwriting or make copies over and over again. Overall, technology can tremendously improve students writing skills. Students learn how to correct mistakes through Word software’s. There are even games that students can play to put together correct sentence structures. There are different software’s to create web maps for students to prewrite. A student can easily revise work as well once it is typed, and they do not have to spend a lot of time rewriting and erasing over and over again. Publishing papers to teachers is more professional, and it creates a solid record for the future.

Even though technology is a great asset, there are still current issues affecting the acquisition and use of technology in special education. Some of the issues include legal and policy directives which include the Technology-Related Assistance Act for Individuals with Disabilities (Tech Act) which provides funding for statewide systems and services and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which is an individual education plan (IEP) that considers assistive technology. Problems have also aroused concerning the Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) to document meeting performance criteria and focus attention on student groups. There is a need for trained personnel, since most teachers begin a teaching career with little technological background. I know for me, I am the computer lab instructor, and although I have not had many technology related classes, I am still well more advanced that most of the other teachers in the school. Teachers should know how to enhance their own productivity, enhance the effectiveness of instruction, and use assistive technology for students. There is also an increasing number of disabled students in the school system with no adequate systems. Inclusive schools are having trouble because they must have education participation through self-contained, mainstreaming, and inclusion classrooms, but majority of the school day is spent in general education classrooms. Many of the classrooms must be modified for proper access and need more technological support.  There have also been curb cuts to education, and web accessibility is also a problems. Students with disabilities and their teachers who do have access to the internet explore applications of assistive, instructional, and productivity. Students have improved functional, reading, writing, and math skills through software’s such as interactive story books, word predictions, specialized calculators, and games. Students with physical disabilities have also been able to use joy sticks to improve their abilities. Sensory disabilities have been made easier as well through canes and sensor technology, screen readers, screen magnification, FM amplification systems, and visual feedback. There are also strategies for at risk students like reminder services, word prediction, manipulatives, locus of control, and digital text.  Gifted students use electronic communities, research, and interactive and multimedia presentations.

There is no doubt that no matter what circumstances that a student may face, technology can be helpful in their abilities to be a successful person both in and out of school. There are tons of ways that teachers can incorporate technology into their teaching no matter the subject. I find technology very useful in the classroom, and I see firsthand in the computer lab what all students are able to learn through technology.

Check It Out

I think the website project was hands down my favorite project so far. I spent a lot of time on this website. It was probably actually three to four hours actually. I know this is something I am going to want to use in my future as a reference, so I spent time making sure I did it correctly. I have never used the Google Site software. I didn’t even know there was a free software to create websites, so that is very helpful in itself. I did not have any problems putting the information together on the website. I knew what things I wanted to have on the website and how I wanted it to be laid out. I did run into some issues trying to copy and paste information such as my resume. It would not keep the font consistent on the website, so I ended up just retyping all of it. I also ran into some problems creating the header and footer. I couldn’t figure out how to upload the image that I created on cooltext at first. Once I figured it out, I thought it really made the website more unique. Websites are a great tool for teachers as they bridge the gap between classwork, parents, social media, and the many other realms of technology. I will definitely be using a website in my classrooms as a teacher, and I think the Google Site was very easy to navigate and work with.

Here is the link to my classroom website: Ms. Page Class

 

Importance of Integration

Since I recently was given the job as the computer lab teacher at Petal elementary, I find it very important to integrate the internet into curriculum. There are several different web-based learning activities that support the integration strategies given by our textbook. Student research is the first strategy. As students begin to get higher in education, they use research for several different things. Whether writing a senior honors thesis, writing a research paper, or looking up ideas, students can navigate data bases for research. Online libraries are also a very helpful tool in student research. Much of student research is also used through group product development, so students will begin working together through systems such as Google docs. The second and third strategies go hand in hand. I recently introduced my students to a website called Edmodo. It is where students have an account very similar to Facebook. The teacher can post assignments for the students to respond to, and it is also a way for them to connect with their friends and peers. I have never seen so much excitement for writing. They are excited to see the work of their friends and talk back and forth to communicate messages that are school related and even messages that are not. It also has promoted literacy as the students are beginning to understand the importance of technology as it relates to their literacy skills. They are now able to understand that literacy skills are needed in technology. The website is also designed for teachers to post topics related to literacy and have the students respond in a test format or just a page reply. This is a great site for electronic mentoring, electronic field trips, and electronic publishing. Many students are on different levels especially when it comes to academic skills skills. A way to implement the fourth learning strategy for visual learning problems and solutions is through problem-based learning websites such as cool math. Cool math allows children to visually see problems and work on things on all different levels. It is a way for teachers to assess what a student knows and not make a student feel like they are lagging or behind. Fun brain is also a game where students can navigate themselves through several different activities relating to all subjects on all different levels. The fifth strategy can also be done through social action projects and software’s like Edmodo. Collaboration is when students have to work together. Edmodo is a great way to collaborate with not only students but with the teacher. Some software’s have “im” available so people can chat back and forth. This allows students to start making responsible decisions. Becoming a better person individually also comes with the sixth strategy which is to integrate multicultural experiences. Even though we live a pretty multicultural world, we still can find out a lot of multicultural information through web-based activities. I know I have had students before set up penpal accounts with people across the world to write back and forth. I have also had students use the web to search and write letters to a soldier or missionary overseas. There are also some unique games that point out different parts of geography and that get students interested in diversity. Overall, there are a lot of great tools out there for teachers to use to integrate the internet in the classroom. A website known as, Study Island, has even been formed to support national education standards. There is no doubt internet is being used by students, so it is time for the educators to integrate it as well.

Tools to Success

The world we live in as it relates to technology has some of the most incredible tools to success. I loved working on the web tools project. For this project I created a rubric, test with answer key, and an online book mark. I started out with a book I recently reviewed. The rubistar system was something I have never heard of. I absolutely loved it! It did most all of the work for me, and I could add personal touches to make it personal and related to my specific topic. It was nice to have it already laid out in a nice and neat format that others could easily follow. The testmaker was also a very great tool. It was also something I had never heard of. It was super simple to navigate, and I liked how it was a guide to make test. It made matching and multiple choices into a clear format that was easy to read. It was also easy to move questions around once they were inserted into the document which is not so easy on word processing software. The best part was that the software automatically created an answer sheet. In the school, it is so aggravating to create answer sheets after tests have been created especially if you have to make multiple tests. Even though I really liked rubistar and testmaker, the trackstar tool was not very helpful in my opinion. I had a hard time navigating the website to begin with. I got all my information entered into the track and did not click save. It deleted it all and I had to start back over again. I do think online bookmarks are good, but I just did not find this website very useful and easy to navigate. I will definitely be using the rubistar and testmaker systems in my future. I think it is one of the best ways to work on lesson plans for teachers. It takes very little time and is a great way to be consistent in your teaching.

Below are the links to the first items I created using the systems:

Bookmark

Rubric

Test

Answer Key