EdTech 541 My final thoughts

Part 1

I can’t type that title without hearing the classic 80’s rock theme, ‘The Final Countdown’ by Europe. It makes me smile and so did this class. I always reflect on my learning and always seem to start with the fact that I have learned so much. I think that is a good thing.

I learned a lot this term about how and why I should try to integrate technology into my classes. I also learned a few life lessons too. I fell behind at one point in the course due to some hurdles outside of school and work. I struggled to keep up. For the first time since starting this Masters, I really struggled. I was ready to pack it in, imagining that I wouldn’t be able to get caught up. I actually dropped my other class. I haven’t ever failed at anything academically before so it was a big ego bash. I was reminded what it is like to be in a 5th grade class again. To be a student who is struggling, stressed and worried.

I had some great advice and remembered that the learning is what is key, not the grades. I managed to get back on track with this class, albeit late with several posts and assignments.They got finished though and to the best of my ability. I think what I am trying to articulate is that the learning which impacted me most this semester was about myself, studying, life and the big picture. That is not to say that I have not learned lots about integrating technology into my lessons. I have.

I have learned that integrating tech is a process which has to be thought out and evaluated. Instead of finding a great tool and deciding to use it in class, I will now evaluate it and see if it is the right tool to use. I have also learned that I can integrate and use technology to help me develop more cross-curricular lessons and making learning more valuable. I have always understood the power of feedback to pupils but now I am looking for ways to make sure they get better quality and more instant feedback – something technology can help me to provide.

In developing the projects and activities which I did, I tried to keep as open a mind as possible to different learning theories and pedagogies. I would say that constructivism played a big part in my thinking – coming up with activities that students could form their own learning from. I think my activities have always tried to involve some aspect of social learning and have occasionally included some Experiential activities. There aspects of more traditional behavioralism in there as part of different lesson plans. I have always felt that balance wins out in every situation and hopefully my projects and lessons reflect that.

In our summer semester at school, we spend some time studying American history and so I hope that the resources which I made will all be used directly by my pupils – that was certainly the intention. One area which has had an impact already is game-based learning. Following our unit, I experimented by downloading the award winning game 80 days and have been using it with a group of reluctant writers in my class to see if it can help to spark their imaginations. It appears to be working at the moment.

Because I am in the M.E.T program I have to complete a final portfolio which demonstrates that the artifacts I created over my time on the course satisfy the AECT standards. I am confident that the projects which I made go part way to satisfying some of these requirements.

Standard 1 is Content Knowledge. I feel the artifacts which I made are all evidence of Creating, Using and Assessing/Evaluating as described by the standard indicators. Those which had accompanying lesson plans in particular showed clear selection and thought in their creation and development. There is variety in the activities I planned and student learning lies at the heart of all the activities.

Standard 2 is Content Pedagogy. Here I think that I met the standard but less than Standard 1. I tried to use and implement a number of the different lessons in class as I went along. Often asking pupils for feedback on tools and ideas that I was looking at. The projects which I designed were thought out after reading of course materials  and so while the impact of those pedagogies is harder to specify, the work of Roblyer in particular impacted my work.

Standard 3 is Learning Environments. Again I think that the artifacts which I created fall under the categories of Creating, Using and Assessing/ Evaluating. As the course was about  implementing and embedding technology in the classroom, the vast majority of the work I did was informed by these standards, reflecting on the way lessons would work in the class to foster effective learning.

Standard 4 is Professional Knowledge and Skills. Reading the ideas and thoughts of my peers and responding to their feedback was important. Being able to collaborate and share (although I didn’t do it as well as I have in the past) helped me to develop and improve the design of my instruction and reflect on my work. I often worked with teachers at my school to run ideas by them and ask for their input. Collaborative practice was probably the indicator which I met the most. I did reflect a lot on the feedback given to me as well as  thinking about the artifacts I made.

I think the majority of the lessons and projects which I created helped me to satisfy these 4 Standards to varying degrees. Sometimes I am hard on myself and struggle to accept that I have actually achieved what I supposed to.

Part 2

In evaluating my blogging this semester, I think I have performed poorly in compassion to other classes. Overall, I think I started out pretty strongly and finished well but had a dip in the latter part of the Semester. In using the Grading rubric, I would rate my own performance as follows:

  • Content: Proficient with some outstanding (although I don’t like that word!) My early posts and my final ones came from a lot of thought and always with personal reflection. The content was probably my strongest area. 60 points.
  • Readings: I read fully, and looked for other readings to support my learning. In the vast majority of posts I used APA citations  – but they were not always extensive and sometimes limited to the Roblyer text. 15 points
  • Timeliness: Not good. I got into a routine of working Sundays as that was the only day I had time and this meant late posts. I never caught up or got ahead and so I think I fall into the Basic category at best. I did manage to get them all done and put a lot of thought into what I wrote, making them real and as good as possible is hopefully better than quick. That said I would give myself no more than 5 points.
  • I always tried to make at least two comments and sometimes more. I always commented on others’ blogs so that the comments would last. When I fell behind with my own blogs, I fell behind with commenting my peers blogs as well. I did always try to ask a question, or relate a post to my own situation and thinking – engaging in debate as much as possible. I made sure I always replied to comments made on my blog. 25 points.

So that is it, my final words are reflective which is how I started this course. Full circle. As I said at the start, I struggled for part of this course due to some circumstances beyond my control. I did catch up and think I finished strongly. I am proud of the projects which I created and know they will help me in school. An enjoyable class which I know will impact my work and student learning. Thanks to everyone who helped me out.










Final Reflection for EdTech 543

Wow, I can’t believe that I am finishing up this final post for the course. There are lots of things I have been thinking about and I hope that I can touch on a few of them here. Reflection to me is a very personal thing. Reflection is part of the path to understanding – something which I differentiate from knowledge or skills. If you acquire knowledge, develop and practice skills, add in time and genuine reflection, then maybe . . . just maybe you have understanding. That is how I see it anyway.

I need to set a little context before I can go into more detail. I have been teaching for 16 years, my parents are teachers, my sister is a teacher, my wife is a teacher. Education is an important part of my life. It is not and has never been just a job. I’m not trying to sound pious, it is just that this course has had a profound effect on the way that I think about things and for me to say that means a lot. Last year I went to hear Will Richardson talk and he was inspiring. He relit a fire that had been smoldering in me and to cut a long story short it resulted in me signing up to do my M.E.T.  I stepped down from my leadership role at school – going from Head of the Upper Elementary to class teacher so that I would have time to study, be a dad, be a husband and an effective teacher. I was daunted at first, I had not studied at this level since I completed my teaching qualification. Things are working out ok though.

Times are changing in education. Social media and the tools available today to educational professionals are beyond anything we could imagine 15 years ago. If we embrace them and use them then we really can change the status quo. What I have learned in this course is huge. I have new knowledge on a variety of topics, I have new skills in a wide range of online tools which are impacting my pupils as I use them in class. Glogster, Edmodo, Kidblog – all being used by my pupils now. Directly as a result of what I have learned on this course. But more importantly I think I have come to some real understanding on a few key things.

Social media is not going away. It might change form but humans are social creatures and the easier it is to connect the more we do it. Social media in education has the possibility to achieve very powerful things – it can bring people together and connect them. Maybe teachers, maybe pupils – those of different faiths, religions, ideologies, background and cultures can come together. Not easy but the only way change happens is if people worth together. This course has helped me to understand that I should not look to blame when things don’t work out for me but look for someone to help. E.M. Forster wrote about the theme of connecting in his book, ‘A Room with a View’. I read it in High School and it has stuck with me for 20 years -‘only connect.’

Connecting as a professional educator is easier, quicker and more manageable than it has ever been. I have learned about how to do it safely and effectively and have begun to know how to teach my pupils about it. I have enjoyed my course. It has been hard at times – real life goes on in the background, but I am proud of my efforts. I have blogged with my heart on my sleeve and tried to be critical of my performance and honest about my learning. I am not sure how much has been read by anyone else. . . but that almost doesn’t matter. There was a cathartic effect to writing and blogging. So what next?

I will keep blogging, tweeting, and finding webinars. I will strive to encourage my colleagues to do the same. I will connect with others and expand my PLN. I will continue to curate and share. If it was a poker game. . . I’m all in.

I have connected with some of the people on the course. I am confident Matt and I will be friends for a long time to come. We have learned together. Thanks to all of you who have shared, read and commented and I wish you all the best going forward. I have a lot of learning to do but this was a great start.

Grading myself on my blog performance: Hmmm not easy. Someone told me once that the definition of a good teacher was someone who was constantly dissatisfied with their own performance. It stuck. I have written and reflected to the best of my ability, listening to myself and others and being honest with my thoughts so  I would give myself 74.5. Not perfect but it rounds up to 75.

Thanks Andrew