ED 637 Reflection Week 6

I am so inspired to try new technology in my classroom. I like all the different games and technology that everyone is talking about. I really like to check out “Classcraft” that Sara talked about. I will look into it tomorrow and see if it is something I could use or pass on to my peers. I am interested because she said her high school students are using it and the 9th graders like it. So I will try it on my 9th graders. After watching Amy’s children talk about minecraft I realize that I need to have my children connect me and teach me how to play with it. I love the fact we had to create videos and share them. This is a great entertaining way to share what we learned and know.

My son and I have been playing with Code.org.  He can’t get enough of it.  We have been looking for a programing game that would enhance his programing skills.  After a few days of this I brought it to one of my classes and tried it out on some eighth graders.  It was enticing to them also.  I then shared it with our STEM teacher and he said it was better than the program he was using and will start code.org in his classroom and let me know how the students like it.  The principal of the middle school loved the program also.  He also pushes STEM and Robotics at our district.

For my Ubd unit I’m going to do it after spring break. I believe we will be doing proportions by then. I want to take our jeopardy game and have them compete.   Our school has a mimeo game piece that offers button choices in its game. I will be working on setting this up in my classroom.   I’ll start with a pre-test and practice for the week and then take the post-test. I’m excited to try this out in my classroom. My students are great sports and hopefully will be successful. I’m looking forward to adding another dynamic to my classroom.

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How are games providing new opportunities for differentiation in the classroom?

My video on Code.org

Computer games brought into the classroom brings the controversy of playing instead of learning. Games can bring into the classroom more dynamics than teachers could create on their own without the games. Games like Minecraft can offer opportunities for teacher to emphasize topics, vocabulary and offer discovery in student learning. Minecraft offers virtual learning where students can see images, build images to scale size and communicate with other students from different classrooms through games. This technology can be used with rubrics that offer differentiation in lesson planning. Students can bring together their skills and help each other with their projects or teach each other strategies in the games.

In Code.org students can learn to program computers starting in kindergarten. Students think they are just playing a game, but they are writing programs. This coding teaches them step by step programing and the students have fun telling the computer how to move the chicken through a maze to reach a target. When you partner up the students with a navigator and a controller they learn to dialogue with each other using vocabulary. In this process they are learning etiquette skills for working partners or etiquette skills that will keep them safe on the internet. My son, 7th grader, and I played with code.org for a few hours a couple of times this week. His robotics team did well this year and placed in the top ten in state. He said this programming would have helped him be more prepared for the programming part of the competition. He plans on sharing it with his teammates at school.

With games you have competition and the students have to learn quickly in order to keep up or they have to rely on their teammates to remember what they don’t. The games can differentiate in itself by individuals playing by themselves at their own pace. Students that grasp a concept can move on while others can practice a little more as needed. Many games need to be changed up to educational purposes in order to be used in the classroom environment. I believe that technology is advancing in this area, but is just beginning to make advances enough to grasp the teachers attention.

Unfortunately technology teachers are moving away from basic keyboarding skills to basic coding (Stiff). I believe keyboarding is just as importance as coding and other skills that technology brings through games. As games evolve into the classrooms it will find its balance of skills to help create a more rounded student.

References:

Housley, K. Technology in the classroom: games or learning tools? Education world. Retrieved February 2016 from http://www.educationworld.com/a_issues/issues195.shtml

Granata, K. Teachers take advantage of minecraft in the classroom. Education world. Retrieved Febraury 2016 from http://www.educationworld.com/a_news/teachers-take-advantage-minecraft-classroom-60294258

Mackay, R.F. Playing to learn: panelists at Stanford discussion say using games as an educational tool provides opportunities for deeper learning. Stanford/News. Retrieved Febraury 2016 from http://news.stanford.edu/news/2013/march/games-education-tool-030113.html

Stiff, H. (2015) Monforton teacher instructs coding to kids. Belgrade News. Retrieved February 2016 from http://www.belgrade-news.com/news/article_6716d926-ae2a-11e4-959b-13ebce844c1c.html

 

Week 5 Reflection EDET 637

As a group we continued to build our  wiki with this weeks blogs on different assistive technology devices. We all had to post two different devices. The two that I choose was BIG Keys and Go Talk 9+.   It has been very interesting research to learn about all the different devices that can help the students. I can see how technology has made huge impact on peoples lives. The Big Keys was nice to see for people who were struggling with control of their fingertips. The Go Talk 9+, I can see where preplanned conversations would have to be in place before they used it. The user of the Go Talk would need someone who could talk record what they would need to say at some point in the day. Some of the devices of Go Talk would hold up to 32 different sentences. In my research I was able to find a lot of free apps available. This can be valuable to anyone.  I am more aware of the assistance that technology can offer, but our school district doesn’t have any special needs students at the high school level that need assistance that the iPad apps haven’t already addressed.

I watch several Youtube videos to help me catch up with knowledge on assistive technology. One of the articles that I read, a parent had laughed at the suggestion of “ask the school district for help in finding assistive technology to help your child.”   This really hit hard since I wasn’t aware of the devices that are available. I do know that our SPED department has equipment and apps to serve students. I just need to do my part and know more about different assistive technology.

Week 4 Reflection

 I was amazed to see how many different assistive technology devices there are to help differentiate in our classrooms. Our twitter session this week help me realize how much technology is stepping into the classroom to assist students.
I missed the initial meeting to set up the Wikispace. I couldn’t find anyone email address to contact them and twitter wasn’t doing the job. I did talk with Natalie on Friday, and she said she gave my email address to be joined. After four days of trying to contact someone to connect me to the Wikispace, I resorted to creating my own to play with so I’d be familiar with the program.  By connecting with my peers through email I as able to get up and running.  
I was finally able to connect on Sunday. I like the Wikispace program, I can’t wait to share it at school. This is a great program for working in groups in the classroom. I haven’t figured out yet how to implement it in my classroom yet, but I can see other subjects using it.  I need time to figure out a way to make it work in math.

EdEt 637 Week 3 Reflection

This week our focus was on informing parents about Differentiated Instruction, DI, in our classroom. I really appreciated the reading and how there were articles out there to helps parents ask the right questions. This helped me understand the conversations I should be having with my students’ parents. I don’t work completely like a DI classroom, but I am evolving into one. Our school has pushed the SPED students back into our classroom this year. We could see that the students were missing out by not being in our classrooms.  I have learned to teach vocabulary separately before using it to teach a concept, this has made a great impact on their understanding of the concepts.  Another change that made a difference is to create/or offer videos of teaching the concept that can be view at the students leisure (Google Classroom).  Students/Parents have learned to value the teaching videos for the days of being absent or struggling with a concept.

I related well with Cherie’s blog. My son looped with his 4th-5th grade teacher and my son loved it, he had a great relationship with that teacher. My situation as a teacher is a little different, but I could have the same students for three years (high school math). I am much closer and know the second and third year students much better than the first year students. I knew at the beginning of the year, which students needed immediate attention and was at the office insisting on teacher-aides to sit with these students. This has made a tremendous difference for most of these students. [I had one student who refused to learn and we did the best we could to prompt him, but he just wouldn’t put in the effort.   “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink”. (This student is doing better second semester, I think sometimes you have to let them fall in order for them to make a stand.)]

Sara reminded me of when I started to learn about DI. I was so overwhelmed, but over the years I have slowly understood DI more and, through conversation on DI with other teachers, I DI more in my classroom every year. By all means I am not a professional, but I am learning to create an environment where all the students are being challenged. I do get out of balance sometimes and overwhelm them, but I help them through that hump and in the end they appear to be proud of their accomplishments.  When student is doing well in class and a parent tells me how their student is going home and reporting how hard math is, I can take confidence in the student is in the right place.  They are being challenged.  Their work isn’t too easy and I can see success in the daily work they are doing.

Twitter was extremely frustrating, so I went back a couple of days later and was able to read more of it.  I totally was thrown by the “create a game.” I pushed it aside and to my dismay I forgot to include it.

Essential question: How do we prepare parents for differentiation in the classroom?

 

In the same way teachers need to learn about Differentiated Instruction, DI, parents need to know about DI. We start out teaching parents with the definition of DI. As Tomlinson states it as, “Differentiation can be defined as a way of teaching in which teachers proactively modify curriculum, teaching methods, resources, learning activities, and student products. The needs of individual students and/or small groups of students are addressed to maximize the learning opportunity for each student in the classroom.”

We need to explain to the parent why we DI in our classroom. Parents need to understand that we have a myriad of learning abilities and styles in our classroom. This brings students that are bored, therefore not challenged or overwhelmed by the tasks at hand, which creates anxiety. With DI we can meet the learners at their level and challenge them to progress into a successful learner.

Parents need to know that DI is the following, according to Foucault:

  • “Having high expectations for all students
  • Adjustment of the core content
  • Assigning activities geared to different learning styles, interests, and levels of thinking
  • Providing students with choices about what and how they learn
  • Flexible because teachers move students in and out of groups based upon students’ instructional needs
  • Acknowledgment of individual needs
  • Articulated, high level goals reflecting continuous progress
  • Assessment to determine student growth and new needs
  • Adjustment of curriculum by complexity, breadth, and rate
  • Educational experiences which extend, replace, or supplement standard curriculum

Differentiation is not…

  • Individual learning plans for each student
  • More problems, questions, or assignments
  • Get it on your own
  • Recreational reading
  • Independent reading without curriculum connections
  • Free time to draw or practice your talent
  • Cooperative learning groups where the gifted kid gets to be the leader
  • Activities that all students will be able to do
  • Interest centers unless linked to core content and at a complex level”

Parents need to be taught because it is their children we are educating and they have rights to know what is going on in the classroom of their children. Parents don’t just have a right to know they have a right to question our classroom where their child resides.

We need to invite parents in to see the classroom and experience it.  DI is new to them and they want to learn about their child’s environment at school. Once you have the parents in the classroom and they should see that their child is being supported and the parents can relax and enjoy the atmosphere of the classroom.

When parents don’t understand about DI we can use Tomlinson (42)  points of how DI benefits their children.

  • The goal of DI is to challenge everyone to grow from their own starting point.
  • Teachers will assess and monitors the students so they know their skill levels and challenges them using effective learning ways.
  • The DI lesson reflects the teachers understanding of the students needs to grow. This will evolve with the needs of the students as they grow.
  • Parents are always welcome to come to the classroom and talk about their student. Parents and Teachers have great perspectives to share with each other. The teachers see the student through potential in developmental benchmarks, while the parent sees the students more intimately through interests, feelings and change.
  • As a DI teacher, our goal is to become a more independent learner.

As teachers we have to be listeners and this especially applies to parents. When their students are advanced in their skills the parents have an urgency to tell their story (Tomlinson, 42). The more you are informed about your students from different perspectives it gives you more insight to the students. Also, by hearing the parent’s perspective gives you insight about the home life of the student. As you listen to the parents share their story it will help you see how the classroom can become a better fit for the student. We have to keep in mind that parents want their student challenged and yet want a guarantee that the challenge will not create a failure. Teachers need to reassure the parents that the goal isn’t to fail the student, but to teach them to rise up to the challenge and develop a work ethic that would bring satisfaction to them. It isn’t about the assignments given to students, it is about building character in each student.

Students will be given different levels of work and may appear harder than others. Teachers need to be prepared for parents to question this in the DI classroom. The answer is simpler to explain than to do.   Students are all working at their own level. What might be easy for one student is hard for another. The teacher’s job is to challenge each individual and not overwhelm them.

We need to inform our parents about what is going on in our classrooms. Eidson offers great questions for parents to ask.

  • “How are you finding out about what my child already knows and can already do?
  • What kind of information would you like me to provide as you learn more about my child?
  • How are you ensuring that my child is being challenged in his or her daily work and assignments?
  • If my child already knows a lot about a particular topic and has clearly mastered the associated skills, what other possibilities exist for him or her?
  • How is my child growing in this subject area?”

As teachers we need to care about the growth for all students. We need to proactively respond to students’ needs as that matches their abilities, learning styles, and interest. This has to be balanced with challenging and making it successful for all learners.

Challenging students is a great thing for preparing students for a lifetime learner. Eidson bring up a great point when students are complaining that it is too hard, in reality they are in a good position to learn. If they are bored and the work is too easy they are going unchallenged and this lack of challenge can hurt their ability to learn. Not every thing should come easy to them. Teachers will make mistakes and push too hard on a student and adjustments must be made.

Eidson tells parents that students should be in a variety of groups, so parents should be hearing how they work with different students throughout the year. The same students should not be teaching other students nor should they be teaching themselves. They should be put into a variety of groups so that they are taking on different roles. Students must be continuously assessed and this brings a variety of teaching and learning strategies that keeps advancing the students through to higher levels of learning. With tiered assignments teachers can offer the same skill with the same material but at different ability levels so all learners in the classroom can be challenged and progress in the same classroom.

DI in the classroom changes the way parents remember school and it is new to many teachers. As we learn to DI in our classrooms our students will learn how to take a challenge and they will learn how to take on challenges in life.

Reference:

Eidson, C. (2008) What Every Parent Should Know About Differentiated Instruction.Duke    TIP. Retrieved February 2016 from https://tip.duke.edu/node/910

Foucault, A. (2008) Differentiation tips for parents. Reading Rockers. Retrieved February 2016 from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/differentiation-tips-parents

Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms. Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD). Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com

EDET637 Reflection Differentiating Instruction through Technology, week 2

Differentiating Instruction through Technology

Essential question: How do you make decisions about your own actions for students in a differentiated classroom? What is your criteria for intervention, and/or for letting learning happen?

It has to be safe for students to relax and learn.  I can’t let the students get on a nerve due to the tone of my voice, this can set a negative environment which hinders learning.  When students are irritated and want to argue, I remind myself to inform the student about their tone and, if needed, I give them a minute to calm down before proceeding with helping them discover their own answer to their question.  If I get entangled in their frustration the other students won’t feel safe.  I am still working on this behavior.  I do notice that when I don’t react and choose to stay calm the student will come back to apologize for their behavior and it is easier for the both of us to forget and move on.

To keep students safe and learning in my classroom I try not to let them feel abandoned.  It matters how severe the issue is as to whether I will seek outside help.  In one of my classes I have two aides to help with the students that would drown in concepts if they weren’t there to support their learning.

I have learned to put the seating in groups of four so the students can become friends and seek help from each other.  An adjustment that I can use here is the freedom of changing seats.  The problem is I have a freshman that will disrupt his peers if he isn’t near me.  I have six students that need that extra support so they have a specific seat they need to be in.  So, two of my classes are locked into their seating assignment due to special support in place.

I have learned to rely on Google Classroom to store my youtube videos for teaching mathematic skills.  Students can receive support outside of class hours by going to Google Classroom to watch a video of the concepts taught in class that day.

This week has reminded me to implement Think-Pair-Share for helping students to think about the process and share the process with their neighbor.  I need to help the students to express their thoughts so they can cement their learning or allow us to correct errors in their thinking.

I like the  “organizer of learning opportunities” (Tomlinson) as a description of my job.  It makes it easier to bring in outside sources to help students understand concepts and that I am not their only source of information.  One of my sources of teaching/reteaching are my walls.  I use pictures with saying to motivate them to work, treat their peers with respect and challenge themselves to always try something new.  My greatest outside sources that is making an impact is the youtube videos that give students/parents an opportunity at home to see how to do the concepts in the lesson that day.

I like to hear how other teachers think through this process. I admire those that journal their reflections. I really need to incorporate this in my day. I reflect daily and would get more out of it if it was on paper and I would be able to see patterns or something glaring that wasn’t jumping out at me before.

I enjoyed the mapping program and I did illicit help to posting to my blog page. I knew I had to save it to my desktop and drag it in, but I just need a little assistance. I like the mapping program, bubbl.us, I shared it with my peers at work. They loved the quality of it and plan on using it.

Reference:

Tominson, C. (2001) how to differentiate instruction in mixed-ability classrooms.  Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development. ebrary.