A Long Year and the Importance of Administrative Support

I wish I could say it doesn’t seem like a year since I last posted, but sadly it does. Where have I been?  You could say I have been learning the hard way just how important administrative support is to integrating technology into the classroom.

I began my new school year in 2013 totally pumped up from my Education Specialist classes and ready to implement new strategies. I was working on finishing up my research project on Internet Safety for Elementary Students and wanted to share those results. My enthusiasm was curbed in the first month of school with my new school principal and TOSA (teacher on special assignment).

The focus of instruction became focus on test scores. The driving force behind that was to read from the provided curriculum.  The more I tried to implement technology, the more specifically my hands were tied.  Teaching to the script would be the answer!  Technology was to be drill and practice with administrative provided sites. Creativity was out the window as we needed to practice for tests by using technology to make and give more tests.

It was the most miserable year of my life.

I fought relentlessly.

Long story short, I transferred schools. The first meeting with my new principal included a conversation on the importance of free play, and project based learning! Students must learn from mistakes and given opportunity for authentic learning!  A rise in test scores will come if students are motivated and engaged!

After a summer of renewing my own spirit, and presenting technology integration at various conferences throughout the state, I am now ready to teach again!

 

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Education in Finland

By clicking on the title above, you can find a link to my prezi on the Educational System in Finland. Finland has consistently had some of the highest test scores according to PISA.  Yet, Finland does not administer high-stakes testing to its students. What makes Finnish Education so successful, and why doesn’t the United States consider more carefully those key strategies?

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July 21, 2013 · 6:23 pm

Authentic Learning

So it is summer, and teachers really should not be blogging about teaching. That is what most people think. But I am not most people. Last year, I used the website goanimate to integrate technology into my third grade classroom.  In one lesson, students were to create a video showing a conversation between two characters to tell about one of the symbols of the United States. Over the summer, one of my students entered a contest sponsored by the PTA. He won first place for his creativity with technology describing generosity and compassion.  Now this makes a teacher proud. Way to go Matthew!

Guess I should add that if you click on the title, it will take you to the link 🙂

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July 10, 2013 · 12:16 am

What Does The Data Say?

I started this blog as a discussion post on technology integration into the classroom.  The more I wrote and discussed, the more I was convinced that I needed to Flip my 3rd grade classroom and put my words to action.  That was a little over three months ago, and I will never go back!  I truly believe that the time has come for teachers across the country to begin the process too.

But what does the data say????…….

Now this is not to imply in any way, shape, or form, that I conducted some sort of formal research.  I would just like to share some of the student data produced by my systems standardized test scores. 

According the data, from the Fall of 2012 until the Winter of 2012, my students showed an average SGP (Student Growth Percentile) of +53 in reading. That is pretty average.  93% of my class met district benchmarks.

Using the same standardized test, my students showed a larger SGP in reading from Winter 2012 to Spring 2013. Their SGP was +73, and 100% of my students met district benchmarks.  That is a pretty huge jump in numbers.  The only notable change in instruction was the use of technology to support the curriculum.

I know their will always be skeptics.  And I have seen growth and motivation that test scores will never show.  So for me, this is just another incentive to keep on keeping on!

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Third Grade 2012-2013

Third Grade 2012-2013.

Animoto video of our year! Edited by one of the students.

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Integrating Technology Into the Classroom

This link will take you to the Prezi written by myself and colleague Amy O’Rear to present to our faculties about technology integration into the classroom.

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April 27, 2013 · 7:30 pm

Filters and Blocks

Just when I thought I was really rolling with my technology integration plan, I ran into a road block. The school system blocked some of my sites.  That is right.  They blocked Goanimate and flickr.com!  Goanimate was blocked due to “adult content.”  Seriously? I wrote the site administrator, asked my principal to call, and had the computer tech call too.  After a week the site is still blocked!

This site was made for educators and classrooms. Another similar site Xtranormal was not blocked.  I had looked into using that site before choosing Goanimate but decided against it because many more types of people were using it, and there were some more adult type content.  Who decides these things?

Since the system has blocked all users (including teachers) to download any type of web content (including an update to adobe….but that would be another blog topic), I have been importing pictures students are taking onto their computers using a flash drive.  I decided to use flickr as an easier way for students to get their own content.  I created a classroom site and set it to private.  And yes, the system has blocked flickr because it is a “computer system.”

Integrating technology has been challenging enough without the added worry of some abstract way of blocking content for my class. The key is educating students on Internet safety.  I am ready to go downtown to the “big dogs” and have a discussion before this next school year begins.  My class and I have been working very hard these last few months, learning together as a team. They know that they are helping me decide what works and what needs to be changed to make my third grade class more successful with technology next year.  We need our school administrators to be on the same team too.

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