Tag Archives: student motivation

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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Observations of My First Week Flipped

What a week this has been! This has been the most thrilling and motivational yet frustrating weeks for myself and perhaps my students.  We really took the plunge into technology integration this week.  And I do mean we. We worked together as a class to discuss objectives, help each other, problem solve, and assess our learning.

I started out this week with a list of objectives on the board.  We had to review syllables and spelling patterns, finding and comparing character traits in stories, writing a persuasive argument using information from a text to support our case, and review figurative language. To accomplish each objective, we would integrate technology.  To assess if we were successful, we were required to take an online unit test established by our reading publisher.

First I established the students’ blogs.  This is where we would publish all of our created material.  If you can in any way, please visit and check out some of their blogs.  This was probably the greatest motivation the students had all week. They knew their work would be published “World Wide”, and they were thrilled.

http://justatechyteacher.edublogs.org/

We incorporated Wordles to review our spelling words and uploaded those into our blogs. We wrote persuasive paragraphs directly onto our blogs. And I must say the students were extra careful with spelling, punctuation, and grammar.  I also allowed them a chance to create a Voki character to talk about what they loved about third grade. My goal there was to teach some of my more “techy” students how to embed and to help others.

While all of my students had the opportunity to create a cartoon demonstrating their ability to locate information in a story and ask questions, only a few were able to complete that assignment.  They were too anxious to play with the technology and they rushed through the preparation part of the assignment. In retrospect, I should have allowed the time for students to play with the technology first, and then assigned them a topic.

Our formal assessment went well. The class average for the unit test was around 77%. I would have liked the average to be higher, but I learned a few pointers this week too.  Some of my students still need that extra support of more concrete assignments before assigning creative or abstract written work.  For example, a few of my students had trouble writing questions or turning their statements of information they read into a question.  I had to work with them on that before they could make the cartoon.

I have always believed in what some may consider a busy classroom with students working together collaboratively.  This week was even “busier” than ever. I had students at different levels of technology knowledge, hardware issues, content questions etc.  One of the most pleasing things I noticed about this week were that the students did not need to be assigned a partner or a team.  They really worked together, offered to help each other, and walked around the room asking each other questions. That was awesome!  However, I did have maybe one or two students who took advantage of this time and did not work. I am going to have to work to decrease this response.

With only a few weeks left of school, I am so eager to try all of this with my class.  I knew going into this week I was introducing more technology tools than should be started in one week.  I would not advise anyone introducing so many different technologies at one time unless you have either a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of patience, someone to help, or some serious down time when you get home.  But I have a good clue of where I am going starting next year.

I can’t stop now! Even if I wanted to stop and go backwards, my class would not let me. They are having fun. They are learning. They are helping each other. And isn’t that what school should be all about?

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Filed under Technology Integration Stories

Wisdom From Nike: Just Do It

So April 1, 2013 I put my plan into action. Since I seem to be going against the grain, starting on April Fool’s Day is almost fitting. I took all my classroom reading objectives for the week and found technology we could use in the classroom to replace worksheets…..the staple of the Pearson environment.  I wrote the objectives on the board and told my class the plan. In 17 years of teaching, I have never seen a class so excited!

My first goal was to introduce them to a form of Wordle called Tagxedo. I found Tagxedo easier to save. We were creating word pictures and having fun with our spelling words in no time! My next goal was a little loftier. I introduced them to our classroom blog.

I have to say I did not expect the excitement of the class over a blog! I mean, a blog means writing, and my class has not been overzealous about writing. We brainstormed together what our first post should be, knowing that their writing would be published to the world prompted correct sentences, grammar, punctuation, everything! They helped each other. They helped me! The class did not want to go to PE because they wanted to stay and work on their blogs. (Of course I made them go so I could catch my breathe).

Did we bet all of our Wordles and blogs published? No. But we will. We learned together. My class was a talking, working, organized group of learners yesterday. I can honestly say it was the best, most productive day ever. Every student was engaged every moment. I call that day a success.

http://tagxedo.com/

 

 

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