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Final Reflection Paper

Final Reflection Paper Heidi L. Gascon CEP 815 Michigan State University

Final Reflection Paper

With two thirds of the MAET program complete, my personal connections and future goals related to educational technology have deepened. While many topics were explored this summer, two key ideas, how students learn and building motivation to learn, stuck with me the most. Additionally, the topics that will influence my future in the field include building a technology toolbox and sharing my knowledge with others. This reflection will identify how the knowledge Ive gained in this summer will impact my future as an educator. Looking Back When looking back at this summer, the details I recall the most relate fall into two main categories; how to deepen student understanding and the importance of building student motivation to learn. Both topics are important to my teaching and students. Understanding Understanding My job as an educator is to help students gain and construct knowledge. One way students learn is by connecting concepts to past experiences. As Shulman(1999) described in the article, What is learning and what does it look like when it doesnt go well, The first influence on new learning is not what teachers do pedagogically but the learning that is already inside the learner (p.1). In my own classroom, I observe students making deeper connections with topics that build on prior knowledge. Piagets idea of assimilation, fitting new facts into what you already know, and accommodation, the idea that students arent blank slates, are important to remember

Final Reflection Paper

when teaching a new concept. Piaget and the Cognitive Theories of Development also recognize the importance of building knowledge frameworks. Using schema and chunking to organize knowledge makes things easier to remember. A personal example which relates to understanding understanding comes from my first teaching job. To support a high ESL population, our district focused on Marzanos book Classroom Instruction That Works (2001). At the time I had a baseline understanding of the effectiveness of his strategies. As Ive advanced myself as an educator, experiences in my own classroom as well as professional development opportunities have helped me understand the effectiveness of Marzanos strategies at a deeper level. This one of many personal experiences used to solidify my understanding that knowledge that sticks when it is built on prior knowledge. In Chapter 20: The theory behind disciplined inquiry, Levstik & Barton (1997) identify that research on learning and instruction consistently shows that when school experiences arent linked to prior understanding, students learn very little (p.12). The article, Teaching that sticks by Chip Heath & Dan Heath (2007) suggests that in order for information to stick it needs to be simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and a story, or SUCCESS. While the acronym used to remember these ideas may be cheesy, the ideas are solid. In the future, I will remember to cover less information more completely, present topics in an exploratory way, make abstract concepts more concrete, help student experience learning, make learning an emotional experience, and present information as if it is a story. Each will stimulate the brain and help my students understand.

Final Reflection Paper

Another topic that Ive connected with this summer that will impact student understanding is aesthetic teaching. According to a study by Mark Girod (2011) teaching aesthetically allows students to explore topics, share experiences with the topic and fosters a deeper understanding because of this personal connection. Analogies and metaphors used in aesthetic teaching are also identified as one of Marzanos effective teaching strategies that can be used build deeper understanding. While creating analogies is a difficult task for first graders, metaphors and analogies can be used in my instruction. Currently, I use the Lucy Calkins writing curriculum which uses metaphors to teach writing concepts. Altering my instruction slightly can lead to more aesthetic learning opportunities in all subject areas. In Chapter 2: Understanding Understanding, Wiggins and McTighe (1998) recognize that to be truly able requires the ability to transfer what we have learned to new and sometimes confusing settings(p.5). Connecting the learning to prior experiences and using aesthetic pedagogy in the classroom are effective ways to build understanding as they facilitate the transfer of knowledge from short term to long term memory. Student motivation Another concept that has been brought to my attention this summer that I ve personally connected with is student motivation to learn. In the article, Media for inquiry, communication, construction, and expression, Dewey (2011) states that student learning is enhanced when the natural impulses of the child, inquiry, communi cation and expression, are enhanced. In the future, I will guide my instruction towards more

Final Reflection Paper

student centered learning opportunities. While it may take a bit of time to structure this type of learning environment, the result will be higher motivation to learn. Praise, if used effectively, it can build intrinsic motivation to learn, according to Carol S. Dweck(1999) in her article, Caution- Praise can be dangerous. Dweck identifies that students who had been praised for effort told us they thought of intelligence more in terms of their skills, knowledge and motivation (p.3). In my own classroom, I will continue to praise effort because I have seen the negative effects that other types of praise can have on a child. Tasks which require a high level of challenge and skill will help students achieve the ultimate learning experience, or FLOW, as described by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly. Creative learning opportunities, categorized as being novel, effective and whole, also build motivation. The quietest, most focused times in my classroom are times creativity is being using. Writing, which allows self expression, is one of the most peaceful times in my classroom. When students are creating projects on the iPad or art projects, the classroom is buzzing with excitement and focus. Creativity, early feedback that supports effort, assigning just right tasks, helping students find personal meaning and value in their work, and an open and positive classroom atmosphere will build student motivation to learn.

Looking forward Looking towards the next five years of my career and beyond, the key topics that will be important to me are building an educational technology toolbox and sharing the knowledge Ive gained through the MAET program with others. Both require the supp ort

Final Reflection Paper

of my personal learning network and will influence my future as an educational technology leader. Building a Tech Toolbox Building a technology toolbox will be an essential part of progressing in the educational technology field. All of the technology resources Im currently aware of are stored in various areas including personal web portfolios, bookmarking sites, Pinterest, written up on my classroom website, or stored within the Bookmarks bar of my web browser. Most recently, technologies Ive learned about this summer from daily tech tips and discussions are floating around somewhere in my working memory, just waiting to transfer to long term understanding. These resources include teaching blogs, websites, and online journals which are at the risk of being lost forever with the crash of a computer or site. When considering where to store these resources I must think of the purpose of building a technology toolkit. First of all, I want a place a place set aside to organize the tools for future reference. Second, I want to have this information readily available to share with others. Creating a web page which is stored on the cloud will allow for both of these things. The tools used in educational technology are constantly changing, something Ive realized even more after taking a summer off from the program. Sites that I used in the Year 1 cohort are being replaced with more advanced tools and apps. Creating a technology toolbox will give me the opportunity to highlight the latest, more effective apps and Web 2.0 tools. In order to be a strong leader in educational technology, I need

Final Reflection Paper

to continue to broaden my research to all devices and grade levels in order to build a well rounded resource for myself and others. My personal learning network will play an important role in the development of this resource. Since starting the MAET program, Ive consulted my PLN for support. Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest provide places to share ideas and knowledge with friends, coworkers and people I dont even know. Social media and bookmarking sites open communication with others in the field and their opinions. If I were to research articles and technologies alone for my technology toolbox, I would not have a very good perspective on how other educators feel about the tools. A tool that I like may not be preferred by others. The benefit of using my PLN will provide me with a variety of resources that are currently being used in schools. Communication with my PLN will lead to an in depth understanding of each tools constraints and affordances. This understanding will be shared with others through an annotation. Annotations will be short because teachers are busy and will be more likely to use the tool if they are offered a quick snapshot of the tools purpose and classroom applications. While the website will house many technology tools, the most important part of this toolbox will be helping others understand effective ways to integrate these tools. The first page of the technology toolbox will present the TPACK and the Samr model along with steps for technology integration; Step 1: Identify the learning outcome, Step 2: Determine the most effective pedagogy to support the content, and Step 3: Choose the technology to support the learning. To stress the importance of this scaffolded approach, each tools annotation will include classroom implications which foster the

Final Reflection Paper

TPACK and advanced levels of the Samr model. Presenting ways to use the tools effectively will hopefully change the way teachers think about their use of technology in the classroom. Sharing my Technology Knowledge Since starting the MAET program, I have gained a wealth of knowledge about educational technology. This deeper understanding has lead to an increased use of technology in my own classroom and a desire to share my knowledge with others. While students in my classroom have benefited my from participation in the MAET program, at this point in my career, I realize the potential to impact more students. The creation of the technology toolbox will foster communication of my knowledge with others. The knowledge I share will be structured around the Samr and TPACK frameworks. While various tools will be presented to teachers, my goal is use these two models to build awareness of the effective uses of technology. The Samr model will help teachers recognize that there are various levels of technology integration. In my school, and most likely others, the most predominant use of technology in lies at the substitution stage. My focus will be to help others realize the importance of moving up towards redefinition. TPACK will also play an important role in how I present the tools. A future goal is to help teachers understand the need to combine content, pedagogy and technology in order to provide the ultimate learning environment for students. With the Samr and TPACK framework in mind, I will provide various levels of support to help teachers build 21st century skills in their students.

Final Reflection Paper

Initially, my personal learning network will provide a platform to share my passion for educational technology. As I add resources to the toolbox, I can share these ideas with personal learning networks created through Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. As the technology toolbox grows, I can take a more vocal approach to sharing through professional development opportunities. Im sure my administrator would be thrilled if I offered to facilitate technology professional development as a way to enhance technology use in our school. I can also share knowledge with others by attending and presenting at various technology conferences including MSUs College of Education Technology Conference, Macul, and Maculs Student Technology Showcase. These conferences will open communication with fellow educators who are passionate about educational technology and will open many doors to my future as an educator. Ultimately, I can see myself moving out of the classroom and into a leadership role as a career. I love teaching first grade, but I feel like I have the power to impact so many more people if I open myself up to a different position. When I initially went into education, I wanted to share my enthusiasm for learning with others. This next step will still hold true to this ideal, but on a larger scale. After looking backward and looking forward, I can see how much I have grown as an educator in the past month and a half. I feel as though I have a more solid understanding of understanding and student motivation and that I have the potential to reach many people by sharing this knowledge with others. While I d ont know exactly where Ill be in five years, I know that the resources I have learned this summer will follow me throughout my career as an educator.

Final Reflection Paper

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References Dewey, J. / Bruce, B.C. & Levin, J.A. (2011). Media for Inquiry, Communication, Construction, and Expression. Dweck, C. (1999). Caution: Praise can be dangerous. American Educator, 23(1), 4-9. Girod, M. (2001). Teaching for aesthetic understanding (modified from dissertation). Heath, C. and Heath, D. (2007). Teaching That Sticks. Levstik, L.S. & Barton, K.C. (1997). The theory behind disciplined inquiry. Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D., & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, Va: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Shulman, L. (1999). What is learning and what does it look like when it doesnt go well. Change, 31(4), 10-17. Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (1998). Understanding by Design. Alexandria , VA : Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Chapter 2: Understanding understanding.