Week 1: Overview, Self-Assessment, ISTE Standards

For the first class, we went over the course overview, introduced ourselves using an avatar, took two self-assessments on ISTE standards for students and ISTE standards for teaching, and began to set up our WordPress blog. It was a lot of information to take in, and I left feeling very overwhelmed and excited for what I will be learning.

The course overview was helpful because it gave me a good idea of what types of assignments I’ll be asked to do, a sample of the tools we’ll be using in class, and how we’ll spend our face to face time. We all viewed the shared course OneNote notebook online to see how it is organized. There are certain tabs where we can all see what each other has posted, “the collaboration space,” and there are separate tabs for each of us that are only for our own use. A benefit of using OneNote is that we all have access to it on our computers at work and it is organized and easy to navigate.

Next, we had about fifteen minutes to create an avatar that represented us and showed our “superhero power,” when it comes to teaching. This was a quick, creative way to let us get to know each other a little bit on our first day of class. Many of the avatars also made us laugh, which is always a bonus.

We then took two self-assessments that were posted on the OneNote, based on the ISTE standards for students and teachers. We gave ourselves a score of 1-3 for each substandard of the ISTE standards. 1 meant I exhibit the skill very infrequently or never, 2 was sometimes, and 3 meant often. This was VERY eye-opening for me. I had already been exposed to the Tech standards for students last Spring, and again this Fall during our district LEAP time, however, actually taking a closer look at the sub-skills made me realize how extensive they really are. My first reaction in doing my self-assessment was a sense of shame or embarrassment because I found myself inputing all ones, with a smattering of twos :/ A few colleagues and I discussed how, sadly, sometimes we assume some other teacher is in charge of teaching the students tech standards, like the librarian, or… someone who isn’t me. I have been guilty of this, especially because I do not have access to much technology in my classroom.

When completing the self-assessment on how well I am demonstrating each teacher ISTE standard, my spirits rose just a little. I do use technology tools quite a bit when it comes to collaborating with my colleagues, engaging in data teams, keeping track of resources to use with my students, planning lessons, and communicating with families. Major areas for improvement were inspiring student creativity using technology tools, designing digital learning experiences for my students,  and being a leader in technology at my school (components of ISTE Teacher Standards 1, 2 and 5). To be honest, I do not even know what my students are capable of creating using technology because I have never provided them with the opportunity to do so.

As I was taking each assessment, I was trying to imagine what an activity might look like that demonstrated a particular standard in my classroom setting. At times, this was very difficult because of the nature of what I teach. As a Safety Net reading intervention teacher, I am expected to use scripted, direct-instruction materials with my small groups. I do not have access to netbooks and I have just last week finally gotten an ActivBoard in my room (hooray!). The few times I have had students bring netbooks to reading group have been for the purpose of practicing for the SBA. I quickly learned that most of that class period (only 30 minutes) would be spent helping the students log in and find the correct program, leaving only a few minutes to actually engage in the learning. Because I have such limited time with each of my students as it is, I haven’t been hankering to use the netbooks for other purposes. I do realize, though, that I probably don’t know half of the tools that could be applied to a small literacy group setting.

This brings me to why I was feeling excited about this course. I understand the value of being tech-savvy and exposing my students to a variety of technology tools. I want to provide opportunities for them to demonstrate their learning in creative ways using technology. I am willing to try new things in my groups, even if it goes outside of our routine and the curricula I am supposed to use, as long as it is beneficial and meaningful. I am hesitant to use more technology just for the sake of using more technology, or checking off an ISTE standard. If using a particular technology tool would actually grant further access to the content to more students, then I’m all in.

My hope for this course is that, through our explorations of different technology tools and discussions with colleagues, I will walk away with tools I know how to use and feel confident they will benefit my students. I want to be able to more clearly imagine activities that get my kids’ hands on technology that I can seamlessly embed in what I already do everyday.

For the last 15 minutes of class this week, we had time to begin setting up our WordPress blogs. We added categories for each Teacher Leadership standard so that we can associate each blog post with one or more standard that it relates to. Besides the fact that this is a requirement for the program, it will be hugely helpful in keeping our work organized throughout the next two years. Too, I find blogging a great way to exercise my writing skills that have been a bit dormant since undergraduate college.

I have much to learn in this course and I am glad it is during our first quarter. I am guessing that strategies I learn now will come in handy throughout the program.

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