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Integrated Curriculum

July 14, 2013 Leave a comment

My students have an alarming tendency to compartmentalize their classes.  They aren’t prepared to discuss science in English class or math in history class.  Some of them are quite uncomfortable when asked to do so.  I think this is partly because teachers don’t integrate curriculum so students are out of practice with it.  Also, they walk in to English with a set of expectations that do not include being graded for math.  So, educators do need to break down some barriers and stereotypes to get the students on board.  It doesn’Jigsaw Geographyt usually take me long to get them to understand how English and history are related.  But why is this important?  Because life is not compartmentalized.  If school is about teaching the skills students need for life, then they should expect to use those skills in ways they would in life.  This means that educators need to teach students how to recall prior knowledge regardless of discipline when the knowledge is needed.

Integrating curriculum seems so important and, yet, is so rarely done on purpose.  Why is that?  Maybe because I have Aug-May to teach skills that will master a set of standards, and I could easily take twice that time.  Also, I am unsure how math or physics is going to enhance the English curriculum to meet those standards.  So, I am a bit gun shy about turning over my time to another discipline.  That being said, I have always thought that integrating curriculum was a must.  I cannot teach English without engaging with history and language.  Perhaps some teachers can do this, but I feel that we need to have a solid idea of the time in which literature is set and when it was written.  Authors are a product of their environment like everyone else, so we should know what that environment was like.  It’s fairly easy to integrate English and history.  The harder part is to integrate other subjects that don’t seem as involved, science and math come to mind.  However, when I think about it, the scholars and writers of the past were also the philosophers and the scientists.  They knew how to write and speak multiple languages.  So perhaps the disciplines are more closely tied than I first thought.

I think the biggest challenge of integration is to get an entire group of teachers and administrators to see the benefits of interdisciplinary projects.  There is much at stake if the project fails and students can’t perform on standardized tests because the curriculum failed them.  I dislike using the standardized test as the benchmark of success, but that’s what’s done whether I see the value or not.  So, the challenge is to get the teachers to discuss and find value in an interdisciplinary project and then propose an integrated project to administration.  This means that much work has to be done before going to admin.  However, this is a crucial step to ensure that all the teachers are on board with a project and plan to contribute and work through it in their own classes.  If even one teacher drops the ball, the project could die.  I am currently working on an integrated curriculum project with the AP history teacher.  I see where I can and should do more, which means that I need to make some plans and add some activities to enhance the project.  It takes planning!  I think that’s the issue.  Teachers are all so busy that no one wants to add to the amount of planning we all do daily.  Using some success stories as inspiration should help everyone see that the planning is worth it.  The way to get the interdisciplinary project started at my school is to start it!

EDTECH 543: My Positive Digital Footprint

October 1, 2012 2 comments

As I prepare to write my plan for a positive digital footprint, I feel I must make a confession.  I don’t share.  I am an intensely private person, which has made social networking a bit of a challenge for me.  I just don’t feel that people I don’t know need to know so much information about me.  I subscribe to a private Facebook page that I’ve had for years, but the privacy is so tight that even my friends with my email address can’t always find me.  Time for another confession; I like it that way.

One of my goals in taking this course was to help me see more value in sharing and connecting over social networking channels.  I realize that I have a valuable voice in the education field but I am the only one who hears it now.  To that end, I need to change my attitude toward social networking.  My plan for developing a positive digital footprint and managing my online reputation is more about getting started than it is about management as I feel that the starting point is my biggest hurdle.

My plan is to:

  1. Completely fill out the profiles on my various sites.  I have profiles on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google + that are in various states of completion.  However, there is quite a bit of information missing from them.  People can’t know me if I don’t let them.  I need to fill out my profiles to link “me” to the accounts I have online.
  2. Ensure that the profiles that I build are positive and flattering.  McGinnis (2012) notes that I should also link to positive assets on other sites.  So, I will make sure that I link my positive aspects from one site to another.  I tend to be most active on Twitter and Facebook, so I will link activity there to my profiles and pages on Google + and YouTube.
  3. Create a Google Alert on my name to alert me to any searches done on my name.  I need to see when others search for me to establish trends and patterns in searching.  Also, Zupek (2009) warns that we need to be aware of “cyber twins.”  So, I will make sure that I keep track of other people with my name so that I can defend against anything negative others do.  While I can’t change what is written online about other people with my name, I can ensure that I distance myself from them through information on my profile like city, schools, affiliations, etc.
  4. Keep information current.  I am more of an online lurker than anything else.  I rarely post on Facebook and Twitter though I check them regularly.  In order to brand myself positively, I need to participate.  I will not be able to build a brand and become known for my name and my platform if I don’t participate.  This is a big step for me.  While those who know me can attest that I am far from shy, I don’t always feel that my information is worthy of world recognition.  I now understand that part of making my presence known is letting those who don’t know me see my personality and my strengths through my online contributions.
  5. Avoid following and making relationships with people and institutions that will reflect poorly on me.  I don’t want to be judged by my association with an unprofessional or immoral person or group.  Avoiding those associations should reflect well upon me both professionally and personally by showing that I carefully consider those whom I associate with online.  This adds to my online presence and builds integrity into my brand.
  6. Create content that reflects who I am professionally and socially.  As a student in an Educational Technology program, I have plenty to say about education, teaching, and learning that would contribute to my positive image as a valuable member of my online community.  Zupek (2009) suggests to “make your content useful.”  As a teacher, I do have knowledge that I can impart to others.  Instructional information builds my brand as a person who has knowledge and shares it willingly in a spirit of community.
  7. Build my personal brand by using my name.  I need to tag images and content with my name to help increase my online presence and showcase my affiliations.  This also credits me with the good participation that I perform online.
  8. Make online content public.  I know that everything on my YouTube channel is listed as private.  This is for several reasons.  I don’t check this channel frequently, so I didn’t want to have information online that others would comment upon and require my input.  I now see that this action isn’t helping my brand, so I plan to ensure that all my presentations and online information is public and tagged with my name.
  9. Consolidate my accounts under the same name.  For some reason my Twitter and Facebook accounts are named differently.  I don’t think this was a conscious choice by me.  My Twitter account is my first and middle initials and last name.  So, it’s not too far off; however, the difference in names doesn’t help me become recognized as a personal brand.
  10. Search for myself regularly to see what data is returned.  Once I get my profiles established and begin to post meaningful information, my online presence will increase.  I will need to begin actively protecting my online image.  I need to search for myself to ensure that my information is correct and that it reflects the professional person that I want to the world to see.  If negative information is found, I can take steps to eliminate or mitigate the damage.
  11. Ensure that I am visible on the sites that rank highly with Google (Ensha, 2009).  By creating accounts with the sites that return higher in Google, I can ensure that I am driving the positive information to the top of the search.  Admittedly, I don’t participate much online.  This means that there isn’t any negative information out there about me.  So driving the positive information isn’t about covering up past damage; it’s about creating an online persona that I can be proud to call my own.

References

Ensha, A. (2009). How to manage your reputation online. Retrieved from: http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/22/how-to-manage-your-reputation-online/

McGinnis, S. (2012). Online reputation management: A how-to guide. Retrieved from: http://spinsucks.com/communication/online-reputation-management-a-how-to-guide/

Zupek, R. (2009). Build a digital footprint you can be proud of. Retrieved from: http://msn.careerbuilder.com/Article/MSN-2045-Job-Info-and-Trends-Build-a-Digital-Footprint-You-Can-Be-Proud-Of/?cbsid=f3e15c07ff4941689640905d8b03cc68-310638335-x3-6&sc_extcmp=JS_2045_home1&ArticleID=2045&SiteId=cbmsnhp42045&cbRecursionCnt=3&gt1=23000

EDTECH 541: Acceptable Use Policy

September 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Like many people, I have been required to sign my employer’s Acceptable Use Policy statement, sometimes on a yearly basis.  The nature of human beings dictates that some people can and will use resources poorly.  In response to the poor use of technology, institutions have had to implement policies that dictate the proper use of their resources.

My understanding of the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is that it simply contains the rules and/or guidelines for using computers and networks belonging to a certain entity.  In my lifetime, I have signed AUPs for several of my employers stating that I will use their technology responsibly, for business purposes, and I will not use resources that might lead to harm.  Harmful resources include visiting sites that might contain viruses, sexually explicit content, or sites where I can make personal judgment statements that my conflict with those of my employer.

AUPs should contain a section that clearly explains the policy to the user.  This includes highlighting consequences should the policy be violated.  The AUP should link back to the general behavior policy of the school or business to show that technology use is linked to expected behaviors.  Also included in the AUP should be a definition and example of use that is approved and acceptable.  This section should also include examples of what is not acceptable use.  For instance, it is not acceptable to visit pornographic sites or sites that contain foul language and inappropriate images.  It may be unacceptable in some institutions for people to visit sites that allow music and movie streaming or even social media sites.  These rules should be clearly stated so that there is no confusion on the part of the user.

In the interest of writing a AUP for a school, students need to know exactly what they can and cannot do.  The AUP should link technology use to the student code of conduct, list acceptable behaviors, and enumerate the consequences for students who do not follow the AUP.   Also, schools need to keep in mind that “media have no intent…people do and the policy is made for people. Real people with real language that can be understood by parents, students, and teachers” (techlearning.com, 2012).  Students generally respond positively to a positive and friendly tone, so writing the AUP in this manner is advisable.

The AUP should simply advise users about their role in using technology responsibly.  Regardless of who the user is, the tone, word choice, and syntax of the document should be easily followed and friendly.

Here are some Acceptable Use Policies that I have become familiar with:

Boise State University Acceptable Use Policy

Google Gmail Acceptable Use Policy

Flickr Acceptable Use Policy

Arizona Department of Education Acceptable Use Policy

Reference:

Tech & Learning. (2012, June 3). Looking to create a social media or BYOD policy? Look no further. Retrieved from: http://www.techlearning.com/Default.aspx?tabid=67&EntryId=4355

Technology Use Planning Overview

November 7, 2011 Leave a comment

The term “technology use planning” can best be described as an ongoing, fluid plan for how to use technology in education.  The planning includes the budgetary and spatial requirements for technology as well as the plan for implementation of those technologies.  The idea of technology use planning assumes incorporation of technology but also a careful analysis and plan of how that technology will be used.  John See makes a good point that effective technology plans should be output based starting with the goals or competencies that we want to accomplish rather than the actual technology needed.  This concept is the “planning” part of the process as it assumes a broader knowledge of both the curriculum and the desired learning outcomes (1992).  The technology becomes a vehicle for arriving at that outcome rather than an outcome itself.

The National Educational Technology Plan 2010 can be very effective for technology use planning because it acknowledges several important facts.  One such fact is that students have completely different technology experiences in and out of schools.  There is a disparity between the technology they are allowed to use in school and what they freely use outside of school.  We need to plan for better integration that includes technology that students will encounter in their daily lives.  The NETP also recognizes that faculty need training and support for integrating technology.  It reads, “The best way to prepare teachers for connected teaching is to have them experience it. All institutions involved in preparing educators should provide technology-supported learning experiences that promote and enable the use of technology to improve learning, assessment, and instructional practices.”  We cannot forget that our technology use planning should be focused on the users of the technology.  Anderson notes that a technology plan should be less about computers and more about people (1999).  This is for both planning and execution purposes.  Finally, the NETP includes specific goals and recommended actions that institutions can put into place to help them with their own planning.

I agree with See that plans should be short; however, I think there should be long-term evaluations built into the plan.  For instance, as See mentions, a five-year plan would be completely obsolete five years from now as new technology emerges so quickly that we cannot conceive today of what will be available five years into the future (1999).  However, I believe that we should also have a long-term goal of continually evaluating our technology use plan and making changes to it to address both emerging technologies and the efficacy of the current plan.

I couldn’t agree more that effective plans focus on applications.  I see this daily in my own school.  Our technology is monitored by a person who doesn’t teach and is mostly concerned with accountability for the hardware.  As a result, we have computers available, but we have so severely limited the access to them and their access to applications that they become merely, to use See’s word, keyboards.  As I said above, if we could design our desired outcomes and then plan how to achieve them using technology, education becomes more about the learning and less about face or seat time in front of the technology.

Other than my own teaching, I haven’t had much use with technology use planning.  However, I am constantly amazed and dismayed at the narrow-minded thinking that goes into using technology in education.  I recently had to restrict my students from using electronic devices to access e-books for my literature class. Teachers are not to allow students to use any form of technology except the laptops that we check out on a cart.  I wasn’t told if this was due to bandwidth issues or viruses introduced into our network from outside devices.  Because there was no explanation, it seemed like we are just trying to limit exposure to these devices.  I have students that use electronic dictionaries and thesauri during writing assignments, e-books for in class reading, and i-pads to write papers.  These are devices the students bring with them, and they want to use them!  It’s hard for me to plan for technology use when I am discouraged from allowing students to use technology.

Anderson, L. S. (1999, February). Technology planning: It’s more than computers. Paper to accompany keynote address in Singapore.

See, J. (1992). Developing effective technology plans. The Computing Teacher, 19(8). Retrieved from http://www.nctp.com/html/john_see.cfm

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology. (2010). Transforming American education learning powered by technology. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/technology/netp-2010

RSS Feeds for Education

October 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Hi Everyone,
I loved the RSS assignment. I honestly marvel at people who have the time to search the web for information. I have those friends who must spend hours just searching for the latest articles and videos. Hopefully, they are set up on something like Google Reader because I can’t imagine the time they’d spend without a reader. I really like this option for keeping up to date on the things that I want to know about without having to go find it on a constant basis.
Here’s the link to my shared items:
Darla’s Shared Items

I think that teachers could easily use RSS in the classroom. There could be a class blog posted or moderated by the teacher in which the students all need to subscribe. Similarly, if a class is using a particular weblog for information for course projects, the RSS could simplify the process of accessing required information. Since I am a high school teacher, I am leery of requiring my students to access anything on the web that has any type of insecure information. So, I would have to give a lot of thought to making a RSS feed required.

Students could be subscribers or contributors to a feed. Just as our class has a WordPress bundle, this could be an exciting way for students to become authors and readers of each others work. I also think that students would be encouraged to create blog/journals to reflect on their classwork and or topics of interest to them. So, the RSS feed becomes a great tool for students to use in collaborating and even peer reviewing each others work.

Truly, I feel that the best thing to be gained from knowing and using the RSS is knowledge. I am often completely unattached to the digital world purely because I lack the time to search the net.  Using RSS feeds is a quick way for me to get the information I need from the people or sites I value. It’s a tremendous time saver that delivers knowledge to the reader.

Plagiarism Video

October 2, 2011 Leave a comment

I created this video for EDTECH501.

This is a video between two roommates who are taking the same class in school. One is a good student who understands the rules of plagiarism; the other student just hopes his plagiarism won’t get caught. In this video, I discussed patchwriting, taking another’s work and calling it your own, and not using proper citations. The good student also discusses possible penalties for plagiarism.

Prior to this assignment, I didn’t really put the name patchwriting to it’s action. This is the type of plagiarism I see most as a teacher. I find it interesting that students don’t think of it as unoriginal work because they took the time to patch it together.

Netiquette Rules

September 28, 2011 Leave a comment

In EDTECH 502 last week, we had to write a set of Netiquette rules in Dreamweaver.  The HTML code was tough, but I like the way my page turned out.  As an interesting side note, I created an educational NING for my English students to use as a literature discussion board outside of class.  I was very proud to upload my very own Netiquette page that I wrote with my students in mind!

I am quite proud of my progress so far and very excited to be using my school work so soon!

Darla’s Netiquette Page