Final Reflection

As I look back on EDUC 581 this was the first course that provided the closest look to what I suspect we will be seeing in our careers as Instructional Technology Specialists.  For the first time in the program, we were able to work with other professionals outside of the program and assist them with technology related concerns.  The field experience with undergraduate students was an excellent opportunity for us to get a glimpse of what it would be like to collaborate with others and help with technology integration.  Reflecting back on process of creating standards in my ELL group, it was a worthwhile exercise to do this at the beginning of the group work, as it focused our work for the remainder of the time that we spend together.  Having standards and objectives that we could reflect back on was important for us to streamline our thoughts as a group.  Looking for games that related to ELL topics was interesting for us and I didn’t find it too difficult because a lot of the adventure games available do include traveling in foreign areas, so there is a diversity aspect involved.  We did find a few educational games about adapting into a new culture and how hard it is for immigrants to do so.  In my opinion, the most beneficial work that we did as a group came towards the end of the course as we reviewed lesson plans and then made recommendations for the undergraduate students on how to incorporate technology into their lessons and then sent them back to them.  This gave us the opportunity to do exactly what we will be doing someday in our position as Technology Specialists.  It felt great to help out teachers in training and to suggest some of the technologies and strategies that we have been learning about, and some that we have found success with so far in our few years of experience in the classroom.  I hope that the teacher candidates found this aspect of the course equally as helpful.

It was worthwhile to come together and to collaborate with fellow graduate students and teachers in my group over the past few weeks.  Our source of collaboration was through BlackBoard discussion boards, email and Google Docs.  Being able to collaborate and share ideas with each other had a lasting impact on me, as I have picked up new technological and pedological ideas through working with my group.  It also has helped me think of some of the social justice issues in a new way, having new perspectives and new people to talk to about them and their experiences in their schools and teaching environment.  My time in the Zoom session with the undergraduate students was one of the most eye-opening experiences for me, hearing all of the social justice-related questions and experiences that they brought to the table really opened my eyes to the need that we have as educators: to address and teach social justice just as much as we teach pedagogy and best instructional practices.

As I reflect on ELL students and social justice in general, I learned just how much of an impact that immigration can have on student learning.  Coming into an environment to live, having to try to assimilate your culture into current US culture, all the while attending a new school must be extremely difficult for students.  We talk about basic needs being met before student can learn, and I am not sure how much of student’s basic needs are being met in that situation. I really give ELL students a lot of credit for all that they must deal when walking into schools.

-Michael LaFave

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