Final Reflection

The field experience for this course was different than any other field experience I have had. The ability to collaborate with not only the students within my own class but with ones from another school added a whole new level of perspective. The platform of blogging is an exciting way to communicate within the newer realms of technology. I truly enjoyed being able to discuss information with students who had different viewpoints and as well were at different levels academically.

Collaboration is the key to any type of discussion and being a part of the LGBTQI discussion group was truly eye opening. Being in a classroom means that I encounter LGBTQI issues quite often. It was extremely beneficial to hear other teachers’ viewpoints from their own classrooms and experiences they had encountered. Working in the LGBTQI group proved difficult in the beginning for me. To be completely honest I was not well versed in terminology as well as information. I found myself looking a lot of things up in order to figure out how to appropriately write in the group. I never wanted to seem uneducated about the topic we were working with. The other issue that I ran into was my ability to make objectives toward that community when I felt that I myself did not know enough about the topics.

When our group met it was usually through texting or Google Docs. Texting made it easy to constantly stay in touch within group chat mode in order to make sure everyone was on track and completing the assignment on time. The google doc was our way of ensuring that all of the content we needed to provide was all together. Thankfully so many of the group members were very understanding and some equally as busy as I was. It was great collaborating through text and google docs in order to ensure that we all were able to complete the assignment without needing to talk at the exact same time every day. I could add part after work and then another member could add something first thing in the morning. It was extremely valuable having these other members and teachers include their input because it made me more well versed in the material. Every person put in a great amount of effort and I was able to collaborate well because they were always readily available.

One thing I took away from the group project was how many teachers and professionals are not well versed in information about the LGBTQI community. I know for a fact that I did not know enough information and it proved that I was not the only one. I hope that with my knowledge that my group has shared with me and I have learned from these past four weeks that I can implement a community of inclusion within my classroom and within my life.

-Catherine Niebuhr

Final Reflection

Throughout this course I have been exposed to many new perspectives and aspects of social justice. More than any other assignment however, the field experience and group work is what was really significant for me. It was by no means a simple task but creating our own set of social justice objectives took a good amount of research and collaboration. The goal was to come up with a set of objectives so that anyone who read and followed them would be effectively enforcing a socially just classroom and/or work environment. Working with group members made this experience much more effective in that we were able to bounce ideas off of one another and suggest small changes to each others objectives when necessary .

What I thought was the most difficult aspect of the group work was to come up with educational games that could help others understand ELL learners while also having a content connection. This really tested me as a technology professional and a teacher in general as I had to get creative to make some tools meet the criteria. Meaning that while I did find some games that fit the bill and should work great in a classroom, I also found some great tools, not meant to be games, that could be implemented as such for an educational purpose. I think the rest of the group also found finding just the right games to be difficult as well but overall we came together and were able to help each other finalize our list of games.

The last aspect of the group work, making recommendations on the lesson plans for EDU 577 students, was what I enjoyed most. It was interesting to see what the other students had in mind in terms of implementing lesson plans that incorporated social justice aspects. All of the lessons I reviewed were very well done and I was impressed with some of the ideas used. I really just tried to work off of their pre-existing ideas to enhance the lesson with technology that lead into social justice components. The rest of the group also had some excellent recommendations which I may even try to use in my own classroom.

Our group almost always interacted by using the group discussion board and using google docs to help streamline all of our ideas and contributions. I thought it was a great way of doing things and it helped to accommodate everyone’s busy schedule. Even though we all had different things to do, I could always pop into the google doc if I had some free time to add some feedback or post one of my games or lesson recommendations. Everyone seemed to work together efficiently and I don’t think there were any conflicts whatsoever. Everything really operated in a professional manner and I think our final products showed that.

Overall, I always believe that group work is an excellent way to foster higher level learning. I believe that students who truly care about what they are learning are usually excited to work with others who feel the same way. As a math teacher and a future technology professional I have gained some invaluable insights on social justice and education in general, not only in the past 4 weeks but throughout the entire course. I hope to take what I have experienced and share it with both my class and my colleagues to continue to improve as an educator and spread good practice to others.

Course Reflection

Technology is an integral part of our every day lives.  This course allowed me to consider instructional design principles and methods for planning and delivering an effective learning environment using technology.  In order to execute a successful learning environment, I had to maintain a current and extensive repertoire of digital tools and resources.  This experience laid the foundation for me to be able to provide feedback to peers on their lesson plans.  This course design incorporated what it means to be an educational technology specialist.

When tasked with providing a fellow colleague feedback on technology integration, I found that it was a challenge at first.  It took time and careful consideration to find an appropriate balance of staying true to my colleague’s lesson design, but also building upon that to make for a richer learning experience for students.  In order to find that balance, it required me to research the listed objectives in isolation and then examine how those objected linked to the lesson design.  When I found gaps, I was able to find a way to suggest a technology tool to fill those gaps.  Technology also made it possible to engage students in a multi-modal way.

Working with a group of Technology Specialists towards the end of the semester has proven to be a valuable experience.  Each individual in my group brought their own perspective and expertise to the table when discussion issues at end.  Together, we gave one another constructive feedback on our presented designs and content.  Each member played in role in helping me to expand my technology tool repertoire, consider opposing views, and deliver meaningful content to others.

This course pushed me to consider aspects of instructional design that I had previously gone unnoticed.  It has been a valuable learning experience working with each and every one of you.  I continue to be impressed by the caliber of peers I have the pleasure of working with throughout this program.

Reflection

Throughout my coursework in EDUC 581, I have had many worthwhile experiences that have enhanced my understanding of social justice and how to use technology to better convey the topic to students. Working with undergraduate students through our fieldwork has given me an insightful perspective of what it means to be a Technology Specialist. Reviewing lesson plans and making recommendations to incorporate technology was something that I have not had experience doing until this course. There are a plethora of tools and programs I have learned about through the program. The opportunity to make recommendations taught me how to connect what I have learned throughout my coursework to real-world lessons and curriculum. It was sometimes difficult to be able to connect and apply the EdTech tools but I have learned to be a successful Technology Specialist one must be creative and see lesson through a different (technology) lens. The role also requires a lot of research and ingenuity. Reviewing games and finding different applications that connected to the topic of social justice showed me how many resources are available and how to identify if they are a good match for the topic. A good Technology Specialist should build a metaphorical ‘toolbox’ of EdTech resources. The more ‘tools’ the better equipped a technology specialist will be. Throughout this course, I began to make a document of all the technology tools I have learned about. I have begun to categorize the resources into subgroups and have noted successful ways to implement them into the classroom. There are so many ways that technology can enhance the standards and topics that are being taught in the classroom, and as Technology Specialist, one is responsible for identifying the best tool to bring the topics to life.

Working with a team of Technology Specialists was also a wonderful experience. As I said, being a technology specialist requires a person to look at material through a creative and technological lens. While working with the ELL group and participating in the discussion board each week, I found that my classmates were able to be resourceful and create recommendations that I did not necessarily think of at first. Working collaboratively allowed me to view the lessons and topics from a different perspective. It also gave me many new resources and tools for my Technology Specialist ‘toolbox’. This experience taught me that collaboration is key and it is imperative to discuss challenging topics and pedagogy with our colleagues. Our students, especially ELL students, come to class with many different experiences and challenges each day. Speaking to other people in the profession helped me to create new values and goals for my teaching practices. By doing this, I am able to better support my students in the future and have a better understanding of their daily lives.

Overall, this was a wonderful course and I have learned so much from of each of you, and of course you, Lee. Thanks for an amazing semester!

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

Field Experience Reflection

The field experience in this course allowed me to consider how technology can be integrated into the curriculum to address social justice issues. I enjoyed the opportunity to interact with our peers as we created standards, reviewed games and created recommendations for lesson plans. Each of these assignments gave me the chance to think about my role as a future instructional technology specialist. The social justice issues discussed during this portion of the course will definitely have an impact on the way I design lessons in the future. I look forward to incorporating some of the objectives into my classroom and thinking about lesson design in a more critical manner.

I realized during this process that creating objectives related to social justice issues must be an intentional step in the design process. My group created objectives related to students of color and concentrated on how to encourage students to embrace diversity and recognize the value of others’ differences. Reviewing online games to simulate walking in another’s shoes was particularly interesting to me. Prior to this assignment, I didn’t know that games of this nature existed. Not only do the games examined by my group provide a tool for teaching issues of social justice, they each could be integrated into ELA, math, science or social studies curriculums. Creating recommendations for lesson plans that related to specific objectives was a little bit of a difficult task. This was tough because the teachers who wrote the lessons plans had already taken time to include social justice issues and technology into their lessons. As a group, we made sure to give at least one recommendation for each objective and included as much technology as possible.

Throughout this four week process, technology made it easy to interact with my group members. For each task we initially discussed how we would complete the assignments through a text message. We then used both a collaborative document on OneDrive and the discussion board on Blackboard to share our ideas. The text message allowed us to informally share our thoughts before compiling them in a word processing document. As we completed work together, I tried to be efficient in my submission of ideas and clear in the way I explained my thinking. I did my best to remain positive and be an equal contributor on all tasks. Overall, I think our group worked well together throughout this process.

Field Experience Reflection

The field experience was valuable for me in that I am always looking for ways to better incorporate social justice into my classroom. This experience allowed me to explore resources but also look deeper to find more concrete objectives for how I want social justice lessons to take place in my classroom. My group’s topic for the field experience was students of color. As my school district becomes more and more diverse, I felt that this was a helpful topic to explore further. I teach economics, so I feel that I can easily tie social justice into my lessons and even did so in my own classroom during this experience. I created a lesson using resources from Teaching Tolerance about the cycle of poverty. I was also able to incorporate some of the games that my group reviewed, such as Spent and Third World Farmer. Both are extremely useful games to help students understand the perspective of someone who is experiencing financial hardships, and quite often, they are students of color. During the lesson, students were given several tables of data, showing demographics about unemployment and AP class enrollment nation-wide. While designing the lesson plan, I tried to keep our objectives in mind because what would be the point of coming up with them if we weren’t going to put them to use. They made me think more critically about design and I was more thoughtful in what I wanted the outcome of the lesson to be. Ultimately my students created infographics that explained the cycle of poverty and they were really great! This field experience was helpful in providing me with more resources and opening my eyes to ways of finding more resources to use. My group worked well together over the course of the four weeks. We were all incredibly busy with outside work going on, but we texted as often as we could, providing updates on the status of our assignments. It seems like each of us just naturally took turns taking charge of each assignment, stepping up to lead the rest through, which was very productive. We were able to put our ideas together nicely through the class blog and sharing documents on our One Drives. Working with other educators is nice because we are all in the same boat and understand how busy we all are. Reviewing the social justice plans was the biggest challenge for us as a group overall. I think for me personally, I am more comfortable giving feedback to my students than I am to my peers. I know that I know what I am talking about when I give feedback to my students, but I definitely need to work on building my confidence up to the same level with giving feedback to my peers. That of course will come with time. I think it was very good practice because the purpose of the task was to prepare us for our future in aspects like tech coaching.