Benchmark assignment Essay
Mission and Vision Statement
As an educator, I will incorporate the use of technology in the daily teaching of secondary math principles that will afford my students the opportunity to develop, strengthen, and improve their critical thinking and computation skills; preparing the students of today for the competitive work-world of tomorrow – a work-world that will undoubtedly require the technological skills and expertise that my students received having been in my class - Benchmark assignment Essay introduction. As 21st Century learners, students in my math classes will not only learn formulas for solving math problems, but they will also learn how to find those formulas and develop critical thinking and problem solving strategies using technology made available to them through our school district.
Every student will be given the opportunity to use technological resources such as calculators, overhead projection systems, Smart boards, and computer programs, including but not limited to, interactive and math resource internet sites such as Algebra.com and CoolMath.com. These sites are excellent resources for math students – enabling them to fine tune their computation skills and assist them in correctly identifying and working with various mathematical formulas. A school district in Eau Claire County, Michigan has implemented a technology plan for their student body and I echo its sentiments with regard to student guidelines and expectations. These are the same expectations I would implement in my classroom. It reads as follows: “Students use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources.
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Students use technology tools to process data and report results. Students evaluate and select new information resources and technological innovations based on the appropriateness for specific tasks” (Eau Claire Public Schools, 2009). In addition to “math” related learning, students in my classes with be taught how to navigate various technological devices and how to use them responsibly. Knowing how to find information on the internet is an important skill that will prove useful for future endeavors, but being able to discern which sites contain helpful, useful, and accurate information is even more important. Parents who may be leery about their student accessing inappropriate sites under my watch-care need not be concerned as there are safeguards in place to prevent this from occurring. In the traditional classroom environment, most activities center around the instructor, however, in a 21st Century learning environment, the teacher becomes more of a facilitator of activities. In this way, teachers become “facilitators and organizers of learning activities; they are free to focus on small groups and individuals who need more specialized attention; and they can coach their students in how to process information, helping them to make choices and validate their learning” (Van Dusen & Worthen, 1995). Communication Plan
As a parent, I am concerned about my child’s education and appreciate having consistent contact with my son’s teachers – as an educator, I understand the need for parents to “stay connected” and plan to have an open door policy as well as an open line of communication with my students’ parents. Many parents have schedules that are not conducive to having face-to-face meetings; therefore, I will employ a variety of ways in which parents can be made aware of happenings in my class and ways in which they can contact me should they have concerns, questions, or just want to check progress on their student. The development and implementation of a class website enables students, teachers, administrators, and parents to be kept updated on what is happening in the class. In a 21st Century classroom, the advantages of having such are numerous.
With school budgets being cut severely, having information available electronically diminishes the need for paper, printing, copying, and postage. It also prevents students from either intentionally or “accidently on purpose” losing or misplacing important notices, homework, etc.. and enables parents direct access to their child’s assignments. I will develop a classroom website where important information will be made available to those who sign onto the school’s website. My website will have at least two weeks worth of lesson plans on it so that parents will know what students are working on; including class assignments, homework assignments, and quizzes/tests. The website will have my contact information including my cell phone number, school email address and direct classroom phone number so that parents can contact me either by email or phone. It will also have several links to math websites that are resources for students and parents alike. An example of what my class website might look like can be found on Mr. Hackman’s class website at Seymour High School in Seymour, Indiana (http://shs.scsc.k12.in.us , 2010). In addition to my class website, I will also keep on file an Emergency Contact List will all student’s names, parents names, phone numbers (home and cell), address, and email addresses. I will keep a hard copy in or near my desk as well as on my computer for immediate access. Also contained on the Contact List will be the information of at least one other person with whom the parents give permission for me to contact should the need arise.
It is in this way that I can be certain to be in communication with the family and/or friends of my students. As a math instructor, it is important to me that my students develop the necessary skills to not only navigate the Internet for resources that will enable them to learn math principles, concepts, formulas, and more but also to work together with students from other schools on projects related to those principles. Two important aspects of using technology in the classroom to promote learning are included in our text. They are: “The Web will become an integral part of education, revolutionizing the way students learn core subjects” and “The way we interact will change based on a new Web technology called telepresence systems, which bring people together to interact and collaborate whether they are physically across the street or across the globe” (Shelley, Gunter & Gunter, 2008). Knowing that many students struggle with learning math, and struggle with understanding why it is important for them to develop sound math skills, I will be working in collaboration with another math teacher (at a different school either in state or out of state) tracking the Stock Market for a period of three months. The students from both classes with be separated into groups of 4-5 students (2-3 from each school in each group) and they, as a group, will communicate with each other using VOIP in the way of Skype and/or OooVoo, group websites they will have created, and through emails (outside of class communication for homework/personal use).
It has been proven time and time again that students working together enable them to, “extend their interaction and learning outside of classroom. Busy schedules and commuting students often make group work difficult to coordinate. When properly applied, technology can eliminate these barriers to collaboration” (“Promote student collaboration”). Student activity will be closely monitored to ensure the safety and appropriateness of communication. This includes making certain that students are not accessing inappropriate/sexually explicit sites, social networking sites, cheating, or otherwise abusing the privilege of using technology made available to them. Should any problems arise with the misuse of technology in my class, I will take immediate action including shutting down the websites, giving a grade of “0” for an assignment or project, and disciplinary action if necessary including but not limited to restriction from using technology, being sent to the principal’s office, conference with parents, or even suspension if warranted. Integrating Instructional Technology
I remember being in the fifth grade and helping my teacher, Mrs. Hegner, grade papers. I thought it would be so much fun to be a teacher because I loved grading those papers. I also thought it was really cool to write on the chalkboard. Those two things made me want to be a teacher. Little did I know then, how much the life of a teacher would change with the technology so widely used in the classroom presently. Back then the most technology used in the classroom was headphones to listen to audio books and a telephone. In today’s classrooms, email, Smart Boards, texting, and intercom systems are used on a daily basis. One way in which technology is being used in some classrooms across America is Accelerated Reading. This program is used to track students’ reading levels and comprehension. When a student finishes reading a book, s/he takes a test on the computer that has been preloaded. The reading level for that particular student is determined by how well they do on the test.
The results of these tests help teachers set goals and levels for students with regard to reading as well as a tool parents can use to assist their student find and read appropriate level books. The use of Accelerated Reading has been instrumental in getting some kids motivated and excited to read – even those who otherwise would not be reading. In fact, an article entitled Accelerated Reader Advantage, states that, “AR helps teachers to guide pupils of all levels to appropriate books and to closely monitor reading practice using reliable and valid quizzes. Teachers using Accelerated Reader Advantage with best practices report that library circulation is growing, their pupils love to read, are becoming better readers and standardized test scores are soaring (Renaissance Learning, 2010-2011). Another way in which technology is quite beneficial in the classroom is as an assessment tool. There are three main ways in which assessments are conducted using the technology available to teachers and students. They are Diagnostic Assessment, Formative Assessment, and Summative Assessment. Although they are all equally important, they each serve very different purposes. I will discuss them in the order in which I have mentioned them. A Diagnostic Assessment, or Pre-Assessment as it is often referred, focuses on a particular knowledge area. An example of a Diagnostic Assessment would be for me, as a ninth grade Math teacher, at the beginning a new school year, to have my students take an online assessment of materials they were to have learned the previous year (Order of Operation, Multiplication and Division of Positive Integers, for example).
The outcome of the assessments give me a pretty good idea of what the students know coming in and where individual strengths and areas for improvement lie. This also gives me an idea of what concepts need to be reinforced, reviewed, etc…They also enable me to intelligently plan my lessons accordingly with regard to differentiating to meet students’ needs. A Formative Assessment is an assessment that takes place within the instruction/lesson itself. A Formative Assessment is how accurately a student completes homework, scores on a test, and the basic understanding of concepts and formulas (again, using the example previously stated). It is beneficial in finding the gaps between what the student knows and where s/he is struggling. It is quite useful for, “pointing out to students what specifically they did well, including links to other resources and specific suggestions for improvement, helping them reach the next level of learning” (Gonzalez, 2009). One way in which I plan to incorporate this kind of assessment in my class is to administer a Diagnostic Test at the beginning of the school year so that 1) I get a more accurate idea of where students’ strengths and weaknesses lie and 2) I am able to better plan my lessons.
A Summative Assessment is a test that students take after a period of instruction to measure their understanding of the subject matter they have studied. Examples of a Summative Assessments include Standardized Tests, Chapter Review Tests, Midterm and Final Exams – all of which can be and often are completed on a computer. These kinds of tests can be administered and/or taken after a matter of weeks or months. Using technology for assessment purposes, like anything else, has its advantages and disadvantages. One article suggests that although they are useful, they are also time consuming, requiring teachers to administer, grade, record, and analyze the data gained from using them. There is also the fear on the part of some teachers that the data contained from administering Diagnostic Assessments will, “be used by Administrators to hold them accountable for individual student progress” (Gonzalez, 2009). I, as an educator, am, to some degree, responsible for “individual student progress.” There are certainly those students who have challenges beyond the scope of my ability as a classroom teacher, but even that should not deter me from utilizing technology if it is an accurate measuring instrument and promotes student success.
Other advantages of using technology are that they “provide a more direct measure of what has been learned” (Rogers), they are more convenient and can be implemented more readily than pen and paper, the scoring is objective as opposed to subjective, can accommodate a large number of students simultaneously, results are often immediate, promote student creativity, easy to administer, and highlight students’ strengths. Disadvantages of using technology are that they can be cost prohibitive, must be carefully designed, preset response choices do not allow students “freedom” to answer in ways they want, and occupationally/physically challenged students have more difficulty navigating through the various aspects of the technology used. With students completing more assignments using technology, instructors have to find new and innovative ways to teach, assess student achievement, and monitor progress. The way in which my teacher graded papers is quickly becoming obsolete. I still want to be a teacher, but instead of grading papers by hand and writing on the chalkboard, I’ll be using my computer, scantron machines, and Smart Board! Software to Support Assessment
As a teacher who plans to utilize technology in her classroom, I want to be certain that the technology I use is going to be relevant, useful, and support the lessons I am teaching my students. But how do I choose the right kinds of programs that will enable me to teach the concepts I need to teach and at the same time encourage my students to do their best work? This is not an easy task. I must choose those programs that will engage my students – holding their attention, allowing them to interact with it, and enjoy using it. In order to choose the right software for the purposes I want them to serve, I have to know what I want it to do.
There are many software programs that serve many different purposes. Some of them are: Productivity Software which is used for creating spreadsheets and word processing, Presentation Software which is used for creating slide shows and visual presentations, Curriculum Software which is used for completing activities and playing games that are content specific, and Reference Software which is used as reference tools such as dictionaries and/or encyclopedias. Before integrating technology into my classroom, there are few more considerations to ponder. What is the usefulness of the program? Does the program perform well? Are the programs user friendly? These are questions I must ask myself before I can expect my students to navigate them. In my case, as a Math teacher, I must be certain that the content of the software being used is free of errors and that any links associated with the program are accurate and reliable. If my students are expected to complete homework assignments, quizzes, and tests using technology, they must be assured of its accuracy.
An article entitled Teacher Beliefs About Educational Software: A Delphi Study (Williams, Boone & Kingsley, 2004) contains information about a study in which sixty-nine participants from twenty-three schools participated with regard to how Software Manuals and help materials are designed. The top six items of concern reported by the participants include 1) Software should be simplified with regard to file interchangeability, 2) Quality educational software needs to be more affordable, 3) Software should be able to be adapted to teacher and student needs, 4) Software requires a lot of time learning how to navigate, 5) Software does not incorporate relevant and real-life situations, and 6) Software should be designed with educational content and purpose in mind.
Assuming that the software chosen is relevant, easy to navigate, affordable, and designed for education, how am I certain, as a teacher, that all of my students will benefit from using a particular software program? Even though they may be actively involved in class discussions, complete homework and classroom assignments on time and correctly, there are some students who do not test well. Sometimes, a different program or even a different environment is just what is needed in order for these students to succeed. When students are in a computer lab where multiple students are taking test simultaneously, some students find it difficult to concentrate, but given the opportunity to take a test in a library setting, with perhaps a wireless computer, the student is in a more relaxed, quite environment in which s/he can concentrate better thus improving his/her chances for success. Of course, software isn’t used only for assessment purposes.
There are many ways in which it can be used according to the content being studied. For instance, a flip camera is quite useful for Science, Literature, English, and Art coursework, to name just a few. The cost for this device is relatively low compared to other software that can and is often used in academic and creative courses. In a science class, the camera can be used to take pictures of scientific experiments and used for documentation purposes. It can also be used to take pictures of items of inspiration for writers in a Literature or English course. It can be used to record the product of an art class. The software associated with it can be used to incorporate its contents into a PowerPoint presentation, a WORD document, or uploaded to a personal or school website. Whiteboards are another source in which student and teacher resources, Internet, and interactive sites can be used and shared with everyone in the room. Students can, “interact with virtual manipulatives (such as counters, thermometers, and protractors)” (Preston, 2010). One way in which I intend to incorporate the use of a white board in my classroom is to use an online textbook as well as interactive sites so that students can work out math formulas that every student in the class can see simultaneously. It is in this way that the entire class can participate in preparing for quizzes and tests by accessing math websites and working through the problems.
In addition to the use of a Whiteboard, I intend to make certain that all of my students have an opportunity to work individually as well as in pairs or groups using computer programs that are math related. I will make sure that my students have access to laptop computers in my classroom as well as access to the computer lab to complete special projects including but not limited to finding definitions of mathematical terms, various formulas, and different approaches to solving math problems. Incorporating technology in the classroom is not a decision that should be entered into lightly. As mentioned earlier, there are many considerations that must be taken into account before allowing students access to software programs. Some of these considerations, in addition to the ones mentioned above, are: Is the material contained age and/or grade appropriate? What kind of learning aids are provided; printable materials, links, etc..? Do the materials contained lend themselves to modification of scope and/or sequence of the content? Can the level of difficulty be adjusted? If technical difficulties arise, are they easy to solve? I look forward to using technology in my classroom as I do believe that it can immensely enhance learning and assist students in being successful and accomplished test takers. However, I also believe that it is most important to choose carefully what programs are used to ensure student safety and maximize a positive experience. Technology Ethics in the Classroom
Facebook, MySpace, Andkon, YouTube, Google, MaxGames, ArmorGames, ChatRoulette, Twitter, Pandora, Wikipedia, and MyYearbook are just a few websites my 13-year-old son told me some of his classmates access regularly – sometimes at school in the Computer Lab when they are supposed to be working on class assignments. He tells me there are “safeguards” and “filters” in place but the students bypass them to gain access to these sites and more just like them. How do we get these students, and millions across the country just like them, to understand that accessing inappropriate sites is not only unethical, but can be downright dangerous? Answering this question is a difficult and complicated endeavor that every teacher must address. The U.S. Department of Education has an entire department dedicated to addressing issues regarding the use of technology in the educational setting called Office of Educational Technology.
The primary purpose of this department is to provide “leadership for maximizing technology’s contribution to improving education at all levels” (OET, 2010). Under the umbrella of the Office of Educational Technology (OET), the Online Safety and Technology Working Group, comprised of federal agencies, was created to “make recommendations to promote online safety for children through education, labeling, and parental control technology” (OET, 2010). As educators, we are responsible for the care and safety of our students – whether it be in the classroom or online. We must find a way to make certain that our students are safe and using the technology made available to them appropriately. We have to instill a sense of responsibility, accountability, and a healthy fear in our students so that they truly understand why they should not use school-based technology for any other purpose than academic growth and success. I believe that educators and parents have to work together – through the consistent use of technological safeguards, filters (that actually work), parental controls, and consequences severe enough to deter violators. Unfortunately, many students think they are above the rules and continue to participate in unethical and dangerous practices on computers at school as well as on personal iPods, cell phones, and other technological devices at home.
Why is this the case? I believe it has a lot to do with the communication, or lack thereof, kids have with their parents and the fact that some parents either don’t know or don’t care what their kids are doing. Teenagers quite often are left to “entertain” themselves; spending their time accessing chat rooms, gaming sites, and social networking sites in the privacy of their bedroom, basement, or other “PARENTS NOT WELCOMED” environments. This attitude has always been a big issue for me both as a parent and an educator. In an article entitled Teenagers struggle with privacy, security issues, a panel of teenagers discuss how they are more technologically savvy than their parents and educators, and feel that parental involvement into their computer use is an invasion of privacy. One of the panelists went so far as to say, “My parents wanted to check my computer, so I stopped using that computer…” I use the computers at school. There are things that they don’t need to know” (Lemos, 2005). Another student stated that her mother had blocked the television, computer, and restricted her from listening to certain radio stations. She stated, “It is a very bizarre experience for me. I really feel like she doesn’t trust me anymore. She hasn’t demanded my password, but I know that she knows it, and I’m pretty sure she has gone onto my computer” (Lemos, 2005). It seems that the lack of trust lies in the hearts and minds of the teens not the parents. Our job as parents is to protect our children from people who really mean to do them harm such as hackers, predators, and others who lurk waiting to strike. As educators, our job is not so different while the kids are in our care.
If our students do not trust us enough to tell us what they are doing, the sites they are accessing online, or to realize that we are not all technologically ignorant, any actions we take are going to be seen as an “invasion of privacy.” Some of us can give these teens a run for their money – technologically speaking, because we make it a point to keep up with them. If my students feel the need to “hide” what they are doing, there is a good chance they shouldn’t be doing it…and they know it. A recent conversation with my 21-year-old daughter revealed that she now believes parents should be asking questions and getting involved – even though as a teenager, she tried to hide her Internet activities from me. She stated that, “If kids have nothing to hide, then why do they go to great lengths to hide their activities? Because they think they know everything, but they really don’t know anything. Some kids just access certain websites because they don’t care…” (Biszmaier, 2011). I never stopped talking to her about being safe and not giving personal information over the Internet, accessing chat rooms, and participating in social networks. Yes, I was one of those parents who “invaded her privacy.” She resented it then, but is thankful now that I cared enough to do it.
Interesting enough, the general consensus of the panel was that Internet Safety and Ethics should be covered to some degree by parents and school personnel and that it should start sooner rather than later – long before students reach high school. I agree. I also think that kids should not have access to computers in the privacy of their rooms, basements, and other places where there is no supervision. I have a very strong belief that anything a kid does, technology-wise, can and should be done under the supervision of a responsible adult. I intend to make that very clear to my students. Before I will allow my students to work on projects via computer, they will be required to view a presentation I have created regarding Internet Safety (not accessing Chat rooms, game sites, etc…) and Ethics (explanations and examples of how to properly cite sources used in their projects). They will be required to write a paragraph explaining their understanding of what they learned from the presentation and formulate a “Technology Use Plan” they create which outlines what they will and will not do when working on the computers.
These works will be kept in a file in my classroom. In addition to what the students themselves create, they will be required to sign in and sign out every time they use a computer – whether in the classroom or in the computer lab. This way I have documentation of who did what and when they did it. If any student violates their technology plan, severe consequences will ensue. These consequences can include a written or verbal warning, a grade of “0” for a particular project, alternate methods for completing a project such as using longhand, barring that student from using technology for a set period of time (or indefinitely), or a conference with parents. Having my students create a personal Technology Plan is an important step in helping them understand how to navigate the Internet safely, but we will also discuss, as a class, what are and are not proper ethical ways in which the Internet is to be used in and out of the classroom. Some topics I intend to discuss in my classroom include 1) Responsible Decision-Making (students making intelligent, responsible, and informed choices of websites), 2) Plagiarism (giving proper credit / properly citing resources gained from websites, and 3) Recognizing / Avoiding Cyber-bullying. Many students do not know how to decide whether the websites they access have accurate information from which to gain useful knowledge. Helping them discern the good from the bad will help them create well-researched, well-written assignments and projects. Helping students learn useful from useless websites, they will also learn the importance of properly citing sources. They must understand the seriousness of claiming others’ work as their own and why any form of such has severe consequences.
Finally, they will understand how serious a problem Cyber bullying has become and ways in which they can avoid falling prey. There are other ethical practices that are important within the realm of education, but the ones I have chosen to specifically address are amongst the more relevant issues students face – especially at the upper grade levels. I am not concerned with “violating the privacy of students” – I am concerned that students are safe and using technology properly while in my care – I am much more concerned with teaching my students how to keep themselves safe while at the same time being able to navigate their way through educational and resource websites that will help them become better, more confident students … and have a bit fun in the process. Conclusion
When I was younger and decided I wanted to become a teacher, I had no idea that I would be using technology to do it. I have definitely learned just how much I will be using it and how the benefits of using technology will enhance my ability to teach and my students’ ability to learn. I have been able to do this as a result of taking this course and by creating my own Technology Plan. I now have a much better understanding of how using technology, whether as a teaching aid or assessment tool, will be an integral part of my curriculum. Before I can expect my students to understand how to utilize technology such as Smart Boards, computers, overhead projectors, and calculators (just to name a few) properly, I have to have a “game plan” myself. Part of my ability to implement the use of technology in my own classroom comes from using it myself in my studies as a Distance Learning student as well as from my previous experience as an educator in a traditional classroom. Technology affords my students the opportunity to expand their knowledge base and develop their computation, processing, and critical thinking skills. I want my students to reap the rewards/benefits from what technology can offer them, but I also want them to understand how to use what they use in a responsible and useful manner.
By implementing standards for use as an entire class and the students creating personal safe technology use statements, there should be no question as what is and what is not acceptable technology behavior and practices. Requiring my students to create and adhere to their own plan, they take ownership and responsibility for their actions, thus helping them become much better prepared and equipped to enter and succeed in a technology driven world. Just as there are consequences for violating proper and safe use in the educational setting, there are certainly negative consequences in the real world. My student will understand that, although technology can and is used for “fun” activities, responsible usage is imperative. I plan to make certain that my classroom is a technology friendly environment; not only by using it during daily classroom lessons, showing students how it can enhance their ability to learn mathematical formulas and solve complex problems, but also by making it available for students in computer labs and at home through useful educational websites and other resource websites.
By allowing and encouraging my students to become familiar with using technology, they will be able to navigate more easily and more comfortably while working on other projects in other academic courses. Teaching students how to safely navigate technology is not an easy task as some have never worked with it, and others, use it for recreation that may be unsafe. Students who are technologically savvy may not recognize the potential hazards that lurk – thinking they are too smart to fall prey. There is nothing further from the truth as far as I am concerned. I can do my utmost to teach safety, but I have no control over what sites students access at home. This is why communicating with parents is essential. Communicating through email, text messaging, and the good old-fashioned printed newsletter, will enable parents and I to keep each other abreast of happenings in and out of the classroom. In addition to communicating through email, texting, and newsletter, providing parents with access to our class website enables them to know what their student is working on from week to week and provides them with helpful links related to mathematical concepts. Some parents may not know how to assist their student to complete homework assignments, so having these links could prove quite beneficial for them to “connect” with their student.
I will make certain that the websites included on our class webpage are relevant to the subject matter we are studying and contain accurate information. If I want my students to succeed not only in the classroom but also beyond the classroom, I have to make sure that I provide them with a solid foundation. With encouragement and support from me as their teacher, their parents, and a confidence from within themselves, my students will undoubtedly succeed beyond their wildest expectations. References
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