Edtech 501

The Journey Continues

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End of Summer

I can’t believe that summer flew by so quickly. I have one full week left before professional development begins, quickly followed by students in my classroom. After a lot of soul-searching, I have decided to focus on just one class this fall. Edtech 502 sounds very challenging to someone who has never coded before. With the start of school, our new 1:1 program and the large fund-raiser that I run every fall, I am afraid of spreading myself too thin.

This class is contained completely in Moodle. We are not required to post on this learning log, but I will continue to reflect and add links to my completed assignments here. I am finding that this helps keep me centered and focused, two things I need more of in my life.


The Tip of the Iceberg

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As my first class in the Edtech Masters Program comes to an end, I find myself looking back on the past seven weeks with a sense of pride and accomplishment. I wrote my first post 45 days ago, on a blog that I created, and faced the unknown. It has been over a decade since I was on the other side of the desk, and I was not at all sure that I would be able to transition successfully. Meeting my classmates via Adobe Connect did not do much to reassure me. A conservative guess puts me at least ten years older than everyone else in the class, including the instructor. Was I making the right decision in returning to school? I already have one masters degree. I also have two bachelor’s degrees and three different teacher certifications. Isn’t that enough? The simple answer is no. I don’t ever want to see the time come when I am no longer interested in learning.

I love using technology in my classroom but have not had the ability to truly integrate it. As a result, this class was one huge learning curve for me. I had to teach myself almost every single application that was thrown our way. And even some that weren’t. The graphic was the most difficult as I do not have even rudimentary artistic or graphic skills. It was a challenge just to find a starting point. Writing is also not a strength, so the Ethics paper was tortuous. I struggle with when to cite without over citing. I am so thankful for all my friends, both physical and virtual. I put out several calls for help in various online communities, did a lot of google searches and had my friends check my artifacts. It definitely took a village!

I am very proud of my Digital Divide presentation. The slide presentation I made for the Tech Trends assignment is a close second. I found that I enjoy making interesting, effective slide presentations. This can probably be traced back to the number of presentations I have sat through for professional development, swearing under my breath as the presenter reads the slides to me. I am not an auditory learner and as soon as they start reading, I tune them out. I loved being able to narrate my slides. I am already working on transferring classroom tests to slides and narrating them. It is impossible to read a math test to a room full of students. I have one or two that are staying with me, several that are bored so have worked ahead, and several that got stuck several questions back and are no longer listening. Putting the tests on slides and handing out headphones will solve that problem.

I rewrote my first week of curriculum to include Digital Citizenship. I don’t feel that the short Chromebook Camp we are providing at the end of this month is enough, so I am incorporating it into my classroom. I created a word cloud in the shape of a footprint and put it on my class website. It links to an introductory video. I also added Mozilla Backpack and Classbadges to my website. Students will earn badges as they complete assignments. These badges can be printed out and hung up on my newest bulletin board. It is called The Fridge and looks like the front of a refrigerator. Many of my students do not receive recognition for their accomplishments, so I am creating a place in our room to serve that purpose. The badges will also tie into my latest interest, standards-based grading. This is a work in progress, but I am excited about moving in that direction.

Google+ is another area that I want to explore and integrate with our Google Classroom. My hope is that students will turn here for help outside of school, whether it be from their classmates or me. I have already dragged several coworkers into hangouts and used the video hangout with two of my closest teacher friends. It was hilarious, and we spent most of the time laughing at each other as we put on different hats and tried the sound effects. I must say, I look pretty funny with a goatee!

This class showed me how little I know about Educational Technology. The broad assumption that it means putting computers in classrooms and using available technology is very one-dimensional. It is that, but so much more than that. I am excited to continue my studies. This first step was just the tip of the iceberg.

Tip of the Iceberg --- Image by © Ralph A. Clevenger/CORBIS
Tip of the Iceberg — Image by © Ralph A. Clevenger/CORBIS

Edtech Graphic

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Created with Tagul.

According to Januszewski and Molenda (2008), “Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources” (p. 1). This definition is fluid and changes as technology changes.  I expect that as the field continues to grow, the definition will continue to evolve.

I was given the task of creating a graphic to show my interpretation of this definition. I have spent a lot of time thinking about the assignment, and a picture keeps popping into my head. I see a student walking to school with the Earth in his backpack, peeking out. He meets up with his friends, and they all walk into my classroom. Several students are seated, with their shiny new Chromebooks in front of them. Other students are taking the Earth out of their backpacks and placing it on their desks. As the Earth comes out of the backpack and descends towards the desk, it slowly turns into a Chromebook.  As a special education teacher in a district with a high poverty rate, my students by definition are on the wrong side of the digital divide. My district’s new 1:1 program is an attempt to alleviate this inequality.  By giving each student a Chromebook, we are, in essence, giving them the world. Most of my students have never left the town they live in, and many never will. Having access to technology that is used thoughtfully and appropriately can broaden their horizons exponentially. In a twist on the old saying: If my students can’t go to the mountain, the mountain must come to my students.  Unfortunately, I do not have the skills to transform my image into something tangible, so it remains stuck in my head.

The graphic that I have created was completed using Easel.ly and Thinglink, neither of which I have used before. It seemed fitting to continue to stretch myself for the final assignment. I chose a template in Easel.ly and then adjusted it to fit my interpretation of educational technology.   I see student learning as the main focus of Technology Education, with appropriateness being a close second.  “Informed, professionally sound choices help learners learn productively while making wise use of the time and resources of the organization, including the time and effort of educational technologies themselves” (Januszewski & Molenda, 2008, p. 11).  Everything else revolves around these two things.  Ethics drives the field, and so is placed at the top. Creating, Using and Managing finish the circle. Everything leads to the center and supports learning.  I uploaded my infographic into Thinglink and added tags. I included the AECT Code of Ethics (2007), a slide presentation that I co-authored for technology presentations, and pictures of technology at work in my classroom.  While this graphic is very different from the image in my head, I am happy with it.  I feel that this graphic is representative of my thought process, while the initial image of the Chromebooks representing the Earth represents a more emotional definition.

Please click on the infographic below to view the tags.


Association for Educational Communication & Technology’s Code of Professional Ethics.

(2007, November 1). Retrieved August 8, 2015 from http://aect.site-

Januszewski, A., & Molenda, M. (2008). Professional Ethics and Educational Technology. In

           Educational Technology: A Definition with Commentary (pp. 1-14). New York:


Tech Trends – Digital Badges

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I enjoyed perusing the NMC Horizon Report, 2015 K-12 Edition (2015). I have two pages of notes on articles that I want to read and possibly use in my classroom. All of it was interesting, but I hadn’t found one that gave me that itch, the one that made me stop reading and start creating until I read the last few pages. Digital badges. Badges! So simple and yet so much deeper than I ever considered.

After reading the section on badges, I immediately wandered through all the links provided, clicking on those links other links that caught my eye. I found a hashtag to follow on Twitter (#dmlbadges) that led me to new people to follow and a whole new community to join. The article led me to Mozilla Open Badges, which was interesting but very hard for me to understand and follow.   I researched how teachers are using badges in their classrooms and found Classbadges, a site geared toward educators interested in using badges to increase motivation, like digital stickers. This site led me to Mozilla Backpack, which allows uploads of badges from non-Mozilla sites so that everything is in one place.12065615331091477000Rocket000_emblem-star.svg.thumb

I can remember earning stickers in elementary school. The excitement of receiving a paper with a gold star was tremendous, a little lift in my day, and the satisfaction of having my hard work acknowledged. Last year teachers in my district had to complete three workshops to earn their Chromebooks. We earned a badge for each level we completed. Most of us printed our badges and displayed them on our doors. Why do educators stop handing out that tangible acknowledgement in high school? I collaborated with a 9th grade English teacher who handed out scratch and sniff stickers for perfect vocabulary tests. At first, the kids rolled their eyes. They were way too old for stickers. But by then end of the year, English binders were covered in them. And the binders were proudly displayed on their desks. I made a mental note to buy stickers and use them, but I never did.

My first few days of school will be spent helping my students set up their Chromebooks for success in algebra.   My site will be our jumping off point, allowing them to join our Google classroom, follow my classroom tweets and get my Remind texts. I decided to create badges for each of the assignments I want them to complete that first week.   They will need to create an account on Mozilla Backpack, and then create an account on Classbadges. As they complete the assigned tasks, I will award badges that I created.Screen Shot 2015-07-25 at 4.53.28 PMEach student will receive an email when they earn a badge. Once they log in to Classbadge, they will see the badge and can choose to share it. One of the options is to send it to their Mozilla backpack. This will keep all their badges in one place, much like the sash a girl scout wears to display the badges she has earned. Badges can also be printed. I plan to create a bulletin board called “The Fridge” where students can hang their work and badges if they choose.

Once the first week is over, badges will be earned for mastery of standards. Last year I started exploring standards-based grading. I am looking for a more concrete picture of what my students have mastered and what they need to review. This will fit nicely into my vision of a flipped classroom, allowing me to differentiate my instruction to match my students’ needs. Each unit has a Mastery Tracking sheet containing the standards that make up the unit. As students demonstrate mastery of a standard, they will earn a badge. There will also be badges to show mastery of a unit.  It will be simple to see who has earned a badge and who has not on my Classbadge dashboard, giving me another quick formative assessment method.

While I am excited to try this in my classroom, I do have some concerns. The first is buy-in. Will my students be motivated enough by the badges to do the work to earn them? It appears that students who do not often receive acknowledgement for their work are most motivated by the badges. This fits the majority of my students, so I am hoping this holds true for my classes. Another concern is something that many sites refer to as local vs. global. While the badges have meaning within my classroom (local), there is no value to them once a student steps outside my room (global).   Are local badges enough to motivate my students? I don’t have an answer to that yet. My last concern has to do with my choice of platform. Edmodo allows me to award badges for completed assignments. My school uses Google Classroom, which does not have this feature. After researching, I decided that for now I will not be using Edmodo. I don’t want to have students trying to find assignments on two different platforms. Classbadges and Mozilla Backpack seem less confusing. I will have to reflect and assess as I roll out the implementation and receive student feedback.

I decided to put together a step-by-step guide to setting up and using Backpack and Classbadges to share with the faculty at my school. My hope is that other teachers will start using this technology so that it becomes more global than just my classroom. While still a local use of badges, it is a small step in the right direction.Classbadges


Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., and Freeman, A. (2015).  NMC Horizon Report: 2015 K-12
. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Annotated Bibliography

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119498595413718994help-books-aj.svg_aj_ash_01.svg.medThis assignment involved researching a chosen topic using Google Scholar and Albertsons Library, finding five peer-reviewed articles and developing an annotated bibliography using correct APA format. Writing an annotated bibliography was difficult for me as I tend to be wordy. My first draft included long summaries written in great detail with several citations in each. I realized I was not sure what an annotated bibliography should look like, so I turned to Google. I was surprised to find that summaries are typically very short, with few or no citations and just enough information to give the reader a sense of what the article is about. My final draft is much more concise. This assignment taught me a lot about choosing my words wisely, making each one count.

I chose to research Flipped Learning at the high school level, something that caught my interest a couple years ago. I have not pursued it because my students are on the wrong side of the digital divide. This year my students will all have Chromebooks, so I am planning to flip some of my lessons. The lack of empirical data on this topic surprised me. The consensus is that flipped learning increases student engagement, but there is little to no hard data to prove this statement. There are very few peer-reviewed articles and almost none at the high school level. Some teachers are doing studies in their classrooms, but these studies are short term, with a small number of students and a very specific focus. I did not find any that looked at the effect of flipped learning on special education students. The articles I chose each gave me some useful information whether it be the type of technology used, a format or just a validation that I am on the right track.



RSS in Education

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RSS ManThis has been the most difficult assignment for me so far.  I have no experience with RSS feeds, either personally or professionally.  While setting up my own Feedly account was simple, deciding how to incorporate it into my math classroom was much more difficult. As I networked in a search for ideas, most of what I found had students reading articles in a particular subject area and then analyzing them.  I realized that I was going to have to use this resource in a very different manner.  I briefly thought about just writing a lesson plan that had nothing to do with my subject area but that seemed like a huge waste of my time.  If I have to create something, I really want it to be relevant and usable.  With those goals in mind, I found a site called Yummy Math  and the pieces fell into place.  This site allows me to find problems by grade level.  It also lets me search by Common Core Standard.  I can differentiate for my students by selecting problems at different grade levels for each student based on their abilities. I created a short screencast video of my Feedly account for the second part of this assignment.  This account came together quite nicely and I quickly saw the value of RSS on a personal/professional level.  I subscribe to a LOT of math and technology blogs.  Most of them send me an email when they post something new which quickly becomes overwhelming.  Other sites require me to check which I usually forget to do.  By putting them in Feedly, my sites are all in one place.  Even better, I can quickly look to see who has new posts for me.  I now have over one hundred sites on this reader.  Having them all together will allow me to weed out the ones I don’t find relevant or interesting.  It will become obvious very quickly which blogs I use the most, further saving me time as I delete the ones I no longer use. I am very excited to try this lesson in my classroom this year.  While I cannot say how I would improve it right now, I am sure that when I implement it, I will find many ways to improve and adjust as issues come to light.  My first adjustment may be using Edmodo instead of a classroom blog.  I will have to try it out and see which works best.