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SESSION 10 WRAPPING UP

I actually learned things about myself in this class.   The section on management and leadership allowed me to focus more on what I actually want to accomplish in my volunteer work at the school and how I can better do things to achieve a change, or promote a special project in a positive manner and a manner that can achieve the desired outcome.  The section on barriers had me focus on actual problems many are having with technology and how I can better assist them along the way.  It forced me to review my journey through my own access to technology and how hard it was until it became easier.  It also forced me to acknowledge what areas of technology are still not easily accessible for me, like reading code.  I appreciated reading the blogs of others on the Data Driven Decision because I know the bad effects of NCLB Reading First distortion of data driven decisions has tainted my view.  I did come to realize how really important this can be when used correctly.  The projects probably had the greatest effect on me.  Writing out the actual lesson plan and having to think through each of the problems, or concerns actually allowed the lesson with the young students go smoothly and added to the success of the lessons.  It was fun for both of us.  Writing the grant made it easy for me to actually write one and then to actually get awarded the grant allowed me to buy more programs for the school.  It was a nerve racking process and then very exciting.  Now I will be providing the training for the teachers and they will be encouraged to take the training because they will have the program available for their students to use.  I learned many lessons from the students because I needed to look at it from a view to report to others in the class.  It has all given me a more refined vision that I can share with the teachers during the training.  I enjoyed the class and I am pleased with the changes and outcomes I have achieved because of this class.  It is always good to reflect upon accomplishments that have been made and what has been learned.

PROJECT 3 SCHOOL GRANT

I am so excited.  Today is my birthday and the first Email I recieved today was the one telling me that I was given the grant that I applied for with the Indio Youth Task Force.  I recieved a check for $750.00 and I will be buying the Pixie 3 program for classrooms at the school.  I am excited that I had this challenge and it worked.

I have completed the three projects for ETEC 623.

We Can Publish

Project 1 Lesson Plan for Students on how to use Pixie 3

Project 2 Training for staff on Pixie 3

Project 3 Indio Youth Task Force Grant to purchase Pixie 3

I have included the original plan, the completed project, the Power Point lesson, the evaluation and the student samples after they completed the lesson on my web page listed below.  I have not been able to actually offer the lesson to the teachers as planned because of family emergency conditions.  I will be offering the training to two different groups in January.  Right now the teachers are involved in conferences and requested the training in January.  I will also be offering the training to the staff of the After School program.

http://cms.dsusd.k12.ca.us/education/components/docmgr/default.php?sectiondetailid=64925&

SESSION 9

Professional Development

The training that I attended that was not effective actually caused me to attempt to design a course to teach for a past class in working for the eLearning Certificate.  The district has a project teacher who would love to go to the schools and provide small group instruction on how to use Notebook 10 that goes with the SmartSlates that the school uses.  Instead of several small group trainings it was decided that 1 whole staff training could be done and then the project teacher was given like 40 minutes to do the training.  She did the best she could at demonstrating what was available for teachers to use, but all of the materials were covered so fast that no one even tried to use it.  She demonstrated how to install the program, search for lessons, use tools to work lessons, and showed a variety of sample lessons.  Then she left.  I only know of 1 person who attempted to use the Notebook 10 program for more lessons.  Teachers needed time to do hands on and they needed time to look for lessons and save them.  The biggest sin is the a wonderful piece of technology like the Smart Slate is not used to its fullest because teachers don’t have time to explore its benefits.  If teachers were given ½ hour each week to find a lesson and the administrator came by to observe the lesson then the SmartSlates at the school would be used for more than filling in workbook pages.

A great inservice that I attended recently actually was several sessions long.  I had decided to go and get a free Frames program because I had written about it in a blog and I wanted to actually see how the program worked because I was trying to find a program to use with very young children to get them to publish more stories.  While I was getting the Frames program I happened upon a demonstration by a teacher of how her students used Pixie 2.  I realized that this was exactly what I was looking for.  The rep gave me a schedule of the sessions that were being offered at the conference.  I made certain that I attended each one of them.  The sessions gave me wonderful ideas on how to get students interested in writing and publishing stories.  I now had a wonderful list of ways to use the program, but I still did not know how to use the program.  I went back to the booth and won a free program and then got individual training on how to create a story and how to print it.

Both of these professional development workshops/trainings were of high interest to me.  Both of them began with a list or samples of what could be done with the programs.  Both trainings provided a resource for follow up videos to gain more training.  They were different in the way that I was offered individual assistance with learning the program with the Pixie 2 training, but was not offered that with the Notebook 10 training.  I was able to attend several related trainings with the Pixie 2 training and did not have that same opportunity with the Notebook 10 training.  I was given immediate access to the Pixie 2 training to begin practicing it and was not able to access Notebook 10 away from the school.  The outcome of this was that I purchased 10 Pixie 3 (it was updated) from the company and installed them on 10 computers I won for the school the year before and have been using the Pixie 3 program with first grade students and with older students in the after school technology club.  I will admit the best training of all was not mentioned above, but came from watching the students explore in the after school program.  They have taught me more than anyone about the program because of their excitement and hands on practice.

This podcast has helped me by focusing me back on the goal or mission before I finish developing the inservice for my Project 2.  It also made me realize the importance of providing hands on training.  I am thinking now it might just be extra fun to have my technology club students demonstrate some of the things they are particularly good at since the teachers they will be demonstrating for had them when they were younger.

Uploaded the following to my webpage
  Lesson Plan for Project 1
  Samples of student’s stories
  Indio Youth Task Force Grant for Project 3

Worked on finishing the Inservice with Power Point for Project 2

Listened to the Podcast on Professional Development

Wrote response to podcast

Read peers blogs

Commented on peers blogs

 

SESSION 8

Session 8 Data Driven Decision Making

When data is used properly it can enhance a program.  Unfortunately, after experiencing the data driven system that has been employed by NCLB and put in place by the school district I have a bad taste in my mouth.  I noticed as I listened to the podcast that the system that was imposed upon us made a huge amount of work for teachers.  All inservices stopped and every meeting and training became about reading and understanding the data.  Teachers were forced at every grade level meeting to design smart goals to meet the skill the data said was needed.  The worst part about it was that the data collected was not necessarily valid data.  Resource teacher created tests were designed that did not even match the content being taught, so the content was changed around to meet the test and then data was collected to decide what the next skill needed to be taught.  The worst part is that after collecting the data, looking at it and writing a smart goal for it there wasn’t actually time set aside to teach the needed skill because teachers had to move on with the district designed pacing guide.  Interventions are put in place and computer programs were purchased, but there is absolutely no checking to see if these programs actually have an effect on student’s learning.  Several years ago the district purchased a new math program and the math test scores went down.  Naturally teachers were blamed for the falling test scores and not the new program.  Very interesting.

Data when it is actually used to make decisions on programs could actually be really helpful.  My thesis project required me to gather data.  To really discover if the project works over a long time I would have to collect the data over a longer period of time with a larger group of students.  However, I did discover some things from the data collected.  My project was to make a DVD of skill practice that students could take home and use.  I did discover that the program I designed for vocabulary was not a good way to teach students vocabulary.  I also discovered that skills such as spelling and sight words did get great results from students using the DVD. 

The most important factor about using data collection to make decisions is to be certain that the data being collected is a true reflection that demonstrates strengths and weaknesses of the program that will be used.  Leadership at the school site should be the one who focuses on the data to be collected and not some remote person who is in no way involved in the program.  Hopefully, when the punitive measures that are associated with NCLB data collection go away the data collection system that is in place will be used in a more successful way to collect data that will drive instruction in a manner that will benefit students.  Fareed Zakaria just presented a special on education and in the special they discussed the way data collection was used to improve individual student achievement.  Free of pacing guides students were taught what they needed at their level.  Imagine when that day comes. 

Thursday  Worked on Project 2 Training Session Power Point and handouts

Sunday  Listened to Podcast, wrote reply, read students posts and responded to posts.

SESSION 7

Ed Norman Syndrome

My stress level went up this week listening to the podcast on Ed Norman.  I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs.  Actually I did and scared the cat.  It took me back to many times I wanted to do that in the classroom.  Work on a great lesson at home and then come back to school the next day and begin to teach the lesson and poof the site you are using is blocked.  Two weeks ago I was working on a report on Cahuilla Indians with a group of 4th grade students.  We googled “What kind of clothes did Cahuilla Indians wear?”  The site was blocked.  Now we need to study that tribe in 4th grade and the district blocks information on that tribe.  Needing the information for this group and being really angry, but having to act responsibly I pulled out my phone and got the information for them from my phone.  I will have to go home and get the photos for them to put in PowerPoint and save it on a flashdrive to allow them to have these photos available. 

Another issue is that the district blocked youtube.  We found great lessons on math on youtube, but we couldn’t show them because of being blocked.  I found that you could save them in different ways and then show them at school.

Students were not allowed to have Email, but we were communicating with Shamu at Sea World, so I had them use my school Email account and just had Shamu send the Email to me using the student’s name.  I just entered a Pepsi Challenge and got very close to winning $5,000. Imagine what I could have accomplished if all 750 students could have voted each day using their school Email.  We could have won for sure.  I guess the Technology Department owes me $5,000 to buy video cameras and more for my afterschool program. 

They buy fabulous projectors, document readers, computers, and SmartSlates and allow teachers to have their own district funded websites but they can’t trust teachers to have access to websites or YouTube.  I attended a district training and the Tech rep showed us a video that was perfect for us to show our parents about the value of using technology with their children.  I wanted to show the video but it was blocked.  I asked the Tech Rep why he could show the video and I couldn’t I was told he had complete access to the internet.  I walked away really boiling because I have a college education, a teaching credential, and am responsible for educating students and their parents.  The Tech rep who is blocking sites isn’t involved in educating any students.

Maybe what my next challenge is would be to discuss these things with the power that be…..but it might be easier to just figure out how to hook my phone up to the projector.

Monday:  Created storyboard for Project 2
Tuesday:  Completed 12 student published books.  Only 42 more to go.
Thursday:  Rewrote the Project 3 grant and gave it to the Indio Youth Task Force
Saturday:  Attended the EdTech Conference at CSUSB
Sunday:  Listened to blog, responded to peers, and responded to Ed Norman Syndrome

SESSION 6

BARRIERS TO TECHNOLOGY USE

I worked and now volunteer at a location that can’t complain about not having enough technology.  Every teacher has at least 8 computers in their classroom and many have more.  There is also a computer lab that students have access to.  10 years ago the school had a different administrator.  The administrator not only supported the importance of technology but was an avid believer in the need for students at our school to have access to a variety of trainings to give them a way across the digital divide.  She wanted students to be allowed to have the same access to technology that students from wealthier families had.  At that time we had an after school lab that was open from 4:00 to 7:00 and also on Saturdays from 8:00 to 12:00.  Students were required to complete a reading and math lesson in SuccessMaker and then they were allowed to play games, do research, or use writing and paint programs.  The teachers at the school received from the district a laptop computer for attending training and this administrator paid for all teachers to receive the same training and get a laptop if they completed the training.  A contest was also held at that time where teachers created class projects and entered them in the contest much like a Science Fair.  This administrator would have teachers share their projects with others at staff meetings.  Everyone was not only supportive of the use of technology, but exposed their students to a variety of ways to use technology.  Then the school got a new administrator.  The school was also placed under a complete restoration project.  The after school program went away with the promise of bringing it back after the school reconstruction was completed.  The school was finally completed and a state of the art computer lab was installed.  All classrooms were given projectors, computers, SmartSlates, and Elmos.  Alas, 2 1hour sessions were given on how to use these items, but because the school was designated a Reading First School under No Child Left Behind and suddenly no one was doing projects anymore.  Technology was used to fill in workbooks and practice test taking skills.  The new administrator felt this was very good use of the technology.  A huge change of staff also took place at the school and many of the teachers who were left did not have any training, or experience with technology.  The school now has a new administrator who is attempting to reintroduce technology use by children in the classroom.  Teachers are still very confused with what is allowed and not allowed to be done with technology.  More and more teachers are freeing up time for students to use AR a reading test program and SuccessMaker a reading and math skill program.  There is only a small handful of teachers who are beginning to integrate technology into other parts of their curriculum. 

I believe that the keep answer to use of technology lies in the hands of administrators.  An administrator who supports in the use of technology and also believes how valuable to the future education of students will see to it that technology is integrated into the curriculum.  An administrator who doesn’t understand will not promote the use of technology.  The second biggest barrier to the use of technology today is probably class size.  When I used technology every day with my class they were able to create stories in Photostory 3.  They could do reports on Power Point.  They could type and animate their spelling words.  They could practice sight words on pages I had created on my webpage.  They could use AR and Successmaker every day.  It was easy to set up a computer schedule and get everyone through it every day.  Was I just fabulous?  No I was fortunate.  I had 20 computers in my classroom.  I had 17 students.  Today these same teachers have 8 to 10 computers crowded anywhere they can find space and they have 34 to 37 students.  Class size is a huge barrier because there is very little space left for students to sit in front of a computer with that many desks in a classroom and managing the flow is a totally different problem.

What I am now doing is attempting to begin reintroducing students to a variety of uses with technology.  I volunteer in 3 classrooms and work with students on technology.  I also offer after school technology club for students two days a week.  All of this is just a small drop in the bucket on what these students really need.  I spend time letting the administrator aware of technology and how it can enhance the curriculum.  It is a very slow process, but it is moving forward.

Activity Log

Thursday Last Week:  Turned in Mini Grant to Indio Youth Task Force

Thursday this week: Attended a meeting of Indio Youth Task Force
Friday :  Worked on the lesson plan for Project 1: We Can Publish
                 Read posts of other students, but did not respond.  
                 I will respond to their posts this next week.
Sunday:  Listened to podcast
                 Responded to Podcast and posted
                 Posted Project 1 We Can Publish Lesson Plan
                 Posted Project 3 We Can Publish Mini Grant