1) How did you use the knowledge, skills, and dispositions developed within the MS in Educational Technology program to support and advance student learning, creativity, and reflection and curriculum innovation, assessment, and revision?
Through the MS in Educational Technology program, I was able to develop the skills to create opportunities for students: supporting and advance student learning, creativity, and reflection, as well as develop my own curriculum innovation, assessment, and revision. In Paul Tough’s book How Children Succeed, he describes the traits that make children successful – “persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit and self-confidence” (Tough, 2012, p. xv). Through the incorporation and use of technology in schools and in classrooms these traits can be taught to our students. Even though we view our students as “digital natives” who are “hard at work learning afterschool” “teaching themselves and each other all kinds of important and truly useful things about their real present and future” (Prensky, 2010, p.1-2), it is important that we teach in our schools how to be 21st century learners and not just users. Their “education and practice need to undergo a revolution to become “idea-centered” from “activity-centered,” and to become collaborative learning from independent learning, so that learners can embark on a knowledge building trajectory from a young age” (Gan and Zhu, 2007, p. 206).
It is important to connect to the students in order to utilize these connections to the curriculum to engage students. By engaging students in a common interest and having the students feel as if someone is truly invested in them, you are able to teach them the skills Tough lists above: persistence in researching, self-control when interacting with peers and sharing information, curiosity in how something works or why something is and having the grit to keep working towards an answer. As teachers of technology, we can provide these opportunities for students and “in a partnering pedagogy, using technology is the student’s job. The teachers’ job is to teach and guide the use of technology for effective learning. To do this, teachers need to focus on, and become even more expert at, things that are already part of their job, including asking good questions, providing context, ensuring rigor, and evaluating the quality of student weeks” (Prensky, 2010, p. 3).
While a SRBI interventionist, differentiating teaching and learning for each student was key and one of my main responsibilities. By focusing on the concept of neurodiversity in EDU 612, I learned to start at looking at the students “strengths” as opposed to their perceived weaknesses. In Thomas Armstrong’s text, he discusses the importance of not having students feel they are being forced to spend their time “making me do what I was bad at as much as possible” (Armstrong, 2012, p.2). For example a student who is awesome at adding – adding can be connected to multiplication. And a student who is good at multiplication, by flipping a division sentence around it can be rephrased as a multiplication problem. Learning about the concept of neurodiversity led me to make sure I was connecting to what students already knew as well as connecting to students personal interests to make unknown and possibly confusing material less intimidating and more familiar.
One example of my learning is my research project, in which I used innovative means of addressing math curriculum with the Khan Academy Coach program, which incorporated assessments and ultimately after reflection led to revision of lessons and the means by which I most effectively used the program. Through the study and other units of study I created in my classes, I developed multiple ways to address students learning through their learning styles. Some students were more visual, some more tactile, others preferred an auditory based teaching and learning style. I also learned more about my students in terms of their learning preferences – whether they preferred the Khan Academy Coach Program or if they looked for more teacher interaction with a more traditional model of intervention instruction.
This learning led to the implementation of my research project which analyzed the use of instructional videos in intervention settings. Through this project I was able to support students intervention needs, advance student learning in both classroom supported skills and foundational skills. I was also able to explore new options for addressing these skills, comparing the use of instructional videos to a non-tech based program, both based on 6th and 7th grade CCSS Math curriculum. I assessed students regularly throughout this project and study results led me to revise some project units, as well as consider research results, to adapt how I instruct students in the future, namely offering students a multitude of opportunities to practice skills in a variety of ways,. It also led me to make sure there is a gradual release of responsibility which allows students to take ownership over their work and ensure they have a complete understanding of the mathematics which can be retained over time.
Additionally, my increased knowledge on assistive technology has helped me advance student learning. By learning about the range of assistive technology, from no tech to high tech, I learned that “sometimes it is much more efficient to look within the normal, existing technology to find useful devices or software for students with disabilities than to just focus on finding a specific technology designed specifically for people with disabilities” (Alnahdi, 2014, p. 19). In my current position, I work with many students who need and use assistive technology. Being aware of the levels of assistive technology as well as best practices in assistive technology, as led me to being able to provide and make more informed and knowledgeable decisions in my job. I work with many students who have FM systems. Making sure students have the system with them, making sure I am wearing the parts needed and ensuring that their 504s or IEPs are being met are all areas I learned about and am now comfortable with. During SBAC testing in the spring a student I work with in the classroom, came into the computer lab to finish a test from the day before. She started the test in a small group setting and just needed to finish some questions. Since I was aware she wore an FM system and needs to sit at the front of the classroom to limit sound interference and distractions, I was able to select a computer that was against the wall and in the quietest place, despite that there were 20 other students also testing in the lab. My knowledge led to support this student’s needs.