Digital Hub Finally Under Construction!

My hub has finally found a home on Wix. After tries with Google Sites, G+, and WordPress; Wix is the big winner. It is easy enough to use, allows for images, videos, and html scripts.


I am still amazed by the amount of time it takes to create online content. Most of my work was drafted during previous courses but it still takes hours to edit, unify fonts, margins, add images, and the like.

The site map I created is a great help in keeping my thoughts, and therefore my site, organized. I have even been making notes on the map as I work. So far I have added everything from the “Keely” vein of the Coggle (blue font).

Now I am working on adding all of the tech reviews (yellow font). Initially I made a single page and added each as a link to a webpage that was the Google Doc. I decided that didn’t look right so now I am trying to make a new page for each one and add the text and images directly to the site. This is a very tedious process as the assignments created in previous course cannot be simply copied and pasted directly from the document. Text must be added separate from images and separate from video. I have had to recreate a lot of screenshots!

I can already say I know how to use anchors, add images, videos, buttons, make sub-pages, change backgrounds and more. Pretty soon I will have to add Wix to the list of tech I am comfortable with!



Digital Hub Needs a Home

I am currently suffering from a form of writer’s block. It’s rather a long story, but here goes. During the Fall semester we were required to create a Digital Learning Hub. I started with a WordPress. I had been using the site for my blog since our very first class in the IT&DML 6th year and I shared the URL with a few educators in my personal learning network. I spent a significant amount of time familiarizing myself with WordPress, making stationary pages and adding new content. Overtime, I decided against the WordPress. I was struggling with formatting pages and using WPAdmin and moved over to a Google Review 2016   Site Builder Report

I had a Google Site for my school but it was just a placeholder. The first version only identified my name and my teaching assignment. I referred students and parents to visit the team website or my Google Classroom for more information. Charged with creating a digital learning hub I completely revamped the site. I added in lesson plans, multimodal tutorials, and tech etiquette. Knowing the program culminated in a digital portfolio I have been continuously adding to my site over the course of the program. Now, I need to create a new site but I am not ready to move on from my old site. Therein lies my writer’s block. How do I move on from my creation. How do I look past all of the time and energy that went into that work and start over? The positives are that a lot of the content can be copied easily as it was created in Google Drive. This does limit me to making my digital portfolio on a platform that is compatible with Google. I have considered using another Google site but it feels redundant and my enthusiasm for the project stalled.
google-plusWell, it just happened. In writing this post I have broken through my writer’s block! I was reviewing platforms that are compatible with Google and G+ popped up. I am going to investigate using a G+ community. The communities are easy to create and easy for users to navigate. G+ allows you to design the layout by adding categories and the “news feed” read is expected of modern digital platforms. Best of all users can easily interact with my digital portfolio making it both shiny and sticky! As W. Ian O’Byrne states in his blog titled Use Google Sites to Build Your Own Digital Learning Hub, “Shiny means that it looks polished and everything is thoughtfully laid out. Sticky means that it draws the reader in, and provides some interactivity.” I can make an open community or decide to go with invitation only. The excitement is back!

Me as an educator…

The goal of education is to create lifelong learners. Lifelong learners enjoy practice. They crave improvement. They are self-directed, independent learners. They chose to pursue knowledge that leads toward their personal goals. My teaching philosophy is based on four tenants that create lifelong learners; allowing for unassessed practice, fostering independence, personalizing learning, and above all engaging students. I wrote a metaphor explaining my philosophy that I am very proud of. I feel as if it is “perfected” even though I make minor edits every time I read it. I am aware that most teaching philosophies are not written as stories. But I feel like mine fits with my idea of learning. It should be personalized, and I am a storyteller. It should foster independence, and I didn’t copy or even remix an exemplar. It should allow for unassessed practice, and I am asking for your feedback before I submit my digital portfolio for a grade. It should be engaging, and I love developing my ideas through a metaphor and I enjoy drawing the reader into my ideas with the visualization. 

My concerns are that my statement is not “academic” enough. I have not broken my ideas down into the correct “buzzwords” and supported my claims with research. Honestly, I don’t want to. If I change my teaching philosophy statement into a formal document I will be moving away from who I am as an educator and my vision of education. I am not a stuffed shirt standing at the podium spouting off facts for my students to record. I am at my students’ side, experiencing history, and taking detours on topics that hold our interest, all the while emphasizing content skills. I debated creating a two-part statement; ½ story, ½ dissertation, but it still doesn’t feel right. So, I ask you, what you think? You have traveled through each of these course with me and see non-traditional methods of demonstrating what we know. Does my statement demonstrate who I am as a teacher or I have I missed the mark? How can I make it better without moving away from who I am as an educator?


stock-photo-basketball-just-missed-shot-133735Imagine you walk into a gymnasium for the very first time.  You see the coach holding a basketball and you watch her shoot a free throw.  The skill has been modeled for you.  The coach passes you the ball and asks you to take a shot.  You grab the ball, reflect on the modeled behavior the coach demonstrated and push the ball toward the hoop.  It falls short, way short.  The coach looks over and calls out “F!”  She records this data in her grade book and says try again.  You grab the ball, understanding more about the weight of the projectile from your first experience and push the ball forward again.  This time you hit the backboard hard.  The coach states “D,” and rebounds for you.  Five shots later, you finally make a basket.  The coach is pleased and yells out “A, way to go.”  She pulls out a calculator and starts averaging your score for the day.

F, D, D, D, F, D, A, your average is an D-.  Is this fair?  Did this actually assess your ability to make a shot.  Should your practice have been graded?  Are you motivated to continue?timthumb

This scenario is unthinkable and yet it happens everyday in the classroom.  Timothy Keith reported a correlation between homework and achievement on standardized test scores and teachers doubled down on assigning and assessing practice (Keith, 1982).  Keith may have found a connection between practice and scores but I disagree on grading this practice.  We treat everyday as if were gameday; keeping score and tallying up points.  An D- on an assignment a student did not understand is not replaced when a student demonstrates understanding after additional instruction.

Today’s stulifebar-heartsdents, raised on video games and apps, truly have no experience with this system.  In Candy Crush you keep trying until you run out of lives.  When you run out of lives you simply wait the stated time and try again.  In Crossy Road you get hit by a car, grab a new avatar and try to cross the road again.  Why is school the one place where practice can impact you negatively?  You practice math equations for homework and your grade suffers?  You practice conjugating verbs for Spanish as class work and your grade decreases?  This concept does not apply in any other realm of our students’ lives and it should not be a part of our classrooms.

The proper use of technology in the classroom is the key to changing educators’ mindset about practice.  A student can retake a Google Quiz until they get it right.  Technology will eliminate teacher concerns regarding setting up one-on-ones meetings, grading and feedback.  Newsela can offer articles at just the right reading level at the click of a button.  Spelling City and Reflex Math allow students to practice teacher selected content and skills, without placing an excessive burden on the classroom teacher.  25 years from now students will be able to search a content or skill set they wish to practice; identify their grade level and have unlimited access to practice.  You will find kids begging their parents to stay up late and take one more quiz in the same manner my son begs me to stay up late and shoot the basketball a few more times.

Un-assessed practice will also help us combat the test-crazed, empirical data driven rabbit hole we have fallen into. If we continue on our current path, standardized test scores will become more and more important; determining funding for schools, teacher retention, and student tracking. Only practice can ensure our students are ready for these high-stakes tests and un-assessed practice will give students the confidence and motivation to prepare appropriately.students   Technology will allow students the practice they need to become masters of their own education.


Digital Portfolio & Engagement

guwg-the-end-is-nearThe end is near! It is hard to believe I entered the Information Technology & Digital Media Literacy 6th Year program at the University of New Haven a mere 12 months ago. I am now in my final semester and I am preparing a Digital Portfolio to summarize my learning. I will design a website to display the content I created over the course of the program. This process begins with reflection. When I look back on each semester I can surmise that I have investigated the innumerable ways technology enhances the educational process. Just this week I read two articles on the topic: Saga Brigg’s 2015 article Where Edtech Can Help: 10 Most Powerful Uses of Technology for Learning and Jonan Donaldson’s 2012 article Digital Portfolios in the Age of the Read/Write Web.jonan

Saga’s in depth explanations of ten tech uses include: critical thinking, mobile learning, access to education, deeper learning, continuous feedback, unlimited and immediate, creation and contribution, social connectedness, global awareness, and understanding learning. Donaldson see’s the use of technology as a transformative process, taking a student from learner to creator. He identifies the ability of a digital portfolio to cause students to become skilled information processors; locating, organizing, interpreting, constructing and evaluating information from all learning situations and applying it to any given task. Donaldson states technology “transforms learning into an active experience” as learners become “producers of information, collaborators, and self-directing learners” (2012).1f188d136c5fbc1b97b75478af258aeb

What Saga and Donaldson have in common is that all of their examples demonstrate technology is engaging. Donaldson discusses the intrinsic motivation and autonomy that technology can provide, whereas Saga focuses on allowing students to “openly write on topics that intrigue them (students) and give vent to their ideas without having to worry about grading or grammatical errors” (Saga, 2015). They both realize students are engaged in learning when technology is part of the equation. As I begin work on my digital portfolio this week, I will keep this idea in mind. The ability of technology to engage students will be a theme I incorporate throughout.