Each of the following artifacts has contributed to my understanding of and ability to apply each of the five ISTE standards for educators.
Artifact # 1: custom Video Game & Makey-Makey Controller
This artifact is a combination of a video game created on a program called Scratch using simple codes and graphics, and a custom video-game controller created with cardboard, duct tape, Gorilla glue, aluminum foil, and a Makey-Makey.
Our group's Makey Makey video game controller.
Our controller straps to the player's arm and is controlled with two foil arrows.
ISTE Standard # 1: Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity.
Is there any greater purpose for a teacher than to facilitate and inspire learning and creativity in his or her students? In my mind, inspiring students to think outside the box and to pursue gains of knowledge in unique and innovative ways is the essence of what the teacher strives to do each day. In today's world, students are completely immersed in technology much of the time. The youngest students are now becoming more and more proficient with smartphones, tablets, and computers before they even step foot onto a school campus. It just seems natural to use that technology to inspire students in their learning as well, and to motivate them to create.
However, I've always been a little uncertain when using technology in the classroom, mostly because I wasn't familiar with all the resources available to me and the steps necessary to find the perfect online or computer-based activity to go with a lesson. If I couldn't find an online game or activity that matched my standard just by Google searching, I moved on and shied away from using technology to engage my kids.
The artifact pictured above is one solution to that problem. This semester, I learned how to create my own online games and animations using a program called Scratch, where I selected certain commands and if-then statements and linked them together to control the movement of images on the computer screen. I also worked with a group of other students to create a controller to go with the game using a Makey Makey (a set of cables that turns any physical object into an input for your computer). That means that I am not just limited to what's already out there...I can make my own games and activities to engage and inspire my students in whatever concept they are learning. If a Google search for a simple game about space and the effects of gravity turns up no results, then no problem. I can make my own. If I'm trying to show my kids how a scene in a book would look acted out, but there is no animation for it already out there, I can make my own. And furthermore, now that I know how to do this, I can show my kids how to do this. And they can make their own.
Nothing inspires creativity in students like having them physically make something to demonstrate their learning, and nothing motivates kids like a chance to do that using computers and unique hardware. My students would be able to make not only a video game or animation to demonstrate proof of their learning, but they could also make a unique controller to go with it, out of paper, drawings, sculptures, or anything else they create. The possibilities are endless. It just requires a dash of creativity.
No longer do I feel limited by what is already out there; I can create what will best benefit and engage my students. And I now have one more very exciting tool that I can teach to my kids, so that they can create and express their ideas and knowledge as well.
ARTIFACT # 2: Technology-Rich Elementary ELA Lesson Plan
This artifact is a lesson plan for grade 3 ELA that utilizes various technologies to engage and assess students.
ISTE Standard # 2: Design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments.
Technology is changing by the minute, and with it, educational opportunities. It is important for an educator to keep up with innovation and fresh ideas for the classroom. Teachers should be knowledgeable about the digital tools available to them, and how they can use those resources in their lessons to not only hook their students into a lesson, but also easily and efficiently assess them.
Before taking this class and working on this artifact, my tendency was to shy away from using technology in my lesson plans because I felt overwhelmed and unsure of what I was doing. The SmartBoard was a huge mystery to me, and with my limited knowledge of educational technology, I thought that was pretty much all I had to work with.
However, I have learned so much about the different resources that are out there for educators and classrooms, and about the exciting and engaging programs and activities available on the Internet that I can use to make learning exciting and rigorous for my kids. I was required to create a lesson plan that included the use of some kind of ed tech. After just being in the class for a few weeks, I already had quite a few ideas of engaging online resources I could use. I ended up incorporating Google Slides, Kahoot! (an online assessment tool that makes a quiz feel like a thrilling competition for students), and a "flipped lesson" (a video made by the teacher used for review and remediation that kids can watch on their own time) in the lesson, and I feel that those additions would really enhance the learning experience for my students.
I no longer feel overwhelmed by technology; in fact, I've been so inspired by this course and this project that I've been trying to incorporate the resources I've been discovering into my current lessons. We don't have much technology at our disposal (I have one computer and one SmartBoard in my room, but no student computers or tablets), but I'm using what I can and trying to be innovative. I've become a big believer in Google apps like Slides and YouTube for use with my projector , and my kids and I have struggled through/enjoyed using Kahoot! with one device, and taking quizzes as a group for review. Hopefully in future years, my resources will increase and I can start adding in even more exciting technological aspects to my lesson plans.
ARTIFACT # 3: Flipped Lesson
This artifact is a "flipped lesson": a mini-lesson recorded onto video that students can watch on their own time at their own pace for remediation and review.
ISTE Standard # 3: Model digital age work and learning.
As teachers, we model everything, all the time. We're modeling how to work math concepts or how to read for theme and plot. We model good citizenship and how to treat others with respect. Why would we not also model the use of technology for our students? There are so many ways that teachers can model tech during their lessons, so that students can become more familiar with the technology that is out there and the processes and skills involved in using it.
As I mentioned earlier, I have often avoided using computers and Internet programs in the past, so I did not do a lot of modeling of digital age resources for my students. I had never gotten very technologically creative with my approach in the classroom, nothing past showing a PowerPoint presentation or using a document camera, and it certainly had never occurred to me to create videos for my students to model the concepts we were learning in class.
The artifact above is a "flipped lesson," which is a component of my ELA lesson plan. To complete this flipped lesson, I had to sit down and film a mini-lesson for my students, reviewing a standard we'd learned and providing examples (a.k.a. modeling the concept), edit the video, and upload it to YouTube for public view. The flipped lesson allows the teacher to provide remediation for students who do not understand a concept or who were not in attendance during the day the lesson was taught without having to spend extra time during the class period. It also allows those students to watch and process the video at their own pace. After having completed a flipped lesson, I now understand a new way to digitally model a concept for my kids, and feel comfortable creating video content and uploading work to the Internet for students and parents to view.
This assignment made me feel more confident in my ability to use technology to model for students. I now know how simple and effective it can be to create videos for students to watch, and have a much better concept of what remediation looks like.
ARTIFACT # 4: Digital Literacy Newsletter
This artifact is a digital newsletter created on a website called Smore.com that describes and discusses three major aspects of digital citizenship and includes embedded videos and photos.
ISTE Standard # 4: Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility.
Students are becoming increasingly involved in and interested in the Internet and social media, and we cannot assume that children and adolescents inherently know how to keep themselves and their reputations safe online, or how to communicate effectively. For that reason, it is important that teachers instruct and model how to use the Internet wisely, and promote safe and responsible practices.
I have always felt strongly that one should be very cautious when communicating and sharing information online, but have never made the connection before that it is the responsibility of the teacher to make sure that students not only know how important it is, but also what steps to take to protect themselves and others.
The artifact above shows how I have grown in two ways. First, the content of the digital newsletter is evidence that I have studied specific ways to be safe and responsible online (i.e. not sharing personal information with strangers, reporting suspicious or uncomfortable online conversations, and giving credit for sources used in schoolwork and personal creations), and I am now able to effectively communicate that with my students. Second, I now am able to share information like that in the format of digital media, like this newsletter. In this way, I can discuss important topics like these not only with my students in person, but in writing, and in a way that can easily be shared with parents, friends, and the community.
After having completed this artifact, I now feel much more confident in my ability to explain what digital citizenship is and what responsible online practices are. I feel compelled to make sure my kids are not in the dark about how to interact online, and to take the necessary steps to keep them safe and help them thrive.
Artifact # 5: Google Level 1 Educator Certification
This artifact is a certificate showing my certification as a Level 1 Google Certified Educator.
ISTE Standard # 5: Engage in professional growth and leadership.
As technology is constantly changing and evolving, teachers have a responsibility to keep up with it. That means that we must take steps toward understanding and applying the advances in educational technology into our own schools, and often it means that we must step up and be teacher-leaders, helping guide other faculty and staff towards advancement as well.
I have never before felt any compulsion or desire towards being a teacher-leader. I have always followed the crowd, especially in terms of technology, where I felt so overwhelmed and limited.
However, this class has opened my eyes to so many more technological options and opportunities for my students and myself, and one of those technological options is the Google G-Suite for Education, which is becoming more and more prominent in schools across the country and specifically in our region. After training all semester, at the end of this course I participated in and passed a Google for Education Level 1 Certification exam, and am now considered proficient in the basic GAFE skills that would be beneficial to educators.
Receiving this certification not only made me feel like I could be more effective and use more efficient and updated tools as an educator, but also inspired me to move forward and take on more leadership opportunities in my school when they arise. Teachers are naturally supposed to lead-- we lead our kids every day. Why wouldn't I better myself professionally (especially in the realm of technology) and then use my knowledge to lead other teachers?
Artifact # 6: Professional Development Prezi
This bonus artifact is a presentation created on a website called Prezi.com that is intended for use as a visual aid in a Professional Development meeting.
This artifact is a little bonus, related to ISTE Standard # 5. As I mentioned earlier, I have felt more compelled to take on the role of a leader and help other teachers advance in their understanding of technology.
This artifact is a Prezi presentation I created to simulate a presentation that I might give for a professional development training. The assignment required that I do a lot of research on an educational app, and then break it down to explain its benefits to other educators. In doing so, I familiarized myself with Prezi, an online program that helps you create dynamic and interesting presentations, and also had to think through the outline of what information would be relevant and useful to other educators, and what I would want to know myself.
I feel after completing this that I could be an effective presenter and could really help other teachers get excited about new tools and ideas coming up in the world of Ed Tech.