Edtech 541 Relative Advantage of Spreadsheet Software

As a math teacher, the use of spreadsheet software in the classroom is especially beneficial and relatively easy to incorporate. Spreadsheets offer users the opportunity to organize and analyze numerical data. Collecting data and performing computations on said data can be a rather tedious task without the use of technology; spreadsheet software saves both teacher and student time when working with numbers and calculations. Spreadsheets are easy to use, flexible, and readily available to students and teachers. Since most students are familiar with such programs as Microsoft Excel, its implementation in the classroom is rather intuitive.

There are countless examples of how spreadsheets can be used in a mathematics class. Students can learn how to budget money, record data and find a variety of statistic information on the data, or display charts and graphs representing numerical data visually. Furthermore, “spreadsheets can be set up to numerically solve complex systems of equations, find trends in data, or discover the optimum solution to a problem” (Cahill, 2012). The possibilities are endless when it comes to being able to integrate spreadsheet software in a math class.

Even more impressive than the uses of this software are the advantages in using this technology in the classroom. According to Cahill (2012), teachers use spreadsheets in the classroom because it can increase depth and breadth of knowledge, improve critical skills and improve quantitative literacy.  These skills and experience will then prepare students for using the software later in their careers and help establish important life skills necessary to succeed. Another advantage for using this software is the fact that it can increase motivation and involvement from students (Roblyer & Doering, 2013). Working with numbers is not appealing to every student but the interactive nature of this technology tool can help engage learners. “Constructing and using spreadsheet models forces students to ‘get their hands dirty.’ That is, when students directly interact with a model or data, they may be able to understand it better than they would by taking in a lecture or reading a text” (Cahill, 2012). Finally, using spreadsheet software can appeal to a variety of learning styles, in particular this tool can be useful to a visual learner. Charts and graphs constructed in a program like Excel help students visualize numerical data. “A worksheet can make a picture out of abstract concepts and provide a graphic illustration of what the teacher is trying to communicate” (Roblyer & Doering, 2013).

As with any technological tool, the relative advantages of its use depend on the manner in which it is implemented into the classroom. A teacher can use spreadsheets to enhance learning and engage learners, but it cannot replace the need for instruction. Spreadsheets should support the learning process by engaging students to discover new topics independently, reinforcing concepts taught in class or promoting higher level thinking skills.

Here is my link for an instructional activity in a Trigonometry class: http://mrs826.weebly.com/spreadsheet-lesson.html

 

Resources:

Cahill, M. (2012). Teaching with Spreadsheets. Retrieved on March 1, 2014 from http://serc.carleton.edu/sp/library/spreadsheets/index.html

Doering, A & Roblyer, M. (2013). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (6th Ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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EdTech 541 Relative Advantage of Presentation Software

I remember when I first starting teaching, we were all expected to incorporate technology into our classrooms. For most teachers, this was an intimidating request. Due to its ease of use and availability, it became standard practice for teachers to present their lessons using PowerPoint or some other presentation software. Administrators were pleased because they could “advertise” to parents and school board that the school was promoting 21st century learning through the use of technology. The problem was that some teachers simply transferred their notes onto PowerPoint slides without changing anything about the lesson or the manner in which they taught. The presentations were dull and it was tedious for students to watch a PowerPoint in every class day after day. The truth is that just because a teacher uses the computer for a lesson, does not necessarily mean that he/she is incorporating technology. When presentation software is not used effectively, it loses its value and that is when students see PowerPoints with a negative connation.

A PowerPoint can actually be a very useful educational tool for teachers when it is designed well and presented appropriately. Appealing to a variety of learning styles, engaging learners, focusing attention and providing visual aid are all advantages to using presentation software (Effective Use of Powerpoint, 2014). Furthermore, PowerPoint is an easy to use and easy to learn tool that is available to practically everyone. When presentations are created digitally, they are easy to edit, save, share with your students, and reuse in every class from year to year. For all these reasons, it is no wonder why educators love to use presentation software so often. However, since the use of PowerPoint is so prevalent, its misuse is also very common. Unfortunately, teachers try to overload slides with text, read the presentation word for word, use distracting animations, or overuse it as a tool (Shank, 2011).

As a teacher, any software tool or technology activity that you incorporate into your lesson should always enrich the learning process. A PowerPoint should enhance the presentation; it should never replace the need for the teacher delivering the presentation or distract students from subject at hand. Presentations are wonderful visual aids and allow students to focus their attention on a chart, picture, or screenshot during the lesson. Since the nature of this tool is visual communication, the material presented should be visual. Text should not be the primary focus of a presentation, especially since “we remember images better than we remember words” (Shank, 2011). This type of software tool is appealing because it meets the needs of visual learners and auditory learners. When a presentation is made interactive so that students participate with student response systems or interactive games, then it can meet the needs of kinesthetic learners as well. Interactive, visual presentations engage and motivate students. It takes time and effort to create well-designed, effective presentations, but the relative advantages of using this software tool can be extremely beneficial to students.

Resources:

Effective use of PowerPoint. (2014). UCF Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning. Retrieved on February 22, 2014 from http://www.fctl.ucf.edu/teachingandlearningresources/Technology/PowerPoint/index.php#worksheet.

Shank, Patti. (2011, May 6). Using PowerPoint Effectively in Your Courses. Faculty Focus. Retrieved February 22, 2014 from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/instructional-design/using-powerpoint-effectively-in-your-courses/.

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Edtech 541 Instructional Software Relative Advantage

The integration of technology into curriculum has been significantly increased over the past few years. The beneficial effects of using instructional software to teach students are overwhelming. Software tools support the learning process by providing opportunities for additional practice or instruction, using games that motivate and excite students, and allowing teachers to plan dynamic, effective lessons. It is important to note that instructional software is designed specifically to assist with the teaching process, not replace the teacher altogether (Roblyer & Doering, 2013, p.77). There are five types of instructional software that are classified by the teaching function that they are designed to assist: drill and practice, tutorials, simulations, instructional games, and problem solving. In the math curriculum, some of these software functions are more applicable than others. Ultimately, a software tool is only going to be useful if it is incorporated into the lesson effectively. “Each software function serves a different purpose during learning and, consequently, has its own appropriate integration strategies” (Roblyer & Doering, 2013, p.77).

Drill and Practice software is very practical for a math teacher to incorporate into the curriculum. There are countless websites that offer students ample opportunities to practice skills and drill through example problems. Drill and practice software ultimately replaces the necessity for worksheets and excessive homework problems. A huge benefit for using this type of software is that students receive immediate feedback. Students are motivated to master a skill efficiently while working at their own pace in a private setting. Since it is so important for students to have a solid foundation of prerequisite skills, drill and practice software is extremely useful in math education. A couple of good websites that provide drill and practice opportunities include IXL Math Practice and Xtra Math.

While the use of tutorial software may not be integrated into a curriculum, it still has relative advantage for math students. It is so common for students to miss class or fall behind in their work. By providing access to tutorial software, students can get caught up or even ahead in the class. Some students can learn more effectively when presented with a self-contained, self-paced unit of instruction. I always provided my students with links to great tutorial sites such as Visual Calculus or Cool Math. The use of tutorials can provide additional instruction and resources for a difficult topic to understand.

Simulation software models real systems or hypothetical situations for students to see how they can impact the process themselves. There are so many advantages for incorporating a simulation activity into a lesson. Students seem to be more motivated to learn and the opportunities for students to learn are more attainable. However, simulations must be well-implemented and fit the needs of students for it to be effective. I have never used any simulation software in my teaching methods before so I don’t have much experience with this function or how it benefits math students.

Most kids love to play games and have a natural drive for competition. For these reasons, the use of technology based games in the classroom is very effective. Some students complain that math can be tedious and boring at times. Using instructional games can help change students’ attitudes and motivate them in the learning of new material. “Games provide teachers with opportunities for taking advantage of a students’ innate desire to compete to get students to focus on a curriculum topic” (Roblyer & Doering, 2013, p.96). In math, games are helpful tools when reviewing topics or practicing skills. Review games such as Jeopardy or Who Wants to be a Millionaire are both great examples to involve students and promote a fun but effective learning environment.

Problem solving software functions are applicable to the math field because it is crucial for students to be able to apply skills in order to solve higher level math problems. Following instruction, students are able to solve the “plug and chug” type problems easily but they usually struggle with the application type problems. This is because a lot of students lack the necessary problem solving skills to tackle higher level questions. These skills need to be fostered and promoted so that students are able to thinking critically and rise to the challenge of solving problems. Annenberg Learner provides interactive lessons that get students to ask themselves the right questions so that they might be able to solve more difficult problems. Students that can apply their skills and think logically and critically benefit greatly since they are able to succeed when faced with challenging tasks.

Resources:

Doering, A & Roblyer, M. (2013). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (6th Ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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EdTech 541 Acceptable Use Policy Reflection

Every year, on the first day of school, most teachers spend a portion of their first class reviewing their syllabus, class rules, and consequences.  While this obligation may get tiring and redundant to explain year after year, the necessity of starting a class off with a clearly defined set of expectations is undeniable.  Usually parents and students are required to sign the syllabus as an acknowledgement of these expectations. In many ways, an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is the technology syllabus for a school.  The National Education Association suggests that an effective AUP contain the following six key elements:

  1. a preamble – an introduction stating why the policy is needed
  2. a definition section – a explanation of the technology use and key terms within the policy
  3. a policy statement – details the technology and circumstances that the policy covers
  4. an acceptable uses section – specifies appropriate student use of technology within the institution
  5. an unacceptable uses section – gives clear instruction on the unacceptable behaviors regarding technology use within the intuition
  6. a violations/sanctions section – advises students how to report violations and specifies the consequences for violating the policy

In the same manner as a syllabus, a typical AUP has a section where students and parents sign the document acknowledging the responsibilities and liabilities for accepting the policy. (EducationWorld)

Unfortunately, many AUPs (and syllabi) are often ignored or taken lightly. Bosco and Krueger compare traditional AUPs to the agreements that we automatically accept whenever we buy products or sign up for services online (2011). Even though clicking the accept button may satisfy certain legal requirements, most people don’t pay much attention to the text agreement (Bosco & Krueger, 2011). When students and parents don’t pay enough attention to the technology policy and sign off in agreement to it, the document isn’t practical. The acknowledgement of an acceptable use policy within a school setting should go beyond the legality aspect.  Students and teachers should be practicing responsible, ethical, safe and acceptable behavior both off and online. This is why I believe that a Responsible Use Policy, rather than just an AUP, regarding the use of all technology devices for educational purposes should be put in place and carefully reviewed at all schools.

Lisa Nielson said it best, “…tools and media have no intent…people do, and the policy is made for people. Real people with real language that can be understood by parents, students, and teachers” (2012). A policy should communicate the responsibilities of using technology in the educational setting in clear, easy to understand terms. After reviewing several AUPs while studying this topic, I found myself confused, bored and intimidated most of the time while reading through them. Sometimes, the legal jargon was a bit cumbersome to read through or the document was so detailed it was overwhelming to read all of it. However, the ones that I found the most off-putting were when the tone of the document was accusatory. Even obedient, trustworthy students might feel intimidated by the threats of misconduct and the variety of limitations placed on technology use at school. It may seem that web-filtering and banning certain sites on school networks would prevent transgression, but really we aren’t doing students or teachers any good with this restrictive approach. Students need to learn to become responsible, ethical and trustworthy digital citizens and school policies should promote this behavior rather than try to restrict use (Bosco & Krueger, 2011). The use of a RUP sends the message to students that they trust them and want them to learn how to take responsibility for their actions. The role of teachers and parents in a school that implements an RUP is to teach students how to search for information and communicate electronically safely and sensibly.

I reviewed several Acceptable Use Policies while writing this reflection. First, I looked at the AUPs for my last two schools.  JSerra is a private high school located in southern California, their AUP is in the form of a lengthy, detailed technology handbook that all students must read and agree to each year. North Stafford High School is a public school and they adopted the county’s AUP as their own. This document follows the NEA’s prescribed outline fairly close but it is difficult to read and seems very detached from the actual integration of technology within the school. I also
checked out my alma mater’s AUP, Mercy Academy. They include a section titled ‘Acceptable Use’ in the student handbook. I felt that this AUP was the most up to date and suitable policy compared to the first two. Finally, I searched the internet to find an example of a Responsible Use Policy and found one written for Greensboro Day School.  This example confirmed my opinion that RUPs are more relevant and powerful than an AUP.

Bosco, J. & Krueger, K. (2011, July 20). Moving From ‘Acceptable’ to ‘Responsible’ Use in a Web 2.0 World. Retrieved February 4, 2014 from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/07/20/37bosco.h30.html

Education World. (n.d.). Getting Started on the Internet:  Developing an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). Retrieved February 4, 2014 from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr093.shtml

Neilson, L. (2012, June 3). Looking to create a social media or BYOD policy? Look no further. Retrieved February 4, 2014 from http://www.techlearning.com/Default.aspx?tabid=67&EntryId=4355#sthash.JC9iLfyj.dpuf

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EdTech 541 Vision Statement

Edtech 541 Vision Statement – Week 2 Reflection

As an educator, the most important question you should ask yourself is, “What do my students need to learn?” This simple question should drive your entire curriculum and lesson planning throughout the course.  After affirming the goals set for your students, your instructional approach should reflect the best possible way to help students achieve these objectives.  According to Roblyer and Doering (2013), “planning must always begin with this question: What specific needs do my students and I have that (any given resources) can help meet?” (p. 10).  Technology should enhance the learning process and should be integrated carefully and purposefully.  The first phase of the technology integration planning (TIP) model for teachers emphasizes that classroom problems and technology based solutions should be analyzed prior to implementation (Roblyer and Doering, 2013, p.55).  Basically, technology tools should be used to meet the educational objectives, not out of a requirement or the novelty of using it. Technology implementation should be seamless and intuitive for both teacher and students alike (Edutopia, 2007).

It is a common misconception that all these advancements in technology make a classroom teacher less valuable or necessary. Roblyer and Doering (2013) summarize important points that have been learned throughout the history of educational technology and conclude that “Teachers always will be more important than technology” (p.10). Teachers who understand the role technology plays in education are crucial. “Teaching is a complex combination of what teachers know about their content, how they decide to teach that content, and the tools they use to carry out their plans” (Roblyer and Doering, 2013, p. 53).  Thus, it is up to the teacher which technology tool should be used to create meaningful and effective instruction. This means that teachers should constantly be learning about the available technological resources and be willing to change teaching methods and materials as needed.  A good teacher will strive to incorporate technology to help meet the needs and challenges of teaching difficult subjects, to engage and motivate 21st century students and instill invaluable life skills in students.

Often teachers get asked by students, “When am I ever going to use this in real life?” The truth is that not all students will need to know the detailed history of the French Revolution or the plot of A Tale of Two Cities or how to solve a quadratic equation. However, life skills that students gain from school such as problem solving, critical thinking, logical reasoning, communication, creativity and collaboration are vital to a student’s future success (Partnership, 2009).  In order to grasp these “learning to learn” skills and prepare themselves for a successful future, students need to be literate in using technology, analyzing information, and interpreting communication media (Roblyer and Doering, 2013, p.26). The need to teach students these 21st century skills is why it is so important to integrate technology into the learning process.  Students in the 21st century live in a world where they easily have “access to an abundance of information, experience rapid changes in technology tools, and possess the ability to collaborate and make individual contributions on an unprecedented scale” (Partnership, 2009). Thus, it has never been more important to implement technology in the classroom. We cannot expect our students to be prepared for the future if we do not embrace the use of technology. Technology has revolutionized school and the way that students learn; it just has to be implemented effectively and seamlessly to achieve this potential.

Edutopia. (2007). Technology Integration Professional Development Guide. Retrieved on January 29, 2014 from http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-guide-description

Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2009). Framework for 21st Century Learning. Retrieved on January 29, 2014 from http://www.p21.org/about-us/p21-framework

Roblyer, M.D. and Doerling, A.H. (2012). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (6th Ed.). Allyn & Bacon.

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Edtech 523 Communication Plan

Routine Administrative Tasks

  • Write meaningful, thought provoking discussion forum prompts
  • Check content area discussion forums for new posts
  • Check emails, student lounge, tech help forum and other places for student questions, concerns or comments that need replies
  • Contact students that are not participating or are participating too much; communicate with students regularly to promote a strong learning community
  • Update links, due dates, and web resources accordingly

 

Discussion Board Strategies

  • Establish a sense of community and open communication between students and instructor early in the course.
  • Provide clear and specific guidelines and expectations for participation/ contributions to the discussion boards
  • Set clear and manageable deadlines for postings and encourage students to get their work done early.  Make a student post an initial response to the discussion prompt earlier than the module due date so that all students have time to respond to the posts by the deadline.
  • Develop engaging prompts that promote an active discussion.
  • Encourage posts that provide explanations, examples, questions, speculations, alternative viewpoints, and connections to personal experience.
  • Model exemplary behavior and motivate students to participate in discussions.  Respond to a few of the early posts to ensure students that they are on the right track or try to redirect students if they are not.
  • Prepare for the discussion and actively participate with the class.

Evaluating Discussion Board Posts

Criteria

Outstanding

Sufficient

Poor

Quality of Posts The contributions made are extremely profound and   relevant to the discussion topic.    Student demonstrates knowledge of the subject matter and offers   explanations and connections that keep the discussion active. The contributions made are sufficient but not extremely   significant.  Student displays an   average grasp of the subject matter and offers enough explanation but nothing   that motivates a lively discussion. The contributions made are of little substance and do not   add anything of significance to the discussion forum.
Quantity of Posts Student makes at   least 3 posts to the discussion forum.    The first response should offer personal insight and be at least 200   words in length.  The other two posts   should be in response to other posts and offer constructive criticism or   significant feedback. Student posts at   least their initial response and some response to another post.  These posts may be lacking in the   requirements of length or depth. Student does not   post a sufficient initial response and/or does not reply to others in   discussion forum.
Timeliness Student posts to the discussion forum by the required   deadlines.  Initial post is made by the   first deadline to provide enough time for classmates to respond by the ending   due date of the discussion forum. Student posts their responses to the discussion forum but   is either late posting their initial response or late posting their responses   to their classmates’ posts. Student either does not participate in the discussion   forum or misses the deadlines for their contributions.
Grammar There are no   spelling, punctuation or grammar errors throughout the post. There are a few   spelling, punctuation, or grammar errors within the post. There are numerous   grammar errors within the post or the post seems hastily written.

 

Discussion Board Management Issues/ Solutions

  1. Topics are uninteresting/ unmotivating and don’t illicit meaningful responses from majority of learners.

Solution: Instructor needs to prepare for the discussion and write discussion topics that motivate and pull students into the conversation.

  1. A few students dominate the conversation.

Solution: Instructor should email these students and try to encourage them to allow other students a chance to participate before responding to every post.

  1. Too many students and postings to follow and students become overwhelmed.
  2. Posting original thoughts becomes difficult in large discussion forums.
  3. Some learners may feel isolated if they don’t receive a response/feedback.

Solution to 3, 4, & 5: Instructor should break apart a large group into smaller groups for discussions.

  1. Expectations/Guidelines for discussion weren’t clearly communicated by the instructor.

Solution: Instructor should provide a manageable amount of reading and coursework and clearly communicate this from the beginning of a discussion.  If students become confused, try to offer clarification by posting the expectations to the discussion forum answering student questions/concerns.

  1. Remarks/topics may leave some learners offended/upset.

Solution: Instructor should emphasize netiquette and model appropriate behavior throughout the course.

  1. Discussion board isn’t monitored closely by the instructor.
  2. Discussion becomes stagnant too quickly or students do not post responses with enough substance.

Solution to 8 & 9: Instructor needs to prioritize their time and efforts in the class to manage an effective online discussion and make sure that they are “seen” by the class.

10. Technical Issues with the program may arise.

Solution: Instructor should make themselves available for student questions throughout the discussion and to help troubleshoot any technical difficulties that should arise.

Other Management Issues

  • Encourage good time management strategies and study skills for students
  • Promote good netiquette and use of appropriate language amongst students
  • Provide accommodations and considerations for students of varying learning and emotional needs

Reference
Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online learning communities: Effective strategies for the virtual classroom. (2nd ed., pp. 3-43). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Fischer, K., Reiss, D., & Young, A. Ten tips for generating engaged online discussions. Electronic communication across the curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.wordsworth2.net/activelearning/ecacdiscustips.htm

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EDTECH 506 Personal Introduction Image

   This is my personal introduction image for the first week of Edtech 506.  I chose to layout my images in the form of a “scrapbook” page.  I personally enjoy scrapbooking and I found it to be an appropriate application for this project.  In the center of the image is the moving van that just recently relocated us from the West Coast to the East Coast.  I am a proud military wife and I embrace the opportunities that the Marine Corps has given us. We moved from Kentucky to Virginia to California and now we live in Washington D.C, so I included an image of the country.  I also included a picture of the Iwo Jima Memorial (taken where we now live) to represent our connection to the Marine Corps and a picture of an American flag (taken where we used to live) to represent our commitment to our country.   The picture in the bottom left hand corner is from the day my husband Matt came back from his second deployment!

   I tried to not only include my family life but some of my hobbies as well.  I love to travel and I dabble with photography.  There are four pictures across the top of a few different places I have traveled within the United States.  The picture in the upper left hand corner is of my Dad and I on our cross country road trip last summer. I think the beauty and the variety of landscape in our country is truly unbeatable.  I enjoy running, biking and working out so I included a picture of my husband and I after running a marathon.  I spent the past 3 years teaching math at JSerra Catholic High School.  It was an incredible job and I miss teaching there terribly so I included the school’s logo.  While I was living in California, I developed a love of wine so I included that as well.  Finally, I have picture of my husband and I at an Auburn football game because we are both huge fans!  Well, I think that pretty much wraps me up, I hope you enjoy.

Image

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