I would also like to mention how I have never though of a school as a business. Now, after taking this course, I cannot simply separate the two, as they are so closely connected. I did not mention it as one of my major take aways, but I think that this may be the most important take away for me because I feel that everything else branches off of this idea. I feel that I never saw it before, but our business is the success and safety of the students. Throughout all of these modules, I feel that this is what will stick with me the most. Just as any business, an EA plan must be present, appropriate to the mission or vision, communicated, and reevaluated in an appropriate manner according to the given business.
What are your three most critical discoveries for this course? How will the learning you have gained serve you in your role as an educational technology leader?
My three most critical discoveries for this course:
1) Communication and collaboration is more crucial than I even realized when it comes to a business. One cannot just simply count on the leaders of the business to take care of it all. There were so many areas regarding decision making that I never realized I should know about as a stakeholder. Our school does an amazing job at keeping us in the loop, but when thinking about other schools, I worry about their communication and how much or little those teachers understand about their school.
2) More goes into choosing a tool for technology than I realized. Collaboration with nearby and distant schools can save your school money and a lot of hassle. Do not forget the mission and vision of your business when choosing these tools.
3) If you want true feedback, and to encourage any use of technology or further growth in general, support as well as continuous communication are crucial. For success of anything new, one must feel comfortable that they are not doing this on their own and be reminded of the many learning curves.
I feel that although typically, school districts have maintained separate plans for technology when looking at the plans between district and individual schools, I am not so sure that this is the best way to go. On some cases schools have their own branch. For example, different schools have a different focus whether it be performing arts, technology, sciences, etc. But when I think about those schools, I feel that that may be more addressing the charter schools vs. public schools. When thinking about what I know of public schools I feel that it would not be appropriate to have different plans. I feel that in the true sense of collaboration as well as accountability, those plans should match up. I feel that if the district is holding these schools under their umbrella, their mission should be one. In a way the district is setting the goals and standards for these schools to teach by and in doing that, ensuring that teachers are challenging their students to the same degree and holding all schools accountable.
When creating this brick in regards to my school, I found it difficult to decide on which tool we could improve upon. I think that it was most difficult because I was under the impression that this had to be in regards to something that was in fact being replaced or that we should replace. After meeting again with our technology coordinator, discussing how he went about creating his brick and then going back into the example to understand that it isn't always something that is being replaced. I was then able to make a connection (with my technology coordinators recommendation) to an area that I felt most comfortable with yet understood the ins and out enough to pinpoint areas of growth. In this module, I used this "brick" to report our current status using the program Empower3000. For the most part, this program offers useful feedback and assessments to understand and track our students' growth yet just as everything does, has room for improvement which we plan on looking further into.
I feel that I originally was overthinking this module. When trying to answer these questions and fill in my chart, I made it out to be much more difficult than it should have been. I decided to not just meet with one of my coworkers, but two. After talking with Chas, a fellow teacher, and Alex, our technology coordinator, I realized that I did in fact know some of these areas already. There were areas that without help, I would not have been able to fill in. I was able to answer and understand our past practices, what we chose to do and why. I was also able to remember from last year, what we had noted in terms of changes that needed to be made before this next year's testing. One thing that I remember as we practiced during one of our PD is the settings on our iPads. Having taken a practice test myself, I was able to better understand why we would choose to use Chromebooks instead. Overall I think that there were some areas that every teacher should know and then I felt that some areas were not as important for me to have memorized, but know who to talk to when I need that particular information. I feel that this assignment was a great reminder of what to be ready for in a few weeks.
By displaying upon the data in this approach, an organization can see the pros and cons of all programs being considered. What can be difficult is the decision making and by organizing all aspects in this manner, it is an easy to use tool in discussions. Considering so many aspects such as cost, outcomes, accessibility, functionality, use of standards and much more can cause an organization of any kind to overlook certain aspects that may be the tool for improvement in their business. After all, why else would these discussions be held? In any organization, the time for reflection and such conversations are to simply move from good to great and find overall improvements. This is a great way to ensure that programs are held accountable and are then worth the money and time that the business is putting into them. By using this for all, it also provide for fair representation of each program which then helps the organization in choosing the program that best fits their mission. This approach ensures that the finances are not being used for just any applications that seem shiny and make noise, but are the correct application for the end in mind.
As a user and an educator, I can see that this could provide easy access and flow for teachers needing to use more than one account. Having to remember and keep track of account information is something that I struggle with. People have always mentioned the negatives that can come with having the same password for everything. Well, I think that the same negatives could apply for having a single sign on approach when logging in to an account. The idea that it may in fact, at some point, be misused is enough to keep people from wanting to use this method. If this information landed into the wrong hands, there is far too much available for them to access.
At HSHMC, we are very aware of SOPIPA and some of the steps that our IT team and staff have put into effect are providing students with Google accounts that are blocked from social media networks. There are plenty of opportunities for students to use their accounts to sign up for safe applications, but are restricted from those that could pose a threat in sharing their information. iPrism has been set up on all devices which blocks advertisement and parents are aware that students are using devises and have access to parts of the web, but their information is being protected. Parents and students are aware of academic information being kept in third party programs such as Achieve3000 which contains their reading levels.
We do send home the student handbook that provides our parents with online education and safety. We also provide parent guidance with online resources through parent/ back to school nights. Students receive guidance though lessons in our First Four Days curriculum as well as experts in the field who have come to speak with our students on online safety.
The Next Generation Science Standards are teaching our students to be scientifically literate. They are teaching our students life skills whether they be used now, in high school, college, or their careers, they are teaching them to
-Define problems and investigate
-Compose an explanation and create a solution
These standards are creating a context for learning where teaching is no longer out of context and is based on research of how students learn as well as benchmarked against competitive countries whose students are proving to perform well in both science and math. These standards are pushing them to be globally competitive.
When I researched the Next Generation Science Standards, I heard the phrase “speed of science” and thought to myself that life in general seems to be changing so rapidly. We should not just simply consider how technology is continuously changing, but how our world is as well. These standards if utilized will help to better prepare them for that. I had the unique opportunity to teach two 6th grade classes both English and Science last year and I think that it helped open my eyes to cross content real world application. I had the opportunity to easily bring what we were learning about in English into Science as well as what we were learning about in Science into English. We should no longer be separating content areas and it is honestly sad this used to be the case and still is in some circumstances.
“Being a critical consumer of information about science and engineering requires the ability to read or view reports of scientific or technological advances or applications (whether found in the press, the Internet, or in a town meeting) and to recognize the salient ideas, identify sources of error and methodological flaws, distinguish observations from inferences, arguments from explanations, and claims from evidence.”
Teachers need to be flexible to make changes and shift their old ways of instruction or be open-minded to changes that will better prepare their students. It is also crucial for collaboration, which leads me to Admin which after reading many articles and talking with my peers and principal. A large part is the understanding that this is a K-12 process as each standard builds upon the information that was intended to be covered in the last year. It is understood that there should be adequate time provided for planning, becoming comfortable, collaborating, and professional development.
When it comes to understanding the technology side, I found this quote that explains the connection with technology and how this standard could not be utilized without it. I know a large part is staying connected with our coordinator and understanding how the technology can drive the instruction and not letting the technology be the make focus. Find the goal and then discuss with the coordinator what technology would be best to accomplish this, keeping in mind the availability.
Our school has begun using the NGSS. First off I should give a bit of background for our educational goals:
-All students accomplishing delineated grade level academic competencies across disciplines
-Acquire behaviors to work collaboratively and independently
-Development of language skills to effectively communicate ideas in academic and social situations
Some of our focuses for our teachers
-Collaborative group work
-Academic language using sentence frames
-Common core standards
I see the need for more collaboration in our middle school. I feel that we are making great efforts, but it comes down to time needed to meet, which we have discussed with administration and are now waiting for approval from the board. I know that our HS has made greater connections with Social Studies as well and we are looking at their efforts to guide ours.