Friday, March 9, 2012

Strengthening My Technology Skills for the Benefit of My Students.

I looked to examine and self-reflect upon my teaching pedagogical skills compared to those put forth by the National Education Technology Standards for Students (NETS-S). I read through the five indicators of proficiency (, and ranked them in order from my best to my weakest. I have always felt that I can relatively proficient in technology, especially in the areas regarding computers, software, and their application into our lives. Of course, I would like to improve my skills, and starting with my weaker points would make total sense.

Of the five indicators, I felt I am weakest in two areas. The weakest would be the promotion of model digital citizenship and responsibility. I have not been as strict with resources, their citations, and giving credit to the publishers of information. To explain further, I feel as if I have always cited and credited my sources for my personal work, but I have not enforced the crediting of sources for the work of my students. Perhaps this was because my lessons were suited for the creation of material, such as spreadsheets or slide shows. However, this past year one of my projects was a slide show where the students outlined their purchases if they were to spend a fictional million dollars. Most of the students used the Internet as the source of their pictures, and I did not require a section where the students would cite the pages for their pictures. I have used a resources page previously, but not for the pictures, just for information. In order to achieve this goal, I will be introducing the requirement to cite all sources within a student's work, including items that I previously omitted like pictures. Instead of waiting for a project that we have already done, I will be creating a project that will concentrate on the citation process. This exclusive project will ensure that the students realize the importance of citing their sources, and will allow them to practice. That way, the correct resource citing will be ready to be used when the students come to their next project, regardless of their subject class. I will also be working with the other teachers in our team group to ensure that they know and align their rubrics to include the proper and complete resource citing process.

Another area where I have the potential for improvement is the design of digital-age learning experiences and assessments. I do incorporate the use of a Smartboard in my classroom, and I strive to make sure I utilize it as more than just a glorified whiteboard. With all the potential of the Smartboard, I need to be continuously improving and integrating knowledge, skills, and resources beyond my current pedagogy. This year I included a set of responders, or clickers, and the students' level of engagement was way higher. While it may appear that my class and my students is far ahead of most others within my school and district, I believe that there is a vast potential to keep moving forward to incorporate the latest technology and tools. The challenge will be to keep the mathematics in my class the primary subject, not technology. Monitoring this incorporation of technology will be a key element in my improvement. I am a mathematics teacher first, and I would be failing to teach my students the proper subject matter if we concentrated on the technology at the expense of learning algebra.  I will need to continually check my class progress compared to the curriculum map which paces the class over the course of the year. I will also need to monitor the student learning as we progress to ensure that the students are actually learning the material.

I have been the beneficiary of my continual desire to improve over the course of my career. I like to be an early adopter of technology, which has been painful at times. Instead of learning from others, I have been the volunteer to test something out, and this continues after my career switch to become a teacher. It is been mutually beneficial to my school and to me. They get a tester, and I get the opportunity to adapt new items to our community and culture. I look forward to the opportunity to improve my teaching practices and stay on the forefront of technology in my classroom.

It has been a while since I posted. Thanks for visiting!

Resources for this blog entry:

ISTE. (n.d.). NETS for teachers. Retrieved March 6, 2012, from ISTE Standards:


  1. Joe to Todd

    As a relatively new user of technology in the classroom, I think it is very easy to overlook how efficiently that students cite their sources in the classroom; especially on a technology presentation. If I were a humanities teacher, I think it could be easier to watch out for proper citation. After all, kids are writing all the time in English classes. It should be second nature for these teachers. Think about others whom do not have this skill as part of their daily routine. How do they accurately and effectively monitor and correct errors in citation? I know that in my math classes, the last thing I think about is citation. I am more concerned with delivery of message (if the student is answering a question), understanding of content and accurate calculations. These are the areas I have been trained to observe.

    I think this course will help bridge our citation concerns though. If you think about it, we are truly asking our students to utilize their cross content skills when they develop a technology project for teachers. Why shouldn’t we also be developing our own cross-content skills? The very essence of the project we assign demands just that. From comprehensive Speech and English skills to accurate content skills; we demand excellence in our project. Why not citation? The only effectively raise the bar for our student(s) is to effectively raise the bar for ourselves. That’s where this course comes into play.

    1. Joe - Thanks for the response. You are right on when you state that we should all be crossing our content matter with technology. I guess I never really put the propoer emphasis on my students' citations, concentrating more on the content and believing that they would develop the resource citing skill later on. I do not know how deep or accurate the citations should be, because I think the APA format has been responsible for another chunk of my hair turning gray. I think this is a realistic goal and can be accomplished within the scope of another technology project. I am looking forward to it.


  2. Fred responds to Todd –

    It is too bad that you have too busy in this Master’s program to have the time to post more blogs. You are an excellent writer!

    You mentioned that you plan on having your students cite their work. For some reason I am curious to which style you would have them use, or would you allow them freedom to choose between the two most common (APA/MLA)? Few teachers outside of English or Language Arts teach formal citing of their work and I think it is important that it is addressed throughout the disciplines. I am one of the few teachers at my school that teaches students how to use MS WORD to cite resources. I am truly amazed at who many of my students have never been taught how to cite their work. Good luck with integrating it your lessons…my only concern is that it doesn’t take too much of your time up!

    It is great to hear that you are a Math teacher first and that the technology is secondary. Kudos to you for getting more “clickers” in the hands of the kids! I don’t have a Smart Board, but if I did I would expect it to be more of a student center or management tool for our Virtual Enterprise executives.

    Good luck with you GAME Plan!


    1. Fred -

      Thanks for the complement. I never thought I was capable of writing anything coherant until I spent some time actually doing it.

      I mentioned to Joe in an earlier reply that I believe the APA formatting has given more gray hair than I deserve, and I would not wish it upon my worst enemies. However, some form of citation should be used, and I intend to check with our Language Arts department to see what form they are using and stay consistent with their lead. The last thing I want to do is open up a can of worms with the Language Arts department, especially being a Mathematics teacher!

      Getting all the new technology is a mixed blessing. On one hand, it is cool to get clickers; one the other hand, I had to adapt a bunch of my lessons from the older electronic format to the new format in order to incorporate the value of the responders. It was worth it, but the other teachers are quite resistant and simply want copies of my lessons. They get ONE, then I do not send any more until I get something in return.

      Thanks for the response!

  3. Todd, I think that you have done a great job of setting up your goals and have adequately addressed the actions you would take to meet those goals. I share your concern for student plagiarism and knowledge of copyright. I do not feel like the current method that my school uses to address plagiarism has any bearing on my students whatsoever. One thing that has worked quite well is my PowerPoint lesson that I use at the beginning of each year. I create a PowerPoint in one minute using information that I copy and paste from random sites. I also throw in a bunch of pictures. I show the kids how easy it is. I think this kind of modeling hits home with the kids.

    I would caution you to make sure to address how you will continue to learn and evaluate your learning in the future. Perhaps you could continue to meet with fellow teachers every year or find a PLC to join.

    1. Vernon -
      Thank you for the response to my post. I wanted to set goals within my GAME plan that were achievable but challenging, and I think I got that set up fairly well. Your suggestion of modeling the process of citation, even with a simple item such as a picture, is the proper start for a group of middle school students. I will incorporate this into a future technology project befor ethe end of the year.

      Thanks again for the reponse.