Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Final Class reflection

There are so many take-aways from this class overall, that I don't really know where to begin.  I was exposed to so much and I have to be realistic that I'm not going to remember all of it nor will I be able to use all of it in the immediate future - something that would cement it in my head and make it "automatic" in my day to day work.   I think some of the Google Docs - the survey, the "powerpoint", etc. - will be ones I use and use often.  Before this class - I didn't even know how to access them or that they really even existed.  I heard about "google docs" but I had no idea what that meant.  I feel a sense of accomplishment with just gaining some knowledge in this area.  Also, with my project, I am learning how to effectively use the Flip cameras.  I am slightly humbled with this work as I believe it is an "easy" tool to use and I have had some problems with it.  Regardless, however, I am learning from my mistakes and I believe that I will be using them more frequently as I continue with my work.  Last Saturday and this evening, I truly enjoyed being exposed to Imovie and Garage Band - including podcasts.  I don't know how often I will use them but now I have less "fear" regarding them and that will go along way as I continue to make educational technology a priority.  Thank you Todd for a great class.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Reflection on Class #3

My brain is on overload but I think that is a good thing.  Today's class was full of so much valuable information, from our discussion at the start of class about the use of the Flips and Digital Wish and Tech Directors integrating with Teaching and Learning, to the TED video, to igoogle, to slide share, to creating a form in google docs.  WOW.  One small little part of our morning discussion - using Google Docs for our RTI meetings - really has me thinking.  I LOVE that idea and I am going to bring it to our IT dept. and Teaching and Learning to see if they can figure out a way for the information to be secure and remain confidential or on a "need to know" basis.  I'm also pretty excited about the creation of forms in Google Docs.  I've used Survey Monkey before and I find it to be really easy, but google forms seems pretty easy as well.  Actually - I'm wondering if the "results" feature in google forms will be easier to read/interpret.  Actually - it's really not that bad in Survey Monkey, so maybe my overall question is - why google forms rather than Survey Monkey - or are they pretty much the same?  Lastly - for anyone that has looked at my google form from the link on my blog - I try to survey my staff every couple of years regarding those "things we do", hoping that I will never be that Principal that when I'm replaced - the staff say "Please get rid of "x" - we don't know why we have had to do it year after year.  It was just Laura's pet project"!

Google Doc - Form

Go to my SURVEY

response to TED video

So - I'm watching this and I'm trying to think about it in relation to my school.  Can I?  We have 32% Free and Reduced and 10% ELL.  Compared to other places - not bad.  Not bad at all.  However, I am still trying to focus on closing the achievement gap.  Why are my low SES and non English speaking kids still under performing as compared to their white, middle class peers?  Is technology access the answer?  If kids can teach themselves and can overcome barriers such as language and poverty - given just one computer - maybe there is something that I am missing.  I don't think we are currently doing anything "wrong" but I do think we could do things to make it better.  Of course - how could I blog and not comment on the fact that once again, someone is commenting on the issue of inequity.  The technology should go to the remote areas first.  Hmmm.  It boggles my mind that we know these things and we continue to foster inequities all across our educational system.  I need to remember the comment that the benefits to lower SES communities will far out weight the benefits to middle class - upper class.  I know some folks that need to watch this video.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Class #2 Homework

I thought a lot about what I really wanted to learn from this class or "get" before Spring Break.  There are so many things, so in the spirit of being "realistic", I have narrowed it down to three things: Google Docs, creating a slideshow/movie (with music) to show at Back To School Night, and Podcasts.  I got the podcast idea after sharing with our Director of Technology that I was thinking of filming staff using the Flip Video and emailing it out as a way for peer coaching to occur without the teachers having to get sub release time to observe each other.  She suggested that I use the IPOD touches to film and then downloading it to Itunes and creating podcasts???  YIKES!  I have no idea what I am getting myself into but it sounds pretty cool so I think what I'll do is take on both - Flip Video/email and Ipod touch/podcast - and then compare and decide which is easiest, most effective, best quality etc.

As for looking through our district's technology plan...Sherwood's current plan was written in 2009 and goes through to 2012.  I was pretty impressed by the entire document.  I thought it was very forward thinking/looking.  The section I chose to share was regarding "communication".  The objective that is written in the plan is "Provide staff and students with reliable online communication and collaboration tools".  Evidence of progress was stated as, "Open source curriculum management and blogging software has been installed to provide on-line collaboration (ex: Moodle, Drupal, and Metadot)".  "The district will provide collaboration software to all students as determined by the tech committee (Google Docs, Gmail, blogging)".  It was obvious to me why this was "forward looking" since it was written in 09 and as I sit in February of 2011, I know little of Drupal or Metadot and am just learning about Google Docs and blogging!  Maybe it's just me that's a little behind.  Hmmmmm...  :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

EDAD 536 Day 1 Reflection

Even though I very purposefully signed up for this class, I was a little nervous since technology is not one of my biggest strengths.  I had a friend who took this class last year and is still raving about it and after one session (this one) I think I know what she is talking about!  I am very much looking forward to stretching myself and growing in the area of instructional technology.  The only "problem" I can see, is choosing what area to focus on for my final project since there are so many areas that I want to explore.  I would love to delve into the world of data and figure out how to create spreadsheets, use systems (data warehouse, DIBELS, OAKS) to create/pull up reports, etc.  I have no idea how to use excel but I am scared to even think about tackling that right now.  On a completely different end of the spectrum - I don't even know how to create a slideshow or movie to use at Back to School Night.  Every year I have set a goal to use media to show parents what we are all about - rather than giving another boring, mundane, speech - and every year I fail to meet my goal.  Along those same lines, there are 2 teachers in my building that have an after school club called "Hawks Eye" where they teach 5th graders to use imovie.  This group is responsible for the end of year DVD that has replaced our yearbook.  Throughout the year, the teachers and students film the various events and "goings-on" and then we have a school-wide assembly to view the movie and then every student goes home with a burned copy on a CD.  I have absolutely NO IDEA how to use imovie and I would love to learn.  Lastly, our district is moving towards google docs.  My kinder and 1st grade teams used their PLC time on Friday to bring in a teacher from the ESD to work with them.  One of my teachers came into my office and after 1 hour was so frustrated that she was in tears.  She couldn't figure it out and was feeling so incompetent next to some of her peers who seemed worlds ahead of her.  I told her that I was taking this class and that I was pretty nervous.  I also told her that my understanding, from my friend that took it, was that I could pick something to learn in the area of instructional technology and that maybe I would explore Google Docs and then she and I could sit and play around with it.  She really loved that idea.  So - as you can see - I'm going to have to choose something and that's a good dilemma.
Specifically, in response to what was presented in this particular class, I was really engaged in the small group discussion of the article we read.  We had some great discussion around equity and also around districts making budget priorities and the "opportunity" during this budget crisis, for school districts to do some redesign.  If the information in the article is correct, spending $140 per student on technology seems to be an appropriate use of funds in my most humble opinion.  Technology is not going away and I believe that it can be used very appropriately as a tool to increase student achievement.  Of course, equity adds another component to that discussion since it seems like schools are run on "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer" (isn't that called the "Matthew Principle"??).  I very much believe that our resources should go to our neediest learners first and unfortunately, that is just not happening (or at least not that I am seeing).  I am excited to delve more into this topic during a later session.
Thanks for a great first class!