In today’s educational world it is essential for teachers to incorporate digital technology in the classroom. Technology can support and enhance learning for students and help them reach both content and skill goals (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009). Because technology support is so important in the classroom, teachers should continue to grow and develop their skills in keeping up with the latest tools and methods that can enhance student learning experiences.
The first standard from the NETS-T that I would like to improve upon is facilitating and inspiring student learning and creativity (International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), 2008). The one big goal that I have for improving myself in this standard is to incorporate more project-based learning activities in my Economics class that are supported with technology. Because of this, I plan to implement at least two new project-based learning activities per semester so that my students can experience real and authentic learning with technology support. One project I have in the works is a budget project where students use Microsoft Excel to create a budget worksheet and use online collaborative tools to communicate with each other about information they discover about mortgages, loans, and other expenses. I plan to monitor the goal for this standard by keeping track of what projects and activities I have created that used technology as a support for authentic learning. If I am not working hard enough to make sure that technology is used to support content rather than using technology for the sake of technology, then I have not met my goal. I plan to do quite of bit of reflection on what type of activities I created with the use of technology and also plan on getting feedback from students on what they thought of the activities and projects that were supported by technology. If students felt the activities were fun but not content rich, then I need to go back to the drawing board and make new goals. However, if students felt like the projects and activities were meaningful to them and were also enjoyable, then I have met my goal and can then extend my learning by looking into new ways to improve content learning with the use of technology.
The second standard from the NETS-S that I would like to focus on is modeling digital age work and learning (ISTE, 2008). A goal that I would like to accomplish for this standard is to communicate better with students and parents using digital technology. One action plan I have in mind for achieving this goal is to give parents multiples ways to communicate with me. I understand parent phone calls are still important; however, I would also like to use email, social media, and cell phones to be able to communicate with parents and students. I have set up a Facebook account for parents and students to get updates about what is going on in my classes and I already have parents and students checking the site for new pictures, videos, and updates (parent permission slips were signed and returned, which relates to NETS-T standard 4). As for students, my district has a new Learning Management System (LMS) and email server that allows for excellent, fast communication with students about a myriad of issues and topics, including grades and attendance. Monitoring my goal of communication through the use of new technology will be done through call logs, email archives, and message or wall posts on my class Facebook page. I do allow students and parents to have my cell phone number as well and some parents find it more convenient to send text messages as well, in which case I archive and keep track of text messages as well. When I evaluate my goal for this standard I will look at what impact this is having on student attendance and learning as well as parent comfort and confidence in both me as an educator and the high school where I teach. By having different means of communication for students and parents, students are developing communication and collaboration skills that will serve them well in their future after their high school career is over.
One big question I have for my colleagues is what types of projects and activities do you implement differently now than before because of new technology and what new projects and activities do you now have for students because new technology supports are available? Also, are there any communicative methods or strategies that I have left out in trying to reach my second goal of communication and collaboration? I think if we as teachers can help each other grow and develop then all of our students are set to reap the benefits in the long run.
International Society for Technology in Education. (2008). National education standards for teachers (NETS-T). Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/Libraries/PDFs/NETS_for_Teachers_2008_EN.sflb.ashx
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