In a perfect world, we would plan, train, and engage with technology to keep ahead of our students. Alex was that teacher who would whip up much-needed professional development or quick teacher training for any new tech program or tool accessible in our school.
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His encouragement as well as his follow-through and trouble-shooting on the run made him a teacher treasure. Most - sadly, not all - schools have tech staff assigned to support hardware and software for many devices. But to have a trained teacher leading technology instruction is a true bonus. What led you to this specific teaching role? A passion for technology and love of teaching others. Quite a bit of luck as well! My school district, ISD , has made technology integration a priority. My role as a Digital Learning Specialist is to support staff and students with learning opportunities that build confidence and knowledge for immediate application.
What are your favorite aspects of this teaching assignment? Having the rare opportunity and time to explore and create the content we will be teaching. What are some of the teaching roadblocks you face? And how have you responded to them?
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Some of them I can control and then adapt my lessons with the next round of students. Others are more of a challenge. Teaching kindergarteners how to log in to a computer with a specific username and password… that is a challenge! One of the roadblocks we faced was many students being unable to identify the letters and numbers, let alone find them on the keyboard. We tried colored stickers on certain keys, ensuring the font matched the letters on the keys, etc.
K-8 Modeling and Demonstrating Best Practices - Benchmark Education Company
But the best and only remedy we found was time, practice, and repetition. Students and staff feel comfortable enough to ask me for help, whether it is related to technology or not. Being a specialist is fantastic - I love teaching and learning with virtually every student and staff member at my school. Helping other people brings me a lot of joy. Tinkercad is a web-based CAD application for creating 3D models.
These models can then be printed on 3D printers.
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Tinkercad excites me because it is easy to use, has built in tutorials, and reinforces STEM standards such as the design process. Our school recently received a grant for technology and a portion of those funds were used to purchase 3 entry level 3D printers. Students will be designing 3D models using Tinkercad, then bringing their objects to life by printing them.
What is your philosophy for teaching technolo gy? I believe in order to teach technology, or teach with technology, it helps to be patient, persistent, and passionate. What is your best advice regarding technology for new teachers? The earlier students learn about being safe and respectful online, the better. Engage their open-minded innocence and innate tech savvy to question the reliability and validity of sources like social media, the press, etc. What is your best advice regarding technology for veteran teachers?
Embrace technology. Unfamiliar resources can be intimidating to learn, let alone teach another person. Take your favorite lesson, unit, or subject and extend it with technology. Just remember: you want your students creating something original to process their learning, not just playing games that are drill and practice.
Find a resource you are excited to learn about and use it in your instruction every day. Once you get the basics down the first week or so, other questions about more advanced features will pop into your head. These can be researched immediately using the world wide web and implemented as next steps in any learning endeavor.
For some students, everything feels urgent. Set appropriate boundaries, and give yourself permission to give important personal matters priority. Be sure to set aside time for yourself, when you are not available to communicate with your students. Not only does this decrease burnout, but it also helps ensure that appropriate boundaries between you and your students are maintained.
Without an accurate view of student progress, effective classroom decision making is very challenging. Are your learners ready to move to the next unit? Who is need of remediation? Who would benefit from enrichment activities? The goal of monitoring student work is to find out how much progress your students have made in relation to the initial goals you set.
Organizing that progress into a four- or five-point scale can help you and your students see the headway that has been made. Informal assessment needs to occur regularly during every lesson. Although this type of monitoring usually comes in the form of discussion and circulating the room while your students are working, there are plenty of other informal strategies, like exit tickets and short quizzes, that you can leverage. Familiarize yourself with these strategies, make regular use of them in your classroom, and watch the status of your class become increasingly clear.
Empowering your learners to keep portfolios of completed work and projects also helps engage them in their own progress. This strategy gives your students a broad and tangible overview of their progress throughout the year, which can serve as a powerful motivator. It also gives you evidence of their learning to share during parent conferences and evaluations.
In addition, most schools use some sort of online LMS to share grades with students and parents virtually. Try to keep your online gradebook as up to date as possible and leave comments where you can to offer additional insight. Most online curriculum, whether used for enrichment, remediation, or assessment, will have significant reporting capabilities as well.
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If the grading pile is too high, some teachers forego activities that could be helpful in informing instruction. Keep in mind that effective progress monitoring need not involve much grading—or any at all. Knowing every student by name and being able to recognize them outside of the online environment. Especially for students with difficult home lives, forming this connection can be critical to their academic success.
However, a great way to learn names is to arrange your students in alphabetical order—by first name. Taking attendance every day at the beginning of the school year also gives you added practice in name and face recognition. Print them out and quiz yourself if you have to. In some systems, you can even arrange seating charts using student pictures. This can be a challenge, since principals, media and technology staff, and other support staff will be exposed to more students at the school than teachers but will spend significantly less time with them.
As a teacher, you might have as many as — students.
Other staff might see more than a thousand. Adding to the sometimes impersonal approach of certain blended learning strategies, screen time seems to be increasing the amount of time it takes to learn names. It lays the groundwork for the rapport you hope to build as you move through the early part of the year.
We all know what it feels like to fall behind in a task or project. In both cases, the feeling can be awkward and distracting. Now, think about how students, who are just starting to find themselves and get to know their talents, feel in one of those situations. Allowing students to progress through curriculum at their own pace helps them get to know their own strength and weaknesses, which builds their sense of confidence as well as a willingness to persevere.
This either means grouping students of similar abilities or creating groups of mixed-ability levels so that high-achieving students can help struggling learners move along in the curriculum. In many situations, small group instruction like this can be very effective. Another strategy to consider is using online or computer-based curriculum to supplement instruction. With an adaptive platform, each student can receive instruction in the appropriate areas and at the appropriate speed for their skill level.
However, limited resources and availability of class time can be barriers to utilizing online solutions. However, accommodating self-paced learning over the course of single assignments or class periods can help students take ownership of their learning. Just be sure to have a plan in place to keep fast-working students busy while the rest of the class finishes the activity.
Formative assessment is also key to effectively using self-paced methods.