Part 1: Reflect on your process of building your website in terms of design, putting content and what you can now do.
My website is just about done. I need to add in a few more videos and check the spacing, but it’s otherwise complete. I could easily spend months improving it in many ways, including cleaning up the layout, streamlining the content, adding more resources about flipping and screencasting, but it’s about as complete as it’s going to get before the due date (tomorrow!).
It would have been great to have worked on this a little at a time throughout the master's program so that we'd have had more time for these final edits and tweaks. This also would have given us the flexibility to take a break for a week or two to gain perspective and fresh eyes. I believe that the quality of the capstone websites would benefit greatly from this additional time.
Parts 2 and 3: How can you take what you’ve learned from this master’s program out into the world and into your classroom immediately? Finally, how do you plan to use what you’ve learned from this program in the future?
To answer these questions, here’s the “Lasting Learning” section from my capstone website. It describes what I’ve learned and how I’m applying it, both now and in the future.
As one would expect, much of my learning in the Touro Masters of Innovative Learning program has been about innovation in learning. We've explored best practices in pedagogy and creative uses of technology. We've read research about educational policy, listened to experts about neuroplasticity and motivation, and experimented with graphic design. Probably the most enduring learning, though, has come by learning from the other teachers in my cohorts.
I've learned from looking at everyone’s research ideas. I've learned from reading everyone’s blogs. I’ve learned about technology and different ways to use it, about working with different ages and grades of students from diverse populations, about the challenges of teaching students at my grade (early elementary) all the way through high school. This perspective has been invaluable.
Through my cohorts, I’ve learned about mindset and grit, about project and problem-based learning, about teaching high school math and elementary school art. I’ve learned about the importance of having a well-defined idea, and then about the importance of scrapping it if it doesn’t work out. I've learned about making mistakes about about fixing them.
Learning with my cohort has included sharing ideas and challenges, reflecting thoughtfully on what works and what doesn’t, and trying to become the best teachers we can be. I’m looking forward to continuing this collaboration, reflection, and perspective throughout my teaching.
At this moment, the video is complete, the website is 90% complete, and the poster is 75% complete, so it seems like an appropriate moment for some appreciation.
I appreciate the guidance, support, and easy availability of the Touro instructors. I appreciate the feedback and support of my “critical friends” in Cohort 10. I appreciate the opportunity to have earned a Masters degree.
And, of course, I’m getting ready to appreciate the extra time in my schedule once the Masters degree is complete! I’m genuinely looking forward to taking some time over the summer to put my learning to good use and find ways to integrate more innovative best practices into my classroom next year.
This week has been busy. So far, I:
Hopefully, all of this means that the final cut is finished!
Having almost completed this Masters program, and browsed through the projects of our Cohort and others, I’m compelled to try new things in my classroom. I’d love to really implement math centers. I’d like to integrate more educational iPad activities. I want to create an integrated problem-based science unit for my first graders. But all of these take time in order to do them well, and that’s the one thing I don’t have.
I keep thinking about something we read during our first semester in this Masters program, in “The Flat World of Education” by Linda Darling Hammond. In her discussion of the best practices of the most successful school systems in the world, the author includes time for teachers to collaborate. She states that teachers in the U.S. have three to five hours per week scheduled for prep time. However, in high-performing European and Asian schools, teachers have fifteen to twenty hours a week to collaborate, including planning, meeting with parents and students, and collaborating with and observing other teachers.
Of all of the recommendations in Linda Darling Hammond’s book, this seems like the easiest to implement. A school needs to hire more teachers to give everyone more prep time. For a small private school like mine, it would potentially require only one new hire (for example, a part-time K-5 STEM teacher). If this STEM teacher taught two STEM lessons per week per grade, that would equate to only 12 hours of teaching time for that teacher, a very low cost to my school. However, two extra hours of prep time a week for me would triple the amount of time I have now.
What could I do with two extra hours? I could observe other teachers at my school. I could research and design a problem-based science unit. I could collaborate with other grade-level teachers to plan an integrated unit across General Studies, Judaic Studies, and Hebrew. I could plan my centers.
Additional collaboration time isn’t the panacea for my school or for our educational system, but it’s a low-cost way to boost professional development, increase teacher satisfaction, and improve curriculum. I’ll think about proposing this to my administration. Now, if only I had the extra prep time to formulate a good proposal….
How’s my video journey going? I believe that I have a decent vision, script, and progression for the video. The challenge about graphics remains the same. Do I hunt for the perfect clipart online? Do I pose my first graders and take photos of real kids? Or do I try to create whimsical sketches of my own? For my very very very very rough cut, I opted for the latter.
I’d really appreciate some honest feedback before I continue with this approach. Do the graphics look appropriate or too much like bad sketches? Would you recommend that I search for cleaner looking clipart or use real photos? Looking for some critical friends to help me out!
What does being a good critical friend mean to me? To me, being a good critical friend means providing honest feedback and specific suggestions for improvement while recognizing that we’re all working professionals with a limited amount of time available to make our capstone websites perfect.
What would I like from others? If there’s something to compliment, then great. But I would mostly value direct, honest feedback with concrete suggestions for improvement. Even if I don’t have time to implement all of the recommendations, at least I’ll have ideas for improving my next website endeavor.
So far, creating the storyboard and script has been pretty straightforward. My challenge is in finding images that work with my idea. My preference would be to use drawn graphics, rather than photos, but it’s hard to find consistent clipart that shows everything I need. For example, I need clipart showing children doing all sorts of things, including: reading, writing, math, using computers at home, using computers in school, learning from a teacher, and working in groups. Whew!
I’m willing to create the graphics myself, but I just don’t know how. If you have any suggestions for finding or creating graphics like this, please let me know!
For my video editor, I’m likely going to use iMovie or WeVideo as my video editor. Why? I’m already familiar with iMovie, so the learning curve will be shorter. I’m also not doing complex video editing, and iMovie is pretty straightforward to use for simple videos. I’m tempted to try WeVideo, since you can use it on non-Apple devices, too, and I’d love to learn a new tool. At this point, it may come down to which one I can use the most quickly.
As I wrote in my TPACK blog last semester, growing in TPACK is a constant and ongoing process. Every day in the classroom is a new opportunity to refine my content knowledge, streamline my pedagogical approach, and optimize technology use. For my project, I’ve had to work hard on all three.
My primary challenge is to find uses that aren’t simply online replacements for what I already do in the classroom. I don’t want to use technology for technology’s sake. It needs to be meaningful.
One recent foray into TPACK involved using Educreations, my favorite interactive whiteboard app, to assess my students in math. Each student could choose a subtraction problem and record themselves solving it on Educreations. This simple assessment hit at least two of the intersection points on the TPACK Venn diagram. While this Educreations assessment doesn’t relate directly to my capstone project, and it doesn’t necessarily advance my first graders as budding technologists, it was a nifty way for me to “observe” every students’ proficiency with regrouping in subtraction without losing any class time….and to integrate technology with pedagogy and content knowledge.
My School’s Educational Technology Mission Statement
My school doesn’t yet have an educational technology mission statement. Since educational technology is an important part of our students’ education, and a mission statement is a great way of providing a framework for planning, evaluating, and assessing that education, I’m hoping that my school will develop one soon.
If my school were to put together a detailed educational technology mission statement, this is what I’d like it to include, at a minimum:
How Have I Evolved and What Decisions Did I Have to Make?
I think that one of my greatest areas of “evolution” in this program has been in awareness. I teach in a K-8 private parochial school, and most of my daily interactions are with other early elementary teachers. When I take a professional development course, my focus is on how I can apply my learning to first grade. When I’m reading about pedagogy or content knowledge or technology, it’s all within the context of young learners.
I’ve been part of two Touro cohorts, both of which included a wide variety of teachers, including high school teachers, art teachers, science and math teachers, language teachers, and more. Developing an understanding of how other teachers teach, use technology, and address the diverse needs of their diverse students has helped me evolve in perspective. When I think of my first graders as future high school students, it helps me to craft a curriculum and an environment with a larger goal in mind. While I still address their developmental needs today, I better understand how the academic and social demands on them will change over time.
Who is the audience for my capstone? Since my capstone project is about the ins and outs of an in-class flipped classroom, my audience will likely be classroom teachers who are interested in experimenting with using screencasts or videos for in-class instruction. This may be elementary school teachers whose students are too young for ongoing flipped learning; this may be high school teachers whose students don’t have access to the technology at home that they’d need for a “traditional” flip; this could be teachers who aren't planning to flip, but who are interested in using videos as in-class reference for students.
What content do I think they’ll need? My audience will need information about why to try an in-class flip, what they’ll need to try an in-class flip, and what worked and what didn’t. One of the most important elements would be a list of tips and tricks for a successful in-class flip. Some tips are structural, some tips are tactical. Several that come to mind are:
My goal throughout the program - probably like that of everyone in the cohort - has been to become a better teacher. And for me, one of the best ways to become a better teacher is by learning from other teachers. In our masters program, the best support I can get from my cohort (and, hopefully, give in return) is to continue doing what we have been doing: learning from each other.
I learn from looking at everyone’s research ideas. I learn from reading everyone’s blogs. I’ve learned about technology and different ways to use it, about working with different ages and grades of students from diverse populations, about the challenges of teaching students at my grade (early elementary) all the way through high school. This perspective has been invaluable.
I’ve learned about the importance of having a well-defined idea, and then about the importance of scrapping it if it doesn’t work out. I’ve learned that integrating technology in a meaningful way is challenging for all of us, regardless of grade or subject.
About norms: So far, our group norms have included sharing ideas and challenges, reflecting thoughtfully on what works and what doesn’t, and trying to become the best teachers we can be. I’m looking forward to more of the same.