Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Final MEIT (Master's of Education in Instructional Technology) Blog Post

This blog post consists of multiple ramblings about my experience in Cardinal Stritch's MEIT (Master’s of Education in Instructional Technology) Program. Looking back through all 65 of my posts has allowed me to reflect on my growth as an individual and as a professional.
My first post contained a goal about what I wanted to learn from this program. I stated that I wanted to learn about how to integrate technology into my daily life and also into my classrooms. I wrote that I would like to learn more about web 2.0 tools, communication outlets, and other resources that I may not be aware of yet. I feel like I have met and surpassed my goal. I have learned about a ton of new resources, I have taken on new challenges, and I have also learned the true value of technology integration. 

Almost one year into the program, I needed to answer the following question: What item do you believe you can incorporate from this class into your professional or personal life and how will you ensure that you achieve the goal of incorporating it? I was required to answer this question in terms of a SMART (Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely) goal. It was at this point that I clearly remember deciding to stop discussing the benefits and possibilities of integrating technology and start utilizing them. My SMART goal outlined how I planned to flip my classroom. The remainder of this year included researching the flipped classroom concept and pursuing permission to pilot a flipped classroom for the next school year. This lead to the development of my presentation about flipped classrooms, the structure of my flipped classroom, and the progression of my flipped classroom. These became the groundwork for my vision and mission and the focus of my project for our culminating experience.

The culminating experience for this Master’s program allowed me to showcase what I have learned from the program and how it fits into my vision and mission of a flipped classroom. This project exemplifies what my experience in this program was about. It utilizes resources that I learned about to differentiate for my students and create a personalized learning experience. Both my project and my new found vision and mission are products of this program and I feel like both of these things will help me become a better educator.

Coming into this program I felt like I had a firm understanding of what technology integration was truly about. I felt like technology integration was about utilizing gadgets and software to engage a student. After spending a short time within the program, my understanding of technology integration had changed. My current understanding is that the integration of technology provides an opportunity to personalize a student’s learning experience through exploration, creation, and collaboration.
My understanding of technology integration has changed from simply keeping students invested through the use of gimmicks to keeping students invested through the personalization of his/her learning experience. The latter statement is far more powerful and has provided me with a vision and mission that I hope to maintain throughout my career.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Week 1 of CED 599

This is the first week of CEdO599 Culminating Experience - Digital Futures. Our objective is to create a project that we can utilize within our profession while showcasing what we have learned throughout this masters program. I am choose to focus on creating and managing lessons for my flipped classroom for the 2012-2013 school year. Check out the highlights of my project, including my SMART goals. 

This course provides me with such a great opportunity. It is incredibly valuable to work on something that I can utilize in my future. I am very excited to take what I learned from this program and integrate it into my career. One of the biggest challenges will be overcoming the frustration of independently learning about some of the technology resources that I am choosing to use. My largest source of anxiety will be figuring out how to successfully use moodle. I am however excited to take on the challenges that I may encounter and I am motivated by the thought of how this project can positively impact my students. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Week 6 of CED 565

    This was the final week of CED 599 Leadership and Planning. This week we were asked to reflect on the following questions. My responses follow each questions.
    • Your definition of teacher leadership?
      •  Leadership to me is about making the right decisions for your team. A leader should be informed when making choices. This is why so many leaders focus on data-driven decisions. Leaders are not only responsible for making decision, they are also responsible for implementing change. A leader must collaborate, plan, and communicate his/her decisions with the rest of the team. This is a vital process during the implementation of change. If the team does not "buy in", change will not occur. 
    • How has your definition of leadership altered or been reinforced? Has your opinion of your leadership potential changed?
        • My definition of leadership has evolved from a pure decision maker to a collaborator and initiator of change. I now realize the vital role of communication and collaboration that leaders must integrate. I also appreciate the difficulty that leaders experience when trying to implement change. 
      • Do you agree with our textbook's assertion about "improving education from within"?  If so, what will you do to help?
        • I do agree that a lot of improvement with education can occur from within. The teachers have the know how and the ability to make a difference. I believe that the biggest obstacle to internal improvement is the resistance of change or the fear of the unknown. I think that a lot of the experienced teachers are comfortable with the way that they currently teach their lessons. These lessons may be effective and may have worked for years; unfortunately, if the world around us is changing and the teacher's lessons remain the same, then old lessons inevitably become inefficient. 
        • The world is changing and we need to make sure that students receive the skills they need to succeed. I think that this concept is a big shift of thinking and therefore a struggle for experienced teachers. A student's experience at school use to be about the knowledge that students received. The internet now makes this same knowledge available to students at any time. I think that current teachers need to focus on providing students with the skills they need to succeed in the future. We need to instill curiosity, collaboration, and creativity within our students. They need to learn how to obtain and analyze information. They need to learn how to create solutions to real problems. These skills will allow them to succeed on their own in the future. 
        • My role in this process is to remain current with new pedagogy. I need to stay in touch with the changes in the world so that my teaching methods can evolve with the world around us. I need to be a model for other teacher's so that may learn from my success and failure. I need to communicate and collaborate with others so that these changes can impact as many teachers and students as possible. This process will allow me to make the biggest impact on education. 

      Monday, April 30, 2012

      Week 5 of CED 565

      This week we wrapped up the simulation game that we played and continued to look at change. We discussed changes that we have experienced and how we have responded to change. After reflecting on my experiences, I realized that I am generally open to change if it is presented to me in the correct fashion.   If I an not informed about the change or the cause for change, I usually resist it. If I am aware of the benefits and consequences of change, I can usually accept it. If I find value in the change, I become invested in it and advocate for the change. This can be a good and bad reaction. It is good because I can help make change occur. It can be bad because I can occasionally resist or commit to change without fully understanding all of the benefits and consequences.

      This information is beneficial because I now am able to realize the impact that communication has on change. This lesson also resonated through out our simulation we had in class. We really needed to talk with various people numerous times before we were able to initiate change. As an educator that is trying to initiate change, I will need to make sure to communicate with all of the investors involved in the process. This will help people realize the cause of the change and the possible benefits. This will hopefully increase the rate at which change can occur. 

      Sunday, April 22, 2012

      Week 4 of CED 565

      This week focused on the implementation of change. We participated in a simulation game during class. The object of the game was to change the school district into a continuously improving learning community. It was our job to create intrest in this change and gain support. There were certain actions that we could take to try and initiate change. Each action had a result. We either influenced a person or not. We needed to continue trying different actions and steps until we got each person to shift. We completed one of three steps of the game. My team started out slowly, but then started to make progress. The key was to analyze the result and determine the order of who we should work with. I found the game interesting thus far. It certainly replicates some of the issues that occur when a person is trying to initiate change. It can be frustrating but if you believe the change is worthwhile, you must continue to fight. This was something that I learned as I worked on the implementation of my flipped classroom for next year.

      I was not aware of the progression that was required to initiate this change. I realize the point of this progression is to make sure that one evaluates the change that he/she is trying to make. This is a safe guard that can prevent unnecessary change. This progression process requires a person to reflect and analyze their course of action. I found that this process helped strengthen my idea.

      Monday, April 2, 2012

      Week 3 of CED 565

      This week's class focused on systems thinking, change, and generational influences.

      Systems Thinking

      The main point that I took away from this video is that if a business wants to succeed or improve, they need to focus on the entire system and not just specific departments or individuals. Even though the system is comprised of individuals, we need to recognize each individual's role in the system. It is important to understand how the individual interacts with others within his/her environment and how these interactions affect the success to the entire system. If there is an issue or weakness, we should not place the blame on one individual, we should embrace the issue as the system's problem and determine how we can change the interactions within the system to correct it.

      I found this video interesting. It really changes the accountability within a work environment and completely contrasts the typical cut-throat mentality. This system concept is far more collective and therefore collaborative and I can see how this can lead to the advancement of the entire system. My only concern is the impact that the "weakest" individual can have on the system. This relates to the concept that you are only as strong as your weakest link. How would this collaborative model deal with a weak individual? Would they change the individual's role and responsibilities therefore changing his/her interactions within the system? We do not want one person to prevent the success of the group.

      Overall, I realize that it is important to know when to focus on an individual's actions/results and when to focus on the systems goals. If a student is struggling to master a topic, I need to determine if the issue is derived from the student's actions or abilities or it is from the format that it was taught. I need to understand how the system affects the individual and how I can improve the interactions within the system to help the individual improve

      Change - "Who Moved my Cheese?"

      This was an interesting video that illustrates the necessity for change when we are in the pursuit of our goals. It addresses the issue of complacency that many of us reach when we obtain a particular comfort level with the way things are in our life. It demonstrates the need to change and adapt in order to remain successful.

      I was definitely able to relate to this video as I reflected on all the last couple of years. I realize that I have had a lot of great ideas about how I can utilize all of the skills that I have obtained from this program, but I have yet to actually implement any major changes. I know that this will definitely change as I prepare to begin my flipped classroom model for next year.

      This was an interesting article that highlights what the new generation of teachers can do and what they need to succeed. As a member of the millennial generation, I identified with this article. I think that this generations upbringing, will assist them with making drastic changes in the world of education. This is a generation that is comfortable with collaboration, technology, accountability, multitasking, and change. This means that they are willing to work with others and take on new challenges that will incorporate 21st century skills.

      Sunday, March 25, 2012

      Week 2 of CED 565

      This week was all about using the WINSS site to obtain data about schools and their performance. This was not the most intriguing topic for me. I did not really feel connected to the data and was somewhat uninterested with the process. I tend to do better with numbers when I collect the data and have a purpose to analyze the results.

      I was however somewhat interested in how my school district performed. It will be interesting to reference this site in the futre as we begin the implementation of RTI. I am curious to see if we will be able to distinguish a noticeable difference before RTI and after a couple years of successful implementation.

      It will also be interesting to examine trends with administration changes. We have had a lot of administration changes within the last five years. I would imagine that this would affect a districts ability to achieve any goals since the focus of the goals may change with the administration.

      Overall, I examined my schools performance and was able to compare it to other districts. I did not notice any huge red flags from the data, but I am not entirely sure what I should be looking for either. I can see how this information could be useful for families when they are choosing a location to purchase a home in.