Teaching With Technology

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So this is my last post for ED554, but hopefully not the last on this blog.  Our last task for class is to watch a Frontline video on PBS online and comment on one of the chapters.  All of the chapters were worthy of a post, but I naturally chose the one titled “Teaching with Technology”.  I think the thoughts on this video will serve as a perfect exit to the class, and hopefully give me an overall sense of where technology will fit into my classroom.  But first, a little background on the video.

The general theme of chapter four of the video is showing how some schools are embracing digital media, but does it come at a cost.  There are pros and cons set up in these eight minutes but here are they are broken down for easy reading…



We need to meet kids where they reside (online)

Too many short attention span activities

A classroom without media is like walking into a desert for children

Children still get bored with these activities

Technology is like oxygen for kids

Dedicated professionals are needed to monitor students (in this video it was the Asst. Principal)

Education needs to catch up to the rest of the world

Does technology create diminishing returns

Technology makes school make more sense for students


It’s great to put things into these two categories from the video laid, and I can certainly see the case for both.  This is why my original views on technology (before the class started) have been confirmed after taking this class.  It is almost certainly a necessity, but I don’t think you need to just use technology for technology’s sake.

I see a lot of value in the upper grades, but I think in elementary schools students are still trying to figure out what type of learner they are.  This is why a classroom with a variety of options is what I’m shooting for.  Tech enhances learning beyond everything that I was taught as a kid, but students can’t rely on always having it around.  You still need to be able hold a conversation, write a paper, give someone directions (without Google Maps), add using a pencil and paper, etc.

So it’s with great happiness (and some sadness) that I close my ED554 portion of my blog.  I think the class helped me realize that I’m on the right path, but as any good educator knows….there’s always something more to learn.  

Digital Nation (PBS)



Flipped Lesson – Our Solar System

Here is my try at a flipped lesson on VA SOL 4.7.  It was a long and arduous process that had me using almost every tool we’ve talked about this Summer.  Here’s the short list of apps and the final video…

Apps Used:  Pixlr, Google Forms, Dirpy, Explain Everything and even CNET to create a free stylus for use on the iPad

To attempt the quiz on this flipped lesson, click the link below and complete the google form.

Solar System Comprehension Quiz (Google Forms)



We were tasked with picking three inspirational tweets and talking briefly about our reaction to them.  Here are my three as told through the photos that folks attached to their tweets…. 

#1 – Via Megan Hurley via George Couros

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I found this letter via a retweet from a classmate.  If you question the test makers and standardized testing at all, you have to read this letter.  It summarizes my thoughts on the matter entirely by mentioning the great test scores for students this year, but also praising them for the things that testing can’t measure.

#2 – Via Huff Post Eduction “This photo of Michelle Obama puts the American education system in perspective, while giving you goosebumps”….

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Just an amazing shot from the Brown v. Board of Ed National Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas, that illustrates how important that decision was from over 50 years ago.  Very powerful.

#3 – Great article from Teach Thought on the eight characteristics of a Great Teacher…

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Excellent points and I specifically enjoyed the section on “They Model Risk Taking”.  It’s great to know that being unafraid to try something isn’t something that goes unnoticed.  

Explaining Mobile Learning Visually


For one of my posts this week, I chose to do a quick review on an article from ET&ML about mobile learning.  I picked this specific article (out of three) because I’m a visual learner myself and thought it would be interesting if this website’s vision of a mobile learning landscape matched the one in my mind.  I will begin by mapping out the landscape of my mind in this space and then comparing it to the one in the article.

Since I’m going to be an elementary school teacher, I envision using technology as a necessity to expand on concepts being taught in the traditional setting.  Using game based learning tools like ST Math and Reading A to Z will aid me in reinforcing concepts taught through hands-on activities and front of the class discussions (I hate the word lecture).  However, as the graphic points out, digital natives might not respond to this method anymore and may need even more digital instruction.

The article’s landscape of mobile learning has a different approach for digital natives that makes more sense.  They propose using technology as the teaching instruments and have excellent examples too.  Using an iPhone to record students speeches and play them back to them, or to record ESL students as they learn English.  And also using iPads in place of textbooks and Twitter to practice posting in a foreign language.  

While my landscape differs from the article’s slightly, I don’t necessarily think my approach should change.  There definitely needs to be a balance between incorporating technology, traditional methods and just adding tech for tech’s sake.  Excellent article though, as it made me think.

Mobile Learning Explained Visually (Educational Technology & Mobile Learning)

Speak Up For Technology!

screenFor my posts this week, I was tasked with reading and responding to a report on the “Speak Up” survey.  It’s a yearly survey, conducted nation-wide that asks students, teachers and administrators about how technology is used in education. My post is on my initial reaction to the results and how I can use those in my lesson planning.

My initial reaction was that this survey is an awesome idea to understand the needs of our students. It’s rare that administration asks their students anything these days, and why not? Too often adults decide what technology and programs kids use in schools and having the kid’s input seems like a no-brainer. Kids know more about technological resources than I do, and I consider myself pretty tech savvy.  I think it’s time to start listening to their input, and understanding this report is a perfect way to start.

Some of the interesting facts that stood out to me as an educator were the following….

– Classroom teachers (45 percent) noted in 2012 that they were creating more interactive lessons because of having access to technology, an increase of 25 percent in just the past two years.
– Over a third of principals (36 percent) say that a new Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to school policy for students is likely this school year.
– 37 percent of parents wish that their child’s teacher or school would communicate with them via text messaging.
– 89% of 9-12 graders have access to a smartphone; 66% have access to a laptop; 50% have access to a tablet; and 39% have access to a digital reader

That last statistic is staggering.  If I wasn’t convinced before, I certainly am now.  Technology in schools is here to stay and our kids deserve to have lessons delivered that incorporate these tools.  While incorporating these tools though, I need to also take the time to teach my kids to be excellent online citizens.  I need to explain how to use technology for good and not evil.  

Podcasting & Education

ImageFor our second assignment this week, we are tasked with listening to some podcasts and responding to the question, “Are podcasts something you would consider for professional learning in the future?”  Before getting to that question, I wanted to talk about a specific podcast I listened to on EdReach.  Sam Stecher is an elementary school principal in Kearney, Nebraska and has been podcasting on the site since 2013.  In his latest ‘cast, Stecher talks about the importance of Kindergarten graduations and why kids and parents need to be looking forward to twelve years from now.

“I want you to save a date. It is 12 years from now. I don’t know the exact date. But it will be 12 years from now. It’s important. Make a note of it. Don’t lose sight of it. Keep talking with your children about it.  It’s important because we are going to do this again. It will be in a different school. Your kids won’t be quite as cute as they are today. They will be much taller. And you will be so proud. 12 years from now let’s make sure they have a diploma in their hands.”

Read More…

Digital Storytelling – A Dramatic Retelling of Romeo & Juliet

Here is our group’s attempt at a digital story.  It took some hard work, some diligent editing and a few actor’s scenes got cut…..but I think we nailed it.  Enjoy!


Technology is fun!

Morgan Graves

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ED 554: Computers & Technology in the Classroom

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ED554 SUMMER 2014