Instructional Strategies: Environment, Interest, Inquiry, Assessment

Creating meaningful learning experiences begins with the learning environment. “The teacher-arranged environment [is] an active and pervasive influence on the lives of children and teachers throughout the school day. In the processes of teaching and learning, the physical environment…provides the setting for learning and at the same time acts as a participant in teaching and learning” (1999). Not only is the arrangement integral to the success of students’ behavior and academic independence but the culture and community that is developed through collaborative efforts between the teacher and the students is also an essential component. The instructional strategies addressed in this paper foster effective and nurturing learning environments that promote cooperation and inquiry. To read more Instructional Strategies


Teachers’ Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge and Learning Activity Types: Curriculum-based Technology Integration Reframed

This article is comforting in the sense that it reassures me, as an educator, that technology knowledge (TK) is a “conceptualization…to be developmental, evolving over a lifetime of generative interactions with multiple technologies” (2009, 398). But is also daunting because, as Harris,, state on page 399, “the flexible use of tools becomes particularly important because most popular software programs are not designed for educational purposes.” So, this begs the questions, What do I do? and How do I begin to organize the tangled Web?

The article begins to answer my questions through examples of the multiple uses of whiteboards and various examples of specific teachers integrating technology and content successfully and the importance of collaborative brainstorming. But, what activity goes best with what technology?

Harris,, help begin the tedious organization and brainstorming task by providing tables on pages 408-411. These tables “help teachers become aware of the full range of possible curriculum-based learning activity options and the different ways that digital and nondigital tools support each” (2009, 400). Which also lends itself to instructional differentiation via the multiple tools and uses for each tool.

As the article convinced me, content knowledge and technology have evolved together and must, rather, will continue to do so, “Content (be it physics of engineering or sociology) shapes new technologies and offers new uses for existing technologies, while at the same time the affordances and constraints of technologies shape how this content is represented, manipulated, and applied” (2009, 400). Doesn’t this imply the necessity of integrating technology knowledge and content knowledge so that our students can be successful and influential citizens in our future democratic society?

Harris, J., Mishra, P., Koehler, M. (2009). Teachers’ technological pedagogical content knowledge and learning activity types: Curriculum-based technology integration reframed. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 41(4). 393-416.

Thoughts About the iSAFE Program

I found this curriculum to be educational and very informative as it cleared up confusions and misunderstandings I had about certain terms and concepts surrounding the web. The designers created engaging analogies to explain these concepts to every age student. Also, the people documenting iSAFE, in the videos, seemed knowledgeable and understanding of how children/teens operate. They have the knowledge that children are curious and so educate students on how to explore those curiosities in a safe and healthy manner with students their own age (guaranteed to be their own age via certified programs).

Some of the points that were most beneficial in my mind where; the education of parents, the 90, 180, 360 degrees of information visibility, cyber bullying, gaming safety (especially with the many students that play ‘Mature Audiences Only’ video games where they are exposed to adult interactions and conversations, the predator video (made by a student), and the mentor program! Having older students come into a younger student’s classroom is always engaging; students listen when their older peers are telling them it’s important. Also, the assembly ideas for concepts such as; computer security, predators, illegal downloading, intellectual property, etc.

I would have liked video footage on how this curriculum is integrated into a primary level classroom as all the videos seemed focused on 5 grade and up audiences.

Overall, I find this curriculum to be extremely relevant and essential for a 21st century classroom and home (the iSAFE parent program). If students are expected to use this technology it should be expected that they know the dangers and how to use the technology safely.

Below is a copy of my iSAFE certificate of completion.

Using Buzzword

Here is my 5 minute technology tip on how to use the word processing tool Buzzword. This is an easy to use program that allows for the development of documents collaboratively! This is so much easier than trying to develop documents school wide than emailing Word documents back and forth! Check it out!

Here is the link to my screencast tutorial on Buzzword (using Jing):

Buzzword Screencast

My outline of the technology tip is attached below in a Word document.

Buzzword Outline

From SuperGoo to Scratch: Exploring creative digital media production in informal learning.

Despite what the title of this article by Peppler and Kafai implies, these tools, such as Scratch, can be used in formal educational environments as well as informal ones. As many of my cohort colleagues have expressed, I too felt pessimistic about Scratch. I couldn’t figure out how and why I would use this tool in my classroom to establish essential learnings in my students’ educations.

This quote, mentioned also in last week’s blog posting, “Change in beliefs follows, rather than precedes practice, and that by helping teachers adopt new practices that are successful, the associated beliefs will also change” (Ertmer, 32).

After revisiting this notion, I decided to download Scratch and actually attempt using the program and from there seeing what I could discover that may be applicable to a second grade classroom.

After jumping headfirst into the programming for beginners program Scratch I remembered the quote from this article that defined the notion of a ‘convergent and participatory culture,’ (Peppler, 4) which also takes me back to the purpose of wikis). As Peppler and Kafai explain, these are concepts build upon the idea that we must begin producing for multiple audiences instead of merely consuming others’ productions.

Scratch is a highly motivating program that allows me to produce my very own productions! I have never programmed anything before and was able to get a cat character to move around and say, “Meow!” I can see my class having a very engaging educational experience using this to program their own stories or to reenact their favorite story as a whole class or in center time. As Nicole mentioned in her voice thread, this is high level think as one must organize, plan, read and interpret, and revise programming commands.

I suggest to anyone who is still skeptical to at least give Scratch a try and let practice proceed your belief! And… it’s free!

Ertmer, P. A. (2005). Teacher pedagogical beliefs: The final frontier in our quest for technology integration? Educational Technology Research & Development, 53(4). 25-39.

Peppler, K. A., Kafai, Y. B. (2007). From SuperGoo to Scratch: Exploring creative digital media production in informal learning. Learning, Media and Technology Special Issue: Media Education Goes Digital, June issue.

Teacher Pedagogical Beliefs: The Final Frontier in Our Quest for Technology Integration?

On the very first page of the article Teacher Pedagogical Beliefs: The Final Frontier in Our Quest for Technology Integration? the statement, “computers serve as a ‘valuable and well-functioning instructional tool’ in schools and classrooms in which teachers: … (c)  have some freedom in the curriculum” (25). Perhaps that’s the first thing that needs to happen if there is to be a chance for technology integration; define curriculum and then make technology a part of the curriculum. As was discussed in my instructional strategies course as well as a curriculum course I took a few quarteres ago, the purpose of curriculum is to ensure that each child whether in Mrs. Q’s class or Mr. W’s class receives the same educational opportunities. Technology is in our state standards and so should be treated as such. Technology education is not merely a freedom of instructional artistry but an educational necessity.

Before reading the article I wrote two things that I would need to change my instructional practices -of any kind- and I came up with needing the necessary knowledge, modeled scaffolding and accountability of my practice. I found it difficult to read through the first part of the article do to the focus on teachers’ beliefs and how beliefs effects what and how we teach. First of all discussing beliefs of any kind is daunting and seems impossible to wade through as everyone has different experiences, and so, has different background knowledge surrounding everything. However, I was relieved and a bit excited when I got to the section titled Implications for Professional Development. Ertmer cited Guskey’s thoughts,  “Change in beliefs follows, rather than precedes practice, and that by helping teachers adopt new practices that are successful, the associated beliefs will also change” (32). Teachers, like students, need to experience empirically proven strategies (frankly, whether they like it our not) and be held accountable for practicing and implementing those newly learned strategies or else nothing will change. If there was a more efficient and effective medical procedure that would cure an ailment I would expect my doctor to learn, practice and implement that procedure.  Truthfully, who can argue with efficiency and effectiveness  when we are constantly given more to teach in less time.

Ertmer, P. A. (2005). Teacher pedagogical beliefs: The final frontier in our quest for technology integration? Educational Technology Research & Development, 53(4). 25-39.