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  • Technology Integration
      Technology Integration Tags: Technology Integration Categories: Blog July 30, 2014 @ 9:26 PM 1 Comment    Here is a link to my tutorial about five simple ways to integrate technology into a classroom.
  • Authentic STEM Instruction Opportunities
      Authentic STEM Instruction Opportunities Tags: Diversity Technology Integration Categories: Blog July 31, 2014 @ 9:57 PM 2 Comments    In Fifth Graders as App Designers: How Diverse Learners conceptualize Educational Apps, Israel, Marino, Basham, and Spivak (2013) discuss how schools are expected to improve instruction and results of diverse learners in th […]
  • Cochlear Implants: Improving the Education of All
    The author’s case study deals has both visual and hearing disabilities. However, the case study student has chosen to take Advanced English 10. Despite her disabilities, including an extensive IEP, the author’s case study has far exceeded her teacher’s expectations in the classroom. The case study student has a cochlear implant. The three following articles […]

Building Your Repertoire of Online Tools

Building Your Repertoire of Online Tools

Building your Repertoire of Online Tools

A teacher recently messaged me on Facebook to ask advice on the best tool to use to keep track of her daily lesson plans. She described her need as this:

For digital planning I would love something that shows a teacher snapshot of the week then when each lesson or day is clicked then there would be a link to that lesson. The lesson format would include the basic lesson planning standards. What I really need is to make friends with a programmer who can take my thoughts and create something digital from there. I think it would be great to find something that you can write with your finger or a stylus.

There are actually many free tools that can do the first half of what is desired here. For instance:

Each of these could be designed with a relatively brief learning curve to share this sort of content over time.

Often the challenging part is that we start to build before anticipating the long-term value potential of what we are creating, and then design the infrastructure in a manner that doesn’t fit quite right. So it is helpful to think a bit about what would be convenient for immediate needs (tomorrow), short term needs (next week/month), and long-term needs (future school years).

Generally designing for the long-term need should guide the infrastructure. The immediate needs can usually also be met in that format but should not be foremost in your mind. For instance, including dates in online content helps with short term goals but makes materials problematic for long-term goals. So it helps to think of a simple work around for connecting dates and content. An embedded calendar is a good alternative. You can create the daily link to the relevant content in a calendar, but leave the content free of any dates so it is easy to use in future iterations of the course just as easily.

Getting your site to provide the short “blurb” about your content is a design issue related to which template you use and how your construct the materials on the page. Watching a few intro level videos will help you make this happen and once you learn the format it becomes easy to replicate.

One recommendation I have is to recognize that it isn’t always best to build all content within one system. Variety is the spice of life, and plentiful free online materials are available to use.

It helps organizationally to create a teacher-based web page (wiki, weebly, blog, Site etc.) as the main architecture for your lesson plans and work. But individual units, help sheets, assignments etc. are likely better created separately and then embedded into the main teacher web page. For instance, a sixth grade teacher might want her unit on Civic Engagement to be created on a wiki so students can collaboratively author content relative to small group projects. But that doesn’t mean her main web page has to be a wiki. She can host the wiki materials in her main page.

If this makes sense, jump in and have fun. And if this seems like a great idea but overwhelming to do on your own, come join us at St. Kate’s. Both of our MAED programs (Curriculum and Instruction, Technology Integration) will build your skill set in these domains so that you can confidently create for your 21st Century Learners.


Connections — School to Home, Grade to Grade, Student to Student…

Canoe PaddleAnyone who has sat behind a person in a canoe knows the importance of well-timed collaboration skills for moving the boat forward.

Given the reality of almost free and virtually instant connections between any two persons with access to the World Wide Web–and a shared understanding of how to “connect”– teachers can also organize student’s moving forward in their learning as a collaborative effort.

Considering the multiple possibilities for interaction can be overwhelming — but teachers, parents, and students are encouraged to brainstorm opportunities to make meaningful connections both during and outside of class and just begin somewhere! Doing one thing well is much more effective than understanding a hundred things and doing nothing!

Some examples that have worked in my experience:

  • College students can mentor middle school students
  • Grandparents can encourage and provide constructive feedback to elementary aged children
  • Experts on any topic can visit a classroom learning about that subject via Google Hangout or Skype
  • Parents can tap into what is actually happening in their children’s learning environments to prompt broader conversations around the dinner table, encourage students to recall and rehearse new learning, and foster personal connections to the learning.

For those new to the opportunities of online connection, there may be some useful resources in this TIES Presentation on School to Parent Communication by Dr. Roxanne Pickle and myself. There is a special emphasis in materials here on meeting the needs of exceptional students as well.

What do you do or plan to do in the future?

Education Minnesota Prize Winners!

Congratulations to Joan Schonning and Kathryn Guimaraes – two of the three winners of our gift baskets from Education MN.  One more to come!


Mildred Speranza Award for Teachers in Catholic Settings

Congratulations to Abigael Morales!

Abigail Morales ’16, a student in the Master of Arts in Education, Curriculum and Instruction program, has been named as the recipient of the Mildred Speranza Award for Teachers in Catholic Settings.

Morales, who teaches 6th grade at Sacred Heart Elementary School in Monticello, Iowa, found out about the University ‘s graduate program through Facebook and learned of the award after speaking with admission representatives during an online information session.

“I loved that the school was founded on Catholic principles and continues to place a strong emphasis on social justice,” she says. “I am so excited to start this journey to grow professionally as a reflective educator so that I can continue to increase my students’ learning in meaningful ways.”

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