Reflect on the Tech

Going into this class, I was super enthused to learn methods for using  technology in the classroom.  For me, being tech savvy used to mean being able to operate a document camera and to use Google Docs.  Ok, well it was a little bit better than that, but this class has really opened my eyes to new tools that I did not know existed.  It has also provided me with practical tips on the logistics of how I would actually use tech tools to enhance a class.

After trying out and experimenting with a bunch of tech tools, I would like to make a list to catalog some of my favorites as well as my brief reflections about them:

  • WordPress – Starting from a basic blog post to including video and site embeds, seeking creative commons license photos to accompany, and more, practicing using WordPress made me appreciate its friendly user-face and simplicity.  Surely this will come in handy for blogging in the future.
  • Adobe Spark – While working on the class E book, we were introduced to this tool.  I had too much fun testing the endless possibilities of creative design on this and can see many uses for its professional-quality images with words.
  • Google NGram Viewer – This tool for visualizing the rate of use of certain terms could be used in many classrooms and could connect topics therein to the real world.
  • Screencasting – Making screencasts was not as easy as it appeared and might take some practice to become proficient, yet it was a great way to present material on a screen and another option for how to explain material to students or give them resources to use outside of class.

Overall, this class was valuable because it tied theory to practice, a feat difficult to accomplish in an ed class.  Again, I look forward to the future, curious about where ed tech will advance and how it will change the very nature of education.  I trust that we will be good stewards of it and carefully implement it in prudent and effective ways.

Featured Image created on Adobe Spark

The End of The Beginning

We are finally at the finish line.  I got to say, this race was the longest one yet.

Looking back on my first post,  I only talked about how I used technology, or the current technology I had, in education, but not anything pertaining to what I wanted to get out of the class.  I am kind of glad I did that because it feels like I was telling myself that I wanted to keep things a mystery with no expectations so I can see every lesson with interest and not be disappointed if something I wanted to learn never came up.

Have I made progress?  Hell yeah I did!  This class unlocked so many new ways to teach that I can now use.  I know they were always there in some way or form, but I just needed some kind of force to show me that they existed.  I will most likely use everything I have learned in the future, but I believe I would find myself using the “Find, Curate, Store” and “Screencast” lessons the most.

Suggestions?  In terms of improving the class, there is nothing I can think of.  I’ve enjoyed the project-based learning, meaning that it was up to us how invested we wanted to be in the lesson and the work.  Every lesson was detailed enough that we were able to learn on our own, allowing you to walk around the class to see our progress/struggles and lending your assistance to us.  In terms of new things to teach, I’m sorry, but I can’t think of anything.  Everything in this class was new to me and found them useful and fun.

Thanks, Peter!

Featured Image: Adobe Spark Creation

Sci-Notting the World Counters

What you see above is a sample of what you would see if you went to World-O-Meters.  As you scroll around the page, you will see many different topics like military spending, agriculture, water usage, production of electronics, social media, and so on.  This site is a giant world counter.  It is not entirely accurate, but a lot of math and trend observations went into making this as accurate as possible.  And this site is perfect for introducing and teaching scientific notation.

Prior Knowledge Needed:  Exponent Rules

Lesson Begins:

So, what is scientific notation?  In layman terms, scientific notation is the way of writing very large or very small numbers in a more compacted and readable version.  Writing or typing, it is still quite tedious to write/type a number like 123456789086432477043146.  Scientific notation allows us to rewrite this in a compacted form and we could probably round off somewhere since most of the numbers are useless.  Though, if you are in the science and medicinal fields, those numbers are important, but it would be a hassle to write all those commas.

Day 1:

Introduce World-o-Meters and have them explore the site a bit on their electronic devices (Chromebooks, iPads, phones, etc.).

Introduce the concept of scientific notation.  Ask if students know what it is since they may or may not have encountered the concept already in their Science class.  Most common reply would be “It’s a way to make writing big numbers easier“.  If there are students who never heard of scientific notation or need a refresher, do some examples on the board like 16,000 and ask them to turn it into scientific notation.  Answer:  1.6 x 10^4.  Just remember that the decimal point has to go behind the first nonzero number or the number in front of the decimal point has to be greater than 0 and less than 10 (0 < n < 10).

After that, spend the rest of class having the students practice writing topics of interest in World-o-Meters in scientific notation and then turning it back into standard notation (1.6 x 10^4 = 16,000).  I suggest having students switch papers and practice writing their peers’ answers in standard notation.  If you have time introduce the concept of negative exponents in scientific notation.

Day 2

Bring back World-o-Meters and begin class by stating that now that we can write in scientific notation, we can now use scientific notation to compare the date behind us.  Like life vs death, emails sent vs tweets, car production vs bicycle production, and so on.  And we can compare these topics by using multiplication and division with scientific notation.

Before letting them go choose what topics they want to compare, go over the how we can multiply and divide in scientific notation.  I suggest that you put an example on the board like 5.2 x 10^2 x 2.1 x 10^2 and having them explore that with their peers.  They should find out that they should multiply or divide the front numbers and add or subtract the exponents respectively.

After that is written in their notebooks, they are free to go onto World-o-Meters and explore possible comparisons in the world.  They would have to convert the number into scientific notation before they can multiply or divide accordingly.  I recommend that the students round the numbers to the nearest thousandth for easier writing.  Just remember that for n.6539174:  0 < n < 10.

After students have their comparisons, have them come up and share because it would be interesting what students thought they could compare.  Just look if they multiplied (add) or divided (subtract) correctly.

That’s all for now.  I’ve actually experienced this lesson in one of my classes and thought it be cool to keep.

Featured Image:  Colored World Map

Teach without Talking! (Sort of)

No matter what the circumstance, sometimes we just…hate to talk. We hate to hear ourselves speaking for some reason, and it drives us (well, maybe just me) insane! But today, we are going to explore a technique where, if we don’t want to talk for that lesson, we can just have a pre-recorded version of the lesson and show THAT to the kids and catch up on, say, grading. Or sleep. Whichever.

I’m talking about screencasting, and it’s got to be the most valuable tool in a teacher’s toolkit if you don’t want to teach that day, or you would like the students to have access to the lesson itself outside of school. It would be most useful if, say, they didn’t really understand one part of the homework and wish they could remember what it was that you said during that one part of the lesson they decided to space out on. Well, if you make the screencast of the lesson/interactive activity available to them, then voila! It’ll be a cinch for them to actually “relive” the lesson, so to speak, but watching that video.

In this screencast, I show the user how to make a very simple hyperlink in a Powerpoint Presentation and how to link that…link to another slide in the document.


Like I stated before, screencasting is a great tool for students to have the lectures available outside of class should they need to review certain material or need clarification on a part of the homework that they couldn’t ask the teacher.

I personally would not use screencasting while I was teaching. I mean, I would use other people’s screencasts (I just Khan Academy frequently) but I would never use my own. Kudos to all those brave enough to anonymously grace the public ear with their bandwidth voice.

That’s it for now! Toodles~!

Featured Image courtesy of Adobe Spark.

The Ed Tech Experience

Going into this class, I didn’t really have expectations. I knew that I wanted to get a little more comfortable with the technology available to me, and to gain an understanding of the possibilities of a higher tech placement. This course was helpful to me on both counts. I really appreciated the focus on easy to access online tools, because even in my placement those were useful to me, and I feel like I know that cool things are out there, and that many of them are pretty easy to work with and access.

I especially liked the focus on Google tools, because literally every school in the vicinity will have those available. I gained a better working understanding in the tools I’m already familiar with, which was super helpful. I especially like the my maps and google notes possibilities, which I wouldn’t have considered using or exploring before this course.

I was really interested in everything about this course, but the way our schedules work forced me to spend  less time on it than I wanted. I would love for it to be a required course for juniors, who still have hope and energy for things other than their student teaching placement. I feel that if I had taken the class earlier, I could have engaged more with everything and been more creative and interested in embracing the project based learning model.

Featured Image: “Psychedelic Jellyfish” by Paul Tomin on Flickr

EdTech Methods: Yet Another Class I Wish I Took Earlier

When I entered my student teaching year, I barely knew how to construct a lesson plan. I didn’t know how to design a lesson to achieve learning targets. I didn’t know what a unit plan even really looked like. I got overwhelmed and barely caught up.

If EdTech Methods was a semester or two earlier, I would have really been able to use more of this stuff in my teaching earlier. Now it’s the end of the year and I know my way around Google tools like none other and I feel this weird guilt that I wasn’t good enough throughout this class and definitely not good enough for my students. I want EdTech earlier than the last semester at UP. It deserves to be earlier, but still close to student teaching. I say that purely out of the fact that I feel profoundly more confident in a hands-on type understanding of classroom technology and wish that was the case before I had such a turbulent year.

Basically the only complaint I have is that I found the blog difficult to navigate. Is WordPress the best site for this? I don’t have any alternatives because the knowledge of educational technology I trust is exclusively from this class.

Google Trends as the First Step in Research

A student is looking at an essay prompt, he or she is overwhelmed and intimidated. They’re torn because they can’t decide what they want to write about, but the teacher was so insistent on leaving the prompt more open to the students.

A student has chosen what to write on, but doesn’t know what angle to take with it.

Maybe they’re looking for a fast and analytical way to compare and contrast two or more concepts.

Fix all of this by putting Google Trends in front of students. Teachers can use Google Trends as a measure of popularity over time within the last decade or so, giving students a statistical understanding of cultural relevancy that they can then analyze to understand what pulls people toward certain things. For example, if you search the names of some Shakespeare plays, you can see that people search Shakespeare way more during conventional school seasons, dipping in winters and summers. It’s a whole new source of information that gives statistical data accurate to what is relevant in the world today.

Check it out!

Student-Submitted Essay Questions: A Flipped Classroom with You Still at the Reigns

So if you’re like me, you’re often proud of your students by their interesting, deep questions about your material. The kind of stuff beyond “How is this relevant to us?” and “Can I go to the bathroom?” So how do you incorporate their deeper, more engaging questions into the curriculum without losing track of the lesson plan you’ve worked so hard on?

Google Slides’ ‘Presenter View’. For a technology-literate classroom beyond the normal curriculum, just put up a Google Slides on presenter view and ask students to post their profound questions on the powerpoint. The best way to do this would be within the unit beforehand, whenever one of those questions comes up, ask students to write it down and save it. Then, when they’re looking at the powerpoint, they’ll get on their devices and submit the question. Then, students can be challenged to answer the question (in an ELA classroom that might take the form of a strong thesis statement), then they can compete for the best answer possible! You still control everything that goes on the screen, but the students control and respond to the rest.

This model could also be used for more open-ended trivia or test-prep, if you wanted.

Am I Technology Literate Yet?

In my first post I talked a lot about how I did not feel like I was technology literate. I know I am still not 100% there but I have gained one important thing. I now have a spark of curiosity about the technology that is in the world. I have more wonder and motivation to learn about new technology and apps that I could integrate into the classroom. I think that curiosity is the main piece of the puzzle that I was missing, now that I have been exposed to a small slice of technology that is available I have more interest in discovering what is out there.

I feel more comfortable navigating different apps and formats such as Apple products or Google Drive elements. I still get frustrated occasionally when I encounter something that is not made or set up with what I view as common sense. However I have learned to push past my frustration and un-comfortability for the benefit of my students. I want them to also have new experiences with technology so I could fall flat on my face but the students would probably be able to teach me about whatever technology thing-y I don’t understand.

Personally in the beginning of the course I was not a fan of how “loose” the structure of the class was, if you haven’t figured it out I’m a bit of a Type A person. However I realized that we were the first group of students shaping the course so both the instructor and the students were figuring it out as they went along. And honestly, some flexibility is good for me to learn as a teacher.

The only other suggestion I would have is maybe one or two class periods where we could possibly get different devices like iPads or chromebooks and actually physically play around with different apps like nearpod, kahoot or keynote. I just think a bit more hands on practice with what your classroom would actually look like could be benefical!

Thanks for everything!


Attribution: Bryan McDonald

edTech Methods: Now what?

Looking back at my first blog post, I am amazed that the semester is already over and how much more exposure I’ve been getting to technology that can be used in the classroom as well as how I can use it to make learning spicy.

Throughout my time student teaching at my placement and since beginning this class, I have definitely experimented more and done more with the available technology in the classroom. With the recent addition of a cart of chrome books, I have taken advantage of online platforms such as MobyMax, Geogebra, Khan Academy, and Desmos in order to enhance learning….or just keep the kids busy if I was a little behind on grading *cough*. The kids enjoyed my experiments more than I did, I think, just because it was different from me just lecturing at them.

I feel like taking this class has allowed me to really branch out and experiment with things that I didn’t think I would want to experiment with. I have been so much more confident and I am so grateful that my CT has been so flexible with me and has given me free reign to perform all of these experiments and use the kids as guinea pigs. I have definitely discovered more of what my ideal style of teaching is through using the resources that were presented through this class, and I will definitely carry everything that I have learned from this class with me throughout my entire career.

One thing that I will have to do before graduation is to bookmark this blog post and all the resources that everyone has blogged about and use it if (and hopefully when) I get a classroom of my own. I feel like I have also learned how to adapt to an environment without easy access to technology just based on the implications of what you CAN do with technology and how to get around that should the technology not be available to you.

I have also become more adept at looking for more than one way to present certain material, and I think that this will definitely help me a lot when I actually get a teaching job (again….fingers crossed).

I don’t have anything to suggest for this class. It was extremely flexible, which I appreciated immensely, and the course was really just like a living thing. I am reminded of the Constitution of the United States in the sense that it is a living document and is always capable of changing, and that was the sort of feeling I got from this course. I also appreciated the fact that we were able to choose the way we presented our findings when playing with the various materials that were available to us. It was a lot of fun to play with the different things that were introduced to us; especially when we had already had a bit of experience with the resource, such as Google.

Thanks, Peter, for opening the horizons a bit more and making these resources available to me and the rest of the class. We will definitely benefit greatly from the things you have taught us. It was also super fun to run a blog (sort of) that might one day help future teachers! And let’s not forget the fact that we are now published authors with Apple, even though it was just with one book.


For the last time, thanks for reading! 😀


Featured image courtesy of Adobe Spark.

A Time for Reflection

I feel like I have learned how to better use several tools that will help students visualize the mathematics that they are learning.  I practiced using Desmos graphing calculator and thought of multiple ways that I could use it in a lesson.  I also learned about new tools that I have never heard of before, such as GapMinder World.  Overall, I feel like the teaching with data visualization was the most valuable lesson for me.  I could see myself using several of the tools in future math lessons.

The thing that was the most frustrating for me was creating a screencast.  I didn’t like that if I made a mistake while screencasting, I had to go back and re-do the entire video.  I understand that creating screencasts can be valuable – it makes it unnecessary for a teacher to explain the same thing multiple times and allows for time to focus on other tasks during class time. However, I do not think it is a teaching strategy that I will ever use because I found it to be very time-consuming and frustrating to create one short video.

Image credit Moyan Brenn

Immigration Unit

With candidates like Marine Le Pen and policies like Brexit cropping up internationally, and much national focus on immigration and border control, immigration and the human rights issues that surround it are topical and relevant issues for all groups of students. I’m a big proponent of using my platform as a teacher to promote social awareness (regardless of personal opinion), and English/Language arts is particularly well suited to helping students build this kind of empathy.  Reading, absorbing, and analyzing literature is as close as one can get to living through the experiences of the author and the situations they are writing about.

One particularly excellent text about immigration, that I hope to teach in my classroom wherever I land, is a wordless graphic novel called The Arrival, by Australian artist Shaun Tan. Despite being wordless, it manages to convey incredibly sophisticated themes that are politically neutral, since the story is visual fantasy and is not set in any particularly identifiable time or place. Because of its neutrality, it allows readers to connect with the characters without necessarily conveying blame, or causing the reader to become defensive. Students experience along with the characters the displacement and loss of leaving a homeland, the adaptation to new customs and places, and eventual reunion with family. It’s fabulous.

An excellent tech tool to go along with this text is the Metrocosm World Immigration Map. In much the same way that The Arrival removes the otherness of immigration through the sympathetic characters, this tech tool normalizes immigration by showing that people are coming and going from nearly every country, and that immigration is a global process rather than an isolated perceived annoyance.

Featured Image: Graphic Novel illustration by Laurence Hyde retrieved from Flickr