Final Reflection Paper
Being selected as a WIPRO fellow I never realized the value of being a fellow, but I truly understand now. Upon arrival I imagined that this program would be a new approach to my learning files. Another smart way to improve my practice with some connections to many practices that exist within my current pedagogy with a new twist. Day one taught me to move the cheese and to embrace the nuances of being uncomfortable in your practice. We were all encouraged to think differently about thinking and practice. We were never lead to feel as if our current teaching practice was wrong. I can remember several professional developments feeling this way but not here. I sat amongst a very diverse group of Chicago Public School educators. Out of a group of 49 educators some were in their first years of teaching all the way to 24 years in education, male to female ratio balanced, cultural diversity, skill level ranged from novice to tech pros, elementary level to high school level and most all teachers were one or two components of a S.T.E.M. discipline. We were all here together to gain valuable insight about the impact of technology in education.
Day one with Punya was exciting to say the least. His level of excitement with the Ollo clip help to set the tone of the entire program. We were introduced to our mentor coaches and they all were equally excited. I remember feeling a little overwhelmed when we were given the overall objectives of what we would learn over the course of the 11 days. WOW!!! I was so impressed with how much thought went into every detail of how we formed groups the layout of your day, selection of articles to read for daily discussion and of course the "COSMOS" book.
Having a digital presence was a huge objective of MSU Urban STEM, but I fought that idea because I guarded my privacy. At first I did not see the value in branding myself as an educator, but with time I would understand this idea. We created a social media presence via Twitter, Facebook, Pintrest, and a personal website in just a few hours. I was amazed at how fast we would complete task. But I could see how completing each task was an additional piece of useful technology integration that would easily be adapted into my classroom. After we completed each task, including the "Quick Fires" I felt accomplished and eager to follow-up at home using my own children as students.
The choice of daily articles were also critical to help us to shift our practice. From the first group discussion of "COSMOS" an idea I took away was defining learning could be difficult to do because learning is so vast. My outlook on defining learning as getting the inside out and then back in has also changed. I feel that there are many layers how to define learning now. While reading Wilson-Peterson "Theories for Learning and Teaching, What Does That Mean for Educators?", they talked about the shift from students being open vessels waiting to have knowledge poured into them to students being active constructors of meaning. On a daily basis we were actively setting an example of this practice by completing our daily task and challenges. Another article that was valuable to me was Gardner and Mansilla's "Disciplining The Mind" in that there is little value in having student memorize large amounts of information if they are unable to apply it to the world outside the class. Instead teach students how to be disciplined in the way they think so they will approach information and apply information as an expert in any discipline that is relevant to the information that they learned. This helps me to reflect within my own scientific practice and how I could shift assessments to include more application of ideas using creation tools. Some of these creation tools are said to be the new cool tools like smart phones, tablets, social media outlets etc. as mentioned in Mishra and Kohler's article "Too Cool for School? No Way: Using the TPACK Framework". These tools are beneficial resources that are easily adapted into core subject areas when teachers have a deep understanding of merging pedagogy, content and technology (TPACK) when creating engaging student lessons. This is the ultimate idea to hit the sweet spot when integrating technology into your curriculum. Selection of cool tools should be intentional components in the development of creating an innovative mindset in today's student.
Within the 11 days at MSU Urban STEM I was able to reflect on my practice, and I was able to see how I could easily include technology into my curriculum. Along with all of the research, articles, books, collaborative efforts, standing examples of new experience, I can see how valuable having a digital presence is. My misinterpretation of having a digital presence as an invasion of privacy quickly changed as the days passed.
Looking ahead I feel empowered to share and collaborate more within my own school for technology integration. With my digital presence I have a wider audience to reach out to for sharing ideas, resources and student/teacher projects. This upcoming school year I will serve as a teacher leader to the middle school team and co-chair of the S.T.E.M. committee along side of Rosalind Ali, WIPRO fellow cohort 1. Together we will create an innovation lab which will be a space for teachers and students to openly make, tinker and create technological solutions.
Although I struggled with going public, I want my students to have a digital portfolio of all of their work so, creating a website and posting assignments will be a new and permanent process in my class. Using Google tools to collaborate and give feedback to students will be common practice as well. I realized that this summer we used no paper at all over the 11 days with the exception of a handout from The Improv. So I want to pledge that I want to reduce paper usage in my class and within the building. The use of students digital portfolios is one solution, and using email, Twitter and Remind.com to communicate with parents is an additional solution.
With these new tools, ideas, new collaborative partners and the support of WIPRO MSU Urban Stem I am further into my journey of being more than just tech-savvy, but truly being tech literate within this ever-changing technically advanced society. I feel prepared to create a different mindset in my students to become thinkers, tinkers, creators, inventors, solution solvers and the next generation of innovators.
Gardner, H. and Mansilla, V., (Feb. 2008) Educational Leadership: Disciplining The Mind (pgs. 14-19)
Koehler, M. and Mishra, P., (May 2009) Learning and Leading with Technology: Too Cool for School? No Way! Using the TPACK Framework. (pgs.14-18)
Peterson, P and Wilson, S., Theories of Learning and Teaching, What They Mean for Educators. (pgs.2-16) NEA