Participation In An Online Educational Community

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standard 5

5. Engage in professional growth and leadership – Teachers continuously improve their professional practice, model lifelong learning, and exhibit leadership in their school and professional community by promoting and demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources.

a. Participate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning.

Program Standard 8

8. Professional Practice – The teacher participates collaboratively in the educational community to improve instruction, advance the knowledge and practice of teaching as a profession, and ultimately impact student learning.

8.1 Element – Participating in a Professional Community

8.1 Example of Proficient – Relationships with colleagues are characterized by mutual support and cooperation.

Constant development is an essential part of effective teaching practice and the best way for educators to maintain that kind of consistent growth is by connecting with their peers. However, that can be difficult for teachers to do because of the nature of their job. Donnelly and Boniface (2013) argued, “One of the most salient issues for practicing teachers is isolation” (p. 9). Instead of regularly being surrounded by their colleagues like most workers, they are separated from them for most of their workday. As such, it is important for them to find other ways to connect with like-minded individuals and discuss their trade. Online communities are a great way to do that. They not only allow teachers to connect with each other to share ideas, gain insights, and learn from one another but they also allow them to feel more connected to their craft. Being a part of such a demanding job makes it crucial for teachers to have a support system.

In my teaching practice, online communities will be an important part of my routine allowing me to stay current on instructional strategies. One website that has fostered a dynamic educational community is Edutopia. It offers a wide range of subjects to explore, as well as, a vast collection of articles and message boards for individuals to read and participate in. It brings together educational professionals from all kinds of backgrounds and allows them to share their knowledge gained from years of experience. Recently, I decided to sign up for an account so that I can participate in discussions. Today I read a well-researched and informative article on project-based learning and how that method benefits students. I was so inspired by this article that I decided to become a part of the conversation and post a comment so that I could share my opinions and observations. This was the first step towards becoming a fully contributing member of this community. I plan on continuing my participation on Edutopia by posting questions and offering information. This website will be just the first of many that I will explore to elevate my teaching practice.

Edutopia Screen Shot
References
Donnelly, D.F. & Boniface, S. (2013). Consuming and creating: Early-adopting science teachers’ perceptions and use of a wiki to support professional development. Computers & Education, 68, 9-20. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.04.023
Holland, Beth. (2015). Design Thinking and PBL. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/design-thinking-and-pbl-beth-holland?page=1#comment-240556
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Teaching Students Digital Citizenship

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standard 4

4. Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility – Teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices.

a. Advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources.

Program Standard 1

1. Expectations – The teacher communicates high expectations for student learning.

1.2 Element – Communicating with Students

1.2 Example of Proficient – Teacher’s explanation of content is appropriate and connects with students’ knowledge and experience.

Digital Citizenship

Click On Image To See Full Infographic

The internet has become an integral part of education as it enables more dynamic classroom learning. However, it also poses risks to young students and the laws and codes of acceptable conduct can be confusing. It is important for teachers to help children understand the importance of safe, responsible use of online resources. On the International Society for Technology in Education website, Mike Ribble describes essential elements to consider when navigating the web. These fundamentals are meant to provide teachers with a way to approach the subject with students and ensure that they are covering all of the pertinent information. Ribble (2014) suggests that there are nine basic components to digital citizenship:

Respect

1.Digital access: Advocating for equal digital rights and access is where digital citizenship starts.

2.Digital etiquette: Rules and policies aren’t enough — we need to teach everyone about appropriate conduct online.

3.Digital law: It’s critical that users understand it’s a crime to steal or damage another’s digital work, identity or property.

Educate

4.Digital communication: With so many communication options available, users need to learn how to make appropriate decisions.

5.Digital literacy: We need to teach students how to learn in a digital society.

6.Digital commerce: As users make more purchases online, they must understand how to be effective consumers in a digital economy.

Protect

7.Digital rights and responsibilities: We must inform people of their basic digital rights to privacy, freedom of speech, etc.

8.Digital safety and security: Digital citizens need to know how to protect their information from outside forces that might cause harm.

9.Digital health and wellness: From physical issues, such as repetitive stress syndrome, to psychological issues, such as internet addiction, users should understand the health risks of technology. (Ribble, 2014)

The complex nature of these standards makes it necessary for educators to explicitly instruct students on how to responsibly use the internet so that they can become engaged and active members of online communities. Like in any community, there are standard behaviors expected of conscientious online participants. It can feel like the internet is not a part of real life so students are not always on their best behavior or participating in productive activities. Online bullying is a major issue that educators need to tackle directly in their classroom. Teachers need to stress to students that anything said or done online is just as real as when they are interacting with one of their classroom peers.

In classrooms, online activity is not just used for connecting students with one another or collaborating with classroom communities around the world. The main thing it is used for is research. The reason the internet is such a great resource for finding material is because it is constantly updated and added to. However, that amount of information can be overwhelming. Students often feel that anything found online is reputable so it is critical for teachers to instruct them on how to distinguish good sources from bad ones. Educators play a huge role in how students learn to conduct research and those skills are important to life-long success. 

It is also important to help students understand that not everything found on the internet is free to use and adapt. Copyright laws and creative commons licensing can be a difficult topic so it is imperative that teachers take the time to go over the intricacies of it with their students. Many young children believe that laws and acceptable behavior are not relevant online because it feels disconnected from reality. It is crucial to teach them that their actions always matter and that there will be consequences if they break the law online. Once students have learned all of the aspects of proper digital conduct, they will be empowered to elevate their learning using the vast array of material the internet has to offer.

Reference
Ribble, M. (2014) Essential elements of digital citizenship. International Society for Technology in Education. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/explore/articledetail?articleid=101

Using Collaborative Communities To Improve Professional Teaching Development

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standard 5

5. Engage in professional growth and leadership – Teachers continuously improve their professional practice, model lifelong learning, and exhibit leadership in their school and professional community by promoting and demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources.

a. Participate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning.

Program Standard 8

8. Professional Practice – The teacher participates collaboratively in the educational community to improve instruction, advance the knowledge and practice of teaching as a profession, and ultimately impact student learning.

8.1 Element – Participating in a Professional Community

8.1 Example of Proficient – Relationships with colleagues are characterized by mutual support and cooperation.

Teachers are by nature communicators. They spend most of each day conveying ideas to their students. They are inherently a part of a community within their own classroom, yet, many teachers find themselves secluded. The educational system is set up so that teachers are separated from their peers for most of the day only interacting with their students. Donnelly and Boniface (2013) argued, “One of the most salient issues for practicing teachers is isolation” (p. 9). They continued to elaborate that this reality is caused by the fact that teachers do not have many chances during the day to work with their colleagues. However, an integral part of professional development for educators is collaboration with others in the field. Technology has created ways for teachers to virtually connect with each other whether they are from within the same school or located across the globe. For EDTC 6433 (Teaching with Technology) I explored how to use online communities and tools to help improve my professional practice and model lifelong learning skills that will aid my students in becoming proactive learners.

The act of teaching can be transformed through joint effort and strong teacher cooperation whether it is found within schools or through online communities. Another student in EDTC 6433 shared an article extolling the benefits of peer partnerships for educators and how collaboration helped to create more dynamic lesson plans for their students. The administrators in this article took great care to foster a culture of community within their school. Although these teachers were located in the same school, they still found it difficult to find time to physically meet up so they made use of technology to communicate. They enhanced their communication by using Google Drive to create and share files (Edutopia, 2015). These teachers made excellent use of technology to collaborate more easily and effectively with peers within their school.

While the Internet is a wonderful tool to connect busy teachers within schools or districts it can also be used to connect educators across the globe. Scragg (2013) compiled a list of websites used to host educational communities. Web sites like Twitter have been used to create teacher communities where educators can talk about current issues and follow one another as well as host virtual “meet ups.” Other websites like We Are Teachers, Teachers Teaching Teachers, Share My Lesson, and Classroom 2.0 were all specifically designed to allow teachers from across the country and around the globe to connect and share resources (Scragg, 2013). These communities allow individuals to develop their practice by posing questions or providing advice to fellow educators. These online groups allow teachers to share open educational resources with one another and enrich their own experiences by exposing themselves to ideas they might not have otherwise discovered. This type of open sharing allows teachers access to innovative material which will benefit their professional practice. When teachers are able to constantly better themselves their students will model that proactive behavior and benefit as well. Online resources like these will play a large role in my teaching practice and I will use technology to make sure that I remain connected to my colleagues.

References
Donnelly, D.F. & Boniface, S. (2013). Consuming and creating: Early-adopting science teachers’ perceptions and use of a wiki to support professional development. Computers & Education, 68, 9-20. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.04.023
Edutopia. (2015). Teacher Collaboration: Matching Complementary Strengths. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/practice/teacher-collaboration-matching-complementary-strengths
Scragg, S. (2013) Online teacher communities. United Federation of Teachers. Retrieved from http://www.uft.org/linking-learning/online-teacher-communities

Course Reflection For Survey Of Instructional Strategies

Program Standard 4

4. Content Knowledge – The teacher uses content area knowledge, learning standards, appropriate pedagogy and resources to design and deliver curricula and instruction to impact student learning. 

4.1 Element – Demonstrating Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy

4.1 Example of Proficient – Teacher’s plans and practice reflect familiarity with a wide range of effective pedagogical approaches in the discipline.

teach

In their book—Models of Teaching—Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015) explored various methods of instruction and their uses in the classroom. They explored standard techniques like memorization and the use advance organizers as well as explicit and direct instruction. They also surveyed less conventional ones such as inquiry and inductive strategies along with nondirective teaching and group investigation approaches. While this book investigated many different types of classroom instruction, one thing it made clear was that the best teachers employ a wide range of tactics with their students.

The student led approaches offer learners the independence to explore topics important to them. With this method Students will be more engaged in learning because they have the flexibility to discover issues and subject matter that interests them. This strategy can be difficult to implement because it requires the standard classroom hierarchy to be dismantled, however, the benefits are well worth the effort. “The model creates an environment where students and teachers are partners in learning, sharing ideas openly, and communicate honestly with one another” (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015, p. 285). Student centric learning allows teachers to create a cooperative environment where inquiry based learning and group collaboration can flourish. These strategies create more connected students capable of working together and empathizing with one another. If done well, self-directed models engender in students not only the desire but also the capacity to become life-long learners.

While it is crucial to implement less conventional learning styles in the classroom, it is also important not to neglect the standard models of teaching that have created a solid groundwork of education. Explicit and direct instruction can be the best methods of conveying new information depending on the subject matter. It is essential that teachers develop the skills necessary to determine the best teaching strategy for conveying different kinds of information. When learning foundational skills it is often best for teachers to convey the information in a direct manner so that students will not be confused by the topics being discussed. Ultimately, students cannot explore subject matter independently without first understand a basic level of comprehension so explicit instruction is necessary in order to enable less structured learning. Joyce et al. (2015) explained, “Direct instruction plays a limited but important role in a comprehensive educational program” (p. 340). While explicit teaching may not always yield the best learning results in certain situations there are times when will be the most beneficial. The most effective teachers understand that different kinds of instructional strategies lend themselves more readily to different content areas. Those educators are able to produce the best learning results from their students by creating a dynamic and engaging learning environment.

References
Joyce, B.R., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015) Models of Teaching: Ninth Edition. New York, NY: Pearson. [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com
Media
 The photo in this post has been unedited and was found on Flickr following creative commons licensing.