Professional Development: Web 2.0 Tools to Boost Student Research

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My final project for EdTech 554 is to create a professional development activity for teachers in my school. This assignment is pragmatic and the training we create should be useful in our daily practice. I chose to focus on helping teachers better empower students to be better 21st Century researchers. I am not a librarian, but I have noticed that students (and often teachers) generally don’t tap into enough Web 2.0 tools available to them to help them search, organize, and annotate their research.

For the assignment, I was given the following questions to consider and I will be graded against how well I address these:

  1. Are the goals SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound)?
    1. Professional development goals that will improve all students’ learning?
    2. Professional development goals that will improve teacher effectiveness?
    3. Professional development goals that differentiates the learning?
  2. What activities are planned?
  3. What are the expected outcomes?
  4. How will the learning be measured?
  5. How will you ensure the learning returns to the classroom?
  6. How will you measure the outcome on student learning?

Here is my professional development plan that outlines SMART goals and expected outcomes, NETS for Teachers standards, learning activities, and how to measure student outcomes. I can’t wait to give it a try.

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Brain Fitness Grant Proposal

Here is my completed grant proposal for EdTech 551: Grant Writing as it currently stands. Now I just need to get it funded!

This grant seeks funding for a 5th grade class to obtain activity monitors to use in brain conditioning exercises prior to reading and math. The idea builds upon compelling research indicating a direct correlation between increased heart rate (and therefore more oxygen and blood pumping to the brain) and cognitive performance (the brain’s ability to function and learn). This effort strives to improve standardized test scores in English Language Arts and mathematics through increased cardiovascular activity. This grant would adopting similar fitness practices used by schools across the nation who have seen great success through their innovation and creativity.

As part of the course I also designed a simple Weebly website for my mom so that she has a place where parents, administrators, and potential funders can get more information on the grant. It is also a place where progress will also be recorded. While I am confident I could design my own site using my EdTech 502 skills, I chose to keep things easy for her sake.

Many AECT standards were met during this course. I have summarized these as follows:

2.1 Print Technologies: ways to produce or deliver materials, such as books and static visual materials, primarily through mechanical or photographic printing processes.
We used a variety of print technologies in this course, mostly through MS Word and Google docs. The aesthetic appeal of a document is important to me and I think a well written grant also needs to look good on a page.

2.2 Audiovisual Technologies: ways to produce or deliver materials by using mechanical devices or electronic machines to present auditory and visual messages.
A/V technologies are used for professional production the grant proposal and query letter. Copy machines and printers are used for this task. We also had to read and evaluate the writing and design of many external websites and critique specifics of what made them great or terrible.

2.3 Computer-Based Technologies Computer-based technologies are ways to produce or deliver materials using microprocessor-based resources.
This standard was met by devising a website to portray our grant proposal visually. The intent is not to publish our entire proposal but to glean the most important aspects that would be of interest to parents, administrators, and potential funders.

3.1 Media Utilization: the systematic use of resources for learning.
This standard was met throughout the course as I oversaw the development of my grant proposal. I began by assessing the need and determining a potential solution. I did online readings and research, collected supporting data, identified appropriate technologies and associated costs, and thought through specific plans to implement the project.

3.4 Policies and Regulations: the rules and actions of society (or its surrogates) that affect the diffusion and use of Instructional Technology.
In my writing and website creation, I adhered to copyright and fair use laws.I examined my writing language to make sure it was fair and unbiased and would appeal to a broad spectrum.

4.2 Resource Management: involves planning, monitoring, and controlling resource support systems and services.
The grant writing process is complex and requires a significant amount of time. Such an exercise requires a thorough examination of the project from beginning to end, with all of it’s costs, rationale, support, arguments, and practicalities addressed.

4.4 Information Management: involves planning, monitoring, and controlling the storage, transfer, or processing of information in order to provide resources for learning.
Serious organizational skills are needed in order to seek and obtain a grant. Such values as  planning, monitoring, and controlling are essential. The grant is based on the careful assumption the once the grant is funded, the educator will be responsible for careful accounting of the program. This is something that has forced careful consideration to details throughout the semester.

5.3 Formative and Summative Evaluation: involves gathering information on adequacy and using this information as a basis for further development. Summative evaluation involves gathering information on adequacy and using this information to make decisions about utilization.
For the grant I have chosen to pursue, there was a significant amount of background research and evaluation necessary to see where the students are at, what can help them, what other schools with similar schools are doing, and so forth. I’ve also had to research the various technologies available, their pros and cons, in meeting the goals outlined.

Digital Inequality

Here is our finished VoiceThread presentation: http://voicethread.com/share/2220807/

The collaboration required for this week’s EdTech 501 assignment on digital inequality pushed us all to a new level. We were a pseudo-Task Force, assigned to help our state’s superintendent make decisions on how to use $50M to reduce statewide digital inequality.

I learned a great deal through online research about the differences between digital divide (the have’s and the have-not’s of computer access) and digital inequality (the level to which a user can implement and utilize available tools). It was a complex issue, one I initially knew very little about, and I have realized that support and resources must help provide education as well as access.

Our assignment was to create a VoiceThread, an online slide sharing program that enables various users to insert and comment. This presentation took a great deal of distance collaboration among our five team members. We shared Google docs that allowed each of use to edit and note our research.

I am proud of our finished product and feel it represents a three-fold success: 1) acquired knowledge of a complex issue; 2) exposure to a new technology; and 3) strengthened collaborative skills for team building.

Three AECT standards on this project were also applied. Standard 3.2 (Diffusion of Innovations) was met through strategic planning for the purpose of forming a consensus and presenting information. Standard 3.4 (Policies and Regulations) was met through learning the rules of society and how technology is (or isn’t) effectively utilized. Standard 4.2 (Resource Management) was met by our Task Force planning strategies to use state resources.

Good work, team!