I have learned so much about effective teaching strategies when integrating technology. Before taking CEP 811, I had always assumed that teaching with technology was simply a great way to engage students. I would now argue that technology should be integrated for both student engagement and to prepare students for the future. Our students are living in a world where technology is used on a daily basis. It is important that teachers are preparing students for future interactions with technology, rather than simply lecturing through a technology format. I have also learned the importance of using a wide-variety of technology in the classroom. Students can collaborate, create projects with students from other schools with virtual field trips, and independently learn and interact with technology through webquests. Finally, the UDL principles have helped guide my future lessons, as I will always use this as a checklist to ensure that my teaching is well-rounded. By using the UDL principles as a guideline, I can now plan lessons that will benefit all learners. This is perhaps what I will use the most in the future and it has helped mold my teaching strategies when integrating technology.
Integrating web-based technologies allowed me to realize that is important not to integrate technology just for the sake of “modernizing” teaching. Prior to CEP 811, I was always looking for new technologies to integrate into my teaching. I now understand that technology should be used to supplement teaching, rather than basing my lessons off of the technology that I have available to me. There are a variety of technologies available to educators; however, this does not mean that all are beneficial for our students. It is important to identify the needs of our students and use technology to supplement our teaching to benefit the students. Integrating web-based technologies also allowed me to expand my teaching to the world outside of my classroom. I am now planning to post student work online (with parent permission) so that family members may communicate with their child, and I have also decided to sign up for Read Around the Planet. This will allow my students to interact with another classroom from any location in the world, and discuss the central themes in a shared book. Technology will allow me to set up virtual field trips, collaborate with other teachers, and interact more with my students and their families. I am grateful for all of the technologies that I have learned about through CEP 811 and I am looking forward to integrating them into my classroom in the fall.
Through this course, I have met each of the goals that I set for myself at the beginning of the semester. The first goal that I had set was to become more familiar with Web 2.0 tools that could be used in my classroom. Although I am leaving this course with a better understanding of many different tools, I consider myself to be a life-long learner and will always be looking to discover new technologies that will benefit my students. I am excited to use the many tools that I have learned about through this class in the upcoming school year. My second goal was to find a technology that would allow me to interact more effectively with parents outside of the classroom. By creating a website, I am confident that I will now be able to use this technology to post notes, a calendar, student work, and more. I am very enthusiastic about bringing this technology into my classroom next year and I am appreciative of the opportunity to practice creating a website that can be effective for parent-teacher-student communication. The final goal that I had originally set for myself was to identify technology-centered tools that were appropriate for a first grade classroom. As a first grade teacher I am constantly discovering new and wonderful technologies, however, they are not always appropriate for young students with a limited knowledge of technology. I am now able to create Stand Alone Instructional Resources, set up blogs for my students to discuss a variety of subject areas, and I can also access grade appropriate technology centered lessons through MERLOT. I am excited about all of the many ways I will now be able to integrate technology into a first grade classroom and I am still searching for more resources. Technology is constantly changing and it is important that I can adapt my teaching and integrate new technologies as they are introduced so that I do not become too set on one single technology.
Since I have met my previously set goals, I have created three new goals for the upcoming school year. First, although I know how to create a website, I hope to create a classroom website that is effective in promoting parent-teacher-student communication. To meet this goal I will create a classroom website with a link to a wiki. This will allow me to post student work by those students whose parents have signed a permission form. I will also create tutorials so that parents will understand the importance of viewing and commenting on student work. My second goal is to become more comfortable with podcasting. More specifically, I hope to identify two new technologies that will allow me to post podcasts to the classroom website. If I am able to meet this goal by December, I hope to begin helping my students independently create podcasts about books they have read. To meet this goal I will need to further research available technologies, practice as much as possible, and meet with colleagues who are familiar with podcasting. The third goal that I have set for myself is to apply the UDL principles to all of my future teaching. To ensure that I meet this goal, I have created a simplified UDL checklist that I will use for the creation of each lesson plan. It is so important that I am able to apply these principles to my future teaching so that I meet the needs of all students. It is much more ideal to create a lesson plan that all students will benefit from, rather than altering a lesson plan each year to meet the needs of students.
Overall, I have greatly benefited as an educator from CEP 811. I am so excited to apply these new technologies and concepts to my future teaching. I am confident that I will enhance my teaching because of this and my students will benefit as learners. I am grateful for the opportunity to have created a StAIR, applied UDL principles, and discovered a variety of technologies that will help prepare my students for the future. Only through understanding the importance of technology and the UDL principles can technology truly supplement lessons and promote student learning.