Digital Portfolio

The last assignment that was due for this semester was the creation of a digital portfolio, in which I had to present a sort of archive of the things I learned this semester about the use of technology in education and early education. The last section was to be a summary of my personal perspective on the topic. I am proud to say that I earned 100% of the allowable points for this assignment and my professor said "Your final reflection could be the beginning of a Master thesis!!"

From now until the beginning of the next semester I will be celebrating, keeping my appetite strong for education and success.

About Me:

My personal view on education is that states of being we refer to as teacher and student are omnipresent. The classroom is everywhere and the responsibility of persons in both roles is to teach and learn to receive the lesson(s) in each situation. A big part of what attracts me to the field of education is the opportunity to share the thinking skills I developed outside of traditional classrooms in my formative years; through physical labor, construction, gardening, church and art for example.

I am currently in the 2 year Early Education Online program. Over the past several years I have earn many credits toward this Associates degree. I'm past half-way but lead a busy life and would rather take my time, enjoy the experience and maintain a strong GPA, therefore I will probably finish in 2016. After completing this program I will earn a degrees in art and art education. Each of the courses I have taken influence me. Spring semester of 2014 I took Learning ECE Online. There was some much helpful information in that class about personal development and responsibility, applicable to daily life, goal setting and relationships. Grateful for the rich learning experience I had during that course, I plan to review a lot of the required reading and exercises.

My work as an educator is probably much different from a lot of the teachers pursuing degrees. Early experiences began volunteer positions in the church which helped me to recognize and develop skills that would enable me to serve as a volunteer mentor in my community. At the same time I began to developed skills to use music - mainly Hip-hop - to teach. All of this evolved into a career of blending the performing arts and education. Now I travel around the world sharing music, frequently partnering with educational and social programs serve their communities. In my hometown I work at a preschool serving families of children 3 - 5 years of age. I find that my perspective and professional development as an artist and a student greatly enriches my time with the children and the other teachers.

At the start of this class my skill level with most programs and software was somewhere between basic and advanced. This is in part due to the fact that I have used several programs over the years to create, document, share or promote art. The other factor is in the process of taking other classes online I have had to add or upgrade software to my devices. For example I have the UC BlackBoard (Mobile Learn) application on my smart phone. This has been extremely useful to me over the last couple semesters. With this class my knowledge was enhanced by new perspectives that I had not previously considered.

Educational Links:

Kids Public Radio click here

Although it appears as though this site may not have been updated in quite while, I still find it valuable as teachers can use this site as a format, example or building block to start a similar project for children anywhere. Combined with Soundcloud, YouTube, Vimeo or other such sites that provide a home for creative content, free blog sites, such as Wordpress and Blogger make it very easy for educators to allow children to create and share programming appropriate for children.

Ezra Jack Keats Foundation click here

This site provides a wealth of information and resources for teachers about the work of the writer Ezra Jack Keats. There are also activities there designed especially for children including games, read-alouds and videos commemorating early works by Mr. Keats. This site is important as a reminder of that when all children are considered and represented in the development of education plans, entire programs, curriculum and children therein reap the benefits.

Prezi click here

This site is one that I only became familiar with because of this class. I am now a fan of Prezi and in the near future I will use this site to create several presentations with children and educators that live in various geographic locations. With Prezi you can create and co-create multi-media presentations with anyone that has access to the internet. You can even upload a completed Powerpoint presentation, as well as several other forms of original content to be added to by others that you allow to access your Prezi presentation.

National Education Technology Standards for Teachers:

Standard I

Statement : Facilitate Student Learning and Creativity

Substandard Statement : Teachers use their knowledge of subject matter, teaching and learning, and technology to facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity, and innovation in both face-to-face and virtual environments.

Thinking in an introspective way about our own thought processes we can find creative solutions to advance student learning, helping them to think creatively by sharing and scaffolding analytical thought with them. For example, I had a vivid dream the week before our lesson plan was due. The dream was so clear that I was about to write about it in it's entirety, so I decided to include in my lesson plan a group discussion about the book a Snowy Day. I combined formats of the physical book and technology in the form of the animated read aloud and the film. Afterward we discussed all of the details of the story and focused on the moment in the story when Peter dreams, analyzing the untold part of what details existed in Peter's dream. We drew comparisons between experiencing a dream and watching a film. The group dialogue then shifted to creating a story as a group, which we would film once we created the "story board". Each child shared in creating the final result from the initial analytical discussion to the actual hands on, filming.

This example enables me to meet the standard because I am using very current personal experience to awaken a lively discussion about imagination through dreaming that lead seamlessly into creative story telling. This standard is also being met through the use of technology to demonstrate that there are many ways to tell and experience a story. Finally, we connected well using both face to face and virtual environments by viewing the Snowy Day film and discussing it in real time to identify key representations of the story that were being interpreted in the film.

Standard II

Statement : Design and development digital age learning experiences and assessments

Substandard Statement : Teachers design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessments incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes identified in the Standards.

Using gross motor activity as a starting point a teacher can use technology to develop a learning experience that measures or interacts with certain aspects of the actions that occur during play. One example of this is a jumping game that was started in the gross motor activity area. The teachers noticed that children were jumping off of a particular object and comparing jumping distances, so the teachers encouraged the children to measure and post the actual distances on the wall by the jumping area. Learning modules could be developed where the children explore animals that are known for jumping, in order for the children to study their favorite jumping animal's technique. This could be researched online and photos could be posted of that animal in action. An iPad could even be brought in to show the children different approaches to jumping that they could model and compare for effectiveness. The entire system of games and comparisons can be used to develop mathematic formulas and scaffolding individualized for the skill level of the participating child.

This example allows me to meet the standards as it explains how to incorporate contemporary tools to maximize learning opportunities. The activity builds on the curiosities and interests of the children. The example is built on an individualized approach to the learning within the setting of a group activity. With the inclusion of the teacher and child documenting their findings together in the form of customized math games, assessment is made possible.

Standard III

Statement : Model digital age work and learning

Substandard Statement : Teachers exhibit knowledge, skills, and work processes representative of an innovative professional in a global society.

The educator meeting this standard works with families to develop a cohesive digital media plan that enhance the child's learning experience. Teachers can also meet this standard by introducing to the parents of children in the program a secure blog or private page for responsible sharing of online resources, activities concerning for their children. Parents not having computers at home can be given access to technology at the center where their child is enrolled. Parents would be able to determine how much they want to be involved but most would find it beneficial as knowledgeable teachers vet and confirm the legitimacy of information before sharing with parents or colleagues. With technology and advertising about new tech based education products all around us, making articles relating to media literacy information available to families in a newsletter on a quarterly basis would also meet this standard.

This standard is met as the teachers provide greater access and enable families to share valuable information in a secure online community. The latest research about early education being shared in this community meets the standard of exhibiting innovative professionalism. Through the well prepared newsletter updates on media literacy, teachers model critical thinking parents need to make the best decisions for their digital media plan at home.

Standard IV

Statement : Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility

Substandard Statement : Teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices.

Several of the actions in keeping with this standard are things that educators are mindful avoiding in order to be good stewards of private and intellectual property they have access to. In keeping with this standard teachers do not post or share information, pictures or video of children without written consent from parents. Compliant teachers are mindful not post on social media content or messages that may present as harmful or offensive to others. They are also aware, and spread awareness of the need to protect children from harmful content or persons they may encounter if left unsupervised with certain digital media. In compliance with these standards, as a teacher I would maintain child safe firewalls on all devices used in the classroom. I would also encourage parents to do the same at home.

My example is connected with the standard as it reflects and understanding of the society and the elements therein that may harm children. My example takes responsibility for the well being of the children in my care as a digital citizen and education professional. Teachers should also be aware that in our society now, information spreads faster than ever, thus an extra measure of prudence is required both on and offline. Ethical behavior should maintained at all times regardless of who may be recording, however extra thought should be given to things that may be misunderstood or taken out of context on social media.

Standard V

Statement : Engage in professional growth and leadership

Substandard Statement : 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.

An example I know of in my learning community is that of a study of passionate teachers volunteering their time to share ideas about their trips to the village of Reggio Emilia and perspectives they have gained from the approach to teaching used in the community there. A special Facebook group has been established by this group of teachers. They post not only meeting times and locations, but also use the group as a place to post and discuss articles about philosophies in early education. Using social media along with independent research, this group of teachers have expanded their professional development. I want to join this group in 2015.

This example I have given connects with the standard because this group of teacher is exhibiting leadership and commitment to their passion in eduction and using the internet to stay connected. They are also promoting it, bring in more people, maintaining interest and organizing gatherings with digital invitations. This demonstrates effective use of digital tools.

Course Reflection

Final Thoughts:

If I had choose a sentence from this class to symbolize what I have taken away from this class, it would be all "screens are not created equal". Before beginning this semester I didn't really assume that all media was the same, but now I see more clearly how complex the many choices there are that education professions need to make, developing curriculum and learning experiences for their classrooms. It's not at all a simple one approach fits all; certainly not the approach of no digital media, nor that of turn it on, leave them and they will learn.

In this course I have learned about how beneficial digital technology can be for children with special needs or learning disabilities. I was aware that certain technology was available, but had not given in deep consideration as I've seen speech, hearing, language and special needs professionals use this technology. In this course I learned that digital tools to serve children with position can be incorporated into the classroom so that all of the children benefit.

During the last 14 weeks I have also learned to think of and establish new criteria in order to continue updating my position on education technology. I think it's a good thing that I am unsure about what I will think about education technology and the statements of some organizations in the field. Technology is changing on a daily basis, how can my perspective not change. The needs and tools available to meet some of the needs are complex enough, but added to them is the task of deciphering actual benefits of a product from clever, creative but deceptive advertising. My plan as I go forward is to be even more curious, yet equally critical about the possibilities of educational technology.

In my professional life this will serve me well because their is more room for creativity when one has decided to navigate the their career path somewhere between convenience and questioning. The dilemma of which tools I should use and how, is usually answered in both my personal professional life by the question of how creative can I be in effecting the outcome.

I'd like to learn more about young people 5 - 10 years from now that have been offered technology as a tool in such a way that they've come to view a paint brush, pencil, scissors and smart phone as equally useful. I would like to go back and follow their learning path to develop a method of teaching and learning from that vantage point.