ISTE Teaching Standard 3 and Me
ISTE Teaching Standard 3 encourages teachers to model effective instruction using technology, major components of which are communication and collaboration. I have been designing a Global Collaborative Project (GCP) for my students that integrates the Teaching Standards 3a and 3b:
3a. A group of 3rd grade students I currently work with have been identified as needing intensive support in reading, based on an assessment called DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Learning Skills). I see this group for 30 minutes, 4 days a week, and we work on improving their reading fluency. Their focus is on speed and accuracy. Using the current curriculum, my students have made steady progress, but they are lacking engagement at this point in the school year. Using my knowledge of reading fluency instruction and motivating students, I have created a learning opportunity for my students to address these challenges, while integrating technology seamlessly. Through this project, students will be exposed to a different type of text and they will have an opportunity to read in front of a new audience, which is made up of older and more academically advanced students. They will digitally connect with another classroom to perform a Reader’s Theater script. Each individual will be responsible for performing a role, which will require my students to add expression to their current fluency goals. The other class will provide feedback on their fluency and share some of their own experiences with reading. The classroom connection will be made through the use of Google Hangouts and Vialogues.
3b. The teacher I will be collaborating with on this project is a former 6th grade teacher and fellow Technology Teacher Leader in my building. We also completed our Google Educator certification together. We both have a strong background in educational technology and we have established a literacy connection by bringing our classrooms together for a “reading buddies” mentorship program in our previous teaching roles. Through this GCP, we can continue that professional relationship digitally as he is now teaching in a different building. We are in regular communication through the effortless utilization of Google Docs and Google Hangouts. I can easily share my project proposal for him to make comments, edits, or suggestions as necessary. I designed a reading fluency rubric for my students, which the 6th grade students will use to evaluate the 3rd graders and refer to it when giving specific feedback; this is another item we were able to collaborate on. As more in-depth consideration is required, we can start a Google Hangout from anywhere to discuss logistics in detail. While the collaborating teacher is well-versed in Google, I was thrilled to be able to introduce and share a new digital resource: Vialogues. We will likely use this tool to view and comment on the Reader’s Theater performance, due to scheduling conflicts. Vialogues is an excellent alternative when a live video conference is unavailable. With this Global Collaborative Project, I have redefined a typical classroom activity using digital tools with fluency. For every possible situation or challenge, I have been able to find a digital solution, while maintaining best practices in teaching.
How is Standard 3 Represented at a District Level?
My current district provides access to SWIFT (Simplified Web Interface for Teachers) for classroom websites. The interface is relatively simple and user-friendly, which makes it a great universal tool for communicating with parents and providing easy access to class information. The district administration requires teachers to sign an Online Agreement before gaining access. Some of the expectations include keeping information up to date, carefully reviewing material before posting, obtaining parent permission before publishing student work, and adhering to copyright laws. Failure to follow this agreement will result in a disabled account.
Some SWIFT capabilities include:
- A simple-to-use blog, hosted within your SWIFT site
- A way for visitors to contact you, without email
- A calendar hosted within your SWIFT site
- A page that stores your documents for downloading
- A way to embed your Google calendar in SWIFT
- A page of links to external websites
- Uploading photos
- Create multiple-choice quizzes
- Access to number and frequency of viewers
I encourage all of my colleagues to use this resource. Families rely on digital resources more than ever, so having an online presence is extremely relevant. With all of these options available, I would recommend a novice webmaster to start small. I would suggest a welcome page, contact page, and a page of links to online resources. These options are very low maintenance and can be edited any time. As teachers become more comfortable with using digital tools, they can add a page for class photos, a regularly updated announcements page, and a class calendar. SWIFT even has an option to embed an existing Google calendar.
As a Technology Teacher Leader in my building, I see the benefits of integrating this resource into every classroom culture and I recommend doing so to all teachers. However, because of my role as a Tech Leader and Google Educator, I am a little biased. In my personal experience, SWIFT is very limited. The site uses a rich text editor that is very restricted compared to other website management systems. This system only supports JPEG, PNG, and GIF files and the image editing tools are also very basic: rotate, resize, align. Other than a calendar, users are unable to embed any variety of media, like videos, maps, presentations, or widgets.
For myself and any other teacher who wants to expand their technology usage, I would suggest Google Sites for classroom management. With Google Sites, one major benefit is that you are not required to have an administrator account in order to make a site. Anyone with a Google account can create a website for free, with endless freedom and possibilities. The purpose of a website is to share information, broadcast the news, help people connect, and more. With Google, I would have more options to create an accessible, interactive classroom website. In addition to the standard class website features, Google Sites allows for creating a custom search engine, adding a Google+ button, and a plethora of advanced customization and layout features. I would also have the ability to embed apps, gadgets, and the wonderful and FREE Google Apps for Education, like docs, sheets, slides and calendar all in one easy to access place. This resource can help teachers get kids deeply engaged with their courses as they build fluency with technology and digital literacy.