Monday, April 9, 2018

Universal Design for Learning Educator Interview

      Today I had the opportunity to interview Tonya Ryan about how she uses Universal Design for Learning in her special education preschool classroom. Tonya has been teaching for eight years and has spent the last 4 years teaching at Elk Run with the Waterloo Community School District. I first began to see evidence of Tonya's abilities to apply UDL to her classroom last year when our school district featured her in this video:

In the interview I conducted with her, Tonya made some excellent points about how to implement and use UDL in any classroom. One thing that stuck out to me was how she is able to relate with students who need different approaches to learning because she is a diverse learner herself. Many educators go into education wanting to make a difference in the lives of children, Tonya is one of those teachers who go above and beyond to ensure access to curriculum for all students. Take a listen to hear more of Tonya's ideas about UDL! It's worth your time!

Monday, March 19, 2018

TPACK for Education is the Right Track!

What happens when you combine three integral parts of modern education?!?!


Alright, alright, another educational acronym. I know this one is new to some of you, in fact, I've just been learning about it myself!

TPACK stands for:

Content Knowledge

There are some spectacular diagrams out there which demonstrate how these three intersect. Check out this post on Schoology by Dylan Rodgers, "The TPACK Framework Explained". 

Rodgers points out that, "TPACK shows us that there's a relationship between content, knowledge, and pedagogy, and the purposeful blending of them is key"

I love the tool analogy found on Mark Fijor's blog post! Instead of asking teachers and schools to start with the tools, he's asking them to start first with the task. If I want my preschool students to identify letters and produce letter sounds, I need to pick the right tool for that particular task. Thinking about this in relation to TPACK, I could try out some augmented reality flashcards connected to letters. As with any technology in education, there is a very expensive version of this from Alive Studios, and a more affordable version with AR Flashcards.  

One of my favorite examples of TPACK is this video of a kindergarten teacher integrating technology into a content-rich and required portion of the curriculum, word families. This teacher may or may not have known about TPACK at the time, but she did an excellent job incorporating technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge.

See for yourself in this video from the Ed Tech team at Blue Valley Schools:

Are you now inspired to think differently about technology integration in your own learning experiences? Whether you are designing curriculum for preschool students, or college students, all learners will benefit from using a TPACK model in the classroom!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Data Collection: Early Childhood Attitudes and Beliefs about Coding

Data Collection: Early Childhood Teacher Attitudes about Coding

This week we were asked to get in some data collection experience during our action research class. For the majority of my graduate program beginning in the fall of 2016, I've been specifically focused on coding and robotics.

I decided to survey my coworkers about their own attitudes and beliefs on coding in the preschool classroom. I have thus far only surveyed those early childhood teachers in my current school building. I kept the survey brief and simple. Most of my coworkers know I've had this strong focus on robotics and coding, but I haven't asked them what they think about it personally. This gave them a chance to respond and reflect on their own feelings.

I found the responses and comments very fascinating. This is a great way to begin researching the implementation of something new in classrooms. School and district leaders can get a read on how teachers feel about implementing the innovations and go after those teachers who are already excited about the new possibilities. Those enthusiastic teachers can encourage others around them to join in. Research and data collection need to be a key component of educational research. 

I received a total of 21 responses.

Here are the results I collected using a Google Form I sent out:

Forms response chart. Question title: Do you know someone using robotics or coding in an early childhood classroom?. Number of responses: 21 responses.

Forms response chart. Question title: How interested, in a general sense, are you in coding or robotics in the early childhood classroom? . Number of responses: 21 responses.

Forms response chart. Question title: How important do you think it is to teach Prek-12 students to code or program?. Number of responses: 21 responses.

Forms response chart. Question title: How likely are you to include coding/programming/robotics in your early childhood classroom?. Number of responses: 21 responses.

At the end of the survey, I gave respondents a chance to leave comments. Here are the comments:

Additional Comments:3 responses
I use codepillar in my classroom
Coding and programming would be a beneficial 21st Century Learning skill for all students. To begin the learning at PreK is exciting and exceptional.
I think it is an awesome thing and something all kids should have the chance to at least try at some point so they can see if they enjoy it.