Final Reflection

Final Thoughts about C&I 579

What attitudes, skills, and concept have you gained from participating in the course?

 This class more than any I have taken, has made me think and reflect about where education is going and where I fit in as a teacher.  Nine weeks ago I felt I was a progressive teacher because I have a student centered classroom and I focus on reading and writing.  I believe historical content was secondary to the skills needed to be college and career ready.  Boy was I wrong in thinking I had this figured out…I learned teaching in the 21st century is going to require a whole new skill set.  Our students were born with computers in their hands and we teachers have to be prepared if the next generation is going to be ready to take on the world.  By the end of these nine weeks, I found myself asking our text book publisher if the current book is available online and if we could have digital updates.  I researched reading online and taught students how to utilize resources available for critical literacy. I taught my tech department about available resources and I fought like hell to get some of the school computers opened up to those resources.  I did not change my core beliefs, I became a better me because I now know more than my colleagues and my students are aware of the importance of computer literacy.   I feel I am in a position to effect change in our school and in our district.

 What have you learned in the course that you will not forget tomorrow?

I have always had the desire to continue to learn about my profession, but I have had a narrow focus, my classroom and my students; I did not see the global impact of teaching.  As the world “flattens” I must teach my students how to function in a changing world.  With every unit, every lesson, I must guide my students from discovery to creation, 21st century skills must always find a way into my lessons.

 How will you apply what you have learned to your teaching and future learning?

 I have spent a lot of time thinking about why it is important to flip my classroom.  I did some sole searching about why we must monitor our students learning.  I came to the conclusion that in today’s world, students do not learn how to take on different roles in society.  They move from daycare to school, after school activities are prescribed with play dates and scripted activities.  The students are not discovering and role playing.  Technology when utilized correctly can take on the role of the lecturer or the tutor, leaving class time for monitored practice and time to explore.  The classroom is now where the students are learning and discovering all of the roles they must assume to take on the world.  Technology is the tool to help the students learn, but I have to create dynamic lessons, step aside and monitor while the students are allowed to utilize their multiple intelligences to create and learn and grow.  C & I 579 has not only opened my eyes to technology, it has also opened my eyes to the future of education and helped me realize there is urgency to implementing immediate change.


Blog Post #4

As I learn to utilize technology in my classroom, I am interested in finding out how other teachers have paved the way.

Jan 21, 2012

Social Bookmarks: A Pinteresting Conversation!


A couple months ago a friend asked me if I knew about Pinterest and when I nodded my head “yes” I had thought I knew about Pinterest. She mentioned that she spent over an hour on the site just browsing. I remember thinking “really? an hour? what was so great?” I went home that night and took another look at pinterest and found that I spent not ” an hour” but my entire evening looking at different teaching ideas. I had a really hard time logging off. Since then I joined the site and have explored how I would use Pinterest to keep and share those little golden nuggets that I find on the internet. Pinterest is quickly becoming one of my favorite social bookmarking sites.
As a quick review a social bookmark is a tool for organizing and sharing websites (links). Users can access these bookmarks on any computer anywhere, anytime by logging into their account. Once a link is saved in a social bookmarking site, the user adds a tag to the link. A tag is a word or a phrase used to categorize information.

There are many different types of social bookmarks. Diigo has been my favorite for a few years now and Pinterest is certainly becoming another. Here is a quick review of Diigo for those of you that are not familiar with it: (see previous posts for explanations for classroom examples)

Teachers can use Diigo to tag chosen sites from which the users can retrieve information. They find the pre-selected sources by searching the Diigo search engine and then clicking on the tag. This reduces searching time and limits the possibility of getting inaccurate information. Along with tagging, users can highlight, annotate and add sticky notes to sites that they bookmark.

The power of Diigo? In my opinion, Diigo shows the way each user learns, thinks, and develops the knowledge because users can see what information was previously selected, organized, and categorized. It provides students with an opportunity to learn about their own learning and understand the aspects of the information they find relevant. It also helps users become aware of their own criteria when they tag and categorize.
Now onto Pinterest. This interesting “visual” social bookmarking site defines itself as a “virtual pinboard that lets you organize and share all of the beautiful things on the web” (Pinterest Site). (Already it grabs you, doesn’t it?)
What is the real beauty in it? The power of the image! Wow! As you go through a page in Pinterest, you scan quickly to see which site might be of interest and it is the image that captivates. All of the sites that have been “pinned” (or bookmarked) are images. Users categorize their “pins” and “tag” their “friends” in the network.

So which is the best: Diigo or Pinterest?
I continue to use Diigo to bookmark “academic” sites and readings and to network with educators that are sharing their “academic” sites. I am using Pinterest to search for great classroom ideas.
Here are some resources for using Diigo:
Diigo Educators Group (over 2000 members)
Diigo Literacy with ICT Group (over 18,000 member)
Here are some resources for using Pinterest:
I am glad my friend asked me that day if I knew about Pinterest and that I went on that evening to take a second look at it. I have expanded my learning network and have even better ways and tools to bookmark my sites. Thanks Friend!

Blogger dmitchell9said…

I have just been introduced to diigo and look forward to using it as a regular tool in my classroom. I have found it a great for collaboration, especially for the less confident students. As schools move toward paperless classrooms, it is important we teach our students how to utilize technology based literacy strategies. Thank you for the tips and ideas.

Blog Post #3


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lifelong Learning

What does “lifelong learning” mean? Many feel lifelong learning is a term which applies to folks that are constantly retooling for that next job. Others say that it is a term which fits those individuals who are trying to learn all they can about their current vocation. I feel lifelong learning is what individuals choose to do in the pursuit of happiness. It might be about making yourself more marketable, or becoming the expert in your field, but for me it is expanding your knowledge to help one enjoy hobbies.

I have used the tools learned in school to continue my education to become a bee keeper, and arborist, a farmer, tractor mechanic, James Bond Poster aficionado, tobacco can collector, a horse teamster, a home brewer, a farrier, and a pilot. I am constantly reading and have at least three books and six magazines going at once. Right now I am reading Laurie King’s Justice Hall, William Kerschner’s Student Pilot Manual, and Carol Dweck’s Mindset. I subscribe and read National Geographic, Ford Fordson Tractors, Percheron News, Association for Supervision of Curriculum Development, Dexter Cattle Association, Pilot Trainer, Illinois Computer Educators, Special Education Technology Connections and Airplane Owners and Pilots Association magazines.

I found this blog post interesting and I responded as follows:


  1. Albert Einstein once said, “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.” Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough; you have to think through ideas yourself. Analyze, explore, create and discuss what you have learned. Lifelong learners are never satisfied with the status quo; they have a quest for knowledge. As teachers and parents it is important to model lifelong learning in order to create the next generation of learners.

Thoughts on Technology C&I 579

What attitudes, skills and concepts have you gained from participating in the course so far?

 As I reflect on what we have done so far, I am overwhelmed thinking about how education i going to change in the next 10 years.  To think when I started teaching, I was armed with a state of the art, automatic correction tape type writer.  Teaching is no longer standing in front of the room lecturing about the Civil War, today I have to give my students real world experiences.  Teaching requires not only a firm grasp of content, but also an understanding of technology based learning. Text books are going extinct; on the computer books can be interactive and embedded with video.  To prepare my students for college and the workplace involves on line collaboration, social networking and online literacy.  To realize that I will be expected to flip my classroom and learn how to utilize all the technology involved has become a little less scary by building a basic understanding of what is available and learning the language of the future.

What have you learned in the course that you will not forget tomorrow?

 One of the most important skills I have learned is figuring out how to search for information.  I have had to jump in feet first and draw on my problem solving skills to tackle this new world. Utilizing YouTube and blogs to link to instructional tutorials has helped take some of the fear out of navigating through cyber space.  Learning to link and embed will spice up my lessons. More importantly, it becomes my job to make sure the students know how to utilize what is available.  When I think about all of the information students are exposed to, as a teacher I need to explain protocol and create etiquette standards for my classroom. Utilizing my webpage or blog as a teaching tools is definitely in the near future.  Using laptops, tablets or iPads will be the future.

How will you apply what you have learned to your teaching and future learning?

 Technology has added a layer to teaching my students how to research.  Using Google books and Google scholar has been a staple in my classroom, but now I need to teach my students what makes a good blog and if the material on the blog is valuable for classroom use.  Accessing YouTube videos from researches and leaders in a field opens up doors to a wealth of information. In the future I will teach the students how to open up documents and videos through diigo in order to make notations and save notes. By flipping my class, I can link the students to interactive web sites for homework and in class monitor and remediate.  I have a new understanding of and appreciation for problem-solving.  This class has exposed me to the future and helped me understand the world my students will be entering.  If I do not keep up with the changes, I will not be an effective teacher.

Blog Post #2

Monday, January 30, 2012

How are you using data in your classroom?

I use MAP data to help students find books in their appropriate lexile range. I also use the RITs to work on areas of weakness.

Posted by at 6:45 PM   
  1. MAP Data is one of the tools I use to differentiate instruction. I utilize the data to organize groups; sometimes I organize the groups with varying RIT scores to help the struggling students understand harder concepts. At times I put strugglers together and give them a lower lexiled reading.

    With my ESL students I utilize the MAP Data and ACCESS scores in order to have multiple measures. By comparing the two I can have a better understanding of what the students really know, I am not relying on one test score on one day.

    I have a textbook library in my classroom; each book has a lexile score. Instead of a one book fits all approach, my students can utilize a textbook at their independent level.


Blog Post #1

Are You a Tech Pilot?

2012 January 29
by Kim Cofino

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  I’m always looking for ways to build a sustainable, job-embedded, professional development model for technology. As much as I love running after school sessions for teachers, and even with all of the fantastic opportunities we have at YIS, like COETAIL and the weekend workshops we regularly host (our next one is coming up this weekend with Andrew Churches!), I still believe the most successful PD is takes place during a regular school day. So, for the last few months, my amazing Middle School Vice Principal, Susie, and I have been working on ways that we can support our teachers at all skill and interest levels, in addition to regular coaching through the Collaboration Cycle.

Here are a few of the ideas we’ve developed:

YIS Tech Pilots

Somehow it always seems that the technology leaders in a school end up with all the extra work – helping colleagues, leading professional development sessions, testing new tools – without a lot of the reward. Since we have a great group of very tech savvy teachers at YIS, this was the first group I wanted to start with. Basically, these teachers are highly independent in their use of technology in their classroom, and are always willing to try something new, so I wanted to offer them the opportunity to share, collaborate, and connect with their like-minded colleagues from other departments – during the school day.

My hope is that we’ll meet as a team at least once a month, if not twice a month (fingers crossed) for a double block (90 mins). The plan is to spend time sharing, exploring and discussing new ideas. We don’t want it to be extra work (that’s why it’s during the school day, and they’ll be provided with cover for their classes), but we do want there to be a bit of a reward for all the extra work that these teachers are doing already. I think the sessions will take on a life of their own, once we meet for the first time, and I can imagine us talking about creating a blended learning environment through our blogging portal, bringing in elements of challenge based learning, developing globally collaborative projects with other schools, and just generally taking advantage of all of the amazing tools we have available at YIS.

We just announced the idea last week and I’ve had 10 teachers sign up. In a staff of about 40 in our MS/HS, that was exactly the number I was hoping for. Ultimately, I hope this group can become a mini-professional learning community that supports not only the members themselves, but the other teachers within their departments.

Wired Workday

OpenAlthough teachers can always make appointments with the Technology and Learning Coaches, or just drop-by the office, often they are busy and just need a question answered quickly. Even though our office is very close to the Main Building (where most secondary classes are held), we’re just far enough away to stop teachers from popping by in an emergency (especially if they’re rushed). Plus, because our office is shared, sometimes it doesn’t feel like a space where you can come in and chat for an extended time.

In order to make ourselves more accessible, and provide a little more privacy for extended support, we’re starting a rotational drop-in room schedule, where one of us will be available in a very central classroom for 3 periods a week (which ends up being at least 1 period a day). We’re going to start out with open, walk-in support, and see how that goes. If we feel like people are coming in with the same questions, or we feel like people aren’t sure what to do with the time, we’ll start running themed sessions – similar to what we would do during an after school technology training.

My hope is that the teachers who are less likely to stop by the technology office (for whatever reason), will feel more comfortable dropping in an empty classroom. I like that everyone will know which periods we’ll be there – they never have to worry about coming by and us not being there, plus they don’t have to make an appointment, or plan in advance. I’m also hoping we’ll get even more insight into what topics need support, and continue building quality relationships with all of our teachers.

Faculty Meeting Tech Tips

This is the first year of our Connected Learning Community (1:1 program), and the first year of using WordPress as our learning portal – both are going extremely well, but we do have lots of learning to do as a faculty. One way we’re making time for specific technology tips is to highlight an expected us of our blogs during faculty meeting time. Instead of expecting teachers to figure out how to use their blog in the most efficient way, we’re hoping to scaffold those skills, one at a time, during required meetings.

Probably the best checklist in the worldWe started by developing a list of  blogging expectations for teachers, in an effort to be as clear and consistent as possible. Once we had our defined list, we started walking teachers through one item in each meeting, so that by the end of the year teachers will have successfully implemented all of these foundational skills. At the moment, I’m leading these short sessions, but we hope that our Tech Pilots can start to be the leaders as the year continues. We don’t want the technology to become a burden, and we want to leave opportunities for teachers to discover the ways that the platform works best for them, so this one-by-one approach is working really well.

In addition to the faculty meeting time, we are also scheduling regular TechTidbits and SpeedGeeking time for teachers to learn from their peers who have already implemented these ideas. Earlier this year, we found that having a specific list of skills to master (and teacher leaders for each skill) was a really effective way for teachers to build their technology efficiency.

Final Thoughts

We’re hoping that these ideas will reach the advanced, beginner and intermediate level teachers in a way that feels most comfortable to them, along with providing a network of teachers who can support each other. Ultimately, my goal is that the school builds a collaborative, supportive and engaged community of learners who take risks and try new things with technology because they know they have both the resources and the support they need.

These are just the first three ideas that we’ve started implementing, and we’re always looking for more. How do you build technology learning into the school day for all teachers? What strategies have worked for you?

I have found your posts extremely informative, especially the technology toolbox. I have been looking for ways to integrate technology into my lessons, and this has helped me a great deal. As an older teacher who is willing to take risks and try new things, I find the time commitment necessary to learn about and implement some of these new ideas overwhelming without support. How did you create a tech community and move your tech department from a place that distributes and fixes hardware to a professional development community? I can only dream about having a technology coach. What steps did you take to convince your administrators to support your vision?