As an undergraduate student participating in an accredited teacher preparation program in the State of Iowa, I am required to develop an electronic teaching portfolio. My portfolio is divided into ten sections. Each section meets one of the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners’ (BOEE) ten New Teacher Standards. Prior to receiving my teaching license in the State of Iowa, I must present and defend my portfolio to faculty at Coe College, my home institution.
Over the course of my four years as an undergraduate education major, I have been collecting artifacts to use in my portfolio. These artifacts include individual lesson plans, week-long plans, home-school communications, professional development materials, and reflections. Each of the ten sections of my portfolio includes at least two artifacts.
In addition to the artifacts, the Iowa BOEE requires all new teacher candidates to include ten synthesized rationale statements describing their instructional decisions, assessment strategies, teaching philosophies, and reflections. You will find one of my rationale statements below. I will post all ten over the course of the next few days. To view my teaching portfolio, please click on the tab at the top of my page.
Standard 10, Computer Technology: The practitioner uses appropriate technology in planning, delivery, and assessment.
Just this week I was approached by one of my 3rd grade students at Andrew Jackson Language Academy, “Mr. Stanford, do you know what Instagram is?” It is safe to say that technology has become engrained within the day-to-day lives of today’s youth, starting at a young age. The student who approached me is 8, yet he is already familiar with some of today’s most popular technological platforms. As an elementary educator, I realize that my students are motivated by opportunities to utilize technology in and out the classroom.
I believe technology provides today’s classroom teacher with new opportunities to engage students in authentic learning experiences. The world we live in is constantly being “updated.” The old is replaced with the new at breakneck speeds. In order to become successful lifelong learners, leaders, and global citizens my students must be able to appropriately navigate this ever-changing world. I believe that their eventual successes begin in my classroom.
As global citizens, it is important that my students are consistently exposed to diverse perspectives on teaching and learning. I believe that exposure to classrooms in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America helps to strengthen cultural awareness and foster a sense of global community. In utilizing video conferencing platforms such as Skype in the Classroom, I can connect my students with their peers across the world. Video conferencing also provides my learners with opportunities to interact with and discuss instructional material with content-area experts.
In the same way I am consistently gauging the academic backgrounds of my students, I am also observing their familiarities with technology. I begin the year by encouraging my students and their families to complete a brief technology survey. The purpose of the survey, entitled Lets Talk Technology, is to gauge my students and their families’ overall familiarity with, attitude towards, and willingness to utilize technology in the classroom. Once my baseline has been set, I can more appropriately and effectively incorporate technology into my classroom. While I do not believe that learning software will ever be able to replace my role as a classroom facilitator, I do believe educational technologies can bolster my instruction.
At Andrew Jackson Language Academy, my students utilize technology on a daily basis. I often present new content material using digital platforms. During my mathematics instruction, I utilize Prezi to teach new concepts. Although the instructional content is the same as if I were teaching without technology, my students are more engaged and eager to participate. My students also use technological platforms to reinforce learned concepts. To improve retention and mastery of mathematical concepts, my students use the Spatial-Temporal Math learning software, or Jiji. My 32 learners find Jiji to be highly motivating thanks to the digital platform of the software. Beyond mathematics, my students are also exposed to a variety of other learning platforms including coding and digital publishing during their technology elective.
Addressing my students’ engagement with learning beyond the classroom, I have infused software such as Google Docs and Edmodo across multiple platforms including laptops, iPads, and personal cellular devices. This infusion of technology provides within my classroom allows me to differentiate my instruction around my students’ needs. My students who are already intrinsically motivated and want to exceed expectations are able to do so in and out of the classroom. My students who are still discovering their own passions will have the opportunity to access learning in a fresh way. In Mr. Stanford’s classroom, technology is used as a platform for continued enlightenment and differentiation.