Final Reflection

Part 1: Reflect on the Entire Course

This course has been an exciting part of my journey in the M.E.T program. As I prepared to write this reflection, I thought about all that I have learned throughout this course and, if I had to sum up my experience in one word, it would be: resources. This course revealed so much in the way of all of the resources that are available through educational technology. Through my pursuit of fourth grade math resources and tools, I discovered so many technology tools that are available to teachers. As a professional, who aims to be a technology leader in my school, I it was really valuable to practice finding resources to meet various lesson needs. In this way, I am better versed in how to help my colleagues integrate technology in their classrooms.

Additionally, my own teaching practice has been enhanced through the additional resources I found throughout this course and my growing expertise about ways to successfully integrate technology to engage and cultivate student learning. As I gathered fourth grade math resources, I found new tools to use with my class right away. In addition, through looking at the projects and blogs of my peers, I broadened my professional network and became aware of how other teachers use technology in their classrooms. Some of these teachers taught similar grades, which allowed for direct transfer to my own students. But some taught older students, which I found helpful too because it helps me understand where my students are going and the tools and skills they will need to be successful in the future.

Throughout this course, I relied heavily on educational theory to develop my assignments and lessons. One theory that has played a prominent role in my EdTech journey is Gamification. The more I learn about gamification and try it out in my classroom, the more excited I am about it. Many of my lessons included ideas from gamification, whether through the feedback loop or engagement ideas. Additionally, my personal educational philosophy is laced with constructivist ideas, so many of my lessons featured student-centered, inquiry-based, hands-on learning experiences.

The use of educational theory and educational technology resources to create my course projects reveals how this course meets AECT Standard 1: Content Knowledge, which reads “Candidates demonstrate the knowledge necessary to create, use, assess, and manage theoretical and practical applications of educational technologies and processes” (AECT Standards, 2012). For all major projects, I was required to use and assess the effectiveness of various technology resources. Through this process, I engaged in using and assessing theoretical and practical applications of educational technologies.

EdTech 541 also addressed AECT Standard 2, which requires that candidates know and can implement technologies relevant to current content pedagogy. As I gathered resources for each assignment, I engaged in creating and using educational technologies to improve learning outcomes and processes. Additionally, through the blog, I practiced research and reflection of my practice. Finally, this course addressed AECT Standard 5: Research. This standard was addressed through the blog posts that required weekly readings and reflection and the weekly assignments that required I research best practice for meeting student needs tailored to different assignments.

Overall, this course was a great learning experience. I stretched myself by choosing math as my content area, because I am more confident integrating technology in other content areas. But through the duration of this course, I gained skills necessary to further my own teaching practice and help my colleagues as I continue my journey towards becoming a technology leader in my school and district.

Part 2: Blog Self-Assessment

Throughout this course, I have maintained this blog about my growth, musings, wonderings, and observations about integrating educational technology. Going into the course, I was a little nervous because I have never had to maintain a blog with such fidelity before. However, I am so thankful for this aspect of the course. I found it quite fun to experiment with regular postings and to develop a community through responding to posts and posting on the blogs of my peers. It also makes me very impressed by those who do this regularly– because it is a lot of work! For my self assessment, I went through each area of the rubric and assessed my own work.

CONTENT: 70/70 POINTS

My responses were “rich in content and full of thought.” I aimed to be very intentional with every blog post. I found it refreshing to analyze each reading in an organic reflection rather than a structured essay or guided response. The individual discretion made it interesting to read the blogs of my classmates as well because we often had varying interpretations or focuses, which helped to deepen my understanding. In addition, each post was connected to my experiences in the classroom. I used my own experiences to provide a bridge between theory and practice. Finally, my responses were detailed, multi-paragraph responses that responded to the weekly readings and topics thoroughly.

READINGS AND RESOURCES: 15/20 POINTS

Each blog post contained at least three references to course readings or additional material that I found, read, and deemed relevant. I cited each resource using APA style. My thoughts and comments were grounded in the course readings. I was able to write my posts and respond to others because I completed the reading for each week in a timely manner. Each post contained information that I gleaned and better understood through reading the course text; however, each post did not contain a direct quote nor reference to the course text. I think there were 3-4 posts that did not include a direct reference to the Roblyer text.

TIMELINESS: 20/20 POINTS

My posts were done within the first half the week. I was always within the first five students to post my blog response. In this way, I provided my classmates with ample time to respond to my blog and for me to respond to their comments, if warranted. Additionally, I responded to my classmates with similar timeliness because I consistently responded to other blogs within the module.

RESPONSES TO OTHER STUDENTS: 25/30

I responded to at least two blogs each week with detailed and thorough responses. I often asked questions and sometimes engaged in a virtual dialogue with other classmates about their posts. Sometimes, I referenced specific readings, but I could have done this more throughout the course. More often, I found myself referencing my own classroom experience compared to their own to think about how our interpretations varied based on our classroom perspectives.

OVERALL: 130/140

Overall, I engaged in this blog assignment throughly and with fidelity. I engaged with my peers and enhanced my practice through my participation.

Accessibility Features: Macbook

When I started researching this week, I found myself continuing to resonate on the words of Judy Heumann, Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Education. She said,For most of us, technology makes things easier. For a person with a disability, it makes things possible.” When thinking about teaching all students and ensuring that all students have access to education, it is important for teachers to understand what gets in the way of student success and what tools exist to make learning, curriculum, and their daily lives more accessible. Enter: Differentiation and accommodations. Roblyer (2016) explains, “Assistive technology devices and services enhance the performance of individuals with disabilities by enabling them to complete tasks more effectively, efficiently, and independently than otherwise possible” (p. 408). Through understanding student needs, teachers can help choose assistive technologies that support the wide variety of learners in their classes.

Rose, Meyer, Strangman, and Rappolt (2002) suggest that “To accommodate the many ways of learning, we can use what we know about how each brain network operates to make our teaching methods and curriculum materials flexible in specific ways.” In other words, in order to appropriately differentiate, teachers need to know their students, understand their needs, and understand a little bit about how their brains work and process information. Armed with this information, teachers can use digital tools to find ways to help them succeed.

To better understand some of the tools that are available, I sat down to explore what accessibility features are available on my Macbook laptop. I started by reading Apple’s official article about accessibility. Within this article, I learned about a variety of ways my computer has built-in ways of helping people access information.

Blindness and Low-Vision

Screen Reader: My computer has a built in screen reader that will “tell you exactly what’s on your screen and talks you through actions like editing a video.” If a person has low vision or is blind, the could still use this computer by hearing what they are doing and using keystrokes to interact.

Dictation: There is a dictation option that allows you to talk where you would type. This could help people with blindness or other physical disabilities.

Siri: Siri is another feature that supports the vision impaired because you can use voice commands to complete tasks. If a person has color blindness, you can increase the contrast on your computer to help make it easier to see.

Zoom: One final accessibility feature for the visually impaired is the ability to zoom in. You can set a keystroke command, on mine it is spreading your fingers apart and this will allow you to zoom in on small text to make it easier to read.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing

FaceTime: One such support is that you can use Facetime to communicate with sign language when communicating through voice is impossible. People can also read lips, which offers more opportunities to communicate.

Siri: In addition to speaking to Siri, you can type commands, too! This allows the hearing impaired or deaf to communicate with Siri to complete tasks.

Closed Captions: Another way the Mac assists the hearing impaired is through closed captions, or text of movies and videos. This text makes the audio content accessible to all.

Flash Notifications: Instead of sound notifications, you can set screen flashes to alert you to calendar or message or other alerts.

Headphones: One final adaptive technology is the ability to have sound go through both earbuds in headphones, which would help if someone was hard of hearing in just one ear.

Physical Disabilities:

Accessibility Keyboard: On is the accessibility keyboard, which allows users to navigate the keyboard on screen or through eye gaze or head-tracking. This tool “allows users with mobility impairments more advanced typing and navigation capabilities.”

Switch Control: Users can use Switch Control to scan between pages and different menus using the trackpad, a switch, a joystick or other adaptive technologies.

This post just begins to explore the plethora of accessibility tools that are available through my Mac computer. I found this exercise so interesting and valuable to increase my understanding of the tools available to help my students and to gain further insight into the many exciting ways technology acts as a mighty equalizer amongst people with all sorts of learning needs.

 

References:

Apple. (2017). We believe technology should be accessible to everyone. Accessibility. Retrieved from https://www.apple.com/accessibility/.

Rose, D.H, Meyer, A., Strangman, N., Rappolt, G. (2002). Chapter 6: Using UDL to support every students learning.” Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/101042/chapters/Using-UDL-to-Support-Every-Student%27s-Learning.aspx

Roblyer, M.D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching. (7ed). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Obstacles to Integrating Technology

Technology boasts of many benefits to student success in the classroom including student engagement, real world applications, and differentiated practice opportunities. However, there are some obstacles and problems associated with digital innovations, too.

For example, as schools are updating their technology, they often have to update entire infrastructure, which can be time-consuming, expensive, and frustrating. In “Keep Technology Out of Our Schools,” the Heick (2012) explains that “ Most classrooms contain at least twenty students, which can take up a great deal of internet bandwidth in the instance that they all must access their laptop or tablet at once.” In my own classroom, I have experienced laggy or slow Wi-Fi forcing me to change my plans or teach my students the importance of patience.

Later, Heick builds upon this idea to question whether or not more investment in the technology (updating the Wi-Fi, getting more devices, etc.) is worth the investment: are we seeing noticeable outputs? To combat this issue, schools need to undergo specific program evaluations to make sure that technology is achieving what it promises and then use that data to interest investors. Through additional investment, schools can be updated at a similar pace to the business sector.

Additionally, sometimes, especially in a math classroom, students depend too much on tools or technology that they are not actually learning math. Kakaes (2012) suggests that “Technology is doing to math education what industrial agriculture did to food: making it efficient, monotonous, and low-quality.” By giving students a calculator or a computer, sometimes they lose problem solving capabilities or the understanding of why something happens. Kakaes adds that “if you learn how to multiply 37 by 41 using a calculator, you only understand the black box. You’ll never learn how to build a better calculator that way.” To keep students learning at the highest level, I think students need a blend of digital and non-digital resources and learning opportunities. Additionally, I have gone to trainings where teachers or curriculum developers say things like, “you can just plop your students on x math program for 20-30 minutes and it will teach them everything they need to know!” It worries me when I see technology replacing teacher instruction and intervention.

To solve this problem, I think we need to see more targeted professional development and teacher training to teach teachers how to effectively use technology to enhance instruction and creative, real-world applications. As teachers become more fluent in digital literacy and opportunities, they will more seamlessly integrate technology into their classrooms.

As a proponent of technology integration, I think it is particularly valuable for me to have generated these obstacles. The only way to continue improving and striving for more and better technology integration is to think about what are the obstacles, solutions, and successes.

References:

Heick, T. (2012). “5 Problems with technology in classrooms.” Teach Thought. Retrieved from https://www.teachthought.com/technology/5-problems-with-technology-in-classrooms/

Kakaes, K. (2012). “Why Johnny can’t add without a calculator.” Slate. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2012/06/math_learning_software_and_other_technology_are_hurting_education_.html

 

Why Integrate? The Benefits of Technology in Math

Technology is being used daily in math classrooms across the country, but does it live up to the hype? According to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, (October 2011). “Findings from a number of studies have shown that the strategic use of technological tools can support both the learning of mathematical procedures and skills as well as the development of advanced mathematical proficiencies, such as problem solving, reasoning, and justifying (e.g., Gadanidis & Geiger, 2010; Kastberg & Leatham, 2005; Nelson, Christopher, & Mims, 2009; Pierce & Stacey, 2010; Roschelle, et al., 2009, 2010; Suh & Moyer, 2007). There is abundant research in support of integrating technology into a fourth grade math classroom, specifically in terms of engagement, relevance, and a shorter feedback loop.

First, technology creates opportunities to make more active and engaging learning opportunities for kids. Interactive whiteboards and virtual manipulatives as well as visual graphics allow math content to be delivered in ways that are more stimulating and engaging for kids. Additionally, there are so many math games and simulations that provide opportunities to change the culture and mindset about math in the classroom. Instead of dreading math, students come to view math as fun and exciting.

Additionally, technology allows math content to be more relevant to students lives. When they see word problems or simulations that look like challenges they see in the real world, students begin to see math as a skillset that is important for their daily lives. Roblyer (2014) suggests that “Technologies can also serve as a catalyst to move teachers toward an instructional style that is more student-centered, active, and relevant to the world in which they live.”

Not only does technology make math more relevant, but it also allows for more authentic learning opportunities. Many of the activities I have created for this class have been real-world math applications. Through technology, students can use math in ways similar to what they will face in the real world.

Finally, through technology, students can receive more instantaneous feedback on their math practice. To become more proficient in math skills and activities, students need to have repeated attempts to work through problems. With technology, providing individualized feedback is much quicker, easier, and more realistic than if I were to attempt to provide feedback on all students practice attempts. Roblyer (2014) notes that while there has been a shift towards focusing on higher-order thinking in math, students still need to practice basic skills. Through technology, teachers can provide more differentiation opportunities for students to review and continue practicing basic skills. Furthermore, Ken Koedinger, director of the  Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center, states, that “What the technology can do is track the different approaches students are taking and give them guidance,” (Smith, 2008). This type of individualized practice and feedback helps correct misconceptions before they become ingrained in students math practices.

 

References:

Smith, L. (2008). “Winning equation: How technology can help save math education.” Edutopia. Retrieved October 30, 2017 from https://www.edutopia.org/technology-math-education.

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (October, 2011). “Strategic use of technology in teaching and learning mathematics.” National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.  Retrieved October 30, 2017 from http://www.nctm.org/Standards-and-Positions/Position-Statements/Strategic-Use-of-Technology-in-Teaching-and-Learning-Mathematics/

Roblyer, M. (2016).  Integrating educational technology into teaching (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

 

Let’s Gamifiy Math.

Gamification is a large trend in education right now. More and more frequently, teachers are using a natural way that students learn, through play, to inspire kids to learn new content. As Ruteledge (2012) explains, “the thought of a video game still may strike horror into the hearts of many, but videogames are just a digital manifestation of a very basic human behavior: play.” Games are a great way for content to become more open-ended and inquiry-driven.

Way (2011) cites the following as further reasons math games are effective in the classroom:

  • Games create a meaningful context for learning math.
  • Students are motivated and have a more positive attitude about math.
  • Students have increased opportunities for practice and individualized learning.
  • Teachers have more assessment data about students progress.
  • Students can play at home and at school and find independent success.

In my fourth grade math classroom, I frequently use math games to engage my students and have witnessed these advantages first hand. Games offer unparalleled engagement opportunities and have the opportunity to change the culture around math in the classroom. Where sometimes math can be a point of frustration and disappointment, through gamification students can be engaged in individualized math practice.

For example, my fourth graders are OBSESSED with a free math game called Prodigy. They tell me it reminds them of Pokemon and are begging to play. Last week, I panicked that the game was too much of a game and maybe it wasn’t doing enough to have them practice, so I spent some time talking to a colleague who also uses the program. We looked more deeply at the program and chatted about the benefits we see in our classrooms and eventually came to this conclusion: Prodigy is great becauses it makes math fun for students and thus changes their mindsets about what math is like. If I have students who are excited about a math game then it is something that is valuable for my classroom.
References:

Ruteledge, B. (2012). “Video Games, Problem-Solving and Self-Efficacy – Part 2.” Psychology Today. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/positively-media/201208/video-games-problem-solving-and-self-efficacy-part-2.

Way, J. (2011). “Learning Mathematics Through Games Series: 1. Why Games?” NRICH Enriching Mathematics. Retrieved October 18, 2017, from https://nrich.maths.org/2489.

 

Social Media in the Classroom

For this post, I created a VoiceThread that explores some of my thoughts on social media in the classroom and the importance of helping students become safe, responsible, respectful, and kind users of social media.

To check out my VoiceThread, click on the image below:

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 9.57.49 PM

References:

Barham, C. (2014). Global awareness and collaboration. Live Binders. Retrieved from http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=442694.

Dawson, C. (2011). Google gives schools, organizations “walled garden” approach to email. ZDNet Education. Retrieved from http://www.zdnet.com/blog/education/google-gives-schools-organizations-walled-garden-approach-to-email/4440

OurITC. (2016). 20 Ways to use social media in the classroom. OurITC. Retrieved from http://www.ourict.co.uk/classroom-social-media-tips/.

Ripp, P. (2015). Global read aloud. Global Read Aloud. Retrieved from https://theglobalreadaloud.com/.

Reed, J. (2007). Global Collaboration and Learning. EdTech Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2007/09/global-collaboration-and-learning

Acceptable Use Policies

Acceptable Use Policies (AUP)  intend to teach students how to use technology in ways that are developmentally and socially appropriate. These policies essentially “teach students how to behave with technology” (Common Sense Media). As technology becomes more and more prevalent in our society, it becomes increasingly important for teachers to teach students how to be kind, safe, responsible, and respectful when using technology. It cannot be assumed that students know how to act with this tool.

One of my foundational tenets of my practice as a teacher is to establish clear expectations in my classroom. I think that an AUP,  whether rolled out at the district, school, or classroom level, serves as the expectations for device behavior for students.

In my research of AUPs, I found a couple of examples of District Policies. For example, you can review the Clark County School District Policy here. This district outlined their expectations in nine categories within which students, teachers, and parents might use technology. Their categories included things like how to communicate via email appropriately, what language should be used when on the internet, intellectual property expectations, and access opportunities and limitations. Similarly, the Portland Public Schools AUP includes similar expectations, however, instead of being a view only document, PPS asks that students and parents sign to reflect their understanding. Both documents highlight the importance of being appropriate and safe when using devices and both pages were lengthy, “autocratic, and binding” (Murphy. 2012).

However, this negative, punitive approach does not have to be the end of the road for AUPs. Rather, we should shift the language and appearance of AUPs such that they reflect more closely the potential and promise of technology integration. Deer Park Elementary has a vision of transforming their Acceptable Use Policies to be Responsible Use Policies. Chief Technology Officer, Murphy (2012) explains that she hopes for “a  single policy or set of guidelines that was positive in tone — one that would reflect what we value about learning, teach our students digital citizenship, and empower our teachers.”  This resource, divided for student responsibilities and parent responsibilities is written in positive, I statements that gives students autonomy, power, and confidence when using technology. The document suggests that students are capable of using technology appropriately and wants to see them be successful. Similar to the other districts, the expectations are clear and high, but the potential and language of the documents seems very different.

My own classroom and school AUP is modeled more closely after the Deer Park vision. Last year, I designed a poster for my school that includes our technology rules. I teach in an elementary school, so I wanted the language to be user-friendly and the images to help connect students with each expectation. The posters are in every classroom at our school, so students are able to recognize that technology use rules are consistent across our school. Additionally, at the beginning of the year, students review the expectations and sign them as a contract to affirm that they understand and will abide by the established rules. This provides a great foundation for conversations with students and parents if there are any issues or unsavory conduct with technology. Here is the poster I created:
Technology Rules A

References

Clark County School District. (2017). “Acceptable use policy.” Clark County School District. Retrieved October 3, 2017 from http://ccsd.net/district/acceptable-use-policy/  

Common Sense Media. “1-to-1 essentials- acceptable use policies.” Common Sense Media. Retrieved  October 2, 2017  from: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/1to1/aups.

Deer Park ISD. “Technology department policies. Deer Park School District. Retrieved October 3, 2017 from https://www.dpisd.org/tech_policies.

Murphy, K. (2012). “Bringing acceptable-use policies into the 21st century.” Education World. Retrieved October 2, 2017 from http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/bringing-acceptable-use-policies-into-21st-century.shtml.

Portland Public Schools. (2012). “Agreement for acceptable use of Portland Public Schools technology resources students grades K – 12.” Portland Public Schools. Retrieved October 2, 2017 from http://portland.schooldesk.net/Portals/Portland/District/docs/Technology/PPS%20AUP%20Signature%20Doc_Student_2012.pdf

The Basic Suite

According to Roblyer, (2016)  the basic suite is the triple threat of software tools available: word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation software (p. 109). These three programs have revolutionized productivity, and thus have a rightful and commanding presence in classrooms. Roblyer articulates four main benefits of the basic suite: “improved productivity,” “improved appearance,” “improved accuracy,” and “more support for interaction and collaboration” (109). To further examine relative advantage of using the basic suite in the classroom, I am going to utilize these four categories.

Improved Productivity

Students and teachers are able to be more productive when using the basic suite. All three digital software tools are cited by Roblyer to save time and help organize information. Consider writing, for example. I teach fourth grade and student handwriting and spelling can be unreadable to all but a finely trained eye. Furthermore, for some of my students, the act of writing is so cumbersome, time-consuming, or difficult that they come to despise writing. However, when given access to the basic suite they are able to express themselves with ease and joy. Word processing, especially, has transformed my writing instruction.

Another way that the basic suite increases productivity is through increased motivation; if students are motivated to complete work, they will be more productive. Roblyer cites spreadsheets as increasing student motivation to work with mathematics (121), word processors increasing motivation in writing (115), and students who “created interactive PowerPoint products to illustrate new vocabulary words were more active and engaged than other students and demonstrated greater understanding of words and concepts they studied” (132).

Improved Appearance

When materials are crafted and created within the basic suite, they most often look better than those created by hand (especially by fourth grade hand). Students and teachers have the opportunity to edit and make changes with ease instead of crossing things out. Students and teachers can make up for poor drawing skills with image searches and poor handwriting with font selections. Therefore, students and teachers have the opportunity to make professional looking products. Teachers can make inclusive decisions about and accommodations to instructional materials by changing fonts or adding pictures.

Additionally, students and teachers can enhance the presentation of materials by adding videos, images, and color schemes. While this can lead to overwhelming presentations, as Tecknologic (2016) points out spreadsheet processors (like Powerpoint) “are just a tool, and the way that you use it determines whether it is useful or not.” This quote stood out to me when considering the relative advantage of the basic suite because it is just a tool, or a collection of tools, but it is still the responsibility of the teacher to use these tools to enhance student learning and engagement.

Improved Accuracy

For students, the basic suite provides easier opportunities to edit and revise their work. Additionally, there are more opportunities to collaborate and provide feedback. These both lead improved accuracy for student-produced work. In addition, teachers can use the basic suite for data collection and record keeping, which allows them to make more informed, data-driven decisions in the classroom.

More Support for Interaction and Collaboration

In my classroom, I utilize Google Apps for education. As such, my students can share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations with one another to collaborate on group projects or provide feedback to one another. Additionally, I can pop in to any of their projects and make changes or suggestions and provide feedback. Sometimes, this looks like me helping them with grammatical errors or making suggestions about sentence structure or sometimes I link a video in to a comment to teach or re-teach them a specific skill. In this way, the basic suite allows me to increase differentiation, collaboration, and feedback in my classroom.

Essentially, the relative advantage of the basic suite is that it prepares students to be 21st century learners, thinkers, and creators. By utilizing the three tools, students are able to create professional products, collaborate with their peers, and increase productivity. Furthermore, they are more engaged and motivated to succeed ultimately making the basic suite a necessity in today’s classrooms.

References

Roblyer, M. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (7th ed.). Massachusetts: Pearson.

Tecknologic. (2016, February 20). “Is PowerPoint a useful teaching tool? Tecknologic. Retrieved from https://tekhnologic.wordpress.com/2016/02/20/5-activities-to-make-your-powerpoint-more-engaging/

PBL- Week 6

Week Six:

Here is the link to my final project: https://sites.google.com/a/u.boisestate.edu/smithsciencepbl/home

Here is the link to my self-evaluation of my final project: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1rRRcDmZzl82VnUIB-8qnnjy9Rmk23UFulBhsyKUlWaE/edit?usp=sharing

This course has been a great introduction to Project Based Learning. I came into this class having a very basic understanding of PBL as an opportunity for students to work on a real-world project in order to master grade level content. I expected to deepen my understanding of what PBL is and hoped to come away with a useable unit and the understanding of how to create future PBL learning experiences for my class. At the close of this class, I can confidently say that I came away with a much deeper understanding of PBL, specifically all of the working parts and steps that go into creating a PBL unit. That being said, I also met my other goal for this class because I have a teachable unit – I taught part of it to my current fourth graders and plan to use the entire unit next year. In addition, I now feel much more confident using what I learned to create future PBL units for my students.

I think I best understand why PBL is important and effective because throughout this course I found myself wondering how to best convince my colleagues, administrators, and parents that this was an effective teaching model. As such, my enthusiasm for PBL caused me to delve into additional research and thought surrounding the justification of PBL. I think I also best understand the idea of the driving question, but at the same time, I think this is the skill that I will continue to develop the most. To me, it is the trickiest part of PBL unit development because it is so all-encompassing. I think another aspect that I understand the least is the facilitation of a PBL unit. I feel confident in my understanding of how PBL works, is developed, and how it can benefit students, but as I am still new to actually facilitating units in my own classroom, this is a large area of future growth for me, especially when I think about coordinating with community and school experts.

With what I have learned this semester, I am excited to continue developing PBL units for my students and collaborating with other teachers at my school or in other communities surrounding this work. I think PBL has such transformative teaching implications. I am enthusiastic about the ways in which what I have learned will play a role in my classroom as soon as the start of next year!