Friday, August 26, 2016

A Reflection of Tools in My Technology Learning Environment

I have been in a 1:1 iPad learning environment for four years (going on my 5th). There are times when I think to myself, “I really don’t think I could go back to the old ways of teaching.” I think those exact same things about my own personal use of technology on a daily basis; how did we make it without smartphones? Well, we did make it-but personal devices really do make things easier and fun! In hindsight, I feel very fortunate to have been in two schools that are 1:1 iPad schools. When I was first introduced to iPads in the classroom, my training began with the app first and application second. Oftentimes my professional development and conferences would discuss the “really cool new app” first and showcase all of its bells and whistles. After a while, I felt burned out; I had too many apps and used them in a shallow manner. I began to think more about the design of my class and how I wanted to shape my learning environment and over the last few years I have been doing that.

The NMC Horizon Report K-12 Edition highlights trends in technology that align with collaborative learning, deeper learning through PBL and inquiry, students as creators instead of consumers, and blended learning (New Media Consortium, pp. 10-16). These are things that I have strived for in my learning environment over the last few years. These are how I make decisions about using (or not using) technology in my classroom. In addition, one of the great things I have leveraged technology for is feedback; "technology helps teachers to gather, analyze, and act upon student feedback more efficiently" (Vega, 2013). The use of technology has given me real-time information about where my students stand on a lesson, saves me time in receiving this information, and helps to guide my next steps in the lesson.

Watching this video can give you a small glimpse into my students’ learning environment. This video was created for my application to the Apple Distinguished Educator Program, Class of 2015, but it felt most appropriate to show here.

iTunes U and Google Classroom give me the opportunity to blend my learning environment. Students can access our course at home and come prepared to interact with each other during activities and experiments, rather than listening to a full class period of lecture.
My students have the opportunity to collaborate with each other using Google Apps for Education, Padlet. We can brainstorm ideas and work together to design and analyze experiments on and off campus using these platforms. ClassCraft gives my students a competitive edge as they are collaborating with each other as well.
Picture of Characters from ClassCraft Platform
My favorite use of technology is when students have the opportunity to become authors instead of consumers. Oftentimes students use their devices for consumption. In my class, we often use them for creation. Apps like iBooks author, iMovie, and Spark Video give my students this opportunity. By creating content, they are critically thinking, learning to be researchers, perfecting their communication skills, and taking a risk by publishing work to make an impact on others.
Students created "Built to Run" as they studied adaptations of sled dogs. They had the opportunity to talk to a Iditarod musher. The "Life Cycle of a Chick" is a compilation of stories created by 2nd graders, and edited by 7th graders as we hatched eggs and learned about genetics.
I want to see my students dig deeper, collaborate, and be creators in their own learning. As I attend conferences, such as ISTE in Denver this summer, these are the things I look for when I am attending workshops, looking at new vendors, and having conversations with other educators. Having a personal learning network is powerful. Being accepted as an Apple Distinguished Educator has opened doors to learn so much about using Apple products in my 1:1 iPad environment. Attending the Apple Educator Institute in the summer of 2015 gave me the gift of some of my favorite ADEs. We have presented together as well as group chat frequently when need to bounce ideas off of each other.
Myself, Dr. Layne Morcsh, and Maggie Mabery at ISTE in Denver leading a poster session on student created science videos in science 6-Higher Ed.
In addition to reaching out to my teacher community, I contribute to my network by speaking at conferences on occasion as well as publishing work on iBooks, iTunes U, and for online web articles. This gives me a platform to share my own experiences in a technology infused learning environment and hopefully spark interest for others as well!


New Media Consortium. (2015). NMC Horizon Report 2015 K-12 Edition. Retrieved from

Vega, V. (2013, February 5). Technology integration research tools programs. Retrieved from

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