The Peer Review Assignment for EDSP 6644 Educating Exceptional Students helped me become a better educator because it allowed me to research what current educators are working on to improve special education services. I was able to look at a variety of sources, which will be helpful whenever I have a question, or need to research a topic that comes up during my actual teaching in the future. My topic was co-teaching, which includes important aspects of teacher collaboration. It was great to see what this model looks like in reality and the benefits and challenges it can bring. This will help better prepare me when I am involved in similar teaching approaches.
Co-teaching is an effective model but one that requires patience and flexibility. It is important to interact with faculty throughout the school to get different perspectives and opinions that are different from your own. Co-teaching is not a teaching method where teachers should operate independently from one another. Having time to debrief, reflect, and plan is crucial for a successful and positive system. Learning from one another’s methods helps faculty grow as educators and provide best supports for students that need it.
The articles I researched also discussed the importance of professional development and training when adopting the co-teaching model. In order for this model to be effective, teachers need opportunities to learn methods and skills that have positive effects when collaborating. The program should be one that is meaningful and worth a teacher’s time. Educators have many responsibilities and need to be efficient with their duties throughout the day, including a new approach such as co teaching.
The peer review assignment allowed me to analyze and synthesize documents about a topic to learn more about different approaches to special education. I now have a broader view of special education and particular teaching strategies. I will take these concepts with me as I work in the schools and develop different approaches for helping students succeed.
As a teacher, how can I stay current with local and global societal issues and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in the classroom?
The technology world is continuing to develop and change at a rapid rate that directly influences the classrooms we teach in. Students engage with technology on a daily basis at home and at school. It is our job as educators to teach children safe and healthy practices regarding the use of technology and online identities. Teachers need to exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their practice and model this for students. Staying up to date with how technology is changing will help educators provide the most accurate information to students. Miller & Ribble describe the importance of collaboration to meet the issues technology can bring. “Educational leaders, faculty members, students, parents, and community members must work together to create workable solutions for the rapidly increasing problems related to appropriate use and digital citizenship.” (Miller & Ribble, 2012, p 144) Leaders will promote and model digital etiquette by relating online interactions to real life interactions and that the two are the same. Treating each other politely with kindness and respect in both venues is important to emphasize so students know the two are not so different and separate.
One of the members of my learning circle also addressed the importance of teacher modeling to students. Technology can be a distraction tool from learning if used improperly in the classroom. By teacher modeling, students can see how to use digital resources in class and any assignments related to technology. Students in this digital age have a lot of screen time both at home and school. Showing students the positive, educational uses for technology will allow them to effectively use their devices in the classroom helping them learn.
Northern Miller, T. & Ribble, M. (2012). Educational leadership in an online world: Connecting students to technology responsibly, safely, and ethically. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17: 1, 137-145.
Triggering Question: As a third grade teacher, what tools and resources can I use to develop collaboration that supports individual learning and contributes to the learning of others?
ISTE Standard 2 involves designing and developing learning experiences in the digital age. One way to design lessons with a digital focus is to gear them toward collaboration and working with each other. In this way, they are learning from one another’s thoughts and extending ideas through conversation and discussion. The focus of learning from one another and a learner’s environment is seen in Vygotsky’s social development theory. Ciconni (2013) describes new computer programs being used in classrooms that are providing academic collaboration over media. The kids are boosting their own learning by listening to one another’s thoughts. “Using technology to engage students in collaborative endeavors deepens their understanding of math concepts by offering rigorous learning through relevant projects with authentic audiences.” (Ciconni, 2013, p 64) The program “Voki” allowed students to create avatars (computerized persons with attributes) and use the avatars to share ideas through typed text, computer microphone, sound file upload, or phone. They are exciting venues for students that create engagement and a chance to make meaning out of their learning.
Students are able to have autonomy over their learning by using these programs to find their own voice and path to understanding lessons at school. Another way digital resources can foster autonomy is through individualized accounts on eBooks. A member of my learning circle posted a resource on the effectiveness of eBooks and though it doesn’t answer my question towards collaboration, it does assist in making students feel in control of their learning and progress. An online reading program called ICANREAD (Ciampa, K. 2012), studied whether electronic eBooks would motivate 1st grade students, change attitudes about online reading and improve students comprehension literacy skills. Studies found that students were more engaged and interactive with devices, able to track their own reading progress, and access to a wide variety of resources. Although I still prefer physical books, this article suggests the benefits of online reading programs and how successful they can be when implemented properly.
Ciampa, K. (2012). ICANREAD: the effects of an online reading program on grade 1 students engagement and comprehension strategy use. Journal of Research on Technology in Education 45 (1) 27-59
Cicconi, M. (2013). Vygotsky Meets Technology: A Reinvention of Collaboration in the Early Childhood Mathematics Classroom. Early Childhood Education Journal 42: 57-65