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By: Lauren Bissler

Technology and Learning

Professional Learning Plan
In the book, Supporting Learning with Technology: Essentials of Classroom Practice within chapter one, it stated that computers cannot do anything by itself. Therefore, what people do with it is central to what it does for people. (Egbert, 2009). I have learned from previous experiences and through my graduate courses that technology is only as useful as the person who is using it. If a person doesnt know how to navigate or use software to its full capability, than their not going to be as effective with teaching and integrating technology into the classrooms. I think its important to remember that learning a new skill while utilizing technology will take time. In the beginning of this course, I remember struggling with the Administrative Task. I would have considered myself knowledgeable with using technology prior to this assignment, but never experienced using FileZilla and transferring files. Looking back, this was an easier task, however as I mentioned in the above paragraph, if you dont know how to navigate or use a specific software then its going to be more challenging. So at the time, this was a daunting task for me. Another task that was challenging for me was on the demonstration portion of the Tool Project. When creating a photo-based tutorial, it was challenging trying to create step-by-step directions that others can easily follow. In order to determine if my tutorial was successful, I had my husband follow the directions and provide me with feedback on what I needed to change or edit. As a special education teacher, I work with the general education teachers to differentiate the lessons for the students to ensure that they all (including students with disabilities) are learning and reaching the standards that are being taught. Differentiated instruction doesnt mean that the students are learning a different lesson or learning goal; it just means that the students are presented with different options at different degree of difficultly. By differentiating the instruction, it supports student learning in the content areas. In my experience, I have found that using technology has greatly affected the way my students learn and the way that I find and utilize resources to meet their individual needs. I feel that utilizing computers (including software such as: Word, PowerPoint, Wordle, etc.), SMART Boards, In-focus machines, etc. area few of my strengths with using technology to differentiate instruction. I think its important as teachers to evaluate the tools (technology) prior to using them within the learning environment, so we are effectively meeting our learning target. Otherwise, teachers would be wasting a lot of critical teaching time trying to operate the SMART board instead of teaching the lesson to the students. In my career as a special education teacher, we utilize SMART

boards within the classroom to help students learn new information and concepts through hands-on experiences. Using a SMART board allows teachers and myself to teach a variety of lessons through manipulating different software including the internet to help students move from declarative knowledge to structural knowledge into procedural knowledge. Technology can be integrated into the classroom to enhance students learning and understanding, but it can also be used by teachers to gather data and access how the students are performing. This is an area that I would like to improve my expertise and knowledge. As an eighth grade special education teacher, there is a lot of pressure for my students to pass the Ohio Achievement Assessment since value-added is reflected in the report card for school districts. I would like to take the students information and formulate a chart/graph to analyze their performance of areas of strengths and weaknesses, so I know what needs to be addressed. However, the problems that I would encounter are the lack of knowledge of accessing, interpreting, and incorporating the data into an Excel sheet. I feel that one of my strengths with technology is my knowledge and application of Microsoft software like, Word or PowerPoint. However, I have a very basic understanding of the Excel program, which would hinder my overall goal. Perhaps, there is another program that would suffice and work even better than Excel; I just dont have that knowledge. This is an area that I would like to personally improve, not only for myself, but to help meet the needs of my students. My three goals that I have for myself which are related to technology and my students are: 1.) By fall of 2013, I will learn how to design online websites in order for me to use within my profession to communicate with parents and help assist students with needed resources. By taking the graduate course, Designing Online Websites, will help me reach my goal of creating a personal website that will not only benefits my students, but their parents as well. In my experience, I have learned that my students (students with disabilities) often lack the foundation of basic skills which hinder them from accurately completing assignments and/or tasks. I would like to create a personal website that has all the needed resources, skills, applications, videos, etc. to help assist them with their assignments. In addition to the resources, I want to have copies of their homework assignments, since nine times out of ten my students often forget their homework at school. I could use the audio feature and/or moviemaker to create reviews of specific topics that we are learning in class that week. This would not only help the students, but the parents who have repeatedly stated that they are unable to help their children because the material is too advanced and they dont remember how to help. I expect to reach this goal by the end of my graduate study. I want to

complete all the graduate courses, in case there are other classes that would help assist me in meeting this goal. 2.) My second goal is to implement and apply my education and knowledge from my graduate courses into my classroom in order to help students make necessary connections to the curriculum through the use of technology. Todays generation has had more access to technology than any other generation. In my experience, students are more motivated by using technology within the classroom to learn new skills and acquire new information. My goal is to help my students (with disabilities) make connections and use technology to support their learning. I feel that its important for them to have an understanding of technology since they will most likely be using it in their future (whether its at college or at their job). By using technology to connect to the curriculum, it helps peek student interest and understanding of concepts. I expect to gradually meet this goal as I continue to take graduate courses. I would like to meet this goal by the end of the graduate program. 3.) My third goal is to learn how to create charts, graphs, and tables of student performance/data so I can analyze and address the areas that my students are struggling with by the beginning of the 2013 school year. As I mentioned in the beginning of this paper, I would like to improve my expertise and knowledge in taking student data on their performance (ex. Ohio Achievement scores) and creating a graph/table to analyze their strengths and weaknesses. In addition, I would like to look at the results of Walk-Throughs (which are conducted by our administrators) to see if there is a relationship between teacher methods and student performance. All of this information involves the use of the computer, software programs, and the internet. I expect to achieve this goal by the beginning of the 2013 school year. I would like to be able to start the following school year with an understanding of my students needs and start intervening from the beginning. The way that I will measure my progress of achieving these three goals are through my graduate courses, prior experience, and through professional development training at my school district. At my school district, we have four days that are devoted to professional development training, along with outside opportunities that we can participate in on our own. This would give me the opportunity to work towards meeting my goals. My progress of graduate courses will be measured through the coursework, projects, and discussions that are expected of me. Whereas, learning how to create tables, graphs, and chart, in addition to analyzing student data will be measured through personal criteria. Each year, I have to be either observed by my principle or conduct an alternative appraisal. A way to measured my progress and ensure that I achieve my goal is

to implement my goal as part of my alternative appraisal. This way it will ensure that I am working towards meeting this goal. Its important to remember that learning a new skill while utilizing technology will take time. There are many new skills and programs that I have yet to learn within my graduate study, which Im looking forward to applying not only personally, but professionally as well.

Egbert, J. (2009). Supporting learning with technology: Essentials of classroom practice. Columbus, OH: Pearson/Merrill/Prentice Hall.