Prosser Digital Learning Environment Inventory

1.      What tools, software, operating systems, and equipment are available in your school and classroom?

I teach Science at Prosser Career Academy in Chicago. I primarily teach 10-12 graders. Prosser is a selective enrollment high school which has both the IB and AP programs. We both the IB Diploma and an IB Career Diploma Tracks. We also have an Education to Careers (ETC) program with the option of eight career tracks.

There are a hundred and twenty classrooms within the school. Each classroom is equipped with a computer, with the Windows 8 operating system. All classrooms have wireless internet connections. The computers have internet browsers as well as the entire Microsoft Office Suite. Ninety percent of the classrooms are also equipped with an LCD projector and a projector screen. There are two smartboards in the school and are used infrequently. Each computer is connected to a main printer on each floor.

The school has one computer lab for the entire school. The lab has forty computers and one printer. The ETC programs have computer labs dedicated to their particular classes. Each of the three ETC classes – Digital Media, Machine Shop, Game Design and Multimedia, have specialized software for the classes on the computers. There are also twenty computers in the library and ten in the cafeteria that students can use during their free time or during lunch. Most students also have smartphones that they can use for work at the discretion of the teacher at the discretion of the teacher.

There is also a laptop cart with forty laptops that can be signed out by the teachers. A few teachers have written their own grants and have their own laptops for class use. The science department has fifteen computers that can be used for labs. The diverse learner program has a set of thirty iPads that are reserved exclusively for their use.

With the exception of the computers in the Digital Media classes (which are Macs) all other computers in the building have Windows 8 and the entire Microsoft Office Suite. Each person can log in on any computer to access permitted material from the server.

Staff use the IMPACT system used in the Chicago Public schools to maintain grades and attendance. Students and parents can also login and see the current grade and student progress. People can also use it as a platform for communication if they choose to. All email and correspondence is through the official email which is maintained by Google. As such, everyone has access to all the tools that Google offers such as Google Classroom, Google Drive and Google Documents. Most shared school documents are maintained on the shared drive.

In accordance with official Chicago Public School policy, the firewall blocks all material deemed inappropriate, such as Facebook and other social media sites as well as offensive material. However students can access whatever they choose on their own private cell phone. However if they are using the school wireless connection, their viewing habits are known to the IT department. YouTube and Skype are permitted with a teacher login.

The only subscription based online resource that students use are textbook websites and the online library Questia. The science department has access to virtual labs through a subscription to Gizmos.

 

2.      How does your school make use of school and/or teacher websites?

The school website is http://www.prosseracademy.org The site contains information about the school, staff, academic programs, athletics and community partnerships. The website is updated to reflect the schedule and upcoming events. Staff contact information is also on the website.

Each teacher can choose to have a webpage on the school site. However most staff prefer to use Google Classroom for their classes. A few teachers have their own websites.

 

3.      How are you currently using technology for learning?

I use the LCD projector and iPevo presenter daily. In all my classes students use various Microsoft Office tools as needed, usually Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Other technology tools that they use depend on the assignment. However some of my students do not have access to technology at home, so all the large assignments that are given usually require time in the school computer lab.

All classes have a Google Classroom page where all assignments, virtual libraries, and online assignments are handled. Each class also has a shared Google Drive where worksheets are kept. Most communication also occurs through Google Classroom.

In my chemistry classes I use many internet resources such as videos, molecular modeling and virtual labs. The virtual labs and learning exercises are through our subscription to Gizmos. There are also a few on the textbook websites that are relevant. We also use Vernier probes for labs. These require use of the laptops for the Vernier software that is used for data collection and analysis.

For the IB Information Technology in a Global Society class that I teach, we use a wide variety of technology tools. Each student has to create a technology product (usually a commercial, website, app, database etc.) that addresses a need in the community. For this students use a wide variety of software as well as Web 2.0 tools.

For creative presentations as well as large project where they might have more freedom as far as the format, students are allowed to pick three tools from the following list:

http://www.schrockguide.net/online-tools.html

For research my students primarily use the Questia library. They also have access to all the material in the Chicago Public Library system.

 

4.      From the list of global e-learning sites included below, which are available and which sites are blocked by your firewall? The only sites that you're required to explore are listed here, but feel free to look at/comment on others on the list that I have attached.  Please reserve time to explore these sites and process what they have to offer.

These sites are allowed to be accessed at school:

1)      Skype    www.skype.com

2)      iEARN   www.iearn.org

3)      ConnectAllSchools   http://www.connectallschools.org

4)      Peace Corps Speakers Match   http://wws.peacecorps.gov/wws/speakersmatch/

5)      ePals  http://www.epals.com

6)      Global Nomads Group www.gng.org

7)      Primary Source   www.primarysource.org

8)      Edutopia  http://www.edutopia.org

9)      Outreach World http://www.outreachworld.org

10)  The UN Works  http://www.un.org/works/

11)  Online Newspapers  http://www.onlinenewspapers.com

 

5.      What sites and tools are colleagues in your building using?

This is a very difficult question to answer since this varies so widely. In general, most teachers use YouTube and Google Classroom. All teachers require that students be comfortable with using most of the tools in the Microsoft Office Suite.

Teachers also use a variety of websites that have relevant tools- such as video, interactive worksheets and quizzes as well as subject specific material. For example, for Chemistry most of the teachers use molecular modeling software when teaching molecule shapes. Each department meets once a week and shares materials that are used within the discipline. There is not much communication between departments or disciplines about technology that is used. There are also a few teachers that use smartphone apps within the classroom. This is also dependent the subject matter.

The ETC departments have their own specific software that they use – for example, the Machine Shop Class uses CAD and CAM software for tool design, the Digital Media class uses the entire Adobe Suite and Gaming Design uses software such as ALICE for designing video games.

The IB classes also use Turnitin and the Managebec software systems.

 

6.      Is there a system for evaluating student technology literacy in your school? If so, how effective or helpful have you found the assessment?

There is no official system for evaluating student technology literacy. Student skill level with technology depends entirely on access and interest on the part of the student.

 

7.      Gather suggestions from students on their ideas for integrating technology into their learning.

·         Use more creative tools for presentation

·         Use more animation software, so discussions are more fun

·         Allow more tools on the mobile phones

·         Use more tools for collaboration

·         Communicate with other schools and classrooms in the world

 

8.      What tools that are not presently available, would help to achieve district objectives?

There are no particular district objectives that have been set. Rather than more technology, it would be more useful to have better professional development opportunities to help teachers better use the technology they already have. Most students feel that teachers use technology to do the same things that students do with pen and paper. It would be beneficial for staff to have more seminars on how to use technology more creatively.

 

9.      Using your Digital Learning Environment Inventory, develop a solution or suggest an improvement customized to your circumstance and curriculum. Create, implement and evaluate one change in a globalized lesson plan to use technology for learning in a meaningful way.

My school has a variety of programs. One of them is the CTE program where students who want to specialize is vocational fields have an opportunity to do so. One of the programs is in building construction. The building construction program and the science department have been doing an interdisciplinary project for the past three years. The project is the Wood Duck Conservation Project which is also done in conjunction with the Illinois Forest Preserve System. Students have built and maintain the wood duck nesting boxes and return four times a year to gather data.

We have been meaning to gather vegetation data, but haven’t done so, since most of the time has been taken up with the maintenance. Also, there are often no leaves on the trees when we do go. Since the leaves are still on the trees this past visit, I had students download the app “leafsnap” onto their phones. We took about twenty five students and each group works in different parts of the forest preserve. Each student had to take pictures of five different types of tree leaves in the forest. We are in the process of collecting the data to determine the types of trees near the habitat. It will also help us see if there are any invasive species present near the duck habitat. The students will then analyze the types of tree species and see if they are similar along the duck’s migratory habitats. The duck migrations go from Canada to the central United States. This data will be one part of our study of duck habitats and populations in both Canada and the US. It teaches students that animals don’t respect borders and conservation has to be a global effort.

The actual use of the technology went smoothly when there was internet connection. The difficulty arose when it was spotty and the app could not immediately identify the leaf. The app wouldn’t store the images within the app. It wasn’t the best choice for a leaf identification app but it was the only free one that covered Illinois forests. So the students also gathered leaves themselves which we brought back to school where we could use the app more easily to identify them. So for the next time I would either have to purchase better apps for the students to use, or gather the material and use the technology when we get back. We will also be taking a trip in May and they will be doing more leaf identification then.

 

10.  Post- course reflection: List five featured digital tools that have had the greatest impact on classroom instruction, and annotate the list with strategies for using the tool.

 

Padlet https://padlet.com/

I have used this tool extensively this year for final projects. It is essentially an online bulletin board. However it allows students the flexibility of adding images, text and video to their board. It also allows for the teacher to control who has access to the boards. I have also used this for activities where students just had to answer one particular question with either an image or a video they had taken. This is a great way for the entire class to see each other’s responses and to share information.

Thinglink https://www.thinglink.com/

This is another of my favorite tools for students to use in the classroom. It allows them to annotate an image or a video with hyperlinks. Many of my students prefer this as a way to create concept maps and share ideas. I have found this to be a particularly powerful tool when I use images as a springboard for discussions. I can have students see an image and create and articulate their own understanding before sharing and discussing with the group. It can also be a creative way to keep notes.

             Storyboard That http://www.storyboardthat.com/

This is one of my student’s favorite tools. It allows students to create a cartoon using characters and scenery that the software provides. There is a nominal fee for subscription, and a reduced teacher fee. Students can create short graphic novels or comic strips using the tools. They can also use their creativity to tell a story or explain a concept. It is also easily shared on a different platform such as Padlet.

             Nearpod https://nearpod.com/

This is a great platform that teachers can use to create presentations for class. While teachers are presenting, the presentation appears on the student’s phone so they can follow along. It works seamlessly with video and audio in the presentation as well. It is also a great way to manage student cell phone use within the classroom, and teaches students appropriate use of technology at the appropriate time.

Kahoot https://getkahoot.com/

This is a fantastic tool for a quick assessment. Teachers can create a review or assessment, using multiple choice questions which the students can play as a game on their phones. There are points given for quick responses and correct answers. Teachers can view and download student responses. I have used this for exam review as well as a quick assessment tool. It is a great way to gauge student learning while making it fun for the students