Re: POST #2: Challenges to Using Iowa AEA Online Resources
There were many resources I would like to explore and some included materials in other languages which is important to me as an English language learner (ELL) teacher. One of the biggest challenges to me is that I pull my students out of the classroom in small groups. I am usually the only one with a computer.I feel that the students would be able navigate some of the sites with a little instruction on how to do so. I see myself first having to explore the sites more myself as there is a lot of information and I need to understand and be proficient in how to use the sites. Then I would instruct the students on how to use the sites. My students alway like to share about their countries and I think that I could have them use CultureGrams to explore their country and see what how they could personalize the factual information. I could see them sharing the information with their classmates.
I think one of my biggest challenges will be making teachers aware of these resources and actually utilizing them in the classroom. From past experiences, several teachers are unaware of these great resources that they have available to them and their students. To overcome this, my goal is to make teachers aware of them and to also help them understand how to use and navigate them. At the start of every year, I promote the AEA resources along with a brief description as to what each resource is about. I also have the different departments share with me their scope and sequences. Having an idea as to what they will be teaching, I can reach out individually or by department and let the know how I can can help provide additional resources to support them and the curriculum. This is when I typically set up time to visit the teacher or the classrooms to walk them through how to use the resource. For example, I will go into a Language Arts class and and show them how to use Britannica or Gale and help them with their research process.
Currently I teach grade 2 at Morningside STEM Elementary. I have been teaching in the Sioux City School District since 2005. I received a degree from Morningside College in Elementary Teaching. I also have my Master's through Wayne State in Curriculum and Instruction. This is the second time I'm taking this course only because I needed a refresher. There are so many awesome digital tools and other resources for teachers and students of all ages. I have personally used BookFlix, ScienceFlix, Brittanica, and Learn360. The resources are all of high-quality and researched-based best practices. I can trust the information and content to be educational and engaging.
The sheer quantity of resources do not bother me - just taking the class has allowed me to sift through the resources and know which ones will be most appropriate for the students I teach. In fact, I used CultureGrams the day after I learned about it and have used it every day since then - it is ideal for the country reports that my 9th graders are researching for their World Cultures/Geography class.
Perhaps the biggest challenge is connecting some of of my colleagues with resources. I've learned about so many resources that I can see being quite useful for various curricular areas in my high school. Most teachers I talk to say they do not use these resources. I plan to talk to our media specialist to find out her vision for these resources and the history of how they've been shared in the past. (This is my first year in this district.). Perhaps some good marketing from our media specialist would renew the desire for teachers to use these resources again. I've also been bragging to the social studies department about CultureGrams and some of the American History videos available. Also, the clipart possibilities are nearly endless; I plan to share this resource with my hallway neighbor who is the business/marketing teacher.
Like many before me have stated, I feel that the biggest challenge I face will be training the students how to use these resources. I don't feel that they are aware of some of these tools, as I haven't seen them use them before. On a positive note, most students these days are very tech savvy and hopefully taking time to train would be fairly easy for students at the grade level I teach. A secondary challenge would be taking time out to use these tools and hoping they remember that training so we don't have to do the same thing over and over again.
To overcome these challenges, I think I will need to model and go through the process on how to use these tools as we use them. I don't think that spending one day for all of them would be productive in my classroom. Each time we use a new online tool, I plan to make some type of infographic reminder on the steps that they need to do to get the most out of that tool. I am hoping that spending some time modeling and infographic reminders will help the students become proficient at using the resources available to them.
I think my biggest challenge to implement these resources is sifting and sorting through the massive amount of information. While I was watching the YouTube videos explaining how to access everything in the website, I would pause it and take notes on how I could use it in Social Studies, or Science, or a specific book we read in Writing class...and then I quite frankly became overwhelmed with it all. I'm afraid I could work all day, every day, for the rest of my life and still find more I could add to my teaching.
To avoid this, I want to start with the standards and work my way backwards. I have a fairly good grasp on what my curriculum is missing, so that would be a great place to start. As I get more comfortable using the resources and importing them into my lessons on Google Classroom, I will be able to stay on top of things and be less overwhelmed.
I do think the biggest challenge will be remembering and implementing the correct tools and resources at the ideal time in instruction. The resources are vast and remarkable but must be used in a way to enhance and complement instruction. It would be easy to use the resources in a way that is not advantageous to the students' needs and just tack on additional work within the curriculum.
One thing that I did to keep some of the resources at my fingertips was to simply bookmark the AEA Digital Resources Page and some of the home pages for the resources as well. I figured this would be a good reminder of what is available and keep the tools easy to access. I'm hoping this will keep me from going straight to Google when I am looking for supplementary materials to use in the classroom.
I can think of two challenges when it comes to implementing these resources in my classroom. The first is that there are so many resources that it can be tough to sift through them. Of course, this challenge arises when simply googling for resources - so at least the AEA online resources would be a bit smaller to work through. A plan for me would be to take some time to sit down and create a document that outlines what each resource would be good for. For example, SIRS is something that I would only use when doing research or planning for an activity like a Socratic seminar or philosophical chairs.
The other challenge is mostly related to students and how they would use these resources. So many of them are used to "googling things for answers" - and this is understandable. We all do this everyday! When doing research it would really take some time to show them the value of something like Britannica and SIRS. I do think students would really buy in once they saw how easy it is to navigate these sites and find useful, appropriate information.
I think the biggest challenge that I will be facing about using and putting these resources into practice is the fact that I am not the one creating lesson plans.
What I plan to do though, is inform the students that these different resources exist and are available to them. I recently told a class that I was participating in this course, and none of the students knew that they had all of these different sources at their fingertips.
I think in the high school, I would specifically recommend Britannica Online and SIRS for AP courses, as well as any courses that requitre research. I would also recommend Teen Health & Wellness, as we have a bit of an outdated health course that is required. I would also recommend Culturegrams to all students, as we have a very large ELL program, and understanding one another is so important. I feel that many of my students really want to be there for one another, and our Journalism course does interviews of all of our new students who come in from different countries.
I feel that my biggest challenge will be that the internet at my school cuts out all the time. Since this is a problem that I will not be able to solve very easily I will talk about another challenge. My challenge will be that I need to find time and ways to present some of this to preschoolers. I think like the animal facts and quick videos and sounds would be a great addition to learning in prek. I will just have to be creative in presentation as we have one laptop and three tablets. Which makes it small group or individual activities. I think this challenge forces me to just be more specific and intentional in planning.
The biggest challenge I think I will have with implementing AEA Online resources into my classroom is finding the time to sit down and navigate my way through these digital resources. The beginning of the school year is so crazy and it never seems that we have any time during the school year to actually mess around with new materials. Lucky for me it is the summer and I actually have some time to play around with these resources. The next couple weeks will be a great time for me to check out and see which resources fit best with my current students. I am not one who likes to throw my students into the deep end and have them fend for themselves. If I am going to use a particular resource I want to make sure that I know as much as I can about the resource and be able to put my students in a position in which they can be successful. I want to make sure that I am fully comfortable with using the resource on my own before I begin to plan on how I want to implement it into my classroom.
I feel there will be some challenges for me when using AEA's online resources. Most of my teaching career, as a paraeducator, then a classroom teacher, I have only worked with Preschool and Kindergarten age. My next journey will be working with 3rd and 4th grade Special Education. One of the challenges would be that I am not familiar with what the older students are learning and so I am not sure what materials to research or are age appropriate. I am also not so tech savvy. I get frustrated with technology very easily and technology also does not like me! I also feel another challenge would be when to fit it in my agenda. As a Special Education teacher, working one on one, you don't have them in your room for very long. I do feel they would enjoy the online resources better than pencil and worksheet, but how do I incorporate it and which resource will be best for each student?
Prior to stepping away from my classroom four years ago, we were lucky to have the funds necessary to improve our technology resources every year. When we started using AEA online resources I would take my fourth grade class(es) to the computer lab to use CultureGrams and TrueFlix. After a few years, the school had a cart of laptops we could check out for use. Both of these scenarios got tricky if you weren’t fast enough to “claim” the time slot you needed. The cart was also very bulky. Often, the biggest challenges for us involved time restraints. The kids had to line up by class number to get their assigned laptop. The same process was used to return them to the cart and plug them back in. These challenges solved themselves once the kids got familiar with it. In 2018, my last year, each student had their own chromebook within the classroom. They each had to pull their chrome books in number order. However, this would be an easy thing to fix. As time has gone on, students are using their chromebooks for almost every subject area. So, keeping them in their desks would be perfect, as long as they were charged. Signing into the Heartland website and accessing TrueFlix and CutureGrams became very simple, too. Each year they had more experience with using technology in our room, making time less of an issue.
For me the biggest challenge will be determining which resource will fit best with the learning objective I am looking to target. There are a lot more resources available than I previously was shown when I first started teaching 15 years ago. I think it will also be a challenge up front to teach the students how to use these different resources, although once they know how to navigate the site and the resources, I feel like there will be a lot we can do with it. I think the best way to overcome this challenge is to start with one resource and then move on to another once my students feel comfortable using it. I think students are really good at figuring out technology, so working together in pairs on a mini-research project might be a fun way to let them explore the different resources. I have even thought of having a scavenger hunt to have students check out different things on all the resources.
I have previously used Book Flix and True Flix with a small handful of students. This experience showed me there will be many hurdles for me when implementing AEA resources into my classroom. A personal hurdle will be just learning the ins and outs of the resources offered. I have a set content that I teach each year, but I continuously want to enrich that content with the resources. I need to comb through the AEA resources to discover which resource will work best with which content or activity I am delivering to the students. This essentially boils down to a timing issue since I don't have enough time to go through everything as thoroughly as I'd like. Overtime I will get it all sorted, find out what works and what doesn't, so for now I just need to take it one step (resource) at a time. Another hurdle I'm anticipating is teaching the students how to use the resource. Again this is a timing issue. I think it would be amazing if each resource had an instructional video on their page that teaches students how to use the resource (similar to what was offered to us during this course). Of course I could make my own videos, but again there's a timing issue. I could make videos for 2-3 resources, but I wouldn't be able to do it for all of the resources right off the bat since I myself still need to better familiarize myself with the resources. The best way for me to overcome these hurdles right now is to just focus on 2-3 resources that I will use. Explore those resources further. Try them out in the classroom, then slowly explore more resources and introduce them as needed.
The information that I gain from this online self pace course should be able to have students integrate the lessons learned from this course. Biggest Challenge: The wide variance in students abilities on the computer. Seems some kids are more into video games then just the computer.
To overcome challenges:
Repition and repitition and more practice. Over and over again. Directions given two-three different ways.
Have students pair up with each other to work together on one computer. Then help work on the next students computer. Team teaching with the students they learn a bit faster.