Aaron Moran's Portfolio


Whirlwind. Amazing. Challenging. Impactful. Up-side down. Reinvigorating. Intimidated. Enjoyed. Learned. Those are the adjectives I think of when I look back at my experiences this summer during the cohort of CEP 800, CEP 185 and CEP 822. My world was turned up-side down when I was shown the amount of technologies available to me and I was not using very many of them. Intimidated by the ungraded assignments and how much time they took when I had assignments that counted toward my grade I could have been working on. I kept challenging myself to “finish this assignment, it doesn’t really matter” but those were the most impactful. Never I have I been so engaged in something that I was not earning credit for and enjoyed so much. I appreciated the opportunity we were given to make mistakes with new technology and it did not affect my grade. We learned from our professors, our colleagues and our failures. My eyes were opened to a brand new world of teaching that I had thought I was utilizing but it seemed as ancient as the ditto era. I have been rejuvenated as a teacher, not willing to stay pat with what is “working” rather modifying it to reach all students. In the digital age we do not need to be able to compete with text messaging, video games, social networking and image editing. We need to embrace it and allow the creativity to take hold of our students and engage them in the learning process. In one of the videos we watched the speaker mentioned the traditional educational system is teaching the creativity away from students and if a child is active we medicate them. This belief is evident when projects are assigned and each one of them is as plain as the next all because they are afraid to step out of the box. This summer has allowed me to step out of the box and discover a creativity I did not know I had. I see the world in a new way from assignments, such as alphabits, creativity examples that Punya and others have brought to class. I will incorporate that assignment into my instruction as well. But most importantly this summer I learned. I learned that understanding comes in different forms. I learned that my students come to class with a perception of how things work and sometimes will never stray from those perceptions. I learned that there is a plethora of knowledge is out there and it is all how much we want to obtain. I learned I have to be influential with my colleagues in their technology integration. But the most beneficial lesson I learned this summer was to be more active in my personal professional development.

A major theme of the summer course is expressed by Wiggins and McTighe “how well do we understand understanding?” It is a valid question since our role as educators is to get students to explain, compare, evaluate and all of the other “buzz” words on a given topic; and in order to perform these applications they must understand what we are teaching them. While reading this article I was really intrigued because I kept asking myself ‘what things do I understand?’, ‘What truly is understanding?’ and ‘When will I know when a student understands a topic?’  They articulately dissect benchmarks that guide educators which use the term “know” or “know how” as a form of understanding. I completely agree that knowing and understanding are two totally different concepts. Take an infant for example. An infant may “know” what hot means but they do not fully “understand” that it can be painful if touched. The infant could relate the term hot as a synonym to no. It is not until the infant has been affected but the hot object will they truly understand what hot means. Therefore using “know” as a method of how well a student is grasping the concept is a stretch. It is not our role to get students to “know” a given topic rather we are here to assist in their understanding. A students’ expression of their understanding can be a valuable tool for assessment. All too often educators dictate what has to be turned in such as a written paper. This form of assessment removes the aspect of creativity thus a student may not be able to express their understanding. In order to gauge a students’ understanding of the content I have learned it is beneficial to allow them to express their understanding through multiple pathways as long as there are parameters set ahead of time.

In order to get a complete understanding of a topic one must have an open mind to that topic. As we discovered through our video projects, individuals have their own understanding as to how things work even though they may be incorrect. These misinterpretations are a definite barrier to education and the only way to achieve understanding is to change their misconception. According to Gardner, “Because a key to a changing mind is to produce a shift in the individual’s “mental representations”- the particular way in which a person perceives, codes, retains and accesses information” which essentially means wiping out what a person understands and provide them with a proper understanding. In today’s digital world there is a case of information overload. At any moment in time a student can obtain access to information, whether it is factual or not, and most likely will develop their understanding based upon the information first available thus the 80/20 rule. The student will develop an understanding of 80% of the content with only 20% effort (Gardner 8). This is where educators have to provide a pedagogical approach that changes the way a student perceives, codes and retains information; through inquiry. Forcing students to find their own answers and forming understanding through failure and successes. In order to do that we must incorporate the technologies that students see as fun activities into our lessons so they see investigating the truths of the world as a fun activity as well.

Excited. Engaged. Determined. Mentor. Proficient. Changed. Graduated. All of the words that I predict will describe me in the future. As I reflect on my past I realized the path I am taking is all through chance. I was in dire need of earning graduate credits to maintain my certification when I received an email explaining a weekend program where I could obtain the amount of credits I needed. I did some very brief research and determined the courses are affordable enough and can fit into my schedule so I enrolled. Quickly I was reassured I made the correct decision because all of the assignments that were to be completed were directly applicable into my classroom. As I moved from one class to the next I realized these courses are improving my instruction, and they are fun! I completed the certificate program and was bound and determined that this was the direction I will take to obtain my Master’s degree and have not looked back. In looking forward there are transformations I need to make but I now know I do not have to go it alone. My mind has been opened to the endless technologies that are out there for use in education and I need to explore the ones that make me a better educator. The TPACK framework suggests integration of content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and technology knowledge improves the quality of our teaching as long as it is done within our personal framework (Mishra, Koehler and Henriksen 3-4). In order to be successful in incorporating all three components together I must stay current with the technology I have available to me. In addition I need to build a personal learning community that I can be inspired from and bring new ideas into my classroom. Lastly, I need to be an inspiration to my colleagues and provide them with support to transform their classroom into a Web 2.0 environment.

As we all know technology is changing faster than most people can keep up with. It seems as quickly as a technology is available something comes along that is better.  In many cases our students are more proficient with these technologies than we are so many teachers are intimidated to use such technology. In order to keep up with the TPACK framework and successfully integrate technology into my classroom I need to stay current. This can be done in many ways including becoming a member of technological associations including the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education (SITE). ISTE is an organization that is geared to the Web 2.0 educator. There are many features that keep you connected such as educator resources, professional development opportunities, podcasts, special interest groups and on and on and on; their resources seem endless. What I will do is become a member of ISTE which will allow me to take advantage of their resources so I can keep up to date. Similarly SITE is an organization that provides many of the same resources but in a limited fashion. I will frequent their website and blogs to ensure that I am staying current. Another way to stay up to date with technology is to join social networking sites. I have already become a member of Classroom 2.0 and receive regular emails abut video postings and webinars that are being held to assist teachers with incorporating technology into the classroom. Similar to the ISTE website, Classroom 2.0 provides many resources for teachers to view and use in their own classroom. All of these resources will help me keep up with the changing technologies.

To keep me inspired to explore new technology and to use for assistance I need to increase my persona learning community. A personal learning community is an advantageous way to communicate with other teachers and share ideas, techniques and anecdotes all with the idea that it will help them become a better educator. A personal learning community is important for my future with educational technology because it will provide me with an inexpensive way to receive ideas from those who have successfully incorporated technology into their classroom. My personal learning community is currently limited to those members of my program and professors but as my familiarity grows with social bookmarking I will be able to follow like minded individuals thus increasing my information pool. I will continue to visit Netvibes so I can follow the blogs of those who I feel is pertinent to the field of educational technology and share them with others and continue to subscribe to other RSS feeds that are relevant.

Being a pioneer with incorporating technology into my classroom and school I need to be an inspiration to my colleagues and provide them with ideas and encouragement to move forward with technology exploration. I will continue to educate my fellow staff members who are interested in this endeavor and provide them with the knowledge to incorporate technology into their classroom. I will encourage them to accompany me at conferences, coursework and technology based professional development. Have coworkers that are as interested in becoming a better educator using the TPACK framework as I am will keep me inspired to assist each other in becoming the best we can be.

Lastly my plan for professional development is to finish the MAET program. By completing the coursework at MSU I will be further increasing my knowledge about educational technology and its benefits to my classroom and assisting me to better develop understanding among my students.


Works Cited

Gardner, Howard. Changing Minds: the Art and Science of Changing Our Own and Other People's Minds. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School, 2004. Print

Mishra, Koehler & Henricksen. (2010). The 7 trans-disciplinary habits of mind: Extending the TPACK
framework towards 21st Century Learning. In press.

Wiggins, G., McTighe, J. (1998), Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd ed., Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Alexandria, VA