INDT 501 Blog reflections

Wendy Wright

INDT 501 Virtual Environments

March 31st, 2013

Exploring virtual environments this week was very interesting.  With video games being quite prevalent in so many students’ lives, it makes perfect sense to include virtual learning environments that include creative thinking as part of their instruction. “Teachers are using virtual environments in a wide variety of ways to support learning outcomes” (Solomon and Schrum, p. 121).

Webkinz has been a favorite of young children for several years now.  Children love to take their Webkinz code online and play in their virtual world, allowing them to go to different places, towns, etc. in their virtual communities, all while developing their creative thinking.  While the children absolutely love getting the new stuffed animals, they love getting a new code to play online even more.

Up until this week I had never heard of Second Life, nor was I aware it was being used for educational purposes. After reading about it and exploring this week, I can absolutely see the value it could have on student engagement and learning. Instruction and practice through this type of virtual environment would be an excellent way to keep students engaged in their learning, especially middle and high school students. Students would be immersed in active learning as they create their own avatars and explore various tasks, and wouldn’t necessarily see this as “learning”. Not only will they be motivated to learn, but they will learn how to think creatively, which is important to student success.  According to Coffman, (2013), “In student learning, motivation is a key element and this is especially critical with inquiry activities” (p. 2).


Coffman, T. (2013). Using inquiry in the classroom: Developing creative thinkers and information literate students (2nd ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

Solomon, G., & Schrum, L. (2010). Web 2.0: How-to for educators. International Society for Technology in Education.

INDT 501 Mini Projects 2

March 24th, 2013

First graders study timelines throughout the year at different times. The first grade History SOL 1.1 requires students to interpret information presented in picture timelines to show sequence of events and distinguish among past, present, and future. This week I worked on creating a timeline using capzles depicting important events in Abraham Lincoln’s life.  I think this visual timeline will be a powerful tool that allows the students to see pictures directly related to those events in Abraham Lincoln’s life that they are responsible for learning. “Any technology tool that is used in the classroom to engage students in inquiry must emphasize curriculum goals” Coffman, 2013, p. 154). I do think this tool is one that should be used when presenting information, rather than student created in the primary grades.   The final result of this product will definitely be useful in class, however creating this timeline has proven quite time consuming.  Finding appropriate pictures that were copyright friendly and free to use and share has been very difficult.  In fact, I am still searching for a couple more to fully complete the timeline.

The second project I created was a Google trek using Google maps. “Google Earth is an invaluable tool to enable students to view their own area as well as areas where collaborative partnters live” (Solomon & Schrum, 2010, p. 188). When studying about Abraham Lincoln the students are exposed to other states where important events in his life occurred.  Due to the fact that they have no prior knowledge about these states and their location, hearing these states mentioned in stories without visual representations has no concrete meaning for them. Using a Google trek to document the cities and states where Abraham Lincoln lived and where important events in his life took place will be a great visual tool for first graders. They will be able to see where these specific places are located on the United States map and I hope it will provide a deeper understanding of the important events in Abraham Lincoln’s life and the places where they took place.



Coffman, T. (2013). Using inquiry in the classroom: Developing creative thinkers and information literate students (2nd ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

Solomon, G., & Schrum, L. (2010). Web 2.0: How-to for educators. International Society for Technology in Education

INDT 501 Creating Mini Projects

March 17th, 2013

This week we worked on creating two mini projects in class.  The first project I chose to work on was creating a word cloud using Wordle.  In my first grade classroom the students have been learning about America’s symbols, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln (VA SOL 1.11 The student will recognize the symbols and traditional practices that honor and foster patriotism in the United States by  identifying the American flag, bald eagle, Washington Monument, and Statue of Liberty).  As a culminating activity to this unit of study the children will be completing a writing assignment about the symbols and presidents.

During our social studies time last week I asked the students to brainstorm words they thought of regarding American symbols and the presidents they learned about.  I took all of their responses and input them into Wordle, which in turn generated a picture representation of all of the words.  What I like most about the Wordle is the fact that it makes the most frequent responses much larger than all the rest of the words.  I plan to use this Wordle in class next week when the students complete their writing assignment.  Using Wordle this way lends itself to differentiation in the classroom.  Stronger students will be able to use many of the words in context as they create sentences, whereas those not as strong, whether in reading, writing, or social studies, will be able to use the larger print words as a springboard for their sentences as they should be able to make connections to those words much more easily.

The second project I worked on this week was creating a  I created a Voki using Abraham Lincoln as a talking avatar.  Upon completion of an American symbols unit the first graders in my class will be working on a project and writing about several of the symbols and presidents.  As the talking avatar, Abraham Lincoln will introduce the assignment to the students, explaining exactly what they are expected to do.  According to Solomon and Schrum, (2010), “Voki is a great motivational tool to use with the students because of its creative nature and visual appeal.” I do think this way of introducing the project will be a great attention getter and will hook the students by getting them excited and motivated. I am really looking forward to seeing their completed projects.

I really enjoyed completing these projects and love the fact that they are completely applicable to what I am teaching in the classroom.  Students today, no matter what age, are connected to technology of one form or another.  Implementing new tools in the classroom just makes sense, as it makes learning more engaging and motivating.



Solomon, G. & Schrum, L. (2010). Web 2.0 how-to for educators. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education. (2011). Retrieved from

INDT 501 Using sticky notes

March 3rd, 2013

This week we played around with a website called Wallwisher that I was unfamiliar with.  I had never heard of this website, nor  was I familiar with online sticky notes.  I think this is a very innovative way to have students collaborate with one another, become active participants in class discussions, and provide feedback to other students or teachers. I created two different walls this week. One wall was a student friendly wall, (, where the students would create text to text connections or text to self connections based on the book Freckle Juice that we read aloud in class.  I think the students would really respond to this technique of writing since it does not require paper/pencil writing and incorporates technology that the students really enjoy using. The second wall I created was more of a colleague friendly wall, (,  where I created sticky notes based on the blogs I like to read most. Colleagues and classmates are able to add to this wall by creating a sticky note stating one or more of their favorite blogs. I know as a classroom teacher there are many sites I follow on a daily basis; most educational and some personal.

When reading Chapter six in Using Inquiry in the Classroom, I felt that online sticky notes could absolutely be incorporated when completing a web inquiry activity. Coffman states that “the idea is for students to use data from the Internet to help answer questions,” (pg. 98).  Using Wallwisher the students would be able to put the information they found on the Internet in one central location and would be able to refer back that wall and sticky notes easily. This could be a great way to engage and motivate students as they conduct research and find out new information.


Coffman. T. (2013). Using inquiry in the classroom: Developing creative thinkers and information literatestudents. (2nd Ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education.







INDT 501 #6 Flipping a Classroom

February 24th, 2013

21st century learning integrates technology into daily learning. Flipping classrooms seems to be an innovative way to engage, motivate, and challenge students in their learning. When creating a flipped classroom teachers create videos that introduce a new concept or skill that the students watch on their computer outside of class. Rather than sitting in class spending the majority of the time listening to lecture, the “lecture” is transferred to a video. This method allows the students to process the information outside of class, at their own pace. Time in class is then spent questioning and making meaning of the students’ learning. Application of concepts and skills occurs in the classroom instead of applying skills/content at home via homework assignments. Flipped classrooms allow for activities, projects, and papers to be completed in class, more collaboration, and project based learning. Flipped classrooms also incorporate 21st century literacies as they prepare students for higher education and real world application by allowing them to work collaboratively, challenge their thinking, and take responsibility for their own learning (Kirch, 2012).

When reading the flipped classroom infographic, I found it interesting that, as a result of flipped classrooms, the percentages of students failing core subjects at Clintondale High School decreased over time, as did the number of discipline issues. Although this is not a method of teaching I would incorporate into my first grade classroom, I do see the benefits of a flipped classroom, especially in middle and high school. I think this type of blended classroom would address the diverse student learners in schools.

When thinking about downfalls to a flipped classroom, time comes to mind, although time is something teachers always wish they had more of. Initially, it would take time to create the videos introducing the concepts and skills; however teachers spend many hours designing lessons regardless of the method of delivery.  Videos would most likely need to be recreated yearly, due to the fact that no two groups of students are alike. Delivery of instruction would need to be differentiated when considering the specific needs of the students.  On the other hand, when thinking about best practices for students, is this really a downfall? I find this concept very interesting and would be very interested in seeing this type of blended classroom firsthand.



Kirch, C. (2012, April 5). Critics of the flipped classroom. www.flippingwithkirch.blogspot. Retrieved from

The flipped classroom infographic: A new method of teaching is turning the traditional classroom on its heads. (2011). Retrieved from


INDT 501 Reflection Post #5 Creating a Video

February 17th, 2013


This week I worked on using Animoto to create a music video to use to introduce a science concept to my first grade students. Soon we will be learning about the parts of a plant and their jobs. As I looked at my curriculum map and what I will be teaching in the upcoming months, I wanted to choose something I knew I would be able to find many engaging pictures that would really depict exactly what I wanted to get across to the students in the video. “Goals and objectives need to be identified, lesson plans developed, quality resources found, and a big idea question developed.” (Coffman, p. 49). I chose Science SOL 1.4 to use with this assignment. Key concepts for this objective include what plants need to grow and survive and the basic parts of a plant.  Using a music video to introduce this concept will be very engaging and motivating for my first graders, as well as appealing to the eye. When teaching first grade everything must be engaging to keep their attention and get them interested in the topic. Students are connected to technology in many ways these days, first graders included. Through various technology tools, such as Animoto, teachers can increase the engagement factor of all students in their class.

This assignment was very interesting and fun for me. I had never used this program before and found it quite exciting that, at the same time I was learning how to create my music video, the fifth graders at my school were learning how to use this program to create book report projects using this very same tool. I observed a 5th grade class as they were working on their projects and the level of engagement was amazing. Every student was thoroughly engaged in his/her book project, asking very specific questions when they needed assistance. When designing lessons, I think teachers need to incorporate more technology as a way of supplementing or changing traditional teaching methods. Coffman, 2013, states that learning objectives must be taken into consideration when designing lessons in order to create meaningful and engaging learning experiences for all children.

Personal Learning Network

After only 5 weeks into this class I feel as though I have learned so much. Setting up Google Reader has proven to be quite the timesaver, as I now have all of the teaching blogs I regularly follow in one place. It makes is so much easier to have the websites in one centralized location.

Opening a Twitter account was new for me. I did not previously have a Twitter account and am still playing around with it to get myself acclimated to all of its features. I did enjoy reading Chapter 2 in Web 2.0 to get a little more insight on Twitter. Currently on my Twitter account I am following several education sites, as well as a few personal sites just for fun. According to Solomon and Schrum, 2010, “Twitter has become a personal tool for educators to connect with one another to get advice or share information quickly” (pg. 35).
I think using Twitter as a technology tool in the classroom could be a great way for students to respond to literature and/or discussion questions, even though responses are written in short statements. This could prove to be beneficial for those reluctant students who shy away from participating orally in class. Using Twitter to respond and discuss could prove to be a means of motivating students since the majority of them use some form of technology on a daily basis, especially adolescents. As a first grade teacher I can honestly say that this is not a tool that I would personally use with 6 year olds; however I can see the validity and usefulness with adolescents in middle and high school.


Coffman, T. (2013). Using Inquiry in the classroom: Developing creative thinkers and information literate students (2nd ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

Solomon, G., & Schrum, L. (2010). Web 2.0: How-to for educators. International Society for Technology in Education.





INDT 501 Reflection #4 Information Literacy and Creativity

February 10th, 2013

The goal of every educator should be to develop skills necessary for their students to be information literate. Students must be explicitly taught critical thinking and problem solving skills, as well as be able to observe them being modeled so they will be able to apply these skills to their everyday life.

Creating a google search engine this week was quite interesting. Although I teach first graders who are only 6 and 7 years old, I do believe they will be able to access and utilize this search tool later in the school year when they begin to research reptiles and mammals. Many sites I found were very kid friendly, yet will allow the students to search, manipulate information, and most importantly think critically and creatively (Coffman, 2013). Critically thinking about the information they searched  allows students to “move beyond just memorizing the facts” (Coffman, p.36).

In order for educators to prepare students to be information literate when leaving school, teachers must spend time modeling, practicing, and applying these critical skills necessary for student success.

As I began to search topics of interest using Technorati, I came across several good blog sites related to my search. I started searching for blogs related to elementary education which led me to On this blog you can find many freebies related to primary education, as well as links to other teacher’s blogs. One interesting post I read and commented on ( centered around PicMonkey, which is free photo editing site. I found this interesting since we had just dabbled with iPiccy in class last week.

When searching for elementary literacy blogs, I found several sites that discussed specific picture books for teaching specific skills or content, such as African-American history and inferencing. Lastly I searched “early literacy” and was lead to I found quite a few of activities related to first grade curriculum and content that I will most likely revisit at a later date.


Coffman, T.  (2013). Using inquiry in the classroom: Developing creative thinkers and information literate students (2nd ed.).  Plymouth, UK: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

Lundy, M. (2007). Two Tutorials for You. Retrieved from





INDT 501 Reflection #3 Copyright

February 3rd, 2013

Looking for images that were permissible to use really opened my eyes to what exactly was acceptable under the copyright rules. As a classroom teacher I use google images frequently to search for specific clip art pictures. I do make sure that when I am searching for something specific I look for free clip art images.  After reading through the specific categories stated in Creative Commons ( I realized the importance of clearly understanding what images can and cannot be shared and/or used. In this digital age, many teachers are assigning projects that use technology. Students need to be explicitly taught fair usage and copyright rules. It is way too easy to copy and paste an image onto a document without regards to where it came from and whether they have permission to use this somewhere other than where it was originally intended.  According to Coffman, 2013, “incorporating images, maps, and video allows you to begin modeling best practices.” It is the teachers’ responsibility to model and teach these best practices when expecting their students to abide by copyright rules.


When searching for a famous building in Washington D.C. I searched in Google Images, using the advanced search. I selected free to use and share under the usage rights category. This led me to an image of the Lincoln Memorial from; a photo by Michael McDonough. According to the categories stated in Creative Commons, this photograph is free to share, provided it is for non-commercial purposes and that it is not altered or built upon.

Finding this image was quite easy; however determining whether or not is was free to share took a little more investigating. Incorporating technology into the classroom is becoming more and more common. As stated before, it is the responsibility of the classroom teachers to model and teach what is acceptable use and what is not. Technology can be used to help students become aware of copyright laws. (Coffman, 2013).


Coffman, T.  (2013). Using inquiry in the classroom: Developing creative thinkers and information literate students (2nd ed.).  Plymouth, UK: Rowman & Littlefield Education

McDonough, M. (Photographer). (2006). Lincoln Memorial[digital photograph], Retrieved February 3, 2013, from



Reflection #2 21st Century Skills vs. Core Knowledge

January 27th, 2013

The debate in the article,”What to learn: ‘core knowledge’ or ’21st-century skills’?“, centered around whether memorization of facts/information is necessary due to the amount of technology we have at our fingertips today. Others argue that technology is not needed because direct instruction is the way for students to learn. I see validity to both sides of this debate; however as a primary grade teacher I do feel that there are basic skills that do need to be directly taught and memorized. Automaticity with basic math facts is crucial to developing higher level math skills. Children need to commit basic sight words to memory as well. In order to develop reading fluency and comprehension these words need to be memorized to be successful readers. After creating and establishing solid foundations with these skills, various technology tools can be used to enhance student learning through inquiry learning and higher order thinking skills, such as analyzing, evaluating, and synthesizing within core knowledge instruction (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2011).

Inquiry learning ensures that students are applying the information learned and are becoming actively engaged in their learning through observations, analyzations, and synthesizing information (Coffman, 2013). Inquiry learning, whether it be individually or collaborative, will elicit higher level thinking skills which are critical in 21st century learning.

As a classroom teacher, I feel it is important to integrate both core knowledge skills and inquiry learning into the curriculum.  There are specific skills and objectives that must be directly taught, but giving the students the opportunities to be engaged in their learning in a variety of ways, as well as opportunities to practice those higher level skills as they relate to Bloom’s Taxonomy will help the students as they further their education. This can be done through collaboration, interactive white board lessons, and individual student projects.  The Standards of Learning tests have become more rigorous and are now requiring the students to think more critically when answering questions. Beginning at an early age learning can be a combination of core knowledge and inquiry based learning, with both having equally important roles in student achievement.


Coffman, T. (2013). Using inquiry in the classroom: developing creative thinkers and information literate students. (2nd ed). Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Education.

Partnership for 21st century skills. (2011). Retrieved from

Toppo, G.  (2009, March 5).  What to learn:  ’Core knowledge’ or ’21st-century skills’.  USA Today.  Retrieved from



INDT 501 Reflection 1

January 21st, 2013

The 21st century is definitely the digital age.  Children are growing surrounded by technology.  Just watching my ten year olds grasp new technology and devices so quickly amazes my husband and me.  Even my three year old niece knows how to manipulate an iPad.  With that being said, it is extremely important that schools and educators keep up with the new technologies that are out there.

Many classrooms are equipped with a smart board, as well as several computers.  Teachers have access to laptop carts in which students can use various programs to complete different tasks in the classroom.  Depending on the school and the amount of monies that are earmarked for technology, some classrooms have access to iPads and/or iPod touches. Using these, children are able to do many things that otherwise would have been done with paper and pencil.  Children are able to do various word study activities using different apps on the iPad, which would fall under Active Learning on the Technology Integration Matrix, as well as using the Spelling City website to practice weekly spelling words, which also falls under Active Learning.

Interactive white boards provide many hands on learning opportunities in the classroom. Students can work collaboratively to complete venn diagrams, tables, and a variety of sorts. Whole group lessons actively engage the children in using technology as a learning tool to engage them in learning.

When looking at the Technology Integration Matrix, I found a middle school language arts lesson that I thought was a great idea, but had me raising an eyebrow due to the fact that it required students to complete homework assignments using and online tool called Moodle, in which the students were to access discussions and respond to specific questions at home.  While I see the benefit of this, I have to question if it is completely fair to ask this of all children.  Yes, it does allow those children who typically do not speak up in class a place to really voice their opinions and thoughts, but what happens to those children who come from homes that cannot afford a computer or do not have access to the technology needed to complete these assignments?

Many of the children in my school do not have access to technology in their homes, therefore we really try to give them many opportunities in the classroom. Smart board activities occur daily, ranging from calendar activities to word study practice.  Both of these activities would fall in the Active Learning -Adaptation Level on the Integration Matrix.


The technology integreation matrix. (2011-2013). Florida.


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