Blog #1: Engaging Students for a New School Year

August 31, 2013

There are several experiences from my years in grade school and college that will influence how I engage with my students in my future classroom during the first week to create a community of learners. I’ve also talked to many teachers who have given me pointers about the beginning of the school years.

One bit of advice that a teacher friend recently mentioned to me was to never smile before winter break. Wow! That sounds a bit harsh. The teacher that told me about this is probably one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met so it really surprised me that she said something like that. I guess I gave her a surprised look because she went into an explanation about the motto. It basically means that for the first bit of school, teachers should be firm and stand their ground with students so that they understand their limitations. It actually makes a lot of sense to me probably because I had a similar experience with a teacher during high school.

My very first high school English class scared me. I walked in on the first day and although I can’t remember exactly what the teacher said, she pretty much told all of us students that she would throw away our papers if they didn’t have 1 inch margins, Times New Roman font, and perfectly constructed MLA format papers. I don’t think she ever threw away a paper all year; it was definitely a scare tactic.

I don’t believe that I will scare my students on the first day. Nonetheless, I do think that setting up a classroom management plan before the first day of class is important. Rules and regulations are important for a classroom and students need to understand these rules. However, I want to set up a warm and welcoming environment for my students. During my grade school years, I remember my teachers making us introduce ourselves but I don’t remember them sharing their life experiences with the class. It wasn’t until I reached college that professors began explaining their history, experiences, goals, and mistakes with the class. I remember my grade school teachers being very guarded about their lives outside of school.

When I become a teacher I would like to introduce myself and explain my journey. Although some students may be bored and seriously not care about my past, I feel as though others will understand that I am a person too instead of someone in an ivory tower.

Categories: EDCI 506.

Week One: Technology Matrix

August 29, 2013

The Technology Integration Matrix seemed very intimidating when I first looked at it. However, once I watched all the videos for the language arts discipline I started to understand how the terms relate to one another. I am particularly fond of the authentic learning attribute of learning because I believe this style can help students apply their knowledge and therefore retain the information for the long run.

I actually had a pretty exciting experience as a substitute teacher last year. I subbed during a school wide project based learning presentation fair. At Southeastern Alternative School in Fauquier county one of the requirements for students is that they create one project that demonstrates what they have learned throughout the year. The principal was so kind as to allow me to visit the fair during the day. I had worked at the school throughout the year so I had watched the students in various stages of the projects.

One particular assignment that I really enjoyed was a project in which an eighth grade student used his love of video games to understand statistics and the scientific method. For his project, he had students volunteer to play video games while listening to different genres of music to see if the music impacted their ability to play games. Volunteers listened to country, rock, rap, or no music. He tried to make a correlation between the number of kills students made in a game and the music that was playing. He used an mp3 player and Xbox gaming system. I believe this would fall into the authentic-transformation. The student used technology to link what he learned in the classroom (scientific method- independent and dependent variables, etc.) to his interest in video games. This is an example of transformation because his use of technology was self-directed but his teacher served as a mentor to help him along the way.

One particular example that I found compelling was the language arts authentic-transformation Video Game Design ( I think I enjoyed this video because I have an experience with the use of video games in the classroom. I understand how beneficial it can be to help students that may be struggling to understand material. This lesson is authentic because it allows students to create a story and use technology in order to make a video game. It affords students the opportunity to explore key concepts, such as main character, while doing something that is related to the real world, gaming. It can be considered transformation because students use technology to build on the storytelling abilities. It is self-led and the teacher acts to facilitate the students learning while helping them produce a game about their story.

A video that I was skeptical about would be the language arts authentic-entry phonics game ( My skepticism may stem from the fact that there is a lack of information about the technology used,, within the presentation. I understand that technology is being used as entry. This means that students are learning their phonics for the first time so the teacher will theoretically go over the phonics lesson with the students after they have completed the lesson. However, I think I’m just a little skeptical of teachers using technology to introduce a topic to students for the first time. Technology can be a helpful warm up for students to get their feet wet in a subject but the technology used in this lesson doesn’t seem to be guided by the instructor but rather by a computer. It seems a little cold to me. I prefer lessons in which the teacher introduces a topic then gives students time to explore the topic using technology.

Florida Center for Instructional Technologies (2011). The Technology Integration Matrix. Retrieved          from

Grant, M. (2002). Getting a grip on project-based learning: theory, cases and recommendations. Meridian: A Middle School Computer Technologies Journal, 5(1). Retrieved from


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