In Jason Perez’s article, “Taking the Doors Off the Classroom Through Collaboration,” he discusses the idea of isolation which is definitely not foreign to me. I have always been one to “hide” in a sense and shut out others who would no doubt be helpful in my self-improvement. This is just how it is being the introverted and kind of hard-headed person I am. However, I know that to be successful as an educator I HAVE to let them in. I want to be the best I can be, so letting down my barriers is a must-do when I become a teacher.
One thing I want to point out is how Perez explains that teachers often come together to vent, and chit-chat about things that are not actually helpful in improving one’s practice. This will never be an issue for me (at least that is what I think) because I tend to not engage in small-talk – I’m not much of a complainer… At least I don’t think I am. So, when Perez says that educators need “Collaboration with a purpose”, I fully understand where he is coming from.
I really like how Perez lays out collaboration as a four-step process: Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing. That forming portion, of which Perez claims is the easiest stage, I think is actually one of the hardest. When it comes to first developing relationships with others, I struggle. This because I am adamant about sharing things about myself. Getting past the initial meet-and-greets and the getting-to-know each other phases has always been hard for me. But once the relationship is established, I flourish. This is how it has always been and I imagine it will always be this way. It kind of worries me.
The step of Storming comes next, and this one is less of an issue. I never have minded receiving feedback from others. I always am open to new ideas, but am careful to take them on. I’m hard-headed in that regard. However, I am not defensive. I love to receive feedback. Thus, once I develop that relationship with a team of educators, I don’t imagine I will have any issues with the collaboration aspect. This is what Perez means by “Norming” – the improvement of the relationship with your team, and the willingness to let them in at any time in order to improve.
Performing is the last stage, and Perez leaves it a little unclear as to what he means is supposed to take place in this stage. Perhaps I missed it? From my understanding, I believe he is saying that it is simply the final stage when everyone is entirely comfortable with the collaboration process between members of a team. I really do look forward to having a quality team of which we can all share ideas, concerns, criticisms, etc. in an open and very accepting environment. I hope that this is how it is in my first years of teaching… Lord knows I would have a very difficult time if this were to fail. Let’s not let that happen.
For this final evaluation of a technological software that can be integrated into the curriculum to substitute, augment, modify or redefine (SAMR) a teacher’s instructional approach, I will be examining the diagram creation tool known as SmartDraw. However, this time around, I will be examining this software through the lens of the Facilitator – an educator standard presented by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). Below are the educator standards for the Facilitator:
The goal for this post is to show how SmartDraw can possibly align with these ISTE standards, and how the SAMR Model might be used with the program. What will also be shown is the variety of ways the program can be used, and an in-depth look at how I used the program for my own purposes.
SmartDraw is extremely interactive and fairly easy program to use. The opportunity for creation is seemingly endless. SmartDraw allows its users to create a variety of diagrams that might include, but are not limited to: flowcharts, organization charts, web/mind maps, business visuals, CAD and drafting documents, blueprints, flyers, landscape designs, infographics, geographical maps, and timelines.
In terms of the ISTE’s Facilitator standards, SmartDraw could easily allow for students to take ownership of their learning. The program offers users a variety of different schema, designs and products to fit anyone’s style. The program is virtually hands-on in its entirety, allowing for a sort-of field experience when it comes to designing professional documents. In Section 2: Teaching with Technology, the Office of Educational Technology explains that “to create an engaging and relevant lesson that requires students to use content knowledge and critical thinking skills, an educator might ask students to solve a community problem by using technology.” Through SmartDraw students might create a public service announcement for a problem within their school, their community, or even a larger sphere. The learning opportunities that the educator provides should obviously be challenging for students in order for them to be innovative in their designing and problem solving.
The SAMR Model is also something to take note of when thinking about implementing a form of technology within the curriculum (See the image below for a better understanding of the SAMR Model). As Kelly Walsh explains it, “The SAMR model provides a technique for moving through degrees of technology adoption to find more meaningful uses of technology in teaching and move away from simply using ‘tech for tech’s sake.’” In this sense, SmartDraw might be used as a substitute for any form of hand-crafted designs. If students were thinking about recreating a space found in a Shakespeare play, instead of drawing it, it might be more challenging for them to craft a blueprint instead. Or if students are reading Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, the teacher might present the history on a PowerPoint. However, SmartDraw may be a quality option of augmenting the need-to-know background information by allowing students to play with an interactive timeline that the teacher created in the program themselves. Similarly, the students might craft the timeline on their own after having learned the history through a PowerPoint. This would be an example of using SmartDraw to modify the lesson and achieve new goals. The opportunities for using SmartDraw as a means of adapting lessons are endless.
Since I am aiming to become an English teacher, SmartDraw could allow me to help students make connections across subject areas that would otherwise be over my head. Though, this is what technology should always do within the classroom:
The information available to educators through high-speed Internet means teachers do not have to be content experts across all possible subjects. By understanding how to help students access online information, engage in simulations of real-world events, and use technology to document their world, educators can help their students examine problems and think deeply about their learning. Using digital tools, they can help students create spaces to experiment, iterate, and take intellectual risks with all of the information they need at their fingertips. (Office of EdTech)
I have been using SmartDraw as an aid for artifact design in my CAPSTONE project. I wouldn’t have known where to begin in creating accurate depictions of the classrooms I substitute in. For the rest of the post, I am going to explain in depth my experience using this program and my overall thoughts about it. And for reference, take a peak at the screenshots below. I will be using them as visual aids.
Initially, I was unsure about the program. I mean, I’m not much when it comes to using technology, so I’m unsure of every tech tool when I first experiment with it. However, SmartDraw did end up growing on me. The program is free for only for a period of 7 days. Thus, if students were to use it they would either need to complete their projects within that time frame, or a full-version would be required. Its free to sign-up though. And all features are accessible in the trial period.
In Image #1 (displayed directly above), you can see my starting point in crafting a blueprint of a classroom. On the left-hand side is a variety of symbols that you can use. In Image #2, there is a better image of symbols showing what types of appliances, objects, furniture, etc. you might want to add to your blueprint. In Images #3 and #4 I am carefully designing a classroom using symbols of desks and chairs from a bird’s-eye-view perspective. The variety of symbols was astounding to me. You can even choose from hundreds of other symbols/categories by searching and downloading them within the program (as seen in Image #5).
Go ahead and save your work. Start a new document/project. And return back to old projects at any time. In Image #6 you can see that I have multiple projects saved, and I also backed them up to my Google Drive account for reassurance. When I was done with a blueprint, I would export it as a PDF, but many other options are available.
I honestly love this program. I feel like you could create anything and with so much detail. The interface is fairly easy to use, but it does take some getting used to. I would recommend educators to take advantage of the free-trial version of this program – all it takes is a quick sign-up. I am also considering paying for the full version in order to continue crafting more blueprints of classrooms for my CAPSTONE. If you would like to explore my blueprints as well as read my observations thus far, the project-page can be found here: Classroom Blueprints & Observations.