"Running Head INTEGRATIVE ESSAY - DOC"
Integrative Essay 1 Running Head: INTEGRATIVE ESSAY Integrative Essay Lucy Ann McLaughlin Walden University Technology, Leadership, and a Vision for the Future Dr. Rachel Bordelon August 13, 2008 Integrative Essay 2 Integrative Essay As I reflect on my personal growth over the course of my graduate studies, I truly am proud to have arrived at my present state of learning, and I am looking forward to sharing and expanding my new expertise with the students, faculty, and community members in my school district, as well as students and colleagues I can reach beyond our walls through technology resources I wear many hats in an environment that has been profoundly affected by an explosion of technology and information. I am a library media specialist, an instructor, a curriculum leader, an administrator, and a department chair advocating for 6 district libraries. I choose the Walden M.S. Program, Integrating Technology in the Classroom, to strengthen and gain new technology and leadership skills, to learn and apply new technology integration skills and strategies immediately to my own instructional environment as well as to help me increase personal productivity, and to share all new knowledge with fellow teachers and administrators. I fully expected the Walden program would compliment my present media program and help me provide new learning experiences that would encourage my students to become more skilled users and creators of information. I also expected to see an increase in my confidence level in dealing with students, parents, and administrators. I personally anticipated a self-reflective journey and challenging and exciting learning experiences through the Walden online interactive community that would espouse the principals of true collaboration. This has truly been a positive and rewarding journey filled with challenges, new ideas, and deeply rewarding personal fulfillment through self-exploration and collaboration. My learning at Walden has been grounded in the power of positive beliefs, collaboration, and my passion for constructivist educational models that incorporate contextual, authentic, Integrative Essay 3 brain-based, experiential, and cooperative learning principals. All of these models are student centered, honor and promote diversity through curriculum choice and assessment, and provide both teachers and student reflective and collaborative opportunities for learning. Here-to-fore my knowledge and affinity for authentic learning has met with success, yet was still in need of personal development. The core courses in the Walden program have given me the tools to make these models come alive. Previously, I had the ingredients – now I have the recipes, lovingly passed down by the finest educational chefs: Gardner and Jung, Costa and Kallich, Hanson and Silver, Leu and Thornburg, Strong and Schwartz, and the several educational icons that pioneered and contributed to the concepts that have inspired and empowered these fine educators. That fine list also includes all of my Walden forum colleagues who have shared their passions and expertise throughout this program. All of the Walden courses have impacted my learning and future practice. Simply phrased, I have learned the following: Technology combined with authentic learning opportunities that engage students on a personal level by providing diverse learning and assessment platforms, will significantly impact student learning and achievement. Critical thinking, collaboration, and self-reflection are essential to all learning and must be taught within the context of meaningful student –centered projects. Incorporating Jung’s personality type theory, Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory, and Costa’s Habits of Minds through various teaching styles and strategies that focus on the mastery, interpersonal, understanding, and self-expressive domains, will make the most powerful impact on teacher practice and student learning. This is the arena I have chosen for personal practice, learning, and continued growth. The following simple quote is from the article titled, Beliefs, taken from Teachers Mind Resources. “ People have choices when it comes to beliefs. Failure to periodically reexamine Integrative Essay 4 beliefs for their validity in the light of new information leads to habitual behavior – or as Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer calls it – mindlessness” (Yero, 2002). I used this quote in one of my early application assignments for the course, Teacher as Professional, regarding the power of positive belief. I have since made it a guideline to remind of the power of continual reflective practice. Through reflective essays, constant forum dialog which included a final insight component, Walden has also taught me the power of self-reflective practice by providing an excellent working model that helped guide meaningful personal reflection and critical thinking through examples and within context of the many new concepts and strategies presented weekly throughout the program. I feel confident I can further develop my own reflective practice, and translate this skill to help my students deepen their learning through self-reflective practice. Currently I am planning to team teach portfolio assessments for 9th grade. Walden has given me the confidence and inspiration to initiate this project. In general, the many models and strategies presented in this program have inspired positive belief, excitement, and commitment to further study and practice If one believes in these strategies and theorists (as I do) one is compelled to think critically, self-reflect, and expand curriculum and assessments to meet the unique needs of students, as well as share knowledge and expertise to inspire and encourage colleagues. Successful collaboration defines my role as an educational leader. Trust is essential for true collaboration to be effective. Colleagues need to know you are an expert that can meet their learning goals and standards, particular when venturing from traditional teacher centered models to authentic student centered learning models. Again, the Walden courses have given me the tools to better outline, plan, define roles, and explain new strategies that encourage teachers to shift from traditional projects and assessments. This year, I collaborated with the English department to explore the Webquest and Internet Workshop models to meet research and writing Integrative Essay 5 standards. I have also introduced a number of Web 2.0 ideas that we plan to pursue this fall. Infused with countless new strategies, excellent juried educator web resources, and online collegial collaboration opportunities, my leadership skills have been infused with new life and confidence. In additional to providing and expanding workshops within my district, I plan to reach out to parents by offering evening sessions to teach library media resources from my Webpages. This will allow parents to better help their children with all school assignments, particularly the Senior Project graduation requirement. The specialization courses have very much influenced my instructional decision making as I am now placing technology use in better context by using the curriculum to drive the technology integration. This is a goal I plan to meet through collaboration with the content teachers in my building. All of us need to better focus on technology enhancing the learning and contributing to the development of life-long learning skills. The several Internet models (Internet Workshop, Webquest, and Internet Inquiry) have also influenced my current planning as an instructional decisions maker as these models vary in task level and provide an excellent pathway to building research skills with increasing complexity. Knowledge of these models and their required skill levels will help me guide students from the lower level research skills to authentic inquiry. I have been a librarian for many years, but Walden has added the role of classroom researcher to my repertoire. The Collaborative Action Research course was a most empowering experience. My research focused on cooperative group research and alternative research projects and presentations. I had the great fortune and opportunity to test my theories on a 9th grade study skills class in collaboration with an English instructor and her student teacher. We have since Integrative Essay 6 shared the results of our project with the English faculty and have inspired two instructors to try our approach this fall. To conclude, I see all of these new and exciting concepts, theories, models, and learning strategies as ingredients for the finest gourmet meal that will awaken the taste buds of the brain to engage students in authentic information and technology literacy experiences. There are exotic new ingredients (Internet Workshop, Internet Project, Internet Inquiry, Webquests, and collaborative learning through Web 2.0) ready to be mixed and layered with the tried and true spices of Bloom’s Taxonomy, Costa’s habits, Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, and Jung’s Learning Types. They all meld so beautifully, combining and building layer upon layer of flavor, texture, and excitement. The success of the dish depends upon every single ingredient in the pot, the chef, the one wielding the whisk, the bakers, the kitchen helpers, and the diners. Everyone partakes, enjoys, learns, critiques, and creates additional dishes. Collaboration is integral to the whole process. Teachers with teachers, teachers with students, students with students, and students with teachers and experts. We all help each other facilitate the learning. Students need to see instructors learning, planning, solving problems, and being inspired by each other’s ideas and strategies. What a great way to model collaboration procedures and behavior. It is also necessary that student see how their thoughts are valuable and often inspire teachers, as well as their peers. I have learned that technology and the Internet offer rich opportunities for students to reach out and contribute their ideas and data, allowing them to become integral parts of large and diverse projects. Once students have a taste of a rich, sumptuous, delightful project, they surely will ask for more. Integrative Essay 7 References Yero, J.L. (2002). Beliefs. In Teacher’s Mind Resources. Retrieved January 26, 2007, from http://www.tearchersmind.com/beliefs2.htm