Welcome to my blog fellow ETEC 674 students. I look forward to learning a lot from each other as we work together in this course. As you can see, I began using this blog for the ETEC 648 class last quarter and I have decided to continue using it because I like the idea of it being a portfolio that I will be able to refer back to after this class is over without having to find my posts on Blackboard. My name is Griselda Caudill and I have taught sixth grade for the past seven years for Riverside Unified School District. Prior to that, I taught fifth grade and fifth/sixth grade combination classes for seven years, so I have now been in the classroom for a total of fourteen years. I feel lucky to have grown up during a time when digital technology was just beginning to make an appearance in schools. I remember when our fifth grade class received our first Apple computer in 1989, and it was the first time I had ever used a computer in the classroom. As I read Robert Reiser’s article, “A History of Instructional Design and Technology: Part I: A History of Instructional Media,” I realized that technology had existed in the classroom far before that Mac appeared in my classroom, but computers and digital technologies have impacted my education and the education of my students in ways that watching a videocassette simply could not.
As a new teacher, I was fortunate to work for RUSD because it has always been a pioneer of integrating the use of technology in the classroom. I have had a smart board, a laptop, an LCD projector, and a document camera as standard tools in my classroom for as long as I can remember. Better yet, the district wrote grants that focused on training teachers on the best teaching practices, rather than just how to use the technology. I think that has been valuable because of the fact that the technologies that are available to us are constantly changing and evolving, but good teaching is still good teaching. I have noticed that in the classes that I have taken during the four quarters that I have completed in the Instructional Technology Masters Program the focus has not been on the specific tools, but on the best practices of teaching online classes. I am thankful for that because I can find a tutorial on how to use any website, app, or LMS, but I do need to learn what works and what doesn’t work when teaching online since I have never taught a class online. What I have learned has transferred over to my teaching even though I teach my sixth graders face-to-face. I have limited the number of tools I use with them so that they are not overwhelmed, and I am learning that breaking large projects such as National History Day projects and science fair projects might turn out better if I broke them down into more manageable parts for my students.
Before I began the Masters program at CSUSB, I had not taken any online courses through a university. However, I had taken a few classes online through my district for an Advanced GATE Certificate. Our district GATE coordinator broke the classes into sessions and had us post in discussion boards. Since then, I have taken hybrid and online classes for this program. I have learned that some professors that are not part of the program have not necessarily learned the best practices for teaching online courses. Those classes have been confusing and have taken a lot of effort to figure out where important documents are located, or even what was due when. I have used Blackboard in all of my courses, and many of my classes have relied heavily on the Blackboard discussion board as a way for students to interact with other students, and for the instructor to interact with students as well. One professor required us to use Skype. Another class used Blackboard Collaborate to meet with the entire class synchronously. It was an interesting tool because it allowed everyone to view the professor, ask questions using the microphone, and to have a chat with the class at the same time. I have interacted with my classmates on the Blackboard discussion boards and on our blogs in ETEC 648. I have used Google Apps to complete work with a group. I find that for group work, using group texts is a quick and easy way for us to communicate and using Google Docs to actually complete the assignment synchronously has been great because we can take advantage of the chat feature to ask each other questions.
I am taking this class because I feel that having an e-Learning certificate will be important for me in my teaching career as I think about what I want to do with the rest of my career. Even if I just stay in the regular classroom, having the ability to flip my classroom now that I have all the right tools will be a great advantage. I look forward to learning how to take some of the Common Core State Standards that I teach and creating an online course for my students. I want to create modules that I can share with other sixth grade teachers.