Redefining Learning

I began teaching just 2 years ago, in August of 2012. A week before school began, my department chair gave me a brand new iPad. The science department had just completed a new textbook adoption, and iPads for each of the teachers was one of the perks. I was excited to have it but didn’t have the slightest idea as to how I wanted to use the device in my classroom. The quickly paced transitional teaching program I’d completed to earn my licensure had not really covered the idea of technology integration into the classroom.

During that first year, I didn’t use my iPad much. I felt like I was doing everything I could to keep my head above water and didn’t have time to really explore. Our district was in the process of implementing its 1:1 technology plan, but it wasn’t in full effect. They were also beginning their new teacher evaluation program, so teacher development days spent a lot of time discussing that rather than technology.

This past year was the turning point, somewhat. All of the junior high teachers received iPads from the district if they did not have them already, and they encouraged us to find and share ideas to put them into use in the classroom. Professional development had more of a focus around the 1:1 program, but I didn’t really begin to feel confident about the idea of it all until taking this course. I’m so happy that I did.

I’ve always supported the idea of technology use in the classroom. This week opened my eyes a little to the other side of the argument. Teaching in a 1:1 district, all you ever really hear is how important technology is. The Waldorf schools probably caught my attention the most. The hands-on learning experience that they provide appears very effective, but I also couldn’t help but feel that it was dated. I would argue that there is a time and place for technology in the classroom- it isn’t ALWAYS welcome, but it is necessary.

21st century technical skills are essential for the 21st century because technology continues to change. Our teaching methods have to change with it. If we want our students to be successful in their futures, we have to not only teach them HOW to properly use technology but also show them WHY this use is important, giving them purpose and motivation. We have to encourage them to think critically, something we’ve always done, but from a technical standpoint. Teacher student relationships should be the number one priority in the classroom, and I’ll spend the first few weeks of each school year building those. But I also can’t wait to incorporate technology once that foundation has been laid.

Check out the digital story below on what I believe is the 21st century classroom.

The 21st Century Classroom


Digital Toolbox Showcase

Hello again!

I thought this week was a lot of fun. As we get closer and closer to the start of school this fall I’m loving this course even more! I feel a little more confident with my knowledge each week, and it was no different the past few days learning about SAMR. In the past, I’ve always been checking out different iPad apps that I can see using in the classroom, but I realize now that I’ve been going about it a little wrong. I’ve never thought about the difference between “enhancement” and “transformation” when considering the use of an app for myself and students.

Because I’m a science nerd, I used the SECTIONS model as a guide but instead twisted it around to better fit my needs and thoughts. I ultimately created the SCIENCE criteria model that I hope to use in my planning this fall ūüôā

S is for SKILLS.
What skills are my students developing through use of this app?
Are these skills transferable and preparing them for the future?

C is for COST.
Is the app free to use?
Are there any in-app costs and how frequently do these appear?

How much class time will be used to introduce and teach students how to use this app?
How much time outside of class must be spent to learn how to use the app?

E is for EASE OF USE.
Can this app be used on multiple devices in addition to the iPad?
Can students and parents login from home locations?

Does this promote a productive change to my teaching and bring something new and different to the classroom?
Will the new app motivate and engage students?

Does the app provide communication opportunities for students to share ideas?
Does the app support peer and instructor communication/collaboration?

Is this app ideal for use in educational settings?
Does the app align with the educational standards and objectives used in this class?

Here is a pinterest board that shows different apps that I feel have met the SCIENCE test.

Digital Citizenship

I found this week’s topic to be so interesting because it really opened my eyes to what it MEANS to be a digital citizen. I use technology all the time, and I am careful in the ways that I use it as I understand nearly ANYONE can see my posts and activity, but the way that digital citizenship was presented this week caused me to think about it a little differently.

As a middle school teacher, bullying and cyber-bullying are very real issues that we hope to prevent. Introducing technology to the classroom can make this hard to avoid because we are actively giving students the technological resources they would need in order to engage in these wrongful behaviors. Digital Etiquette, the 5th element of digital citizenship described here, is so important to teach our students to ensure that they are respectful and supportive in their digital communities.

Here is a sample presentation I constructed to reach out to parents as we cross into this new digital era involving iPad use in our classrooms.


Digital Divide

Prior to this week, the digital divide was something that I’d heard of, but I’d never given it a lot of thought or consideration. I was lucky enough to have internet access as early as the 4th or 5th grade. It was dial up, and I couldn’t connect if a family member was on the phone, but it was easily accessible with a little bit of planning and time management. Because I’d always had access, the digital divide was out of sight, out of mind as far as being a concern in my life.

Even in my experience teaching, I see very little of what I believed to be a “digital divide” among students. The majority, or nearly all, of my students not only have cell phones, but iPhones. A large portion of them have tablets. Most have computers, although a select few may have to use a parent’s work computer, or their home computer is temporarily under repair.

I hadn’t really thought of a divide as far as HOW the technology is being used, or for what purpose. I see people with internet access on phones, and I assume they have all they need. I really should have known that this is not the case, as I spent a month last summer where my sole internet access was through my phone. My husband (then fianc√©) and I were only going to be in one city for 4 weeks, and we thought we’d save a couple bucks by NOT setting up internet. This eventually backfired, because I ended up taking my laptop to Starbucks every other day to work as my phone couldn’t handle everything I needed it to. I ultimately spent more in the end on overpriced (although delicious) coffee and increased cell phone data charges. Lesson learned.

It was a temporary situation for me, but this week’s readings have reminded me that those conditions are a daily struggle for so many others. Internet access alone isn’t enough. It’s come to the point where we need multiple technologies, like a combination of mobile phones and computers, to gain the opportunity of real success in our careers and daily lives. This week’s readings were humbling, to say the least. I’ve been so guilty of being caught up in the hustle and bustle of my daily life that I haven’t considered or noticed real issues that many people still deal with on a day to day basis.

For more information on the digital divide and how it continues to change with technology, check out our class presentation here.

New Literacies for 21st Century Learners

Hello again!

As I’ve mentioned before, my school is implementing its 1:1 technology program. iPads for everyone! As an educator, I’ve been playing around with apps and ways to use these bad boys in my classroom next fall. To me, prior to this week of readings, THAT’S what 21st Century Learning meant.. Bringing technology into the classroom. I’ve been so busy looking for ways to teach WITH technology that I have failed to realize that teaching ABOUT the technology is equally important!

I expect my students to be little scientists. I expect them to ask questions and think critically about science. I expect them to express their creativity and innovations. And, until recently, I expected them to use technology to do all of this. I still do, but now I realize after reading Dawn of the New Literacies that I need to get them to not only ask critical questions about science, but also of the technologies they use in their everyday lives! This way, they can continue to transfer their skills from one subject to the next.

In order to create 21st century learners in the classroom, we don’t have to change everything we’re doing, even though the technology continues to change. New Literacies Everyday Practices and Social Learning describes this new movement as more of a “transcendence” where “elements of an earlier state of affairs are carried over and reshaped to become parts of new considerations.” Take your best tools from yesterday and combine them with the technological tools of today. Keep lessons relevant and students engaged. THAT is what 21st Century Learners are made of ūüôā

Here you can find my visual representation of 21st Century Educators, Learners, and Skills. Enjoy!

Hello, Hello!

I’m Cait McKee, and I teach junior high in Fishers, IN.

I earned my undergrad degree in Biology from IUB in May 2010 and then went back to Bloomington in April 2011 to complete their Secondary Transition to Teaching program. I’m now pursuing a master’s degree in Secondary Education and just wrapped up my second year of teaching at Hamilton Southeastern Junior High. Go panthers.

This is my FIRST blogging experience, so please bear with me, but I’m excited to work at it!

Our school district is well into implementing its 1:1 program, and while our students at the junior high don’t quite have their iPads yet, EVERYONE is excited and looking for new ways to incorporate and use this technology in the classroom. I don’t know that I’m really able to call myself “techy,” but I can generally get the hang of things. When it comes to using technology in the classroom, however, I feel a little lost and overwhelmed at where to begin. I’m really looking forward to all that I can gain from this course! ¬†The¬†two books I’ve selected to help me out along the way¬†are¬†The Connected Educator¬†(2011, Nussbaum-Beach), and¬†Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World¬†(2012, Wagner). ¬†I had a tough time deciding, but in the end these two won me over. ¬†Mostly I judged two books by their covers, but I like that Wagner introduces real life examples of innovation not only in the classroom but the workplace as well, and in The Connected Educator they discuss¬†the technological “tool” of social media, which my students are all over these days.

A little more about me- I teach 8th Grade Science and Honors Biology, so I’m a total science nerd. I’m a newlywed as of October, but unfortunately have spent VERY little time with my new husband until recently. He plays baseball, and shortly after being married on the 19th last year he left for winter ball in the Dominican Republic. We got a few weeks together in January before he left again for Spring Training in February. It’s been quite a year so far, but it’s finally SUMMER so I get to bop around with him for a couple months. ¬†Last week I drove out to Norfolk, VA with the best traveling partner ever, our beloved Gordon Setter pup, Walter. Pics to come. Possibly too many pics to come, so I’ll apologize now for any future Walter overloads on the blog.


Very excited to get to know everyone this summer!