Vincent Accardi Reflections

Reflection One: Describe how you align your teaching practices to the digital needs of your students. Describe your working relationships with peers and administrators regarding the school's digital needs. Provide examples of your concerns, frustrations, or the challenges you and your peers face in support of your school

I currently teach in a charter school in Co-Op City, Bronx NY. I am entering my second year as an 8th grade math teacher teaching in co-taught inclusive classrooms. Every classroom in the building is equipped with a desktop computer, 2 white boards, and a Smart board. And that is essentially the extent of the technology that we have. With that being said, I understand that may even be more than most school in the area, and just having a SMART board is actually very beneficial. As far as the day to day of my classroom procedures, technology has normally had a limited role in delivering instruction. I typically use the smart board as more of a projector than anything else, and I understand the major problem in that. I often encounter so many problems with calibration and connectivity issues that I typically just ditch the smart board and go back to the white board. When I contact the school tech guy, an outside consultant with another company, it takes days if not weeks to get the issue fixed, so I tend to get so frustrated that I just keep the smart board off, or again use it as a projector.

With that being said, near the end of last year my school got the OK to start a trial run of a software called IXL. This program is a common core aligned database of countless math problems for pre-k to 12th grade. This program requires all students to have their own computers, which fortunately is not a problem, as my school has a 2 chromebook carts with 30 laptops in each cart. As long as I book the cart ahead of time, I typically can get the computers with no problem. With in the program, I can assign specific student with very specific state standards and track all of their results and modify their work moving forward. This program was surprisingly easy to navigate and comprehend all of the data that it kicks out, which is a lot! It breaks down class results, individual results on each standard, growth within the standards, and it lets me and the student know when they reached mastery of the standard and that its time to move on. This program was certainly the technological highlight of last year. It sincerely helped me gain an insight as to exactly where all of my students land in terms of the standards that we are covering at any give times, even the scholars that never raise a hand in class where it is almost impossible to informally assess where they are, are now easily trackable with in the program.

Moving forward in my professional career as an educator, specifically after my experience in this class and program, I hope to make technology an integral part of my daily instruction and allow my decisions to be data based, and easily justified with the use of technology. In the future, I will be better equipped to make something out of nothing in terms of resources available in whatever setting or school district that I am, and further captivate my students attention with again the use of technology, and any and all online resources.

What philosophy of teaching and learning guides your uses of instructional technology? What strategies do you use for adjusting content or differentiating instruction based on student readiness? Standards: ISTE-C 1a

While I was working on wrapping up my undergraduate degree, I spent countless hours working on my teaching philosophy, resume and cover letter. These three pieces of paper would ultimately be revised more times than the United States Constitution. As for my teaching philosophy specifically, I truly did not have the slightest idea of what differentiated good from bad, and effective from useless. As I would eventually learn, the best teaching philosophy is one that can adapt and evolve to the new students each year. How can one piece of paper, unless terribly vague, accurately describe the best way to teach and learn with brand new children?

I remember in one of my early drafts, I had a clause about utilizing technology and having it help differentiate instruction, I had no idea what that meant, but I remember my coach enthusiastically approving of it, so I left it. Today, I know exactly what it means, and I am glad I added that part into my philosophy. I truly believe that my ability to quickly adapt and modify instruction based on data that I informally or formally obtained breaks me away as a teacher. Now I have always been good with organizing and making sense of numbers, but I am starting to really reap the benefits now. With the use of technology, even the simplest of which, such as Microsoft Excel, I make my classroom that much more relevant. By relevant, I mean that I can have my students see where they stand against their peers in real time, in categories such as classwork, homework, quizzes, assessments. (Each kid has their own personal ID number so I can post the whole list on my data wall without embarrassing anyone). My data wall is something that I am very proud of for many reasons. First, it allows the students the opportunity to constantly check how they stand personally, and how they stand in terms of their peers. Again, the students all have personal pins that correspond to a specific row of data in my table.

Having a data wall is just one simple way to keep the students aware of how they stand. But technology in the classroom means so much more than just analyzing data after instruction, but also how we instruct, and that is an aspect of the field where I need to improve. Technology is obviously an integral aspect of my instruction, but I understand that I can do a better job utilizing it in a way that reaches more students. I use tools such as Smart Board and the LadyBug/Projector on a daily basis, but also use tools such as Microsoft Excel, internet sites and graphing calculators often. As for what strategies I use for adjusting content or differentiating instruction based on student readiness, the simple answer is that, It depends. It depends on how many students are not understanding the fundamentals, how many students just cant duplicate the skill, how many simply are not on grade level. After informally checking my students with a poll, or walk by, I differentiate in a variety of ways. A simple re-teach might me the most effective strategy somedays, where as small group pull out by the special education teacher might be more effective in certain scenarios.

Describe your growth in technology use this semester. What are your plans to continue growth during the rest of your time at NYIT? What is your life long learning plan for your professional development post-graduation?

When I first started my masters, I was actually very disappointed with myself. I hated the fact that I was getting my masters in Instructional Technology, matter of fact, it made my skin crawl. During my under grad, I was very focused in my studies of mathematics, actually, I don't think that words can accurately describe how driven I was in my math classes. I did well in my other classes, but I felt that I could just turn on auto pilot and still get an A, without very much effort. I felt and still feel that many if not all of those courses were simply busy work, not furthering my understanding of teaching at all. My intentions all along were to obtain a perfect GPA in mathematics and hopefully turn it in to something. The only class that was mandated that was not mathematics, was Intro to Instructional Technology. I still remember my professor and everything that we did during the course. The material was borderline basic, but still very interesting and informative. Now, for full disclosure, my reason to get my math degree with certification in adolescent education was for a back up plan. The politics behind education always turned me off, my true love was always mathematics, it just turned out that I am a pretty decent teacher as well. I believe that my social skills and my ability to transform material into something interesting, attainable, and relevant makes me a perfect fit to be a teacher and nothing else.

Now to actually respond the post, I have definitely grown thus far in terms of technology literacy. I now have dozens of sites and resources in my belt that I have not had before, coupled with the ability to efficiently utilize these resources. My plans and intentions for this program are to get the most of my money. I am a big believer of the idea that if I am going to do something and it is worth doing, then it is worth doing right and to the best of my abilities. The reason that I mentioned that I was upset in choosing a masters in instructional technology, is that I always though that I was settling, and wasting my intelligence. I have never been more wrong. Teaching happens to be more challenging and interesting than any level of calculus or applied mathematics. I can’t believe that I just said that, but I truly believe it. Building connections and really growing and learning with these kids is one of the most rewarding feelings. I can make infinitely many connection and analogies to calculus and teaching but I will spare you the pain. But the frustrations that I face dealing with behavior or lack of motivation with the kids, matches perfectly with the satisfaction I receive when the kids achieve the “ah ha” moment. It is a beautiful balance and I can not be happier with my career choice. As for my plan to further utilize technology in my teaching philosophy, I am excited. I am excited to grow and adapt with the technology right along with my students, as it seems to be improving and changing at a seemingly uncontrollable pace. I do believe that this program is the right fit for me, and I am 100% confident that I made the right choice.