Scholar Post – Bridging the Digital Divide

This past semester has been extremely eye opening for me. I have learned so much about myself as an individual and as a future teacher. Going through the foundations block has truly been so rewarding for me, and I finally feel that I am truly where I belong. My favorite types of classes are ones that get me to think about topics that we discussed in class, outside of class and on my own time; and that’s exactly what the classes in the foundations block, especially educational psychology, did for me.

This course took more of a psychological approach (hence the name) to teaching, and since I am very interested in psychology as well as education, this course really hit home for me. Looking back over the semester, there were so many topics that we discussed in class that I found interesting. The topic that I liked the most, and wanted to learn more about, was the digital divide that is found in education. “The digital divide refers to the gap that exists between those with ready access to information and communication technology tools and those without such access or skills to enable access”(Naidoo 2012).  Many students in schools today “have limited access to technology at home or in their communities”(Woolfolk 430). This split in access to technology also adds to the definition of digital divide. It is astonishing to me that there is this much of a divide in access to technology and even more of a shock, are the affects this divide has on academic performance.

The digital divide in education has a tremendous impact on the academic achievement of students, but it has not always been this way. Before the emergence of technology in our society, the digital divide was referred to only as the separation among individuals with and without telephone access. By the 1990s however, the meaning of the term had changed. It was at that time that it began to be used to describe the division between individuals with and without internet access. The idea of the digital divide was changing with the times and since technology was getting more popular in society, it was only a matter of time before it started to take over education.

In society, the digital divide goes unnoticed for the most part. In education however, it is impossible to go unnoticed. According to recent studies and reports, the digital divide is still very much a reality today. In class, we were shown a keynote address given at the Internet Governance Forum by Lee Rainie, discussing the digital divide that exists in 2016. He explained that the digital divide is as large as it has ever been and will continue to get larger. In his keynote he explains that more than 85% of individuals in households that the average income is between $75,000 and $150,000+, have consistent access to some form of technology and/or internet access. Compared to less than 55% of individuals who have consistent access to technology, that come from households with an average incomes below $30,000. This shows how the digital divide is directly related to the achievement gap and in turn, academic performance.

Before I go any further here, I want to make one thing clear. I realize that there is a digital divide present in education and more often than not, students that suffer from this digital divide are also on the wrong side of the achievement gap. These facts are not lost on me. However, I believe that there are ways to close the achievement gap without handing out technology to every student. I think that by removing technology from the students possession, and the importance of it from the their minds, will only produce positive results and in turn close the digital divide. There is a place for technology in the classroom, and that is in the teachers possession. Technology should be used for instruction and student access to it, or lack thereof, should not determine academic performance.

Individuals who want to increase the amount of technology in the classroom in an effort to bridge the digital divide argue that technology improves literacy, democracy, social mobility, economic equality, and economic growth. “New technologies shape information, communication, and collaboration dynamics”(Radovanović 2015). However, others say that too much technology will only lead to problems. “Dealing with all of this stimulation might make children better at multitasking, but also worse at deeper thought processes such as developing perspective-taking skills and understanding the plot, theme, and sequence of the story”(Woolfolk 430).

Like I said, I am mostly against the use of technology in schools by the students. Of course this excludes the use of computers in a lab or projectors and smart boards to teach with. I have no problem with these types of technology, but technology that is given out to each of the individual students is where I draw the line. I mean I am a physical education major…what do you expect? Technology is killing the very principle I stand for. Besides that, giving each student a piece of technology to use opens so many opportunities for distraction.

I understand why it is present though. “Current legislative mandates, such as the No Child Left Behind Act, have increased the demand on school districts to provide every child with access to high-quality education and close the achievement gap”(Mouza 2008). Schools often think that the only way to close the achievement gap is to throw money and resources at the under preforming students. This sometimes works and there are great results when it does. In a study that “examined the implementation and outcomes of a laptop program initiative in a predominantly low-income, minority school” the results were amazing. “Results of the study revealed that in the hands of well prepared teachers, laptops enabled disadvantaged students to engage in powerful learning experiences”(Mouza 2008).

Unfortunately, after my time in class and the time I have spent further researching ways to bridge the digital divide, I am still torn on the issue. In class we talked about so many of the awesome resources educators have when it comes to using technology in the classroom and I would love to see them used to the fullest extent of their capabilities. I think technology has a place in the classroom, but like most things, it has to be used in moderation.



Woolfolk, A. (2014). Educational Psychology: Active Learning Edition. Pearson.

Rainie, L. (2016, July 14). Digital Divides 2016. Retrieved May 10, 2017, from

Mouza, C. (2008). Learning with Laptops: Implementation and Outcomes in an Urban, Under-Privileged School. Journal Of Research On Technology In Education, 40(4), 447-472.

Radovanović, D., Hogan, B., & Lalić, D. (2015). Overcoming digital divides in higher education: Digital literacy beyond Facebook. New Media & Society,17(10), 1733-1749. doi:10.1177/1461444815588323

Naidoo, S., & Raju, J. (2012). Impact of the digital divide on information literacy training in a higher education context. South African Journal Of Libraries & Information Science, 78(1), 34-44.



Final Reflections Blog Post – A Semester in Review

I have learned so much this semester. About both myself and the profession of teaching. At the beginning of the semester, I defined effective teaching as a teacher who is able to connect with students and take on the roles of a mentor, friend, parent/guardian and know the most appropriate time to be each role. Now at the end of the semester, my definition has not changed much. I still believe that this is what an effective teacher does day in and day out. There are a few things that I have added to this definition after going through the block this semester. For instance, effective teaching requires flexibility and the willingness to always be learning. Students teach teachers too and you can learn a lot from kids. Being open and realizing that the role of the teacher is forever changing is very important as well. Also, the importance of making personal connections with the students to be an effective teacher is second to none.

This video talks about what effective teachers do and what qualities they possess.

This course has helped me in so many ways, it is hard to just talk about a few. When it comes to the teacher standards that this course helped prepare me for, two of them stand out in particular. They are Teachers communicate well and Teachers know how to teach. Both of these standards include the use of technology in the classroom. Technology is a great resource for teachers to improve their connections with students and is also a way to communicate with students that they find exciting. Knowing how to effectively communicate, both verbally and nonverbally, with students is extremely important as a teacher; and this class has helped me improve my communication skills. This course also taught me multiple different instructional strategies; all of which encourage a students’ development of critical thinking, problem solving, and performance skills.

The most significant thing that I learned this semester is the method of backward design. Backward Design is a process that teachers can use to design learning experiences that begins with the objective. This objective is what students are expected to learn and/or be able to do at the end of the unit or course. The teacher then proceeds “backward” to create lessons that achieve those desired goals. I love this video from class and I think it explains backward design really well.

I think that backward design is the most significant and most valuable thing that I learned this year because of how it can be used in physical education. Backward design can’t only be used in physical education, but it should be used in order to set realistic goals. Not many instructional strategies translate well to P.E. but backward design definitely does.

Finally, I plan on continuing to use this blog to talk about my feelings towards education as I continue to move closer and closer to becoming a teacher. This blog truly helps me talk about the things I am going through and is a great stress reliever. I am also going to make my social media accounts look more professional. Not that there is anything on there right now that makes me look bad, but there are things I can do to market myself better in the eyes of a future employer and my future students.

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Module 5 Blog Post – Using Motivation

In the field of physical education, motivation is arguably the most important aspect when it comes to instructing the students. Sure, students need to be motivated in other classes as well, but the motivation necessary to get a student to run a mile is completely different than the motivation needed to get them to use proper grammar.

When it comes to motivation, one of the best ways to effectively design instruction is to use Backward Design. Backward Design is a process that teachers can use to design learning experiences that begins with the objective. This objective is what students are expected to learn and/or be able to do at the end of the unit or course. The teacher then proceeds “backward” to create lessons that achieve those desired goals. The Backward Design process is successful because it takes the end goal and just fills in the space, in whatever way necessary, to achieve said goal.

The Backward Design process was somewhat difficult for me to understand when I first learned about it. This video does an excellent job at visually explaining the process and showing why Backward Design can be so effective in any instructional situation.

In my future classroom, I believe I can use the Backward Design Process very effectively. Certain instructional strategies do not translate well when they are used in a physical education setting, but in the case of Backward Design, it is the complete opposite. Setting clear, achievable, and realistic goals when you introduce a new topic is extremely important in any case; and even more so in physical education. Take running a mile for example. If every single day when I talked to my class I told them to run two laps around the track (1/2 mile) as a warm up, they would do just that. They would run it as fast as they could just to get it done. Then when it was time to run the mile, they would be burned out at the end of the two laps because that is all they know how to do; that is all that their body is trained for. Instead, if I make it clear from the beginning that the end goal is to be able to run a mile, then the students will run the two laps with that mindset. They will save energy knowing that they will, at some point, have to run more.

There are countless examples in which Backward Design can be used in physical education. An article from the Online Physical Education Network (OPEN) described other ways that Backward Design can be used. “FITMAN is a variation on the game hangman, but with physical education vocabulary and less violence. The rules are simple; we buy letter guesses by doing a repetition for every open space in our word puzzle. You could do jumping jacks, arm curls, left-handed dribbles, etc.”

For my own lesson plan, I decided to do a flag football lesson. Here it is in more detail:


I designed my lesson using the Backward Design process. I first established the goals of the lesson. I wanted to make the desired results clear cut and realistic. I then moved into explaining the ways in which I will be assessing my students and what key criteria I will be on the look out for. Lastly, I devised a learning plan to explain why I chose flag football to teach those specific standards.

In stage one, I used Bloom’s Taxonomy to illustrate what the desired results of my lesson will be. Blooms Taxonomy is largely knowledge based. Therefore, after I established the goals in stage one, I then went on to list what knowledge the students will gain and what they will mentally and physically be capable of.

In stage 2, I included many different assessment strategies. It was in this stage that I was able to be more specific and solidify certain performance actions that I will be assessing on.

In stage 3, I concluded my lesson plan by showing how the standards and goals can be achieved with a lesson like flag football. Flag football is a team sport that uses many different complex motor skills. It is very easy to see skill development and skill application. I think flag football does a really nice job in demonstrating how it meets those standards.

I think that using the Backward Design process really helped me to create a thorough lesson plan. Making sure that the desired results are clear to the students gives them something to work towards. That is extreme important in physical education and a good way for the students to see themselves progressing.


Standards, Outcomes, and Fun! (n.d.). Retrieved April 24, 2017, from


Module 4 Blog Post – Dealing with Differences

Teaching to me is a really eye opening profession. The amount of differences you are exposed to as a teacher are second to none, and to me, that is what makes it such a rewarding career. There really are no other jobs that expose individuals to the amount of different situations and different people that  teachers have to encounter everyday. At most jobs, the only people you ever have differences with are your colleagues. Teachers have to face those same differences with their colleagues; and on top of that, they also have to deal with all the differences they have with their students.

In my future career as a teacher, I expect to encounter a lot of differences. Nobody is exactly the same as someone else and differences are present in all professions. It would be naïve of me to think that I could go my whole career and not experience anyone different than me. When it comes to differences between the people I am working with, I expect to encounter these when lesson planning with other teachers in my department. I have certain ideals and morals when it comes to how to teach material to kids and how to asses them. They are a little more traditional and strict than most other teachers and I think that when differences emerge, if at all, it will be here.

Differences with students will be much more common. There are so many different students I will be in contact with; all of whom come from different backgrounds, half of my job will be dealing with differences. The best way that I, as a teacher, can identify and plan for these individual and cultural differences between my students is to make myself vulnerable. By making myself vulnerable, I hope to show my students that it is okay to be yourself and let your guard down. As we saw from the videos A Girl Like Me, Killing Us Softly, and Jane Elliot Brown Eyes vs Blue Eyes; as a society we tend to put too much emphasis on looks, skin color, and gender. We judge people on things that cannot be changed. In all classes, including physical education, this can be detrimental to a students’ success. If you are not able to be yourself and step out of your comfort zone, you will never achieve anything. I hope that my students will look at me and view my class as a class where going above and beyond and stepping outside your comfort zone is not looked down upon, but encouraged.

The one difference I might encounter the most in my future teaching experience has to do with the importance of physical education. More and more we see physical education being de-emphasized and a lot of children believe it is not important. I think I will have a lot of moral differences with my students over this topic. When this difference arises, I plan to show my students how important physical fitness is to them long term and by trying hard now will benefit them greatly down the road. I think this difference is the most important one to overcome because my students need to know how important the things that I am teaching are. If they think that it is irrelevant, they will not learn anything and I will not be doing my job.

I know that this video is long, but it does a great job at showing how a teacher is able to discover the individual differences of each and every one of her students. The teachers says in the video that, “by systematically studying the differences in background, abilities and needs of the children in her room via observation, accumulative records, behavior journals, discussion with other teachers, parent interviews and staff conferences, she can teach all the children well”.


Videos – Learning How to Know Your StudentsA Girl Like MeKilling Us Softly, and Jane Elliott Brown Eyes vs Blue Eyes

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Module 3 Blog Post – Perspectives of Learning

Learning is defined as “the process through which experience causes permanent change in knowledge or behavior” (Woolfolk, 272). How people learn and retain information are most commonly divided into two perspectives. These perspectives try and help education professionals figure out the best approaches when it comes to teaching students. The two perspectives I will be talking about today is the behaviorist and cognitive approaches to learning.

The behaviorist approach is an explanation of learning that focuses on external events as the cause of changes in observable behavior (Woolfolk, 272). It claims that all behavior is determined by the environment either through association or reinforcement. The other perspective is the cognitive approach of learning. The cognitive approach focuses on the internal mental processes of acquiring, remembering, and using knowledge (Woolfolk, 312).

The best example I can use to explain these two approaches is wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle or skateboarding. When you see a child out and wearing a helmet, you usually don’t ever think twice about it. But what made them put a helmet on in the first place? Unfortunately, it probably wasn’t for safety reasons. Children learn what to do through their experiences. Behaviorist would say that the child learned to wear a helmet through association or reinforcement. They probably saw famous X-games athletes wearing helmets and winning medals and wanted to be just like them. On the other hand, the cognitive approach would say that children learn to wear a helmet for a different reason. They would say that after years of their parents nagging them to “always wear a helmet” when riding a bike or skateboard, they subconsciously put their helmet on because their brain associates the two activities together after years of hearing it.


This video is from Sarah O. Weiler who is an expert on teaching and learning approaches. It does a great job summarizing the differences between the behaviorism and cognitive approaches when it comes to education and learning.

As a future teacher, I will probably use both of these approaches. I think it is important to always have an open mind and be flexible when it comes to teaching. I do not want to make a decision of how I want to teach because I think that is unfair to my future students. I need to teach with an approach that will help all of my students and more likely than not, it will be some kind of combination of both the cognitive and behavioral approaches. I think it is important to combine teaching strategies that combine both mental processes and association. Not only will it help all the students no matter how they learn best, but it also acts as another way to reinforce the knowledge.



Woolfolk, A. (2014). Educational Psychology: Active Learning Edition. Pearson.



Module 2 Blog Post

Figuring out how individuals develop and construct knowledge is a burning question in all walks of life and is truly the key in the teaching of anything. If you can not figure out how people learn and retain information, no matter how well you teach a subject, no knowledge will be gained. General knowledge is most commonly defined as, “information that is useful in many different kinds of tasks; information that applies to many situations”. This is the most commonly accepted definition by society, however according to most researchers, knowledge is based on experiences. According to the cognitive approach, “one of the most important elements in the learning process is what the individual brings to new learning situations” (Woolfolk, A. (2014). Educational Psychology(12th ed.). S.l.: Pearson.). In other words, if you are learning about a subject and have prior experience in that subject, you are more likely to retain the information you learned.

This video shows how knowledge is developed and does a really good job explains cognitive development.

Knowledge is developed in many ways. In a school setting, students need to be able to make sense of new information in order to acquire new knowledge. They need to be able to relate it to something that is important to them. If they do not have this emotional attachment to the subject matter, nothing will be learned and no knowledge will be retained.

The developmental characteristics impact teaching and learning in many ways. Piaget, Vygotsky, and Erikson all provide some sort of guidelines and parameters regarding development and when the best time to teach is. Being able to know what your students enjoy and value can help my teaching greatly. I want my students to really grasp what I teach and respond positively. By knowing how to relate the subject matter to each student and by knowing what the most optimal time to teach what would be greatly beneficial for my students.

Growing up, my parents exhibited an authoritative parenting style. This type of parenting has both high control and high warmth. They set clear limits, enforce rules, and expect mature behavior. I think this style of parenting influenced my development in a positive way. It allowed me to be more independent from an early age and think for myself. I was never afraid of my parents getting mad at me or not being there to support me, so I took more chances in life and was not afraid of failing. My parents helped me think through the consequences of my actions and were comforting and did not really punish at all.

This style of parenting has its limitations as well. I was never really able to experience punishment or failure on my own which is not realistic in life. Punishment and failure often teach kids more than any other type of experience. I was never able to have those experiences and had to learn them on my own.


Module 1 Blog Post

The link between teaching and research is most often overlooked and assumed to not be connected whatsoever. However, in reality, quite the opposite is true. Research has a large influence on teaching as teaching does on research. Teachers can use data and findings of researchers to better themselves and their classrooms. Teachers can also be researchers because they can conduct their own research and reach out to researchers to broaden the data. This research stimulates conversation in the classroom and it gives the ‘why’ to the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. Teachers should be constantly learning inside and outside the classroom. Research is more quantitative and teaching is more qualitative; they both need each other to flourish. In the end, the eventual goal of research’s involvement in education is to “enable teachers, teacher educators, and institutions to make sound decisions about the educational activities and experiences that will best serve students”. (“Understanding the Relationship between Research and Teaching.” NCTE Comprehensive News. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Feb. 2017.)

In this video, Dr. Nick Grindle, does a nice job explaining the best ways of incorporating research into teaching and encouraging students to do their own research projects.

This resent growth and importance in the relationship between research and teaching means a lot to me and my future career. The more and more that research is being incorporated into teaching, the more I have to be prepared to conduct my own research, collect my own data, and be open to learning more about my students.

In the case of the teacher who decided to remove homework entirely; I like that idea too. There are things far more important in a young students life than homework. Spending time with family and playing games, eating, and reading together all have more positive effects for kids than homework does.

In my personal opinion, I think homework is necessary. Of course that is what I say now looking back on my years throughout school. When I was in high school and doing hours upon hours of homework every night, my thoughts were drastically different. However, as I reflect now, I believe homework is in fact important. I think homework reinforces the lessons covered during the school day and teaches the students responsibility and independence.

I believe it is necessary, but am all for reducing the amount. I think the amount of homework assigned in some schools is ridiculous. Homework effects students way more than just in the grade book. In a school where the seniors received an average of three hours of homework a night it was found that, “students who did more hours of homework experienced, ‘greater behavioral engagement in school but also more academic stress, physical health problems, and lack of balance in their lives’”(Galloway, M., Conner, J., & Pope, D. (2013). Nonacademic effects of homework in privileged, high-performing high schools. Journal Of Experimental Education, 81(4), 490-510. doi: 10.1080/00220973.2012.745469).

Beyond that, most of the homework assigned is just “busy work”. They are just assignments that teachers use to add more grades to the grade book. According to an article that explored the history of homework, it was stated that “homework is either manful or meaningless depending on the education system around it”(Watkins, P. J., & Stevens, D. W. (2013). The Goldilocks Dilemma: Homework policy creating a culture where simply good is just not good enough. Clearing House, 86(2), 80-85. doi:10.1080/00098655.2012.748642). It is proven that homework that is not content based hurts students more than it helps them.

Lastly, high schools are supposed to prepare kids for post secondary education and colleges look at a lot more than grades on homework. Students already say that they, “don’t have time” and that “there’s no point in doing homework”(Hinchey, P. (1996). Why kids say they don’t do homework. Clearing House, 69(4), 242.). Kids are constantly doing this busy work and have no time to make themselves better like join a club or other extracurricular activity. “…counselors, parents and college-admissions officers now urge students to start taking advanced-placement courses — often with a minimum of 90 minutes of homework a night — in junior year, as well as to start building a portfolio of extracurricular activities and community-service projects to bolster their applications”(Kaufman, J. (2008, May 24). High school’s worst year?; for ambitious teens, 11th grade becomes a marathon of tests, stress and sleepless nights. Wall Street Journal Retrieved from There just isn’t enough time for kids to do everything that colleges want from them, especially when given hours of seemingly useless homework.



My name is Sean Williams and I am from the Northwest suburbs of Chicago. I knew I wanted to go into professional education ever since the sixth grade. It was at that time that I had a few teachers that really impacted me (most positive and some negative) to become a teacher. It was not until my junior year of high school however, that I knew physical education was the career for me. I had a teacher who showed me how amazing P.E. class can be and how it is so much more than just a “boring old gym class”. He incorporated leadership, teamwork, and other life lessons into the class and made it the one single class I took in high school that truly prepared me for the real world. I hope to be exactly like him some day. Having the privilege to go back and teach high school students physical education is  a dream of mine.

A section in the reading really caught my eye when thinking about my own experiences with teachers. It is stated that  common sense says that, “Teachers should offer help often” because “lower-achieving students may not know when they need help”. The answer based on research however is the exact opposite. “…when teachers provide help before students ask, the students and others watching are more likely to conclude that the helped student does not have the ability to succeed” (Woolfolk, A. (2014). Educational Psychology(12th ed.). S.l.: Pearson.). The teachers that truly inspired me the most were the ones who let the students handle things on their own and would only interject if need be. The ones that follows the conclusion of the research.

In the scene from Ferris Bueller’s day off, the teacher stood in front of the class and spewed information. He used a monotone voice and did not change his inflection. He never once asked for input from the class and all the questions he asked were rhetorical and quickly answered by him. The teaching example from Dead Poets Society is quite the opposite. The teacher urges his students to engage with him and pushes them to think for themselves and develop their own opinions and feelings. He is constantly engaging his class and very rarely ever just spews information at them or even writes on the board. He tells his class to, “dare to strike out and find new ground”. Most teachers do not speak to their students like that and the teacher in the first video is about as far away from that as you can get. The second video is by far the more effective teaching strategy. The students respond to this style of teaching better and will most likely learn and retain more information that they learn in this class. The teacher has a personal relationship with each of the students that makes them feel comfortable to share about themselves and to open up to learning.

This video is a montage of what I think a teacher should look like. This shows coach Eric Taylor from the TV series Friday Night Lights. Coaches, like teachers, need to posses the same qualities to be successful. A coach who can inspire his players like this is something I dream of being. And the way he carries himself inside and outside of the game is the type of man I want to be.

A good teacher, in my opinion, encompasses many things. A teacher is a friend, a parent or guardian, and a mentor all in one. They are all these things and know when to be, and more importantly when not to be, each. They are knowledgeable about their field, but never satisfied. They are open to more learning and advancing their knowledge through their students as well as their colleagues.


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