School Environment Evaluation

 When I found out the next assignment was going to involve an evaluation process, I immediately went back to my career in the Navy.  Evaluations are the key to success of every command.  Although dreaded, they provide valuable feedback on ways to improve, procedures to change, and new ideas to implement.  Evaluating technology in a school environment is very similar. Since this is a private school, many variables affect budgeting and planning.  Student enrollment is the greatest factor to consider.  The goal of the school is to increase student numbers so that each classroom has at least 24 students.  Due to difficult economic times, student enrollment has dropped dramatically over the past seven years.  Planning and budgeting is difficult with decreasing student population and increasing operating costs.

Twelve years ago, the school was awarded a very substantial grant to be used for the purchase of technology in the classroom.  This could have been the opportunity of a lifetime for such a small school.  Unfortunately, the purchase was made and that was it.  Maintenance is done on an as needed basis and the school is operating on Office 2003.  As the desktop computers began to wear out, the school purchased refurbished replacements and relies heavily on donations from local businesses who are upgrading.  It is very difficult for one person to maintain such a large number of computers when it is one of several responsibilities in the school but it must be done if the teachers are going to fully utilize what is available.


 At Shetland Sheepdog Elementary (SSE), the student enrollment is approximately 130 in grades K-6.  The school is not culturally diverse and there are no English Second Language students currently enrolled.  A number of tuition scholarships are awarded annually to students whose financial situation would not normally allow them to attend SSE.  Approximately 15% of the students are from single parent homes.

Maturity Model Benchmark Filters:


This assignment was truly an eye opening experience.   After reviewing my findings, I would classify this institution at the Islands Stage of the Technology Maturity Benchmarks.  I believe the available resources are actively utilized although not always to the fullest.  It is my hope that existing technology can be upgraded and increased opportunities provided for the students and teachers.

Additionally, I would like to require all teachers at this school to complete a Maturity Benchmarks Survey.  Once the survey is completed, compile it into one comprehensive document to be analyzed. It would be most interesting to see their opinion of where this school stands and their vision of the future.   Finally, present the findings to the staff and begin an open dialogue of how they view the use of technology in their classroom in the future.

Artifact 1 – Blogging in the Classroom


Providing our students with various opportunities to experience technology is imperative.  Unfortunately many teachers view technology as an additional burden and one not necessarily worth pursuing.  Although I am still learning and will continue to learn, I have decided to expose my 4th graders to as much as I possibly can as I learn new skills and approaches to education.  Blogging in the classroom is one way I hope to achieve this.


The objectives for this artifact are:

  •  students will be able to summarize at least three events that occurred during their day through descriptive writing.
  • students will be able to write about their perspective on a given discussion topic using applied writing conventions.
  • students will be able to demonstrate their knowledge of keyboarding by posting three entries weekly.

Lesson Plan:

All Saints Catholic School

Blogging in the Classroom

Grade Level

  • 3-6


  • Technology
  • English/Language Arts

Time Frame

  • 30 minutes (This lesson plans is suitable for instructing teachers how to integrate blogging in the classroom also.)

Common Core State Standards

  • W.CCR.2 – Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
  • W.CCR.3 – Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and sell-structured event sequences.
  • W.CCR.4 – Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • W.CCR.6 – Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

Brief Description

  • Blogging in the classroom provides students with an opportunity to publish their thoughts online.


  • students will be able to summarize at least three events that occurred during their day through descriptive writing
  • students will be able to write about their perspective on a given discussion topic using applied writing conventions
  • students will be able to demonstrate their knowledge of keyboarding by posting three entries weekly


  • blog
  • online publishing
  • post
  • discussion

Materials Needed

  • Student access to a word processing program such as Microsoft Word, Google drive
  • Smartboard or type of projection equipment
  • Teacher access to the internet

Suggested MaterialTitle:

Teach Yourself Visually, WordPress (Second Edition)

Author:  Janet Majure

Date: 2012

Publisher:  Wiley

ISBN:  978-1-118-19787-5

Lesson Plan

Check for background knowledge by asking if anyone has ever heard of the term “blog” and what it means.

A blog is a Web site on which an individual or group of uses record opinions, information, etc, on a regular basis.   “Each entry in a blog is known as a post, and the usual presentation of posts is with the newest entry at the top of the screen.  Post is also what you do.  That is, you post a new post to your blog.”  (Definition is from Teach Yourself Visually, WordPress)

Provide several examples of blogs for the students to view and ask them to write down the differences they see.  Explain that blogging has many different uses.  For staff members, point out the following possible uses:

  1.  Share materials, news, downloads, links, and more
  2. Facilitate online discussions and collaboration
  3. Create a class publication that students can easily publish to and that can be easily edited
  4. Replace class newsletter and stay in touch with parents about what is going on in class
  5. Allow students to blog so they can share their work and thought
  6. Share lesson plans
  7. Integrate videos, podcasts, and other media
  8. Get feedback or gather information

On the Smartboard, walk the students through existing classroom blog.  Point out the chronological order of the posts and where comments can be inserted.  Students will be shown where editing posts occurs and how to publish their work.

To check for understanding, students will each write down three events that occurred the previous day in their composition journals.  Provide the students with an example to follow.  Posts should be kept short and to the point.  Collect the journals and ensure each student understands the assignment.  Make corrections as necessary.

Return composition journals, draw sticks, and have the students begin to post their thoughts.  Initially, the posts will take longer since keyboarding skills are not as developed.  As the year progresses, posts will take less time.  Allow at least 7-10 minutes per post.  This may sound terribly time consuming but is worth the investment.  Students will take pride in ownership of their blog.


  • Students will be assessed on their ability to
    • draft and post timely entries to the classroom blog
    • use proper writing conventions
    • describe classroom events using vivid writing


After initially learning how to use WordPress and many mistakes later, I created a small blog for my students and their families.  It started out as comments about what we were doing in the classroom and then I decided the children needed ownership.  I then created another aspect in which the students vote on a discussion topic.  Once this is decided, I have students post their view points to the discussion topic.  I have only had time to post one discussion topic however we have voted on a new topic and it will be posted when we return after spring break.

A number of my students follow the blog at home but I have not received any comments from the parents.  I do not know if this is because they do not know about it or are uninterested.  My goal is to have the students and their families actively participate in our blog.  This would not only provide the students with an authentic experience in blogging but also share with the parents something they might not be aware of.  To view our blog, please go to .


Jackson, L.  (2012).  Blogging? it’s elementary, my dear watson.   Education World.  Retrieved from

Walsh, K. (2009).  Blogging in (and out of) the classroom.  Emerging EdTech.  Retrieved from