Week 7 Reflection

Over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to create and revise a GAME plan for teaching. After reading about problem based learning, authentic learning experiences and new kinds of technology integration, I have gained new experiences about lesson and assignment planning and development.  Creating a GAME plan allows me to clearly set goals for learning, put steps into action, monitor student progress and evaluate the success of the plan and extend student learning if possible (Cennamo, Ross & Ertmer, 2009).  The use of a GAME plan also allows me to easily integrate both Common Core ELA Reading and Writing Standards as well as ISTE Standards for students.
I am happy with the three different GAME plans I developed during this course.  I chose two different classes I am currently teaching and created lesson plans that meet both Common Core Reading and Writing Standards.  As my school moves towards Standards Based Assessment and Reporting, the more often I am able to connect CC ELA Standards to work I am currently doing with students, the easier it will be to meet this mandate.  The use of the GAME plan model allowed me to be organized and to create a solid foundation for implementation.  I would not revise any of the plans I created.  They were purposeful and authentic learning experiences that also afforded students the opportunity to work with Web 2.0 tools and to meet ISTE Standards as well.
One way I think the GAME plan model will benefit students is if they complete their own GAME plan for an assignment.  For example, if I present them with a long term project, setting up a GAME plan will help them to complete the assignment.  The idea of setting goals, taking action, monitoring progress and evaluating one’s success is also a good habit for self-directed learners.
As a result of this course, I will adjust my instructional practice to include more problem based learning and to include more authentic learning experiences.  These are not difficult to implement, nor do they need to be huge in scope.  “An authentic learning environment is engaging for students because the content and context of learning are accepted by the student as relevant to his or her needs and deemed by the teacher as simulating life beyond the classroom” (Callison & Lamb, 2004, p.34).  Having students take ownership of and investigate a modern and real world issue allows them to see the relevance of learning outside of the walls of the classroom.
Because of the lack of technology in my school, I will have to be judicious about the collaboration and digital storytelling tools I ask students to use in order to be fair to them.  Such tools must be web based, and students must be able to access the internet during school hours.  Once my freshmen are issued their iPads in January, I will be able to integrate more collaboration with those courses.  However, I will not be able to do the same for my upperclassmen unless we receive one laptop cart per classroom.  Right now my entire department has less than 20 to share.  Such a shortfall makes technology integration difficult, to say the least.
But the use of the GAME plan has made aligning Common Core Standards and ISTE Standards easier.  As a result of this course, I will plan my lessons differently making sure that whatever goal I have set for my students connects to the standards now adopted by nearly all fifty states.  In addition, my plans must also provide students with opportunities to use technology tools in their learning, especially since mastery of these tools are likely to be required in the workplace.

References
Callison, D., & Lamb, A. (2004). Authentic learning. School Library Media Activities   Monthly, 21(4), 34-39.
Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach. (Laureate Education, Inc., Custom ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

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Week Four: GAME Plan Update

So far my GAME plan is coming along nicely.  I have created an account with Edmodo and two separate groups for each of my freshmen classes.  Edmodo is a “service [which] gives educators an online space to interact with students in a social learning environment, sharing content and assignments and allowing classes to interact through moderated discussions. It also provides a social network for educators to connect with each other and exchange lesson plans and other educational content” (Schiller, 2011, p. 34).  I have contacted another colleague who has used Edmodo to discuss her experience with the site, so that I can trouble shoot problems in advance.  The project I have chosen to use with this site is to create several ongoing threads in response to prompts for the novel, Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson.  The novel chronicles the freshman year of the protagonist, who is recovering from trauma.  So far, I have reviewed the different activities I have used for this novel in the past, and I have either rephrased some discussion questions or written new ones entirely.  I have decided that, as the book is broken into four “Marking Periods,” my students will post a total of eight times, twice each “Marking Period.”  They will also have to respond to at least one of their classmates’ posts as well.

I do not believe that I will have to modify my action plan at all.  This lesson and this technology fit well with the two standards I have chosen, Technology Operations and Concepts and Planning and Designing Learning Environments and Experiences.  This is new technology for me as a teacher.  I have shied away from using the real Facebook because my students are so immersed in it, and do not always use it appropriately.  However, since they seem to like the format and will understand what it means to “post and update” or “respond to a thread,” then this may prove a worthwhile means of expanding the class discussion.  In addition, computer conferencing increases the options for participation and “can be an effective support for the development of creative thinking skills” (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009, p. 71).  Incorporating online threaded discussions allows students an easier means of participating and provides them with the opportunity to really think about a response and not blurt out an answer (Cennamo, Ross & Ertmer, 2009).  As they will undoubtedly face threaded discussions in college courses, it is worthwhile for me to introduce this format to them now.  “As students enter college, their familiarity with social media could mean that integrating new technology into the class- room is not just a novel feature but an essential aspect of curricula” (Schiller, 2011, 35).  This is a learning environment and experience they will most definitely encounter again in the future.

Thus far, I have learned how to set up a group in Edmodo and have looked into the different open groups they have, for example one devoted to Language Arts topics.  I know how to post an update and how to have my students join the correct group.  I have also learned that an internet based project will hold my students’ interests.  Once they are issued their iPads in January, I will ask them to download the Edmodo app, that is, if this project goes well.  That will give them quicker access to the site.

I have several new questions, some which cannot be answered until after this project is complete.  Will this kind of a project help my students to look more closely at the literature they are reading?  Will they pay more attention to literary elements if they know they will have to post work their classmates will read?  Will they be more engaged?  Is the number of times I am  requiring for their participation enough?  Too little?  My last questions revolve around assessment.  There are have several school-wide rubrics were are required to use.  Certainly one of them will align with this project, so they will be my first choice for assessing their work.  But these rubrics do not convert to a grade.  How many points will this be worth?  How do I gauge appropriate participation?  Should I take only aspects of the school-wide rubric, add elements of my won, and use that one instead?  Should I attempt a Standards Based grade, as that is the direction of the entire country?

I am anxious to begin this project as I like to try new technology each year.  Also, as any teacher does, I like to see my students truly engaged in their work.  Last year, I was successful with several projects.  Hopefully, I will be with this one as well.  I welcome any answers to my questions and any suggestions that will help the success of this project.

References

Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful    classroom use: A standards-based approach. (Laureate Education, Inc., Custom ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Schiller, K. (2011). High-tech classrooms. Information Today, 28(8), 34-35.

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Week Three Blog Post: Continuing the GAME Plan

In order to carry out my GAME Plan, that of focusing on two technology standards, Technology Operations and Concepts, and Planning and Designing Learning Environments and Experiences, I will need to rely on several resources.  The first will be consistent access to technology in my classroom.  As this week’s program notes, “technology allows us to meet the needs of diverse learners” (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009).  Though my school is very supportive of technology, it has not always made the best decisions regarding technology purchases.  We do not have one to one computing, so I am going to have to be discriminating regarding the kinds of technology I can reasonably incorporate.  In a perfect world, all my students would have Macs with all the same applications.  However, that’s is not the case.  As a result, I like to look for web-based activities instead.  Because there are so many different web-based tools available, a second resource I will need is to work collaboratively with other teachers in my school.  My Tech Integrator is a wealth of information, but there are also several other teachers who are either in Master’s programs as I am, or who happen to love tech and are always looking for a new tool.  Certainly we can work together not only to locate new tools, but also to determine how these tools can best be utilized.  Finally, I will continue to expand my learning through reading, as I have always done.  The school routes different professional journals my way, and I am also on the email list to several sites.  In addition, I am still following several professional blogs and Twitter feeds from previous Walden courses.  All of these resources help me to meet both standards.
Additionally, I will need information about my students regarding the kinds of tools I use and their varying learning styles.  “some technologies do a great job of ‘leveling the playing field’ for students with different abilities, needs or preferences” (Cennamo, Ross, and Ertmer, 2009, p. 110).  I would like involve my students in the choices I make.  They may have used some of these tools in other classes, and they could have very valuable opinions and insight.  For example, I have asked my freshmen to use Quizlet for their vocabulary words.  I like this site and have found that it is helpful for students.  They can learn the material, test themselves, and challenge each other through several different games.  One nice element of Quizlet is that it has an audio component.  The computer reads the words and definitions.  This helpful for those with difficulty focusing or with visual impairment.  This is a site recommended by previous students, and I use it now based on their recommendations.  Also, I will need to know what my students are like as learners.  Do they prefer to create something in their learning? Do they learn more from creating an artifact, something they can share?  Voice Threads and Prezis are two such web-based tools that allow for this.  Lastly, I would like to know if my students prefer group work or to work on their own.  As I have high school students with sometimes hectic schedules, group work for them is not always a plus.  It is more stressful to find the time to coordinate than it is to work alone.  However, there are several web-based tools, like wikis, that allow students to work together, yet from remote locations.  This may work out well.
So far I have been able to take several steps.  Firstly, I have looked into Edmodo as a tool, but they are having some site difficulties and I have not been able to create an account yet.  However, I have heard wonderful things about this site.  Secondly, I have revised some lesson plans to include the use of blog posts with my American Lit classes, and I have had a meeting with my Tech Integrator to discuss other technology possibilities for different classes.  Finally, my department has begun collaboration regarding Common Core and Standards based Education.  As a result of these discussions, we have looked at all of our course offerings and have begun to streamline our lessons and assessments.  These discussions, though at early stages, have already been fruitful and we have begun to talk about using more technology in our plans.  Our freshmen will be issued iPads in January, and that has opened up numerous possibilities for both teaching and learning.
Learning about technology concepts and operations as well as planning and designing effective and authentic learning experiences is not a task that ever ends.  It is an ongoing process that requires teachers to change their perspectives, move outside of their comfort levels, and bring their understandings about teaching and learning into the digital world.  I happily welcome any suggestions that will help me to improve as a teacher and meet the needs of the diverse learners in my classroom.

References
Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful   classroom use: A standards-based approach. (Laureate Education, Inc., Custom ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Integrating technology across the content areas. Baltimore, MD: Author.

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Week 2 Application

One of the benefits of teaching is that teachers also get to be students.  We wish for our students to be self-directed, life-long learners, and, because of the changing nature of education, we have to take steps to be the same.  We must set goals for ourselves and then put a plan into motion.  One area that requires consistent professional development, and therefore goal-setting, is the inclusion of technology in the classroom.  Because technology is constantly evolving, teachers have to take steps to learn new tools and new methods.  “Strategic learners begin the goal-setting process by analyzing the task at hand.  Strategic learners also consider what they already know that can be useful in obtaining their new learning goals” (Cennamo, Ross, and Ertmer, 2009, p. 85).  The ISTE National Education Technology Standards and Performance Indicators for Teachers provides teachers a foundation from which to gauge their confidence and proficiency with technology inclusion.  I have selected two indicators upon which to focus.

The first indicator I would like to focus on is Technology Operations and Concepts.  While I do believe that I am quite knowledgeable about technology and what kinds to use in my plans, I am fully aware that there is much more available to me and, I would like to explore new options each year.  My students are growing up in a digital world, and I did not.  I have had to train myself to look at technology as part of my plans and not as a special project.  Technology inclusion should become the norm for me, not something unique.  “Teachers who use technology in the classroom find ways to use it as a pedagogical tool that supports their beliefs about teaching and learning.  But for teachers to use technology in support of their learning, and to see it as a pedagogically useful tool, they must be confident and competent with the technology they are planning to use” (Topper, 2004, p.304).  Fortunately, my schools greatly advocates the use of technology and encourages teachers to explore new options.

The second indicator I have chosen to focus on is Planning and Designing Learning Environments and Experiences.  Simply knowing that certain technology is available is not enough.  Simply telling students to use KeyNote or Prezi is not enough.  I have to be sure to develop plans and assessments that allow students to use technology to learn content, not just to show the class a final product.  At the same time, students need to become more and more familiar and proficient in certain technology skills as they will be necessary in the work place.  “It is apparent that with the acceleration in the pace of technological innovation and saturation in society, skills such as problem solving, synthesizing information, and communicating via technology are essential for today’s students” (Barron, Kemker, Harmes, and Kalaydjian, 2004, p. 489).  Whatever I plan and implement can’t be technology for technology’s sake; my plans need to be purposeful for not only my classroom but also beyond it.

In order to achieve these goals, I will take several steps.  Firstly, I will include what I have learned throughout this program in my lesson plans, and I will work with others in my school.  I have felt very grateful that this program has allowed us the chance to try new technologies, to experiment with new tools, and to share our results with others.  My department is very supportive, and we try never to reinvent the wheel.  We share successful plans regularly, and as my school moves towards Standards Based Assessment, we will be aligning our curriculum more all year.  We will clearly be using the same activities, and I intend to share the plans I have implemented .  Secondly, I have joined my school’s Technology Team, which meets twice a month.  It is led by the district’s Technology Coordinator, and during these meeting he addresses issues teachers have encountered and tries to answer questions that have arisen.  In addition, teachers also share success stories.  Participation in this group seems a logical step in my GAME plan.

I can monitor my progress through monthly or unit check-ups.  That is, I can make sure I am using some kind of technology in at least one of my classes each month.  The technology tool does not need to be complex, nor does the project need to be huge, but I would like to make sure I am using both new technology as well as some with which I am already familiar.

Finally, I can evaluate my progress by reviewing my lesson plans each month.  I can reflect on them, determine which technology helped my students learn content, which helped them to show what they have learned, and which allowed them to practice important technology skills.  Likewise, I can also evaluate what did not work well and what changes I would need to make.  I would like to keep track of how many different kinds of technology opportunities I am able to incorporate.  Surveying students is also in my plans.  I’d like to know what worked for them, what didn’t, and whether or not they have any suggestions.  In many cases, they are more tech-savvy than their teachers.  Including them in the discussion could prove enlightening.

References
Barron, A. E., Kemker, K., Harmes, C., & Kalaydjian, K. (2003). Large-scale research study on technology in K-12 schools: Technology integration as it relates to the national technology standards. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 35(4), 489-507.

Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach. (Laureate Education, Inc., Custom ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

International Society for Technology in Education. (2008). National education standards for teachers (NETS-T). Retrieved from  http://www.iste.org/Libraries/PDFs/NETS_for_Teachers_2008_EN.sflb.ashx

Topper, A. (2004). How are we doing? using self-assessment to measure changing teacher technology literacy within a graduate educational technology program. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 12(3), 303-317.

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Reflection

Personal Learning Theory: Part Two
Week 7 Reflection
Over the duration of this course, I have had an opportunity to revisit my personal theory on learning.  I have been able to re-acquaint myself with the many ways in which students learn and the many different strategies there are to present information to my classes.  Despite the various readings and activities of this course, I am still a strong proponent of Constructionist/Constructivist, Social and Cognitive Learning Theories.  I employ strategies in keeping with all three strategies on a regular basis.

 
This course has deepened my knowledge and understanding of learning theories and the use of educational technologies in many ways.  Firstly, I continue to be amazed by how much technology is available; there is more than I ever thought possible.  Even something as common as aspects of a word processing program are excellent teaching tools.  We are so used to working with word processing that we overlook even some simple elements like charts, advanced organizers, and spreadsheets.  Secondly, this course has allowed me time to look more critically at the technology that I do choose, and it is has confirmed that the handouts I give to my students are worthwhile.  Sometimes my students have complained that I give out too many handouts, and I have been questioning their purposefulness.  However, I do know that being able to properly summarize content, organize new ideas into a schematic, and highlight key concepts are helpful tools for creating connections in students’ minds.  “Learning is the action of making and strengthening connections” (Laureate Education Inc., 2011b).  Advanced organizers help students do just that.

 
One immediate adjustment I will make to my instructional practice regarding technology integration as a result of my learning in this course is to consider what kind of learning tools I am employing with each lesson or activity and to vary them.  I tend to favor the Cognitive Learning Theory and accompanying learning strategies as I make great use of advanced organizers, and I have discussion questions for every work of literature I teach.  “A well designed advance organizer is thought to provide a template that facilitates storage and later retrieval of information” (Thompson, 1998, p. 625).  In addition, I favor the Social Learning Theory.  I am constantly putting kids into groups and trying to get them to engage in conversations about literature and literary devices.  As I feel I have these two theories and the accompanying tech tools pretty well down pat, I would like to make some changes in the future to the tech tools I use.

 
The first tech tool I would like to use is a Keynote presentation.  I would like to assign students several key literary devices and have them develop a presentation in which they teach the rest of the class about these devices.  Palvio’s dual coding hypothesis (Laureate Education Inc., 2011a) states that all information is stored in our brains in two ways, as images and as text.  In order to build strong connections, I must use employ this idea more often.  The second tool is a Voice Thread.  I just love this idea, and I am anxious to see how it will work in my classroom.  Both these tools will support an enhance my students’ learning.  Firstly, the students will be presenting their work to others.  This dynamic always makes students work harder and do their best.  Secondly, they will be creating a purposeful artifact.  “Students use tools and technology to create artifacts in order to resolve dis-equilibration” (Laureate Education Inc., 2011c).  Creating a meaningful artifact helps students make sense of new content and move information into long-term memory.  Thirdly, they will be using technology that they are either familiar with or is very user friendly.  The focus can be on the learning of content and not the learning of the tech.  My repertoire of tech tools has expanded because I do not currently use these tools.

 
As I enter the second half of my teaching career, I would like to add more and more tech into my classroom practice each year.  One long-term goal I have is to re-evaluate ALL my units and to see where I can add in purposeful technology as both teaching and learning tools.  I can accomplish this at the end of each unit if I take the time to reflect on the activities I had students complete or I can spend some time in the summer looking over my plans.  A second long-term goal I have is to focus on technology that allows students to learn beyond the walls of the classroom.  I would like to research more web-based options as the laptops at school and the applications in them are not reliable.  It does no good to have students work on a project if the tech is more trouble than it is worth.  My district’s Technology Integrator is a wealth of information.  Continuing a dialogue with him and with other members of the faculty is certainly a positive way to find more tools to use.  In addition, I will continue to read tech blogs that I have been following for a while.

 
I have truly enjoyed this class, as I have all my courses.  As always, I have developed more tools for my practice and have a rejuvenated sense of purpose in my classroom.  I hope to continue this work long after I have concluded this program.

References
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer.) (2011a). Program five. Cognitive Learning Theory. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011b). Program one: Understanding the brain Bridging learning theory,  instruction and technology. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer.) (2011c). Program seven. Constructionist/ Constructivist  Learning Theory. Bridging learning theory,     instruction and technology. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Thompson, D. N. (1998). Using advance organizers to facilitate reading comprehension among older adults. Educational Gerontology, 24(7), 625.

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Voice Thread

Here is the link to my Voice Thread.  Thanks.

http://voicethread.com/share/2667990/

Rachel

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Social Learning Theory

Social learning theory asserts that students learn from working with and among others, that “when students work in cooperative groups, they make sense of, or construct meaning for, new knowledge by interacting with others” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007, p. 139).  There are several instructional strategies that help students become prepared “for the fast-paced, virtual workplace they will inherit” (Pitler, et al., 2007, p. 139).  Cooperative learning or collaborative learning assignments allow students to learn how to work together, using each other’s strengths and abilities, to create an artifact, solve a problem, or present new information.  “From a social learning perspective, knowledge is constructed while individuals are engaging in activities, receiving feedback, and participating in other forms of human interaction in public, social contexts” (Hill, Song, & West, 2009, p. 89). There are many ways in which educational technology can be helpful in this endeavor.

“Technology can play a unique and vital role in cooperative learning by facilitating group collaboration, providing structure for group tasks, and allowing members to communicate even if they are not face to face” (Pitler, et al., 2007, p. 140).  One such method is a multimedia project.  The use of tools such as iMovie or Voice Thread allow students to work together and share what they know through a meaningful artifact.  Students can research a topic, locate visuals or upload their own stills or video, and then record their own narration.  I have seen projects like this, and done correctly, they are wonderful.  They allow students to make multiple connections with information, work together with peers, problem solve, communicate, and complete and present a meaningful end product.

Another useful technology tool is a web-based collaboration like the JASON project.  “With the help of multimedia tools and Internet broadcasting technology, participating students become part of a virtual research community, accompanying real researchers in real time” (Pitler, et al., 2007 p. 144) through various explorations.  WebQuests are another effective web-based tool.  WebQuests allow students to focus on learning information rather than spending their time looking for it (Pitler, et al. 2007).  WebQuests present a number of specific links that provide students with the information they need to complete their “quest,” the tasks their teacher has established.  Other web-based tools, like shared calendars, shared bookmarking, Skype, and class websites also allow students to collaborate and stay in touch remotely.  These are especially effective tools for students who are absent long term for medical reasons.

A third technology tool is that of social media like Facebook, Twitter or blogs.  “Research indicates that students perceive greater social interaction when creating and sharing in-depth online messages” (Hill, et al., 2009, p. 91).  Social media has exploded; if Facebook were a country it would be the third largest country in the world (Wikipedia.com).  It has more than 800 million active users (Facebook.com).  Harnessing students’ interest in these tools makes sense, and a number of school systems now have their own Facebook pages so parents can stay abreast of school announcements.  Principals have their own Twitter accounts and weekly blogs.

Humans are social creatures.  We like to be with others and we learn from our interactions with our family members and our peers.  Everyone we come in contact with is a teacher of some kind. The conversations we have with others help to solidify information.  We live in a networked world, and using technology to help erase the constraints of formal education helps to extend learning way beyond the classroom.
References
(2012, January 29). Statistics.  [Social media page].  Retrieved from http://Facebook.com/press/
info.php?statistics.
Hill, J. R., Song, L., & West, R. E. (2009). Social learning theory and web-based learning     environments: a review of research and discussion of implications. American Journal Of     Distance Education, 23(2), 88-103.
Pitler H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with     classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
List of countries by population. (2012, January 29). In Wikipedia.  Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population.

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