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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4 Responses to Week Three Blog Post: Continuing the GAME Plan

  1. L.Yancey says:

    Rachel,
    Using technology to meet the diverse needs of all our learners is great instructional tool to use in the classroom. Because our jobs are so demanding and time consuming we may not have the time to research every web based form of technology available to us. This is why collaborating with our colleagues can be used to our advantage. I am in constant contact with other members of my department, teachers in other subject areas, as well as our media specialist about what forms of technology we have available at school. As you mentioned this collaboration could be used to not only discovered new technology tools but also designed way to maximize these tools in our classrooms and for our students. I also think it is a wonderful idea to involve your students in your technology research. I have found that involving students in the classroom structure and design is a wonderful way to keep students engaged and interesting in learning.

    L. Yancey

    • Rachel says:

      I agree that technology has allowed us more ways to meet our students needs. I wish we had more time to investigate all that is available. I fear that the new mandates like RtI, Common Core, and SBE (all of which are important), will also interfere with the creativity and time it may take to incorporate tech appropriately. I am hoping that we will be able to use classroom time to, as you put it, “maximize these tools” and not just to assess and reassess. I have seen students just thrive because I have been able to allow them an alternative way to show me they understand the material. I hope we don’t lose that.

  2. Rachel, two items you mention in your blog struck me as very true. First, our freshmen will be issued iPads in January, and that has opened up numerous possibilities for both teaching and learning. This is very true. Our district issued MacBooks to every 6th through 12th grade student. They love their MacBooks and do school work on them. But, students also waste an enormous amount of time playing games and creating drama on FaceBook. It is ridiculous when students ‘dis’ the teacher by playing games instead of following instruction and then ask, “What are we doing, what did you say?”, Students abuse the privilege of having the MacBook and I refer to these students as MacBook monsters. The power of the Mac is being ill used. To combat this problem, sites like Facebook, Tumblr, Happy Wheels are blocked at school, but are open at home.
    The second item you mention is, Learning about technology concepts and operations as well as planning and designing effective and authentic learning experiences is 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 couldn’t agree with you more on this account. I teach computer application and since our MacBook incentive 2.5 years ago, I haven’t stopped running on this topic.

    • Rachel says:

      The 7th and 8th graders in my district have one to one computing, but we do not at the high school. We used to block Facebook, Twitter and other sites, but we do not any longer. Students easily found their way around the firewalls and were on the sites anyway. (And they abused those sites royally). Also, so many of the students have SmartPhones, that the firewalls were irrelevant. I do agree with you about the abuse of tech. One of the reasons the students have not yet been issued the iPads is that we have not yet figured out the answers to all the questions, like how will they get apps? Will they use their own iTunes account or will they ALL, all 150 of them, have to use an account from the school? If that is the case, then an administrator will have to come to class whenever a teacher finds an app he to she wants to use. If we let the kids use their own iTunes account, then any app they have purchased could, theoretically, be downloaded to this device, including games. There are too many of them to monitor especially since the iPads are going home with them at night. I fear too many parents will not be monitoring their use.

      It really is a pity because the power of these tools is just so amazing. There are tremendous opportunities for teaching and learning with them. Of course, not all my colleagues have embraced tech. Some have completely resisted a web page (which I cannot fathom) and some have simply created one and then have never returned to it. Do not use it in their teaching or parent communication. Kinda sad, really.

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