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.
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.