Tuesday, September 27, 2011

GAME Plan Update

      Last year our fifth grade class adopted the program, “Alias”, to increase and refine vocabulary development and ignite deep level critical thinking skills.  The program also included a writing component that required students to use text content to respond to related prompts.  While reviewing its merits, my co-teacher and I decided that technology can effectively be integrated into these same lessons.  Assessing progress toward my GAME plan, I have come to realize how complex the task is.  During our first discussion my co-teacher and I agreed to review parent permission slips regarding the use of technology.  For those students not able to participate, we will have to plan alternative activities that align with our instructional goals.  Another important consideration is the availability of computers for student use.  Prior to this meeting, I did not take into consideration how the sequence of the lesson would have to be planned to coordinate with computer lab time.  We agreed to plan our instruction around our scheduled computer time so that the integration of the technology tools will seamlessly support our goals.
       Collaborative learning communities have not been a part of my school’s landscape.  My co-teacher partner and I were both surprised at how productive and beneficial a short lunchtime planning session could be.  We both were able to contribute our knowledge and access to the resources necessary to ensure our lesson’s success. We also discussed two different back up plans in case of a technology glitch that interferes with our access to technology resources.  Heterogeneous grouping for our problem based learning activity was also discussed.  In addition we decided, as suggested by Dr.Ross (Laureate, 2010), that since written conventions were not a focus of this lesson, students would be encouraged to make use of word processors spell and grammar checkers.   
     One question that was generated but not yet answered included, “how can we differentiate instruction to facilitate the different prior knowledge levels of content and technology. Another yet unanswered question is how much guidance and direction should we provide our collaborative learning communities in their follow-up problem based learning activity?  These questions will be revisited at our next planning meeting where we will use formative assessment to adjust our teaching in accordance with student learning (Cennamo, Ross & Ertner, 2009).
     Independently toward my goals, I have engaged our resident “techies” to show me how to use available lab technology as well as to share their class blogs.  Using the tutorials I procured from the internet on my chosen technology tools, I have begun to create examples of how students can demonstrate knowledge learned.  Although the tutorials are not always complete and effective, as I practice on these tools I find increased confidence in my proficiencies
     In addition to collaborating in a fifth grade class, I have connected with a former Walden graduate who feels that she has returned to her digital immigrant status she had prior to receiving her master’s degree.  Although afraid to take a risk independently, she has welcomed me into her classroom to support her in setting up blogging to support her children in learning to write letters.

Cennamo, K., Ross, J., & Ertmer, P. (2009).  Technology integration for meaningful classroom use:  A standards-based approach:  Mason, Ohio:  Cengage Learning.
Laureate Education, Inc. 2010 (Producer). Assessing Student Learning with Technology (DVD).  
            Integrating Technology across the Content Areas.  Baltimore, MD: Author.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Following My Game Plan

     My GAME plan to design and incorporate digital tools into my instructional lessons will require that I strategically decide on those that will most effectively motivate and engage my students.  I will use assessment data collected and student surveys to identify learning tools that will most effectively match the interests, learning preferences, and intelligences of my students (Cennamo, Ross & Ertmer 2009).  After selecting those tools, I will need to open accounts as well as to verify parent permission for students to use the internet for learning.  I will also survey my students to determine which students have prior experiences using Google Reader, Digital Stories, or Voice Threads.  Those students will serve as support for their peers that have had limited or no exposure.  I have also determined that two of my staff members have just begun to use blogs.  I will employ their expertise to devise a plan to give all students equal access to our available technology.   This past week I downloaded tutorials for three tools I will be using with my students.  I will practice using each of the tools to become familiar with the nuances of each program.  This coming week, I will meet with my co-teacher to decide on when, where, and how we will implement the use of these tools into our instruction.  It will be necessary to consider the availability of computer resources both in the lab and in the classroom, the instructional time to model the use of the technology, and the assignment of collaborative learning teams.  Although we plan to utilize these tools in mathematics as well as language arts, we have chosen to focus on language arts first. 
       In order to contribute to the effectiveness and self renewal of the teaching profession and my school community I will first need to recruit the support of my administrator to deviate from “business as usual” (Laureate, 2010).  As my co-worker and I develop our instructional plan for our students, together we will formulate a plan for methodically helping our staff and community embrace teaching 21st century skills.  We will informally survey our staff to find the teachers that are most comfortable using technology in the classroom and initiate conversations about the advantages of integrating technology into our instructional practice.  It is my intent that we form a collaborative learning community among interested teachers to implement more lessons using 21st century technology tools in order to develop authentic learning experiences.

Cennamo, K., Ross, J., & Ertmer, P. (2009).  Technology integration for meaningful classroom use:  A standards-based approach:  Mason, Ohio:  Cengage Learning.
Laureate Education, Inc. 2010 (Producer). Promoting Self-Directed Learning (DVD). Integrating Technology across the Content Areas.  Baltimore, MD: Author.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Technology: The Illuminator

Technology:  The Illuminator
            If my enthusiasm for technology matched my proficiency level in all of the ISTE NETS performance indicators, I would be satisfied with my competency in effectively promoting 21st century learning skills. Understanding the power of technology to motivate and engage students, I must develop the competency to seamlessly integrate these tools into my daily lessons.  In order to refine my skills following the ISTE NETS for Teachers (ISTE NETS n.d.) (2a) in designing or adapting learning experiences that incorporate digital tools, I will follow the following G(oals), A(ction), M(onitor) and E(valuate) plan as recommended by Cennamo, Ross, and Ertmer (2009).  Through my Walden journey, I have had the opportunity to preview a multitude of technology tools that are motivating, engaging and challenging.  Digital storytelling, wikis, blogs, and voice threads are just a few of the versatile tools that would easily support the English language arts standards.    Acknowledging my lack of confidence in using these tools seamlessly, I will preview a tutorial on each tool, practice the process using a tutorial, and prepare to model the steps for my students in creating these products. (Cennamo et. al., 2009).   Before presenting the initial lesson, I will ask for a peer review to critique my lesson plan and provide guidance for improvement.  After presenting my lesson, through journal writing, I will assess my own progress in using technology effectively to support student learning, I will reflect on the experience with each tool, identifying the highlights as well as the possible pitfalls that might be troublesome for my students and make adjustments along the way.  Finally, at the conclusion of each lesson, I will evaluate my success using a self designed rubric.  It will include an evaluation (1-4) of my proficiency with the studied tools, a short narrative on student engagement and work samples to demonstrate student performance.  As a follow-up activity, I will ask the students to submit personal response to pre-designed questions to assist me in future planning.  In addition, I plan to survey my staff to identify teachers using these tools and observe how they use these tools to teach the standards.
            Marc Prensky (2009) explains that kids today already have reservoirs of knowledge from their numerous connections to the world.  It is our job as educators to design lessons that use, build on, and strengthen that knowledge.  At my school, our seasoned teachers are resistant to extend beyond their traditional instructional practice. ISTE NETS for teachers performance indicator 5d describes the importance of contributing to the vitality and self-renewal of the teaching profession (ISTE NETS, n.d.).   This year I have developed a GAME plan to begin to methodically introduce 21st century skills and the integration of technology tools into our standards based instruction.  I am fortunate that one of our teachers is willing to risk a co-teaching format in which we will collaboratively plan to use technology tools to acknowledge our students learning preferences and teach to their interest.  We will plan our lessons and then release our roll as providers of information and take on the job as explainers, context providers and meaning makers of information (Prensky, 2009).  Additionally, as part of this process, we will monitor the effectiveness of our teaching through formal and informal formative assessment.  At the conclusion of each unit, we will reflect on the effectiveness of our lessons relying on student observation, reflective journal writing, (both our students and our own) surveys, and our students products.  This will be my first attempt to infuse 21st century skills into a very professional, yet sedentary staff.  Recognizing my own enthusiasm for this “not business as usual” plan for instruction, I can’t help but feel that using technology tools to foster critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, and collaboration will be contagious and “turn the lights on” for both students and my staff (Prensky, 2009, p45).


Cennamo, K., Ross, J., & Ertmer, P. (2009).  Technology integration for meaningful  

      classroom use:  A  standards-based approach:  Mason, Ohio:  Cengage Learning.
ISTE | NETS for Teachers. (n.d.). ISTE | Membership, NETS Standards, Books, Journals and  Professional Development for Teachers. Retrieved September 14, 2011, from        
            Prensky, M. "Turning on the lights." Education Leadership Mar. 2008: 40-45.