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.