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.  


  1. Vicki, I see that you are planning to teach to your students preferences and interests, and am curious as to what grade you are teaching. Also, do you plan on shaping your lessons so that students are learning on an individual level or will your lessons be taught to the entire class as a whole? Often times, I am left feeling like I am holding my brighter students back while I am forced to teach to the middle when teaching to my classes as a whole. I have often wished that my building had enough technology so that I would be able to teach my students on more of an individual basis. That way, they would be able to learn the different content based on their preferences and at their own speed. Then, I will no longer feel like I am holding my higher end learners back and going to fast for my struggling learners as well.

  2. Vicki,
    You are so lucky to have a co-teacher with you. I am keeping record of my progress but I don't have anybody to discuss about my performance. I also think that my Walden experience introduced so many great tools to use in the classroom. I never knew the possibilities of digital learning tools such as podcast, blog, and wiki. I think everyone of us acknowledge that today's kids are different compared to our times. Technology is part of their lives. If teachers ignore technology in the classroom, great learning opportunities will be missed. As you said our duty is to strengthen the knowledge and skills they already have. I think trying to achieve ISTE NETS performance indicators will help us to achieve this particular goal.

  3. Hi Michelle,
    Thank you for your post. I teach grades k-6 as an Education Specialist. My collaboration lesson will be at fifth grade. As a special education teacher, I recognize the necessity to provide learning experiences and assessment opportunities using a multitude of resources as tools. All students will create a concept map to identify strategies used when determining meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary. In order to teach to students' interests and preferences they will have the opportunity to choose whether they would like to write their narrative in a blog or use a voice thread. They will also have the opportunity to first use a Word processor to spell and grammar check.

    As for your diverse classroom of abilities, I wonder if collaborative grouping might be an answer to stretch their talents. One high student could be in every group responsible for the entire organization of the groups' activities. (ie they would be the administrator of the wiki) They might also be responsible for adding an additional section in which they want to research based on the topic.

  4. Hi Kimyabu,
    I agree that great learning opportunities will be missed for both the students and the teacher. Since the beginning of the Walden program I have become energized by the wealth of information I have gained through our research and our collaborative discussions and projects. Teachers who do not extend themselves and engage in using 21st century learning tools are missing out on a refreshing and exciting journey in fostering an education for our children to ensure their success in the 21st century workplace.

  5. Vicki, normally when I do grouping for collaboration, I do try to place one higher-ended student within each group. The only problem I usually run into when I do that is that higher-ended person ends up doing all the work while the others sit around watching them. Something I hope to fix during group work this year.

  6. I was wondering what would be the result if you chose one of the students who does a minimal amount of work to be accountable to record all student contributions to the project as well as his own. He/she could keep track in a wiki or excel spread sheet. Do you think that if they had monitor and report the progress of the group it would have any effect on their participation?