Monday, October 17, 2011

A Look Back

       Looking back on my GAME plan, I am I have begun to close the gap between my enthusiasm and my competence in promoting 21st century learning skills.  As part of my Walden journey I had to evaluate and acknowledge my limited knowledge of 21st century technology tools (Cennamo, Ross, and Ertmer, 2009).   Next, as my plan indicates, I had to research and practice using technology tools that included wikis, blogs, concept maps and a myriad of other engaging web 2.0 online aids to assist me in  learning the course content.  Quite surprisingly, the ISTE NETS for Teachers (laws, n.d.) (2a) that calls for incorporating digital tool into standards based instruction wasn’t the gradual two to five year integration plan that I had anticipated.  Our Walden coursework demanded that, as self directed learners, not only did we utilize these tools in our own professional development, but we had to instantly incorporate them into lessons we designed and implemented.  In addition we effectively participated in online professional learning communities providing guidance in carrying out our GAME plans.
       Upon reflection of this experience, the most astonishing revelation was how the integration of technology tools motivated my students to create, collaborate and communicate at a much higher level than they had ever demonstrated before (Stevens, 2011).   Providing the incentive to use the ubiquitous technology tools to learn grade level content released them from the mundane pencil paper tasks required in the past.  Even pre, formative and summative assessments of learned content could be conducted using a wiki, blog, voice thread, or digital story (Cennamo, et al., 2009).
        While the technology tools actively engaged students in learning the content, teaching the GAME plan provided an organizational strategy for implementing their problem based learning activity.  Making a plan to solve their problem gave them a structured format to help to ensure their success.  Although a stretch for some of my more challenged learners, I think the repetitive use of it as an organizational strategy will help all students refine their critical thinking skills. 
        Through my online collaboration with my peers, I not only benefited from their feedback on my lessons, but saw how technology tools can truly be integrated “seamlessly” into every facet of our content areas.  My new competencies gained through this course have also given me the confidence to expand my recent co-teaching experience to recruit other teachers willing to take a risk with the integration of 21st century learning skills (laws, n.d. 5d).  Although my stagnate staff will be hard to infiltrate, positive feedback that I have already received has sparked interest among them. 
       The enthusiasm and popularity among my students generated by using technology tools in my lessons were irrefutable.  In order to “turn on the lights”(Prensky, 2011, p59) and keep them on for my students,  I will make a conscious effort to ensure that technology tools are integrated into every facet of my lesson planning from assessment, to instruction, through  the evaluation process. 

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.  
 Stevens, M. “Create, communicate, collaborate.”  NEA Today, summer 2011:  59-62.

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