Sunday, October 21, 2012

Final Blog Post

As I reflect back on this course, one of the key ideas I learned, is as educators we must emphasize teaching our students how to learn versus teaching them skills that will one day be obsolete (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009).  Students must be self-directed learners.  The GAME Plan is a tool that incorporates four steps:  1) Setting Goals  2) Taking Action 3) Monitoring Progress, and  4) Evaluating Goals, to help guide your learning process (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009).
At the beginning of the course, I developed two personal GAME plans to help in my own self-directed learning.
My first GAME plan related to designing and developing digital age learning experiences and assessments.  I continue to research and collect additional resources to enrich my lessons from the internet and my colleagues.  As I have mentioned before, there is such a plethora of resources that the challenge is to narrow it down to what will fit best with my content standards.  It is not only time consuming but at times very overwhelming.  Regardless, I have already incorporated several of the resources that I have found.  My students have completed a Web Quest on continents and a Web Exploration on Rocks and Minerals.  My students really enjoyed both of these activities.  They were engaged and definitely deepening their understanding of the content standards, and learning more about what excited them!  They were engaged in collaborative learning and higher order thinking skills while having fun.  Skills that are important throughout life. 
I am still in the process of getting the KidBlog project going.  I have everything set up on my end but await the other teacher to find time to complete it on her end.  It is currently report card time and parent/teacher conference time at our school so that may be what the holdup is.  I anxiously wait to get this activity started.         
My second GAME plan is to promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility.  This is progressing well.  I have incorporated several lessons about citations into my curriculum.  My students have also had several opportunities to practice safe internet searching during the two activities I mentioned previously.  I will continue to model and review ethical behavior and safe internet methods throughout the year.  The KidBlog project will lend to further discussions about appropriate and safe internet behavior.   As I make progress with both plans, I will continue to work on and evaluate these plans throughout the year.
Each quarter, starting with second quarter, I help my students to make goals in the areas of literature, writing, and math.  Once I introduce the GAME plan process to my students and show them the two GAME plans that I am working on, I will have them each pick at least one of their goals and produce a GAME plan to help direct their learning.  Once they see the benefits of such a plan, I can see having them develop these for each goal every quarter.
As I think about my current curriculum and lessons that I teach, I am already contemplating how I can incorporate technology, such as online collaboration, digital storytelling, and other tools into several lessons.  Taking lessons that I already teach and adding a technology component and even problem-based learning will engage my students in meaningful, authentic learning that will help develop 21st century skills.  The most logical place for me was to start with science.  My unit GAME plan I developed uses lessons about Earth’s resources.  As I progress through all three of my GAME plans plus a few others that I will develop for the whole unit, I will have engaged my students not only in PBL but they will have used technology tools like KidBlog, Web Quest, and digital storytelling.  So far, I have taught the first lesson of the unit.  Overall, things went very well.  My students were engaged and were learning beyond the basic content standards I needed them to learn.  They loved watching all the ideas pop up on the graphic organizer, SpiderScribe, which I used for the introduction of the lesson.  Most of my students chose to use Glogster as their presentation tool (it was new to most of them).  A few chose Power Point because they are more comfortable with it.  I was amazed at not only the creativity but also the quality of the content they displayed in their final project.  As I continue to look at other lessons to incorporate technology, I want to make sure that I am using the technology to help extend and enrich my students learning, not just for the sake of incorporating technology.    
Transforming some of my lessons by using the GAME plan and integrating technology and problem-based learning is important.  It will take time and I will have to take baby steps or I will get overwhelmed.  The GAME plan will help me to organize and align my lessons with the content standards, while keeping in mind the formative and summative assessments I want to employ.  Using the GAME plan will help me to reflect not only on how to engage my students in authentic, meaningful learning but will help me to differentiate my instruction for my diverse classroom and consider alternate plans in case the internet or technology tool is not working. 
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.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Monitoring My GAME Plan

As I reflect on my GAME plan, I am making some progress but not as much as I have hoped.  This week has proven to be extremely busy which has not left me a lot of extra time to work on my plan.
Am I finding the information and resources I need?
At this point, I am finding the resources that I need.  The internet has a plethora of resources that I can utilize to enrich my lessons.  I have found several possibilities to use with my next unit in science.  The problem is deciding which one I want to use.
I have talked to the third grade teacher in California and she is on board to do pen pals.  I threw out the options of using Epals, a wiki, or KidBlog and she does not have experience with any of them, so she is leaving it up to me.  I therefore went to my technology coordinator to ask his opinion.  I asked him which tool he feels would be the best.  He suggested KidBlog.  Since I am already familiar with KidBlog, which was the direction I was leaning as well.  I have set up my new class in KidBlog and need to contact the other teacher and help her get started.
Do I need to modify my action plan?
I am happy with my action plan at this point and do not see a need to change anything.  As I proceed if I find an area that needs modified, I will take the time to do so.  The only thing I wish I could modify is time.  If I could only add a few more hours into a day (or not need as much sleep) then maybe I could accomplish a little more.   
What have I learned so far?
I have learned that students really enjoy WebQuest and authentic learning.  Every time I have engaged my students in project-based learning, I have been amazed at the level of learning going on and how engaged my students are.  They are thinking creatively, using high-order thinking skills, producing quality work, and having fun! They are anxious to get started and are not usually ready to quit and move on to something else.  Even though developing authentic learning activities takes more time and effort, it is well worth it for my students.
As I have been conversing with the other third grade teacher in California, I am learning that I know a lot more about how to integrate technology into quality, authentic, creative, collaborative activities than I realized.  The teacher in California is excited to learn and wants to engage her children in collaborative learning outside of her four walls but is relying on me to have the ideas and be a big part in implementing our projects.  Several years ago, before I started this master program, I would never have had a clue of what to do. 
Even though my students are quite technology savvy, digital citizenship and staying safe on the computer is not an area they have had a lot experience with.  They think if it is on the internet, it is there for anyone to take and use.  They also are very naive (they are third graders) about giving out information.  What can happen right?      
What new questions have arisen?
One question that the third grade teacher in California and I have to figure out is how to handle the KidBlog posts and comments.  Will we require them to post a certain amount of times a week, make so many comments a week, and will we give them topics or let the conversations develop naturally?  I know we will monitor the posts and comments before they are published.  The logistics need to be established. 
What next?  After we set up our pen pals and allow them time to converse, we need to compare our content standards and decide what collaborative project would be beneficial for both classes to engage in.  During the collaborative project, we can continue to incorporate digital citizenship and responsibility as well.        

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Carrying Out My GAME Plan

After only a week, I have made some progress on carrying out my GAME plan.  The following are the ISTE standards that I am working on gaining confidence and proficiency in:
1)      ISTE NETS-T Standard 2:  Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments
2)      ISTE NETS-T Standard 4:  Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility
What resources will I need to carry out my plan?
1)     I will begin by using the resources I have at my disposal within my school building.  My colleagues and technology coordinator can help me find resources to enhance my curriculum.  I will also get on the internet and search for lesson plans that other teachers have already developed to enrich their lessons.  In addition, I will go back through some of my class resources that can help me.

2)    I will once again use my technology coordinator as he continues to help all the staff to not only integrate technology but to do so responsibly.  He has held several staff developments on how to properly cite internet sources. 
What steps have I been able to take so far?
1)    *I have already begun talking to my colleagues and my technology coordinator about resources they have used to enrich their lessons.  I have also taken a small amount of time to do some internet researches.  Within this research, my teaching partner and I found a Continent Adventure WebQuest to use for our social studies unit on continents.  The WebQuest takes them on a trip to a continent of their choice to meet the people, experience the local culture, and see the sights.  After their research, they will create a travel brochure to present to their class.  The class will then compare the continents and vote on the class destination.  
*Just this week I have been in contact with a third grade teacher in Orange County, CA. We are working together to develop a collaborative project for our two classes via the internet (wikis or blogs) and through Skype.  We are also looking into setting our classes up to be pen pals.

2)      *The last several weeks I have had students posting to our classroom blog.  I have already been talking about how to stay safe when posting to the blog. 
*During our Continent Adventure WebQuest, some students have asked to Google    other sites to find the information they are seeking.  Therefore, I have had the opportunity to talk about what to do if they find themselves on an inappropriate site.  I have also had the opportunity to talk about not copying “word by word” unless they are going to cite their source. 
*Today during our novel study, I used some pictures on the Smartboard to talk about the setting of our story.  I cited the source and explained to my students why and how I did this.

What additional information do I need?
1)    *I feel that I have an abundant amount of resources and have learned a lot about using authentic learning experiences throughout my master program.  At this point, I feel I need to work on developing and implementing authentic lessons.  As I am implementing the lessons, I will monitor that my students are engaged and the lessons are effective.  Gathering this additional information will help me to adapt my lessons as needed.  My principal has also volunteered to come critique any of my lessons as I implement them.
*The teacher in Orange County, CA and I need to brainstorm and research projects that we can work collaboratively on.   
*I need to research different technology tools to use for the pen pal project.  I have heard of people using epals, wikis, and blogs for such projects.  I need to gather information to see which would be best for us.  Does anyone have any suggestions or ideas?  I would love any input you have.

2)    At this point, I do not need any additional information.  I need to continue to stress how important it is to be safe on the internet, even at home, and model how to reflect legal and ethical behavior.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Developing a GAME Plan

I have always felt comfortable with and have enjoyed using technology both personally and in my classroom.  I have considered myself relatively technological compentent.  However, as I have been progressing through my master’s classes, I realize that I still have a lot to learn.  As an educator, it is important that I continue to learn how to integrate technology to enhance and enrich the curriculum.  Using technology to support my student’s efforts to become good thinkers is important so they are ready for the ever-changing work world.
After looking at the ISTE standards for teachers, I have chosen two areas that I will develop a GAME plan.  The GAME plan will help me in my own self-directed learning as I work on gaining confidence and proficiency in these two areas.
ISTE NETS-T Standard 2:  Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments
Teachers design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessment incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes in the NETS-S. 
G – Goal:  Learn more about how to design authentic learning experiences that guide my students in self-directed and creative thinking.  To search for resources that will help enhance and enrich my lessons while still meeting content standards.
A – Action:  Utilize my colleagues and my school’s technology coordinator as well as my classmates and other teachers who successful use technology in their classrooms.  Use the internet to identify lessons that other teachers have developed.  Develop and implement lessons that allow my students to be self-directed learners.      
M – Monitor:  Continuously monitor my students to ensure they are engaged in creative learning while meeting content standards.  Reflect on each lesson, take notes, and adapt as needed.
E – Evaluate and Extend:  Evaluate how the lesson went to determine if lesson needs modified.  Assess students to evaluate success in learning content knowledge.  Survey students to evaluate their views on the lesson.

ISTE NETS-T Standard 4:  Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility
 Teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices.
G – Goal:  Model the proper method of using and citing sources for my lessons and presentations.  Teach my students safe methods when using the internet.
A – Action:  Utilize my technology coordinator and colleagues to ensure I am ethically using digital information.  Teach my students how to maintain ethical behavior and how to cite their resources when researching the internet.  Model safe internet methods. 
M – Monitor:  Continuously monitor my digital usage and my students’ digital usage to ensure legal, ethical, and safe behavior.  Reflect on daily activities that utilize technology to ensure proper etiquette.
E – Evaluate and Extend:  Assess student’s digital usage and citations on projects.  Evaluate/survey student’s knowledge on proper technology etiquette at home and at school.  Reflect on goal:  Do students understand the importance of legal, ethical, and safe technological behavior…did I model appropriately. 
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.
 International Society for Technology in Education. (2008). National education standards for


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Final Reflection

As I reflect on my “Personal Theory of Learning” from the first week of class, I find that I can confirm my personal learning theory is a combination of the four learning theories.   Each learning theory is important when considering the diverse group of students in a classroom and each theory has its advantages.  Even though I was familiar with all the learning theories and knew that it is important to use a variety of ways to teach my students, I now have a deeper understanding how each learning theory helps my students to gain knowledge of the concepts that I am teaching.  A main thread that I noticed within each learning theory is to keep students active in their learning process.  This course has also helped me to see how I can use the learning theories and incorporate technology to enhance and engage my students in their own learning.
One of the immediate responses to this course that I am implementing in my classroom is examining how I am incorporating technology into the curriculum.  Dr. Orey discusses how technology can be an instructional tool or a learning tool.  Technology as an instructional tool is when the teacher presents information to the students.  Technology as a learning tool is actively engaging students in the use of the technology (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011).  Even though using technology as an instructional tool has its place, using technology as a learning tool is more powerful and the most effective way to incorporate technology.  I have already begun to examine how I implement technology in my classroom and insure that it is mainly used as a learning tool for my students.  Technology as a learning tool insures that my students are actively engaged in their learning.
One technology tool that I plan to use with my students is a wiki.  Wikis provide an opportunity for students to work collaboratively on a project while allowing the teacher to see who is contributing to the project.  This tool will encourage my students to interact with each other to enhance their learning.  Using a wiki has the students synthesizing information and then stating the information in their own words, a cognitive instructional strategy (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007).  It also has the students using multiple senses to gather, manipulate, store, and use information.   
Another technology tool that I plan to use this year is both a classroom blog and individual blogs.  I already use a classroom blog to keep my students’ friends and family updated on what is happening in third grade.  Students take turns to analyze what we did all week and then summarize the important activities.  However, in the past, I have had the students dictate to me what to write and then I type their responses.  This year I have given my students more control.  I give them time to type their responses and then I go over what they typed and help them to see any changes, additions, or deletions they need to make.  I am also going a step further and using blogs for journaling and story writing.  Blogs are a great way to involve others outside of the group to help critique, evaluate, or even leave a comment about a group’s project.  That can include other students, teachers, family, friends, or even experts from around the world. 
This course has provided me with numerous technology tools to incorporate into my lessons that will engage and motivate my students in their learning.  So numerous, that at times I have become overwhelmed trying to explore all the options.  To alleviate the stress of feeling like I have to know it all, one of my long-term goals is to gradually implement the various technology tools that I have been introduced too.  I have made a list of all the tools and websites that I want to explore in more depth.  I then plan to work on incorporating two technology tools at a time.  Once I can implement them well, I then will explore more options to incorporate into the curriculum.  I am sure that some of the instructional technology tools will take longer to feel comfortable with while others will be a bit easier.
Another long-term goal is to keep learning about how to integrate technology until it is a natural integration in my classroom.  As I become more comfortable with technology and how to use it to actively involve my students, technology will become an integral part of our daily learning.  Right now, at times, I feel like it is a forced integration versus a smooth, automatic response to our classroom learning.  As I continue to work on my masters program through Walden University, use the expertise and support of my colleagues, and continue my own life-long learning, I will strive to achieve a 21st century classroom that helps prepare my students to be productive citizens of society.    
As we learn more about how students learn and with the constant changes and the ever-increasing usage of technology, this will change the teacher-directed instruction to more student-driven projects using technology.  Most students are already using technology but educators must teach them how to use it safely and appropriately from a learning/educational aspect.  Not only does technology make the subject matter more fun for the students but it keeps their focus and interest too.  It also provides them a variety of ways to learn the material.  It is important for educators to prepare students for the changing world of technology, so they can be productive and lifelong learners.     
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011d). Program thirteen:  Technology:  Instructional tool
vs. learning tool  [Video webcast] Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Pitler, Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom
instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lunchtime Chaos Voicethread

Social Constructivism Learning Theory

According to Dr. Orey, social constructionism learning theory involves learners to be “actively engaged in constructing artifacts and conversing with others” (Laureate Education, Inc. 2011).  It “emphasizes the importance of culture and context in understanding what occurs in society and constructing knowledge based on this understanding” (Orey, 2001, p. 2)  Social constructivists believe that reality, knowledge, and meaningful learning is the result of social interaction.  There are four general perspectives that facilitate social constructivism learning.  The cognitive tools perspective focuses on producing a product in a group while gaining the meaning through the social learning process.  The idea-based social constructivism is building an important foundation of learners’ thinking and social meaning through “big ideas.”  The pragmatic or emergent approach is that through both an individual’s and an entire class’s view, knowledge, meaning, and understanding of the world is addressed.  The transactional or situated cognitive perspective focuses on relationships between people and the environment and views that “learning thus should not take place in isolation from the environment” (Orey, 2001, p. 4). 
Dr. Orey points out three key roles of learning theories. 
1.       Defines how learning occurs
2.      Provides information on future trends on which to build educational systems
3.      Explains what is occurring in the world today.
(Laureate Education, Inc., 2011)
In the book Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works the authors present cooperative learning as an instructional strategy.  Cooperative learning “focuses on having students interact with each other in groups in ways that enhance their learning (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn,& Malenoski, 2007).  The workplace today demands that students are able to not only be technology literate but be able to work cooperatively.  Cooperative learning has five basic components:  positive interdependence, face-to-face, promotive interaction, individual and group accountability, interpersonal and small-group skills, and group processing (Pitler et al, 2007, p. 140).  The instructional strategy of cooperative learning definitely has principles of social learning theories.
Technology can also be a tool that will enhance cooperative learning.  Technology can “facilitate group collaboration, providing structure for group tasks, and allowing members of groups to communicate even if they are not working face to face” (Pitler et al, 2007, p. 140).  Wikis and blogs I feel are two great examples of this.  They allow students to communicate, share ideas, and work on a project together, without having to be in the same place or working at the same time.  I am looking forward to using a wiki this year with my third graders to enhance their animal reports.
Another great technology activity to use with cooperative learning is WebQuests.  I am in the process of having my third graders work in groups of four to complete a WebQuest on animal life cycles.  The WebQuest provides them with all the directions, internet links, and evaluation rubric to help them complete the project.  Each member of the team is assigned a job.  The jobs help them to stay focused and not argue about what each is to be doing.  The jobs are task manager (keeps everyone on task), navigator (navigates the computer and clicks on the links), reader (reads the information to the group), and recorder (takes the notes).  I have them switch the roles each time we work so they experience each one.  Once they have completed the quest they have to present their information to the class, create a comic strip of their animal’s life cycle, and add any other information or pictures they think are useful and helpful.  This activity has the groups working together to learn about a particular animal’s life cycle but they have to in turn be able to teach it to the class.  Dr. Orey tells us “teaching others helps the learner to develop a deeper understanding of the content” (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). 
Many other technology resources allow students to work cooperatively on projects as well.  Some examples are making videos, having keypals (I had also used the term e-pals), multiplayer simulation games, and Google Docs to name a few. There are so many opportunities in this technology driven world to provide our students with engaging technology based activities that will prepare them to be part of a “fast-paced, virtual workplace” where they will need to work cooperatively.  “Cooperative learning is not so much learning to cooperate as it is cooperating to learn” (Pitler et al, 2007, p. 143).
Most people are naturally social beings and therefore I feel that social constructivism learning theory is definitely valuable in the classroom.  However, I do feel that the other learning theories have a place in the classroom too.  Using components of all the learning theories will aid students to be successful and help prepare them to be a productive citizen of society. 
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program eight: Social learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program nine: Connectivism as a learning theory [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from
Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.