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.