Thursday, October 18, 2012

Reflection on my GAME Plan

2A:  Design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity (ITSE, 2012).

5C:  Evaluate and reflect on current research and professional practice on a regular basis to make effective use of existing and emerging digital tools and resources in support of student learning (ITSE, 2012).

These were the standards that I choose to focus on when I started this course and designed a GAME (goals, actions, monitor, evaluate and extend) plan for my students (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009).  In regards to the first standard that I choose, incorporating digital tools that promote student learning, I was able to infuse my existing curriculum with more technology than I have ever used before.  Students were able to become familiar with tools such as VoiceThreads, wikis, and digital storytelling.  It resulted in a learning curve for both the students and me.  The number one thing that I will take away from this experience is that preparation is the key to any lesson that involves technology.  Having a back-up plan in place comes in a close second.  Rubrics guided the students through the labyrinth of what to include and helped to keep them focused on the lesson at hand.  Pacing was another hurdle that students and I needed to work through.

As for the second standard that I focused on, evaluating and reflecting on current research, using the tools and experiencing first-hand how they work in a classroom setting allowed for adaptations to be made.  Accommodations such as translated pages for English language learners, adjusted reading levels for struggling students, and allowing for extra time to type the information gleaned were all discovered through implementation of the technology itself.  Having students reflect on the aspects of the lesson that worked well and those that did not afforded yet another look at how to better execute the lesson in the future.  The piece that I still struggle with is finding the time to explore new technologies and determine how to best incorporate them into my teaching repertoire. 

This experience has shown me that including various technologies into my teaching does not detract from the content being learned.  In fact, the opposite seems to be true.  Students are learning exponentially, not only content but digital literacies that they will take into the work force with them.  Providing students with the skills that will enable them to compete in today’s global market is why I choose teaching as a profession 20 years ago.  Sharing how to use technologies that they are already familiar with, in a new way that they otherwise might not have ever thought of, opens up possibilities for students to become critical and creative thinkers while collaborating with each other or experts to solve the problems that they face,  not only today but in the future as well.





Cennamo, K., Ross, J., & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology Integration for Meaningful Classroom

Use. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.


ITSE, I. S. (2012). NETS for Teachers. Retrieved September 12, 2012, from

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Monitoring my GAME plan

As I implement my GAME plan, I am reflecting on what went well, what did not, what
improvements could be made, and what did my students and I learn from this.  In regards to the first standard I chose:  2A:  Design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity (ITSE, 2012), I have used the internet to uncover interactive websites that could be utilized in the classroom.  Implementing them as a whole class activity is easiest as I have only one computer in the classroom.  Integrating technology like this has its drawbacks.  If it is not the student’s turn at the interactive whiteboard, then they have a tendency to not pay attention to what is going on.  Even with the inclusion of a guide that the students must record answers on, keeping students on task is a tremendous challenge.  An additional consideration was the loading time of the links that student’s chose.  Being that we do not have the fastest connection at the school, this too took time and lost student interest in the activity.  Exit cards at the end of the lesson had students reflecting on the note taking and slowness of the connection as being the big drawbacks of the activity.  The next time I try something like this, I would like to use one of our computer labs and have the students work at their own pace.  This might eliminate the time spent redirecting student behaviors.

The second standard that I am focusing on is 5C:  Evaluate and reflect on current research and professional practice on a regular basis to make effective use of existing and emerging digital tools and resources in support of student learning (ITSE, 2012).  Devoting time to look at and work with these technologies is challenging as majority of my time is spent grading, creating lessons that will engage my students, documenting the interventions that I use in my classroom, and the myriad of additional record keeping tasks that occupy teachers time.  At this time, I have had precious little time to explore new technologies to use with my students.  I have a Word document with a list of technologies that I want to spend some time getting to know.  I am playing with the idea of bringing in a few students during RTI (Response To Intervention) time and giving them the list to explore.  They could take notes on what they like and dislike about it, what is challenging about it, and whether or not they feel it has any educational value.  This endeavor will allow me to bring technology to my students and provide them with the opportunity to become the instructor (empowering the learning process).   From there, I would then choose the technologies that I feel merit a closer look.



ITSE, I. S. (2012). NETS for Teachers. Retrieved September 12, 2012, from

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Game Plan Enacted

After closely looking at my GAME plan, the resource that I will need for the first standard addressed is a computer.  Looking at the programs that are already located on either the server or hard drive will be a good starting point to incorporate technology into the lesson.  As was pointed out in chapter 5 of Technology Integration for Meaningful Classroom Use (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009), simply using a Word application for students to type their responses instead of hand writing them allows them access to a plethora of resources that they otherwise would not have (ie:  thesaurus, dictionary, spell check).  Additionally, the visual adjustments of the font and zoom features gives students who are visually impaired a chance to alter the text to meet their specific needs.  Creating a table (again using Word) of what lesson is being taught, paired with the new technology, will give me the opportunity to reflect on what went well in the lesson as well as where the refinements need to take place (thus covering the monitoring and evaluation piece)

As for the second technology standard I am working on, I will need access to the internet.  Checking in with various blogs and social bookmarking sites requires such access.  It also entails creating a community of professionals who have explored the technologies being looked at.  Once more, a table of what was being addressed and how it works will be used to keep track of what has already been covered.  Once a technology application has been studied, I can then best see where it will fit into my existing curriculum. 

Steps that I have taken to this point are the initial planning for incorporating technology into my lesson plans.  Figuring out the logistics of how to gain access for my students is the critical juncture at my workplace.  It requires foresight and cooperation among my coworkers.  Being that I have only one computer and an interactive whiteboard, I either plan an activity that has all participating as a class or I need to switch classrooms with a colleague.  My initial attempt with this will take place tomorrow at the interactive whiteboard.  Students will have the opportunity to explore the website and create a collective concept map of who they are and what they represented.


Cennamo, K., Ross, J., & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology Integration for Meangingful Calssroom Use. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Cóttrill, J. (2006-2012). Aztec History. Retrieved September 19, 2012, from

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My GAME Plan

The GAME plan (goals, actions, monitor, evaluate and extend)  is an instructional model for self-directed learning that guides one through the steps necessary for customizing one’s approach to learning tasks and developing important relevant skills (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009).  The approach is structured to help one not only develop and refine learning goals for themselves but also to attain those through relevant actions taken by the learner.  The final steps involve monitoring ones plan and determining, as a result of the learning, what one would do differently in the future. 

As an assignment for an online master’s class that I am taking, I am going to come up with my own GAME plan in relation to technology use in the classroom.  Using the ITSE (International Society for Technology in Education) NETS for teachers as a starting point, I want to focus on two areas of technology use where I would like to increase my proficiency levels. 

The first is standard 2A:  Design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity (ITSE, 2012).  One goal that I have set for myself is taking one lesson per unit that I teach and incorporating a technological component into it (not just for the sake of adding technology but to enrich the lesson being taught).  The action that I intend to use is examining technologies that I am already familiar with and matching them to the lesson being taught.  This will not overwhelm me with learning a new technology while attempting to implement it in the classroom.  Monitoring and evaluating will be taken together as I will reflect both during the lesson being taught and afterwards looking specifically at what went well and what did not, how smoothly the transition from a paper based to a technology based lesson went, and ultimately what did I and my students learn from this experience.  Having student fill out evaluations on the lesson would be helpful to gain their perspective on those issues as well.

The second standard that I want to focus on is 5C:  Evaluate and reflect on current research and professional practice on a regular basis to make effective use of existing and emerging digital tools and resources in support of student learning (ITSE, 2012).  This is traditionally an area where I am weaker, relying on the technologies that I am more familiar with so as to be able to more confidently support my students in the classroom.  Using technology itself, I have set up a goal of examining a couple of different avenues such as blogs like Stephen’s Lighthouse ( or the Delicious book marking site ( to keep up with the technology that is out there at least once a month.  Devoting time to look at and work with these technologies is the next logical step (the action plan).  Spending a few hours per month exploring and practicing with these technologies will give me a better understanding of how they will work within a classroom setting and how they will fit into the educational goals I have for my students.  This endeavor will allow me to both monitor and evaluate the content that I am engaging with as well as be able to determine whether or not I am meeting my own learning goals.



Abram, S. (2005, July). Retrieved September 12, 2012, from Stephen's Lighthouse:

AVOS. (2011). Retrieved September 12, 2012, from Delicious:

Cennamo, K., Ross, J., & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology Integration for Meaningful Classroom

 Use. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

ITSE, I. S. (2012). NETS for Teachers. Retrieved September 12, 2012, from

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Final Reflection

“When it comes to learning theories there are several major schools of thought to choose from – behaviorism, cognitivism, constructionism, and social constructionism to name but a few.  Add into the mix Gardner’s multiple intelligences, Maslow’s humanistic approaches, and Vygotsky’s social learning theory and one has an almost overwhelming variety of methods to employ.  Each has had a spot in the limelight when current educational practices were aligned with it.  While there are many benefits to each, I have found that an amalgam of bits and pieces of each are what works best for me.”

The above quote was taken directly from my application for week one of this course.  This was the premise of my personal learning theory at that time.  During the ensuing six weeks and after intensive study, I have come to refine it.  The newest learning theory, connectivism, is one where the socialization piece is emphasized as a learning tool (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2012).  Technology is rampant with support for this – Facebook, Twitter, wikis, blogs such as these, Skype, and the list goes on.  As a cooperative/collaborative learning advocate for the past twenty years, these innovations excite me.  It takes learning beyond the classroom walls and places it in the hands of the learners themselves.  As Dr. Michael Orey pointed out in the video for this week, technology can be either an instructional tool as it is when placed in the hands of the instructor or a learning tool when placed in the hands of the students (Laureate Education, 2012).  Whereas I used to see these technologies as mere social networking sites, they have taken on new meaning and scope when presented in the realm of educational possibilities.

The specific technologies that I want to incorporate into my teaching repertoire at this time are the concept map and virtual field trips.  I have utilized concept maps in my classroom for many years and in a variety of ways.  They can be a diagnostic assessment to determine what knowledge the students already have.  They can be a formative assessment to check on students understanding of the curriculum so that misconceptions may be cleared up.  Additionally, they can be a summative assessment to discern the knowledge that students obtained from the unit of study just completed.  What makes this method invigorating for me is the infusion of technology into it.  By linking their concepts via the internet and being able to support their findings with websites, images, maps, and the like, student understanding and motivation is increased tenfold.  Additionally, this technology is inclusive of students working cooperatively/collaboratively.

The second technology that I want to integrate into my teaching is virtual field trips.  With the world being as close as a click away, it makes sense to bring it to my students (as opposed to taking my students into the world).  With the added restrictions of working in a juvenile detention facility, I teach many students who have a very limited view of the world.  Taking them to places that they would otherwise never get to see or explore can make the subject matter come alive in a way that just reading it on a static page never could.

One long term goal that I want to set for myself is the transition from using the interactive whiteboard as an instructional tool to that of a learning tool.  To do this I will rewrite one lesson from each unit that I teach, changing the focus to a more student centered approach.  As I refine and redesign the lessons, students will become empowered as learners and utilize technology not just for the sake of energizing the lesson but as an actual learning tool.  I would stick with this practice of redesigning the interactive whiteboard lessons until the majority of them demonstrate a learner centered approach.

The second long term goal that I have set for myself is to maintain the professional network that I have started throughout my studies at Walden by accessing them once a month to hone my teaching practices within the classroom.  Being the only history teacher in my building, it is essential for me to connect with like-minded educators who are teaching the same content as myself to discuss ideas, grading systems, technology integration, and the like.  Additionally, I have subscribed to a select few technological blogs to keep current on emerging technologies.  When I infuse these two together, they become a powerful weapon in my teaching arsenal allowing me to impact a diverse student population.


Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2012, January 26). Connectivism. Retrieved April

            3, 2012, from Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching, and Technology:

 Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer).(2012). Technology: Instructional Tool vs. Learning Tool

[Video Webcast].  Retreived from

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cooperative learning in practice is one of just many strategies that embrace social learning theories - the idea that people learn best when engaged in discourse with others.  Cooperative learning can be used in a variety of ways in the classroom.  Pair-shares are a quick means of having two students dialogue about the content and check each other for understanding.  Groups of 3 works much in the same manner but can be utilized for making predictions, responding to prompts, or the like.  Jigsaws are a personal favorite of mine.  Students are members of not one but two groups (the original group and a sub-group) where they become the expert on the subject matter "teaching" their original group about the research they conducted.  The teacher's role becomes that of facilitator as opposed to the expert dispensing information.  Students can be placed in groups according to abilities, interests, diversity, or age.

Technology supports this type of learning.  Skype, blogs, wikis, GoogleDocs, Facebook and the like are all geared toward the sharing of information and understandings.  These technologies link students together in a way that is not possible in a traditional classroom.  Groups can research and post their findings with the assurance that all members have access immediately to the same information.  Edits and additions can be collaboratively agreed upon and made by any group member.

One exciting technology that is utilizing social learning theories in particular is VoiceThreads.  An individual or group can compose a VoiceThread on any topic of their choosing.  Then, once posted and shared, it is available for comment by anyone, anywhere with an internet connection.  I tried my hand at creating a problem-based VoiceThread on the Battle of Gettysberg.  Here is the URL to view and comment on it:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Constructivist Approaches to Learning

This week we looked at the idea of generating and testing hypotheses (inquiry learning) for application in classrooms beyond science.  Having students formulate questions, create a theory of how or why something is the way it is, research it, and then test these hypotheses is what inquiry learning is all about.   It is an active method engaging the student in all stages of the learning process and can be either inductive or deductive.  Critical and complex thinking skills are emphasized in this method as students inquire and formulate their findings.  This correlates to the constructionist approach to learning where students are actively engaged in the process of constructing learning within their minds (knowledge is not simply transferred from teacher to student).  The constructionist theory of learning takes inquiry learning one step further in that the learner creates an artifact of some sort with which they can share their knowledge or learning with others.  It can take many forms as each learner is unique and has different experiences to draw from (or connect the learning to).      

The constructionist classroom is student-centered where the instructor is relegated to the role of facilitator, guiding the learner on their path.  Elements of this classroom include but are not limited to:

            Rubrics that define expectations

            Projects based on the research

            Collaboration with other learners

            “Genuine” or authentic real-world tasks

The teacher must be familiar with multiple strategies to allow the students various methods of solving the problems that arise within the learning platform.  Scaffolding, or building upon what is already known, is very popular with this theory.  Feedback from the instructor throughout the entire process is critical for students to alleviate misconceptions and revise their hypotheses.  Placing the application in a real-world context, helps with the connections that are created in the mind of the learner and is a motivating factor for many.

I found this link helpful in explaining inquiry learning as applied in a regular classroom.

The book Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007) breaks down this theory into six tasks that teachers can incorporate in the classroom to assist students with their hypotheses generating and testing.  The first is system analysis where students study the parts of the system and predict what would happen if something in the senario were changed.  The second is problem solving, investigating the various possible solutions in light of the obstacles posed.  Third is the task of historical investigation where there is no definitive resolution.  A myriad of senarios could be examined and explored in this step.  Forth is invention where creative solutions are thought through to test the hypotheses.  Fifth is experimental inquiry, a process whereby students test their predictions.  Sixth is decision making, the step where students use agreed upon criteria to choose which senario is the most logical or practical.

Technology is useful in helping students collect and record data to formulate these hypotheses or inquiries.  Spreadsheets, data collecting software, and web resources (especially in the form of simulations) allow for the quick gathering or consolidating of information so that students may concentrate on construeing their hypotheses.

Works Cited

Laboratory, N. R. (2005). Research-Based Strategies. Retrieved March 21, 2012, from Focus on Effectiveness:

Orey, M. (2008, December 15). Constructionism, Learning by Design, and Project Based Learning. Retrieved March 19, 2012, from Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology:

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using Technology with Calssroom Instruction that Works. Denver, CO: Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning.