Friday, October 19, 2012

Final Blog Post: Reflecting on my GAME Plan


The focus of my GAME plan is on the ISTE Standard proficiency indicators 2.a., 2.b., and 3.b., which entail designing learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources into the classroom, enabling my students to become more self-directed learners in a technology rich environment, and to communicate with students and community effectively using a variety of digital media (ISTE, 2008).  I have gained a lot of knowledge and have connected with a lot of great resources while working on my GAME plan, however, it is almost too much information.  I have learned that using my Delicious account, a social bookmarking tool, to keep my resources organized is a must.  I have also learned that when planning lessons, using backward design is a must, in other words, start with the standards, determine how you will assess students, and then design your lessons.  Lastly, I have discovered that technology is a wonderful tool, however, it is most effective when it is used to enhance student learning.

Technology in the classroom is an evolving entity that requires teachers to keep up with  rapid and continuous change.  Becoming aware of the steps that a self-directed learner must take to keep up with change and meet the needs of students in this ever-changing environment is the best thing a teacher can do (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009, p. 7).  Learning about the GAME plan facilitated self-awareness in my own learning and has initiated true change in my approach to teaching.   I set specific goals to improve my teaching and incorporate quality experiences with technology into my classroom practice that would directly benefit my students.  One of the goals I set was to design lessons that incorporated digital tools and resources into my classes.   I use a social bookmarking tool called Delicious to organize and tag all of the resources I have found to enhance student learning.  I have made a lot of progress in organizing my bookmarks and have categorized them according to content.   This tool has enhanced my teaching tremendously because I can access resources quickly and efficiently and design lessons that incorporate technology that is free.  One of my goals was to make my classroom a technology rich environment and I am well on way toward reaching that goal.

Another goal I had was to enable my students to become self-directed learners.  One of the adjustments I have made to my instructional practice is directly related to my use of Delicious and my awareness of the GAME plan.  If I want my students to be self-directed learners, I need to model what that looks like.  Think-aloud mini-lessons that explicitly demonstrate how to use a tool and what kind of critical thinking is required to do that will scaffold the learning of my students (Cennamo et al, 2009, p. 154).  Engaging students in their own GAME plan can scaffold the learning process as students monitor and evaluate their own learning.  Another adjustment I have made to scaffold the learning process of students and to help me monitor their learning is to incorporate the use of a reflection journal during inquiry projects (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009a).  I incorporated this into all three of my unit lessons and found that it vastly improved my ability to monitor and evaluate student learning and to provide more effective and immediate feedback.  I believe this helped my students monitor and evaluate their own learning as well.

It is also extremely important to  use backward design when planning lessons.  I learned that I need to start with the standards and then use student data to inform my instruction.  This required me to adjust my approach to planning lessons and think more carefully about whether the technology I am using will meet the diverse learning needs of my students (Cennamo et al, 2009, p. 115).  Universal Design for Learning gives kids alternatives for obtaining and demonstrating knowledge and skills and provides flexibility and accessibility for all (Cennamo et al, 2009, p. 115).  I had never really thought much about this before, I am ashamed to admit that I used my educational assistant to work with some of the lower performing students, but never considered how technology could benefit these students.  I now carefully consider how to group me students based on the standards they must master, learning needs and ability, and available technology.  This made a big difference in my unit lesson for historical architectural  styles.  I was quite surprised when my EL student, whose language skills are fairly low, put together an impressive video of local architecture.

Lastly, I set a goal for communicating effectively with students and community using digital tools.  I have researched teacher blogs and websites and have gathered the necessary information.  I am in the process of completing a storyboard to organize my website, which is something I never would have thought of without this class (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009b).  I have also started pulling together a plan for sharing my work using an e-portfolio as it will keep me more actively engaged in my learning long after this class is done (Lambert, DePaepe, Lambert, Anderson, 2007).

In conclusion, I feel like there is no way that I can do justice to the amount of knowledge and practical application to the classroom learned in this class, however, I now actively use the GAME plan to set goals, take action, monitor and evaluate my own learning as well as that of my students.  I have adjusted the instruction in my teaching practice by using standards and student data to inform that instruction and intentionally provide a variety of digital tools to enhance content and the learning of all students.  Allowing students some flexibility to choose which media tools they prefer to work with and providing scaffolds in the form of rubrics and checklists to help students monitor their learning along the way are all strategies I have learned in the course.  The bottom line is that modeling and scaffolding  a strategy like the GAME plan will ensure that I stay up-to-date in this ever-changing world and my students will be successful in the 21st century workplace.

References:

Cennamo, K., Ross, J., & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Lambert, C., DePaepe, J., Lambert, L., & Anderson, D. (2007). E-portfolios in action. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 43(2), 76–81. Retrieved from the ERIC database.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009a). Video Nine: Spotlight on Technology: Problem Based Learning Part Two. [DVD] Supporting information literacy and online inquiry in the classroom. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009b). Video Thirteen:  Spotlight on Technology:  Digital Storytelling Part Two. [DVD] Supporting information literacy and online inquiry in the classroom. Baltimore, MD: Author.

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