Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Week 8 Reflection

During this course, I have worked on developing a GAME plan to increase my effectiveness in the classroom. One area in which I wanted to work on improving was in the area of professional learning communities. I want to collaborate with others in the field of education and continue to be informed about developments in technology. I want someone to hold me accountable for increasing my knowledge and applying it in my classroom.

As part of my GAME plan, I have joined several online communities to blog and share information. I also have asked several staff members to help hold me accountable within my district. Several staff members have begun blogging and reading together to increase collaboration within the district. I also have several staff members who have agreed to meet with me periodically so we can share information with each other and problem solve areas in our classrooms. I will continue with these communities.

I also wanted to increase the reflection that my students do in regard to their own work. I feel I have begun to collect different methods of reflection and would like to continue to do so. It is important that students think about their work and the work of others.

As a result of this course, I will continue to include technology in my classroom. I have set up Google accounts for all of my students and would like to add RSS feeds to their accounts, using some of the updates as required readings. I would also like to incorporate digital storytelling into my literature units in order to help students share what they learn. Digital storytelling has many benefits within my language arts classroom.

Overall, I have found the GAME plan effective and will continue to use it with my students.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Week 7: GAME plan

Throughout the past several weeks, I have thought about and evaluated my own GAME plan for increasing my knowledge and understanding of the technology standards for teachers. These standards are important because they are necessary skills and knowledge for the future success of our students. Students will need these skills in order to be competitive in the future economy.
To that end, I have been working toward my GAME plan: setting goals, taking action, monitoring my work, and extending it. As I consider implementing these standards in my classroom for my students, I see the value in using the GAME plan with them as well.
There are many ways to incorporate this type of plan with students, and as teachers we should be continually setting goals with our students and working through the parts of the GAME plan. In particular, I want my students to be familiar with the technology goals and 21st century skills that will be necessary for their future success.
To begin, I would like to have my students work in groups to evaluate the standards. Over the course of the semester, I would like them to break down each standard into student-friendly language and discuss what they mean and what they look like in the real world. I would also like them to consider the advantages to having these types of skills.
As they work, I would like students to develop their own GAME plan to prioritize the standards and begin to work toward mastery of them. Throughout the semester, I will ask my students to set goals to incorporate these standards into their work in the classroom. As they set their goals, I will have them keep reflective journals to see what their goals are and how they are working toward them. Periodically, we will review their journals together in our conferences. I will ask them to list specific steps they need to take to work toward their goal, and they will reflect in their journals how they are progressing to their goal. Our conferences and their journals will allow them to monitor their progress. Each time we meet, I will ask how they are progressing and if their goals need changed or amended to reflect new skills or information. As they achieve their goals, I will ask them how they can extend the knowledge and skills they have gained.
At the end of the semester, I would like students to blog about their reflections and the achievements they have had due to following their GAME plan to learn and incorporate the standards into their classwork, as well as where they will go from here in regard to their GAME plans.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Week 6

As I continue to work toward meeting the goals of my GAME plan, I have begun collecting reflection tools and inquiring of others how they have students reflect upon their learning. I have continued to add to my portfolio of ideas for reflection. In addition to exit cards, I have found several other ideas I will try within the next semester. One idea is to have students write down goals for learning at the beginning of the unit or lesson. They can list their goals on post-it notes and then we can hang them in the room somewhere. After the lesson, we can verbally reflect whether or not we feel those goals have been met. Another idea is to set students up with accountability pen pals. Students would be paired up with one another and would blog or write back and forth to discuss what they have learned, what they are learning, and what they need to continue to work on. I feel I have discovered some great resources to help with this goal.
I am continuing to work on developing my professional growth and leadership. The first week of blogging with colleagues has been successful. However, I have not had much success in finding other teachers who are willing to hold me accountable within my teaching practices. Another option I am going to try is video taping some of my lessons and asking others to view them to critique my teaching style. I would like to have some feedback on ways to improve. I am also continuing my search for other PLC options.
I am not yet sure I am ready to pursue other goals as of yet. However, I would like to begin to incorporate more problem-based learning in my classroom, which ties in with the NETS standard of engaging students in real-world issues and problems with digital media and resources. In this regard, I will begin by refreshing my knowledge on wikis and planning for several PBL opportunities.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Week 5

I am continuing to adapt my GAME plan as I need to in order to progress. First of all, I have been working on reflection tools for my students. I have found several surveys that students can fill out regarding their work and have asked for fellow staff members to look at them and give me their input. I have also asked other colleagues how they help students reflect upon their growth. One colleague suggesting having students create short recordings. She suggested they record their goals at the beginning of a project, paper, or activity, and then record their thoughts after completion. I like this idea and feel I can incorporate it easily into my classroom, as my students all know how to use Voice Thread and create podcasts. In this case, my actions have led to some success in finding reflection tools that will work in my classroom. I would still like to learn how to help students reflect on smaller tasks within the classroom, such as daily lessons. I want to find resources to help students see what they learn on a daily basis. I have used exit cards in the past and would like to continue to add to that idea.

Secondly, I have been working on being accountable by finding a PLC. To date, I have had 5 staff members inquire about the book I am studying and blogging about. 5 does not seem like a large number, but it has only been about a week, and I work with a staff of about 40, so I am encouraged. I put information in each staff member's mailbox in regard to the PLC, and I think that has helped to spread the word. We begin blogging at the end of this week on the first chapter, and so I think I will find the conversation encouraging and it will help me find new ideas for the classroom. In addition to this online PLC, I would like to find 1-2 staff members who would be willing to hold me accountable in my professional learning. I am going to begin to inquire to see if anyone would be interested in meeting periodically to share ideas and concerns in order to help one another.

I am encouraged by the steps I have taken to meet my GAME plan, and I will continue to work toward its success.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

EDUC 6713 week four

The first objective of my GAME plan was to help students become more reflective thinkers. I began by creating a blog that would allow them a place to reflect on their learning and knowledge, and they would be able to comment on one another's posts. As I continue to develop my GAME plan, I know that students will need guidance on how to do this. Therefore, I have begun to compile a list of resources to help students with their reflections. I have begun gathering as many different types of reflective tools as I can, and have started thinking about when they should be used with students. For example, I can post open-ended questions on the blog, such as what did you learn? How do you know? What obstacles did you run into? What helped in your learning? I can also provide students with rubrics and have them grade their own projects and assessments to see how they feel about the knowledge they've gained. However, I am worried about using the same types of reflection tools repeatedly and losing the value of them as students become accustomed to them. Therefore, I will continue to search for helpful tools and try to continue to come up with innovative ways for students to assess their learning and reflect on it.

My second goal dealt with becoming more involved in my profession, such as keeping up with news about education, particularly in technology. I also wanted to gain more interaction with peers. I have subscribed to several rss feeds to gain information and also to several blogs and online journals. Another step I have taken is to talk with my superintendent in regard to PLCs. Our district does not mandate learning communities, but he is in favor of the concept. Therefore, he has agreed to let me pilot an online community based on gaining knowledge and sharing. He has purchased a set of books for the staff to read. This is voluntary right now, but I hope it will grow. The superintendent has allowed me to set up a blog for staff where we can discuss the book we are reading and how it applies within our classrooms. He has requested that I update it weekly, noting important information from the book we are reading and helping to head up the discussion. I think this is a great opportunity for my district to share ideas and begin communicating on a higher level. I hope it will lead to further PLCs. I will continue to look for new books we can share in this format, and hope that anyone who has suggestions in this area will share them.

Within the next few weeks, I hope to add to my portfolio of reflective resources and see more participation within my district in the new PLC blog.

Ginger

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

EDUC6713 week3

Last week, I developed a GAME plan to help me implement some of the technology standards into my classroom. One area I wanted to develop was promoting student reflection. To do this, I wanted to establish a classroom blog where students could reflect upon items from class and their own work and then "discuss" this with one another. I want them to have accountability and take ownership of their work. This week, I established the blog and I will introduce the concepts to students in the coming weeks. As I move forward, I will need to look for some reflective tools I can use to help students see what areas they need to analyze within their own work, and ways they can reflect upon what is being done in the classroom. I will search the Internet and ask colleagues for advice on what types of tools would be most effective.

Secondly, I wanted to focus on evaluating and reflecting on current research and professional practice. I want to be aware of what information is out there, learn to implement new technologies into my classroom, and then reflect and evaluate the work I am doing within my classroom. This will take many steps and resources to accomplish, yet this type of evaluation and reflection will never cease in a classroom. First of all, because there are no PLCs in my district, I need to locate one that I can be a part of. I have done some online searching and have joined two learning groups through my diingo account. I have joined elearning 2.0 and Google in education. However, I have not yet had much opportunity to read the majority of the articles. I do, though, have the ability to comment on things I am doing in my classroom to ask for advice or to reflect upon the outcomes. I can use these sites to read for new information and hold myself accountable for trying new ideas. I would also like to look for and subscribe to educational magazines that deal with new technology. My next step will be to search for these and subscribe. Finally, I am using my personal blog as a reflection tool and will continue to do so.

These beginning steps will help me implement these new standards in my classroom. As I look at what I am doing and need to do, this will change and need updated as well.

References:
National Education Standards for Teachers (NETS-T) retrieved from http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/NETS/ForTeachers/2008Standards/NETS_T_Standards_Final.pdf on November 10, 2009.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

EDUC 6713 GAME plan

The National Educational Technology Standards and Performance Indicators for Teachers reflect the skills and abilities of teachers that are becoming more and more important in modern classrooms. As classrooms continue to evolve to meet the needs of 21st century learners, it is more important than ever that teachers continue to adapt to those needs.
The ISTE Standards address these areas for teachers. I feel comfortable with many of the standards, but there is always room for improvement. There are several that I would like to work on in particular.
The first indicator that I developed a GAME plan for is "promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students' conceptual understanding and thinking, planning, and creative processes." (National Education Standards for Teachers (NETS-T). One action I will take to complete this is developing a reflective blog for students. They will be able to log on and address concerns and questions about completed projects. They can comment on their ability to work in groups and indicate how comfortable they felt with assignments. They will also be able to comment on one another's suggestions and ideas. As they leave comments, I will also be able to address their responses. Then as we work on new or continuing projects, we can reflect back on what was previously stated. To monitor this, I will check the blog every few days and be sure to address comments by students, whether on line or in person. I will ask additional questions to help them dig more deeply into their reflections. I can evaluate this by the comments students make and the differences I see in the classroom in collaborative work. I can extend this for my own learning by keeping a personal log or journal reflecting on what I think is going well or needs improved.
Another indicator I would like to work on is "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." (National Education Standards for Teachers (NETS-T). I will take several actions to accomplish this. First of all, I would like to find a professional learning community to interact with. My district does not have PLCs as of right now, so I will search online or check with colleagues from other schools to find one I can share information with. I will also subscribe to media regarding information technology. I will read to keep current with new technology and share that information with others. To monitor this, I will keep myself accountable with other colleagues to try new tools periodically and reflect on their use. I will evaluate my efforts in this by reflecting and journaling new lessons I try or new tools I use. I will contribute to a PLC to share this information.

References:
National Education Standards for Teachers (NETS-T) retrieved from http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/NETS/ForTeachers/2008Standards/NETS_T_Standards_Final.pdf on November 10, 2009.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

EDUC 6712 Reflection

After completing this course, one thing that stands out to me is the fact that my students need a whole new set of skills in order to be literate in today's world. It is no longer enough to be able to read and write or work with printed materials. Students need to navigate and manage the electronic information they are bombarded with daily. I need to help students learn how to read and write in a global society.
To begin with, I will work with students on managing information. I would like my students to become more literate in today's technology. I would like to help them set up readers or other types of accounts to manage information. I also want them to understand how to paraphrase information and research properly, giving credit as appropriate. The knowledge I have gained in this course will influence how I help students maneuver through this information.
One professional development goal I have for myself is to investigate methods of instruction that will help students develop new literacies. I would like to investigate online courses and written materials that will help me understand how students think and process information so that I can better teach them the processes they will need to understand to be successful.
Ginger Holloway

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Reflection: Week Eight

As I reflect back over my personal view of learning, I continue to believe that all students have the capability to learn, and my job as a teacher is to provide connections for my students between their prior knowledge and new material. I need to help students apply new knowledge and develop necessary cognitive skills to be successful members of society. I continue to believe that most of my practices fall under the category of cognitivist theory. Students take in data through their senses and then make connections to prior knowledge. They can apply new knowledge through these connections. Throughout this course, I have learned ways in which I can apply technology to enhance this process.

One immediate adjustment I will make with my incoming classes is to convert my class notes from Podcasts to Voice Threads. With this change, students can use the Voice Threads to review information, but they can also leave feedback and dialogue with one another regarding the content, adding their own insight to the topic. I will also create a class list that allows me to email students with regular reminders regarding class assignments and upcoming projects and tests. I will continue to use a class website and blogs, but will begin to post links to important information that will aid students in the classroom.

With this in mind, one new tool I will be using is the Voice Thread. Voice Thread allows me to create online albums of text and images, using audio as well. This will appeal to both auditory and visual learners. Voice Thread also allows for collaborative work, and it gives students the opportunity to leave their own feedback and/ or questions.

Another tool I will be using in my classroom is Spinscape, an online concept mapping tool. This tool supports dual coding by giving students a visual representation of concepts and ideas along with text. It helps students organize information and make connections between prior knowledge and new knowledge.

In addition to these immediate changes, I am planning the following long-term goals for my classroom. First, I want to use online tools to allow students to turn in work electronically. For written work and essays, I am going to establish online accounts for my students at Buzzword.com. Buzzword allows students to create Word documents online so that they can be accessed at any computer regardless of the type of computer. Students can then send these documents to me electronically, where I can then go online to record my comments and questions. I can provide immediate feedback. Another program I will use is Slide Rocket, which allows students to create online Power Point presentations in much the same manner. To do this, I will have parents sign permission slips to establish these accounts, and then I will walk my students through the process. I will be sure to provide computer access at school for students who do not have computers available at home. I will also work with the district coordinator to obtain weekly scheduled time during class to use the mobile computer labs. The students and I will walk through the first assignment together to see how these programs work, and we will discuss online etiquette and usage rules.

My second goal is to develop Google Reader accounts with my students to help them sift through and organize information. We will discuss this information age together and decide which issues and ideas are important for us in class. We will talk about summarizing and why it is important to choose which pieces of information to follow. We will work on implementing new knowledge and managing subscriptions. Then we will decide which blogs, websites, etc. to follow on our readers and establish accounts. Students will then be responsible for reading through their information periodically and sharing what they learning by adding comments to the class blog page. I think this will help students see the amount of information available to them and teach them how to discern the important information.

Overall this course has reminded me of the importance of learning tools and implementing technology in my classroom. My job is to help students prepare for their future while learning how to process information using 21st century skills.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Connectivism and Social Learning in Practice

Social learning theories deal with the idea of students "actively engaged in constructing artifacts and conversing with others." (Laureate Education 2009). In social learning theories, students work together to discuss ideas and problems. The teacher takes the role of a facilitator who encourages students and helps as needed, but does not provide all of the information. Every student has a "zone of proximal development" (Laureate Education 2009), or a level at which the child is able to learn at any given time. When a teacher challenges a students to go above this level, the student needs someone more knowledgeable than he is. This person can be another student or the teacher, but someone can guide the student to higher levels of learning. The student interacts with others in order to accomplish a task or learn a new concept.

Students construct knowledge based on their context and culture. These are vital aspects to understanding the world around them. Social learning theories build on this idea to allow students to work together in collaboration for the purpose of learning. 

"Today's students need to be able to learn and produce cooperatively." (Pitler 2007). One instructional strategy that supports social learning theories is the idea of cooperative learning. Cooperative learning allows students to work together in many different ways. Groups support one another and share information. Students can use technology to incorporate new knowledge. Working together helps students to learn in new ways. Students benefit from one another's strengths. Instructional strategies that emphasize cooperative group work relate to social learning theories.

References:

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009a). Program eight Social Learning Theories [Motion picture]. Bridging learning theory, instruction, and technology. Baltimore: Author.

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

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Constructivism learning theories state that "each individual actively constructs his/her own meaning" and that "people learn best when they build an external artifact or something they can share with others." (Laureate Education 2008). Students construct meaning as they assimilate or accomodate new data. Students develop schemas, or beliefs and understandings as they learn. Constructivism is the idea that students develop these beliefs and understandings through the process of constructing something tangible. This could be a word processing document, a three dimensional model, a picture, or a project. Students retain more as they share these artifacts with one another. 

Using the idea of constructivism, students can focus on 21st century skills of communication, presentation, organization, self-assessment, and leadership when engaged in the building of artifacts. By implementing the ideas of constructivism, teachers can give students more freedom in choosing projects of interest to them and allowing students to use tools and technology that fit their particular learning styles and needs.

In the classroom, students can problem solve, investigate, invent, inquire, and make decisions. (Pitler 2007). Technology helps students with these processes by providing necessary tools. Instructional strategies play a major role as well. For example, teachers need to address these areas when preparing lessons for students. Rather than doling out information for memorization, teachers need to decide what the overarching goals are for their students, and then supply the tools and resources needed to allow students generate and test their own hypothesis. Teachers become the facilitators rather than the providers of information. In this way, students can explore their own ideas and take ownership of their learning.

Resources:
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Program seven. Constructionist and Constructivist Learning Theories [Motion picture]. Bridging learning theory, instruction, and technology. Baltimore: Author.


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

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cognitivism in Practice

There are many strategies that can be used in the classroom that relate to cognitive learning theories, or support them. To begin with, concept mapping tools can replicate the network model of memory. Things move from short term to long term memory when a student can connect the new information to something that exists in their current memory. The more connections they make, the more pathways they have to retrieve that new memory. Using a concept map allows students to visually see connections between pieces of information. This helps learners visualize ideas and the connections between ideas. (Laureate Education 2009)

Another concept that is important in cognitive learning theory is the idea of dual coding. Dual coding says that people store images and remember them along with text. When the two are used together, they make a more powerful memory. (Laureate Education 2009). Therefore, when a concept map or any type of graphic organizer is being used, students can visualize information and read it. This helps imprint the information.

Using cues or questions helps students link information to their prior knowledge or background. This again provides a connection to help information enter long term memory (Pitler 2007). To begin a lesson, a teacher can ask an essential question. "Asking students to use background knowledge to answer essential questions aligns with research showing that higher-order questions produce deeper learning." (Pitler 2007).

Finally, teachers can use reciprocal teaching to help students understand information. By having students teach one another, it is easy to see what learning has taken place. It also forces a student to tap into higher levels of thinking to be able to thoroughly explain something to someone else.

References:
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Program five. Cognitive Learning Theories [Motion picture]. Bridging learning theory, instruction, and technology. Baltimore: Author.

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

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Behaviorist learning theories influence some instructional strategies in the classroom. Behaviorist theory states that "all behavior is learned habits" and "all behaviors can also be unlearned" (Standridge 2008).  This theory believes that teachers need to reward desired responses for learning to take place. Behaviors that are rewarded will be repeated. 

With that in mind, several instructional strategies can be related to behaviorism. First of all, students can be shown the effect of their own efforts in the classroom. As teachers, we want students to demonstrate effort; therefore, we need to reinforce effort. To do this, we can have students track the effort they put into assignments, and then look at their corresponding scores. We can comment positively when their effort results in desired outcomes. When there is a lack of effort and students are not as successful as we would like, we can withhold positive feedback. Instead, students receive negative feedback, such as a poor grade. (Pitler 2007).

A second instructional strategy that relates to behaviorism is homework. Homework gives students additional practice with data, and allows teachers to provide additional feedback. This feedback can help students make improvements within the classroom. Not all homework is the same, however. Traditionally, teachers will grade homework and write comments on it to encourage students and elicit the response desired. With modern technology, though, homework can include multi-media projects and assignments that may provide immediate feedback to encourage students. (Pitler 2007).

Programmed instruction, such as websites and power point games, present small amounts of information, asks questions, and then allows students to receive answers. (Laureate Education 2009). Receiving immediate feedback encourages students to continue working with effort. 

There are many ways behaviorism is still at work within classrooms. Behavior management and instructional strategies are influenced by behaviorism. 

References:
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Program four. Behaviorist Learning Theory [Motion picture]. Bridging learning theory, instruction, and technology. Baltimore: Author.

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

Smith, M. K. (1999) 'The behaviourist orientation to learning',the encyclopedia of informal educationwww.infed.org/biblio/learning-behavourist.htm, Last update: May 11, 2009

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

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