Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Monitoring My GAME Plan Progress

The following questions help me monitor my GAME plan progress:
  • Am I finding the information and resources I need?
  • Do I need to modify my action plan?
  • What have I learned so far?
  • What new questions have arisen?
It seems that I am always finding new information and resources to help reach my goals. Some of the resources I mentioned earlier have produced a lot of material I can use in my Math lessons. In addition, as I talk about this plan with my fellow teachers, they have provided some great feedback and additional ideas. We often discuss how difficult it is to keep a class of middle school students interested and engaged for 90 minutes each day. Making the lessons more relevant by providing more real-life applications is crucial to student motivation, but it is hard work! While some applications seem so obvious to me, my students do not share the same set of background knowledge that I have, so it is not obvious to them. Although I was once a teenager...and I raised two of is not always easy to understand what is important to them. That's why I am asking them for much more feedback now. Their ideas and thoughts are definitely one of my best resources. I just wish I had tapped into that much sooner. As I mentioned in a previous post, when you first ask them for their opinions, they will give all kinds of off-the-wall answers. However, once they see that you are not only listening to, but actually implementing some of their ideas, they take it more seriously.

While my goals remain the same, I have made an important modification. To begin with, the projects will be of shorter duration. I believe nine weeks is the maximum amount of time to cover, rather than a semester. In the early stages, I am starting with Chapter projects. As I develop the units and learn from the experiences, I hope to eventually link several Chapters together into a single project.

To date, I have learned that implementing my goals will take much more time and preparation than if I just continue to do things the same way. I expected that, but I might have underestimated just a little! However, I remain focused on the idea that once the outside 'prep' work is done, the students will actually be doing more work in the classroom than I will.

Progress is usually accompanied by more questions. Some are not unexpected:

  • Will I be able to access the technology I need each time a new unit or project is started?
  • Will I be able to make adequate progress on these goals and still meet content requirements in the same time frame?

More difficult ones to answer are:
  • Will these changes produce measurable results?
  • Is the additional preparation time worth the potential benefit?

As I continue to work on these goals, I am sure that more surprises await me!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Reviewing the GAME Plan

In reviewing my GAME plan, I considered the following questions:

· What resources do I need to carry out my plan?
· What additional information do I need?
· What steps have I been able to take so far?

To carry out my plan, I need an abundance of resources. I will search the Internet, consult my fellow teachers and Walden colleagues, take full advantage of my professional memberships, and use my personal contacts outside of the education field.

From these resources, I need information on real-world applications, tested unit or project plans, pitfalls to avoid and, particularly, more efficient methods of searching. There is so much information available that I simply do not have time to sort through all of it. By talking to educators who have successfully implemented the same or similar goals, I hope to be able to find what I need more quickly than if I tried to do it on my own.

To date, I have already received new resources from our media specialist. Since she has already tested these technology options, she can tell me what to do, as well as what to NOT do. I have also learned about some outstanding resources through Week 2's discussion. I am constantly searching the Internet and various media sources for current and relevant applications for my content standards. In addition, I am asking my students more about what their ideas are for making the lessons more engaging and more relevant to their lives. Initially, they gave expected answers such as "let us listen to our Ipods during tests" or "less homework". The first request is out of my hands and the second is negotiable, depending on how much effort they put into their class work. However, as they have started to understand that I seriously need their input, they are taking more time to consider how to improve our class without making the entire period "free time".

Hopefully, with the help of all of these resources, I will begin to see some measurable progress towards achieving my goals.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Technology GAME Plan

Walden EDUC6713 Integrating Technology Across the Content Area (Week 2 Application)

As I reviewed the ISTE National Educational Technology Standards and Performance Indicators for Teachers, I could see where I need improvement in every indicator. For this GAME plan (Cennamo, Ross & Ertmer, 2009), I chose the following standards and indicators:

1. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity

Teachers use their knowledge of subject matter, teaching and learning, and technology to facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity, and innovation in both face-to-face and virtual environments. Teachers:

b. engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources.

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 identified in the NETS•S. Teachers:

b. develop technology-enriched learning environments that enable all students to pursue their individual curiosities and become active participants in setting their own educational goals, managing their own learning, and assessing their own progress.

My plan is as follows:

G – Set Goals

1. In almost every Math class, someone will ask “when will I ever need this again?” It is not always easy to come up with a concrete, real-world application for every skill or concept. My goal is to do a better job of seeking out these applications and creating authentic learning experiences using the available technology.

2. By integrating more digital tools and resources into my lessons, I hope to provide a learning environment in which each student can explore the concept through their various interests and choose to complete an assessment based on their preferred learning style.

A – Actions to Achieve These Goals

1. For each unit, I will review resources from various sources to find relevant real-world applications and authentic assessments. These resources include, but are not limited to, fellow teachers, curriculum materials, internet research, professional organizations such as NCTM and PBS, current events, and the students themselves.

2. I will begin to reconstruct unit plans to place more emphasis on student-centered learning. By shifting to activities that focus on exploration and discovery rather than instruction and practice, the students will be more responsible for their own learning. A concept that I have been toying with is the idea of a semester-long project. Rather than teaching each lesson from the textbook, I believe it is possible to cover every Math standard within a single project if it is planned well. Possible projects might be starting and developing a small business or simply earning, budgeting, saving, and investing money. If the students are engaged in the project, they will learn the content without getting bogged down in doing pages of practice problems every week. That may be a difficult goal to accomplish, but I definitely think it is worth spending more time to research.

M – Monitoring Progress

1. It will be fairly easy to monitor my progress in reaching the first goal. With middle school students, it doesn’t take very long to know if a real-life application is actually “real” to them. It is the same with creating authentic assessments. If a student feels like an assessment is a waste of their time, then it is not authentic to them. While monitoring will be fairly easy, achieving the goal will be more difficult.

2. While I believe I have done a fairly good job of integrating technology, we have not yet reached an environment in which all students can pursue their individual interests in each unit. To monitor my progress in having the students set their own educational goals and manage their own learning, I believe the best indicator will be workload. When the students are doing more work in the classroom than I am, there will be progress!

E – Evaluating and Extending My Learning

1. While I am engaging the students and creating authentic assessments, I must be sure that they are learning the content and standards that are required by the state. To do this, I will ask my co-teachers to review my lesson plans and observe when possible. It always helps to have the opinions of others when doing a thorough evaluation. Having a completely-engaged class is not enough if they are not acquiring the knowledge they need to be successful in the next grade and in life.

2. To evaluate whether I have created a learning environment in which all students can pursue their individual interests, I need feedback from the students. I will let them know that I am interested in their opinions and open to any questions or suggestions they may have. To be sure they are setting appropriate goals and managing their own learning, I will hold individual conferences with them to review and evaluate their own progress. At the beginning, these conferences will need to be frequent. As they adapt to this method of learning, conferences may be held less often, along with weekly reviews of their documented work.

I am looking forward to reading your comments and suggestions on my proposed GAME plan.