Final EDUC 6713 Reflection

Since I took this course at the end of another fabulous, but busy school year, I look forward to spending my summer rereading course materials and planning for purposeful technology integration in the fall.  Fortunately, I have a few opportunities to meet with both grade level colleagues and other staff members during summer writing teams and other get-togethers.

 

One goal mentioned in my GAME plan as part of a few earlier blog postings was K-6 vertical planning towards teaching students basic word processing skills and simple Google Apps setup.  There have been numerous conversations regarding this issue, as I discovered that I was not alone.  Primary teachers are also aware of the lack of focus in this area.  Intermediate teachers have suggested that all teachers devote time each fall (with refresher courses in the winter and spring) to basic computer literacy skills.  Although my grade level has plans for a Google Apps introduction in the first week of school (as Gmail and the other Google tools are new to 5th graders), there is not a coordinated vertical alignment yet.  However, I am a member of the school technology committee, and will make sure to add this as one of our tasks for the year.  Getting a coordinated plan in place will take some time and discussion.

 

The second goal in my GAME plan was to incorporate shorter and more frequent inquire and explore research opportunities for my students.  The GAME plan I created for this course over the past three weeks aligned with this goal.  As part of this plan, my students worked in partners to read the newspaper, looking for topics that interested them.  Then, they conducted a few short bursts of research to uncover facts and details about their topic, adding them to a shared Google document.  The next steps, obviously done with my new group of students in a repeat of this plan, will be adding a summary of findings to a page on a shared class wiki, and then creating a digital story to document the process.  With more time to plan out the schedule and assure availability of resources, I am excited for this and other projects that combine short online research opportunities with social networking, online collaboration and/or digital storytelling.

 

As for my instructional practice, I am more energized about technology integration as an instructional practice.  I want to make sure to focus on my state standards, as they drive my instruction, and then look for ways to meaningfully integrate technology.  Incorporating Problem-Based Learning, additional educational networking, and digital storytelling into my teaching will keep my students engaged.  I realize that time and resources (access to technology) may limit their frequency, but I will not let my ignorance or lack of confidence act as barriers to their use in my classroom.  By planning creatively, I can make technology integration a seamless part of my everyday teaching instead of just an add-on.

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Week 4 Update to GAME Plan

As the school year is winding down, I find myself thinking about and planning for next year’s students.  I suppose that might be considered a modification of my action plan.  However, the resource of time is one that a new school year can provide.  As for goal one of my plan, I have a research site linked to our school’s web site.  During class last week, my students and I attempted to inquire and explore a variety of topics following a collaborative brainstorm of ideas.  With both computer labs booked with district testing, I used the one-computer classroom model.  We took turns researching topics using the wireless keyboard and mouse and projector, and found the sites on the Google custom search to be effective at meeting our needs.  Generating questions and using these safe sites to research the answers was more of a real-world alternative to the lengthy research papers.  It mirrors what adults do all of the time, as we “Google” a plethora of questions that arise each day.  I plan to reserve the netbook cart next week, and let the students conduct some mini-research with partners.  I am excited to put this into place in the fall.

Secondly, although a comment was made regarding my district’s vertical technology curriculum, the actual computer skills have disappeared from the standards.  Instead of teaching our students basic computer skills such as saving documents, inserting pictures, and even moving the curser above text that has already been entered (yes, this was an issue for a group of fifth graders), our standards focus on creative applications.  A colleague of mine commented that years back, when she taught third grade, all of her students could open a document, name it, add text and images, and save it to the correct location.  We were shocked when our fifth grade students were working on a grade level standard related to displaying data on a graph, and many could not find the “save button”.  Later on, a group of reading students had typed their body paragraph, and many of them could not figure out how to get the curser to move above the text so they could type the introduction.  Granted, this was not every student.  However, there were enough students who lacked these basic computer skills, due in part to the decreased focus on general computer knowledge.  I believe that once the computer standards deviated from word processing skills, and with the onslaught of gaming and texting, our students are sorely lacking the skills that will help them successfully communicate and complete classwork via computers.  One of my new questions is when to begin the  vertical conversations with K-6.  Sometimes, it is a good idea to discuss it at the end of the year so we have time to process information and plan effectively.  However, the fall would bring a fresh perspective and possibly more focus.  Another question is how to schedule these lessons around all of the fun and creative activities the other teachers want to do in the fall.  My colleague mentioned having a “computer boot camp” in the fall, where we assess students’ proficiency and computer savvy in order to differentiate our instruction.

I need to make a few decisions in the next two weeks.  Any feedback or advice you have regarding either goal is much appreciated.

Week 3 Game Plan Update

This week, I will highlight the necessary resources for carrying out my GAME plan, in addition to describing steps I have taken and any other information needed to get started.

 

Goal 1: I have identified inquire and explore activities to use throughout the year.  In addition, I had previously asked my school’s technology teacher to put together a general research Custom Search. A next step is to show students how to access and use this search tool, as well as model searching for answers to a topic they would like to explore.  I need additional information about other effective sites for use in a school setting for 5th grade research.

Goal 2: The main resource I need to carry out this GAME plan is time to share and discuss the basic framework with colleagues from other grade levels.  Collaborative vertical meetings between feeder grades would help the teachers be more consistent about what is taught when.  The only steps I have already taken were roughing out a draft of which skills fit developmentally with each grade level, but need to examine this document to determine its reasonableness.

Any feedback you have is appreciated.  Thank you.

My GAME plan

The first NETS-T standard I would like to strengthen relates to modeling digital age work and learning.  Specifically, I would like to “model and facilitate effective use of current and emerging digital tools to locate, analyze, evaluate, and use information resources to support research and learning” (http://www.iste.org/Libraries/PDFs/NETS-T_Standards.sflb.ashx).

G: My goals are to incorporate mini research projects for students to practice the real-world writing purpose of inquire and explore (Gallagher, 2011), and evaluate the validity or credibility of their sources and quality of the information itself.

A: My actions will be to introduce and model sites and strategies for conducting effective internet searches.  Students generate the questions through writing brainstorms.  Then, they work together to investigate the answers.  The students will learn to be careful when using keywords by completing the various practice activities and scavenger hunts (Eagleton & Dobler, 2007).  They will learn how to identify overtly misleading web content by following the GET REAL steps (November, 2008).  These steps are: reading the URL, examining the content, asking about the author and publisher, and looking at the links.  In addition, the students will make decisions about which information to include on their projects.

M: The students will monitor their progress through the use of flowcharts or by keeping a journal of the number of steps, and the steps themselves, towards discovering their answer.  It would be interesting to have them do a Voice thread or even a podcast of their process.  Talking through the inquiry process can be very revealing and rewarding.  I will know that the strategy is successful by analyzing the length of time it takes to locate information, as well as the validity of information they found.

E: They can extend their thinking by brainstorming key words or other ways to decrease the number of searches and increase the effectiveness of their searches.  As stated in November (2008), “understanding validation as well as effective search techniques will help [students] both lessen the number of dubious sites that [they] might find and evaluate the ones that remain” (p. 61).

The second NETS-T standard on my improvement plan is titled Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership.  The indicator is “exhibit leadership by demonstrating a vision of technology infusion, participating in shared decision making and community building, and developing the leadership and technology skills of others.

G: My goal is to work with team leaders from grades K-6 to develop a scaffolded technology plan.  An important attribute of teachers who integrate technology is working with supportive colleagues who are willing to change together (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).  Our technology plan would include basic skills, such as how to save, insert a picture and use spell check.  In addition, the plan would increase in complexity as students gain more proficiency (with promotion separate from age or grade).  With all of the focus on reading and math differentiation, web literacy is an area often overlooked

A: Taking action involves starting a Shared Google Document, where team leaders will add their thoughts related to which technology skills are expected at each grade.  Then, we will rank them so they increase in complexity as the student gets older and learns more.  Finally, the team and I will work on placement of the skills where they seem most appropriate.

M: We will monitor progress by observing whether the students are getting the right amount of rigor as they progress through the program.  In addition, there should be some cross-grade level collaboration where we coordinate lab schedules to best utilize our technology specialist.  During our first implementation, it will be important to assess whether or not our plan has enough rigor without being too difficult for many of the students.  The other team leaders and I will need to monitor students’ acquisition of web literacy skills in order to decide if we need to modify the action plan (Cennamo, Ross & Ertmer, 2009).  This type of reflection is considered “in action” because it takes place while we are implementing the plan (Cennamo, et al., 2009), similar to formative assessments with students. “On action” reflection occurs in the final step of the GAME plan.

E: During the evaluation phase, it will be important to reflect on the amount and frequency of skill practice the students need to develop proficiency on their grade level skills.  We will decide ways to extend what we learned to other areas, hoping that as our students engage in this scaffolded technology plan, the level of rigor can increase along with them.

I would appreciate any comments or advice you have as I work to implement these two GAME plans. Thank you.

 

References:

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.

 

Eagleton, M. B., & Dobler, E. (2007). Reading the web: Strategies for Internet inquiry. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Gallagher, K. (2011). Write like this. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Enriching content area learning experiences with technology part 2. [Video Webcast]. Integrating Technology Across the Content Areas. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_550064_1%26url%3D

 

November, A. (2008). Web literacy for educators. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.