Tuesday, August 17, 2010


By setting up Cennamo, Ross and Ertmer’s GAME plan (2009) this summer, I achieved far more than I have ever accomplished during a summer. My research during this course demonstrated hundreds of ways I can use technology to enhance my instruction. When the course began, I set goals based on the ISTE NETS, reshaping my classroom to integrate technology as a tool for enhancing learning. Thanks to these goals my instructional practice will be greatly changed, with technology infused throughout most of my units.

Many of my accomplishments related to standard 2: “Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments” (ISTE, 2008). Focusing on this standard, I created a poetry wiki where our poem-a-day assignment can take on more collaboration and critical thinking. This site will allow my students to reflect on our class poetry at home, adding personal insights and expanding their thinking by reading each other’s ideas. I also discovered ThinkQuest.com, where we can join students from other schools to collaborate on creative projects. I am in the process of setting up a project-based learning experience through this web site now.

This course demonstrated the value of problem-based as a tool for promoting creativity and collaboration. The recycle project I created will give my students a chance to practice reading and writing skills while using higher-order thinking. During this unit, groups will choose areas of interest to research and use self-directed learning with their own GAME plans. This lesson, based on authentic, relevant subject matter that affects my students’ lives, will “stimulate curiosity related to real-world problem solving” (Alvermann, Phelps & Ridgeway, 2007, p. 182). This unit fits my GAME plan and ISTE standard 1, where I will “facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity, and innovation in both face-to-face and virtual environments” (ISTE, 2008). Best of all, my students will use digital storytelling to share their findings with members of our community who have little understanding about our recycling problems. My students will become proficient in the NETS for students based on problem solving, “employing technology in the development of strategies for solving problems in the real world” (ISTE, 1998).

As I stated in an earlier blog, I strongly value goal-setting and reflection as learning tools. This summer, I set my own goals and came a long way on my journey towards becoming a 21st Century teacher.


Alvermann, D., Phelps, S., & Ridgeway, V. (2007). Content area reading and literacy: Succeeding in today’s diverse classrooms. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach. Mason, Ohio: Cengage Learning.
The power of project learning with ThinkQuest [Online Pamphlet]. (2009, August 3). Menlo Park, CA: SRI International. Retrieved August 5, 2010, from http://www.thinkquest.org/en/projects/index.html
Nets for Teachers. (2008). International Society for Technology in Education. Retrieved on August 5, 2010 from http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/NETS/ForTeachers/2008Standards/NETS_for_Teachers_2008.htm

Monday, August 9, 2010

GAME Plan for students

No matter what subject I teach, I always make time to teach my students Sean Covey’s 7 Habits, especially the first two: “Be Proactive” and “Begin with the End in Mind” (Covey,1998). I am amazed at how much my students seem to take these ideas to heart. Habit two is especially important for teens; kids have to know where they want to go in life or they end up getting pulled along, sometimes in the wrong direction. In my classes, we set life goals and academic goals. We set reading goals to plan where we want our reading to take us. We set writing goals to determine how we want our writing to grow over the year. Professionally, I set goals for myself each year in order to be assessed by my principal.

This summer, I have been writing a new type of professional goal for myself. Gearing towards becoming a teacher of technology, I have been reshaping my lessons to fit with the ISTE’s National Education Standards for Teachers (NETS-T). To reach my goals, I have used the GAME plan presented by Cennamo, Ross, and Ertmer in Technology Integration for Meaningful Classroom Use (2009). There is value in mapping out the methods you will take to achieve goals. The GAME plan forced me to plan my action steps, constantly monitor my progress, and reflect as I reached each goal (Cennamo, Ross & Ertmer, 2009, p. 14). Thanks to the GAME plan, I have come a long way towards rewriting most of my lessons so that I can enrich my students with technological experiences.

This week, I took some time to reflect on my progress by comparing the NETS-T with the standards for students (NETS-S). In order to truly be digital age learners, our students have a lot to learn. I have no time to waste. I plan to begin our school year by sharing the NETS-S with my students. We can then engage in discussion about what a digital age learner looks like. How far do my students have to go? I will then ask the class to start their own GAME plans, setting goals for themselves based on the national technology standards we must reach. We can monitor our progress throughout the year, evaluating and changing goals as we learn. Giving my students an opportunity to “keep the end in mind” will set them up for success on their route to 21st Century learning.
Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach. Mason, Ohio: Cengage Learning.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


This week as I continue on my GAME plan, I started searching for ways to take my classroom to a more global environment for collaboration. I am designing a problem-based lesson for my class centered on my community’s need for a recycling facility. I know this is an issue in other small towns, so I wanted to find a way to collaborate. While exploring I found Thinkquest.org. This site provides a teacher-created web page for me to start my project. Students can log in and use the site like a wiki, posting information they uncover and collaborating together to create solutions. Also, I can open this project up to other teachers who use ThinkQuest. Hopefully we can get another school on board and join forces. I am unable to use all aspects of the web site until my administrator grants them permission, so once again my GOAL is blocked by summer. We will see how this one goes…

Meanwhile, I am still working on my NETS goal to “model digital-age work and learning”. I am building a wiki through a learning community with my peers at Walden. This experience is helping me get more familiar with the process and I am pretty sure I will be able to create the poetry wiki with my students. I have set up the basic site. Now I think I will get in touch with some former students through Facebook and see if they want to help me get it started. There is nothing like getting kids on-board to create interest in a project like this one.

For the future, I have begun working on NET 1. “Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity “. This standard asks that teachers “engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources” (ISTE, 2010). I am working on this goal as I play around with the ThinkQuest site, and am excited about finding new ways to apply problem-based learning to my lessons. Has anyone had any experience with the ThinkQuest site? Until I get my administrator to approve it, there are quite a few areas of the site that I can’t access. I wonder if the program is going to be as easy to use as it sounds?

Thanks for following my progress!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

More GAME plan

In preparation for my GAME plan, this week has been about exploring various web sites online. I spent some time at Webs.com and toyed with web page design there. The site is really easy to use and it is free. I set up a web page to model the poetry pages we will be creating this fall, but I will have a hard time moving further along without my students to use as guinea pigs.

Next, I spent some time surfing for information and ideas about Problem-Based Learning (PBL). In the spirit of my ISTE-based goal of “designing and developing digital-age learning experiences and assessments”, I have begun digging into the concept of problem-based learning. According to the Illinois Math and Science Academy’s PBL Network web site, PBL is “focused experiential learning organized around the investigation and resolution of messy, real-world problems”. We certainly all have a lot of problems; my task this week was to choose one and write a problem-based lesson. I have chosen to center around our recycling needs in Hamilton.

As I write the lesson, I have come up with some great insights into my instructional practice. First of all, I love the usefulness of the Internet for shifting the classroom into a student-centered environment. As my class works to clarify, analyze, research and present solutions to our problem they will work as self-directed teams, leaving me to facilitate and guide. Since my ultimate goal is that my students “will, over time, assume full responsibility for their own learning” (Cennamo, Ross & Ertmer, 2009, p. 30), the Internet is invaluable for helping students find knowledge without me handing it to them. I am also excited for the authentic learning that can take place during problem-based learning. By presenting my students with a real-life issue that affects their community, I am giving them an opportunity to take part in “authentic intellectual work” that has “value beyond school” (Cennamo, Ross & Ertmer, 2009, p. 35).

My next steps require me to be a step ahead of my students. I need to start researching the background behind our recycling problem. I need to make community connections to I can get some experts in to help my students understand the issue we will be exploring. I have a lot of work ahead of me. Wish me luck!

Cennamo, K., Ross, J., & Ertmer, P. (2010). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning
Introduction to problem-based learning. (2010, March 30). PLBNetwork: Collaborative Inquiry in Action. Retrieved July 27, 2010 from http://pbln.imsa.edu/model/intro/ )
Project Based Learning: The Online Resource for PBL. (2005). Buck Institute for Education: Boise State University Department of Educational Technology. Retrieved July 27, 2010 from http://pbl-online.org/default.htm

Friday, July 23, 2010

GAME Plan Progress

Now that all my summer jobs are over, I have had a chance to sit back and reflect on my GAME plan. I was pleased to realize that I am well on my way. I have already created a web quest for my To Kill a Mockingbird unit, and have ideas for web quests for other novels we read. I have plans to create an in-class web site to discuss poetry throughout the year, which will teach my students how to set up web sites for their historical fiction novels later on. I plan to insert lessons I have created about web safety and etiquette and reading the web while I teach the class the poetry sites. I will use MyAccess as a tool for writing practice. Overall, my classroom will be a much more digitally-centered environment than ever before.

Next steps- I am still struggling to figure out how to design and use a wiki. The wiki we created in a previous course was way over my head. I plan to start playing with the software right away. I would also like to begin using the CPS machine more often. I also need to go back through the plethora of assignments I have completed for Walden classes, finding the lesson plans and making them more accessible.
My final action plan involves getting more access to computers. I can demonstrate web site building using my computer and projector in the classroom, but I will need to get a few computers put in my room for student use. I have contacted my tech guy and he says he can set me up with some laptops, but I have to assume that they will be older and not so effective. I envision myself and my colleagues eagerly waiting at our computers until the lab sign-up page is created, then trying to be the first ones to fill in our names for the whole year. There may be bloodshed, but I think I stand a good chance of getting the labs. A little motivation goes a long way.

Help from my classmates- Does anyone remember the web site we found when researching graphic organizers? I remember finding a great site with a huge variety of organizers that I wanted to use while we study vocabulary next year. Did anyone bookmark it?


Saturday, July 17, 2010

ISTE 2010

Catching up on my RSS feeds today, I was struck by how useful RSS can be. One of my favorite bloggers and a personal hero, David Warlick, has quite a few posts waiting for me. Warlick just attended the ISTE 2010 conference where he used his iPad to take copious notes for those of us who were unable to make the trip.
Warlick adds direct quotes, summaries, pictures, video clips and insights from the conference, where revolutionaries in technology and education inspired and reflected on practices. I felt almost as if I had attended myself.
If you haven't added 2Cents Worth to your RSS feed, get on it. Warlick is an exceptional blogger.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

First Steps

Summer is already half-way over, and it’s time to start moving towards my goals. I am lucky that my courses at Walden have started moving me in the right direction. One of my goals for the year is to “Model digital-age work and learning”. For this standard, I need to develop a fluency in technological systems and transfer my knowledge to my students. I have already done the hard work, creating blogs, wikis and web sites as assignments in my classes. This blog has been an amazing learning experience. It has taught me how to organize my thinking to publish it online. My next step for this goal involves the creation of a classroom blog. I would like to create a blog for weekly discussions where my students can meet after school to discuss our content. A teacher-friend of mine from Seattle has a great sample site for this idea. Check out Mrs. Fitz’s web site “You Are What You Blog". Her site inspires me to try this technique with my English classes next year. I just need to work on getting past our tricky filtering program.

For my other goal, to “Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments”, I plan to create poetry wikis in class to teach digital publishing. Like Will Richardson points out, “everyone together is smarter than anyone else” (2009, p. 57). I am excited to see my students working collaboratively to analyze and synthesize poetry. This goal will require more assistance. Richardson’s Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for the Classroom can be a useful resource; I have been rereading it this week. I am trying to find sample student wikis online so I can get an idea about how these sites are set up. So far, I am struggling to find any useable samples. Can anyone help me?

Richardson, W., (2009). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for the classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press