Saturday, October 20, 2012

EDUC 6713 Reflection

At the beginning of this course, I developed a GAME plan to bring authentic problems into my classroom through the use of technology and to enhance communication with my students and their parents by using Edmodo. Dr. Katherine Cennamo defines a GAME plan as a strategy that self-directed learners use to promote personal growth and development (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).
            As I moved through my GAME plan for incorporating Edmodo into my classroom, I quickly discovered there would be bumps in the road. While I have found Edmodo to be a wonderful way to increase collaboration and engagement amongst my students, I have had parents deny their child access to Edmodo. For these students, I have tried to create activities that are just as interactive but it is hard. However, through the use of open-ended questions on Edmodo, I have seen my other students gain a depth of understanding for the concepts being taught in the classroom.
            As for integrating authentic problems into my classroom, I developed three GAME lesson plans in which I incorporated technology into my content area: math. While I have only had the chance to integrate one of the lessons with my students, I have found they were much more engaged. Not only did my students become more engaged, they also seemed to gain a deeper understanding of quantitative relationships because they had the opportunity to explore the concept at their own pace and level.
            I have already made adjustments to my instructional practice because I now think of how technology can enhance my lessons. I no longer look for technology to force into my lessons and realize there are some days I can use technology easily and others where I will need to spend time researching best practices. I have learned how problem-based learning can enhance student learning, I have used social media sites to allow students to collaborate in a setting which some are more comfortable, and have developed ideas and plans for integrating digital storytelling into my classroom. I am excited and prepared to continue using these technologies in my classroom.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Promoting self-directed learning with technology. [Webcast]. Integrating technology across the content areas. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Monitoring My Game Plan

First Goal Recap: My first goal is to engage my 7t grade math students in authentic problems using digital tools.

I am finding it difficult to find the information and resources I need. Unfortunately, my class is very fast paced and we are gearing up for our first district benchmark test, which must be given on a certain date. I have found great ideas and potential lesson plans to use, but unfortantely I have not found anything appropriate for my students regarding rational numbers.

I have decided I need to modify my plan. Originally I had my timeline set to implement a problem-based type learning activity that utilizes technology by next week. In order to ensure I am implementing an activity that builds on my students’ learning, I want to extend my timeline. I want to wait until the beginning of December. Due to Christmas break; my math-pacing guide has a lull in December, which proposes the perfect time to implement a project. I do not want to implement an authentic problem that can be solved completed in a fifty-minute period. Authentic problems are not neatly packaged in a certain time frame and I want to allow flexibility during this learning curve. As Dr. Peggy Ertmer states in “Enriching Content Area Learning Experiences with Technology, Part 1” part of integrating technology effectively relies on a teacher’s confidence (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).

During my research for this learning goal, I have learned that authentic learning problems do not have to be complicated. I am finding it harder to find ways to integrate technology into activities within the limits and confines of my school’s resources. My question remains the same: how do others use technology in fast-paced math classes? I find by the time I get technology, such as computers, passed out, my time left in class is limited.

Second Goal Recap: My second goal is to use a variety of formats to communicate with parents and students.

My goal specifically revolves around using Edmodo to interact with students and parents. I have found many resources, specifically from my colleagues. I have two colleagues who already use Edmodo in their classroom and have shared the ways they implement it within their content area. I have already created a parent letter, which introduces Edmodo, and gains parent permission for students to use Edmodo. I have also set up individual sections on my Edmodo site for each class period, along with an introduction activity.

At this time, I do not need to modify my plan. My students will be registered and utilizing Edmodo within the next two weeks as scheduled. So far, I have learned that Edmodo can be used in a variety of ways to enhance student participation and communication.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Enriching content area learning with technology, part 1 [Webcast]. Integrating technology across the content areas. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Working on my GAME Plan

In order to meet my first goal, which involves engaging students in authentic problems utilizing tools, I need to research lessons that other teachers have done. So far I have started towards this goal through the help of my peers. My peers have posted helpful suggestions for me on my blog that are leading me to examples of problem-based learning in the mathematics classroom. Now that I have some good examples of authentic learning experiences, I now need to research how technology is used in the math classroom. This is an area I need assistance. My problem is I get stuck on using technology as replacement of paper and pencil techniques. I would like to find a use of technology that extends students’ learning, not simply replacing something that could be done without technology.  The steps I have taken so far consist of researching authentic learning experiences in regards to rational numbers, which will be the next unit of study for my students. Does anyone have any suggestions or ideas?

I have already taken some action towards my second goal, which is to use Edmodo to increase communication with my students and parents. I have set up my account and started to set up general parameters, such as different sections for each period, creating an introductory poll and quiz for my students. Resources I need for carrying out my plan are a parent letter explaining the website and gaining permission for students to access Edmodo. I have found a few sample letters online, which I will draw from to create my own letter.  I also found a wiki page on Edmodo that shares ideas on what it is used for. This wiki offers great explanations for how to set up and monitor wiki pages. My next step will be to write my own parent letter and roll out my Edmodo webpage to my students.


The Who, What (For), When, Where, How, and Why (Not) of Edmodo! Retrieved from

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My GAME Plan


In “Promoting Self-Directed Learning with Technology,” Dr. Katherine Cennamo introduces the concept of creating a GAME plan, which supports self-directed learners in creating a strategy for personal growth and development (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010). It is important for teachers to constantly assess their own learning and make a plan for how to improve their practices.


When reviewing the National Education Standards for Teachers (NETS-T), there are two indicators I would like to strengthen. I would like to improve on Standard 1: Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity, specifically, the indicator that states teachers should, “Engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources” (International Society for Technology in Education [ISTE], 2012). I currently teach seventh grade Pre-Algebra and do not utilize technology to enhance student learning in authentic situations like I can or should.

The second standard I would like to improve on is Standard 3: Model Digital Age Work and Learning, indicator: “Communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital age media formats” (ISTE, 2012). I have a classroom website to communicate with parents, and a blog to communicate with my peers, but I am currently lacking a way to communicate with my students.


In order to achieve my goals, I will need to take action. When it comes to improving on Standard 1, I will first need to analyze my curriculum and find areas where I would like to emphasize authentic problems. From there, I will research technologies that can enhance the learning experience. I will use search engines and conversations with my colleagues to gain ideas. Once I have developed a lesson plan and found a technology to use, I will implement my lesson.

In order to achieve my second goal, I will create an account on Edmodo. Edmodo is a social network specifically designed for schools, which allows teachers and students to connect and collaborate (Edmodo, 2012). The best part about Edmodo is that it will not only offer a way to communicate with my students, but will also act as another mode of communication I can use with parents and colleagues. The actions I will need to take are creating an account, setting up my Edmodo page, and sharing how to use it with my students.

In order to monitor my progress while working on my two goals, I will set up a time frame for each component of my action plans. My personality prefers structure, and I am very good at accomplishing my tasks if organized in a “checklist” type of manner, in which certain tasks must be done by a certain time.


To evaluate if I have strengthened Standard 1, I will evaluate student progress and engagement. I will use surveys to gain students’ opinions on the activity and technology I implement to see if they feel it was a valuable learning experience. I will also use informal observations of my students to determine if the technology I have implemented is enhancing or hindering student learning. One thing I will be looking at is whether or not the technology I use is a placeholder for an older technology or actually brings something more to the lesson.

To evaluate if I have strengthened Standard 3, I will use my Edmodo page to see if I have more open communication with my students. My page will offer immediate feedback on whether or not students are actually communicating with me outside of the classroom in an open and educational way. If students are not utilizing Edmodo, I will have to determine if it is how I have my page set up or due to student access to technology outside of the classroom.

For both of the standards I want to improve on, the biggest thing I will have to do is reflect and analyze what worked in each situation and what did not. From there, I will have to reevaluate my goals and either make new action plans or continue using the practices I have developed.

I am hoping my colleagues can offer how they use technology to enhance technology in authentic math lessons. Also, if anyone has used or is using Edmodo, what are your main uses of it? Another question I have is, how do you encourage students to utilize Edmodo?


Edmodo. (2012). About. Retrieved from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Produce). (2010). Promoting self-directed learning with technology. [Webcast]. Integrating technology across the content areas. Baltimore, MD: Author.

International Society for Technology in Education. (2012). Nets-t. Retrieved from

Friday, April 13, 2012

EDUC 6711 Reflection

            In Week One of this course, I constructed my personal theory of learning.  My theory then and now consists of a combination of the constructivist and social learning theories. Throughout this course, I have deepened my understanding of these two theories. I have learned the many different technology resources I can use to support my personal theory of learning. The biggest thing I am walking away with from this class is the difference between technologies as instructional tools versus learning tools. Dr. Michael Orey explains in “Technology: Instructional Tool vs. Learning Tool” that instructional tools are technologies used to by the teacher to present information, whereas learning tools are technologies used by students to be active learners (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011b). This simple distinction made me realize that many uses of technology in my classroom are primarily used by me, which is not the student-centered classroom I want. 
            To begin my shift to a student-centered classroom, I need to put technology into the hands of my students in meaningful ways. One technology tool I will immediately implement is the use of combination notes through the use of Microsoft Word. Combination notes support the cognitive learning theory because it aligns with Paivio’s dual coding hypothesis that states information is stored as text and pictures (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011a). I will use this strategy and combine it with my own personal learning theory, by having students collaborate with a partner to create combination notes on different topics. (See my blog posting from March 13 for more information on combination notes.)
            Another technology tool I will begin to implement is the use of a blog. I have tried to use a blog in my classroom before, but I did not give my students time in class to practice using the blog. I want to use a blog in my classroom because it will give students a chance to interact with each other, while creating artifacts they can go back and revisit. My plan is to set up a time when my students can go into the computer lab and respond to open-ended blog posts.
            This class has introduced me to many different technology tools that I am excited to use in the future. One long-term goal I have is to utilize spreadsheets for students to track their effort and grades. One major obstacle I face as a teacher is showing my students they are accountable for their grades, as they often feel it is out of their control. Over the summer, I plan to create a spreadsheet within GoogleDocs for students to use next year. Next year, our school will be piloting Google email accounts for our students. I will set my students up with their Google accounts and then spend the first few weeks of school explaining what effort is and how to use GoogleDocs. Then, after every chapter test in math and science, I will have my students grade their effort and record their scores in our computer lab.
            Another technology tool I would like to use is Edmodo. Since my personal theory involves the social learning theory, I think this step makes sense. Edmodo offers many options for collaborating. Edmodo allows students to interact, take quizzes, utilize GoogleDocs, and more. My plan for integration is again, to set up an account on Edmodo this summer. I want time to become familiar with Edmodo and the options it has. I will not roll out Edmodo at the very beginning of the year but will wait until October or November. My reasoning for this is I do not want to overwhelm my students or myself at the beginning of the school year because we will already be learning about GoogleDocs and normal classroom procedures. In October or November, my plan is to slowly introduce students to Edmodo, getting them set up, and then giving them simple tasks in the beginning. Then, by January or February, I hope to have my students fully engaged in Edmodo. My biggest goal is to take baby steps to make these transitions easier for everyone.

 Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011a). Program five: Cognitive learning theory [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011b). Program thirteen: Technology: Instructional tool vs. learning tool [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Social Learning Theories Put Into Practice

This week’s resources have been focused on social learning theories. Dr. Michael Orey describes social learning theories as being focused on activities that students are engaged with creating artifacts or interacting with others (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011).  Social learning theories have been and are becoming more prominent in schools with buzzwords such as “collaborative” or “cooperative” learning.

Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, sites several ways to incorporate technology into the classroom while fostering cooperative learning. One suggestion the authors give is to use multimedia in the classroom. In this situation, students are working together to create a movie and are also involved in cooperative teaching and learning (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007). The authors explain that students can be given roles or tasks within these movie projects, to ensure students are engaging appropriately and also stress that rubrics are critical for ensuring students understand what is expected of them (Pitler et al., 2007).

Another strategy Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, suggests is to use web resources in order to communicate with students from other cities, states, and countries (Pitler et al., 2007, p.145). At the Computer-Using Educator’s (CUE) conference in Palm Springs this month, Dr. Howie DiBlasi presented on different sources teachers can utilize for collaboration. You can check out his Power Point presentation on his website. (Click here to get to his website.) Once at his website, scroll down and download the PowerPoint labeled "2012 CUE-Give Kids the World-Collaboration Projects for the Digital Age Classroom."

Lastly, Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, explains how building a website can be used to foster cooperative learning (Pitler et al., 2007). While the authors walk through specific websites to be used, I think a basic class wiki page would be just as beneficial. The point of this activity is to get students working together to create an artifact that can be shared with the world.

All of these strategies have one thing in common: they require students to work together. Collaboration and cooperative learning allows students to create a piece of work to be shared with an audience. This is how many of us learn today, especially those of us taking online courses, and it should not be ignored in our classrooms today.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program eight: Social learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

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