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In addition to this being the final assignment for this course, it is also the final assignment for my masters program! It is  hard to believe this program is over. It went by so quickly and I have truly learned so much.

The portfolio assignment for this course was to create a lesson using gaming, multi-user virtual environments (MUVE)or an online learning module. I chose to form my lesson around the technology I was the least familiar with, and that was the MUVE. Over the course  of my life, my family and I were always very up-to-date with new technology. We always had a computer and we were some of the first in my town to the get the internet when it was first introduced. I was surprised when I learned about these virtual environments as a part of this course because I was really unaware of their existence. I had use chat rooms when I was in middle school, and I was familiar with games like World of Warcraft, but I had never actually been a part of a virtual environment the way they are currently. This was something unexpected for me. I always thought that I was keeping up with new technologies as they were becoming available, but as it turned out, I was not quite as current as I thought.

What I think will influence my teaching the most is the concept of McLuhan’s Tetrad. McLuhan said that with each new technology, it will enhance, make a former technology obsolete, it “reverses” or rekindles something from the past and finally it retrieves, or will eventually be pushed into something different which will cause itself to be obsolete (Thornburg, 2008). The biggest adjustment that I can make to my teaching is to be prepared for new technologies and be aware of what technologies will become obsolete. Even the overhead projector, a staple in every classroom, will eventually not be needed anymore and that is in the process of happening already. Document cameras, interactive whiteboards and even S-video cords that take the  image on the computer screen and share it with a television screen all can replace the function of the overhead projector. And eventually new technologies will replace document cameras, interactive whiteboards and S-cords.

Each year, many publications are released that inform people of new and emerging technologies. One of these publications is the Horizon Report. The Horizon report actually includes new technologies and their implications for classroom use and adaptation. By reading this report and others like it, I will be informed on the latest technological resources available and how I can begin implementing them in my classroom. By using the latest technologies with my students, I can be sure that I am providing the best opportunity to be a 21st century learner.

Reference:

Thornburg, D. D. (2008). Emerging technologies and McLuhan’s Laws of Media. Lake Barrington, IL: Thornburg Center for Space Exploration.

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  • Summarize how you will use the resources in the Differentiation Station social network to help you implement the principles of Universal Design for Learning and Differentiated Instruction.
  • Something that I absolutely loved about this course was working in small groups using a social networking site. My group used Ning (http://www.ning.com) and it was really easy to use and there was a chat feature available to anyone who was logged in to the site. What I enjoyed so much about using Ning was the collaboration aspect. Because Walden is done online, aside from the discussion boards there is minimal interaction between my classmates and me. The Ning allowed a few of us to share more information with each other that we would not have shared on the discussion board. Even though the differentiation station assignments had a specific goal or topic to share each week, there was still more opportunity to chat with my group in a more informal setting. I found my social networking partners to be so helpful. I learned about several new online resources that I would not have known about if I did not have the opportunity to share and discuss information with this group.

    Each week in the differentiation stations, we were supposed to share a resource that was applicable to assignments for the week. One member of my Ning group shared several links to online surveys about learning preferences and styles, like this one: http://longleaf.net/learningstyle.html. A major component of Universal Design for Learning and Differentiated Instruction is that students come from different backgrounds, learn in different ways and have different strengths and weaknesses (Hall, Strangman & Meyer, 2003). By having students complete surveys like the ones shared in our social networking site, teachers can use the information discovered about the different students and how they learn and adapt teaching methods and styles to help meet the unique needs of all learners.

  • Describe any immediate adjustments you will make to your instructional practice regarding the use of technology integration to customize instruction as a result of your learning from this course.
  • There are two immediate adjustments that I intent to make as a result of this class. First, I want to make sure I am more aware of my students and how they learn and be certain that I am providing them the best opportunities to learn. I know my students well, I have wonderful rapport with them and I am familiar with many of their strengths and weaknesses. Although I have this information about my students, I am not sure that I have always done everything I can to provide to each student. However, now that I am more aware of what UDL and DI actually are, I can be sure to actually implement more of this strategies to ensure that I am doing my best to reach everyone.

    Second, I want to be more creative. This creativity will provide more chances for me to use technology with my students. It is easy to get stuck in a worksheet and book work rut, and I feel like I am in that rut now. It is an ongoing goal for me to integrate more technology in the classroom. By being more creative with my assignments and allowing the students to be more creative with how they express their knowledge, I think it will be easier to find new technological resources to use in the classroom. For example, after using the social networking site in this course, I am very interesting in using social networking with my students but I am unsure how. I am looking forward to using more technology and new resources with my students.

    Reference:

    Hall, T., Strangman, N., & Meyer, A. (2003). Differentiated instruction and implications for UDL implementation. Retrieved from http://www.cast.org/publications/ncac/ncac_diffinstructudl.html

    • Reflect on the GAME plan you developed and followed throughout the course.  Summarize any new learning that resulted from your following your GAME plan and explain what impact your new learning will have on your instructional practice.

    I enjoyed coming up with a game plan and going through the steps of GAME. It is nice to set goals and take the time to plan and work on them and evaluate the progress of achieving these goals. Even if not every goal is achieved, going through the process is nice. It is reassuring to structure the whole goal-achieving process as I am pretty unorganized!

    I think that any sort of planning like this will have a positive impact on teaching. Setting goals, working toward them and evaulating your progress is how we become better teachers. I think teachers do this naturally, but again, the GAME plan just organizes the process into a clean-cut method of doing so. It is the evaluating that truly impacts teaching. If a lesson does not go well, you need to evaluate it and modify it so that it goes better the next time. Continuing to do failed lessons with students does not make for a good teacher! Workign through ineffective lessons and making them work better in the future is how to become a better and more effective teacher. The “E” in GAME plan, evaluate, it what helps teachers achieve this.

    • Describe any immediate adjustments you will make to your instructional practice regarding technology integration in your content area(s) as a result of your learning from this course.

    One adjustment that I need to make to my teaching is to always make sure I have a back up plan. Even the lesson plan template available with our textbook has a section for back up plans for a lesson. This is extremely important because as wonderful as technology can be, it can easily go wrong. In general technology is readily available, but the internet connection could go down, websites could be down or blocked or, like what happened at my school this semester, the entire school server could crash and there is nothing available on any of the computers in the building.

    It is common sense for teachers to have back up plans, but honestly the need to use them does not arrive too often and it is something that I have slacked on since becoming a teacher. When creating lessons for this course where I had to come up with a back-up plan, it was a relief to know that I would be prepared should something go wrong. The peace of mind from knowing I have a back-up plan is worth the little bit of extra time and work.

    First, here are the 5 main standards for NETS~T (the teacher standards):

    1. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity

    2. Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments

    3. Model Digital-Age Work and Learning

    4. Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility

    5. Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership

    And these are the 6 main standards for NETS~S (the student standards):

      1. Creativity and Innovation

    2. Communication and Collaboration

    3. Research and Information Fluency

    4. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making

    5. Digital Citizenship

    6. Technology Operations and Concepts

    Generally speaking, teaching standards and students standards should be linked.  If the teacher is not working to support the students’ goals, then the teacher is not doing the job properly. The same is true when looking at these standards for teachers and students from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).

    The standards set for the teachers are there to help the students meet the standards set for them. For example, teachers are supposed to model digital tools in the classroom and students are supposed to become fluent with different digital tools.

    Using the GAME plan in my classroom will definitely help students achieve the NET~S goals. My GAME plan consists of using many of the strategies outlined by the ISTE. I encourage collaboration and creativity, as well as wanting to integrate more and more technology. I think that using the GAME plan strategies from the very beginning will help students adjust and achieve the technological standards that have been set for them. Students do well with structure and if this is what they are used to, it will become a natural part of their classroom experiences.

     

    Reference:

    International Society for Technology in Education. 2009. National Educational Content Standards. Retrieved from: http://www.iste.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=NETS

    • What have you learned so far that you can apply in your instructional practice? 

    I have learned about several new web resources, both from my classmates and from course materials, that I would like to use in my classroom. I would like to use sites like Wiggio and class Wikis to encourage online collaboration with students. My classmates have introduced me to ePals, which connects students in classrooms all over the world. I have learned about micro-blogging, where students can communicate with each other using 140-character messages, similar to a text message. There is so much I would like to incorporate I am wondering if I can actually do all of it! This is incredibly encouraging because I have not always had the best of luck beginning to integrate technology at my school. I have hit a lot of road blocks along the way but I am optimistic that I will be successful.

    • What goals are you still working toward? 

    My first goal of integrating technology into 5 lessons is something that I can always be working on. It is a little more difficult than I anticipated just because my school does not seem to be as ready to begin integrating more technological instruction as I am. Overall though, it is something that I am working toward and will be able to successfully accomplish with time.

    The other goal I originally set was to make checking student progress a mandatory grade each week.  I am planning to integrate this at the start of the new semester in mid-January. This is something that I am really looking forward to beginning as I am very curious as to whether this will make a positive impact on student grades. Our current grade book is called Progress Book and it allows students to log in on any computer to check their grades. I am hoping that requiring the kids to check their grades on a weekly basis will motivate them to keep their grades up. If they are more aware of not turning in work or poor test scores I think they will be encouraged to make sure they are turning in work and studying for tests.

    • Based on the NETS-T, what new learning goals will you set for yourself?

    The main aspect of NETS-T that I am working toward is to “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”. This incorporates both of my goals: to develop more technology-rich lessons and for students to monitor and assess their progress.

    • If you are not ready to set new learning goals, how will you extend what you have learned so far?

    I am not ready to set new goals because I have not yet achieved my current goals. This question reflects a lot upon why I began this Masters program. I really want to learn more about truly engaging my students and integrating technology just seemed like a logical step forward. I always want to be learning new teaching strategies and improving my abilities as a teacher. My next step is using the new resources I am learning about in this program and beginning to implement them in the classroom. I am learning so many new things and I am very excited about trying them out in the future. In addition to all of that, I am supposed to be getting a Mimeo board sometime in the next semester and I am thrilled! I think it will really help me begin to use more technology with my students without having to reserve the computer lab all the time.

    • What learning approaches will you try next time to improve your learning?

    I think the best learning approach at this point is to just not be afraid to try something new, even if it is a complete flop. Even trying is an accomplishment. This is how people learn – by doing. Revamping lessons and modifying them to better fit with the students and the class is how to make a lesson better. I also want to have students fill out brief questionnaires about new lessons. I want them to give me feedback on how they liked the lesson and what I can do to improve it or any changes they think I can make. Students are brutally honest (not always a good thing!) but I think they will be able to help me learn new things as well.

    This blog post is actually coming at a unique time for technology at school. Our district server has been down all week and we have limited access to technology for the time being. We are able to get online but we have no access to our desktop or any of our files. It has been a stressful week!

  • How effective were your actions in helping you meet your goals? 
  • Slowly but surely I am beginning to reach my goals. I am taking a few of my lessons and at least brainstorming how to modify them to integrate technology, if not actually modifying them all together. I am looking forward to continuing this because the students really do enjoy using the computers. In addition to the technology, I think they enjoy the change of scenery of being in the computer lab instead of the classroom.

  • What have you learned so far that you can apply in your instructional practice? 
  • Something I have learned is not to be afraid to try new things. Every attempt at trying something new will only help me figure out what is successful and what is not. Even if new lessons are not the greatest, I do not consider it a failure because now I know I need to modify these lessons to make them more effective. I have also learned not to be afraid to ask students for help using new technological tools. Some of these students are very tech-saavy and are more knowledgable about certain things than I am. I welcome their help. I recently had to have a student set up a DVD player for me because while I hooked the DVD player up, there was no audio. One of my students could fix it, so I took advantage of that opportunity to let a student help me out.

  • What do you still have to learn? What new questions have arisen?
  • There are still many technological resources that I am not familiar with that I can use in the classroom. I have discovered a few new web resources just from reading my classmates’ blogs! I am looking forward to testing these new technologies and seeing how I can integrate these resources into my own classroom. It is so wonderful having my classmates as a resource!

  • How will you adjust your plan to fit your current needs?
  • In light of our server being down, I have a greater realization to always have a back-up plan! While technology is a wonderful tool, it is still somewhat fickle. If the internet isn’t down, a specific website could be. Sometimes files are not saved in the correct format to open on different computers. Sometimes videos are deleted or moved or internet filters do not allow teachers to show them. There are many things that could go wrong when relying on technology. Having back-up plans in crucial for times like these. A non-technology related assignment is much better than dealing with 20 bored high school students because the internet was not working. I have had to rely on having back-ups a lot this week since I did not know until I got to school if the server would be working or not – here’s hoping it is up and running again for tomorrow!

    • Are you finding the information and resources you need? 

    Yes and no. While I am coming up with new ideas to integrate more technology in the classroom, I am running into many roadblocks. Most of these roadblocks are a result of internet filter at school. I have voiced my complaints with this problem before but it continues to get worse and even more frustrating. I really want to use VoiceThread and it is blocked. I want to show a video of something and the websites are blocked. I want to play a German song, blocked. German online newspaper? Online radio station? German blogs? Blocked, blocked, blocked. I have found a way around the YouTube block. I can download and save the video on my home computer and email it to myself so I can open it at school so I can share it with my students. So integrating more technology using the internet is turning out to be a lot of trouble. 

    • Do you need to modify your action plan? 

    Modifying the plan is probably something that needs to be done, but I am not sure how. I can continue to have students make their own Power Point presentations and attempt to find web resources online that are not blocked, but this is not incredibly exciting. I need to find more methods of technology that I can use, but I am not exactly sure where to start. Suggestions?

    • What have you learned so far? 

    I have learned that something that should be moderately easy to do is actually much more difficult to accomplish. I am not sure why certain websites are blocked, especially when I am learning in this program how great these resources are for education.

    • What new questions have arisen?

    The main question I have is where do I go from here? Because I have already integrated some technology in the classroom, what new technologies should I try to incorporate from here? What do I do if I discover the technology cannot be used at school? And I am still unsure of what new technologies I should try.

    I suppose this is a very negative post. For what it is worth, I do enjoy using the technology that I am already currently using in my classroom, but I am looking forward to using more and it seems like such a distant dream at the moment. Hopefully it will get easier and I will be able to post something more positive in the near future.

    And thank you in advance to any of my classmates who have any new ideas for me to try!



    • Stephanie: Thanks Cesar! It is wonderful to have such support through our cohort. I appreciate your comments and kind words.
    • Cesar Rubio: Hi Stephanie, You are making great strides in completing your GAME Plan. I'm so jealous! I haven't gotten mine off the ground because I don't know
    • Toni Malvestuto: I hope you have a better week this week. I know how stressful it can be when you don't have the resources you need at hand. I have also learned not

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