Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Course Reflection

As the eight weeks draw to an end, I am happy with all I have learned and accomplished in this class. I enjoyed the collaborative network that we created to share resources through out this course. We worked well together and the ideas that my colleagues provided were very helpful. I have visited and saved many of the links that were posted and have used them in my learning and teaching. Many ideas and words of encouragement were shared that have helped me understand how Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Differentiated Instruction (DI) complement each other.

In week three I first began to understand Universal Design for Learning. Maggie McLaughlin (Laureate, 2009) discussed the responsibility of educators to raise the achievement levels of all students from the very beginning of the year. I learned that it is beneficial to be proactive in designing an educational plan that engages and reaches all students not just the disabled. The Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) UDL guide lines gave me an understanding of how providing multiple means of representation, expression, and engagement improves a teacher’s ability to reach the diverse recognition, strategic, and affective networks of learners (CAST, 2009).

Differentiated Instruction provides specific strategies for customizing teaching and assessments based on students’ readiness, interests, and learning profiles. Many of the strategies suggested in this course I have been using for years. What I have learned through this class is how technology helps me be more flexible with my assessments and making it more affective.

This class has given me hundreds of ideas. I have spent many hours researching and investigating sites and tools that I can incorporate into the classroom. At times I have been overwhelmed but I am taking the advice of many and letting my inhibitions with technology go. I invested in a smart phone. These last few weeks I have installed over fifty new applications. Students have been the biggest contributors to easing my anxieties. Technology is a tool that I should not be intimidated by but something that I see as necessary in the 21st century classroom. Technology enables teachers to increase learning and achievement for all students.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Final Reflection GAME Plan

Looking back over the past eight weeks, I am amazed with the wealth of information I have gained. This class has me excited about using technology in a meaningful way with my high school Geometry and Algebra II students. Through the applications for this course I have created a unit plan on quadratic equations that has me anxious to implement. Having my students use digital story-telling in this unit will help me reach one of my goals; “facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity by promoting student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students’ conceptual understanding and thinking, planning and creative process”.

One of the fears I have with incorporating technology into my classroom is that I am not a digital native. I went to school long before computers. Every new tool I use takes a long time to learn. I was relieved to hear Dr Abrams say, “Don’t let the technological aspects get in your way. Give it to the students and let them run with it” (Laureate, 2009). I have to let the student teach me the technology as I teach the math standards. After all teenagers are much more tech savvy than a veteran teacher of twenty one years.

I have been encouraged by classmates to let go with my traditional idea of order in the classroom. They have reassured me that in all of the chaos and confusion during cooperative and project based activities there is a lot of engaging and meaningful learning taking place. This week I did my first math lab with my Geometry class. Although the custodians may not have been happy with all of the popcorn that was spilled on the floor, I was pleased to hear very thoughtful discussions taking place amongst my students. Maybe this old dog can learn some new tricks.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Spotlight on Technology: Digital Storytelling, Part 2. [Educational video]. Baltimore: Author.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Using the GAME Plan with Students

The GAME plan is a focus on goals, action, monitoring and evaluation. The benefit of this process is that it focuses on the thinking skills necessary to be a productive citizen. Whether it is a quick decision like what to eat for lunch or a more thoughtful decision such as buying a car, the mind goes through the same process. The ultimate goal of educators is to create productive citizens. This process supports that notion.

A twenty-first century classroom follows the standards set out by International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). When evaluating these standards, one will notice that standards focus on process, thinking skills, creativity, and flexibility. No standard states “The student must use PowerPoint.” This transition is a reflection on how society is changing.

By taking time to read the NETS-T standards, I have established a better means of communicating with my students and parents through the integration of technology. By incorporating the GAME plan into creating a web site, I was able to set goals and monitor my progress along the way. In many cases goals are set by both teachers and students with no clear direction on how to get there. In the end few goals are met. By making a plan, I held myself accountable and was able to accomplish my first goal: To communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital tools.

Teachers need to ensure that students are equipped with 21st century skills so they are actively engaged as a self-directed learner

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Revising My GAME Plan

I think I have accomplished the first goal, to communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital tools. My class web pages are going well. I have a student aid that helps to enter daily assignments. Parents and students are referring to the website on days when students are absent to get their assignments. I will continue with the web site throughout the school year and asked for students’ and parents’ feedback.

My second goal, facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity by promoting student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students’ conceptual understanding and thinking, planning and creative process, is progressing. My students are putting together their digital portfolios so they can create a presentation at the end of the year in place of a written final. I continue to monitor the students and their work as new concepts are mastered.

The next goal I would like to tackle is: Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity by modeling collaborative knowledge construction by engaging in learning with students, colleagues, and others in face-to-face and virtual environments.
GOAL: I want to become more familiar with tools that help students collaborate with each other and students in different schools

Action: I want to find other educators that use collaborative tools and learn the advantages of each one. Why do some people use blogs, wikis or google docs? I will take workshops and classes to help me become comfortable in setting up and managing these tools

Friday, October 8, 2010

Evaluating My GAME Plan Progress

As I look at what I am doing toward reaching my goals, I am moving along. I have a good understanding of the content and the direction I am headed. I have found some resources that have proved to be valuable to me. The technology teacher continues to be interested in how I plan to use technology to enhance student involvement and understanding. He wants me to join the tech team as they go to a demonstration on a new projector that works similar to a smart board, but projects on the wall and white board. The cost is a fraction of the whiteboard. I don’t know much about this new technology but I am skeptical about it being interactive. If it is as good as the smart board I hope they purchase enough for everyone in the high school that wants to learn how to use it.

The resources and information that I have received from the course text, DVD and discussion threads have increased my confidence. Through the course text and DVD, I have learned many strategies that will allow me to use technology to enrich learning experiences. Applying skills from courses, I have developed a web page that will support students academically by allowing parents to access the site from home and keeping updated on information from school. Students have been very helpful in suggesting what information they like to see on the web page.

The biggest question facing my school district is “Can the school district afford to fund the technology needed to incorporate 21st century skills into the content area”?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Monitoring My GAME Plan

Monitoring my GAME plan

In the last week I have made quite a bit of progress in my first goal: To communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital tools. I am adding new ideas to the website daily and the students and parents are starting to check it out regularly. On the class blogs I have posted some math cartoons that students can give their interpretation of the cartoon’s meanings for extra credit. Any time I mention extra credit my students are anxious to try something new. As more and more students become comfortable posting to the class blogs, I will make responding mandatory. To help communicate to parents and students in my geometry classes I have a link to an explanation of their final project for the year. I want parents and students to know that if students don’t keep up with their digital portfolios though out the year, they will not be able to create a quality presentation for their final.

My second goal: Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity by promoting student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students’ conceptual understanding and thinking, planning and creative process, is also progressing. For their final this year my honors geometry students are creating a presentation to relate the concepts they learn to the real world. As we finished the first chapter I gave the students some time in the computer lab to find real life examples of points, planes and angles. My
student’s creativity continues to amaze me. I am really looking forward to seeing what they have to present at the end of the course.

I have learned that technology should be used as a tool and not as an end goal. Technology should be used to give students options in how they learn. It can help students show their knowledge in different ways. I have learned that not every new technology is appropriate for my classroom. I should not try to fit technology into what I'm teaching, but rather, use technology to aid what I am teaching.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Reviewing My GAME Plan

In order to accomplish my goal to provide parents, as well as students, a site they can visit, and have classroom information readily available to them, I have begun creating my web page through the service provided to all teachers at my school. I went to Dave our head computer support advisor and he was more than happy to give me step by step directions of how to log on and begin creating my website. The directions were so easy to follow, within no time I was filling in images and information for students and parents. I included the usually teacher background, a page for each class and some fun games and tutorial links. There is a spot for blogging in each class, but I’m not sure what to blog about. Ideas? I plan on talking with other teachers at school to find out what they include on their pages. I know some post all of their notes on their web page.

The second goal, learn to create power point presentations that include audio and visual, has not progressed as well as my first goal. I will go back to Dave and see if he has a nice tutorial for power points and I plan to talk with the technology teacher this week some time. The problem I have is that my school is so spread out I don’t have a chance during the day to get down to his lab. I am going to have to find the time. The two students who were going to help me have both found after school jobs so now I am looking for new resources from my “digital age” students.

I feel I am on my way to bringing technology in to my comfort zone.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My GAME Plan

My Personal GAME Plan

When evaluating my level of proficiency with the National Education Standards for Teachers I would consider myself a novice when in comes to incorporating technology into my lessons. Dr. Peggy Ertmer says that two of the attributes a teacher must have to effectively use technology in their classroom are knowledge of technology and the confidence to use it (Laureate, 2009). I am beginning to learn the tools that are available to enhance instruction and learning in the 21st century classroom but building my confidence to use these tools is a slow process.

The GAME plan encourages self learners to set goals, take action, monitor their learning process and evaluate each step of the plan (Cennamo, Ross & Ertmer, 2009). This is my personal GAME plan for incorporating NETS-T into my classroom.

Goal: To communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital tools
Action: My first step is to get a teacher web page that my students and their parents can see daily assignments, interesting math facts and links to math tutorials. When I finally get a smart board I would also like to include class notes and worksheets. I have asked two of my junior boys to show me how to design a web page and they have agreed to work with me one day a week after school. As I become more knowledgeable and comfortable I want to let students add information.
Monitor: Progress can be monitored periodically by asking the students if they are using the web site on days they miss school because of illness or field trips.
Evaluate: A final evaluation for parents and students would come in the form of a survey requesting input on how to structure the site for the following year.

Goal: Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity by promoting student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students’ conceptual understanding and thinking, planning and creative process.
Action: This year in my honors geometry class I have decided to throw the ten page paper final exam into the trash and have the students create a final presentation with power point or voice thread that shows their understanding of geometry and its relevance to their world. As students learn new concepts they are to keep a digital portfolio of images and objects relate concepts to real life. At the end of the year students will present their projects to the class. In order for me to evaluate this final project I have to learn to create advance power points with audio and video so I have enrolled in a work shop to help me become more proficient in creating and evaluating presentations.
Monitor: Periodically I will have students submit their portfolios and check for their understanding of the project and to be sure they are keeping up with the assignment. I will give additional suggestions and clarification as students ask for help.
Evaluate: I will ask the students to fill out a survey to see if they enjoyed the project better than the written test. As students learn geometry and add to their portfolio I am anxious to see their final presentation.

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.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Program 3. Enriching Content Area Learning Experiences with Technology (Part 1). [Educational video]. Baltimore: Author.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Reflection on My Personal Learning Theory

Teaching high school math to teenagers who see no relevance between upper level algebra and their lives is the challenge I must face every day. With a hundred and twenty students I am faced with an equal amount of different learning styles. My personal belief is that not all students have to like math but all of my students can be successful in math. Over the years I have used teaching strategies that address the behavior, cognitive and the constructive perspectives on learning, to create a classroom where all students can succeed.

Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences has a big influence on my personal learning theory. I believe that individuals have strengths and weakness in the nine intelligences that determine the different ways each student learns. Gardner states that technologies give teachers multiple ways of addressing student learning by making materials vivid, easy to get and fun to play with (Weiss, 2000). I spend a lot of time at the beginning of the school year getting to know my students likes and dislikes so that as the year progresses I am able to adjust my lessons to meet the needs of all my students. Since starting this course I have added more cooperative activities to my lessons. Students have gone to the computer labs and created collages of quadrilaterals found on the internet. Two young men who are interested in music found lots of shapes in various pictures of guitars. Normally underachievers these students were very proud when I asked if I could use their collage as an example in other classes.

High school math has traditionally been a subject students want to and do forget. There are not many videos or movies to show and we spend a lot of time drilling and practicing problems. This repetition has its value but not all students need to do the same concept twenty or even ten times to feel the rewards of success. Dr. Patricia Wolfe states that the brain seeks meaningful patterns (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009). It can be challenging to find any real meaning in algebra and geometry but with the use of technologies I have been able to open up new avenues to relate some abstract concepts to my students. In my advanced Algebra II class the computer and the smartbaord have let me show them the concept of imaginary numbers and their real world application.

Dr. Patricia Wolf tells us that emotion is a catalyst for learning (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009). I work hard at creating a learning environment that is safe, friendly and successful for any student who enters my classroom. I maintain a calm, positive and enthusiastic attitude at all times. Students will not learn if they are fighting a teacher and their defenses are up, creating a shield that prevents learning from happening. I also encourage and praise all accomplishments by students. My strongest belief is that as students feel success in math they will like begin to like it and their progress will continue to grow.

Gardner says “ education and technology will be a happy marriage only if those charged with education remain clear on what they want to achieve and [remain] vigilant that the technology serves those ends” (Weiss, 2000). I have seen some teachers who have used technology as a “baby sitter” for classes. If used carefully and correctly technologies are powerful tools to enrich education.

Understanding the various learning theories and the different technologies available to educators is what I take away from this class. Spending hours investigating many of the suggested sites from our text has given me many ideas in math and other subject areas. I have already shared with the art teachers the idea of using voicethread for students to critic different art works. He is having a lot of success with the AP students critiquing each others portfolios. One history teacher assigns students power point projects so often they hate the idea of ever having to do another power point. I suggested that he take them on a virtual tour of Gettysburg. I helped this teacher create a mapping with links and suggestions of where information could be found. The students loved working together and told me they really learned a lot more with the mapping. Technology is a good tool if used correctly and not over used in one area.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Program 2. Brain Research and Learning. [Educational video]. Baltimore: Author.

Weiss, R. (2000). Howard Gardner Talks About Technology. Training & Development, 54(9). Retrieved 3/5/2009 from Academic Search Complete database.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Social Learning in Practice

Dr. Michael Orey describes social constructivism as learning where the students are collaborating in building artifacts and then talking about what they learned((Laureate Education, Inc., 2009). Lev Vygotsky talks about the zone of proximal development as what a student knows and what they are able to learn at a given time. When the learner seeks new information, then they must go to a more knowledgeable other; parent, teacher, computer, and friend. Technology has contributed to this learning theory by making information more accessible and collaborating with other students with many on line tools. Google has created many tools that make collaboration much easier and they are all free. When using google docs in the classroom, all students can be contributing, editing and learning all at the same time. In geometry class students can create vocabulary reference folder with definitions, pictures and real life examples that can be saved for the entire year.

Virtual learning is becoming popular as a supplement to traditional classrooms. Teen Second Life is a place where students come together from around the world to create solutions to international problems. Virtual worlds bring relevance into the classroom, as well as to prepare students for the information environments and globally distributed work teams they will surely encounter later (Czarnecki, 2008). Virtual environment simulations lend themselves to situations that are otherwise too dangerous or hazardous. Universities are using virtual chemistry labs where student mistakes are not costly and can be repeated until the student accomplishes the correct results.

I feel that there are many opportunities for educators to incorporate cooperative learning strategies into the classroom. Working with their peers helps to increase students’ ability to communicate, show leadership, resolve conflicts and make wise decisions.

Czarnecki, K. (2008). Virtual Environments and K-12 Education. MultiMedia & Internet@Schools, 15(4), 14-17. Retrieved March 22, 2009 from Education Research Complete database.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Bridging learning theory, instruction, and technology. Baltimore: Author.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Voice Thread

I have created this voice thread as an assignment for Walden University. I would like to have your opinion on the best place to mount the new smart board I will be getting next year. Here is my link.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Using Technology to Support Contructionism

“ Constructionism is both a theory of learning and a strategy for education” (Han & Bhattacharya, 2001).Constructionism suggests that new ideas are most likely to be created when learners are actively engaged in building some type of external artifact that they can reflect upon and share with others. The whole contructionist idea is to have learners involved in the total process of planning, building, sharing, evaluating and reflecting on their work. The role of the teacher is to become the facilitator, providing clear expectations, constructive feed back and fair assesment. Through constructionism students build knowledge that is personal and meaningful.

With contructionism in mind how does this week’s reading “Generating and Testing Hypotheses” in Using Technology and Classroom Instruction that Works, relate to project- based learning. The authers, Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski state that testing hypotheses in an inductive or deductive manner can be generated through six tasks; systems analysis, problem solving, historical investigation, invention, inquiry and decision making (2007). Lessons based on contuctionism theory have several of these tasks embedded in the lesson. Having student make a conjecture using prior knowledge and then testing and evaluating their conjectures is a skill that students need. Students also need to take any new information learned in the investigating stages to go back to their original hypothesis and make another prediction.

In geometry class one of the first concepts I teach is inductive and deductive reasoning. Conditional statements, “If: then” help students understand logical reasoning. As a geometry teacher I was anxious to see what on-line tools I could use to challenge my students. I spent a lot of time playing around with the catapult at, Although I am not a physiscs teacher my knowledge of angles and parabolas helped me hit the target. Gizmos found at was very helpful to understanding how technology and interactive software can help students to learn to make hypoteses, test and evaluate, then make a new hypothesis until a thorough understanding is met. I can’t wait until we reach a concept that is covered in gizmos.

ExploreLearning.(2010). Retrieved from

Han, S., and Bhattacharya, K. (2001). Constructionism, Learning by Design, and Project Based Learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved March, 22, 2010, from

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

Sytina, J. (1998) SPECS. Retrieved from

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cognitivism in Practice

“Cognitivist focus on learning as a mental operation that takes place when information enters through the senses, under goes mental manipulation, is stored, and is finally used”(Duffy & McDonald, 2008, p.16). Technology has given educators tools that support cognitive learning theory.

This week I have spent a lot of time investigating many of the resources found in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, Malenoski, 2007). With the use of technology, cues to check students’ prior knowledge do not have to be just verbal questions. Now a teacher can have students recall information from images, words and sounds presented in a power point presentation. Using many of the senses to get back information supports the cognitive theory that information is stored in multiple parts of the brain and retrieval is triggered by several senses.

In this week’s DVD, Dr Orey explains to us that three different types of information are stored in the brain; declarative/facts, procedural/how to do things and episodic/events in your life. Many schools have had to eliminate their field trips because of budget cuts. The number and variety of virtual tours available to teachers has increased. Although the virtual field trip is not an actual event, the use of them in the classroom can create lasting images stored for future reference. With a little creativity a teacher can make a virtual field trip that is a declarative, procedural and episodic memory.

James Hartley has identified some key ideas of learning that are based on cognitive theory. Hartley believes instruction should be well organized and structured (Smith, 1999). Advanced organizers such as mappings and spread sheets help teachers present material to their students in a very clear and visual manner. Teachers can use this tool for brainstorming, presentation of material, learning students’ prior knowledge and reviewing information before a test. Students can use advance organizers to help plan a research paper, note taking and organizing a group project. Organizers are useful tools for education.

Learning about the technology applications available to enhance student learning makes me envious of the teachers who have the hardware available to them at school. A handful of teachers at my school have the technology in their classrooms but I can see that it is not being used to its potential.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Program 5. Cognitive Learning Theories. [Educational video]. Baltimore: Author.

Lever-Duffy, J. & McDonald, J. (2008). Theoretical Foundations (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with Smith, M. K. (1999) 'The cognitive orientation to learning', the encyclopedia of informal classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD

Smith, M. K. (1999) 'The cognitive orientation to learning', the encyclopedia of informal education, Retrieved March 11, 2010, from

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bribe them with Technology

My students think I am bribing them when I say.” If the class gets all their work done by Thursday, they can go down to the computer lab on Friday”. If I told them I was using negative reinforcement from behavior theory they would laugh at me and say “what ever”. To them they know from experience that if they get all their work finished by the end of Thursday, they won’t have any to do on Friday. Taking away the fifth day of boring class room activities and allowing them to work on the computers with geometry sketch pad and other math related activities is a use of negative reinforcement. When educators say that behaviorism is out dated and doesn’t have a place in the classroom, I have to disagree. After twenty years of teaching I have seen my behaviorism practices diminish, I have eliminated all severe punishment, but positive and negative reinforcements play an important part of my classroom management. “Using behaviorist theory in the classroom can be rewarding for both students and teachers” (Standridge, 2002).
Reinforcing effort through technology sounds like a great idea that I can implement at our school. Our administrators are always looking for ways to promote outstanding efforts made by our students. We have examples of the our student’s national recognized art works on the web page but there isn’t anything about the hard work some of the students have done to turn their lives around. I know one young man that had no goals or vision his freshman and sophomore years. At the end of tenth grade he had one credit and was about to drop out of school when a mentor changed his attitude. In two years he has earned his Eagle Award for the Boy Scouts, caught up on his credits so he can graduate with his class this year, and he has passed all his tests so he can enlist in the US Navy. He is a model for other students, parents and community members to see how with the right help it is never too late to change your life around and be successful. Getting this type of story out to the public on the school web page is a great use of technology reinforcing efforts of our students.

Standridge,M.. (2002). Behaviorism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved March 8, 2010, from