Sunday, April 15, 2012

Integrating Technology Across the Content Areas: Final Reflection

In the beginning when we had to come up with our GAME plan, it took me a little while to figure out what was the best approach to adding to my classroom and curriculum.  After some thought, I found that I would rather put more time into getting my students focused on being creative.  That is one of the things that I have struggled with the past four years.  It seems like my students are getting lazier every year and they just like to do whatever is easiest.  I do many projects in my classes because we have the tools and machines.  As part of my GAME plan, I have been figuring out ways to incorporate new ideas into my projects, which will get my students to think about what they are doing.  This will give them a chance to come up with creative (key word) ideas to solve the problem they have been presented.  I have started to focus more on the design process so that my students can understand how we come up with solutions.

Over the past 6 weeks, I have been going over the design process and how it is used in our projects.  The students have started to understand how solutions are made.  They have been thinking more into the problem, which is helping them come up with a solution.  When my 8th graders build CO2 dragsters, I have a design packet, which must be completely filled out before they can continue on to the building stage.  I still have students who come to me with one idea and say that it is the only one they can come up with.  Well I used to let that slide but not anymore.  I am trying to coach my students to become more creative.  Sounds a lot easier than it actually is.  If I do anything, I will continue to work on the design process with my students and start to come up with new ideas for projects.  I want to introduce my students to as many different types of technologies as I can so that they are some what prepared for what they are going to encounter in life after high school. 

Technology has always been a strong point of mine.  I am young enough to where I have grown up through the technological era and have had most of the technologies.  Since I teach technology now, I have been trying to incorporate these into my lessons.  Working in a rural, low income, small town has been an amazing journey, however, the lack of technology due to budgets is high.  I have been fortunate enough to get new woodworking machines and a smart board.  I incorporate all the technology that is available to me.  After taking this course, I have come out with some new ideas, which I will be trying to implement in my classroom in the near future.  This course has definitely opened my eyes on how to incorporate technology in different ways into my curriculum.

I already incorporate problem-based learning into my classroom.  That is what my curriculum is based on.  I love to have my students working on projects all the time.  I do not assign homework, when students are in my class they are working.  I have started to incorporate online collaboration.  I have my students complete a project which involves mailing packages to another participating school district.  We have tried skyping in the past and will continue to use the technologies available to us to communicate with other school districts through projects.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

GAME Plan: Progress

Setting goals and trying to accomplish them is a major part of teaching.  I only have been teaching for 3 and a half years now, but I have accomplished a lot.  A GAME plan is not something that we should have just created for our master’s class, but something, which we should have to go by in our everyday teaching.  The game plan that I created for this class are the goals that I am currently working on.  Teaching technology gives me an advantage over other teachers because the students I have are surrounded by technology almost every minute of every day.  They were born into a technological world and as part of my job; I need to show them the “educational” way to incorporate these technologies into their lives.  Discussing and interfacing with current technologies is what I have been doing, but I need to incorporate more real life situations.  I have found that my students connect on a deeper level with matching something to what they are interested in.  I deal with more of the machinery technology then with the computer technology because my school district is a low-income community.  I am teaching my students a life long skill they will help them greatly.  In my 8th grad technology class, I spent a couple weeks teaching the tools so that I knew my students could use them.  We then made a mini project so that the students could get the feel for what we are doing and how each machine works.  Now we are in the middle of a major project and about 85 percent of my students are working right along with no problems.

I have been putting a bunch of different mini projects and will start implementing them throughout my classes.  These are more for skill builder than anything.  I have a hard time getting my students to be creative and the only way I can see getting them to think “outside” the box is to make them practice.  I cannot just tell them to be more creative, I must show them.

As a young teacher, I know I still have a lot to learn.  I want to offer my students the best education they can get with the resources that I have available to me.  To accomplish this, I attend at least one conference every year, which is only on technology.  I do a ton of research online looking for new things that I can incorporate into my classroom, and most importantly, I am making community connections.  My first couple of years were a bit intimidating and I kind of kept to myself.  Now that I have some years under my belt and have been granted tenure, I have been working on many things.  I have developed a few community connections, which have benefited my classes greatly.  I have developed a website and have been keeping the community updated with what is going on in my class.  The outpouring of support for my classes has been amazing.  By keeping my community updated, they are in full support of what I am doing and teaching my students.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

GAME Plan: Information and Resources needed to implement.

Now that I have put together my GAME plan, I need to figure out what it is going to take to get my GAME plan ready to implement.  My co-workers play a vital role in my success as a teacher.  I have many days where I pick their brain for ideas regarding many different aspects of my class.  They are always willing to help me out and give me ideas.   Teaching technology, which is considered a specials area, I work closely with the art teacher who is right next store.  We sometimes combine ideas to work cross-curricular to give the students more experiences.  Working with other classes, I will create many different mini-projects which will give the students more challenging projects and ones which will help teach them to be more creative and think outside the box. The projects I create will give the students experience in more than one area of technology.  In a school, which is in a low-income very rural area, it is harder to give the students the experiences they are going to see out in the real world.  Slowly I am getting more of those experiences into the classroom.  Most of my students use cell phones and ipods, incorporating those into a project is definitely on my list.

More of my projects will take place in the computer lab.  More and more jobs are becoming involved in the field of technology.  It is crucial that my students get as much experience in technology as possible.  Part of my goal is to introduce them to at least 3 new areas of technology in the first couple weeks.

Besides needing input from my colleagues, computers, the smart board in my classroom, I will be needed materials and supplies for my classroom.  My classroom budget plays a vital role in determining what I can actually do with my students.  I have been lucky so far to not get it cut.  Some supplies I can get donated, some I will bring in from home and others I will buy from the local stores.  I will also have students bring some in for their own use.  Another key aspect that I will introduce them too is recycling.  Reusing the materials for another purpose is a great way to help save money in my classroom.

Making community connections and keeping the community updated on what we are doing in class goes a long way with keeping the program around.  Parts of my projects always include working with the community directly or indirectly.  My students need to learn what valuable resources they have to use. 

To make myself more up to date on what is happening in the field of technology, I attend conferences every year.  This not only benefits myself as a teacher but also benefits my students greatly.  I get introduced to many of the newest technologies that are coming out, get valuable resources to use and gain much knowledge of what other technology teachers are doing in their classrooms.  I will always be gaining new information and building my resources, which will help me teach my students what they need to know to be successful in high school and there lives.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Gaining Confidence in the classroom: Where do i start?

After reading through the National Educational Technology Standards for Students, I have come to the conclusion that there are more than two areas I need to work on to boast my confidence in the classroom.  Although there are more than two, just picking a couple to start with is going to be difficult.  Teaching technology has opened my eyes to many things.  I have figured out that most students do not know how to read a ruler, all they want to do is cut wood and getting them to sit in their seat for more than 10 minutes to go over a lesson or introduce a project is a challenge.  One of the most reoccurring themes is that students have no inspiration or creativity anymore.  I find that I have to keep hinting ideas to my students until then come up with something that will solve the problem but is not the most creative thing in the world.

The first part of my GAME plan is going to be in the section: Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity under section (b) which states engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources (International Society for Technology in Education, 2008).  Determining goals to set, actions to take, how to monitor progress and how to evaluate the learning that is taking place will be the major challenge.  My goals are to create mini projects, which get the students to think outside the box.  I have many students who just got passed on because they did what they needed to.  Once they get to my design and drawing class, my projects require outside the box thinking to come up with solutions.  Most of my students struggle with this concept and come up with the first idea that comes to mind even if it does not work.  These mini projects would be ones, which relate to real world situations but take much less thinking to solve.  After doing several of this mini projects to get the students mind opened up, I would create some larger more challenging projects to test how well they have become accustomed to thinking for more than just one solution or idea.

My classes are basically based on wood shop and having the students come up with their own projects has become somewhat of a nightmare.  They need more guidance than just reviewing the project and letting them go.  My goals would be to create mini projects, which would help students to open there mind to creativity.  My actions would be to implement the projects and to make sure that students are understanding the concepts and presenting the results.  Monitoring and evaluating can take place once the project has been started.

The second part of my GAME plan is to dip into section number 5: Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership concentrating on part (b) which states: 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 (International Society for Technology in Education, 2008).  .  Growing as a teacher is part of the job as far as I am concerned.  I have been teaching for 3 and a half years and I have been to at least one conference every year.  Growth is a very important aspect because not only are we growing as individuals but also we are working together to build a better school.  My goals for this section are to become a leader in getting more technology involved in my classroom and working closer with my colleagues to make sure that we are incorporating technology as much as possible.  Living in a digital society, technology is about as common with our students as peanut butter and jelly.  It is everywhere they turn.  Working in a low-income area, many of my students do not have access to the most high tech gadgets.  Another one of my goals is to make sure all of my students get introduced to a technology such as a computer to develop some basic skills which will be very important to them as they get closer to entering the work force.  Not only do my students need to develop their skills, I also need to develop my teaching skills and grow as a professional. Another goal of mine is to attend more conferences.  I have built quite a connection with many teachers around New York State, which allows me to trade information which them.  This is a very handy resource to have because it gives more variety to my students.

Over the past three years, I have been working closely with many of my colleagues trying to work cross-curricular.  I would like to try and built upon that relationship to incorporate more classes with mine.  For the past 3 years my students have built the props for the drama production.  Not only does this benefit the drama students with nice sets to work with, but the art class gets experience painting and my class gets experience working with tools, reading blueprints and hands-on construction. 

Part of my goal is to make better community connections and to make sure the community knows what we are doing in my classroom.  This can be very intimidating because sometimes change is not welcome in a system that has been operating without change for quite some time.  The community support is what keeps the school alive; tapping into this resource would be beneficial to all students, not just the ones in my classes.  It would also benefit me greatly because once those connections are made, we can begin to built long lasting relationships.

International Society for Technology in Education.  (2008).  Iste NETS-T, Advancing Digital Age Teaching.  Retrieved from

Sunday, October 23, 2011


In week one I developed a personal theory of learning which talked about how I thought students learned and what I did in my classroom to help students learn.  Much has changed now being in week eight.  I am not talking about totally reversing or getting rid of what I had before, I am talking about adding to what I had originally thought.  We have learned how to use some very neat and interesting technologies in this course and past courses.  What I found to be most interesting was the use of a Voice Thread.  I actually used this in my classroom with much success.  My students were very open to it and actually enjoyed it.  I talked about incorporating as much technology into my classroom as I possible could.  I have added a smart board to my classroom and now can use these other tools to help teach my students.  How students learn is a topic that will always be under study.  Students learn in so many different ways that having one way of teaching is not going to cut it.

I am starting making adjustments to my instructional practice already.  Having students with IEP’s mixed in with students without IEP’s I tough because finding the right strategy to reach them may take a while.  I have developed many instructional practices that I can use to reach all of my students.  With the help of the technologies we have learned in this course, I will be providing my students with a better education.  I will be and already have been incorporating Voice Threads in my classroom.  I feel that this helps break up the lecture time and gives the students the chance to be introduced to a new technology.  It is a technology that can reach all students because of the ability to use pictures and voices.  The other technology tool that I will be using is a blog.  I have created my own website for my classroom.  One there I have a blog where students can respond to questions I have posted.  I feel the use of this will get students more involved in class and be thinking about it in there off time rather than just playing video games.  There are many technology tools out there for us to use in our classrooms.  Many of them our students will be using after high school, so it is our job to make sure they get introduced to them.  However with budget constraints the way they are, it is hard to show them all of the technologies.  We do what we can with what we have.

We have gone over many instructional strategies and skills to use in our classrooms.  Many of which I did not realize were considered there own topic.  Becoming familiar with these can only benefit me in the long run.  Knowing what I do now about these different strategies and how they are incorporated gives me the opportunity to teach my students in different ways, which will benefit them even more.  They too should be learning different ways of retaining information because they will need to recall the information at some point in their lives.

Two long-term goals that I would like to reach in terms of technology integration into my classroom are bringing my students to the computer lab on a more regular basis and converting some of the lessons I have to be interactive on the smart board.  One thing that I feel my students do not get enough of is computer use.  We have one “computer lab” which consists of 15 computers in our library which can be reserved but the library has to be shut down.  Being there are teachers wanting to use it all the time, it is hard to plan around the use of the computers.  One of the things I am trying to do is write a grant to turn another room into a computer lab.  Until then I want to get my students working on the computer more.  Most of my technology class is hands on project based because our lack of computer based technology.  I would like to start developing projects, which are created on the computer because knowing how to use a computer is a life long skill that everyone needs now.  I also want to use my smart board to the fullest potential.  If I do not use it whenever I can then it is basically collecting dust, especially in my room.  Being that I just got it at the beginning of this year I have not had a chance to convert all of my lessons to be smart board compatible.  It will make it so much easier for me to use the smart board to go over projects and for classroom instruction.

This course has shown me that there are more technologies that I need to incorporate into my class and that having more than one instructional strategy is more beneficial.  My classroom has improved over the past 6 weeks and I am looking forward to making more progress.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cooperative learning and Social Learning Theories: How they correlate

Cooperative learning and social learning theories have many similarities.  Dr. Orey describes social learning theories as ones where students are actively engaged in constructing artifacts and conversing with others (Laureate Education Inc. 2011).  Cooperative learning is described as having students interact with each other in groups that enhance their learning (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007).  Both of these principles have one ultimate goal.  That is to prepare our students for the fast-paced, virtual workplace that they will inherit and to learn and produce cooperatively (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007). 

I have my students work in groups very often.  Not only does this help build there skills of interacting with people, but it also makes them more comfortable around students they may have always passed by and never acknowledged before.  Organizing groups based on ability levels should be done sparingly (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007).  I have to agree with this.  They way that I form my groups is to put a bunch of numbers in a can all folded up.  I have each students select a number.  The students who have the same numbers are partners.  I have found this works much better than either having them pick or myself picking for them.  This way is the most fair and believe it or not, even if there are students who despise each other, they end up working through it and completing the project.

My groups are always made up of two or three students.  This way each person will always have something to do.  I have found that having more than three can leave someone to do nothing and end up with a grade.  Keep the groups to a manageable size, according to (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007). 

Dr. Orey brings up a good strategy, which will help with keeping all of the students engaged in the learning.  The jigsaw strategy is when each member of the collaborative team is responsible for learning information and teaching it to there teammates (Laureate Education Inc. 2011).  This is great for both social learning and cooperative learning.  If each student is responsible for a certain task then they are more likely to stay on task and keep up with their group members.

I use many group activities in my classroom.  I feel that it helps prepare them for some of the things they are going to run into out in the real world.  Not only are they skill building, but I sometimes have them solving real world problems.  From 7th grade on to 12th grade, I use cooperative learning.  As my students progress, so do my challenges.

Our ultimate goal is to prepare our students for what they are going to encounter later in life.  Also we are introducing our students to new technologies or new ways to use old technologies.  Technology can play a unique and vital role in cooperative learning by facilitating group collaboration, providing structure for group tasks, and allowing members of groups to communicate even if they are not working face to face (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn and Malenoski, 2007).   I use as much technology as I can in my classroom because I know that the less technology my students are introduced to the farther behind they are falling

Howard, P., Hubbell, E. R., Kuhn., & M. Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instructions that works. Denver, Colorado

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). “Social Learning Theories” [Webcast].  Bridging Learning Theory, Instruction, and Technology. Baltimore, Dr.  Orey.

Voice Thread: Classroom Funds