Sunday, April 15, 2012

Reflection (EDUC 6713)

Teaching today's students requires different techniques than teachers used just a decade ago. Students today need motivation and engaging activities to keep them interested in the learning process. Integrating technology into instruction is critical because it not only helps motivate students but it also prepares them to become effective citizens in today's twenty first century workforce. My interest in technology is what led me to seek a higher degree in technology integration. Through my studies I have learn numerous new technology based techniques which can be implemented into classroom instruction. Learning about the GAME plan provided a new format for planning technology implementation.

Throughout this course I planned a unit using this new GAME plan. I learned how I can use different technology techniques to build my students knowledge in content while using different technology tools to learn, create and share. By working through this unit I discovered new techniques to teach my students about social networking. People have a natural curiosity and when we can connect that with students and people during instruction captures their attention. During our study the students started with a common use of technology, research. However, through much practice they are becoming more independent in their capabilities. Then next step carried a familiar strategy further; they are familiar with concept webs on paper. For the second time this year they used Spider Scribe, an on- line mapping tool. The students worked in a group to create a web of their research. The final step was creating a digital story of their learning. Earlier this year we wrote a scary digital story using Power Point. It was a whole group activity and the students enjoyed it. This assignment allows them to work in small groups to create a short digital story to put with the other groups to generate a summative of the assignment learning. Through my work to develop and begin implementing this unit helped me learn how I can scaffold the learning in both content and technology levels. As students get more practice with various tools they learn how to manipulate them to do what they want to demonstrate. I like to introduce my students to a variety technology tools so that they can see how they work. Eventually they should be able choose the tool they prefer to create a product to demonstrate their understanding. Learning about new technologies and how I can implement them in any curriculum will help me create more interesting lesson plans.

I love technology and the freedom and diversity it offers, especially within the classroom. Currently I feel overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge and skills I have gathered the past year. During this course itself I learned more about social networking and how it can work in the classroom. Through experience I learned how students can use these networks to work on group projects. I also like the idea of problem based learning. I have always preferred project based activities but making them problem based will help them become more prepared for today's society. This is an area I have some difficulties. As I plan to finish out the last few weeks of the year, I hope to work on creating more problem based assignments.

This course required a lot of time and effort to create problem based lessons that incorporate technology. I feel I am more prepared now through this experience. I have learned new technologies to implement within my instruction. In the past I had trouble incorporating technology within my math class, with the exception of interactive games. After working through this class and seeing classmates' ideas along with the course readings I am more comfortable using technology, even social networking and digital storytelling, within my math as well as other content instruction. Once I finish my degree and all of the learning gets organized within my brain, I think my students are going to be better prepared for the work force they are facing. I am looking forward to that stage in my life, career.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Working the GAME!

In evaluating the the progress of my GAME plan I see where there is some progress being made. There is still a lot to continue working on but at least I am moving in the right direction.

 In looking at my first goal, I am able to implement more technology into my lessons. I am also giving my students a little bit more freedom than in the past, trying to make them responsible learners. There are numerous resources I have located that correspond with classroom instruction. I have implemented a few in the class but not as many as I would like. I am still working to compile my resources into content and standard files so that students can access the areas they need to work on. The state assessment is coming up soon and I would love to have these available on my class web site for students to practice skills they are weak in. The resources I am finding will meet the needs of my diverse learners while keeping most of the students engaged in the learning process.

My second goal has not progressed as far as my first. I have looked at and Smart Exchange for activities which I have implemented in my classroom instruction. However, I really would like to look at other programs such as Google documents, podcasting as well as video programs, such as iMovie, so my students can make videos for their project based assessments. Little research in this area has taken place so far. I know that I cannot use iMovie with my school computer but I do have a personal I Pad that I can use with my students to create videos. I also have looked as some websites that correlate with some of our class readings that allow the students to expand their knowledge in areas that interests them. These resources go along with our Social Studies weekly and Super Science Magazines. I am keeping a notebook of what I am learning (and the numerous URL, username and passwords for each).  I write down my ideas for how to implement them into classroom instruction and which content areas I feel they best fit. I am hoping that by the end of the school year I have learned more so that the class I currently have will benefit from my insight. I know my future classes will!

-Judy Spears

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Implementing the GAME Plan

Creating a plan is one thing. Implementing it is something entirely different. How many times has the human race made “plans” to do something but never carried through with it? (Too many New Year’s Resolutions come to mind!) As an educator, it is imperative that I work to improve my own skills in order to keep up with the ever-changing world around me. Last week I evaluated where I needed to work to improve how I use technology in the classroom and established two goals to work on. Now that I have examined what I want to be able to do better, I must look closer at how I am going to carry these plans out in my classroom.

In looking over my GAME plan for integrating more technology into my lessons there are a few resources I will use to guide my plan implementation. Our district recently introduced two new programs for teachers to use to enhance the classroom lessons. One of them is the Teacher Toolbox ( This site allows the teacher to locate lesson plans that can be used to cover specific content standards. In looking at this site the past week, I have located several activities that I have been able to implement in my classroom this week. There have been some interactive Smart Board activities that have helped me cover some of my math content standards this week. I have not allowed my students to work as independent as I feel they should. In order to work on this part of my goal, I need to get up a plethora of interactive and useable sites in one location to allow students to choose which activity they want to complete to enhance their understanding.  

Our district has several reading sites that teachers can use to improve reading skills in the classroom. I have used these resources more often and students enjoy reading on the computer. We have a subscription to “Reading A-Z” (, BookFlix, Teaching Books (, and Follett Shelf. I use these sites to locate other stories students can read that address the reading skills for the week. Currently I tend to locate a book for the students to read to ensure that it addresses the skills I am looking for. One way to continue to use these resources effectively while allowing my students more freedom is to create a list of stories that address the weekly skills and then allow the students to choose which story they read. This will allow them to choose books that interest them to help keep them motivated. I have not implemented this yet. In order to effectively carry through with this I need to locate the books that address specific skills.

In looking at the resources available I have enough to effectively improve my teaching skills. What I need to do now is thoroughly evaluate these resources. I need to locate and organize how I can use these resources in specific content areas. By creating organized lists I can then make these resources available to my students to use in the classroom.

Reading about UDL (Universal Design for Learning) this week showed me that there are steps I need to take to make sure my students’ individual needs are being addressed. In evaluating the resources listed above, I can create lists of activities students can complete to help them work on skills they need more practice on. Using the computer will excite and motivate most of them. Others can have various activities to use to enhance classroom instruction. I am learning a lot about new technologies and part of my GAME plan is to learn how to implement them into my instruction. One skill I am currently working on learning more about is podcasting. I have made small podcasts with my students and our weekly spelling tests are podcasts using Power Point. What I want to accomplish by the end of this year is for my students to create their own podcast. I have ordered headsets with microphones so that we can begin practicing with this new technology. I believe some of my students possess the ability to create their own songs or videos. This is a skill they have not had the opportunity to work on in class thus far. Hopefully, by the end of the year, they will have the chance to create a product that includes audio and video to demonstrate what they have learned. This will help me prepare for new ways to integrate this new skill into my lessons sooner next year.

As I look at what I need to do to implement my GAME plan this year, it essential for me to broaden my resources and organize the resources I currently have to know where they fit into instruction. I believe my goals are attainable and student knowledge will be enhanced through the implementation of this plan. Learning how to use technology to meet the diverse needs of my students will help me create a more flexible class. This is going to take time and patience as I am not familiar with “letting go” of my third graders. However, it is a step I need to take and one I am sure they are ready to handle.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Developing Goals in ISTE NETS-T

Technology is the key to the future. This is something I have realized for some time now. Prior to pursuing my Masters degree in technology integration I felt comfortable in my level of technological knowledge. Now I see that I was merely scraping the ice burg developing underneath us. As an educator it is important that I educate myself in order to ensure that my students are getting the best education possible while in my classroom. Once I saw how much information and various tools were available, I have pity on my previous classes.
Even though my skills and knowledge have multiplied over the past year, there are still areas I need to work on. In looking at the ISTE standards for teachers, I have chosen two to work on now to help enhance my instruction of technology to give my students a better chance of success in their future.

#1   ISTE NETS-T Standard 2: Indicator b: Develop technology-enriched learning environments that enable all students to pursue their individual curiosities and become active participants in setting their own goals, managing their own learning, and assessing their own progress.

G    -      Goal:

Currently I feel I need to keep my third graders close on task. I am afraid that if I allow them too much freedom to explore their curiosities then they will get off task and they will not learn the required content before the state test. I am afraid I will be spending too much instructional time redirecting.

A    -      Action:

* Letting go of the classroom; Plan lessons around content specific indicators and then allow students to explore feely the information available.

* Numerous resources; research reliable resources that are content based and have the list available for students. Our district recently adopted several new resources sites which can be used to generate resources lists for students.

M   -      Monitor: In order to ensure students are getting what they need to meet state standards I will:

* Consistently monitor students while on task using checklists. Students will have a checklist to help guide them as they explore independently.

* Administer weekly assessments to ensure they understand content standards.

E    -      Evaluate and Extend

* Administer weekly assessments to ensure they understand content standards.

* Work with colleagues to evaluate success and locate resources and procedures to build the students confidence as well as my own.

#2     ISTE NETS-T: Standard 3: Indicator a: Demonstrate fluency in technology systems and the transfer of current knowledge to new technologies and situations.

 G    -      Goal:

I am acquainted with numerous new technologies which I integrate into my instruction when possible. I believe I need to become familiar with these systems in order to effectively implement them in the classroom.

A    -      Action:

* Practice and learn how to manipulate new programs to understand how they can be used in content instruction.

* Research programs, such as and Smart Exchange, to locate technology integrated lessons that can be used “as is” or modified to fit instruction.

* Collaborate with our media specialist and district technology specialist to help extend knowledge of new programs and how to implement them in the classroom.

M   -      Monitor:

* Journal experiences with various programs. Take notes about new information learned and brainstorm ways to integrate with lessons.

* Implement programs with small group of students to see what they know and what they can teach me!

* Make notes directly on lesson plans to remember the experience and what was successful and what did not work (Laureate Education Inc., 2009).

E    -      Evaluate and Extend:

* Implement lessons and observe student motivation and engagement.

* Survey students after lessons with specific programs to evaluate student views about them.

* Once familiar with programs, implement in classroom instruction and evaluate student success in understanding content.

As an educator it is important to develop self-directed learning skills. As our society becomes more and more dependent on technology, it is imperative that we, educators, prepare our students to be successful adults. Technology integration helps lessons become engaging for the student helping to motivate and stimulate the learning process (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009).

Developing goals for ourselves requires us to reflect on our practice and observe areas that need improvement. Then we must develop goals that will help in this area and identify what we must do in order to achieve success. Teachers that consistently improve their personal knowledge and level of productivity will produce students willing to work to expand their knowledge as well. This is a twenty-first century skill necessary for success in today’s world.


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, Engage Learning.

Laureate Education Inc., (Executive Producer). (2009).Promoting Self-Directed Learning. Integrating technology across the content areas. Baltimore, MD: Dr. Katherine Cennamo.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

New CLass

I am so excited to beginning my eighth class working toward my Master's degree in integrating technology. The next few blogs will go along with my current class Integrating Technology Across the Content Areas. I have learned so much these past fourteen months but it has been an enjoyable experience. My current class has had so much more experience with real life, technology and project based assignments that I feel bad for the students I taught in the past. As I continue to grow as an individual and as a teacher as well. I hope to make a bigger impact on not only my students, but the school and district for which I work. I cannot wait to see what this new class involves!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


In the beginning of this class I felt that students learn best when they can relate to their learning and are able to be actively involved in the process. After reading and learning more details about different learning theories and strategies, my belief still holds true. The only thing that has changed from my studies is my perspective about the use of technology devices more for learning tools and less for instructional tools. Students of today are wired differently than those a decade ago. In order to produce effective, successful students, educators must adapt classroom instruction to fit this changing world. Students today are accustomed to working with computers and other digital devices which give immediate feedback and they expect the same from their classroom assignments. Therefore, successful teachers are willing to learn about these new devices and modify their strategies to incorporate them into the curriculum.

I have had strong feelings about the use of technology in education for several years. As an educator I have made it a point to try to learn at least one new device or strategy to incorporate each year since. This course has helped me to improve even more as an educator. In the past I generally used these devices as instructional tools instead of learning tools (Laureate Education Inc., 2011b).According to Dr. Orey, if educators expect today’s students to be motivated during the learning process then they need to ensure that the student is actively involved. One way to achieve this desire is to allow students to use technology as they are learning. It becomes a tool for learning and not just for teacher demonstrations.  Smart Boards are more than projectors; they are tools that get students engaged in the learning process when used properly.  Like computers, the tax payers’ money has purchased them and they must be used to improve the education of our children, not just a toy for teachers to play with.

A second aspect of my teaching strategies that has been affected by recent studies is the use of dual coding (Laureate Education Inc., 2011b). I have used many Power Points and other Word documents as instructional tools in past years. Understanding the impact of incorporating more pictures into these tools will make the use of these tools more effective. Students will be able to relate the text to the accompanying picture. As Dr. Orey suggested when he described the difference between constructionist and constructivist theories (Laureate Education Inc., 2001a) students have different experiences that they bring into the classroom. These experiences can have an effect on how they perceive new information. When educators are able to include pictures, it enables the student to connect accurately to ensure they are able to visualize the concept. Using visual learning strategies within curriculum helps the student structure their thoughts and make connections to content (O’Bannon,, 2006). It also helps overcome the obstacles caused by language barriers and reading ability in subjects that are not dependent on reading comprehension.  As I work to use more technology within my instruction I plan to modify old presentations to not only be more student friendly but also to include more pictures to aid in the learning process.

There are multiple instructional strategies that have proven to be effective in the classroom. Incorporating technology into these strategies makes them more successful because it helps prepare our students for the competition of the twenty-first century workforce. Two strategies I plan to work to enhance in my instruction this year are: cooperative learning and summarizing and note taking. In order for students to become effective leaners, they need to be able to summarize their learning by being able to delete unnecessary information while focusing on the important facts (Pitler, et. al., 2007 p. 119). This is a new skill for my third graders. However, teaching them to effectively summarize their learning will help make them more successful in the future. It will help them be able to organize their learning. This strategy is difficult for them to accomplish at this age therefore I am also working to improve the effectiveness of cooperative learning within my classroom (Pilter, et. al., 2007 p. 139). While using cooperative groups students must understand the expectations of each individual learner. Students also learn when they have to “teach” another student. Using cooperative learning activities within the classroom will help improve the learning process.

As I work to improve my classroom instruction I have set two personal goals. I want to move from a more direct instruction classroom to a more student centered classroom. I not only want to move from using technology as an instructional tool to a learning tool, but I also want to hold my students more accountable for their learning. I want to become more of a facilitator and allow the students to learn more through doing and sharing amongst themselves. In order to accomplish this I must learn how to use technology tools more efficiently. That means taking time to practice and learn how the tools work. One tool I plan to use more is virtual field trips. Due to budget cuts, taking trips has become a difficult task.  A second goal I have set is incorporated into the first: use more variety of technology in the classroom. I have used a few different tools in the past. Now that I have increased my knowledge in the types of technology available and how to use them within the curriculum, I plan to share them with my students. Students today have no fear and are willing to experiment on the computer freely. When they do so without adult guidance, it can lead to its misuse. I believe if I can at least give them some directed instruction in a wide variety of technology tools and how to use them to create an artifact, then they will have a heads up in the right direction. They will have an experience to relate to the next time they have to choose a method to present a project.  By setting personal goals I will be able to improve my classroom instruction in order to produce more effective life-long learners.

This course has been very enlightening for me. I have learned more than I know what to do with right now. Focusing on one or two methods to improve on at a time will help me become a more efficient teacher. I want my students to not only experience success within my classroom but also in the real world when they leave. Incorporating more technology into the classroom is a step in the right direction.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011a). Program seven: Constructionist and constructivist learning theories [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

O’Bannon, B., Puckett, K., & Rakes, G. (2006). Using Technology to Support Visual Learning Strategies. Retrieved from
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Social Learning Theories

Voice Thread:

Have you ever sat through a lecture and walked out knowing nothing more than when you walked in? Often times our classrooms are a lot like this for students. Teachers fail to engage them in the learning process.  Due to the ever changing nature of students today it is crucial that teachers modify their instruction to accommodate the learning styles and preferences of the students currently in the class. This means incorporating various techniques to help students learn. There are many ways to accomplish this in the classroom.

Social learning theories believe students learn best when they are able to work with others to process new information and move it from their short term memory to their long term and be able to retrieve it when called upon (Laureate Education Inc., 2011). Students tend to be able to share information and experiences when they work together to enhance the learning that takes place. Students also become responsible for other members of their team and not just themselves. They must help each member comprehend the objective in order for the team to be successful. There are a ways teachers can include activities within the classroom that promote social learning.

One such method is the use of cooperative groups. Cooperative groups tend to improve student motivation and increase skill levels. Last week we discussed project-based and problem-based learning. Teachers can create projects that require students to work collectively to complete; this is termed social constructionism (Laureate Education Inc., 2011). When students work in groups to achieve a common goal, everyone becomes responsible for each other’s’ learning. Using peer teaching they must make sure each member understands the skills and objectives being discussed therefore improving on their own understanding.  Generally tasks that fit under cooperative grouping assignments are too difficult for a student to complete independently and requires students to work together to accomplish the goal (Orey, 2001). Before establishing groups students must understand the expectations of working as groups. Depending on the teacher’s style, students may all receive the same grade in the group; this makes them realize their effort will affect all members of the team. When choosing students for groups it is important to recognize the length and desired outcome of the task. Sometimes students should have the freedom to choose their partners but realize the expectations remain the same. Other times the teacher may choose the base groups according to their ability; though this should rarely be the case (Putler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007). Groups should be small in size so that students have the opportunity to participate in the process. Using cooperative groups allows students to build their knowledge together rather than independently through their social interactions.

There are many ways teachers can incorporate cooperative groups into their lessons. Web quest is one mentioned in this week’s readings. When using web quests, students are given tasks to complete. Usually the template also has the resources students can use to complete the task. Web quest lessons are usually too in depth to be assigned independently which makes them great for cooperative learning groups. Teachers can create their own web quest or there is a template found at that helps teachers save time when generating one. Another activity discussed this week is the use of blogs. Students are often familiar with Twitter and Facebook social network programs. Blogs are similar in nature because they allow students to respond to each other’s posts. They are different however because they usually have a specific topic to write about and discuss. I currently use blogs within my writing class. I attempt to include a new post weekly that relates to that week’s reading assignment. Students then are able to write their response to the topic. Students are engaged during both types of lessons because they incorporate the use of the computer and they know their work will be visible to show friends and family through the class web site.

Another new technology I am working to incorporate for the first time this year that promotes social constructionism is the use of a class wiki. We are beginning a study of explorers to our state. In order for students to demonstrate an understanding, I am going to use the jig saw method to have individual groups research countries that sent explorers to the New World. Each group will be responsible for certain aspects about exploration at that time. They will input their findings into a class wiki. After each group is finished gathering their information they will share their portion of the wiki with the class. The wiki will have a link on our class web site so that students will have a resource to use for future reference. This activity lends itself to cooperative learning groups because it is too much to ask for each student to individually research and learn about the many explorers to our state. If I were to do the research for them and create a Power Point presentation it might reach some of the students but creating a lesson where the students are responsible for the learning helps create the life-long learners every educator should strive for.

Teachers today need to be on the same page as the rapidly changing world around them. If teachers want their students to be successful as adults, they need the skills that will help them compete against students from around the world. These countries are moving ahead at a much faster rate than America.  For American schools to keep up, teachers need to learn how to integrate technology throughout the curriculum and use it frequently and effectively. This means teachers need to stay abreast of the many new programs and tools available to include within the lessons. Prior to using them in the classroom teachers must learn how to manipulate and work the program/tool enough to introduce it to the class. We do not have to be efficient in it because the use of technology itself acts as a stimulant to most students encouraging them to learn and they will generally teach the teacher new aspects about the program/tool as they are learning. Technology also supports the idea of creating a student centered class. Technology encourages students to research, practice using trial and error or create a product that is based on given objectives that makes them responsible for their learning. This leaves the educator to become the facilitator and not the lecturer.

As students evolve with the changes around them the classroom must also evolve. This means educators must learn to use more technology based activities and when appropriate create social learning experiences for the students. Humans are known to be social creatures and the school environment should be a place where proper socialization is taught.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program eight: Social learning theories
Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. 
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.