Sunday, April 25, 2010


I as draw near the conclusion of my master’s program at Walden University, I feel personally empowered with the skills and knowledge necessary to identify emerging technologies that can have a positive, long-term impact in teaching and learning. I am confident in my ability to become a change leader at my school by influencing and leading the adoption of new and emerging technology that will transform our classrooms into 21st century learning environments. To stay abreast of emerging technologies available, I will use the 2009 Horizon Report (Johnson, Levine, Smith, & Smythe, 2009), which provides a detailed summary of emerging technologies to watch. The report details emerging technologies and timeframes for their entrance into mainstream use for teaching, learning, or creative applications.

My first plan of action as a change leader at my site is to form a technology leadership team that will be responsible for creating and implementing a 21st century vision for our school. The first emerging technology I would like to present for adoption consideration in the Quest Atlantis MUVE. This engaging online multi-user environment will support our school in successfully integrating these new technologies to their best potential and to engage our students in meaningful learning activities (role-plays, simulations, virtual apprenticeships, etc.) not previously possible in the classroom. Our goal is to foster dispositions that will inspire productive participation in the 21st century.

This generation of digital natives have been raised with unparalleled access to advanced technologies, including computers, the Internet, instant messaging, iPods, and video games. Research is starting to show that this generation may show higher levels of analytical thinking, team building, multitasking, global citizenship, and problem solving. It seems logical that learners in schools today differ from those in previous generations, simply based on the different activities in which they choose to fill their lives. The structure of many K-12 classrooms limits opportunities for students to engage meaningfully with information, thus positioning students as mere recorders of content rather than critical consumers and producers.

Video games are comprised of worlds where students have to solve problems. According to Deubel (2006), “An expert gamer has anything but a lazy mind. In fact, superior gaming has been linked to expert behaviors such as self-monitoring, pattern recognition, principled decision-making, qualitative thinking, and superior long- and short term memory” (p. 32). The multi-user virtual environments provide authentic learning experiences, which can increase student engagement and their depth of learning. Student work must have meaning. Students must be personally interested in the topic, make a connection between the academic task and the real world, and share their work with an audience outside the classroom (Lemke & Coughlin, 2009 p. 54).

Sharlett Gillard and Denice Bailey (2007) point out common obstacles in adopting new technologies, “Teachers need support specific to the technology they are planning to implement, and they need it when they are preparing to use the technology with their students” (p.88). The authors go on to say, “The level of support that educators receive as they are adopting and implementing new skills and knowledge significantly impacts the success rate” (p. 89). Quest Atlantis offers an extensive training and support system. Teachers are required to participate in a professional development class. There are also school coordinators and regional coordinators available for training and technical support.

Over the next year, the second emerging technology I plan to investigate further is the new iPad. In Apple iPad Review: Laptop Killer? Pretty Close, Walt Mossberg (2010) provides a detailed report on the capabilities and limitations of the newly released iPad. “It’s qualitatively different, a whole new type of computer that, through a simple interface, can run more-sophisticated, PC-like software than a phone does, and whose large screen allows much more functionality when compared with a phone’s.”

“A recent survey by the PEW Internet & American Life Project predicts that by the year 2020, most people across the world will be using a mobile device as their primary means for connecting to the Internet” (Johnson et al., 2009, p. 16). I can only imagine the learning my students could accomplish with instant Internet access, thousands of interactive applications, simulations, music, art, calculators, and languages to name just a few.


Deubel, P. (2006). Game on. T.H.E. Journal, 33(6), 30–41.

Gillard, S., & Bailey, D. (2007). Technology in the classroom: Overcoming obstacles, reaping rewards. The International Journal of Learning, 14(1), 87–93

Johnson, L., Levine, A., Smith, R., & Smythe, T. (2009). The 2009 Horizon Report: K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Lemke, C., & Coughlin, E. (2009). The change agents. Educational Leadership, 67(1), 54–59.

Mossberg, W. (2010). Apple iPad Review: Laptop Killer? Pretty Close. Retrieved from

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Reflection on Using Technology to Differentiated Instruction

The complex student populations sitting in our classrooms today create even a need for more differentiated instruction. Growing second language learners, expanded identification of students with learning needs, experiential gap between students from affluent and low-income social economic backgrounds, and bright or advanced students are all in the same classroom. DI provides a specific model that carefully examines all classroom elements.

Not all students are alike. Based on this knowledge, differentiated instruction applies an approach to teaching and learning that gives students multiple options for taking in information and making sense of ideas. To differentiate instruction is to recognize students' varying background knowledge, readiness, language, preferences in learning and interests; and to react responsively. The goal is to maximize each student's growth and individual success by meeting each student where he or she is and assisting in the learning process.

Good differentiation, like all good teaching, it is very complex. With anything complex, we learn it a layer at a time. “Becoming an expert at differentiation is a career-long goal. One step at a time, you can get there” (Laureate, 2009). That being said, I will give myself a little slack if the differentiation in my classroom is not yet where I would like it to be. There are a few key concepts to keep in mind as I continue my goal to increase DI strategies in my classroom. Proactive DI is to first check to see where students are relative to goals before you plan a lesson, and then plan multiple pathways in response to students. DI is not synonymous with different. The key principal of DI is giving students different options with the same important learning goals.

One of the first steps toward planning and implementing instruction for diverse learners is to really know your students. My colleagues have assembled a valuable collection of online resources available to aid teachers in determining their students’ interests, learning styles, intelligence preferences, and learning profiles in our Differentiation Station social network. Selecting appropriate instruments to use with my students will enable me to develop learning goals and objectives to meet each student where they are and provide activities and supports to ensure the success of all learners. A learning profile is an instrument created to organize several categories that influence student learning (Tomlinson, 2009). In the beginning of the year, students will complete the Differentiated Instruction Learner Profile, which combines several components useful for supporting student learning: readiness, interests, learning preferences, and intelligence preferences. Additionally, students will answer the Getting To Know You Interest Interview for gender, family and culture background information.

Enriched, active participation stimulates and enhances the learning process and different students are engaged by different approaches. Again, I will turn to the resources my colleagues have shared in our Differentiation Station social network to quickly locate new and exciting methods of engagement and better reach all students. Digital media increases understanding by giving students opportunity to work, experiment, investigate and even play with new concepts. With digital media students grasp material, return to it, share it with others, recall information and explain their ideas.

Giving students multiple ways to show their mastery of a subject increases the chances of active learning and retention of new knowledge. It also provides a more accurate assessment of their performance as well as the need for any adjustments to instructional strategies. I use digital technology to vary the level of challenge, build in supportive scaffolds and provide choices for optimal engagement. I will also continue to seek out avenues to take learning beyond the walls of our classroom and into the real world.

“The integration of a variety of technologies into the classroom can provide learners with unique opportunities to help meet their diverse needs. Technology can be an empowering tool. For it to be empowering, however, teachers must be deliberate and thoughtful in how it is integrated and utilized in the classroom” (Bray, Brown, & Green, 2004, p.76).


Bray, M., Brown, A., & Green, T. (2004). Technology and the diverse learner: A guide to classroom practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Reaching and engaging all learners through technology. What is Differentiated Instruction? Baltimore: Author.

Tomlinson, C. (2009). Learning profiles and achievement. School Administrator. 66(2), 28–33. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Reflection on Integrating Technology Across the Content Areas

Developing a GAME plan is like making a detailed “To Do List.” There is just something about writing down what you want to accomplish that keeps you focused and committed. I personally cannot throw away a “To Do List” until I have checked off all the boxes, or have reevaluated and made modifications to the original list and complied a new list. I also can’t ignore a “To Do List” because I have made a commitment to accomplishing the goals on the list by writing them on the list in the first place.

By engaging in the process of developing a GAME plan, I have made a commitment to reach my goals and set a course of action to attain those goals. I have monitored my progress and made adjustments to my plan as my learning has increased my knowledge, which in turn has helped me refine and focus my instructional goals. My GAME plan for integrating technology into the content areas will continue to be a “work in progress” process, much like my own learning, knowledge and growth as an educator.

The greatest impact on my professional development from my last course Supporting Information Literacy, was realizing the need to incorporate cooperative learning and technology within content area instruction. As my current course Integrating Technology Across the Content Areas comes to a close, I have decided to focus my GAME plan on strategies for integrating social online collaboration into content area instruction. Vicki Davis (Laureate Education, Inc. 2009) gave a very clear picture of what online collaboration should look like. The part that really made an impression for me was when she explained that the model for education now is independent work, so every student can be graded. Yet with online tools such as wikis, blogs, tags and RSS Readers, teachers can actually see each student’s work for assessment purposes. I learned some useful tips for keeping track of student projects as well as insuring safe Internet practices. Ms. Davis mentioned (Laureate Education, Inc. 2009) two useful strategies I plan to incorporate into my procedures for online collaboration. I will have students submit blogs for pre-approval at Class Blogmeister. I will also teach my students to “tag” their assignments to be picked up by my Google Reader, so I can easily review anything my students post online.

My goal is to create a 21st century model for education in my classroom by providing opportunities for my students to connect and collaborate with fellow students, experts in the professional workplace, and other teachers around the world in an authentic learning environment with real world experiences.


Laureate Education, Inc. (2009a) Spotlight on Technology: Social Networking and Online Collaboration. Part 2. Laureate Press.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Getting Students in the GAME

The GAME plan process is a systematic strategy for actively setting goals and following a sequence of steps for achieving those goals. As detailed by Cennamo, Ross & Ertmer (2009), the GAME plan allows you to take control of your own learning by setting goals, taking action, monitoring your learning, and evaluating your progress. I used the GAME plan process to establish goals for learning about technology and technology resources. I selected two indicators from the National Education Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS-T) as a focus for my GAME plan.

According to the National Education Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS-T), effective teachers design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessments incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes identified in the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS-S). By concentrating my GAME plan on NETS-T standard 2a - teachers design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity, I will provide the resources, learning environment, and support necessary for students to achieve NETS-S standard 1a - students apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes, and standard 1b- students create original works as a means of personal or group expression.

By incorporating digital tools in a variety of learning activities such as Internet research, blogging, creating Power Points, wikis, concept maps, and timelines my students have been able to successfully address several NETS-S standards. With guidance and scaffold instruction, students could employ the GAME plan process to set goals for increasing their proficiency in many NETS-S standards. For example, I am currently designing a project-based biography project involving Internet research and group collaboration creating a wiki. My students could utilize the GAME plan process to set a goal and develop an action plan for their biography project. To monitor their progress, they could assign tasks to each member and create a project timeline with scheduled completion dates. Students would complete a self-evaluation to assess their learning outcomes at the end of the project. Their GAME plan could actually become an interactive piece of the wiki where all members can track and record their progress.

Setting goals and using a systematic process for achieving those goals is a crucial skill for all life-long learners. Goal setting will play an integral part in the future success of every student sitting in our classrooms. It is not something that comes naturally for most students. It must be taught, modeled, and reinforced.


Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach (Laureate Education custom edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

ISTE | National Educational Technology Standards. International Society for Technology in Education | Home. Retrieved December 13, 2009, from

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Revising My GAME Plan

I was beginning to feel a little overwhelmed with my GAME plan this week. I was still very focused on my goal of employing an array of digital tools - blogs, wikis, videos, and social media to tap into my students' passion for collaborating, creating and sharing. However, I felt like I didn’t know where to begin in designing higher levels of engagement in authentic real world experiences within the content areas. Although I have developed a language arts collaborative wiki project and placed an order for biography books for resources, I still felt like I should also be creating collaborative projects using Web 2.0 tools in science, social studies and math content areas.

Thanks to the resources in our course this week, I have been able to take a breath, calm down and make some revisions to my original action plan. I plan on following the sound advise on how to get started with online networking and collaboration offered by Vicki Davis (Laureate Education, Inc. 2009). My first plan of action is to visit Web 2.0 resources sites such as Eduwiki to locate ideas and examples for student projects so that I am not reinventing the wheel for every project in several content areas. I also plan to start small by creating one project, and then expanding from there. As Vicki Davis said, “You don’t get there overnight” (Laureate Education, Inc. 2009).

The second part of my revised action plan is to search for an online grassroots project to join. According to Vicki Davis, “Teachers must develop a personal learning network of teachers and other experts. For teachers to innovate with Web 2.0 tools, it is vital to connect to their network” (Laureate Education, Inc. 2009). It has become evident that in order for me to successfully integrate Web 2.0 technology into the content areas and provide my students the opportunity to personalize their learning, engage in the discovery process and creatively express their understanding, I must connect and collaborate with educators beyond my school and district.

Now that my students understand the concept of blogging, I am trying to locate an online blogging tool where my students can interact with each other, teachers and experts around the world. Most blog sites are blocked in my district, however I heard this week that they are looking into allowing Moodle. In continuing my search for an online learning platform appropriate for younger students, I plan to check out and Wiggio.


Laureate Education, Inc. (2009a) Spotlight on Technology: Social Networking and Online Collaboration. Part 2. Laureate Press.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Evaluating My GAME Plan

This week produced some successes towards meeting my goal of seamlessly integrating technology into my daily instruction. Unfortunately I also experienced a few setbacks (as is often the case when working with technology). The actions I have taken over the past two weeks to increase my classroom technology to include five networked computers were a success. Students were searching the Scholastic News Online site for blogs they wanted to post on. Many of the blogs on this site are an extension of the Scholastic News Magazine articles we use for our reading content. Students selected blogs on current relevant topics such as movies, music, books, news, and conflict resolution. Once they decided on a blog they wanted to participate in, they used Word to write their response. Students used writing strategies, sentence structure and grammar from our language arts content to compose their blog comments. On Tuesday, half of my students used classroom computers to work with partners on their blogs while the other half of the class worked with partners on identifying main ideas in their Scholastic News Magazine. The next day, the two groups switched activities.

The lesson was going well, students were excited and engaged as they applied their reading and writing skills in authentic learning experiences. The only glitch in the plan was when students tried to post their blog and received an access denied message. This technical issue will involve some investigating and problem solving that may require me to modify my action plan. One explanation could be that when students posted blogs last week, we were in the computer lab using newer computers with a higher operating system, which may allow the blogging. Another possibility is that the district filter system has recently blocked posting blogs. I modified the lesson by having students save their blog to their network data folder, and will post it to the blog next week in the computer lab. If the computers in the classroom cannot post comments on blogs, I will have to reevaluate the effectiveness and feasibility of continuing this authentic, real-world experience in the content area of reading.

This would also be an excellent opportunity to focus on the second part of my action plan by collaborating with technology experts in the district to develop solutions to issues such as accessibility to websites for educational purposes. As part of my next steps in my action plan, I will contact our district’s Information Services requesting access to VoiceThread, Blogs and other social networking sites.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Staying On My GAME

In working toward my Goal of designing and developing digital-age learning experiences, I continued exploring opportunities to enhance learning and promote critical thinking by seamlessly integrating technology into my daily instruction. This week I continued to focus on developing authentic problem solving experiences set in a real-world context in the content area of reading.

The first Action I took this week toward reaching my goal was locating resources for age appropriate student participation in blogging. Through exploring the Scholastic News Online website, I discovered several opportunities for students to blog on school related issues presented in our weekly news magazine subscription. This is the perfect opportunity to integrate communication tools into reading content. Within this site, students can also post blogs on top news stories. Additionally, Scholastic Online offered two important resources for implementing blogging in the classroom. The first resource I used with my third grade students was Blogging Rules. This reference sheet outlined rules for Internet Safety and rules to follow for Quality of Work when posting online. The second resource I used with my students was served as an extension of the Quality of Work rules. In the computer lab, my students located a blog at Scholastic Online, and then used a rubric to score the blog on quality of work. For my students, it was authentic application of using a rubric to score another student’s blog. This exercise also helps further the understanding that this experience might be reciprocal in that another student might be on the Internet scoring my students’ blogs as well. Again reinforcing the importance of responsibility when you post on the Internet, because the world is your audience. After scoring a blog, my students selected a story that caught their interest, and submitted their first blog! As they exited the computer lab, I overheard a few students saying how fun that was.

While Monitoring the progress of my game plan, I have identified additional support and resources that are either necessary and/or will enhance the effectiveness of my goals. Although I located an additional computer for my classroom last week, it is evident that the computer needs more TLC than I am able to offer. Another computer in my classroom frequently displays an error screen. I will be submitting a request for service for both computers to my district Tech Support.

I am also gathering resources and materials for a project based learning unit I am developing for this year. I am changing and existing biography research project to incorporate cooperative learning groups and a wiki for the final product. Students will work in partners during the research phase, and then groups of four to develop their wiki. I am currently trying to purchase another set of age appropriate biography books for partners to use as one source of information.

As stated previously, I don’t plan to wait until I have the latest technology resources before I put my GAME plan into action. When Evaluating my GAME plan although I know there will be set backs ahead, I feel excited and motivated about my progress this week. And yes, teachers always have a wish list. As part of my long-range goals, the following resources would increase the type of enriched learning experiences I can offer my students:

  • interactive white board
  • microphones
  • video cameras