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


Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Having established a clear, concise, and obtainable GAME plan for integrating technology into the content areas enabled me to make considerable progress toward my goal of developing digital-age learning experiences in the content areas. I was especially motivated by one of the Stories From Practice in our resources last week. Janice, a second grade teacher, shares, “if I sit around and wait to purchase the latest and greatest technology system, I’m not going to get anything accomplished. I need to use everything I have to its fullest extent” (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2010 p.87). That was exactly what I needed to do, use what I have more effectively. To provide as much time with digital tools as possible, I located another computer for my classroom, now I have four networked computers with Internet access. Additionally, I secured another day where I can take my students to the computer lab.

Next, I located resources for Internet activities related directly to our reading content for each week. For independent self-selected reading, my students read fiction novels all day long with Scholastic Reading Counts. Therefore I concentrate reading instruction on nonfiction genre with Scholastic News Magazine for Kids. Unfortunately like many teachers, I’m so busy trying to get through the content standards, I never explored the teacher’s edition that accompanies each issue for resources and lessons on integrating technology. What I discovered was an incredible source for ideas, lessons, and resources for real-life, critical thinking learning experiences right at my fingertips. For example, in our latest issue, Volcanoes Erupt, students explore how volcanoes form, why they erupt, and why the Ring of Fire is such a hot spot. In the resources section, there is a website to access classroom activities on plate tectonics. There is also a website where students can gain more information on volcanoes.

In this particular issue, there was also an article about the migration of whooping cranes and large decline in numbers last year. The teacher’s edition referenced a website for tracking the fall migration of the eastern whooping crane flock as an extension activity.

I now have the flexibility to offer individual, partner and small group computer time in the classroom in addition to two to three class periods a week in the computer lab. I have also found an amazing source for integrating technology into our weekly reading content. I am so excited to get started.


Cennamo, K., Ross, J., & Ertmer, P. (2010). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Scholastic News Edition 4, Oct. 19, 2009, Vol. 72 No. 5

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Getting My GAME On

Completing my Master in Science - Intergrating Technology in the Classroom at Walden University has provided me with motivation and encouragement to get my GAME on to explore the possibilities of empowering students through integrating content area learning experiences with critical thinking and new media tools.


To get my GAME on, I first evaluated my confidence and proficiency with the National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS-T). I have selected two indicators as the focus for my GAME plan. The first indicator I have selected is to design and develop digital-age learning experiences and assessments. The second indicator I will concentrate on is to engage in professional growth and leadership.


My plan is to employ an array of digital tools - blogs, wikis, videos, and social media to tap into my students' passion for collaborating, creating and sharing. By designing higher levels of engagement in authentic real world experiences within the content areas, my students will become more self-directed and self-motivated learners. I will start by changing he three major research projects my students complete into Internet- based collaborative inquiry projects. I will also continue to replace traditional textbook based lessons inscience and social studies with Internet-based activities.

The second part of my action plan was evident after listening to Marcie Hall (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009), speak on developing your personal learning network (PLC). In order to continue to build upon my personal best practices, I will, “participate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning” (NETS-T, 2009). Although I will continue to assume a leadership roll in technology at my site, I will also seek out experts throughout the district as well as online resources to gain the knowledge and experiences necessary in reaching my goals.


To monitor my progress, I will utilize digital lesson plans. With digital lesson plans I can easily evaluate lessons, make notes, revise, edit, and conveniently store for future use. Digital lessons will also facilitate collaboration and communication on enriching content area learning through technology with professionals in my PLC.


To evaluate and reflect on my progress, I will develop student self-assessments on their learning. Specifically, I will be evaluating their engagement, interest level, creative and critical thinking, and content knowledge learning. I will discuss the effectiveness of learning experiences and collaborate on next steps with colleagues in my PLC.

Final Thoughts

Our students are living in a digital world. Although they may possess the know-how on the actual digital tools, their knowledge on using media tools constructively to create, collaborate, problem solve and communicate is limited. I want my students to be creators to share their own learning instead of simply receivers of content.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2009). Program three. Enriching content area learning experiences with technology, part 1 [Motion picture]. Integrating technology across the content areas. Baltimore: Author.

National Education Standards for Teachers (NETS-T) retrieved from on November 10, 2009.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Reflection on Supporting Literacy and Online Inquiry in the Classroom

Fluency no longer strictly refers to paper, pencil and books. Being literate in today’s information-abundant society means integrating literacy and digital culture. David Warlick (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009) explains how new literacies change regularly as technology opens new possibilities for communication and information. This has a direct impact in the classroom as we seek to prepare students for the new literacies that will ultimately define their future. Continually changing information technologies provides unparalleled opportunities for teachers to design and create rich learning experiences for their students. The goal of education is no longer that of simply feeding students content, but to teach students how to learn if we plan to provide them with the futures they deserve.

The students sitting in our classrooms today will be the ones who will shape the future of society and determine the dynamics of the Information Age. They will also be the ones developing advances in technology to meet the needs of the world they live in. If our mission as educators is to have our students become productive participants in society, we must embrace the Information Age. A student’s ability to navigate in a technological society will be a determining factor for their success in life. Kuhlthau, Maniotes, & Caspari (2007) ask, “How do we educate our students to meet the demand for high levels of literacy in the technological workplace?” (p.1). The authors go on to say that the key for “meeting these challenges is developing student competence in learning in information-laden environments and for finding meaning from a variety of sources of information.”

My initial reaction to the thought of teaching the higher-level new literacy skills to third grade students was that it would be an ambitious undertaking. Teaching students that are still working on increasing their reading fluency and comprehension skills to identifying appropriate sources of written material, verifying the accuracy of information, and then applying that information to appropriate learning tasks would be an extremely challenging task.

The most interesting revelation I had regarding teaching new literacies skills to my students is that they really can acquire new literacies skills such as identifying, analyzing, summarizing and synthesizing information from the Internet with appropriate modeling, scaffold instruction, guided practice, and thoughtful feedback. By the time I had finished designing my online inquiry-based unit plan for this course, I thought to myself, my students really can do this. It’s just going to take baby steps. I have learned that the greatest motivator for students is the opportunity for them to personalize their learning, engage in the discovery process and creatively express their understanding. Students get excited, and this excitement translates into success.

Due to this course, I am excited about combining cooperative learning and new literacies this year by making content relevant to students’ lives and create opportunities for students to interact with each other in project based learning. In order to create collaborative opportunities for student-centered knowledge development and provide purposeful learning experiences, I will be developing online inquiry based learning projects. According to Eagleton & Dobler (2007), “Working in groups of three or four can help children improve their communication skills, design more creative solutions to problems, and gain a sense of what it is like to manage real problems in the workplace (p.12).

This course has confirmed my commitment toward teaching the new literacies to my students. To meet this aspiration, a professional development goal I would like to pursue is to increase participation in educational partnerships within the local community. During this course, I was immediately drawn to the collaborative project at the University of Maryland's Human-Computer Interaction Lab. Kidsteam is a partnership between the university and local schools that pairs students with researchers, who then work together to design new technologies for children (

According to Partnership for 21st Century Skills, “teachers can create a 21st century context for learning by: making content relevant to students’ lives, bringing the world into the classroom, taking students out into the world, and creating opportunities for students to interact with each other, with teachers and with other knowledgeable adults in authentic learning experiences (p. 12). There are two excellent opportunities for educational partnerships right in our own backyard. The first is California State University Long Beach, which is conveniently located across the street. I would like to pursue a partnership between my students and possibly both the industrial design department and the computer science department. The second partnership would be with the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, which would align perfectly with third grade science curriculum. Students would have the opportunity to work collaboratively with experts in the field on real life, hands on, problem solving experiences.


Eagleton, M. B., & Dobler, E. (2007). Reading the Web: Strategies for Internet inquiry. New York: The Guilford Press.

Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K., & Caspari, A. K. (2007). Guided inquiry: Learning in the 21st century. Westport: Libraries Unlimited.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Program One. Skills For The Future [Motion picture]. Supporting Information Literacy and Online Inquiry in the Classroom. Baltimore: Author.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (n.d.). A report and mile guide for 21st century skills.

Washington DC: Author. Retrieved from