New and Emerging Technologies Reflection

As I reflect on the content and material covered in this class, I realize that I have gained a wealth of information on the use of MUVE’s and digital gaming in the classroom.  To some these concepts may seem far from educational, but to others these 21st century instructional technologies could lead to a much brighter future for our students. In the article written by Gee (2005), suggests that video games can transform education through the experiences and skills it produces.  Students learn best when material is related to them in methods that they can relate to in their everyday life.  This is why that after completing this course I have realize that it should not matter what method is used to educate students as long as the learning goals are successfully accomplished.

Recently, I was asked to devise a lesson on digital gaming.  I feel more confident now than ever that this lesson will produce the outcomes that I want while engaging my entire class.  In the article written by Deubel (2006), suggests that incorporating video gaming into the learning experiences has the main benefit of engaging students in their learning.  By maximizing student engagement and activity in the classroom, teachers can produce a lesson that is not only stimulating, but also inspires them to learn more about the concepts and material learned.  Digital natives learn best in a learning  environment that they are accustomed to.  Through implementing digital games, we can transform the classroom experience into a familiar daily activity that is viewed as fun and exciting.

Furthermore, when studying MUVE’s I realize the potential they could have to impact a student’s life.  I feel that by integrating MUVE’s into our classroom we can touch upon the 4 change agents through various types of lessons. This is a low-cost lesson idea that allows the students to become engaged in an authentic topic that may not be able to be accessed any other way. What if the goal was to research one week as a person of a different race in second life without anyone else knowing? What about students that are slow to develop socially? An MUVE could provide them the freedom to connect and communicate with others from many different aspects. River Project allows users to participate in a town plagued by disease in the 19th century. We don’t have time-machines, but we can have our students participate in as authentic as possible scenario to get a better understanding of the material.  These lessons will be fun for the students, but most importantly they will be low-cost authentic educational experiences that will give our students the 21st century skills necessary to survive.

Finally, the biggest impact this course has had on me is the realization of how cost efficient these technologies and other have in the classroom.  One of the emerging technologies that I feel my school could benefit greatly from is the addition of netbook computers.  In the article written by Descy (2009), suggests netbooks are small, lightweight, and low-priced computers that are the fastest growing segment of the PC market.  These mini-computers provide students with ability to utilize the internet, a webcam, a microphone, and the majority of functions a laptop or desktop PC have without the burden of transporting around a cumbersome device.  I strongly  believe that these computers are the gateway to productive educational experiences that can save the district a lot of money.

References

Descy, D. (2009). Netbooks: Small but Powerful Friends. TechTrends, 53(2), 9.

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

Gee, J. P. (2005). Good video games and good learning. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 85(2), 33–37.

Week 8 Course Reflection

Throughout this class, I have gained a wealth of knowledge on how to apply the Universal Design for Learning instructional strategy in my classroom.  This teaching method secures the success of all students in the classroom regardless on how diverse their learning style, readiness, or interest might be.  In fact, this method when coupled with differentiated instruction can provide the students with a positive learning environment where they can fulfill their dreams.  The best part of this practice is that adapting lessons is not too difficult, and they are easy to modify.  Also, when lessons are adapted using these two methods they allow the teacher to act as a facilitator in the classroom, and provide the students with the responsibility to take control of their education in class.

During this class I also was given the opportunity to interact with some of my classmates through a social networking site called Ning.  I quickly discovered how useful a social network site can be for a class.  We were about to have a chat room, post in forums, share links, music, and much more.  I learned a lot from my classmates too on how to use certain technologies in the classroom while implementing UDL/DI.  Through these links I will be able to adapt certain lessons, and secure the success of my students education.

To adapt my lessons to these content standards, I plan on providing my students with a variety of options for mastering the concepts.  Bray, Brown, and Green (2004) suggest that “Differentiated instruction differs from individualized instruction in that it provides learners with more options for learning while ensuring that the classroom workload remains manageable” (p.54).  When more learning options are provided for the students in the classroom, the probability that they will successfully master the concepts being taught will increase.  I have found that one of the easiest ways to incorporate differentiated instruction in to the classroom is through technology.  Using technology allows the students to identify with their interests, and it also allows me to teach to multiple learning styles at the same time.

One lesson that I plan on adapting immediately in my classroom is on area and perimeter of triangles and quadrilaterals.  Gifted students and students who need enrichment would be assigned a project to collaborate and create a webpage to educate peers.  The webpage would also make for an excellent artifact for the class to use for reference when applying the concepts learned in this lesson to future lessons.  The web page construction can be broken down into small-steps with specific deadlines for those with difficulty staying organized.  Many web pages through www.google.com can automatically translate from English to another language or vice versa to accommodate student language needs, so ELL students would not have a problem with the content on this reference page.  For Visually Impaired, ELL, and students with learning disabilities, I would include a PowerPoint of vocabulary with matching images and word origin references. I believe with a strong vocabulary foundation that learning the about area and perimeter will become easier for these students.  For non-technology students an option could be artwork in the form of a poster where the students could use the area and perimeter concepts to construct a room that they would like to live in, or a building that they would like to work or live in.  Also, I would try to schedule a speaker from a local college – architect/engineer major or professor – or perhaps a NASA engineer who can bring samples for student manipulation and hands on learning.

I think the thing i love about diversity in the classroom is that it allows teachers to facilitate student development while providing many opportunities for learning.  Bray, Brown, and Green (2004) state that “Diverse learners require unique instruction that helps meet their unique learning needs” (p.53).  Differentiated learning allows teachers to address the readiness, interests, and learning preferences of their students.  It enables students to understand content at their individual levels.  Teachers can easily adapt lessons to differentiate instruction for their students.  With the use of technology in schools today, differentiated instruction can be implemented into classrooms around the world.  This is why I believe my UDL/DI implementation plan will allow me to accomplish my goal of producing a learning environment that is conducive to generating thought-provoking individuals.

Week 8 Course Reflection

When reflecting on the GAME plan I can say for certain that it will help my lessons blossom in the future.  When looking back on how I used to plan my lessons I would think of the Goals, Action, Monitor, and Evaluation.  Yet, the ability to overcome obstacles would sometimes derail my lesson plans.  I think the best part of the GAME plan is that it keeps the teacher focused on what needs to get done in the classroom to benefit the students.  Basically, it’s the 4 essential parts for a lesson, and the rest is just gravy.  I was impressed at how easy it was to develop lessons for NETS using the GAME.  I was excited when planning the lessons because it was easy, and I knew that the students would be receiving a quality 21st century education from them.  One thing that I noticed was that when implementing a GAME plan obstacles can try to derail your lesson, but with determination and a solid GAME plan, the students will thrive in the most chaotic situation.

In the future I plan to continue to use the GAME plan because it WORKS.  The format incorporates the 4 essential aspects of a successful lesson, and by including each step in the lesson it is guaranteed for success.  I think it is easier to find ways to actively engage the students in the lesson, and maximize their learning potential.  I think that my students will enjoy my lessons planned in this format, and I think this course was a success for me because I learned some vital teaching tools.

Week 7 GAME Plan for Success

This week I was asked to talk about how I can apply the GAME plan to educate my students, so that they will become proficient in technology standards.  I think that the GAME plan is universal and can be applied to any of the standards.  I think the biggest concern for me will be getting my colleagues on board and finding time to follow through with my goals.  As I stated earlier in my blog my school does not have a lot of technology, and it is frequently used for state testing.  I feel like time is the biggest issue when it comes to teaching them proficient technology skills.  Does anyone have any methods to use so that I can save time and utilize my time when I have technology available for my students?

My biggest concern is getting my colleagues on board with my implementation of technology in our students’ lives.  Many of them seem set in their ways, and take the “can’t teach an old dog new tricks” approach.  However, I feel like it is a catch 22.  If I could get them on the tech bandwagon, then would our school get more technology, or would it mean even less time for my students?  With recent budget problems I see the later of the two options.  Does anyone have any thoughts or advice?  Maybe I could work with my colleagues to create group technology units where one step is completed in each class.  I think that this could help, and maybe other teachers would see the collaboration and want to get involved.  I think this way we could share technology time, and benefit our students.

Application 6 GAME Plan Update

This week I began to introduce the concept of wikis to my class.  I was relieved that a few of my students had worked with wikis before on their own, but never in class.  To introduce the concept I used handouts of screen shots, and I went through a tutorial with them using a laptop and LCD projector that I borrowed from a friend.  The lesson went fairly well, yet I wish I could have had time to walk the students through the process on their own computers.  I could tell through my questioning that some students were not grasping the concept, but because of testing I would not be able to get them the hands on learning that they needed.  Can anyone think of a way I could connect with these hands on learners without the hands on equipment present?  It was perplexing to me.

Also, when some of my students said they had created wikis before, but not in class it got me to thinking.  What if I got more teachers on board with my type of lessons and ideas?  I think that other teachers would really be on board with having there class create them, or having a cross-curriculum lesson with my class if they knew how easy they were to use.  Just from talking with a couple of teachers they seemed interested, but time will tell if they would be on board to move the technology lesson plans in to the 21st century at my school.  Does anyone have any experience with getting teachers on board to improve the technology use at there school?  Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks!

Application 5 GAME Plan Update

This week I have hit a little road block in my GAME Plan, but with a little course correction I hope that all will be well.  At the beginning of this week I was bumped from the time that I reserved for my class use the schools media center.  My class time was pushed back 2 weeks because of make up testing for a district mandated test.  This brings the grand total to 24 weeks that the media center at the school is closed because of district or state testing.  That is 24 of 36 weeks of the school year that teachers and students cannot utilize the materials in the media center because of different standardized tests!!!  I think this stat is appalling!  What are we doing to our students to prepare them for the 21st century?  Are we going to prepare them properly with the technology provided for them in the media center? No.  We are going to test them to death with multiple choice questions that have little relevance on their life skills and abilities.  Sorry to go off on a little tangent, but it does get frustrating sometimes.

To adjust to this situation I have printed off slides and diagrams for my students to go over.  I was given that suggestion, and I think it will prove to be useful later on.  Tomorrow, I will use the slides to begin teaching my students about wikis and how to use them.  I will give them an assignment to access one of the recommend wiki pages that I give to them by the end of next week.  I am thinking that maybe the wiki project that could become an extra credit project, and when I get my computer time in a 2 weeks I could have my students work on their building project.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Application 4 GAME Plan Progress

As I have been reflecting and exploring my GAME plan as mentioned in my previous two posts on this blog I have encountered some questions that raise some concern for me.  In my last post I mentioned that computers are difficult for classes to use because they need to be used 22 out of the 36 weeks of the school year for various state and district tests.  I have reserved time for the students to work on the two lessons that I had thought of.  Yet, I was wondering if the time I reserved will be enough?  How long will it take me to introduce and teach my class about wikis before I have them create one?  How long will my students need to explore www.geogebra.org or Geometers Sketch Pad before they have the prerequisite knowledge to complete their assignments?  Also, how should I monitor the progress of the students?  Should I give them grades at different points throughout the project, or should I just grade the finished product at the end?  These questions have been on my mind, and there are some gaps in the time that I can take them to utilize the computers at the school.

Some ideas that I have thought of are that I could use the current block of time that I have reserved to educate them on the prerequisite knowledge that they will need to use to complete their projects.  Then, I could try applying it at a later time in the year, or I could have them spend time outside of class time to complete these projects.  Also, I am thinking of possibly introducing the assignments to the class and the programs that they will use to complete them, and then students with prior knowledge on the programs can begin work while other students with little experience can work with me.

Any thoughts or suggestions to these questions that I have been thinking of would be greatly appreciated.

Application 3: GAME Plan Resources

This week we were asked to think of the resources that we will need to implement our GAME Plan for the ideas that we came up with last week.  Also, we were given the task of thinking about what additional information we need, and what steps have we taking toward the action part of the GAME Plan.

For implementing the standards and the lessons that I wrote about last week I will need multiple computers with an internet connection.  I will need this for both lessons (the wiki and the building project).  Also, for the building project I said I would like to use Geometer’s SketchPad, so for this part I would need that software loaded onto the computers as well.  If I cannot get access to GSP, then I have a backup plan and that is to use the website http://www.geogebra.org/cms/ this website has a lot of the capabilities that GSP has and it is free for all of my students to access from anywhere in the world.  When thinking about resources I think the biggest one that I will require is time.  I teach in a low economic urban high school, and there is not an abundance of anything.  The main reason that I need time is because my high school is the only ESL high school in the city.  For this reason the majority of the computers are used for testing year round.  However, toward the end of the year when all of the testing is complete I would like to have the time to complete the lessons mentioned in my previous post.  Another resource that I might like to have is an architect or engineer.  I think having a guest speaker on the building lesson or during a unit review on one of the Geometry chapters that we cover would reinforce the material that we covered.

The steps that I have taken to accomplish my GAME Plan are reserving time in the computer lab after the multiple standardized tests are completed.  I have made contacts with a local NASA engineer and a local architect about coming in to speak to the students about a couple of different Geometric concepts and how they are applied in their professions.  Also, I found the Geogebra website for the students to use, and work on if I cannot get them access to GSP.

I’m not too sure what else I might need to complete my GAME Plan right now, so if anyone has any suggestions please feel free to leave a comment for us to discuss.  I’m sure I will think of something, but as of right now nothing is coming to my mind.

Application 2: NETS-T

In this week’s application I was asked to visit the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) website and review the National Education Standards for Teachers (NETS-T).  After reviewing the standards I have decided that I would like to improve on the standards of Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity and Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments.  My goals for improving in these two areas are applying 21st century lessons to my Geometry class.  I feel that by doing so my students will have artifacts to build their knowledge off of, and they will also be more prepared to handle situations that may arise outside of school.

The first area I feel that I can improve in is Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity.  For this standard what I would like to do is present my students with a situation of having to present a building plan for a city renovation.  Using the many Geometric concepts that my students learn I would like to have them apply those concepts to create a structure.  I was thinking of having different requirements for a residential building and a commercial building, and the student would be given the option of selecting one of the two buildings to construct.  I feel that this would allow them to explore their creative side while apply key Geometric concepts that are used to plan and construct building everyday.  Once the student selects the type of building that they would like to create they then could use Geometers SketchPad to create their building.  This math program has tons of applications that students could use to create and construct an image with, and I feel this would be a great technological tool for them to use.  Also, I believe that this artifact would serve as a great end of the unit assessment to replace a test, which may rejuvenate the students’ interest in learning Geometry.

The other area that I would like to improve on is Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments.  I think that this particular standard is key if I am to make progress in moving my teaching methods to a 21st century mindset.  To help me accomplish this goal I would like to have my class begin to create wikis.  I think that this web tool is an excellent way for students to learn, and this gives the student a lasting artifact to build off of that they can reference anytime from any place in the world.  I feel that for my class a wiki would be used best at the end of a chapter as a review tool.  I could break the class up into groups (the number of groups would be based on the number of sections in the chapter) and assign each group a particular section to review and research.  Then, using the wiki students could study the information and links from that particular chapter and expand their knowledge on the subject.

I feel that both of these lesson ideas are realistic goals for me to set for the remainder of this current school year.  I believe it is never too early to apply useful 21st century teaching methods to my classroom, and I am excited to see how my students respond to these lessons based on the two standards.