Reflection – Reaching and Engaging Learners Through Technology

Differentiation? I asked my students the other day if they had heard of the term and all but one had not. After learning so much about purposeful communication with students and their need for understanding the “why” of instruction and learning, I feel surprised at the students’ replies to the question. With the query in mind, I wonder how much differentiation (and communication of instructional purpose) is actually done in the classroom. Nevertheless, it is my responsibility to learn to differentiate respectfully for all my learners, and in analyzing what I have learned during EDUC- 6714, learning that differentiation of any kind need not be a “hassle” has already begun to change my classroom. The “what” and why of differentiation and technology I have read and processed, but the most enlightening bit of information I have gleaned from my studies comes from Tomlinson. Throughout this course and others the “how” of differentiation implementation was not clear to me. In “How Do Teachers Make It All Work?” (1999), Tomlinson sheds light on intelligent and non-stressful ways to “get-started” and encourages “start[ing] small” (1999, p. 96). I have already adjusted the use of resources to include a choice of the Internet for student tasks such as finding definitions and synonyms, and creating graphic organizers, which the students are receptive to. The concept of teaching the class to work quietly on “anchor activities” and then transitioning to separate activities in the same quiet atmosphere is a phenomenal revelation to me after struggling with a somewhat “backwards” approach and encountering a bit of chaos. “Grow[ing] slowly” (1999, p. 97) also allows perspective in terms of differentiation and technology integration. I will continue to add gradually to my repertoire as my comfort and students’ comfort levels increase. A final bit of comfort came with the article “Learning to Love Assessment” (also Tomlinson’s, 2008) where I discovered that I am not alone in giving assessment less than its due. Tomlinson’s words so deeply correspond to my own feelings that I look forward to a new semester to amalgamate my relaxed position towards differentiation, differentiation with technology, and assessment. I am looking forward to a new beginning as a teacher, professional, and person.

References
Tomlinson, C. A. (1999). Differentiated classroom: Responding to the needs of all learners. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.
Retrieved from the Walden Library ebrary. Tomlinson, C. A. (2008). Learning to love assessment. Educational Leadership, 65(4), 8–13. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier Database.

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Final Blog Post

             As I finish the first week of the school year, I feel confident that there is a change in my classroom. Not talking miracles, there is definitely a more student-centered atmosphere and less teacher “command.” Pondering and evaluating the goals I set through the GAME plan (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009) tells the same story, and happily I am on the right track in employing the ideas and effect set forth in my design.

            In initiating student-centered learning I find I have kept my first goal: separating knowledge and skills during planning and assessment (Stiggins, 2007). I have already changed my objectives to reflect both “what” students will learn and “how” they will learn it; however, more importantly my thinking has changed. I am now “geared” to make use of both “knowing” and “doing” beginning with the planning stage and ending with the assessment stage, and I will work in the next few weeks and months to make this a habit.

            In teaching self-directed learning and integrating technology into the classroom, I began this week by teaching the GAME plan self-direction (Cennamo et al., 2007) and introducing parts of the QUEST inquiry strategy (Eagleton & Dobler, 2007) in a project-based lesson. Students are receiving enough scaffolding to be able to complete the assignment, yet they have developed their own GAME (2007) plans and are researching using the Internet and savvy “notemaking” (Eagleton & Dobler, 2007, p. 240) skills.

            As far as a monitoring through a reflective (1-5) rating of lessons, how did I fair? This week I would give myself a “3” and no higher because logically and honestly “what’s good for the goose (my students) is good for the gander (myself).” Goals must be set high or else one becomes complacent, which breeds begin stagnant and ordinary. I am working towards having the “attributes of a great teacher” (Kottler, Zehm, & Kottler, 2005) and that will come through daily practice and reflection of my GAME plan (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2007) and being flexible with “high standards” (Kottler et al., 2005). 

            My journey has just begun.      

Cennamo, K., Ross, J., & Ertmer, P. (2010). Technology integration for meaningful classroom

            use: A standards-based approach. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Eagleton, M. B., & Dobler E. (2007). Reading the web: Strategies for internet inquiry. New

            York: The Guilford Press.

Kottler, J., Zehm, S. & Kottler, E. (2005). On becoming a teacher: The human dimension.  

             Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

         Stiggins, R. J. (2007). Student-involved assessment for learning. New York: Prentice Hall, p. 72.

               

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Using the GAME Plan Process with Students

I feel slightly vindicated as I write this post because I have become not only accustomed to the GAME plan (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009) but even a little bit fond of the tool. My thought processes had already turned to using the strategy with students for all activities as the tool is both uncomplicated and efficient, and now we are to answer to its use in the classroom. I am actually excited about the thought.

I plan to use the device from the very beginning of the school year with everything from sentence editing exercises to essays to long-term projects. The shear repetition will change the use of the pneumonic from a conscious act to an unconscious act so that students will automatically use the tool. Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock (2001) say that one must practice a skill at least 24 times before one reaches proficiency, so beginning “at the beginning” with simple tasks and applying the plan daily will create automatic usage, which will hopefully become a lifelong habit. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) sites the NETS standards as “foundational” and “in order [for students] to prepare to work, live, and contribute to the social and civic fabric of their communities” (ISTE, 2010), and all of these standards require problem-solving skills. Creative thinking is at the heart of solving problems and “requires effort and produces valued outcomes” (Cennamo et al., 2009, p. 25), yet because it is a complicated process students will benefit from using the GAME plan to “control and self-monitor” (p. 25) the undertakings of hard working, hard thinking global citizens of the 21st century. The GAME plan is on beginning next week in Mrs. Dyer’s classroom.

 References: 

Cennamo, K., Ross, J., & Ertmer, P. (2010). Technology integration for meaningful classroom

             use: A standards-based approach. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Marzano, R., Pickering, D., & Pollock, J. (2001). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for

             increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: McREL.

ISTE. (2010). International Society for Technology Education.  http://www.iste.org/Content/

                       NavigationMenu/NETS/ForStudents/NETS_for_Students.htm

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Wiki Woman: How a Web Tool Saved My Career | Edutopia

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via Wiki Woman: How a Web Tool Saved My Career | Edutopia.

How I wish to do this!

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The Way of the Wiki: Building Online Creativity and Cooperation | Edutopia

The Way of the Wiki: Building Online Creativity and Cooperation | Edutopia

via The Way of the Wiki: Building Online Creativity and Cooperation | Edutopia.

An interesting and apropos blog about wikis with references to our own Vicki Davis.

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