My Personal GAME Plan

            I had a student ask me a question one day, an irrelevant, “obvious answer” question. The situation happened day after day and on this particular day the answer was so apparent she looked at me and said, “I guess there are stupid questions!” The entire class erupted in laughter, and I often recall the experience when asked to evaluate my practice. The latest phrase describing non-creative students is “learned helplessness.” Unfortunately, my professional education has instilled in me just the opposite: an “I’ll do it myself,” traditional way of thinking, so my background leads me to instinctively “help” find the answer. Indeed this is a quandary. If my students have “learned-helplessness,” and I have learned-helpfulness, someone has to change. Cennamo, Ross, and Ertmer (2009) recommend teaching students how to learn as opposed to skills. My GAME (2009) plan will help me do just that.

            What is my GAME plan (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009)? My specific ISTE indicators are promoting “student learning and creativity” and “reflection using collaborative tools (NETS-T 2.a. & 1.c.), yet I simply long for authenticity, engagement, and a learner-centered classroom (Cennamo et al., 2009). I wish to stop teaching and start guiding. Affording them opportunities for the kind of thinking that takes effort, decisions, and drive can only improve their lives. Critical thinkers become critical workers; therefore, for everyone’s sake, I must learn “a more constructivist approach” (Eagleton & Dobler, 2007).

            What action will I take to ensure this difficult change? As I think back over our learning experience, I like Stiggins (2007) division of knowledge and skills and Eagleton and Dobler’s (2007) QUEST strategy for lesson development. Happily, Cennamo et al. present a wonderful chart (p. 31) to guide me in teaching self-direction through inquiry using an awareness of knowledge and skills. Before the school year begins, I will map out and develop weekly projects that include inquiry, authenticity, and technology according to the Maryland essential course of study (McDougal Littell, 2008) for English IV or British Literature. During the school year, I will monitor my plan weekly using a scale of 1-5 for lesson evaluation. A score of five will be a successful lesson in which students were challenged, creative, and self-directed. Any lessons or parts of lessons that fall below a score of five will be evaluated and modified.

            Most of my evaluation and extension takes place during summer break when I not only get a chance to “clear my head” and decrease my stress level, my desire and time for life-long learning is restored. I spend much of my time in a refreshing mind-stretch, reading and pushing my abilities as close to the level of great teacher as I can. Post-masters I look forward to perusing, rereading, and rediscovering the excellent resources I have compiled over the past year.  Future leisure to reflect and restore will certainly benefit my self and my practice.  




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

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

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

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). 2010. Nets for teachers 2008.

                     Eugene, OR: Author. Retrieved July 8, 2010 from




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10 responses to “My Personal GAME Plan

  1. Kelly Dircks

    Your opening story is an excellent example of learned helplessness. As much as I try to be a facilitator, my students still tend to see me as someone who has the answers all listed in my teacher’s manual. Another aspect of this learned helplessness seems to be a lack of motivation to pursue an answer. I’ve often seen students eagerly seat themselves in from of a computer with an excellent question in mind. Upon entering the question word-for-word into Google and not coming up with an answer they tend to give up. One benefit of the last course we took together is that we all gained some knowledge about teaching our students to wisely navigate the information superhighway they are exposed to!

    • stephaniedyer


      Once again you made me smile. I really appreciate your support and the fact that your students also lack in the staying power and drive needed for research. I too am happy for the last course in hopes of eliminating students’ preconceived notions about research and the Internet. Wow, they certainly need our new expertise! Let me know what successes you have with teaching Internet use and evaluation. It would be good to know since we both intend to use the course text by Eagleton and Dobler (2007).


      Eagleton, M. & Dobler, E. (2007). Reading the web. New York: Guilford Press.

  2. Kelly Dircks


    I really like your GAME plan. You have a specific target and determination to meet your goal. By holding yourself to a weekly assessment (your 5 point scale) you are guaranteed more reflection on your part and scaffolding for your students.

    I wonder what would happen if you also had your student provide feedback for each lesson. Would they be able to score themselves in a realistic manner on their creativity and learning? Maybe their responses could be also be a 5 point scale along with comments about what made the lesson challenging and creative for them?

    • stephaniedyer


      An excellent idea asking for student feedback. I truly do not think I have the nerve, patience, or time to add that to the quaqmire at this point though. I will keep it in mind and will remember probably only if my plan goes well.


  3. Stephanie,
    I love the concept of “learned helpfulness”. I think this idea is true for many of us teachers. It is in our nature to be helpful. We want to support our students as much as we can, even if it means doing the work for them (trust me- I’ve caught myself doing that more than once).
    We do need to find ways to guide our students so they can accomplish learning on their own. I think you’ve made an excellent GAME plan and I hope it goes well for you.
    You have quite a task ahead of you, creating a project a week. What do you have in mind for these projects? Group work or individual? Online? Just curious- it’s a great idea.

    • stephaniedyer


      I appreciate your “commiseration” about helping too much and the support for my GAME plan. Yes, a lot of work. Actually though, not much more than I do to myself every day. I am constantly reflecting and changing my lessons. It’s sort of like writing, and I am never completely satisfied.

      What do I have in mind for my projects? I plan to give a choice of three for each week (or so) in order to be able to differentiate socially, cognitively, and meta-cognitively (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009, pp. 167-171). I plan to be as flexible as the available technology allows, and use the same steps and rubrics for each of the choices. It sounds complicated, but I am absolutely trying to make my part as simple as possible through planning.

      Thanks again and good luck to you too. This is hard work!

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

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

  4. Mack


    Your experience with the “stupid question” student brings up an interesting query. Is there an occurrence where asking a question with an obvious answer would truly be considered unneeded? I do not believe in a stupid question. All questions are based on a lack of knowledge. While it may seem that the answer is obvious to most, the individual asking has every right to seek help. It could be a lack of content information or the need for a lesson in learning. As you state, teachers need to go from being the source of information to a guide to the sources. Teach how to learn not what to learn. Technology can help. Johanssen (as cited in Cennamo, Ross & Ertmer, 2009) believe that the computer is a “mindtool…that enable learners to represent, manipulate, or reflect on what they know, rather than to reproduce what someone else knows” which can help the instructor lead students through the process of finding the information on their own (p. 56). Thus, students become self-directed in their learning instead of relying on others. Questions then become guidelines for inquiry instead of signals for help.

    For you evaluations of your lessons, It would be beneficial if you were to further identify your rating scale with a specific rubric to guide what went well and what you need to work on in your teaching. The details will allow you to have a better idea of how to evaluate yourself and make improvements at the end of the year, and you can be as descriptive in that rubric as you want freeing up your memory to worry about making changes instead of trying to recall what exactly you did in the lesson at the time of instruction. I know that by the time school is over, my brain is shot and any deep thinking evaluations take a back seat to the sun. More work at the beginning means less strain at the end.

    Mack (not Thomas)
    K-12 Everything

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

    • stephaniedyer


      I totally agree with you in everything you say. I guess I just forgot to mention that the question asked was either totally irrelevant (Mrs. Dyer, Did you get a new shirt?) or because she was talking and not listening. Even she knew that fact. And of course she did ask and contribute relevance frequently.

      My point with these types of students is that (many of the teachers in our school agree) as Kelly says, they tend to see teachers as “someone who has all the answers” and would rather save themselves the time and work by getting a quick answer. I teach average level seniors, who mostly come to me in August thinking they know it all and they don’t need to know anything else. I am hoping with some “tweaking” to a more student-centered classroom with a little “mystery” about it, they will come to learn how to learn.

      Thanks for talking with me,

  5. Fayette Long


    You mentioned a most interested comment, the challenge of changing to self-directed learning. I agree this should be most interesting to see our students adopt a self-learning mentality and for teachers to take a step back to allow this skill to be integrated into our instruction. It is summer break so I await the beginning of a new year with students and this self-directed learning skill.

    • stephaniedyer


      It is nice to take a step back during the summer; I, like you, am looking forward to putting our hard-earned knowledge to good use. Let those students learn to learn!


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