Sunday, October 21, 2012

Reflection on My GAME Plan

My GAME plan has gone both well and not so well. The good part is that my students are LEARNING TO TYPE! Even when they are not working on their lessons they are careful about where their fingers should be. It is always exciting to see them working hard on it. The not-so-well part has been incorporating current events. This part week was the first time I have been able to do it. I did find two relevant articles this week, so that was a huge improvement. The first one we read was about how schools are looking to ban Flamin' Hot Cheetos. This has been an ongoing conversation in my classroom, healthy versus unhealthy snacks. So it sparked up quite the conversation.  The other time, we were discussing the Great Shake-Out and the importance of taking drills seriously. To read about how many other places were involved in this drill and why other people saw it as important helped that conversation move along. I was proud that I was able to do it this week, but there is lots of work to be done in that department.

As far as immediate changes, we just added Edmodo to our classes technology usage. It is a fun class website, similar to Facebook. One perk of it is I can set the setting so that all posts have to be approved by me before they are posted for everyone else to see. The students enjoy picking their own picture and I enjoy that they are excited about posting about the readings they are doing and the other topics in class we are discussing. 

Overall, this class has me thinking about the here and now and the adjustments that can be made. It also showed me that baby steps are still steps, and you need to do the best you can. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Monitoring My GAME Plan

I apologize for my tardiness this week. I closed on my house and was moving in and working all week. It turns out there was more to be done than we originally planned. Here is what I accomplished this week on my GAME Plan.

For the addition of current events into my curriculum, I have contacted the local newspaper and they are able to provide newspapers for my class. They should be coming once a week. My goal with those newspapers is to have my students read one article about three times a week and do a quick write on it. For their quick write they will have to give me a brief summary of the article and follow it with a reflection. What was their opinion of the article? How did it make them feel? Every time I will let two or three students share their quick write and have two people ask questions about their response. I will keep a checklist of who shares, to ensure everyone receives a chance. After a few weeks of working with the articles, I have been thinking about letting my students write their own articles and put it together in a newspaper for the class. Still kicking around the details in my head, but I am excited at the possibilities.

For the typing portion of my GAME Plan, my students are doing well in the computer lab. The one difficulty I am having is that not all students are printing their completion certificated or telling me they completed a lesson, so I have no way of recording it. Next week when we go, students will have to redo lessons they have completed so I can see they completed it with the appropriate speed and errors. It is a lesson to them to follow directions. I am up for any suggestion that could alleviate this small setback.

Hopefully we will see some more progress this week, especially with the current events goal. I have been struggling to incorporate them into the curriculum myself, however it has me searching on the Internet and I have found some cool videos I have used. They are not current events, but it is a nice twist on the typical lesson. I wonder what I will find this week!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Moving Forward on My GAME Plan

To be very frank with you this past week has been another crazy one. With that being said, I am proud to say I have started to work on my GAME plan and my intention was not to complete this assignment, but simply enhance my students’ learning. However, it was a small step forward, still many to go.

This week, I did manage to find a typing website that I really like for instruction. Our school has many websites that are games for those who have learned and done well with typing. This was not at all what I needed. I needed a website that was going to teach my students all of the basics and give me a way to evaluate how hard they were working. I left the address at school (I will post it later) but this website is just what I was looking for. It not only starts with a color-coded keyboard and goes through thirty lessons of keyboarding basics, but it also measures how quickly the students are typing while they are doing the lessons. This gives me a measurement for their effort and achievement. One step closer to achieving my goal! I just need to adjust a few things.

First, I need a way to record their achievements. I am thinking a simple grading sheet with names and places to write their words per minute for each lesson. This way I will know what lessons they are on and their average typing speed. The other pieces I still need to complete my GAME plan have to do with the incorporation of current events into my lessons.

I have yet to incorporate current events into my lessons. I am still very new to the grade level and I am learning the curriculum and standards. This week I would like to identify some news media websites to use. I am hoping to find at least three, two where I can get helpful articles and at least one with videos. I would like to get in touch with the local newspaper to see if there is a way to get their paper delivered, also. I have some work to do this week!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Strengthening Technology in my Classroom

With my recent move to fifth grade, I have noticed a much greater need for the use of technology. This need is not just my own, but for the students as well. In order to fill this need there are few goals I have to achieve. The first one is tied to the NETS-T (International Society for Technology in Education, 2008) 1 B. “Engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources.” The second is tied to 2 B. “Develop technology-enriched learning environments that enable all students to pursue their individual curiosities and become active participants in setting their own educational goals, managing their own learning, and assessing their own progress.” Using the GAME method I have developed a plan to enhance technology in the classroom.

In order to properly integrate more real world issues in my classroom, I need to be better informed of them. My goal is to use three to five real life news communications (article, video, or audio clip) a week in my lessons. Right now, on average, I use zero. 

The first thing I need to teach my students, on the path of self-inquiry, is how to use some basic technology. At our school, there is no official computer teacher; therefore many students do not even learn the basics. This year we will be starting with typing. My first goal is to teach my students proper and basic typing. 

For the incorporation for current events, I need to subscribe and read more periodicals and journals. Daily, I should be spending about thirty minutes a day searching for information on real- world issues. Then, I need to take what I find and use it in my lessons. Audio/ video clips and articles can be used as methods of engagement in my classroom. 

Educating my students on the basic computer skills will start with me asking the person who runs out tech lab to post typing websites in our grade level folder. Then, each week we go in to the computer lab, have my students work on three lessons. Each week their typing ability will increase as they work through the lessons. 

I will monitor my use of current events media by keeping a tally of how many times a week I utilize different medias in my lessons. When I get started, I hope to gain one hook a week until I am at three to five. If I am not reaching my goal, I will record the time I am spending each day looking for relevant current events to see if I need to increase that as well.

I will monitor my instruction based upon how well my students are typing. I will use informal observation as well as the assessments from the typing program. If students are not performing at the expected level, other typing websites may be used as scaffolding. 

Once I have reached the number of real world connections each week, I will work on building in authentic problem solving. Using those real world issues, I will connect them back to our content. Using the information in the content, I will have students problem solve the issue I am using that day. Problem solving may include discussions, writings, mathematical expressions or data collecting. 

Once my students have worked to achieve the desired level of typing, I would move them to another program to utilize their new skills. The program I would choose is PowerPoint. It tends to be more engaging than Word, and it requires some typing, but not an excessive amount. It is not the focus of the program, like Word. This will give some comfort to those who are still working to strengthen their typing skills, which helps build confidence. This is important when implementing technology in the classroom (Laureate Education Inc., 2009) It will, also, teach a new set of technology skills.

International Society for Technology in Education. (2008). National education standards for teachers   (NETS-T). Retrieved on September 12, 2012 from
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Integrating technology across the content areas. Baltimore, MD: Author

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Reflecting: The Road has Not Changed Much, but the Scenery has

Looking at my "Personal Learning Theory" from week one, not too much has changed. I still focus heavily on Multiple Intelligences and there is still a fair amount of Behaviorism. For kindergarten these particular things are important. Students need to learn things by using their hands, their singing voices, pictures and words. They are still learning how to behave in school, so conditioning is still necessary. These things are not going to change, but there was one change I saw was needed in my classroom.

While talking about Constructionism, I realized that I do not allow my students to just create often. I do not just give them an open ended assignment and see what they come up with. I typically give step by step directions and show a finished product. Even if I give the option to do what they want or to add on to my design, they do not do it. At five and six they want to please me too much to branch out. To help with this I have tried to do some projects only given verbal explanations and letting them come up with how they think it should look. I have done projects that were risky and failed. It was a great learning experience for all of us. At the end of it the students were still proud of the work they had done and were excited to take it home and show everyone (even the students who's projects fell apart because they did not do a direction correctly).

It is okay to have students who do not succeed every single time. It is okay to leave something open for the student to figure it out (even at five and six years old). That is how they learn the most. I have to change things so that students have those opportunities in my class. The changes are that I will give them more open-ended inquires, for them to figure out. I will give them the supplies they need and they can work it out on their own or in groups to find the answer or create the project. I will allow them to try challenging things on the computer and not have them play on the same site repeatedly. I will stop trying to protect them from failing. I have so many times told them to stop playing a game because it is not something kindergartners learn. If they want to play and they want that knowledge, who am I to stop them? Lastly, I will expect that they can manipulate a computer after they have practiced, and not be afraid they cannot do it. If they cannot do it, it mean I get the opportunity to teach it to them again, not they are not ready for it. There are many changes coming in the next few weeks and for next year.

This class has been filled with "DUH" moments and "That makes total sense" times. I have been given affirmation on many of my strategies and have been given many more to test in my classroom.  Overall, this learning experience has been filled with new hopes and changes in my classroom.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Keeping Up with Today's Students with Connectivism

Today’s learners are very different from learners in the past.  In the past students were expected to maintain one line of communication at a time at any given time of the day. Whether they were communicating with peers or friends, receiving instruction from a teacher or discussing their day with a parent. One conversation at a time was the expectation. In some times and locations, it is still the expectation, but students today are capable of much more.

Today at any given moment, with today’s technology, a child can be texting a friend, messaging someone else on Facebook, and “tweeting” on Twitter during a phone call with their parent and all of that can be done using a cell phone. If they are sitting in front of a computer or video gaming system, their means of multitasking increases tremendously. As educators we need to keep up with these abilities in order to keep the students engaged. Connectivism is a learning theory that relates to the way students think today.

From using various networking sites student understand the idea or networking much more clearly than previous generation. They understand that you connect to new people through their personal friends and that once you connect to someone new, you are then connected to more people through the new friend. This related back to connecting ideas not only to their components, but their real life applications. This was something previous generations did not have the ability to do because they were not as connected to those around them.

Connectivism involves having lots of options, gaining information from non-living sources (such as the internet, blogs, articles) and connecting smaller ideas together to build larger more complex concepts and skills (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008). It fits the minds of today’s youth. So that bring the question, how can we bring this to the classroom?

I am open to any suggestions. For older student, my thoughts behind it are to include more online blogs and discussion boards in your lessons. Students can keep up with different threads and responses according to the skill or concept you are working on in class. Past that I would suggest including more real life applications of those skills. Use online menus or price guides to hypothetical create grocery lists, buy the student “ideal” cars or go out to dinner. Have them use that information to figure out their bill, financing, or total cost of the meal with tax and tip. For younger students, teach them early to be proficient in technology. They will need it the rest of their lives.

Davis, C, Edmunds, E, & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved March 27, 2012 from

VoiceThread: A Lesson in Voice Volumes

Here is my VoiceThread link:

I feel that when it comes to recording the voices of my young students I should give you a fair warning. Some students spoke softly, and some, well, did not. Even changing the microphone input volume did not help a whole lot with the situation. So my warning to you, please excuse the super low voices and the super loud voices. I am still learning how to appropriately record voices and my students are still working on appropriate voice levels. Enjoy!