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!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Constructionism and 21st Century Learners

Today's learners are different from any other generation of learners. The incorporation of technology is crucial to engage these learners. In addition, they need hands-on involvement through project-based learning. Today's students are multi-taskers, and they should not have to sit there while their education happens to them. They should be involved. Constructionism is an answer to the needs to today's students. 

Constructionism is student learning that takes place through the creation of artifacts or something else that can be experienced by another person (Laureate Education, 2011). To begin this creating process, the students need to know what they think the outcome will be. That is their hypothesis. Next the student must decide what kind of problem it is and then plan how to get to the desired outcome. After following through with their plan, they have to confirm, deny, or adjust their hypothesis. In this process, students can create something to help explain their outcome. The artifacts created aid the student in fully understanding whether or not they achieved their hypothesis. Constructionism and hypotheses are very similar. The students are working on finding the answer, instead of just being told what the answer is. 

Of the technologies discussed in this week’s reading, the one I found most intriguing is under the Web Resources, where they discuss simulations. The story of Dave McDivitt and how he used a simulator to explain to outcomes of World War II is quite interesting to me. It is not possible for his students to live the actual war, as time-machines have yet to be invented, but they are through this simulation "living" the war. They could watch a dozen movies and still not understand the emotions behind the events that unfolded. As Mr. McDivitt explained her could here the students strategizing in the hallways (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007). They were feeling the events of that war. That is an amazing learning experience for them. I am very excited to try out some of the websites listed in the book. As a resident of California I am especially interested in the SmogCity. 

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program seven: Constructionist and constructivist learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved on March 21, 2011 from

Pitler H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction    
          that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Constructivism and Virtual Field Trips

This week we took a look at various sources for virtual field trips. There were field trips for a plethora of factory tours and places around the world. Virtual Field Trips were created as a way to experience places that you cannot access from your school. Either the distance is too far, or, with all of the budget cuts that are affecting schools, there just is not money for trips. It opens up new experiences for our students from the convenience of our classrooms. This helps support the idea of constructivism, as long as you follow up with a hands on experience.

Constructivism requires both physical and mental involvement in a lesson (Bhattacharya & Han, 2001). A virtual field trip gives a new experience that student would not typically get with direct instruction. They get a demonstration where they would typically just get an explanation or lecture. Following this up with an activity where they can show what the field trip was telling them gives them the physical aspect they need to build their schema. One example is students could build a bike out of noodles after watching how a cycling company builds their bikes. Another example of a hands on extension would be students could create travel pamphlets of places they traveled to in a virtual field trip. There are endless possibilities to options of how to follow up a virtual field trip.

Bhattacharya, K.& Han, S. (2001). Piaget and cognitive development. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on 
             learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved March 14, 2012, from

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Behaviorism: An Oldie but a Goodie (Sometimes)

While reading through our text this week, there were many activities that teachers were using in classrooms in order to teach the importance of effort and give students opportunities to practice what they have learned in school. While reading through these one specific activity gave the impression of behaviorism more than other activities.

The activity that stands out in my mind, as behaviorism, is the effort and grades data collecting and charting. The lessons involve students tracking and recording the time spent on and quality of class notes, attention in class, participation in class, homework, and studying. Then, they graphed it against the graded outcome (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007)

Behaviorism is a system that is based on rewarding desirable behavior and punishing undesirable behaviors (Standridge, 2002). In this particular case, the reward is a good grade, and the punishment is a lower grade. In this process, the students also have to internalize the desire for good grades as motivation.  The students are expected to see a correlation between effort and their grades. The higher the effort equaled the higher the grade. In order for this to work, the students need to have the desire for high grades. Without that, there is no reward. No reward means there is no reason to condition oneself to put forth effort to earn nothing (or something you do not care about.)

That raises the question, how do you make a student care about good grades if they do not see the value? How do you convince a child that good grades can get you a better job and no, you do not have to settle for just any job that is out there?

Pitler H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction 
             that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD

Standridge, M.. (2002). Behaviorism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, 
             and technology. Retrieved February 29, 2012, from

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Reflecting is Part of Growing

Before this class, I thought that technology was way out of reach for kindergartners. Through the weeks, I was forced to consider how my students could use different technologies. I was unfamiliar with wikis, podcast, and blogs. Throughout this course, I was able to explore those uncharted territories more in-depth and was forced to consider the use of them in my classrooms. My students may not be able to manipulate many technologies on their own but with the help of a teacher or adult they can give their input. There is now a focus on giving my student a chance to lead their own education by working technologies they can use, like a digital camera or flip camera. Taking time to consider in which ways basic technologies could be used by my students has helped me start to plan with a student-centered mind.

As a teacher, I thought about how I could use these new technologies. In today's busy educational world, wikis could help connect me to other teachers around the world, and in my own neighborhood. Parents could access information regarding their child's education and classroom with ease using a blog or podcast. Blogs and podcasts used for academic purposes could be used to show parents what the expectations of their child are in the classroom. Podcasts could be used for student to express their view on a story we read, or to give a oral retelling. They possibilities are endless with technology, as long as it is available.

In the future, I hope to expand my knowledge of technology by learning more about what is out there and available to schools. The more you know about new technology the easier it is to incorporate it. I also hope to find more professional development on the uses of technology in classrooms. When properly trained people are way more likely to use the tools they have at hand, even teachers need to learn from time to time.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

21st Century Skills: Training required not just for students

As I was looking through The Partnership for 21st Century Skills website, I found a plethora of knowledge. Not only has this organization before working to prepare students for the workforce in the 21st century, they have also developed a number of tools to prepare teachers. We are working in the 21st century and, more importantly, we are the ones preparing students for technologies and jobs that do not exist yet. I found many useful tools under the resource tab.

In the resources, the first things to stand out were the skills maps. They have taken the skills today's students need and applied them directly to the the subjects teachers are already teaching. They broke down each skill to the outcomes the students should be able to do and an example what the outcome could look like. They also define the skills, so you as the teacher know what you are should be expecting from your students. Another thing that was fascinating under the resources for educators tab was the "The Professional Development Implementation Guide." This shows how to educate your teachers, therefore they will be able to effectively communicate the skills to the student. The very first two suggestions in this list are to have professional development on new technologies and add technology training into teacher preparation and certification courses. The teachers have to understand technology or they will not use it. Many professional development days at my school and district are based on data. Data is incredibility important in today's academic climate of high stakes testing, but there are other areas that a day of learning would very much benefit the teachers and, as a result, the students in their classes. In the near future, I hope to see more education of teachers on new technologies, so they can relay the information to their students properly.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Technology is only as good as the cords you plug it in with!

It is amazing how helpful technology can be when it is working and how traumatic the experience when it is not working. It was a bright Tuesday morning and we were about to begin centers. Now, something you should know, one of my computers is on a splitter so that I can plug the monitor and the projector into the same computer. If my document camera is on to show the display beneath it, it causes the computer monitor to be blurry. It the document camera is on to show what is being displayed on the monitor, the monitor should be clear and easy to see. The key phrase being "should be." This lovely Tuesday we did not have such luck. My students got on the computer for their turn during centers and it was very blurry. I checked the document camera and it was on to show the document. I hit the computer button, confidently as I had solved the problem, and sure enough... the monitor was still blurry. Therefore, I went over I checked all the cords. I pulled them out and put them back in making sure each was in secure and all the way and checked again. The screen was still blurry. Now I checked any cable that was behind the computer and nothing seemed amiss. At this time I had to give in to my desire to know what was going on and continue centers, but I would be back. After my students had left for the day, I looked again. Again, I unplugged all the connections I could find. Looked at the monitor and guess what? Still blurry. It was not going to beat me! At this point I unravelled the wires where they are wound on the projector cart, adjusted the location of the document camera on the cart start to rewrapped and alas, there is was! One last connection I had over looked in the coil of wires on the cart. The connection I had stood next to for the entire math class. The coil I looked at and shrugged off as unimportant. There was my weak link. I pushed the plug in securely and all the way. I looked at the screen and I never thought I would be so happy to see a clear screen. It looked even clearer that it had all the week before. I then walked to my desk got my tape and made sure that connection was extra secure. I was not playing this game again! So lesson learned, be sure all of your wires are connected properly and securely or you may just be driven crazy all day!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Blogging in a Kindergarten Classroom: Helping those who cannot type yet

When considering the thought, "How could I use a blog in my classroom?"many thoughts came to mind. I could use it to post valuable news and bulletins to my parents. For example the all important, "Please write your child's name inside their clothes," would be a common occurrence. Reminding them to check the weekly bag for important information on the latest flash cards or school event could be valuable to my parents. No doubt there would be a few post about these things, but I think even with kindergarten I could use it for more.

My next thought it could be a place to display students' work. I could take snap shots of their work (leaving off their name of course) and putting encouraging remarks, like "Look at those finger spaces!" Give parent opportunities to post replies to posted questions with the assistance of their child. For example, "Work with your child to create a sentence that includes the high frequency words go, have and we." Again, these would be great post and no doubt would they occur on occasion, but I thought there has to be more that I can do for my kindergartners in these post.

Then it hit me! I could us a blog to help my students by helping their parents. Many parents in kindergarten are afraid of helping their children because they simply do not know how to help them. Others are afraid that they are going to teach something wrong, use different vocabulary, or give the directions in a different order. They do not want to confuse them so they do nothing at all. A blog could be a place where I explain how to help their children. Explain the vocabulary we use in our math and language arts programs. Explain the steps to blending and segmenting a word. Use student work to give examples of what we are looking for in their child's work. This would be the most useful way to use a blog in my classroom. Of course, I could add in different posts about congratulating students or reminding parents that flip-flops are not appropriate footwear for school. Most importantly, however, I can help parents help their students learn.