Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Monitoring My GAME Plan

The largest component of my GAME plan process, establishing another classroom to contact via ePals, is one that I fully believe will not only present my students with a true authentic assessment, but also will allow for them to step into some higher-level critical thinking skills.  They will be able to formulate their own knowledge through these assessments, and they certainly can use their creativity to design their own questions for their ePals. 


The most difficult part of fulfilling this part of my GAME plan will be establishing contact with another classroom in a region of the world that we will be studying, with a similar age group.  Additionally, I need to garner support from my administration to be able to actually use the site in my building.  Both of these are still a work in progress.  I am not worried about the latter.  My administration has been extremely supportive of technologically-based lessons throughout my tenure, and I am supremely confident that they will continue to be with this lesson.  However, I am very worried about finding a class in another culture that meets the curricular needs of my classroom.  To this point, I have been unable to locate one that fits within the parameters that I have established.  While I find this to be frustrating, I am confident that I will be able to find a classroom that fits our needs.  When I was first introduced to the ePals site last year, I saw multiple classrooms that would match with the needs of my class.  I will continue to look to find another class that my students can write to.


One bit of progress that I have made is speaking with my library/media specialist about the topic.  Frankly, she was as excited as I have been about the project.  Though many of her hesitations mirrored those of others who have tried the site before, she talked to me at great lengths about the possibilities.  We spoke endlessly about the good this will do for our students, and their ability to create their own learning.  We also spoke specifically about how technology has made the world a much smaller place.  Our conversation went extremely well, and we both became very excited about the possibilities that this lesson can bring.  However, she did mention to me some parts of the lesson that could be changed. 


Though she completely agrees that the process should be monitored, she also talked made mention of the fact that my initial plan called for quite a bit of control on my end.  Even though my intentions have been to design this lesson so that my students had creative control of this assignment, she pointed out to me that my students had very little.  Allowing the students to create their own videos, share music, or even share some of their own schoolwork with these other students could stem wonderful creativity.  I had truly never thought of these ideas, and am very fortunate that they could happen through this brainstorming session.  She was still unaware of whether ePals has this creative capability, but we certainly will be testing it before we commit to using the site to communicate.


So far, I feel as though my GAME plan is progressing nicely.  I am very comfortable with the unit plan that I have designed, and am also excited about the collegial support that I am getting.  The input that my fellow educators have shared with me will help me to make my students much more effective self-directed learners (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).  By giving them the opportunity to create at least some of their own questions and by using their own creativity, my students will now have a voice in their writings and sharing with their ePals.  In my experiences, when students are given this type of opportunity, they tend to do extremely well.  Students can not only learn what they have been taught, but they can also develop their own ideas and thoughts through communicating with their ePals.  I am very excited about the possibilities that this lesson entails, and am certainly eager to have my students start.



Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach. (Laureate Education, Inc., Custom ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Integrating technology across the content areas. Baltimore, MD: Author.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Carrying Out Your GAME Plan

The beginning of the school year is a great time in many different ways.  Students are excited (or not) about their new classes and textbooks.  New faces and smiles warm the hallways, and new opportunities arise for each learner.  This feeling should not be limited to simply students either.  Teachers have a chance to enhance prior lessons, experiment with new techniques, or attempt brand new classroom management approaches.  In my particular case, I am most excited to implement some of the newer technologies that I have learned through my time at Walden, in an effort to enhance student learning.  In essence, my GAME plan centers around my ability to implement new technologies to enhance student learning experiences.  Through this, students can not only enhance their content knowledge, but they can play an active role in enhancing their own education in an increasingly technologically-driven world.

As social studies teacher, there are a vast number of resources that are available to use in the classroom.  From Google Earth to various virtual field trip sites, my seventh grade world geography students have experienced quite a bit in the past few years.  However, one are that we have yet to make significant ground in is through online collaborative efforts.  Today, more than ever, technology is readily available for our students to make the world a much smaller place.  They do this outside of the school building all too frequently.  Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites allow for students to reach out and connect with students in a myriad of ways, often without true guidance. 

The idea of my students making world connections is a great one tome.  However, the thought of my students not being properly guided into this properly frightens me.  It is possible that students can read false information, or find biased or harmful information even while researching the most well-intended ideas.  This is why one of the main focuses of my GAME plan is to have my students make responsible world connections.  I plan on accomplishing this by making connections through the site  This site is designed to be very classroom friendly, and allows for cultures all over the world to connect with one another.  As the year progresses into our unit on Southwest Asia, it is imperative for my students to have a grasp on the ideas and beliefs that shape this area of the world.  Each and every single year, I show my students multimedia segments to give students a better understanding of what this area of the world is like, and present it through the eyes of teenagers.  Though I have had experiences with many videos to explain the information to the students, the use of video streaming can be an extremely effective way for the students to learn (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).

At the end of the unit, I have always had my students write to a ‘pen pal’, and ask them specific questions about their culture.  The exercise has always gone fairly well, but has always lacked a bit of the authenticity that ePals can provide.  My students have always written their letters and done an excellent job with it.  However, they have lacked the ability to interact with students of their own age, and truly receive answers to their wonderful questions.  ePals provides them that opportunity.  They can ask appropriate questions, and get feedback from their ePals.  During this process, I can monitor what they write, and guide them through this process.  Not only does this provide genuine 21st century skills for my students, but it also allows for differentiation.  I can guide each of my students through this process, and work with the cooperating teacher from the other school to set up pals that are appropriate for the needs of each student.

The initial ideas for implementing my GAME plan are fully in place.  I have the outline designed, initial rubric for the writing assignment completed, and the unit plan almost completed.  What I have not yet done is speak to the library/media specialist and tech leaders about the usage of ePals in my classroom.  Talking to cohorts from previous classes during my Walden experience, they have explained some difficulties that have arisen with this process.  I am not sure if it ties directly into the fair usage policy for the Internet that each district uniquely possesses, or if it is a universal issue.  I plan on sitting down with the library/media specialist this Friday, when my class is doing a lesson with her on citations.  This will be the first step in making sure that my district is on board with the assignment.  Once I have the authority to go through with the project, I need to find a school district in another area of the world that not only fits in with my needs, but that has similar aged students.  This process, I have yet to begin.  However, once I do set this up, each student can use this technology to enhance their learning of these other cultures.  The more experience that my students have with the technology; the more they can include some of their own technological skills.

I truly feel as though my GAME plan has a well-founded beginning.  Implementation will be the difficult part.  I am hoping that as the year goes along, I will gain valuable insight from my colleagues.  Any input they can give me, or any experiences that they might share with me will allow for my students to reach a higher level of success.  I am always willing to listen to any and all help that other professionals will give me.  In this case, it will only help me to reach success with my GAME plan.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010).  Meeting students' needs with technology part 1 [Webcast].  Integrating technology across the content areas.  Baltimore, MD: Author.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My GAME Plan

With our world consistently evolving around us, as educators, we need to continually evolve with the times.  If we do not, it is likely that we will not be presenting our students with all of the opportunities that newer technologies can present for them.  If we are uncomfortable with certain technologies and/or newer ideas, it is imperative that we do everything in our power to implement change in our lesson designs.  One way to do this is simply by having a “GAME plan” (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009).   A GAME plan is a way in which we can create our own self-directed learning.  We can set goals (G), take action (A), monitor progress (M), and evaluate whether the goals were achieved (E) (Cennamo et al., 2009). 

While making changes to our own teaching practices is never easy, it is certainly imperative for future success.  The GAME plan idea that we have been discussing for the past two weeks has certainly been a revelation to me, in that I can set up my own course of action to design my own ideas for self-directed learning.  In this case, I know that I need to come up with a game plan to better my technological use in the classroom.  I try extremely hard to better myself through technology each and every single year, but eventually, I find myself going back to tried and true lessons.  This is never exactly what I envision doing, but it is essential what winds up happening.  Part of being an effective teacher is recognizing your weaknesses, and making adjustments to your weaknesses.  In my case, I know that I am not as confident in many aspects of technology as I should be. 

Looking over the NETS-T standards, I immediately recognized two that I know that I can immediately improve upon.  The first standard that I would like to improve upon is standard number one:  to facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity (ISTE, 2012).  While I certainly have students explore real-world issues such as population struggles and large cultural issues, I would like to make these issues much more relevant to my students.  My seventh graders often have a very difficult time making connections with other areas around the world.  It is certainly something that I attempt to do, and often fall short of.  However, I think that I can definitely instill some technologically driven lessons to help my students make those connections.  I frequently bring up the site as a site that can allow my student to do just that.  ePals is a wonderful site that allows students to write to other students from around the world, and make connections with them.  In my humble opinion, it is very teacher friendly, and allows for teachers to construct a setup that works best for their classroom.

In my particular curriculum, my students are consistently learning about new cultures.  We have often experimented with writing new cultures, and students write to students of the other cultures.  The problem with this is that there is no one to answer their questions.  Therefore, students are not able to create a true connection to the content.  ePals allows for that connection to be made.  For myself, my initial goal would be establish contact with another school in one of my content areas, and have my students regularly write to them.  This goal can certainly be accomplished early in the year though this site.  As the year progresses, I can continue to take action by not only allowing my students to write to these other cultures, but I can monitor what my students are producing.  This is one of the great things about the ePals site, in that I can see what the students are accomplishing. I can check for understanding, I can check for creative thinking questions, and I can check to make sure that my students are appropriate.  Monitoring the progress of my students is made easy through this site, and I definitely can gauge their progress with it.  Finally, I can evaluate how my students did at the end of the year.  Though I do not frequently give summative assessments, I can use these to see how well my students progressed throughout the year.  By giving them some sort of formative assessment early in the year, I can compare their progress.

Another standard that I am not as confident with is that of engaging professional growth.  I certainly take part in different professional groups in my building and district.  However, I do not in any way shape or form take part in the technological growth in my building.  I would like to change that.  As someone with a growing background in technology, my goal is to participate in a learning community in my district to help explore creative applications of technology, and explore student learning (ISTE, 2012).  While this concept ties directly into one of the standards, I find this is a rather achievable goal.  I plan on volunteering to take part in our ‘Tech Leadership’ program, which is a few select teachers from each building that are chosen to integrate technology into the building.  Assuming my vice-principal allows me to join the committee (he is usually on board with anyone volunteering to improve the building), I will then take one piece of technology that I use from that committee, and integrate that into my lessons.  By being in this committee, I can monitor my own personal growth, and have some of my fellow committee members do the same for me.  As I progress throughout the year, I can ask for feedback from the committee, and from my administrators.  Finally, I can evaluate and reflect on research regularly to support student learning.  As a result, the more I learn the more that my students will learn.

I am certainly excited to embark on this newest journey, and am certainly open to any sort of feedback.



Cennamo, K., Ross, J., & Ertmer, P. (2009).  Technology Integration for Meaningful Classroom Use.  

          Mason, OH:  Cengage Learning.

ISTE, I.S. (2012).  Nets for Teachers.  Retrieved September 12, 2012 from: