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.