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As more and more time has passed, it is time once again to revisit the Game Plan. In this plan I stated two very explicit goals.
Goal #1: participate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning.
As I look back to see how I have attempted to reach this goal, I feel pretty comfortable in my progress. I have continued to use Twitter. I have become quite dependent upon Twitter for many of my resources and many of the educational discussions taking place throughout the global educational setting. I have begun to see the use and purpose of a real time resource generator as well as a way to connect to others who are having meaningful discussions. I have also begun to develop my LinkedIn network. There seems to be many great discussions and topics being posted in several groups that fall under the educational realm. Two such groups are “Game Based Learning” and “Technology Integration in Education”. Both of these groups are having very interesting and relevant discussions about many aspects of technology in regards to education.
Goal #2: contribute to the effectiveness, vitality, and self-renewal of the teaching profession and of their school and community.
This goal is a bit more difficult for me to assess. Since the initial post, I have had the opportunity to share some ideas and resources to numerous groups of educators. In each and every session I have consciously attempted to be as positive as possible with all participants. Many times, these teachers are very positive. However, many times there are also those who are not so positive.
Setting goals, implementing actions, monitoring progress and evaluating the success of lesson plans and self set goals has been a great experience. Many times as educators we do not take the time to reflect upon our practices. We also usually operate within closed doors and maybe are not as transparent as we need to be.
I have recently been doing some research and exploration of the “flipped classroom” model. I am interested in recording screen casts, providing classroom content to students outside of the traditional settings, and moving to problem/project based learning during traditional class time. I will keep you posted on the progress of this new goal.
As I reflect on my progress of my GAME plan, posted two weeks ago, I find myself almost in the same position as when I created the plan. I have not made much progress lately, but in my own defense, I have not had the opportunity in the past two tremendously busy weeks to engage in face to face conversations.
Last week I asked you, the readers, to suggest new areas where I may find engaging and useful conversations taking place about education and technology integration. One of you shared your thoughts and suggestions of other areas on the web where meaningful discussions may be taking place, but I have not taken the time to explore them as of yet.
Twitter continues to be may main flow of information. I follow over 600 educators from around the world who seem to share great resources, engage in difficult discussions about educational reform and change, and for the most part, have a very positive attitude toward what they do each and every day. This gives me the opportunity to learn, to explore, and to allow me to feel recharged after following a discussion about students exploring ideas about developing their own curriculum and learning without textbooks.
In the next three weeks, I will have the opportunity to teach an online class to a small group of teachers, present at a regional technology conference in the state of Montana, and attend and present at the ISTE conference in Philadelphia. I am excited to be involved on so many levels, but I am really looking forward to the potential conversations that will occur at all of these venues. I am also looking forward to meeting many fine educators who demonstrate their passion for their profession by attending these events during their summer breaks. If you are one of those who may be attending any of these events, let me know. I will buy a morning Latte for you in exchange for meaningful conversation.
Please stay tuned…I plan on sharing some of these encounters.
Okay, so as you know I use Twitter to further my research in the field of education tech tools. I follow some pretty interesting people who share lots and lots of information with anyone who may listen, like Richard Byrne, Wes Fryer, Tony Vincent etc.
This past week, I have been exploring other avenues to find information as well. LinkedIn has become a place where many valuable discussions are beginning to take place. I am a quiet member of two groups, Technology Integration in Education, and Game Based Learning. Both of these groups have dialogue and resources from many people all around the globe. This is a new forum for me, but I am finding more and more significance as I spend more and more time in LinkedIn.
As I extend further into this digital world, I ask you for advice: Where are other great conversations taking place? Where do you find resources and conversations that are meaningful, relevant, and real? I would enjoy hearing from you and look forward to exploring some recommended resources.
Recently, I have been reading “Technology Integration for Meaningful Classroom Use, A Standards Based Approach” by Katherine Cennamo, John Ross, and Peggy Ertmer. Although I am only on Chapter Five, the GAME plan that is explained and referred to in this text has given me reason to reflect on some of my practices in and out of the classroom.
The GAME plan is quite a simple concept: Set goals, develop an action plan, implement and monitor those actions, and evaluate what went well and what may need some attention to make it better.
As I reflected upon my own practices this week, it made sense to review the ISTE NETS for Teachers: http://www.iste.org/standards/nets-for-teachers.aspx. It is always good for me to revisit these standards, sometimes it even puts me back on course. Other times it causes me to target specific standards in workshops and professional development with participating teachers. And sometimes it causes anguish and disappointment as so many schools and districts have so far to go.
With that in mind, and the task of creating a GAME plan, I will share two standards that I wish to concentrate upon and also my plan to accomplish those goals.
GAME Plan #1:
- Standard 5: Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership
- Benchmark: a. participate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning.
My goals to better achieve and meet this standard are quite simple. Join and participate in some professional communities. Currently, I have joined and frequent many professional communities, but my participation is quite limited. Although I lurk and consume much of the discussions and information in places like Twitter, Ning, and LinkedIn, I very rarely contribute to the conversations. My goal, therefore, is quite straight forward: don’t just consume, but contribute!
My action plan consists of continuing to frequent these sites that share similar visions and interests, but instead of just consuming the content, I will attempt to join a meaningful conversation and add relevant content.
Monitoring my progress will be the easy part. Since this leaves a digital trail behind, the monitoring of my progress should be quite simple.
Evaluation is where I will need the help. Those involved in the discussion and those who may happen to read this post will become my evaluators. Don’t worry, I have thick skin.
GAME Plan #2:
- Standard 5: Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership
- Benchamark: d. contribute to the effectiveness, vitality, and self-renewal of the teaching profession and of their school and community.
My goal in regard to this benchmark is also quite simple. Be positive. So many times while visiting schools, teachers voice their concerns and frustrations when trying to use technology in their classrooms. Many times it is not necessarily teachers who are at fault, but a system that struggles to tow the line between accountability and safety and exploration and authentic learning. Simply put, I need to feel more compassion for those who are making valid efforts.
My plan of action is also quite simple. Show compassion, offer support and encouragement, and let teachers know that their struggles and frustrations are being felt by teachers all over.
Monitoring this goal will be a bit more difficult, as will the evaluation of the success of the actions. I plan to keep a journal of the discussions and communications between teachers and document feelings as well as my reactions to those discussion. Maybe I can find some sort of relevance in that information.
I realize that technology is not the end all, be all, but I believe technology is becoming more deeply embedded into our society, our culture and our everyday lives. Thus, it should also become an important part in the process of educating our children to become valuable participants in our society. While technology is not essential to creating authentic, learner-centered instruction, it offers a powerful resource for engaging students in authentic experiences, typically increasing both their motivation and their learning (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2010, pg. 51).
Cennamo, K., Ross, J., & Ertmer, P. (2010). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
This past January, I had the opportunity to attend my first CES event in Las Vegas. I was amazed at the number of people and all of the unique gadgets that were being unveiled, but I tended to head to vendors that were familiar to me. One such vendor was the OtterBox booth.
Long ago, I became an OtterBox fan. I was spending lots of time on rivers in Western Montana and needed a way to safely protect valuables from impacts and water. OtterBox was there with their waterproof, impact resistent boxes that quickly became a familiar object inside the raft. They performed flawlessly and saved numerous items from being destroyed by exposure to moisture in a not so controllable environment.
Fast forward about 20 years. I was looking for a cover for my recently purchased iPad when a colleague showed up to a meeting with a rugged looking case wrapped around her iPad. I was immediately intrigued by the rugged yet functional look and features, and it wasn’t long before my iPad was also wrapped in the OtterBox case.
So when I came upon the OtterBox booth at CES this year, I wanted to stop and share my story and let them know how much I liked the case and its features. The conversation quickly progressed and due to my current position as a regional technology integration specialist in Montana, they suggested entering into a conversation about how we could work together and implement some of these cases into the educational environment.
A few weeks passed, and as I thought about the conversation that seemed too good to be true, I actually followed up with a phone call. I got in touch with Paul. We discussed a few options and spoke of devices that were in place in schools in our region. Shortly thereafter, I received a package, plumb full of the OtterBox Defender cases for the iPod touch and iPad. I was thrilled to say the least!
As I made my rounds to schools throughout my region, we decided to put covers on half of the devices in lucky schools to collect some data about how the cases performed in this setting. Immediately the students were thrilled. Not only did the case give the devices protection, but gave them the “cool” factor as well. Devices were covered, display screens were protected, and everyone was happy.
Immediate feedback was given by the students. They could actually “feel” the difference, and now felt more comfortable handling the devices because of the tacky, but not sticky, rubberized coating, the rounded edges, and the structurally sound high-impact polycarbonate that makes up the backbone of the Defender series cases. One student, who was in the middle of digging a homework assignment out of a less than organized desk, immediately observed that the iPod no longer slid off of his desktop while the desk was being opened due to the rubberized outer coating. +1 for OtterBox thus far!
Although I don’t have a lot of information to share yet, we are collecting data on number of drops on all devices, and the number of devices that do encounter drops that no longer function. Hopefully we can collect some data to share with the folks at OtterBox as well as all of you who may be interested.
So, for now, thanks OtterBox, and we hope to gather and share some information in the near future!
The Montana State Legislature is now in session. I have a suggestion for them.
First, let me preface this post with some information about me. I have been somehow involved in public education in the state of Montana for the last 17 years.
With that being said, this post may in some way be biased in favor of public education.
I also understand that times are difficult and the budget is very tight, to say the least. Monies are difficult to come by, and the monies that are in the state coffers has been spoken for, time and again. However, the funding of public education in Montana has never been more important.
Students in Montana have an incredible opportunity to have a very unique and personalized education. 41% of public schools in Montana have an enrollment of less than 50 students. What does that mean? It means that students enjoy one of the lowest teacher to student ratios in the nation. It also means that students receive more one to one teaching time, smaller class sizes, resulting in better education. Disaggregate some of the data based on school sizes and you will see a significant difference in student performance. Small schools tend to have higher performing students.
Even the large schools in the state are seeing great success. Let’s face it, schools in Montana produce members of society who are informed, motivated, and self-sufficient. These are not the individuals who are costing the state in subsidized programs. In the long run, doesn’t this, in effect, save the state money?
The immediate future of education looks pretty grim. Fewer students are showing up to our school doors, a majority of our teachers are reaching retirement, and school funding is in question. Let me try to enlighten you based on my point of view.
This past year, my immediate colleagues and I have had multiple opportunities to travel the state and observe teachers in their classroom environments. Despite what you hear, great things are taking place in our public schools. Students are engaged, learning increasingly difficult material at increasingly younger ages. Teachers, despite being ranked 46th in wage earnings compared to the rest of our nation, are highly qualified in regards to education, excited, compassionate, and caring. Teachers are being expected to do more and more for the same or even less compensation. Now, this post isn’t to support an increase in teacher wages, but come on congress, 46th? Should we not be trying to attract the best teachers to arguably the most important profession? Alright, getting back on track. Despite the geographic and fiscal challenges our state faces, teachers are doing great things, and students are learning and performing at high levels.
One thing worries me, however. The use of technology in our schools. Now, we all know that integrating technology into education has not been proven to increase proficiency, however, I feel there is more to it than that. Engagement. Look around you. Watch some school age kids for a moment. Watch yourselves, for that matter. How has interaction changed with transformative technologies such as cell phones and laptop computers? People, not just students, are connected. They are using real time information in the form of comments, dialogue, pictures, videos, and sometimes even phone calls to learn, collaborate, and make decisions. Just like you. However, in our schools they are not allowed to use these tools. I heard recently that attending school is like jumping on an airplane. You are expected to put all your tools away, turn them off, disengage, buckle up and wait for the ride to be over( if this is your idea, please let me know so I can give you credit). To me, this is the real issue of our educational system. Engagement.
So, how does this tie in with what you are all doing in Helena? Of course, educational funding is incredibly important for this state. If we are not able to successfully and adequately prepare our students for the future, the state will continue to support these individuals well into adult hood. So, the question should becomes, how can we keep more kids in public schools?
Technology! Technology and the sound integration of technology in our schools will make learning more inviting and engaging. Predictions say that a high percentage of high school courses will be offered online by 2014. Montana has been insightful with its implementation of the Montana Digital Academy, but that is not enough. We need to go deeper into the schools to see the issue. Teachers need to be trained to use technology effectively in our schools. Ongoing, sustained, supported training will give teachers the necessary skills to use transformative tools in the classroom, which will in turn attract students to our schools, and maybe even reduce the dramatically high 5.1% and rising dropout rate.
One word of caution. Don’t expect immediate results. Change takes time. Changing a culture of public education to accept and adopt new and emerging technologies may take even longer. Funding is also necessary to instill and embed this change at a state level. Don’t take my word for it. Jump on Twitter, or Facebook, and watch or engage in this conversation on those platforms. Many people sharing success stories, ideas, and dreams.
Don’t pull the carpet out from underneath public education. Montana teachers are doing great things with the tools and resources they have. Imagine what they could do if education was viewed as important by decision makers in our state.