Saturday, October 16, 2010

game plan update

The personal electronics usage policies currently in place at my school are not showing signs of changing. However, many recent events have caused the matter to be brought up for discussion in several circles. Because of an upcoming bond vote, there is a lot of formal discussion about technology and classroom usage, so I am participating in some of those meetings for the purpose of planting ideas about personal electronics policies. However, before my input will hold much sway with our leadership, I need to be able to present documented educational successes that apply technology in that manner.

In terms of student rubrics for better self-assessment, that process continues to evolve. One tool that I am applying in class is a personal reflection model that continually asks students questions about their own mastery of content and classroom skills. It is not enough merely to ask about content-- grades give a general picture of that measurement. We must also actively discuss with students the amount o personal investment they have in their own learning. At the level where I teach (9th-12th graders) students have been in school long enough to be able to have a reasonable idea about their own learning styles and habits. I rarely surprise parents or students at Conferences, as they have been hearing the same sorts of things for many years. However, having students write about their actual participation, effort, and mastery of content can help solidify for them the specific areas in which they need assistance.

What have you learned so far that you can apply in your instructional practice?
What goals are you still working toward?

One of the important things that this course has demonstrated for me is that Blogs, Discussion Boards, and Wikis all end up being the same when approached from the same standpoint. Our current model of a weekly Discussion Board post with follow-up comments is essential the same model that has been applied to our Wikis where we are assembling three parts of a unit. These required blog postings also follow the same model, and do not leave a great deal of room for interpretation.

The take-away for me from the experience is the fact that simply changing to a different technical word is not enough to change the experience for students. It really does not matter whether I have students maintain their own blogs or dialog on Moodle if my assignments are not fundamentally different in those different environments.

Based on the NETS-T, what new learning goals will you set for yourself?
If you are not ready to set new learning goals, how will you extend what you have learned so far?

At this time, I am not setting specific goals beyond continuing to improve my access to and awareness of available tools. I have a large set of tasks set before me in order to improve the technology utilization of my students, and incorporating those additions into my academic year is plenty to keep me far too busy!

To extend my current learning, I will be developing interactive events for my students in their study of geometry. Some of those events will involve physical modeling of geometric concepts (like area and volume) but others will involve virtual manipulatives and other online tools. Through both casual and formal observations, I will assess the effectiveness of those activities on student involvement, engagement, and acquisition of knowledge.

What learning approaches will you try next time to improve your learning?

Collaboration has proved to be a highly valuable tool this academic year. I am working with a colleague to present material to students in a much different way, and the paradigm shift has been tough for some students. They are finding that they need to be far more involved in the process than they ever have been previously, and they are realizing how much their own success depends on their engagement and initiative. Additionally, in our PLC discussions we are able to compare the effectiveness of this new methodology with more traditional classroom environments, as there are two other teachers also teaching the same material. This sort of intentional game-changing has created a far better measure of individual student performance than any of my previous efforts. I anticipate that even more collaboration with that same colleague and others will be fundamental in future developments.


  1. Andrew,

    I am currently working on integrating inquiry-based learning into classroom instruction. Recently, I accepted a position as an instructional coach for my county. I do not have my own personal classroom to implement our new learning/teaching tools. Before I can integrate these new practices, I must convince other teachers to allow me to integrate these practices in their classrooms. I have taken on two challenges for the price of one! Anyway, it is challenging because change comes slowly due to human nature. In addition, I am in a state where test data is heavily emphasized and our pay is impacted by it. This really creates a struggle with teachers because they may already be teaching and getting the good testing scores although it does not involve technology. With so much stress on teachers, I undertand where they are coming from when they resist any change. Do you have any suggestions for me on how to encourage teachers? I have tried showing them data that it works but they respond with "their ways work too". They have the scores to prove it. Unfortunatley, no 21st century skills are being learned.

    Thanks for listening!

    Jennifer P.

  2. Jennifer-

    Our state has just signed into law a requirement for salaries to be based on student achievement data as well. I anticipate a great "speed bump" in the near future as teachers cling to methods that they *know* produce results.

    As you try to get inquiry-based practices established in more places, you may need to focus directly on one or two teachers who are receptive to your suggestions. Help them to incorporate more problem-based and inquiry-based projects, and provide every possible support to that small cadre of teachers. Additionally, you will probably need to space those new activities out so that they can contrast the learning that is happening in both a traditional environment and the new settings.

    Not knowing the details of your job description, I do not know what is within the expectations for your position. However, the more successes you can generate with a small group of teachers, the more receptive the others will be to your efforts.