Becoming a Successful Change Agent: A Reflection on Two Years

Posted in Uncategorized on June 18, 2010 by derrickmgreen

As I reflect upon, not only, the last eight weeks of this particular class but also the two years that I have been working on this program, I feel as though my professional attitude is more driven and my aptitude (particular with technology inclusion) is sounder. From this particular class I have gained knowledge of how to seek out, research, and evaluate emerging technologies and technological trends. I now feel I can be a strong voice in judging the educational merit or potential of various technological innovations.  Also, I have a greater ability to justify the use of technology in the classroom with educational research that is trusted and has been relied upon for decades when making instructional changes to the learning environment.

            The final assignment of this course has given me the opportunity to being developing strong, research-based arguments in defense of technological inclusion in the classroom. One of the many pitfalls educators face, when trying to incorporate new technology in classes, is a general overwhelming apprehension to include emerging tools. This apprehension prevents educational experimentation and limits implementation of tools that could be incredibly influential on a child’s academic development. However, after working to develop a cohesive, technologically-inclusive lesson plan, as well as a report detailing the research justifying uses of such technology, I feel that I can adequately defend against any foundational apprehension found within my school and district and influence policy to include more experimentation and implementation of technological goals. This assignment also demonstrates my understanding of the research, both technological and learning, and how it fundamentally determines the usefulness of various technological tools with students.

            Through completing this course of study, I now know that I am prepared to be a strong and literate voice within my school for technological change and implementation.  No longer will I sit and merely observe the heated conversations between those that want more technology and those that resist change. I will use the resources at my disposal, stay up-to-date on the most recent educational/technology research, and remain active on discussion boards, websites, and other digital forums to continually educate myself on the uses of new technology and their researched justifications.  Further, next academic year, I am forming a new technology committee in my school. This committee’s sole purpose will be to explore a new technology each month, evaluate its usefulness, and design sample lesson plans for each course of study to help the other teachers in my building more easily acclimate to the new tool.  Within this committee I will share research that I have read throughout this course, as well as new research I discover, suggest new and emerging technological tools for study and implementation, and move the discussion within my school to center on 21st century skills to ensure that future success of all of our students.

            Overall, I feel that this final class in my Master’s studies has greatly enhanced my understanding of the new technologies right over the horizon.  Through the various discussions with equally interested classmates, guidance from an engaged instructor, and a diligence to stretch my own understanding of, sometimes complicated, subjects, I feel incredibly prepared to begin the next academic year with a clear goal of including technology in classrooms that transform the learning experience, prepares students, and promotes a greater sense of creativity in all.

K-12 Online learning

Posted in Uncategorized on May 30, 2010 by derrickmgreen

Here is a link to a Voicethread presentation I created to begin to convince my co-workers to adopt online education in our middle school.  Enjoy!

http://voicethread.com/share/1183735/

Assessing for Learning Reflection

Posted in Uncategorized on April 23, 2010 by derrickmgreen

Over the course of the last eight weeks, I have had the pleasure of working with a competent group of individuals to improve my own teaching ability. Rather than simply learning by absorbing information presented by our instructor, we each contributed to the learning environment by locating, researching, and describing various resources to help transform our classrooms into completely differentiated learning spaces that are governed by the guidelines of the Universal Design for Learning.  While many of the resources discovered through our combined research centered on the CAST website (http://udl.cast.org/udl/), which provides professional educators with innumerable resources to implement UDL practices and ensure equal access to the curriculum by all students, many other diverse resources, from professional journals to personal blogs, allowed each of us to gain a better understanding of our students, and the process of moving our classroom into the 21st century.  Working together, each member discovered various aspects found within this website and it should be the base point for any educator looking to implement UDL into their classrooms. Beyond the CAST website, other members also located http://ebscoweb.com/uploads/thisTopic-dbTopic-1073.pdf and http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/udlguidelines. Both of these sites focus on the research basis of UDL and how educators can combine UDL with other, research based, approaches to instruction.  Both of these sties provide a great many ideas of how to amend various lessons throughout different subjects and will be incredibly helpful as I continue to modify my instruction and learning environment to meet the needs of my students.

Beyond these sites, many of my colleagues also pointed out various independently constructed digital resources from teachers around the country. The wiki, http://udltechtoolkit.wikispaces.com/ and personal blog, http://teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk/index.php/2007/05/04/5-ways-teachers-can-use-educational-technology-to-engage-students/ are both excellent resources for any teacher. Unlike the previous resources, these personal websites are from a teacher’s perspective and do not delve as deeply into the research origins of UDL or DI. Both the wiki and the blog provide common sense steps and solutions to challenges teachers face day-to-day.  The tools presented do not necessarily require multiple technology tools to implement and guide the reader through the process, pointing out possible pitfalls and how to avoid them. These sites will become regular nightly reading as I continue to transform my teaching style and explore new instructional strategies.

Each of the various resources compiled by my colleagues will prove to be invaluable as I work to move my classroom into the 21st century.  Starting now, there are many concrete steps that I can take to implement UDL and DI into my classroom.  First, I will begin to adapt my lessons to meet the needs of all the students in my class. In the past, and even recently, I have pushed forward with lesson plans that had been moderately successful in the past. Now I will modify each lesson by focusing more on a student centered learning environment with instructional stations throughout the classroom. Each station will incorporate various technological tools (software and hardware) to ensure that every student can access the material in a way that is comfortable.  Also, I will continue, more heartily, to lobby my school administrators to bring more technological tools into the classroom. With more tools, such as a mobile laptop cart, wireless internet, and web based software that promote creative thinking (Webspiration, VoiceThread, etc) my students will have a multitude of ways to demonstrate their understanding of concepts discussed in class. Not only will these technological tools promote creative thinking within my students, but they will also allow me to expand my instructional repertoire and include new techniques, outlined through various Walden courses, for the benefit of each child.

GAME plan conclusion and wrap-up

Posted in Uncategorized on February 25, 2010 by derrickmgreen

          Over the course of the past seven weeks, I have dedicated myself to reaching towards two specific goals while following the GAME plan outlined in week one of my Masters in Technology Integration course.  Although I did struggle to continue to work towards my specific goals, particularly when it seemed as though I was not progressing as quickly as I would have hoped, at the end I have found the entire process to be enlightening and helpful, not only in my own life, but in the lives of my students as well. By following the GAME plan I was given a template of steps to follow. This template served as my guidepost and ensured that I reflected upon my various actions and changed course, when necessary, to reach my goals. Even though I am still working towards these goals after seven weeks, the overall experience has been positive and I have learned a lot about myself and the way that I approach a challenge. The reflective exercises within the GAME plan are a must for any individual seeking to create real change in their professional life and, particularly, for any educator, this plan can not only assist in reaching professional goals but also help students to reach curriculum and classroom goals as well. The GAME plan, in a modified form, allows students to monitor their own behavior, self-select academic goals to accomplish, and provides a framework, with the educators, of support and guidance.

              More so than the GAME plan, I feel that the technological tools and techniques presented within this course have given me a plethora or resources that I can rely upon to assist my students in meeting curriculum expectations. From the various multimedia tools that can engage students with interactive learning and digital creation to the technologies that assist educators in gathering important data and using said data for instruction, my students will be presented with the most up-to-date technological tools to help them learn and grow. One of the most influential changes that this class will have on my professional life is a dedication to seeing these technologies, not only in my own classroom, but in classrooms throughout my school. The real benefit of technology is its ability to connect students from diverse populations and allow them to collaborate, learn, and grow.  Overall, this class has shown me even greater benefits to technological integrations than I had ever realized before and will assist me through the upcoming years of my professional life in helping students and ensuring their individual and group success.

     Finally, as I finish my time in this class, I find that I am more invigorated and energized to experiment, using data-driven decision-making processes, with new technologies in an effort to assist all of my students. With all of the support this class has offered, combined with the GAME plan’s model of goal setting and monitoring, I feel much more comfortable using technological tools to allow my students to demonstrate their understanding of key concepts creatively. With the inclusion of new technologies and my guidance as a facilitator of learning, my students can explore their unique learning styles, develop creative representations of their understandings and reach, even perhaps surpass, the curriculum’s goals as well as their own.  I look forward to the final weeks of this school year and the beginning of the next and all of the new, unique lessons that my students will be exposed to. Hopefully, with all that I have learned and come to understand over these past eight weeks, my students will leave their 8th grade Language Arts classes prepared for the academically challenging future that awaits them.

GAME PLAN in the classroom

Posted in Uncategorized on February 15, 2010 by derrickmgreen

Over the past six weeks I have been focused on completing two goals using the GAME plan method. Overall I have found this experience to be incredibly helpful in keeping me focused and on track to completing goals that will not only help me become a better educator but help my students succeed in both the short and long term. Having experienced this process for many weeks now, I feel that I am comfortable enough to begin incorporating the process within my won classroom to help my students reach curriculum and technological goals. From what I have learned during my experience I feel that the best way to include the GAME plan in my classroom is at the beginning of any major, long-term project. Any project introduced will be linked to curriculum indicators and objectives. These projects will require students to display understanding of material as well as mastery of concept/idea. The GAME plan will come in as I ask students to develop two goals that they wish to accomplish during their completion of the project that incorporate technology/digital citizenship. I will provide my students with copies of the 2007 NETS-S standards for students and challenge them to push themselves further by choosing a goal and reaching for it. I will incorporate a learning journal within any project that asks students to document their progress, similar to the last few postings on this blog. Students will be frequently asked to reflect on their actions and be given the opportunity to change course if they feel it is required. As students reflect on their progress, both on their NET-S goals and the assigned project, students will have the opportunity to communicate with myself and other students to voice concerns, celebrate accomplishments, and assist one another in reaching their goals. I feel that the GAME plan lends itself to the classroom environment and provides students with both guidance and steps to follow to reach a goal, as well as, the independence to self-select goals and choose the path to reach them.

GAME PLAN: week six

Posted in Uncategorized on February 8, 2010 by derrickmgreen

This week, as I continue working on my GAME plan, Mother Nature has interrupted and prevented some progress. However, I still continue to push onward and attempt to reach my goals.

What have you learned so far that you can apply in your instructional practice?

Working towards reaching both of my goals has given me greater perspective on the possible positive aspects of online collaboration between my students and other classrooms from around the country and the world. My various communications with other educators in my local and national community has provided me with many ideas of how to enhance my current lessons with greater collaboration as well as more meaningful communicative experiences between my own students and others. From this I have already begun to modify lessons and develop a collaborative writing unit between my students and others.

What goals are you still working toward?

I still continue to work toward enhancing the level of technology within my own school. I have received an unintended amount of push-back from other educators as well as educational leaders within my school and district. I attribute some of this to the poor economic conditions currently as well as a hesitation to see technology as the learning tool that it can truly be. I am still dedicated to working toward this goal; however, I feel that I must double-down on my efforts in order to see any real change take place.

Based on the NETS-T, what new learning goals will you set for yourself?

Currently, given my previously outlined goals that I have been working toward, I am dedicating my self to learning as much as I can about collaborative learning and writing. I find this to be a fascinating technological tool that has the possibility of greatly impacting my students and allowing them to discover the great writer that lies within each of them. Starting this week I have begun researching how effectively this tool has been used in other language arts classrooms and am learning about the process of beginning implementation.

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

In order to improve my learning I am going to focus less on peer-reviewed research studies and focus more on interpersonal communication with my educational peers within my physical and online community. I feel that I will benefit greatly from speaking one-on-one with fellow educators who have either been in the same position I find myself now or have faced similar challenges and obstacles and have developed new and unique methods to overcome them.

GAME Plan con’t

Posted in Uncategorized on February 1, 2010 by derrickmgreen

As of the beginning of this week, I continue to work towards my goals but still struggle with the realization that this will be a longer process that I had originally intended.

How effective were your actions in helping you meet your goals? 

-The communication lines that I have set up between myself and educational leaders at other schools have been very effective. I have begun to coordinate with other English teachers and have started to, roughly, design what a cross-school, diversity-centered, technologically driven lesson would look like and how it would function within the confines of the technology available at both schools.

-I have continued to read and acquire research articles with peer-reviewed findings showing the effects of technology in the classroom. I have also acquired the assistance of the staff development teacher at my school to assist me in the endeavor of sharing this research with the staff.

What have you learned so far that you can apply in your instructional practice? 

-Instructionally, I have learned that various forms of technology, no matter the set up or format, cannot be placed in a classroom at random. Technology only has the research-based benefits on school-aged children when the technology is infused within the lesson and therefore allows students to express their creativity and mastery. As I continue to develop lessons for my own classroom I will work diligently on creating learning experiences that enhance my students understanding through the beneficial uses of technology.

What do you still have to learn? What new questions have arisen?

- While my acquisition of various research studies has been helpful, I still need to learn how to best convey this information to educational leaders and staff within my district. Unfortunately, there tends to be a technological numbness that sets in when the same people hear about the same types of benefits that technology can offer in the classroom. I need to seek out new ways in which to communicate my understanding of the situation effectively.

-How will you adjust your plan to fit your current needs?

- Given the preceding information, I will adjust my plan by focusing less time and energy on seeking out new research showing the benefits of technology and now dedicate that time to develop a presentation that will not only engage leaders within my school, but also develop a proactive motivation within them to assist me in this effort.

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