I have run into an exciting change this week; I found out that I will be teaching at a new school in August. Although this brings about many good changes, it also brings its own challenges, including challenges for my GAME plan. My goals to be more proficient in designing or adapting “relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote students’ learning and creativity”, engaging my students in “exploring real world issues and solving authentic problems” and to be able to regularly and effectively “promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students’ conceptual understanding and thinking, planning, and creative processes” will remain the same (ISTE, 2012). The challenges will be that I do not yet know what subject I will be teaching or what resources will be available to me at the new school. Although I have heard rumors of the high school moving to a one-to-one laptop program, I am not sure if this will be a reality. This may open up many possibilities, but it makes it hard to research and plan without this information.
So far, I have been able to find some information and resources. I have found some viable lessons on www.pbl-online.com and other great resources on a teacher blog http://ispeakmath.org/math-teacher-resources. I have also discovered an array of virtual mathematics manipulatives on http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav/vlibrary.html which can open the door for flexibility by having students practice and explore mathematical concepts on a variety of media. There is still much more that I would like to find, but it is hard to know exactly what to look for without knowing what content I will be teaching this coming year.
Despite the challenges, there still some things I can do to modify my action plan. One way that I can do this will be to participate in more teacher blogs and find ways to collaborate with other teachers online in order to find more resources. This will especially be helpful since I have not yet met any of my colleagues at the new high school. Another action I can take is to explore other public teacher websites to find resources and see how they utilize their discussion board if they have one.
There are some valuable things that I have learned so far. I have spent a substantial amount of time on creating a class website that incorporates a discussion board. My first thought was to use a Google site that allows students to comments on questions and posts. The problem that I ran into was that the comments are similar to those on social networking sites and cannot be blocked or moderated before they are posted. Also, anyone with a Google account will be able to comment on the site as opposed to just my students. For this reason, I chose to start creating a wikispace which has better moderating and privacy settings. Using this site, I will be able to give only my students permission to comment, and when the need arises, I will have the ability to moderate any comments before they are published. I can also avoid using my personal Google account which would display my first name. The website is still a work in progress as I still working to make the site look more appealing and experimenting with uploading documents, but it will function well as a discussion forum for my students to reflect on their problem solving and creative thinking skills.
I have also had an opportunity to design some reflection questions for the class discussion boards. Reflection questions might include the following:
1. Describe the steps you took to solve the big problem in class today and explain why you chose them.
2. What strategies would you use to find the answer to __________ (similar question to one solved in class)?
3. What information would you need to know to answer this question and why?
The students’ participation in the discussion board would most likely be assessed by an holistic rubric, created using rubistar.4teachers.org (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009). This way, I will be able to quickly score the students’ meaningful participation, and they will have an opportunity to not only reflect on their experiences each week but also assess their own comments.
Apart from my initial questions of “What will I be teaching this year?” and “What resources will be at my new school?”, there are some other questions that have arisen. First, I am wondering if there is a solution to the privacy and moderating issue on the Google site that I could not find since I really liked many of the other resources and versatility that the Google site offered.
Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
International Society for Technology in Education. (2008). National education standards for teachers (NETS-T). Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/nets-for-teachers