Posts Tagged ‘Walden’

This GAME plan process has taught me a lot. Ironically, it’s the things that I didn’t like about the process that seems to be the strongest take away lessons for me. Goal setting is an important professional skill. But I naturally set goals for myself, and didn’t need a formal structure to help with that. I’m also pretty reflective, so writing down my thoughts each week was simply to share my thoughts with others, not for my own learning. Comments from others were sometimes valuable. Most of the time, they were just affirmations of my thoughts. What I really learned through this process was that I didn’t like doing something that felt disconnected from the rest of our curriculum. I also didn’t like having to do an additional task beyond the regular workload of other courses. It felt burdensome. As I shared last week, I’ve begun to use this experience to look at the tasks I ask students to complete. Clearly, there are some assignments that I could be more clear about how they fit into our larger curriculum. I recall Marzano talking about students needing clear learning targets. They need to know the purpose of the activities, not just the directions. Also, I recognize that middle school students need more direction in how to give both affirmations and feedback to other students in a way that furthers the conversation, not just repeats what was said by the first student.

Other reflections specific to the goals I set in my GAME Plan:
• Our building desperately needs a long-term plan for technology. I might be uniquely positioned to help create that vision. That vision needs to include both expanding the technology that is available for student use and providing teachers with exposure to new ideas regarding teaching and learning in the 21st century.
• Students are hungry for new ways of learning. In a world that is rapidly changing, school has become a constant monotonous process of reading and writing. They are hungry not specifically for technology, but for the diversity in learning structures and processes that technology can bring. They want to demonstrate their learning in more ways than just writing and speaking. They want to be creative and expressive.

Despite my frustrations with this GAME plan process, it has helped build my confidence in just jumping in and trying new things with students. Moodle and Google Apps are now regular tools in our classroom. I’ll be rolling out Diigo in the next few months. As I begin to use more and more of these tools, they become easier and easier to implement. As the learning curve flattens, the speed of implementation quickens. This is exciting for both me and my students.

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Although I did like a few aspects of this GAME plan process, I’m not totally sure I’d use this process with my students. I did like the individual goal setting, regular reflection and the peer-to-peer feedback and support elements of this process. I try to incorporate those concepts into much of our learning process already.

There were, however, a lot of elements of this process that I didn’t care for. I often felt like I was jumping through hoops. First and foremost, my work on my GAME plan was completely separate from my ‘academic’ work on this course. It felt more like an additional task added on top of everything else I was doing. I saw value in it, but I never felt like the structure of the course supported that value. It would have been nice if the GAME Plan and our weekly curriculum were more interwoven. I’m starting to realize that I have some things I do in class that have the same effect. For example, students do weekly current event assignments, but we never talk about what’s going on in class and connect it to our curriculum.

I appreciated that I wasn’t held accountable for achieving my goals (because I set goals that are important to me but larger than I could accomplish in only 8 weeks). But this lack of accountability also keep me for really applying myself towards my goals. Of all of the things I’m juggling, it’s the rubber ball that will bounce. I often think students feel the same way about their school work. Their extra curriculum and social lives (the hear and now) are way more important than completing homework and working towards long term goals of learning.

On the other hand, giving students more opportunities to set individual goals, and specific time to work towards achieving those goals could be valuable. Before I implemented this process regarding student technology goals, I think I would introduce it with a focus on more traditional academic skills because I think those are more central to our curriculum. Once students understood the GAME plan process, then I’d challenge them to apply the process to other topics like technology.

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Exploring my GAME plan has taught me a few things. Most recently, I’ve learned that my district is afraid to tackle the issue of student email accounts even though we have access to them via Google Apps for Schools. I realize there are some legal requirements around protection of students and email has always been a tricky area. However, when an email address is often a pre-requisite for using other online tools, this becomes an obstacle on my end. So I need to explore alternative options. I’ve heard something about being able to add “+” to gmail address that might be a work around. I’ve also heard of Gaggle which allows me as the teacher to manage and monitor student email accounts. But I want a solution that’s not going to require additional time and energy on my part. Is that too much to ask?

I’m still working on both of my goals, and probably will be for the rest of this year. So I’m not yet ready to set any new learning goals. There are still many of tools I want to explore and find ways to incorporate into my curriculum. For example, Selfari, Diigo, Glogster, Podcasts that are actually published online. I’ve already got a few podcast lessons figured out, I just need to figure out the online publishing portion. That’s probably my next step.

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