Sunday, October 21, 2012

Technological Adjustments

This is the message I was telling my principal, computer tech, and other teachers from the day we found that the board had approved our textbook proposal for a class set of iPads over a new set of textbooks.  Over the time that I have taken this course, I have had my lab installed and our classroom has gone through some adjustments, but I know there are more to come.

Throughout this course, I have learned how to effectively include problem-based learning, online collaboration, and digital storytelling into my classes, and will walk away with some excellent examples to take to my staff when they come to me asking for their own suggestions to increase technology in their classrooms.  I am well on the way to have my students' videos shown at our Veteran's Day program as they describe the backgrounds of each of the branches of military.  I am working with other teachers in our district who also have iPad labs to create a network between our music classes for collaboration and to connect students across the county.  If all goes well, I am hopeful we can play as an ensemble 20 miles away from each other.

My next step is to reflect with my students on what we have learned so far to make the learning easier on next year's incoming students.  What did they enjoy or dislike, do they have any favorite lessons or suggestions, or perhaps want to share their stories themselves with the kids who will be joining us next year.  I love how one new piece of technology into a classroom that was already full of tech has really brought me and my students together so we are all having fun while we learn.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

GAME Plan Update

As I begin to work through my GAME plan, I decided to focus on Indicator 4 specifically this week.  I went through several of the resources I found, and began thinking of what our school has in place for students to guide them in their internet usage.  Sadly, my school is lacking in this department.  My principal showed me our parent permission slip, and I realized it's just a modified form of a "Can we take your child's picture?" form for use on the website.  Further digging, and I can't find any documents that do more than tell our kids it's against the rules to steal or break the technology (although somewhere there's a Facebook addition that allows kids to be punished at school for inappropriate behavior on Facebook at home).  Personally, I was shocked that in all the paperwork that goes home to be signed at the beginning of the year there isn't a student or parent contract outlining how to behave online as a Digital Citizen.  My principal and I are looking into changing this and I have a great starting point!:
Kid's Pledge
Parents' Pledge
I could use help in coming up with ways to promote digital etiquette to other teachers in my school.  I certainly don't want to add more to their plates, but I feel it's important for students to learn to be digital citizens from their teachers.  What ways can I encourage our faculty to make an effort, and what could I do to get my kids excited about it?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

GAME Plan review

Indicator 4: Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility

Some resources I have found on this subject mostly fall under the online category: promotes 9 themes of digital citizenship, includes contracts for students and parents, and also provides multiple resources for teachers.

Ecitizenship provides a free online course for K-12 educators, and was created by the California School Library Association.  This resource is made up of 6 modules and offers tutorials and other tools for educators.

Edutopia has a fantastic set of articles and videos on the themes of cyber-bullying and "Netiquette" as well as internet safety.  I read a fantastic article on Teaching Digital Citizenship in the Elementary Classroom that provides insights on the importance of digital citizenship and its comparisons to simply being polite to people you see face-to-face.  This article itself has links to additional lesson resources.

Indicator 5: Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership

For professional growth, I have been searching for opportunities in our area.  So far I have attended an apple workshop for several days on the use of iPads in the classroom, and worked with our school's tech supervisor to install technology in classrooms as well as train teachers on the devices.  I would like to have more opportunities to learn about tools my teachers can use in their regular education classes to supplement what they are teaching.  Unfortunately, I will need some time during school hours to meet with teachers, as well as time away from school to attend meetings and professional development opportunities.  At this time, I haven't been able to find any new sessions available in the area, but I am planning on working with teachers around the district as we implement our iPad labs in every elementary school.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Personal GAME Plan

As I continue to reflect on Self-Directed Learning, I have identified two NETS-T indicators that I would like to focus on for growth.  Indicator 4: Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility is essential in creating a generation of positive digital citizens.  Although I am well-versed in what makes a good digital citizen, I have never had to teach students as we haven't had the availability of individual internet connection in our classroom until this year.  Since I see all students in our building, I want to start my students with a strength in digital citizenship.  Indicator 5: Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership - as the Technology Coordinator in my building, I want to find ways to strengthen the use of technology in our students through their teachers.  I want to be sure I am knowledgeable enough to bring my teachers valuable information that they can use in their own classrooms.

NETS T Indicator
Katherine Cennamo's GAME plan consists of creating Goals, Actions, Monitoring information, and Evaluating the process.  Here is my personal GAME Plan:

  • GOALS: 
    • Indicator 4: Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility
      • I want to know effective methods of teaching safe and ethical behavior for use with technology in the classroom.
      • I know how to interact with others online, I want to be able to model that for my students.
      • What can I do in my building to promote digital etiquette and responsibility?
    • Indicator 5: Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership
      • I want to exhibit leadership in my school by modeling instruction that is fully integrated and enhanced with technology.
      • I want to contribute to the well-being of my school to better prepare students for the digital age.
      • I want to continue to learn and grow as an educator in an ever-changing field.
  • Action:
    • Indicator 4: Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility
      • I need to research how others teach safe behavior online in the classrooms.
      • I need to consider my diverse student body and how to best present my information.
      • I need to collaborate with other technology coordinators in the district to see what models we have available for teachers in this area.
    • Indicator 5: Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership
      • I need to find out what professional growth opportunities are available in our area.
      • I need to meet with other technology supporters in the building to collaborate for staff opportunities.
      • I need to reflect on what my school currently expects of teachers in the area of technology.
  • Monitor:
    • Indicator 4: Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility
      • Is my research method successful?
      • What is the preferred learning method of students in my building?
      • What are my findings from other technology coordinators?
    • Indicator 5: Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership
      • Are there sufficient opportunities in the area?
      • Do I need to move to online sources for staff development?
      • Do we need to revise our school expectations?
  • Evaluate/Extend
    • Indicator 4: Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility
      • Have I met my goals?
      • What do I need to modify and continue to explore?
    • Indicator 5: Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership
      • What needs to be done differently in the future?
      • Are there other options that I need to continue to explore?

International Society for Technology in Education. (2008). National education standards for teachers (NETS-T). Retrieved from

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Reflection on Learning Theory, Instruction, and Technology

Teaching our students about technology is so important!  This video that is now several years old illustrates this point beautifully, and doesn't the tech in it look so outdated already?  It's amazing to me the rate of change in technology - I had one of those moments this week when I was using my iPhone as a calculator, and just though, "I never would have guessed 10 years ago that I would be touching a small screen for a calculator, that was also my phone, calendar, social connector, camera, blog updater, entertainer, video camera, and so much more!"  Our kids are using their parents outdated iPhones and doing the same thing everyday, but not in school.

The first week of this course, I stated that my personal theory of learning is Constructionism where students learn best by making things and problem-solving (Han & Bhattacharya, 2001).  This theory comes naturally as an art teacher, and I am constantly encouraging my students to try out the projects we do in class at home as well (and many of them do!).  This course hasn't made me change my feelings on my learning theory, but it certainly has deepened my knowledge of other, sometimes conflicting, learning theories.  I have also found some theories I want to steer clear from whether it is from how that theory was first studied, or the lack of creativity involved in some of the technologies linked with that theory (Excel - yuck!).

I plan to integrate much more technology in my room to strengthen my student's brain connections to the topic we are studying as Dr. Wolfe recommended (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011).  I have already tried out many of the tools with my classes such as SpiderScribe and Virtual Tours, and I'm still awaiting more information on my iPad request from the school board (fingers crossed!) which will greatly impact the inclusion of technology in my classroom.  I have discovered new tools as well that I'm looking forward to using such as Prezi and I know many more will be available to use in the next few years.

One of the long-term goals I have for my classroom is to get in the computer lab more with my classes.  Right now, I am limited with the number of students who can work on a computer at a time because there is only one in our room and it's at my desk.  We do have an ActivBoard, but even then, that's two students at a time on the board when I would like so many more to work at the same time.  Hopefully, adding another computer lab as my principal is trying to do will alleviate the stress on the lab we have (which is used almost exclusively all day every day for testing or test prep) so I can get more time in the lab for digital art projects.

My second long-term goal is to keep up a blog for my parents to see what we are doing in class and provide feedback for students on their projects.  I have attempted to do so this year, but it's a lot of work, and recently blogger changed their policy so I can only upload one picture at a time, which makes uploading artwork extremely time consuming.  Next year, I also want my students to be involved in the blogging process with me by making recordings and videos that we can place on the website for parents to enjoy.

I am thankful for the tools I learned in this course and I am looking forward to gaining new knowledge from the upcoming course at Walden University.


Han, S., and Bhattacharya, K. (2001). Constructionism, Learning by Design, and Project Based Learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved April 15, 2012 from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program one: Understanding the brain [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Voicethread and Social Learning

This Voicethread was created to assist my students in creating a mural about our community.  This is a lesson I do each year to get my students thinking in groups of ways to create ONE big picture that everyone in the class gets to paint.  It's always a hit, but usually lacking on the technology side.  With this thread, my students can begin brainstorming with their groups, then at home or during a computer lab time, they can look back over the murals we studied and leave notes, comments, or suggestions for each other.  Each class completes a mural (and while I'd love for it to actually be on the wall, we use a huge piece of paper so it can hang instead of covering the previous class' murals each year) and each group decides what part of the community is needed to be represented.  I try to keep myself as removed from the project as possible outside of helping them get the initial organization together for placement of paper to be sure everyone has room to work at the same time.

I felt this lesson really fit into the niche of cooperative learning since my students work for very little time on their own besides getting their thoughts together.  Then they do some planning as a group to think of important aspects and places in our community, and we have a organization discussion as a class to plan where each piece of the mural will go on the paper.  Luckily, I can use the ActivBoard for that process this year and students can group together pieces to move around on the mural during the planning process instead of me drawing and erasing tons of marker lines!  Then students get right to work on some sketches, decide which to use, who is strongest at drawing or painting, or leading and they begin their initial sketches on the paper.  When sketches are complete, painting begins.  I usually have time for half the class to paint at a time, so we switch every other class until it is complete!  At this time, I am unable to get any lab time with the 3rd graders,  but in the future, I would also like to take the groups in the computer lab to find pictures of places around the community to assist in their sketches - sometimes the factory near our school or a local mascot comes out looking a little off, and I think the visual aides would help groups in their decision-making process as well.

I feel social learning is so important, and we do it here every week at Walden!  Our blogs and discussion boards are helping us create a network of teachers with which we can collaborate, gain insights, and provide feedback.  So much of our society now is on-the-go, but people want to keep up their social connections even if their job requires them to move across the country.  I know many of my 4th and 5th graders now have  Facebook pages where they keep up with each other, and it's a familiar environment to them.  Why not bring some aspects of social networking into the classroom (safely and monitored of course!)?

According to an article on Education World, cooperative learning should allow:

  • students set goals and decide how to meet them
  • students decide who does what parts of the goals
  • students learn how to negotiate through social skills
  • students learn each person on the team has a different set of strengths and weaknesses and how they apply to reaching their goal
I usually find that one student tends to naturally gravitate toward the leader role, and try to step in to remind them of how important their job is to keep the group positive and on task.  In this lesson, usually a particularly gifted artist steps up to plan and record the group's ideas efficiently.  Occasionally there are problems, but again, I try to keep my nose out of their business as long as it's just a debate, so we can then discuss what problems each group ran into later in the lesson and how to overcome those issues, or how to work it out for the good of the group.  Collaboration skills are needed in almost every career path my students may choose, so it is imperative I include social learning in my classroom.

Bafile, C. (2011, August 16). Lets cooperate teachers share tips for cooperative learning.  Retrieved from