Wednesday, June 22, 2011

6714 Reflection on Assessing My Students' Learning

Being a special education teacher I am all about individualizing, customizing, and differentiating amongst my special education students. With this said, the growth, knowledge, and enrichment which resulted from this course not only helped me grow as a professional, but will have a direct positive impact on my students. This course has coherently demonstrated how to integrate Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in conjunction with Differentiated Instruction (DI). As I begin my plans for the next school year, I will begin including both UDL and DI. Surveys were one of the main focuses throughout the last several weeks, in which I am very grateful. I have never used formal surveys with my students. Typically, I would gather the same information from my students (their interests, learning styles and profiles), but through observations and conversations. Surveying my students will become more time efficient and less subjective with more consistent results. This will definitely be an easier way to survey. Also the information will already be documented for referencing quickly when needed. Another important aspect of the student surveys this course examined was using the information for the purpose of grouping students. With this newfound knowledge, I will now be able to customize groups more accurately due to UDL and DI, which will also allow their diverse levels and learning styles to be met. Additionally, my students will be able to choose from different ways they want to present their knowledge.

Because of our collaborative groups, I have gathered a plethora of sites, which will be related to my lessons, resulting in creating a hook to captivate my students and further provide an enriched learning experience. My curriculum has received an enormous boost by utilizing technology due to what I have learned from this course, instructor and colleagues. During this course, evaluation of student learning was also aided with technology, proving how important and simple technology is to incorporate. The opportunity for me to add technology within DI, are vast and endless and doesn’t require creating individual lesson plans for each student. Remembering how important it is for students to retrieve their prior knowledge, experience new information, and then be able to transfer this to the next level, was reiterated in this course.

After giving much thought and reflection, the technology I have learned through this class will immensely benefit my students. I cannot wait to partner my teachings with the various technology tools while watching my students have fun learning and preparing for the 21st century.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Online Learning

Here is my voicethread discussing the advantages and disadvantages of online learning featuring Moodle.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Final GAME PLAN Reflection:

The reflection process is a very important step in any type of improvement circumstances and reflecting on the last eight weeks, throughout these GAME days, is no different.  As I embarked on creating my GAME plan, eight weeks ago, I remembered being a little fuzzy trying to envision the end result, but I persevered week by week.   Soon, I was able to see the whole picture and enjoyed working towards my goals.

There have been some very helpful aspects of my GAME plan that I had developed through this course and have already begun incorporating into my daily teachings. My first Goal of “Model Digital-Age Work and Learning” involved me being able to demonstrate fluency in technologies both current and rising, while sharing my information to support students’ learning.  Because I continued to reach above and beyond my comfort zone when using technology, I have learned so many new things over this past 8 weeks that I would have never predicted.  Due to my hard work and using all types/kinds of technology, I was recently asked to assist my school’s technology teacher during a computer session for my entire faculty.  Also, I have made progress in incorporating this goal with my students.  The next few weeks I have two- technology integrated projects planned that I am working on with my students.  Having never done anything like this before, I am very excited and eager for both my students and myself.  No matter what the end results may be, my students and I will be more enriched and experienced.

The second Goal I worked on was conveying relevant information through various digital venues in an effective manner to student, parent, and colleagues.  At first, I thought this goal was going to be achieved within a quicker timeframe, but in fact, the opposite could not be truer.  When trying to start a group account for my colleagues to share information and resources, I came across a professional barrier.  This is an adjustment that I will have to sort through in order to be able to bring this goal to fruition.  By the end of this summer, I plan to have the group account for my colleagues operating and the said address distributed, and additionally, I plan to have my class website, new and improved and ready for action as soon as school starts.

I am very grateful for the privilege of being exposed to such useful and practical ideas that I can incorporate into my classroom.  This course has provided me with a sound foundation in which to build and grow upon for the unknowns of tomorrow.  I am a better teacher because of this course today, tomorrow, and beyond.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Linking NET-S and NET-T; Week 7
                                                Images Taken From

As one examines the NET-S and the NET-T standards, it is obvious they are intertwined; therefore, one must understand BOTH.  The most obvious way to thoroughly begin to understand something is to explore and act on it.  This is a cycle that will have a snowball affect on both teachers and students.  Teachers will begin to implement more technology, students will see teachers using more technology and begin to learn and want more technology integrated into their daily lessons, teachers will witness the students positive response and eagerness to learn and an adept ability to understand digital concepts quickly, students will begin to experiment on their own or formulate questions to ask teachers, teachers will explore, learn, experiment more.  When working together on the same team, both students and teachers can motivate each other while constantly learning.  Teachers need not be afraid that they might not know everything about technology, but just be confident enough to be honest and keep learning.

When creating my lesson plans I will incorporate NET-S and NET-T guidelines.  Even though I'm not using the GAME acronym,  I will be more conscientious because of our GAME assignment.  I have already met with my CTT (computer-technology-teacher) this week and outlined a plan of all the technology software programs I would like to use for the remainder of this year and for next year.  When I approached my CTT, I stated that it was my responsibility to expose and teach my students in their elementary years, the basics of certain software programs and technology in general, resulting in basic knowledge for my students when they move on to middle school. 

NETS standards for Teachers and Students definitely overlap. One of the most important things to keep in mind for all teachers is that no matter how tiny your step might be when integrating technology, it is better than not incorporating any technology at all.  Always keep in mind that you are still helping your students improve their literacy skills in this 21st century demanding world!

Cennamo, K., Ross, J., & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach (Laureate Education custom edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning. Chapters 8-16.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Reviewing my GAME

The two NET Standards areas that I chose for my GAME plan are
“Model Digital-Age Work and Learning.”

This first Goal involves me being able to demonstrate fluency in technologies both current and rising, while sharing my information to support students’ learning.  As far as this goal is concerned, I am making tremendous progress.  I am adding some type of 21st century skills in my lessons for my students almost daily now.  I have joined a twitter network that shares educational ideas and rejuvenated instructional ways to help reach students.  I am now in a position to access new an array of websites and also I’m able to now help my colleagues locate and access ideas or information for which they are searching.  This particular goal will be ongoing, because I do not foresee myself being regarded as ‘all-knowing’ in the technology realm.  By extending this goal to ‘permanent mode’, hopefully my current growth rate will continue as is, and I will always be a lifelong-learner.  In the area of future improvement for my future learning and continued growth, will be not to hold out so long in experimenting with things like twitter or blogging etc.

The second Goal is conveying relevant information through various digital venues in an effective manner to students, parents, and colleagues.  After receiving feed back from colleagues and peers, I believe that setting up a parent night in order to provide direct demonstrations and opportunities for parents to experiment and ask questions is one of the key to this goal being successful.  I have already spoken with my principal and she was excited and eager for my goal to be implemented, but asked me to execute this intent next year.  Concerning the goal of creating a group account for special education teachers has more or less hit a snag and this particular goal I am still working on.  One approach I have learned stemming from that goal is it might be better to ask for forgiveness rather than asking for permission (I would really only consider this tactic only when I know my actions are not breaking any regulations or rules).

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Once again I am required to take time and reflect on my GAME plan, which is a necessity when trying to accomplish any and all goals, but honestly, sometimes I “think” I don’t have time to do this step.  In order to accomplish my GAME plan and all other goals, this step is vital.

With this said, I am taking a step back and reflecting on my 2 GAME plan goals; the progression towards incorporating more technology into my daily teachings and also conveying information through various digital formats.  As I access my actions, I am able to share that I am making progress towards both of these goals, although I am not running full speed towards the finish line, I am steadily moving towards the finish line.  So far this past week I have created a new blog, a twitter account and an iWeb site.  Concurrently, I have utilized some form of technology or digital format in everything I have done for school, including learning new techie things for my IEPs.  Because of my constant work towards these goals, and the progress I have made this week, I have learned that the more I continue working and exploring new digital tools, equipment, software, and incorporate these into every part of my professional life, it gets easier and easier.  For example, the time it took to activate clickers this week as opposed to the time it took last week.  WOW.  Also, I have added BrainPop to my clicker settings this week, so I can click “activate vote” and my clickers are INSTANTLY set-up, turned on, and programmed. WOW.  

One realization I did encounter when I was reading the reflective questions was that I do need to always learn to continue to stay active in the learning mode and not rely on “that’s the way I’ve always done it” attitude.  Don’t get me wrong, I am always trying to self-improve and grow, but to work this hard in such a short amount of time in order to reach your goals, is hard work, time consuming, and even exhausting mentally and physically.  So, I do work hard, but just not this hard all of the time.  As we approach TCAP and then the end of school, I am beginning to question if all of this work towards my goal of conveying information through various digital formats is going to be launched with enough steam and momentum when it’s so close to the end of the school year.  With only 30-something days, most teachers are trying to first get through TCAP, then will start winding down their school year.

Even though we (my school colleagues) are thinking about how many days/weeks are left and our students’ performance on TCAP, I will continue onward towards my 2 GAME plan goals with as much zest and zeal as I started.  As of now, I will not adjust my current plan at all, because I know I will fully implement both goals to their fullest potential whether it’s this year or next.  Therefore, if both my goals do not attain their level of significance within the next few weeks, that’s ok because both goals will be in full swing starting the first day of school next year and I’ll have all summer to tweak here and there if needed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Revisiting GAME #2

Since my last posting for my 2 GAME goals, I have made some progress. My first goal being more fluent with technology both current and upcoming, I have taken several progressive steps towards this. This past week, I attended a full day of training to learn about the Promethean Board that I have. I learned so much and was so very excited to get back to my students and start playing. I also learned how to use the clickers, which I have wanted to do this for some time now, and I learned how to create my own assessments for the clickers. This is a huge step towards my goal. Additionally, the Internet has provided me with sample rubrics that I can use for assessing my students and myself, and also in finding resources to help me work on improving my electronic communications with my parents. With all the information I have found, I am right now trying to sort through while absorbing it all in order to utilize what I am able to use for my plan.

The only part of my plan, at this point, that I have to think about modifying is sending out a mass email to all of my colleagues throughout my county, which will invite them to join a collaborative yahoo group. A supervisor I contacted about last week said she thought there was something in place for special education teachers to visit, but what she is referring to is a link from an existing commercial site that has to be subscribed to.

One thing I have learned since creating my GAME plan is that it takes time to follow protocol and sometimes you are not able to advance to the next step unless you have completed all the current formalities. Also, some of these formalities are hinged upon human responses/actions, which further means, when they become able or choose to act! In addition, I have become more aware of how technology is really not integrated into the classroom or lessons when it is crunch time in preparation for state testing. Other colleagues do not want to “waste” their time on “fun” activities with our TCAP (state testing) being right around the corner.

Finally, one question that I have started pondering is how do I get my parents involved electronically? Many parents are choosing not to take advantage of the technology that is already in place such as: teacher web pages and our Power School that posts student’s grades.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Reviewing my GAME

As I consider my first goal, being fluent in technologies, the more it occurs to me that I do not know. Does this make sense? Technology is like an onion, the more you peel back, BAM! there is another layer underneath. For starters, I would like to make an inventory list of the digital tools and technologies: 1) I utilize often 2) I feel I use effectively 3) Impact on students’ performance. I would also like to review some rubrics used by teachers when evaluating their own teaching and then modify to meet my particular needs. Concurrently, there are several strategies that I have pondered, for instance, locating more professional development classes/sessions, talking with colleagues, and spending more time exploring/creating/experimenting. So far I have signed up for a technology conference in April and have already participated in an iGoogle webinar

For my second goal of conveying relevant information to students, parents, and colleagues through technology, I have spoken to some of my colleagues and inquired about using technology to achieve this goal. I discovered that several used emails or teacher web pages when outreaching to parents, and they also used emails and blogs for colleagues. As I plan to create a centralized location for both students and parents, I have started gathering and organizing links that I want to include. Also, I have emailed my principal and requested time to speak with her about a workshop for parents to help them access teacher/school information via technologies. At the same time, I have already sent a couple of emails to special education coordinators to ask for specific guidelines when contacting/communicating throughout my district.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Learning a new game can be fun, exciting, challenging or even the opposite; uninteresting. Recently, I have been discovered that I not only must learn a new game, but also be the inventor of this new game. WOW! It took me a minute to wrap my mind around what is being asked of me, especially because this game has such high stakes.

Being the winner of my game is defined as being an effective teacher by utilizing 21st Century Literacy Skills. In order to achieve this, I must have a solid perception of what being effective entails, therefore, I need to understand the National Education Standards for Teachers (2008) in order create my GAME plan. As Dr. Cinnamo (2009) explained, GAME signifies “Setting Goals, taking Action, Monitoring, and Evaluate and Extending” (p.30) therefore my first step is setting my Goals.

The NET Standard I am creating my GAME plan for is “Model Digital-Age Work and Learning.” This first Goal involves me being able to demonstrate fluency in technologies both current and rising, while sharing my information to support students’ learning. The Action is to incorporate many of the skills I have learned from previous and future courses via Walden into my lessons as well as using my classroom technologies to their fullest potential on a daily basis. In terms of Monitoring, this will be more of a trial and error event that will need adjusting, but most importantly, I will need to be very honest when reflecting objectively on my teaching. By monitoring students’ performances through informal and formal assessments in addition to creating a rubric for myself, these day-to-day notations will help me track specific moments while considering either modifying or moving forward. In order to Evaluate and Extend these specific moments, I will test my students’ content knowledge on the lessons that I have incorporated the aforementioned technologies. From here, I will reteach or enrich, which will show me the level of mastery of my students based on my teachings.

The second Goal is conveying relevant information through various digital venues in an effective manner to student, parent, and colleagues (2008). My Action will include a multi-facet approach starting with creating a group account for my colleagues in which to share files, questions, and information. After I create the group account, I will send a mass email to all schools within my county asking each principal to forward the invite for colleagues to join, but will also set the group’s profile for special education teachers around the world. Within my classroom, I will provide ‘show and tell’ with my students showing them my teacher webpage and the various links that are available. For my parents, I will offer times (PTA meetings, parent-teacher conference night, and even during/after school) to demonstrate how to access my webpage and the wiki that I will create for parental use. To eliminate confusion, I will also provide my parents “quick step” guide outlining the steps to take for obtaining different options. Monitoring will be on-going, by providing my contact information, my parents contact me at various times for various reasons. During the times mentioned above, I will be available for monitoring, questions and even conferences. Concurrently, I will be Monitoring the colleague group account on a daily basis via my email. Evaluating and Extending will be based on the volume of response in which is received through the various digital venues. After examining the reactions, I will then continue, adjust or alter for the start of the next school year.

I look forward to doing this project for the remainder of this year, which will enable me to tweak as needed, therefore, starting off next year strong from day 1. GAME ON!!!!

Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology Integration for Meaningful Classroom Use: A Standards-Based Approach. (Laureate Education, Inc., Custom ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

National Education Standards for Teachers (NETS-T) located at

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Reflective Thoughts on Supporting Information Literacy and Outline Inquiry in the Classroom

As my journey through Walden’s master’s program, Integrating Technology in the Classroom has brought me to the end of EDUC 6712; I have evolved into a teacher who grasps the importance of the new literacy skills. One of the most striking revelations about my teaching of new literacy skills to my students is the fact that without evening realizing it, I am incorporating these skills without thinking. Because I understand how the definition of being literate has changed to now encompassing the need for our students to acquire the new literacy skills in order to be able to compete in tomorrow’s work force, I will strive to add more of them into my daily lesson plans.

Due to the knowledge and experience of this course, I am more equipped to teach and guide my students through the process of being able to indentify websites that are reliable and valid as opposed to websites that are created with the intent to mislead or spread untruths. Never realizing such faulty websites existed, I take satisfaction in being more conscious and skilled in educating my students in where to find kid-friendly appropriate sites and search engines such as and even researching an existing site by finding out who the true author is by using Will Richardson states, "They (students) must be able to assess its authority by examining the incoming and outgoing links from and to other sites on the Web to ensure it references--and is referenced by--credible sites" (Richardon, 2009, p. 29).

One professional development goal I would like to pursue is to create a wiki for all special education teachers throughout my school district as a collaborative site to post and share ideas and links that have been enjoyed within their classrooms or as a place to ask for assistance from colleagues. This would also be the perfect avenue to share how to adapt 21st century skills to each learner according to their individual needs. Current trends of technology could be shared as to how it is being incorporated into the curriculum. Just think of all of the resources that would be available to share with just a click of a computer button; powerpoints, voicethreads, lessons for Promethean and smart boards, and since special education ranges from K-12, there would not be limited materials by any definition. Another added benefit is that this wiki encompasses all realms of special education, which includes speech/language, physical/occupational therapy, gifted, resource, and co-teaching. My steps to accomplishing this goal is to contact my immediate special ed supervisor and acquire contact information for each school or sped teacher. Then I would set up the wiki and invite all to join. Between word of mouth and a great need for this collaborative effort among my peers, I feel I could accomplish this particular professional development goal without too much difficulty and we all would reap the rewards especially the students.