Walden University Assignments

Evaluating My GAME Plan Progress

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Walden University – Course 6713: Week 5 Application, Part I

My NETS-T goals were to (1) effectively correspond with parents through the use of current technologies, and (2) provide additional avenues to teach “legal and ethical use of” technology and online content. In reflecting upon my progress, I feel my actions have helped me to meet these goals.

  • I sought out and collected parent emails from the front office files;
  • I set up a blog with a categories feature that allows postings to be searched by general course information, assignments, tests, projects and announcements to readily provide information to my parents and students; and
  • I created a “Quick MLA Reference Card” for my students and myself, and have implemented more assignments requiring research with a works cited page.

I have learned that my parents love the added communication resource. The blog news postings allows them to stay informed of course happenings and be actively involved with their child’s academic life. I have also learned that having a quick MLA style guide for myself to check student work against has made me more confident in assigning projects with research. In addition, I have observed my students readily utilizing their reference cards during their assignments.

Although my parents like the blog as a new information resource, the parents have had to voluntarily sign up to receive posting updates. I have been working with the email settings, but I have yet to find a way to automatically subscribe parents, whom I have manually added as users of the blog, to receive emails when updates are posted. If I am unable to set this up, I may look into creating a blog on my Moodle system and transferring the data there, or researching other possible communication tools that might fit my purposes better.

Monitoring My GAME Plan

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Walden University – Course 6713: Week 4 Application

I have decided to go with a class blog, after careful consideration from research and discussion with my classmates regarding blogs, wikis, and even a class newsletter. At this time, it is the most convenient way for me to communicate with my parents through the use of current technology (ISTE, 2008). Later, I would like to add a newsletter option, but that will require a fair amount of pre-planning and organizing before I would be ready for that step.

Currently, I have acquired my class blog at falgoust.wordpress.com and will be adding a theme and editing the features. I also added a page which will house a copy of my MLA Style Guide once complete. The page includes links from some websites I found useful. I will use these references, and others if necessary, to compile my classroom guide for students.

One time-consuming task is obtaining parent emails from the school nurse’s student records. I have to go in, one by one, and pull my students, and record the data. Those parents who did not put an email address on this card, I will contact by phone to see if they would like to include an email address to get assignment, project and test updates for my class.

I do not see a need yet for modifying my action plan, therefore I will continue with what is on my agenda. However, as mentioned above, I have learned of a way to make a class newsletter work. It will require preliminary work to get set-up, which can be done over the summer, as well as gaining the support of several dependable and trust-worthy students to continually help lay out the document during the school year. One question that has arisen through peer discussions is, “in what instance might an educator create a wiki that allows parents to collaborate by adding to and editing a class wiki?” Any suggestions?

Resources:
International Society for Technology in Education. (2008). NETS for teachers 2008. Retrieved January 13, 2011, from http://www.iste.org/standards/nets-for-teachers/nets-for-teachers-2008.aspx

Carrying Out My GAME Plan

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Walden University – Course 6713: Week 3 Application, Part 1

As previously stated in my GAME Plan, my goals are to provide a blog (or possibly wiki) as means to inform parents of upcoming assignments, projects, tests, etc., as well as become better familiar with MLA style formatting.

The resources I will need in order to carry out my plan include:

    1. Internet access for research and to create and update my blog/wiki,
    2. Blog or wiki to to post class information to for parents and students,
    3. MLA style guide(s) and/or online MLA style guide resources to research formatting for commonly used reference materials,
    4. Microsoft Word to create a quick MLA style reference guide sheet,
    5. Adobe Acrobat or CutePDF to create a portable document format of the guide sheet that can be opened without the need for Microsoft Word, and can be referenced by students.

    Additional information I will need to obtain are parent emails to add the parents as users of the wiki/blog.

    Currently, I am look up the pros and cons of wikis and blogs regarding the levels of user access. I want the parents to contribute, but not have access to change information in certain areas, which I know can be done on a wiki. There is a little more research to be done, before I decide, but that is what I am currently looking into.

    Developing My GAME Plan

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    Walden University – Course 6713: Week 2 Application

    Developing My GAME Plan: Enriching Content Area Learning Experiences

    The National Education Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS-T) cover many important markers in which teachers must strive to achieve in an effort to stay abreast of technology advancements and meet the needs of 21st century learners. After examining the NETS-T, I feel fairly confident regarding my proficiency in these areas as a technology teacher, however there are two indicators I would like to develop a GAME plan for.

    The NETS-T: A part of standard 3C states that teachers must effectively correspond with parents through the use of current technologies, while a section of standard 4A addresses teaching “legal and ethical use of” technology and online content (ISTE, 2008). Although I am proactive in communicating with parents at the beginning of each semester–the time when I get new students–I do not have a tool in place to keep parents up-to-date on assignments and projects happening throughout the semester. In addition, although I am familiar with the practice of citing information, I have never placed much emphasis on it. Therefore, these are the two areas I will build my GAME plan for.

    The following are the four steps I will use to develop my GAME plan:

    1. Goal setting
    2. Action planning
    3. Monitoring progress
    4. Evaluating/extending progress

    Goals & Actions: The goals I will set for myself will be to provide a way to effectively and efficiently inform parents of upcoming assignments, projects, tests, etc., and become better familiar with MLA style formatting. To achieve these goals I will create a course blog where I can easily post pertinent curriculum information, and research and create a classroom reference guide for citing sources in MLA format.

    Monitor: For the blog, I will monitor my progress by logging in to the site and posting assignments, projects, tests, etc. at least one week in advance, while updating information on past assignments regarding completion dates. In order to better familiarize myself with MLA formatting, once I have created a reference guide, I can monitor my progress by creating at least one research assignment a month where students must applying MLA citations to their work. Each assignment can utilize a different type of resource so that I can practice recognizing proper MLA formatting.

    Evaluate: Through my regular methods of communication with parents via phone, email, conferences, etc., I am able to gather their feedback and suggestions regarding the course blog and make any necessary modifications to better this form of communication. By continuing to develop assignments for students where they must cite their sources and I must verify their resource formatting, I will become better acquainted with MLA style and should be able to easily recognize the various parts and sequencing of this style. In addition, through these assignments, I can also assess student understanding of this practice and if I need to make any modifications to help them master the practice of MLA citing.

    Resources:

    International Society for Technology in Education. (2008). NETS for teachers 2008. Retrieved January 13, 2011, from http://www.iste.org/standards/nets-for-teachers/nets-for-teachers-2008.aspx

    Literary Review: Motivating Secondary Students Through Game Play

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    Walden University – Course 6653: Week 6 Application

    Motivation is an emotional trait which provokes individuals to action or toward a desired goal, and offers purpose and direction to one’s behavior. Students are typically intrinsically motivated as this form of motivation is for pure self-gratification. Activities or experiences that challenge or stir their curiosity automatically inspire them to action. Understanding what motivates and engages students is a key factor when considering ways to promote learning in the classroom. Prensky (as cited in Hong, Cheng, Hwang, Lee, Chang, 2009) says it best in his statement, “a motivated learner cannot be stopped.”  Today, educators have been tasked with integrating technology in the classroom in an effort to keep up with emerging technologies and meet the needs of these 21st century learners. One possible way to connect with today’s learners and integrate technology for learning is through the use of games. In this literary review, I have examined game play as a technology learning tool in the classroom and its motivational effects on secondary students.

    Athanasis Karoulis (2007) conducted a qualitative case study through the observation of eleven students ages 6 to 14. In this study, Karoulis focused on the modality of a game (navigational structure such as help, next previous, home, etc.; and verbal or text-based narrative prompts) and their motivational factors on these students. The findings concluded that all of the pre-teen and teens, ages 12 to 14, were equally conscientious of all modalities and swiftly finished each scenario of the game. However, when the game did not provide new meaningful scenarios with increasing challenges, these students lost interest in the activity and stopped participating.

    In contrast, Mansureh Kebritchi, Atsusi Hirumi, and Haiyan Bai (2010) collected information on sixteen empirical studies where games were used as a learning tool. Four of these studies were conducted on a secondary level and considered motivation as a dependent variable. From these four studies, two used a qualitative research method, one used a quantitative, and the final study used experimental and mixed methods. All four studies showed positive results in increased student motivation in the classroom; concluding this as a result of having a relationship between (or relevance to) the game and the students’ background knowledge. Both teachers and students reported that the math games, used as a learning tool, presented a slightly higher to very positive effect on class motivation.

    In a more personalized study, Don Hernandez (2009) used mixed methods to research game play as a tool to motivate “at-risk” seventh and eighth grade students in his middle school to learn and build self-efficacy. In 2007, educational games were introduced to students during one of their math lab classes. They were taken through the game and given time to learn the modalities and objectives before the end of the lab, then students were given the option to join an after school gaming session. Due to increased interest, a morning session was opened as well. From the 2007-2008 to the 2008-2009 school years, the school’s math proficiency standards on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) increased from 63% to 80% students passing at or above grade level.

    In Herandez’s (2009) research, teachers who presented the math games in a lab, had prior knowledge of the game and how it operated, and therefore, took the time during the lab to ensure students understood how to properly operate the game, and gain the skills necessary to accurately engage in meeting objectives. In correlation, Beverly Ray and Gail A. Coulter (2010) emphasized the necessity in presenting, supporting and integrating the game as a class activity. Caftori (as cited in Ray and Coulter, 2010) indicated that educational games have minimal significance without the support of knowledgeable teachers. Scaffolding must be used to ensure that connections are being made between the game and the curriculum being presented to the students.

    Hernandez (2009) and Ray and Coulter (2010) provide the most significant information in this research. Together, their research creates a clear picture, that when properly implemented and supported, educational games can have a strong motivational impact on students and their learning. Ten years ago, the US Senate reported (as cited in Paraskeva, Mysirlaki, and Papagianni, 2009) that the average seventh grader spent approximately four hours per week playing digital games. At that time, 77% played games at home (2000). Knowing that the majority of students today game or know someone who games at home for fun and for the entertainment value, integrating educational games properly in the classroom can create a powerful 21st century learning tool to enhance student motivation and engagement.

    Through my research, I have found that not all educational games are useful in a classroom setting. True educational games must follow proper instructional methodology (pedagogy) and contain the principles of game-based learning (Hong, Cheng, Hwang, Lee and Chang, 2009), which defines what is being taught, the task objectives, who the learner is, and how the learned skill will be applied. In addition, games chosen for the classroom must contain a storyline or background that is familiar or relevant to students, and include age-appropriate scenarios and challenges that progressively increase as the player continues through the game. In addition, students need beginning teacher guidance on the game functions, have a clear understanding of the objectives, and be able to implement the skills necessary to achieving those objectives. Without these components, employing game play in the classroom will not demonstrate an increased advantage as a learning tool over traditional methods. Therefore, in continuing studies on game play as a motivational learning tool, researchers need to (1) identify the audience, (2) determine age-appropriateness of the educational game(s) that will be used, (3) identify the pedagogical design, (4) confirm game-based learning principles, (5) verify learning objectives, (6) establish a relationship or relevance to the student, and (7) confirm that the game contains variation with increasing challenges as the player progresses through the game.

    In conclusion, it is obvious that there is need for new, more in-depth research that clearly takes into consideration the seven criteria identified above. Only addressing one or two of these criterions does not provide sufficient evidence into the use of educational games for the classroom, and subsequently skews the results or allows for misinterpretation of information. With the seven criteria in place, I do believe games can be an effective learning tool for the secondary classroom, and do believe games can motivate secondary students to learn. However, from the lack of evidence and formal research, my findings are inconclusive in regards to secondary students’ motivation to learn through the utilization of game play as a technology learning tool.

    References

    Ray, B., & Coulter, G. (2010). Perceptions of the value of digital mini-games: implications for middle school classrooms. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 26(3), 92-100. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database.

    Hernandez, D. (2009), Gaming + autonomy = academic achievement. Principal Leadership, 10: 44-47.

    Hong, J.-C., Cheng, C.-L., Hwang, M.-Y., Lee, C.-K. and Chang, H.-Y. (2009), Assessing the educational values of digital games. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 25: 423–437. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2009.00319.x

    Karoulis, A. (2007), Educational games: motivation and the role of multimedia representations. South-East European Research Center, 315-321. Retrieved from http://www.seerc.org/ieeii2007/PDFs/p315-321.pdf.

    Kebritchi, M., Hirumi, A., & Bai, H. (2010). The effects of modern mathematics computer games on mathematics achievement and class motivation. Computers & Education, 55(2), 427-443. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2010.02.007.

    Paraskeva, F., Mysirlaki, S. and Papagianni, A. (2009). Multiplayer online games as educational tools: facing new challenges in learning. Computers & Education, 54(2010), 498-505.

    Think Out Loud Evaluation: Computertan.com

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    Walden University – Course 6712: Week 4 Application

    References:

    November, A. (2008). Web literacy for educators. Thousands Oaks: Corwin Press.

    Reflection on My Learning Theory and Instructional Practices

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    Walden University – Course 6711: Week 8 Reflection

    At the beginning of the course, I mentioned that my personal learning theory included experience, meaningful patterns, emotion as a catalyst for learning, and memory. I develop beginning-of-the-year assignments that allow me to connect with my students by getting to know who they are and where they are coming from (experience). During this time, students learn about their classroom environment, procedures and expectations through habitual practices (meaningful patterns). In addition, I strive to provide a welcoming, non-threatening environment (emotion) where students can communicate and collaborate. Reflecting on my learning theory after going through this course, I do not believe I would change anything.

    However, I do see a need to be more aware of my instructional practices. This course has taught me that there is a distinct difference between instructional technology tools and learning technology tools. Instructional tools are the tools teachers use to “show” students how to do something, while learning tools are tools that allow students to “engage” in activities to construct meaningful information. For instance, I often use a Smartboard in my classroom. I use this tool to SHOW students what to do. This is not as effective as having the students USE the tool to demonstrate concepts they are learning, or demonstrate understanding by using the tool to present information. Although I have always implemented both in my classroom, I now understand the difference and see the benefits emphasizing learning tools. With this knowledge I can adjust my instructional practices to better serve my students and enhance their learning.

    Another technology tool I will use often to engage my students is a program called Inspiration; the Web 2.0 equivalent is My Webspiration. This tool helps students develop connections with difficult vocabulary and concepts. They are able to visually construct meaning by brainstorming what they might already know about the term or concept, and then build upon what they know to make new connections.

    A couple of long-term goals for incorporating technology into my instructional practice is to continue to seek professional development where I can stay up-to-date on emerging technologies that interest our students, and form professional connections with other educators to have a sounding board to brainstorm instructional practices and ways to implement various technologies into the classroom as a learning tool. To do this I can research online educator communities and professional development opportunities in and around my area. I can join a forum or be a part of a group of educators who are exploring new ways to engage students in the classroom in order to help them be successful life-long learners.

    Voicethread: Developing Self-Sufficient Learners

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    Walden University – Course 6711: Week 5 Application

    My Voicethread link: http://voicethread.com/share/1262122/

    Cooperative Learning Strategy and Social Learning Theory

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    Walden University – Course 6711: Week 5 Application 

    Social learning theory is a theory that suggests learning is constructed through interactions with people or the environment. The cooperative learning strategy follows this theory because it’s objective is to put students in small groups and have them work together to construct meaning from new information (Hubble, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007).  

    There are three types of groups that can be formed under this strategy; informal, formal and base groups (Hubble, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007). Informal groups are usually small 2-3 person groups created on the spur of the moment in order to quickly discuss (no more than a few minutes) and come up with an opinion or to make a decision on an idea or concept. Formal groups are formed for short-term periods; typically during a specified assignment. This group encourages positive social interactions, solicits contributions from every member of the group, and requires a more detailed product or elaborate resolution. Base groups are generally assembled as a means for long-term support throughout a school semester or year. This type of group promotes positive relationship building while providing a “buddy-system” to help check class work and complete daily tasks.

    Technology acts a valuable tool to help facilitate group activities, organize tasks for and information obtained in groups, and foster communication among group members and/or other groups. One example that demonstrates technology as a facilitation and communication tool, as described in Using Technology in Classroom Instruction that Works, is web-enabled multiplayer simulation games (Hubble, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007). Students play this type of game over the Internet with their peers; reinforcing peer-to-peer interaction. Teachers can choose games that simulate environments, situations and/or challenges related to content being covered for supplemental learning. While students are playing the game, they are propelled to communicate and actively process information in order to overcome challenges and meet objectives.

    The cooperative learning strategy as a player in the social learning theory is an effective classroom resource that, when used in conjunction with technology, will resolutely engage students and enrich their learning!

     

    References

    Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD

    Constructivism in Practice

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    Walden University – Course 6711: Week 4 Application

    Dr. Orey defines constructivism as what we already know or have brought meaning to, while constructionism is building on what we know to learn new things (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009).

    The strategy of generating and testing a hypothesis correlates to both the constructivism and constructionism theories. To begin, students must ask questions and then problem solve to come up with a feasible hypothesis to answer the question. Both of these steps are based on constructivism; students form a question and develop an answer based on what they already know. Next, they must investigate (research, make observations and analyze data), and finally make an informed decision on the findings and communicate those results. These steps relate to constructionism because each of them allows students to create new meaning so that they might assimilate or accommodate their understanding and knowledge based on the results they found.

    Using both theories allows students to make connections with what they know and what they learn by helping them develop new connections and understandings. This strategy allows teachers to act as a facilitator and technology to act as an efficient tool, while the learning experience is student-centered and hands-on.

    Resources:

    Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Constructionist and constructivist. Baltimore: Author.

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