My Personal GAME Plan

             I have recently begun a new class in my Walden Master’s program called “Integrating Technology Across the Content Areas” and the focus of this class is on the integration of technology resources into daily teaching practices.  The course text is titled Technology Integration for Meaningful Classroom Use: A Standards-Based Approach and the authors present a step-by-stop approach to self-directed learning that assists teachers and students in reaching the national (ISTE) technology standards (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009).  They call this a GAME (Goals, Action, Monitor, Evaluate) plan.

            After studying the NETS-T standards, I have chosen two that I would like to focus on and strengthen:

2a Design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity.

5c  Evaluate and reflect on current research and professional practice on a regular basis to make effective use of existing and emerging digital tools and resources in support of student learning

            A goal I would like to accomplish that would help to strengthen my teaching practice in both areas is to integrate student blogging in my classroom as both a collaborative discussion and journaling tool.  I have set this goal because I believe that by integrating blogging into my classroom, it will increase student learning in many areas, but especially in writing content and skill.  In my experience, students who write to an authentic audience write more, write in more detail, and are more likely to take care in using correct conventions, an important 3rd grade skill. During the last school year, I  experimented with blogging through our district web-host site and saw its value in evoking authentic, meaningful responses from my students.  However, this school year my district switched to a new web-host and this new site no longer supports blogging.  I would like to find an alternative blogging site that is suitable for 3rd grade students, but the challenge is that I must make sure that the site is not only user friendly, with useful features, but is also safe for young children.  My district is hesitant to approve collaborative website use without sufficient evidence that it will be safe and secure for students.

            To accomplish this goal, I will need to take action by researching, finding, and experimenting with several blogging sites to see which I think will be the most effective tool and one that I will be permitted to use.  I will need to seek authorization from my administration before using it with my students.  Then, I will set up the blogging tool and begin to create lessons and activities that support learning in all content areas, but with special attention to writing skills.

            As my students use this tool and I integrate it into my classroom practice, I will also strengthen my practice by monitoring and then eventually evaluating the blogging tool and its value in supporting and extending student learning.  As my students are blogging, I will need to monitor the discussions and writing closely to see if my students are practicing and applying their writing, critical thinking, and discussion skills in a way that encourages creativity, but shows thoughtfulness and growth in understanding.  If I decide that the blogging site is not meeting the needs of my students, I may need to reteach expectations, find an alternative site, or another method or collaboration tool.  If I decide that it is an effective tool, I will then be able to create a series of lessons that utilize more functions of the blogging site and are more specific in content and skills.

            I am looking forward to this next “3rd Grade Adventure in Cyberspace” and am ready to get started on my GAME plan!  Any suggestions on blogging sites that are user friendly, suitable for young children, and have a high level of security and anonymity would be greatly appreciated!

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10 Responses to My Personal GAME Plan

  1. Julie Budd says:

    Roxanna,
    Although my GAME plan goals differ from yours, I too would enjoy and benefit from learning how to incorporate blogging in my third grade classroom. Last year, our district piloted a Moodle program. While I found some of the free features a bit advanced for my third grade class, it had a class blog option. If I had more time with Moodle, I would have liked to set up a class blog in a reading response format. I would post a response question from the class novel we were reading and my student then would be given the opportunity to respond to and read other student’s responses. Just like in this Walden class, reading what other student’s write extends one’s thinking and leads to a more advanced conversation. Moodle is (was) a free program. Its purpose is to create an online class assignment (like in this class) environment for your students. It was set up for me last year but look into it because it was free.

    In addition, a first grade teacher set up her own blog and her students used it at home. She had to pay for the blog to be password protected which is an option for you if your district is hesitant about a blog being safe and secure. If I remember correctly, the fee was under fifty dollars for the password protection part. Her students mostly blogged about: vote type of questions, like a class graph on favorite foods, what they did on the weekend, favorite books etc. I thought it was great how the students were exposed to a blog and learned how to communicate via technology, an important work place readiness skill. She created this blog as a graduate class assignment. I would check with your current blog site and see if they offer a password protection option. Then you could possibly set up a classroom blog with a blog site you are already familiar with. Good luck and I will be checking back with you to see how it is going.

    Julie Budd

    • butkusfamily says:

      Thanks for the information, Julie! I have heard much about Moodle, but haven’t explored it myself yet. Our district site does host classroom webpages, they just don’t offer a blogging feature. I am hoping to find a free site where the blogging is secure and where I have control over what is posted.

      • Julie Budd says:

        Roxanna,
        I think you are off to a good start. I will check back with you to see what you find as far as a blogging site. I am hopeful you will not have to pay for it to be safe and secure as well.
        Julie

  2. Nicole Fouty says:

    I have never used blogging before in my classroom or for any educational purposes (before this class). I have only done a personal blog before for family when we lived across the country, and before Facebook. I think your plan sounds like a great idea. As you mention I believe monitoring would be one of the hardest things to do when working with blogs. Beyond the ideas that you expressed I thought about the fact that we want to ensure our students are safe in their performance with posting and receiving on blogs. To me as a parent of elementary students and teacher of students in alternative education this is something I think a lot about. I am sure there has to be a blog website that will allow you to look first at what the student writes, giving you the decision of whether to post or not. I know the program with using online pen pals allows educators to review first what students wrote before sending it on to their pen pal.

    • butkusfamily says:

      I think so too and am in the process of checking out several sites to see what options are available (and free). Do you know what pen pal program that is? It sounds interesting!

      • Nicole Fouty says:

        Yes, free is a must! I am amazed every year how much money I spend on my classroom and my kids. I just tell my husband it is my charitable donation. LOL The program is called http://www.epals.com/. Good Luck!!

  3. Carmelita says:

    Roxanna, you have chosen blogging as an area in technology that you want to strengthen; this assignment we have at Walden U would be a great tool to practice for you. Are you planning of grading students’ blogging activities as well? If so, is it based on content or participation? Our school district blocks wikis and any blogging site, so my students can only access my classroom wiki when they are at home. Try these blogging sites http://blog.kidzui.com/, http://www.kidblog.org, and http://www.boomwriter.com/home/schools/ for your young ones in case you do not have them yet.
    Carmelita Burner

    • butkusfamily says:

      Thanks for the leads on sites, Carmelita! I will check them out. I have a colleague that uses kidblog.org and this was a good reminder that I need to ask her what she thinks of it. I don’t plan on grading my students blogging activities, as least not until I teach them how to blog or until we have had several discussions. That might be an option if or when I have them write their own entry.

      • Carmelita says:

        You are welcome, Roxanna. I think grading the blogs would encourage students to be aware of the grammar as well as the tone of conversation since they are part of the rubrics.

  4. Sharon Coldren says:

    I have just started blogging with students this year. I have middle school students so my students are older than yours. However, I have found that providing students an authentic audience has increased my students’ motivation and attention to quality of their writing. Research backs up my experience with my own student (McGrail & Davis, 2011). This could be a place for you to start building a case for blogging in your classroom.

    I have signed up for Edmodo also. I am not an expert on how to use it as I am just now starting to create groups for my eighth grades to use for their biography unit. It is a safe place for students to chat and post information as it is private and students need a code to join a group so it is possible to limit access to students in your class. Wikipedia has an excellent description of Edmodo and its uses (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmodo).

    Reference
    McGrail, E., & Davis, A. (2011). The influence of blogging on elementary student writing in Journal
    of Research in Childhood Education, 25 (4), 415 – 437. Retrieved from http://www.acei.org/
    volume-25-no-4/the-influence-of-classroom-blogging-on-elementary- student-writing.htm

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