End of Class Reflection

Throughout this class, I feel like I have received a wonderful amount of information regarding setting up my lesson plans in a manner that allows for maximum engagement, interaction between students and teachers, and effectiveness of the time use and content management.  This course has allowed me a simple and effective method for planning each lesson for student success and allowing built in time for enrichment and intervention time.  The plan setup also allows appropriate space and time given to assessment and adjustments that may need to be made due to unplanned adjustments.

There are a few ways I may change the GAME plan after reading and reviewing the plans of my colleagues in the class.  Seeing some of the different ways they interacted with their students and ways in which they assessed their students showed me some new methods to implement in my class and integrate into my plans.  The rubric sites some of my classmates used were wonderful and I plan on using them immediately in my own instructional plan.

I will also modify some of the strategies I will use in my class according to the different subjects that were displayed in my classmates plans.  I saw some great reading, social studies, science and writing plans that I will adjust and modify for my own class’s needs.  Borrowing from fellow teachers is indeed the greatest form of flattery.

An immediate change that will take in my teaching practice will be to use the format this course provided through the GAME plan.  I have already began using this when setting up my weekly plans in the planbook.com subscription teacher planning application I use.  The use of technology in my day to day teaching has increased ten fold and the effectiveness of it has substantially strengthened since this course began.

The use of problem based learning (PBL), social networking, and digital storytelling all have special places in my teaching spectrum now that I fully am aware of the power they hold for teachers and students.  I am thankful of all the crucial information this course has shared and look forward to bettering my own teaching from its information.




GAME Plan Progress

This week I am taking stock in how I am progressing in my goals for becoming more technologically diverse as a teacher and educator.

My objectives are as follows:

1. Engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources.

2. Promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students’ conceptual understanding and thinking, planning, and creative processes.

As a I work through my objectives for this project, I am finding that the resources I have sought out and the information I have found have certainly proven useful and allowed my to arrive closer at my final destination for learning about technology and technology resources.

After researching and reading, I have found that I do not need to modify my plan at this point.  The plan I have created has proven realistic and attainable.

Some things I have learned so far include the use of web quests as a means of providing real life issues and solving authentic problems.  These types of tools allow the students to explore and engage in different locations and situations they would not normally be able to take part in due to monetary and resource restrictions.  For example, the students may go on a web quest where they need to explore the Vatican and answer questions pertaining to the location and content.  Realistically, most students will never visit this place, however, through the use of the internet and technology, students are able to “walk” the streets using Google Maps and fully explore parts of the Vatican only accessible to a minimal group of people.

I have also learned about several different reflection sites the students can engage in where they can discuss thoughts, ideas and questions with other students from around the world.  These are also places where the students can get creative inspiration and ideas for their own projects and assignments.  Collaboration is such a crucial aspect of learning and with the internet and message boards, students are not confined to their own school when it comes to reflecting on their ideas alone and with the help of others.

I have not formulated any new questions regarding my plan at this stage in the game.

More to come!


Josh Peterson

4th Grade

Cheyenne, WY

GAME Plan Resources and Information

My GAME Plan Goals:

1. Engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources.

2. Promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students’ conceptual understanding and thinking, planning, and creative processes.

The resources I will use to achieve my goals include the University of Maine of Farmington website which is dedicated to the implementation technology in the classroom and pushing learning beyond their limits through the enhancement of technology.  This site has several links associated tie each of the strands of the NETS-T standards.

Another site I will use as a resource is cool tools which works with differentiation in the digital world.  Tools that can help students at different levels but focused around the same concepts.

Another resource that will help me along my way to reaching my goals set for this assignment is the Edudemic website.  This site contains countless examples, tools, and more resources to aid in my exploration of this topic.

I found a great site which lists different modes for review and reflection tools that I am looking at implementing in my own GAME Plan.  Several seem like they are reliable and engaging for my class.  I am looking forward to giving a few of them a go and see which ones yield the best results from the students.

Thanks for reading!

Josh Peterson




Set Goals:

What do I want to know or be able to do?

1. Engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources.

2. Promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students’ conceptual understanding and thinking, planning, and creative processes.

What do I already know about the topic?

1. I already know how to engage students using digital tool and resources but I need to hone these skills into the specific exploring of real world issues and solving authentic problems, and not just hypothetical problems.  

2. The reflection process is one in which I also struggle. The use of collaboration tools in technology is an easy way to remedy this deficiency in my classroom.  

How will I know I have been successful?

I know I will be successful in both areas once my students are able to access and process real-world problems happening in today’s society and implement the tools, strategies and resources I have taught them to analyze and help solve them. The students being able to reflect on their process by using technology will be a sign I have been successful in my goal number two for this assignment.  


Take Action:

What information do I need to meet my goal?

To meet both goals I will need to research some tools strategies other teachers have used to aid in their students solving real-world problems and ways for them to collaborate in the process. I will also refer to other teachers on the Edmodo community and speak to the technology gurus in my district.  

What learning strategy will I use?

I will use the brainstorming strategy in the beginning to generate ideas and possible tools and resources for the tasks at hand. I will use the internet and other teachers to search for ideas to accomplish my goals. I will also have students generate different real-world questions and problems they would be interested in discussing and then begin work on trying to help solve them.  

What resources are needed?

I will use the internet and community boards to search for ideas in these two areas. I will tap into the Technology Integration Specialists in my district and colleagues who I think can help me on my journey.  



Am I finding the information I need?

Once I begin this assignment I will easily be able to decide whether the sites and resources are useful by going back and looking at the goals set in the beginning of the process. Having my colleagues look over the material I uncover in my research will also help guide me in the right direction. I will also use the Edmodo community to ask questions about the information I have obtained and whether they feel it is useful.

What patterns are emerging from the information resources?

Do I need to modify my action plan?


Evaluate and Extend:

I will evaluate my learning goals and whether I have met them by how well my students are performing on the specific tasks they have been given. I will also look at whether my students are using more creativity in their collaboration and whether the tools I have given them reach all the learners and ensure their engagement.  

Extending my thinking will depend on how far the students get in the assignment and what they are able to accomplish. The effectiveness of the collaboration tools I can put in place will also help guide my extended planning for these areas of interest.  

Have I met my learning goals?

If not, Should I modify my goals or my learning strategies?

What will I do differently in the future?




6711 Reflection Post

When looking back at my own Personal Theory of Learning, I have concluded that I was accurate in my belief that all the major foundations of theory are present in my own personal classroom.  The behaviorist view is the foundation of my classroom management system.  The cognitivist view is prevalent in how I plan my lessons and view the learner’s mind when it comes to processing information, synthesizing that information, and finally storing and accessing that information.  And finally, the constructivist view focuses on the creation of an artifact to help concretize the concepts into the learners minds.

One immediate adjustment I will make is the implementation of 1-2 instructional strategies into my own teaching.  For the remainder of this year and to start the next year, I will implement the cooperative learning strategy and the nonlinguistic representation strategy while planning and carrying out all my lessons across all the content areas.

Two technological tools I will use with my students are the graphic organizer mind map online tool to help my students better understand the similarities and differences found in certain topics and guide them on virtual tours for introducing and reviewing concepts.  The second will be the Voice Thread site and app where I am able to post pictures and diagrams and leave voice, text, or video explanation for the slides and the class will be able to collaborate and reply to the information on the slides.

My teaching has expanded exponentially with this class and truly understanding the nuts and bolts that make up the underlying pieces in the educational community will stay with me forever.

One long-term change I would like to make in my class is staying up to date with the newest technology tools for the classroom and making sure to keep my class actively engaged and accessing the different modes that stimulate student learning.

The second long-term change I would like to look at making would be having the students take a more active role in their learning and fostering a “flipped classroom” so the students are able to learn at their own pace.  I am looking more in-depth at this learning style and my new knowledge from this course has made this change possible with the new tools that I have at my disposal.

Cooperative Learning – Week 5

In this weeks resources, it is shared that technology can play a unique and vital role in cooperative learning by simply facilitating group collaboration, providing structure for group tasks, and allowing members of a group to communicate even if they are not working face to face (Pitler, Hubbell & Kuhn, 2012).

The social networking and collaboration tools I explored all fell under the necessary guidelines to be utilized and useful in any classroom from kindergarten to higher education.  This class is an easy example of how easy and important it is to be able to chat, give feedback, share ideas and content, and submit assignments and receive grades in a timely manner.

The Using Technology text included several tools to fully implement this social networking into any classroom.  Some I found intriguing included the Webquests, Web-Enabled Multiplayer Simulation Games, Shared Bookmarking, and several examples Walden uses; Course Management.

Dr. Orey discussed how conversations, whether in person or through chat/blogs, really concretize concepts and solidify the importance of true collaboration.  Working in groups also can help incentivize each group member’s buy in for the final project. Jigsaw strategy was one example Dr. Orey discussed and how easy it is to incorporate into any concept area (Laureate Education, n.d.).

Siemens discussed the concept of connectivism and how the knowledge resides in the pattern of how different concepts are networked (Laureate Education, n.d.).  I really like how he thought of learning as the act of forming networks and navigating networks of knowledge and the complex environments that are systems based.  This really game me something to think about when planning out future lessons.

My Voice Thread:


Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology with classroom instruction that works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Social learning theories [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Connectivism as a learning theory [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Constructivist/Constructionist Learning Theories-Week 4

This week in my Master’s class we are asked to look at the Constructivist/Constructionist Theories of Learning.

Here is some background for both learning theories taken from Dr. Orey (Laureate Education, n.d.):

A theory of learning that states that each individual actively constructs his/her meaning.  This means that when a person says the word chair, everyone has their own image of a chair that pops in their head.  There is not one constant image that each person visualizes.

A theory of learning that states people learn best when they build an external artifact or something they can share with others.  This learning theory directly relates to the New Blooms Taxonomy of learning where CREATE is the highest level of demonstrating a person is an expert on a topic.  For example, someone building a house, drawing a picture, making a movie are all examples of this theory.

Project based learning tools are a wonderful way for students to show what they know through the use of different medias involving technology.  One example I use in my class includes having the students complete book reports in the form of a news report or an advertisement.  They video themselves on the iPads, and then use iMovie to edit the video.  We then watch the videos and score one another’s performance.

Another tool I use in my class is http://www.prezi.com
This site is like Power Point for the 21st Century Learner.  It is visually appealing and engaging for both the presenter and the audience.  Check it out!!

Thanks for Reading

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Constructionist and constructivist learning theories [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E.R., & Kuhn, M. (2012).  Using technology with classroom instruction that works (2nd ed.).  Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Cognitivism In Practice

When looking at the possibilities of technology and the constructivist view in the classroom, the possibilities are endless.  In this weeks learning resources, chapter 4 Cues, Questions, and Advance Organizers (Pitler, Hubbell, and Kuhn, 2012).  The ability to use well structured, visually appealing, and engaging organizers integrated into every concept is quite simple once a teacher is able to break through the techno-fear barrier and embrace all that there is to offer when it comes to word processing applications, data collection and analysis tools, organizing and brainstorming software, instructional media, and instructional interactive.  These resources are essential when focusing on what is important in a lesson, using explicit cues, asking both inferential and analytic questions and using a variety of organizers in one’s classroom.

My students do not do nearly as much note taking as I did when I was in elementary school.  However, I do not see this as a bad thing.  I simply see this as a modification of how and why students take notes.  Nowadays, students have the capacity to use technology when taking notes using iPads particularly in my classroom.  Typically we do note taking in shifts to allow students the opportunity to use app specific tools to take notes in various subjects.  New tools I am using now include spiderscribe.com to create mind maps and virtual tours to keep my class engaged.  The idea of teaching for understanding is important when enabling students to focus on only the important details of a reading passage or concept.  These ideas feed nicely into the cognitivism model of learning when looking at the factors associated to learning and why things are retained.  I look forward to using more note taking and organizers.


Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology with classroom instruction that works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

EDUC-6711 Week 2 Blog Post-Behaviorism in Today’s Classroom

Behaviorism in Today’s Classroom

In my opinion, the behaviorist learning theory is not only alive in the today’s classroom, but it is thriving in today’s classroom.  Looking at my own classroom and my own school as an example, the use of reinforcement, punishment and motivators are a key part in shaping both the behaviors of the students, but also their assessment outcomes.  In my own class, we have a classroom economy where the students receive Peterson Money for behaviors and assessment/practice outcomes on a daily basis.  If a student gets an answer right, does well on a test, cleans up after themselves, etc., they receive classroom money.  If students are behaving poorly, making bad choices, not staying on task, they will be fined money.  Each quarter the money is used in a class auction for items purchased at the dollar store.  The kids have complete buy in with this behaviorist method of learning.

With the use of iPads, I implement numerous learning apps daily where they receive immediate feedback for their actions in the learning game or concept app.  In certain apps, they can create avatars after they receive a certain amount of points or coins.  They respond very well to this type of reinforcement and it keeps them both interested and engaged in their learning.

After reading Chapter 7 out of the resource for the class. Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works (Pitler, Hubbell, and Kuhn, 2012), the remarks made about homework really made me question some of the homework practices I have in place.  I immediately went through my nightly and weekly homework and asked myself the questions from the chapter including the degree of parental involvement, homework quality, student’s learning preferences, the structure and monitoring of each assignment, and the students home environments.  Each assignment I send home is now screened using these questions.  I have found some things to be “fluff” assignments and have cut them out.  But most are found to be important and meet the valid criteria to be sent home.  One main assignment, that they have the entire week to complete, is a reading one through Edmodo.com.  I create an assignment with a news article from the current TIme for Kids Classroom magazine and the students must read and reply to the article.  This reply includes a summary, questions, schema connections, and a critique.  I have had wonderful buy-in from parents and students and have great success with this medium for the past 3 years.  Students without the means to complete this at home will receive a paper version of the article, make notes accordingly, and complete the assignment in class throughout the week on the iPAds or computers.  This is another avenue where the students receive timely feedback and reinforcements or critiques for their work.  They earn badges for completing a certain number and I can respond to their assignment with emoticons as well as other feedback.

In the 2nd Chapter of the class book, I found the idea of effort being explicitly taught to be fascinating. Recognizing that effort is the most important factor in achievement just makes sense.  I see this everyday when my wife comes home from teaching high school math and speaks about the amount of students who are so smart and could be achieving so much more than they are, but they lack the effort.  The praise piece of this chapter was also intriguing in how we as educators need to use praise cautiously. For the mere fact that each student is different and has a different background that could cause them to misinterpret the praise as a negative instead of a positive was a new concept for me.  I am much more careful in the way in which I praise now, using concrete symbols of recognition and specific and aligned praise to their expected behavior and performance.

This weeks reading was a real eye opener for me and I am definitely looking more carefully at the things I do in the classroom.  Ensuring that what I assign and say is in line with doing what is best for the students.

Thanks for Reading!!!!


Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology                    with classroom instruction that works (2nd ed.).                               Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


5 Lessons Education Research Taught Us In 2014

How To Measure Learning

LA Johnson/NPR

Studies, research papers, doctoral dissertations, conference presentations — each year academia churns out thousands of pieces of research on education. And for many of them, that’s the end of it. They gather dust in the university library or languish in some forgotten corner of the Internet.

A few, though, find their way into the hands of teachers, principals and policymakers. Each year the American Educational Research Association — a 99-year-old national research society — puts out a list of its 10 most-read articles.

We’ve looked over that list and compiled a summary of some of what we learned from the ivory tower in 2014.

1) What’s The Best Way To Teach Math To Struggling First-Graders? The Old-Fashioned Way

Math teachers will often try to get creative with their lesson plans if their students are struggling to grasp concepts. But in “Which Instructional Practices Most Help First-Grade Students With and Without Mathematics Difficulties?” the researchers found that plain, old-fashioned practice and drills — directed by the teacher — were far more effective than “creative” methods such as music, math toys and student-directed learning.

The researchers from the University of California, Irvine and Penn State examined more than 13,000 first-grade math students in 1,300 schools nationally.

They found that first-graders who scored in the bottom 15 percent on math tests were more often subject to activities that have no evidence of fostering retention or improving performance. For example, teachers with lots of struggling students often sought to liven up their lessons by adding movement or music. But the researchers found little evidence that those methods worked.

Instead, they found that the only activity associated with gains in performance on an adaptive, untimed, one-one-one administered test is what we think of as traditional instruction. Namely, a teacher demonstrating how to solve a problem, followed by repeated opportunities for students to work by themselves, replicating the procedure with worksheets and drills.

These results run contrary to some interpretations of the Common Core, where students collaborate, talk through a problem and dissect the different ways to reach a solution. The researchers found that while this kind of learning can work for some students, those already struggling in math failed to grasp concepts as easily as they did under more traditional lessons.

2) The Effectiveness Of Alignment 

When a teacher’s curriculum is perfectly aligned with a set of standards, meaning they’re teaching exactly what they’re told to, will students’ test scores rise? That’s the question a group of researchers set out to answer in “Instructional Alignment as a Measure of Teaching Quality.”

Finding an answer to this is critical since better instructional alignment is a driving component of the Common Core.

Researchers at the University of Southern California and the University of Pennsylvania looked at 324 teachers in six large school districts (New York City; Dallas; Denver; Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Hillsborough County, Fla.) in 2010.

Once the researchers created a measure for how closely aligned a teacher’s curriculum was with standards, they examined the correlation of that alignment with teachers’ ability to raise test scores (as measured by value-added models, which granted, have their own complications).

The results did not show a meaningful relationship between the two. Meaning, perfectly aligned curriculum is no more likely to be associated with gains in tests scores than perfectly unaligned curriculum.

3, 4) On The Higher-Ed Front

The big story in higher education in 2015 so far has been President Obama’s proposal for two free years of community college. Two of the most-read education research articles of 2014 were focused on different aspects of community college.

In “Labor Market Returns to Sub-Baccalaureate Credentials,” researchers from the Career Ladders Project and Columbia University spent seven years tracking more than 24,000 students in Washington state after they enrolled in community colleges during the 2001-2002 school year. At the end of the seven years, the researchers compared the wages and employment status across the different credentials the students earned.

It’s no surprise that the researchers found that those with associate degrees and long-term certificates were more likely to be employed and had higher earnings compared with a group that attended community college but didn’t obtain a credential. We know that the more education you obtain, the better off you’ll be.

But not every credential made students better off.

Individuals who earned short-term certificates (programs that last anywhere between a few weeks and a few months) were no more likely to see higher wages or better chances of employment than those who earned no credentials at all. That’s alarming since the number of short-term certificates awarded increased dramatically between 2000 and 2010.

Community college students hoping to increase their earnings further likely require a bachelor’s degree. But the path from community college to a four-year school is filled with “choke points.”

That’s the conclusion reached by the authors of The Community College Route to the Bachelor’s Degree” at City University of New York. According to the researchers, 42 percent of students who transfer from community college lose between 10 percent and 100 percent of their credits, forcing them to start either anew or far behind.

But despite credit loss, students with associate degrees before transferring have similar graduation rates to those who begin at four-year schools. The researchers estimated that if community college students didn’t lose credits during the transfer process, their average graduation rates would be 9 percentage points higher.

States like New Jersey have already taken steps to relieve this choke point by mandating that all for-credit courses earned at a state community college be accepted by state four-year colleges.

5) What SEL-Based Curriculum May And May Not Be Able To Do

When teachers spend time focusing and emphasizing social-emotional learning, or SEL, some may worry it may be at the expense of time spent on other subjects and that students’ performance in those subjects may suffer. The findings from “Efficacy of the Responsive Classroom Approach: Results from a 3-Year, Longitudinal Randomized Controlled Trial,” which looked at 276 classrooms in 24 schools, suggest otherwise.

The researchers wanted to test whether a curriculum based on SEL could improve student performance in math and reading.

Based on previous studies, the researchers expected to see the students that were exposed to such a curriculum outperform a similar group of students exposed to a more traditional curriculum.

But when the researchers analyzed the results they found that students in SEL-based classes on average performed the same on math and reading tests compared with the control group.

Not the results the researchers expected.

However, a subset of students with teachers using the curriculum exactly the way researchers designed it saw substantial gains in math and reading. This could be evidence that a curriculum approach based on SEL can have high returns, but only when teachers are trained extensively. Or, it could just be that teachers who are well-trained and follow directions are better teachers.

While you can’t expect this research to cause policymakers and teachers to embrace SEL, it does show that if nothing else, there’s no harm — as measured by student performance — in schools focusing on social-emotional learning.

Continue reading “5 Lessons Education Research Taught Us In 2014”