Monday, October 22, 2012

End of Course Reflection

While I have not yet had the opportunity to implement my GAME plan with students, planning the unit was beneficial in many ways. First, I was forced to look at different methods of instruction by following the parameters of the assignment. I was able to design a problem-based lesson, an online collaboration lesson, and a lesson that utilized digital story-telling. Normally in the planning process I might have tried to stick with the "old" way of doing things or made smaller changes, but this task really forced me to rethink the unit and come up with more creative ways of instructing and assessing students. Second, I have a really good idea of where I want my students to be and what I want them to produce at the end of this unit. I can better prepare my students now for what is coming. 

I have a feeling I will need to modify the timing and potentially the way I introduce the lesson. After implementation I will learn whether the time I have planned will be sufficient and whether or not I need to provide further instruction in either the guidelines or the new forms of technology. 

I definitely plan to get more creative with the lessons, units and assessments I create for my students. The completion of this work gave me so many ideas as to how else I can implement these strategies. For example, I plan to make digital-storytelling a regular part of the class since it works so well to visually communicate procedures and findings in scientific investigations. I can also work to center our experiments around larger problems that allow students to work toward a goal. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Monitoring my GAME Plan Progress

If you are just tuning in, my GAME plan centers around two goals: creating labs based on online simulations and sharing my work with my peers online. So far I have had success finding the information and resources I need, and I owe a thank you to my classmates who have posted helpful links for me to explore. I also came across this article that discusses the difference between virtual labs and simulations. This gave me the idea to search for both, and I have since been able to locate more resources using this method. I have also decided that I can share the labs I create via this blog. 

Currently I do not see a need to alter any part of my action plan. So far I have learned that there are many resources out there, but the tricky part is finding them. Asking around and varying the terminology in my search terms has been helpful. I also have only been looking for resources that are free of charge, as many are not. There are still some concepts for which I have not been able to locate simulations or virtual labs, and there are other concepts that have many options. This has led to some questions: How are these simulations and virtual labs created? Who is doing the research and determining the best method for allowing students to explore concepts virtually? Are there opportunities out there to participate in the research and creation of resources like these? 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

GAME Plan Update

As described in my previous post, my GAME plan involves creating labs using online simulations and sharing them online with peers. In order to carry out my plan I will need a collection of websites that offer free science simulations that correlate with my essential learnings and a platform in which to share the resources I find and create. 

So far I have managed to wrangle up a few promising websites. PhET is one of my favorites that I have been using for a couple years and has some great simulations specific to astronomy. Thanks to Lauri's comment on my last post I have now been able to begin browsing a couple different online lab databases: and I have also begun searching for simulations relating to the units I am currently working on, and found this collection of resources relating to Properties of Matter:

My next step will be to choose a simulation for my next unit to begin designing a lab around. I also need to identify a good place to share the labs I create, specifically for those that do not use PhET simulations (PhET allows you to upload lesson plans to their website). In the meantime, I would be interested to know if you have any other simulation resources you like or if you recommend a website for sharing lesson plans for online labs. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Developing My GAME Plan

While exploring the International Society for Technology in Education’s (ISTE) National education standards for teachers (NETS-T) this week I reflected on where my strengths and weaknesses lie currently. Based on these thoughts, I have decided on two goals I will be working on to strengthen my confidence and proficiency.

The first goal is based on NETS-T standard 2a, which is: “Design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity” (ISTE, 2008). My goal is to design more labs that utilize online simulations. I will be limited to the simulations available that are relevant to the content I am expected to teach, so that will determine how many labs I am able to create using these at this time. I am hoping to be able to create at least one digital lab per unit of study. In order to reach this goal, I will begin by searching for simulations that address the concepts I teach. Next, I will create procedures and questions that guide students through the simulation and help them to reach an understanding of the concept. I will monitor my progress by setting the timeline of one digital lab per unit in order to keep myself on track. I will evaluate my learning by monitoring student learning and creativity to see if my work has had a positive impact.

My second goal relates to the first and is centered around NETS-T standard 1d, which is: “Model collaborative knowledge construction by engaging in learning with students, colleagues, and others in face-to-face and virtual environments” (ISTE, 2008). I will share the digital labs I create online with peers. I often use internet resources as a jumping off point when creating learning experiences, so it is time I started providing resources that other teachers may be able to use. I will take action by posting each lab I create on the website where I found the simulation used. I will monitor my progress by ensuring that I have uploaded one lab or lesson plan for each unit. I will then extend my learning by finding other ways to share my lessons with colleagues.

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

Sunday, April 15, 2012

End of Course Reflection

In Week 1 of this course I developed my own personal learning theory. Looking back on this assignment, I see that my theory is heavily based on constructionism. While I wish to keep my previous ideas, I would add more after completing this course.

Previously I identified that students learn by connecting new ideas to old ones, and that it is therefore important to draw out prior knowledge in order to have something to build upon. In Theoretical foundations, Lever-Duffy & McDonald (2008) state that “knowledge is a constructed element resulting from the learning process.” While my previous idea describes a process, there is more involved here that can be supported by other learning theories. I now believe that learning is more complicated and is a combination of many different methods and ideas.  Each theory has its own applications, some are more successful than others, but all are important to be aware of. The most important piece is knowing why you are using a strategy or tool, and that is where knowledge of each theory is essential.

I have been adjusting my approach to planning lessons throughout the course as I have learned more about each theory and been introduced to new technology tools. While there are many, many amazing tools available, it is important to have a basis for selecting one to use in the classroom. My new strategy is to assess each tool by ensuring it can be used for learning rather than instruction. This means that the tool is student-focused rather than teacher-focused, as Dr. Orey discussed in his video (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). One learning technology tool I plan to use with my students is concept maps (I plan to use for note-taking because it will allow my students to better organize the information and include images, links and video. Another is, which I can use to quickly assess student thinking. This is great for quick multiple choice questions or for longer-response questions and allows students to see how their answers compare to those of the rest of the class. I am grateful for the long list of technology resources I have been introduced to during this course.

I have set two long-term goals for myself in changing my instructional practice in regards to technology integration. One is to have students move from keeping a paper science journal to an online portfolio. This would be a means for students to keep track of their learning and share that learning with others. This will be a big change, so I plan to start on a smaller-scale with one unit and then build from there. We are waiting to find out what sort of learning platform we will be using next year, so once I find out I will be able to experiment with the options available and figure out if I need to supplement with another resource. If anyone does something similar on a small or large scale or has ideas for resources, please comment and share!

The second goal I have is to have one technology-based lab or WebQuest for each major concept. I have already begun working on this but it will take time to ensure there is one for every topic. So far I have two labs that utilize online simulations and two WebQuests. This is a great way to extend the learning that takes places in the classroom and have students transfer their knowledge to a new situation. It is also an easy way to differentiate because I can do more extension for students who are ready to move on while I work with students who are still struggling.  


Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program thirteen: Technology: Instructional tool vs. learning tool [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Lever-Duffy, J., & McDonald, J. (2008). Theoretical foundations (Laureate Education, Inc.,    
       custom ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cooperative Learning, Social Learning Theory and Resources

In Using classroom technology that works (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007), I read about the strategy of cooperative learning (chapter 7). According to the text, in order “to be prepared for the fast-paced, virtual workplace that they will inherit, today’s students need to be able to learn and produce cooperatively” (p. 139). This is consistent with social learning theories, which involve collaborative and cooperative learning (Laureate Education Inc., 2011). There were a number of resources that I found helpful.

One resource was, which is the original WebQuest site. I performed a search for energy and found several options that would work in my classroom. I have used WebQuests often but I generally create them myself so they are targeted to what I want my students to see. I include links to videos and simulations and pose questions for students to investigate. However, I do not usually have a final product other than the answers to the questions. I think turning this process into a collaborative effort with an end product would yield more success. Students would be able to talk about what they’re seeing and work together to create something of their own.

Another resource I found helpful was The University of Wisconsin, Stout’s collection of ready-to-use rubrics. There are rubrics for everything relating to cooperative learning from Power Points to Video Projects. I want to use rubrics more but I always have trouble making them. I am excited to find the work has been done for me!

Which resources are you most excited about?


Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program eight: Social learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Voicethread Attempt

Have you tried Voicethread? It allows you to collaborate using artifacts such as photos, documents and video. You can record your own thoughts through video, audio or text and then others can do the same. 

For this week's assignment we created a Voicethread that could either pose a problem we want feedback on or a problem we would present to students. I created a short video to introduce a lab. You can view it here: