Monday, October 24, 2011

Reflections on Reaching and Engaging All Learners Through Technology

My Reflection

Reaching and Engaging All Learners Through Technology has been a very informative course for me. This course has taught me different strategies to integrate differentiated instruction in my daily lessons. Using technology in my classroom is a passion for me, and I get totally immersed in my work when I have to make lesson plans that include technology. Technology is revolutionizing the world, and this generation of students that we teach is considered digital natives, and we are considered the digital immigrants who need to catch up to them. Web 2.0 tools are excellent tools that can help students reach their potential. (Singh, 2011). Technology integration helps teachers facilitate the conducting of a differentiated instruction by readiness, interest, and learning profile. “Differentiation provides students with varied experiences to engage with content. A differentiated classroom offers multiple ways for students to access content, to process and make sense of the concepts and skills, and to develop products that demonstrate their learning (Tomlinson, 2001).

Immediate adjustments that I plan to make in my instructional practice with technology integration are differentiating instruction by content, process, and product. “Differentiating content requires that students are pre-tested so the teacher can identify the students who do not require direct instruction. Differentiating by processes means activities or strategies that are varied to provide appropriate methods for students to learn. Differentiating by product means that students create products of varying complexity” (Davidson, 2009). I rarely used to keep these three strategies in mind while writing my lesson plans, but after reflecting on the course and learning about universal design for learning, along with differentiated instruction, I believe that it is not difficult to customize instruction. Teachers have to just be aware of the benefits of universal design for learning and differentiated instruction. During our PLC meetings, I plan to collaborate with our grade level teachers and customize instruction that would benefit the students. I have also set up a collaboration blog It is good to collaborate “with them regularly, ask for time to spend in one another’s classroom, plan together, troubleshoot as a team, share lessons and materials, and take turns teaching and watching as peer coaches. The synergy from such collegial partnerships can be one of the most amazing benefits of a job that all too often is isolating (Tomlinson, 1999. p.105). One of the changes that I have implemented is modifying of the learning environment to meet the needs of diverse learners. This is done by arranging the desks in collaborative groups. I have also organized the classroom so that everything in my classroom has a place and purpose. On the bookshelves there are materials that reflect a variety of cultural books and materials that would catch student’s interests (Singh, 2011).

My efforts at creating and implementing differentiated assessments and lesson plans are to have a plan on how to execute differentiation in my classroom. I intend to differentiate my instruction by readiness, interest, and learning profile of my students. “To differentiate instruction is to recognize students' varying background knowledge, readiness, language, preferences in learning and interests; and to react responsively. The intent of differentiating instruction is to maximize each student's growth and individual success by meeting each student where he or she is and assisting in the learning process” (Hall, Strangman, & Meyer, 2011). To differentiate instruction by readiness would be to match instruction to students’ knowledge, understanding, and skill, and this in turn would help them to understand the concepts. The data that can be collected for readiness would be a pre-assessment survey that the students would take before starting a unit. Differentiating instruction by students’ interest would be by conducting a one-on-one interview with the students, in order to collect data on what their interests are relative to the lesson. “Students whose interests are tapped and deepened in school are more likely to be engaged and to persist in learning” (Tomlinson, 2003). Another way to adjust teaching and learning is to address my students’ multiple intelligences. Students could take a Multiple Intelligence Survey to find out how they learn best. This data would help guide me in modifying the lesson so that differentiated instruction would be provided to the students according to their learning profile. Combining all of this with the use of technology would be a very effective way to differentiate instruction.

In order to implement the universal design for learning and differentiated instruction strategies into my teaching, I would implement project-based learning strategies to help the diverse learners in my classroom. By using CAST’s lesson plan builder I would be able to “customize UDL lessons aligned to standards and tailored to include principles and practical applications of Universal Design for Learning” (CAST, 2011). Universal designs for learning and differentiated instruction complement each other, and implementing these strategies would certainly help in differentiating instruction to my students. Technology also helps in differentiating instruction in a classroom, and this interaction helps students learn in an effective manner. “Using technology in your classroom is a great way to ‘differentiate’ your instruction. One way to adjust teaching and learning is to address your students’ multiple intelligences” (Western, 1999).

Differentiating assessments is always a challenge for teachers. Teaching an inclusion class this year has made me aware of the need to use differentiated assessments in a classroom. “Technology based classroom assessments focus on the use of technology by teachers and students to create learning products, promote their technology skills, and examine students' strengths and challenges and the outcomes of daily classroom instructional and social activities” (Salend, 2009. p. 49). Differentiated assessments that could be used in a classroom are formative assessments (survey, observation, interviews) and summative assessments (surveys, written tests and blog/wiki responses). Giving many forms of assessments can help students to perform better and give them the flexibility to express themselves in different methods. Robust learning generally requires robust teaching, and both diagnostic and formative assessments, or assessments for learning, are catalysts for better teaching. In the end, however, when assessment is seen as learning—for students as well as for teachers—it becomes most informative and generative for students and teachers alike” (Tomlinson, 2008. p. 8). Authentic assessment can also be used with students to help differentiate assessment. By following all the above strategies of differentiated assessments I am confident that I would be able to create and implement differentiated assessment and instruction in my classroom.

Technology integration in a classroom is essential to help meet the needs of diverse learners. The three ways that I plan to provide my students with instruction to meet their diverse needs are by using a classroom blog which would include many web 2.0 tools, Google docs to create surveys , and interactive games that would encourage students to learn the concepts at their own pace. The classroom blog is an excellent place to differentiate instruction. Students work on their own pace to complete assignments, and at the same time play interactive games to understand the content they are studying. My learning community offered numerous resources that helped integrate technology in the classroom. In one of the resources it states that, “Technology makes it possible to pace lessons appropriately for each student’s learning level and can be used to promote learning in multiple intelligences” (The Apple, 2011).

Moving forward in my program, I can confidently say that this course has given me the confidence that I can make a difference in the classroom. Collaboration among students and teachers is the key to everyone’s success. “Educators must pull together by sharing their work through collaboration, too much knowledge and too many skills are needed for any single professional to keep up with and master all of them” (Friend, & Pope, 2005. p.59). Learning about UDL, DI and technology integration has made me more aware of what I teach, and particularly the method that is applied to teach the students. When I write my lesson plans, I intend to scrutinize them to ensure that all the steps are taken. This is not a difficult or time-consuming process, and I need to make a conscious effort to integrate technology with universal design for learning and differentiated instruction to make a difference in my classroom.

CAST: CAST UDL Lesson Plan Builder. Retrieved on October 22, 2011 from
Davidson, L. (n.d.). What parents need to know about differentiated instruction [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Friend, M., & Pope, K. (2005). Creating schools in which all students can succeed. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 41(2), 56–61. Retrieved from the Walden University Library using the Education Research Complete database.
Hall, T., Strangman, N., & Meyer, A. (2011). Differentiated instruction and implications for UDL implementation. Retrieved from
Salend, S. (2009). Technology-based classroom assessments. Teaching Exceptional Children, 41(6), 48–58. Retrieved from the Walden University Library using the Education Research Complete database.
Singh, P. (2011). Putting it Together. (Week 7 Discussion). Walden University,
The Apple. (2011). Using Technology to Differentiate instruction. Retrieved on October 23, 2011 from
Tomlinson, C. (1999). Differentiated classroom: Responding to the needs of all learners. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.
Tomlinson, C. A. (2003). Fulfilling the Promise of the Differentiated Classroom. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved on October 22, 2011 from
Tomlinson, C. (2001). How to differentiate instruction in mixed-ability classroom. Alexandria, VA: Association for Curriculum and Supervision Development. Retrieved on October 22, 2011 from
Tomlinson, C. (2008). Learning to love assessment. Educational Leadership, 65(4), 8–13. Retrieved on October 23, 2011 from

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Reaching and Engaging All Learners Through Technology

What is Universal Design for Learning (UDL)? 
Click on the Voki to get a synopsis of UDL
Watch this video for a quick overview about Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

This video was taken from CAST (2011). Retrieved on September 30, 2011 from

Students with diverse academic needs should not be treated in this manner in the classroom

Here is my Digital Story presentation on

Technology and Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Please click on the above slide to see the Digital Story presentation

While doing my research on UDL I was pleasantly surprised that I already incorporate a few of the UDL strategies into my classroom, but I have to be more conscious, and make an effort to use UDL in my classroom as much as possible. It is not difficult, we all just have to make a 'few' changes in our teaching to suit the diverse learners in our classroom. 

If you are interested in exploring more options on UDL, here is an excellent wiki by Karen Janowski, (who is an assistive & educational Technology Consultant in Massachusetts), and in her wiki, she outlines all the 'FREE' resources teachers can use in their classroom. 

Click on Free Technology Tool Kit to get information on how to get free resources that you can use with your students.

Click on the Voki for more information 

Preeti Singh
Fourth Grade Teacher
Livingston Park School

Friday, August 5, 2011

My Reflection

Reflecting on my GAME plan

The GAME plan that I implemented was to facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity, and engage in professional growth and leadership. Using my knowledge of the subject matter, integrating it with technology, and teaching my students to collaborate with each other helped me get closer to achieving my GAME plan. The new learning that resulted from my GAME plan was the knowledge about project-based learning and the different assessments administered to students. In order to make the assessment meaningful for the students, teachers need to recognize that “assessment is more than the assigning of grades and serves a critical role in monitoring and evaluating the academic progress of their students” (Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. 2009, p. 163). Having seldom assigned students any project-based learning, this course has made me realize its importance, and the positive impact that it has on student learning. Project-based learning requires a great deal of planning and collaboration among teachers. “Project-based learning is an instructional strategy in which students work cooperatively over time to create a product, presentation, or performance. The two essential components of project-based learning are an engaging and motivating question and a product that meaningfully addresses that question” (Starr, L. 2005). The impact this new learning has had in my instructional practice is that it has made me aware of assigning project-based learning assignments to my students, and more importantly, equipped me to give them timely feedback on their progress.

My GAME plan needs to be modified to a certain extent for it to be optimal for the success of my students. In this GAME plan, rubrics need to be introduced before any assignment is given to the students. A rubric is a good way for students to monitor their own progress, and to explain specific assessments. “Rubrics are performance-based assessment devices that judge progress on performance, not isolated knowledge about the topic” (Edwards. Gloria. J. 2002). Another modification to the GAME plan is to create a collaborative atmosphere among the students and make certain that they know how to work appropriately in cooperative groups. Students collaborating and working together would greatly enhance the GAME plan and make it go smoother. “Cooperative learning encourages achievement, student discussion, active learning, student confidence, and motivation. The skills students develop while collaborating with others are different from the skills students develop while working independently” (Teacher Vision, 2011).
The immediate adjustments that would be made to my instructional practice regarding technology integration in my content areas are to start a classroom wiki, have students create digital stories (across content areas), and collaborate with e-pals to help foster online collaboration among students. By making these adjustments, I would be able to facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity. This course has taught me that it is very important for teachers to instill 21st century skills in students. For teachers who are not very comfortable with technology, this would be a difficult task. “Today’s technology offers teachers a variety of tools and solutions that can be inspiring. However they may also be overwhelming for some teachers. Establishing solutions for meeting standards can help maintain the inspirational nature of these evolving technologies” (Cennamo, K., 2009, p. 227). This course has also taught me that when students get an assignment on the web 2.0 tools, the teacher has to be mindful that all the standards for that topic are being met. Aligning standards to assignments is a challenging task and I need to ensure that they are implemented regularly into my teaching.
Integrating technology into instruction as well as problem-based learning, social networking, online collaboration, and digital storytelling is essential for teachers. Problem-based learning can help students understand their content better because it helps them to work collaboratively to come to a solution. Project-based learning can be integrated into a lesson along with online collaboration and digital story telling. For example, in one of the lessons students work on a problem-based question - how to be involved in your community? Students work collaboratively and research the question and talk to a person in the municipal building by using a social networking tool, Sykpe. After students gather all their information, and check the validity of their resources, they create a digital story of the question, how to be involved in your community? I implemented a lesson with a few students who worked on a project-based activity. They reflected on the importance of volunteering in their community. Students used technology to gather all their information through Internet research (on figurative language), talked to their peers about their involvement in their community, and proceeded to write a paragraph using figurative language. Students illustrated by using Microsoft Paint, then copied and pasted their writing and illustrations onto a word document. Students reflected on their actions and what help they could provide for their community. Then they created a digital story, and posted their experience on the classroom blog. Integrating all these strategies into a lesson makes learning interesting for students.


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.
Edwards. Gloria J. (2002). Make Your Own Project-Based Lesson Plan. Retrieved on July 28, 2011 from
Starr, L. (2005). Education world virtual workshop. Retrieved from the Education World website:
Teacher Vision. Cooperative Learning. Retrieved on August 5, 2011 from

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monitoring My GAME Plan Progress

The two standards and performance indicators of the National Education Standards for Teachers (NETS-T) that I plan to focus on in order to implement my GAME plan are “facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity, and engage in professional growth and leadership” (International Society for Technology in Education, 2008). Teachers need to realize that lesson plans should be flexible and always geared towards helping students achieve success.                                                                      

More resources and information are needed for implementing the GAME plan. Besides including the Universal Design for Learning (UDL)  principles in the lesson plan, the resources that that would be needed are a rubric  and assessment formats. Assessments could be done by using formative or summative assessments. There are four kinds of assessments formats - forced-choice, open-ended, performance-based, and project-based (Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. 2009). These assessment formats would be the resources and information upon which my GAME plan is built. “Assessment is more than the assigning of grades and serves a critical role in monitoring and evaluating the academic progress of their students” (Cennamo, K., 2009, p. 163). After the teacher gets the information on how the students do on the assessments, an alternative plan should be set up to help students who have had difficulty with the content being taught.
The action plan needs to be modified to add the four assessment formats and include a rubric for the lessons. It would be difficult to create a rubric for every lesson, but by taking small steps, this can eventually be achieved. The lesson plan also needs to be modified to incorporate technology with the assessments. The forced-choice assessment format could be implemented by using Study Island  to give students multiple-choice questions to track their progress. The technology the students could use for the other three assessments formats (open-ended, performance-based, and project-based) could be blogs , wiki, Skype, podcasts, voice thread and digital story board. In order to implement all these technologies, students need to be familiar with all these web 2.0 tools.

The GAME plan has taught me to be flexible and change the plan according to what the students need the most help. Technology does help foster learning and it makes the lessons interesting for both teachers and students. Teacher collaboration makes it easier for implementing the plan. One of the questions that have arisen as a result of monitoring my GAME plan is how a single teacher could work on this GAME plan on her own. Putting the plan together is a difficult task for a teacher. Planning the action plan, creating rubrics, deciding on the correct assessment to use, and integrating technology with all the lessons, is a daunting task for just a single teacher. The best way would be for teachers to work within their grade level and collaborate among each other to write this GAME plan. Teachers could also Skype with other teachers in the district so that all of them are on the same page.

By monitoring my GAME plan, I am able to integrate technology into my content area instruction. Technology also helps in working through the process of developing, implementing, and evaluating my personal GAME plan. Keeping a reflective blog would facilitate making this GAME plan a success and would be instrumental in inspiring my students’ learning and creativity. By pursuing a Masters program at Walden and creating a teacher collaboration blog and a wiki  to help collaboration in my school, I am engaging in professional growth and leadership, and progressing toward the goals in my GAME plan.

                   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.

                            International Society for Technology in Education: Retrieved on July 19, 2011 from

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Carrying Out My GAME Plan


Teachers need to create a GAME plan to organize themselves with their lessons. The use of technology in a classroom is imperative, especially in the digital world that we live in today. “Technology can be a tremendous asset that helps teachers support the diverse learning needs of children” (Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. 2009. p. 109). Along with the GAME plan, teachers should adopt the  Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles. UDL has three principles of learning, and these are recognition networks (the "what" of learning), strategic networks (the "how" of learning), and affective networks (the "why" of learning).

Resources needed for the GAME Plan
 For the GAME plan to be successful, the UDL principles would need to be incorporated into my lesson plans. For the recognition networks process (the “what” of learning), I created a word document for students to fill in the KWHL chart.doc. They would work in cooperative groups to find out what they ‘want’ to learn about the topic. Students would also use the Internet to get their information and view the YouTube video to make sure the information they get is from a reliable source. In the strategic networks process (the “how” of learning), students work in collaborative groups, look for a video on their topic from Khan Academy, and do a few cooperative activities to get comfortable with the topic they are working on. The cooperative activities will help students get a handle on the “how” part of the strategic network. The affective networks process helps students with the “why” of learning. Students finish their KWHL chart and write about ‘what they have learned’ about their research topic. Upon reflecting on this chart, they would be able to ponder as to why they think getting this information was important for them. Students would post a reflection on their assignment on the classroom blog, they would create a voice thread with pictures of artifacts that they might have collected for this assignment, and finally Skype with someone who is knowledgeable about their topic to get any unanswered questions resolved.

Additional Information needed 
In order to get the additional information needed for the game plan, I would need to go through all the records of my students. If a student has an IEP, the guidelines will need to be followed for it. All students need to be reached in this GAME plan, so it would be helpful to know their strengths and weaknesses. Students could also post concerns about their project on the classroom blog so that peers could help each other. Students also Skype with different classes or with an expert in the topic they are researching. The teacher would need to find the appropriate person to Skype with so that students would fully benefit from it.

Steps taken to incorporate the GAME plan 
Steps taken so far include the creation of a classroom blog and wiki. The blog would be a good place for student’s reflections, while the wiki would be for students to collaborate on their work. I would also be collaborating internationally with the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC) and would interact with them on a regular basis.

The resources and information needed to carry out my action plan include the use of UDL principles in my GAME plan. This would help enrich the learning experience for my students. “UDL focuses educators on developing flexible curricula that provide students with multiple ways of accessing content, multiple means for expressing what they learn, and multiple pathways for engaging their interest and motivation” (Howard, K. L. 2004.p. 96 )

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.
Howard, K. L. (2004). Universal design for learning: Meeting the needs of all students. Learning and Leading with Technology, 31(5), 26–29. Retrieved from the ERIC database.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Developing my Personal GAME Plan

The process of developing, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating my personal GAME plan took some deep soul-searching. There are so many strategies that I would like to implement into my lesson plans. In the video, Promoting Self-Directed Learning With Technology, Dr. Katherine Cennamo discusses a GAME plan for teachers to adopt. According to her, a GAME plan stands for Goals - creating a lesson plan, Taking Action - teaching the lesson plans, Monitoring - monitoring student’s learning, and lastly, Evaluate - evaluating student’s progress (Laureate Education, Inc.). Integrating technology into the classroom is essential for the digital learners who are exposed to technology right from the day they are born. Keeping the current generation of students in mind, teachers need to change their ways of teaching. Being a technology enthusiast, I always included technology in my lesson plans and constantly saw an improvement in student’s performance. This also motivated me to become more involved in learning new technologies on a regular basis.
The National Education Standards for Teachers (NETS-T) has five standards and performance indicators for teachers to follow. Of these five, I plan to focus on two standards in order to implement my GAME plan. The first standard that I would like to focus on is:
Standard 1: Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity: Teachers use their knowledge of subject matter, teaching and learning, and technology, to facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity, and innovation in both face-to-face and virtual environments.
C. Teachers promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students’ conceptual understanding and thinking, planning, and creative process (International Society for Technology in Education).
Goal: My goal for strengthening this standard is to create a lesson plan enriched with content knowledge and technology integration. Before starting the lesson, students would work on a KWHL chart. “A KWHL chart identifies what students Know, what they Want to know, How they will learn the topic, and what they Learned in the lesson” (Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. 2009. p. 86). Using this chart before every lesson would help me tweak my lesson and gear it towards student’s learning.
Action: After finishing the KWHL chart, students explore the Want to know part of the lesson. They would use web 2.0 tools to find their answers. Students would be assigned project based learning assignments and this would help foster creativity among students and help advance student learning, creativity, and innovation. Students would Skype with experts to get some answers for their project. By taking these actions, I plan to use technology to facilitate experiences that advance student learning.
Monitor: Students would be divided into cooperative groups. This would help to promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students’ conceptual understanding and thinking.Cooperative learning is a successful teaching strategy in which small teams, each with students of different levels of ability, use a variety of learning activities to improve their understanding of a subject” (Cooperative Learning). By playing an interactive game on the computer would help them learn the content material. I will monitor my progress by keeping a reflective journal to see how the lesson progressed. For this reason, I created a blog to keep track of my teaching strategies.
Evaluate: Students are evaluated by posting a reflection about their learning experience on the classroom blog Blogs can be used to achieve instructional goals. “Blogs can help students practice and demonstrate different types of communication, especially through writing” (Cennamo, K. et. al p. 74). Students comment on each other’s posts, and this helps the teacher evaluate their learning. By maintaining a classroom blog and my own reflective blog, I would be able to evaluate my teaching methods.
This GAME plan is still in the planning stages and I would revise it as I start implementing it in my lesson plans. By following the GAME plan for this standard, I plan to strengthen my confidence in this NETS-T standard.
The second standard that I would like to improve on is:
Standard 5: Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership: Teachers continuously improve their professional practice, model lifelong learning, and exhibit leadership in their school and professional community by promoting and demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources
B. Teachers exhibit leadership by demonstrating a vision of technology infusion, participating in shared decision making and community building, and developing the leadership and technology skills of others (International Society for Technology in Education).
Goals: Learning new and emerging technologies are very important to me, and I chose this standard for this reason. My goal is to help teachers who are not very confident with technology and work with them to improve their skills.
Actions: By pursuing my Master’s degree from Walden University, I am modeling that I am a lifelong learner. To create collaboration and help teachers get comfortable with technology, I orchestrated a blog and wiki for our school Starting in September this year, I will be responsible for guiding teachers on how to maintain a blog and use a wiki for collaboration.
Teachers will also be invited to my classroom to see how I maintain and use the classroom blog to help integrate technology in the classroom
Monitor: I will monitor my progress by using my reflective blog every week This will guide me to change my instructions to teachers, and help them to become comfortable with technology.
Evaluate: By conducting a blog survey (using Google docs) given to teachers and to students to evaluate my teaching strategies, I would be able to assess my strengths and weaknesses in integrating technology in the classroom.
Next month I will be attending a three-day seminar on Google docs and hope to learn everything about this subject. Later this year, I am required to teach professional development classes to teachers to help them learn about Google Docs. I felt honored when I was one of only three teachers chosen from our school to go for this training.
I am a little closer to achieving standard 5 than standard 1 of the National Education Standards for Teachers. By following a systematic GAME plan for both these standards, I am confident that I will be able to strengthen my proficiency for integrating technology into my content area instruction.

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.
Cooperative Learning: Retrieved on July 6, 2011 from
International Society for Technology in Education: Retrieved on July 6, 2011 from
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2009). Integrating technology across the content areas: Promoting Self-Directed Learning With Technology [DVD]. United States: Producer.