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Hello and welcome to my blog. It is here that I will be working through various discussion topics related to technology, learning, and most importantly the creation of meaningful and relevant student instruction. I openly welcome your comments, and hope that my insights and presented information works to inspire and assist fellow educators in the effective integration of technology.

In Barcelona with my Girls!

In Barcelona with my Girls!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Instruction, Assessment, and Technology Across Content Areas: A Reflective Look Back

In his writings on instructional strategies and resources Abrahms (n.d.) cites Sean Stewart in highlighting how “there are so many different ways lives work out, so many stories and every one of them is precious: full of joy and heartbreak”.  With these words in mind as a teacher it is often times having and refining the ability to address and adapt to these varied stories that can positively or negatively influence our instructional effectiveness, and ultimately the learning of our students.  In taking the time to reflect upon my personal learning and development throughout my latest stage of learning, it is having the innate ability to adapt and demonstrate instructional flexibility that seemed to be reinforced most strongly and rang the loudest personally in terms of further influencing my professional practice in the future.  Be it altering the instructional strategies used; effectively differentiating to meet the challenges of student diversity; utilizing a variety of assessment styles; or efficiently integrating appropriate learning technologies, possessing instructional flexibility and being able to adapt and change methodologies is crucial to presenting relevant and effective classroom instruction that engages students.
From the onset of my latest course we focused on the need for purposeful action by teachers, which as Prensky (2008) observed, involved turning on the lights of our students through the use of instructional strategies and innovative technologies which would allow our students to “use, build on, and strengthen [their] reservoirs of knowledge” (p.42).  As a means of taking action in this regard, my classmates and I established clear professional development plans and identified realistic and achievable goals; goals that would allow us to focus our attentions and direct our actions towards those instructional practices which would maximise the benefits for our students.  As I set out and worked to identify and establish a personal GAME plan for achieving my goals I soon realized that I would undoubtedly need to adapt elements of my instruction and be flexible when working through the initial growing pains associated with stepping outside of one’s comfort zone.  Now in taking the step outside it was not an overly large step, but it still required me to critically apply my new learning and think about what I was doing thereby causing me to re-evaluate the manner in which I planned activities; assess the type of resources I utilized; and review the instructional strategies I put into practice with my students.  It was during this time that course learning on instructional variety and differentiated planning and assessment provided valuable information which both validated my current practice as well as reinforced the need to stay cognizant of my development goals in the future so as to stay effective and ultimately achieve personal success in relation to my targeted goals. 
Fortunately I have been able to examine and benefit from reflection on each of my established goals and their component elements at some point throughout my course studies.  Now as the course draws to a close I look to my goals and evaluate whether there is a need to revise my plan based on my progress.  Undoubtedly my course learning has enhanced my ability to instruct with confidence due to the acquisition of even greater quantities of effective technology-based resources aimed at increasing student engagement and increasing learning effectiveness.  So is there a need to revise?  At this time no, the goals I have set for myself are continuing in nature and ones which I will continue to monitor and evaluate throughout the entire school year.  Personally developing a technology-based classroom is a goal which I look forward to achieving and one which I am not entirely sure can ever truly be achieved given the rapid rate of technological innovation – but that fact in and of itself makes for a great challenge and one which will serve my students well.  In the future I will continue using problem and performance based instruction, and work to incorporate even greater and more creative opportunities for social interaction amongst my students in the interest of generating even stronger connections with introduced concepts.  Additionally establishing a learning GAME plan proved to be a worthwhile activity for myself and is something which I will undoubtedly be addressing with my students as we work to establish learning targets and develop eLearning portfolios.  Be it online collaboration, digital storytelling, or the further use of social networking, my accumulating knowledge in regards to effective technology integration is allowing me to connect more readily with my students and have a greater impact in relation to the actions of my colleagues and their use of technology – which fortunately is another of my established goals.

In closing this course and the materials and topics addressed have afforded me the opportunity to reflect on my instructional effectiveness and the manner in which I instruct, assess, and integrate technology with my students.  In having established professional development goals during the course that will effectively drive me to adapt and demonstrate flexibility in how I teach I have been provided with the luxury of adapting my instructional thinking on-the-fly.  By continuing to monitor my progress and drawing on the expertise and experiences of the people around me - be it my colleagues, my students, or my classmates - my meaningful actions will remain targeted towards providing the best possible and most relevant classroom instruction. 

Abrams, A. (n.d.). Digital Storytelling Goes Social: Creating and sharing stories using Web 2.0 tools. Southern Oregon University. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_1374112_1%26url%3D
Prensky, M. (2008, March). Turning On the Lights. Educational Leadership. 65(6), p40-45. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database. ISSN: 00131784.