Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My G.A.M.E. Plan - The Beginning

Setting a game plan to improve personal and student confidence and competence based on the International Society for Technology in Education National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers (that’s quite a mouthful) or the ISTE NETS-T, is a necessary step in continuing my growth and development in the teaching profession.  The game plan or G.A.M.E. plan, suggests that I set Goals, take Action, Monitor progress and Evaluate whether the goals are achieved (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009).  I cannot work on all five standards and be effective, so I have chosen standard 1.b and standard 2.a. The standards are as follows:

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.
b. Engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources (ISTE, 2008 para 5)

2. Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments
Teachers design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessment incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes identified in the NETS·S.
a.       Design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity (ISTE, 2008 para 10)

I do not currently work as a classroom teacher, but as the Educational Technology Coordinator at our school. This position allows me to work with teachers to support them in integrating technology into their teaching day. This game plan will be somewhat odd, because I am writing it not only for my personal growth, but to help me guide the growth of teachers I work with.  I want to focus my work with teachers such that it helps them positively impact student learning through changes they make to their teaching practice. I also want to insure that the changes are not onerous, but make teachers more efficient and effective. We have had technology available in each classroom for the past two and half years, however there was little professional development of the type that would encourage teachers to use it to do different things. Those who used it just did things differently (Thornburg, 2004). I have not had the opportunity before this year to work one-to-one with teachers as I would have liked. Now I am and I think it is making a difference in how teachers feel about technology and using it in their lessons.

Facilitating and inspiring student learning and creativity through Project Based Learning (PBL) and incorporating digital tools is part of our strategic plan and a focus for teachers for the next three years. Supporting teachers in creating and carrying out PBL is a natural focus for me and based on my reading and understanding should improve student learning. My action plan for these standards will include co-planning and co-teaching PBL mini-units with individual teachers because I interpret “real-world issues and solving authentic problems” (ISTE, 2008 para 5) as PBL.  I think the important part of that statement is mini-units. Designing and carrying out a PBL unit is complex and can take a lot of planning. I believe every bit of the planning is worth it, but trying to complete a long-term project out of the chute is a bad idea. Neither students nor teachers are prepared for the role shifts required for a successful PBL unit, and both must practice the required skills necessary to complete a unit successfully.

I have already begun to work on this plan, and have had the great joy of hearing the teachers I have worked with excitedly sharing with other teachers how much fun, how great, how exciting the experience is. We have a small teaching staff of K-12th grade teachers, only twenty-two teachers. I have had the opportunity to work with five teachers so far. The experience has been wonderful, and I have enjoyed it immensely. Monitoring part of my progress should be fairly easy. I need to look at how many teachers I work with and how many PBL units of any size we complete. I also need to look at teacher and student use of technology, which can also be measured fairly easily with walk-through mini-observations. The most difficult part of monitoring is the impact these units are having on student achievement. I need to evaluate the effectiveness of the plan and that will be a bit more difficult.

I have not yet designed a way to measure success quantitatively. I asked teachers to complete a technology use survey at the beginning of the year. I will ask for it again soon and then again at the end of the year. This will give me a subjective measure of how much technology teachers think they are using, but will not necessarily show if the hoped for additional use of technology will impact student achievement. Being able to isolate reasons for student success or failure is a task beyond my ability and beyond my job. Trying to measure student creativity objectively is also very difficult. I think the measurement focus should be on teacher use of technology, student use of technology, and number of PBL units/lessons taught as a result of my co-planning and co-teaching.  

I believe adding the G.A.M.E. plan to my ongoing work will be invaluable. It will help me focus my work on my goals instead of straying afield. By monitoring what I am doing and looking at successes and failures I will be able to modify my plan, change how I am interacting with teachers, and add or change actions I am taking to make sure I am still working towards the standards I have selected to work on. 


Cennamo, K., Ross, J., & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology Integration for Meaningful Classroom Use: A Standards-Based Approach. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.
ISTE. (2008). NETS-T. Retrieved from International Society for Technology in Education:

Thornburg, D. (2004). Technology and Education: Expections not Options. Executive Briefing Number 401, 1-12.


  1. Mary,
    I have to say I am jealous I want your job. I know it is difficult enough to teach oneself to integrate technology, but sharing how to do so is one of my GAME plan goals also. The teachers are lucky to have you as a part of the team. I appreciate that you say PBL mini-units; to work in slowly is key. If the teachers become overwhelmed, they may not want to do this type of lessons. What type of lessons have you completed so far, and what grade levels? I saw that you shared about concept mapping. I am doing my research on individual and collaborative concept maps to promote higher-order thinking to result in new content knowledge.
    Tami Tucker-Whelan

    1. Tami,
      I really am lucky. I love my job and I am having a great time doing it. So far I have worked on a project about wolves (still in the process) for a high school language arts class that I developed in my last Walden class. The kids are really excited about doing something for a nearby wolf sanctuary so they are motivated. I am mostly working on getting teachers to use the technology they have available in their steps.

      What has your research shown so far? I am working with deaf students and using concept maps with connecting ideas seems ideal, but they find it very, very hard. Any suggestions for baby steps with concept maps (not just word webs)? Any help would really be appreciated.


    2. Mary,
      I agree that we have to take baby steps! The wolf projects sounds like a real-world project that is creating interest in learning science and language arts. I would try visual pictures with your deaf students. I would play on their other senses, and learning styles. Have them try the learning styles assessment online, it is an easy assessment.

  2. Mary,
    I think that one of the greatest part about being a teacher is the very fact that teaching is so diverse. You can be a teacher over a classroom full of students, an interventionist, a subject based teacher, a techy, or a teacher of teachers. It think they are all amazing jobs and it sounds like you are making the most of the amazing position you are in. Do you have a background in technology? Are you learning as you go? I know that this year is a learn as I go year for me. I went from a science teacher for K-5th and became a learning strategiest and learning coach the third week of the school year.
    I love that part of your goal is that the technology will help the teachers to be more efficient and effective. There are so many things thrown at classroom teachers that sometime teachers just cringe when something new such as technology is pushed their way. I think it is great that you are their to help them see how it helps and how to integrate it into their classes. Maybe as part of the mini lessons for PBL you could post them to a wiki or a blog so that teachers have access to the lessons available and will be able to share lessons with others.

    Barbara F

  3. Barbara,
    I have always been a bit of a computer nerd, it sort of runs in my family. We are all interested in technical stuff. I have been in this particular position for about 6 years, but this is the first year I've really been able to work with teachers co-planning and co-teaching. I think this is the most effective work I have done so far and the teachers I work with say they are excited to be working with me. I was a classroom teacher at this school from 1993-2003. I left for two years and lived in Germany. When I returned I worked part time and was hired back full time in 2006. In 2007 I was hired for this position. I know the classroom from both sides and though I am part of the IT department I work for and with teachers. I sometimes have to stand up for them because the attitude is often that they have the technology now they should use it. We really have a lot of technology available, but we didn't do any really teacher oriented professional development. It was technology centered and then teachers were expected to use it in their lessons. What ended up happening was teachers doing the same thing they always did, they just used technology. And those less confident really didn't use it at all.

    I love the idea of posting the PBL ideas somewhere that teachers can see them. We have required teachers to use PBL, but they haven't had any training. I have learned through these courses that it is a very complex process and requires a whole new way of thinking. Thanks for that idea. I'll have to talk it over with some teachers and see what would be most helpful for them.