Thursday, March 17, 2011

History Our Way

I am so excited about the project I am starting with some 8th grade social studies classes. The classroom teacher and I have been planning this awhile, and it is hard to believe it is finally time to begin. The goal is to have students complete a research project on an important person, event or invention related to American history. The teacher came to me with a plan to do a menu-related project and it has evolved from that point. I have to admit some portions of this project are intimidating, because neither of us have implemented some of the elements into our instruction before. I have even created my first LiveBinder for this project as a resource for students. Check it out -- I will be providing students the link to the LiveBinder in URL format and QR code. This will be the first time I have formally introduced QR Codes, so I will be interested to see how it goes. While we will not be paperless, we are going to try and use as little paper as possible.

Looking forward to a busy and fun day tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pre-Service Teacher Visit

Today our school hosted a group of 20 pre-service teachers from colleges and universities in our state. These students are currently juniors, and we had one hour to share with them how technology is being used in our school. That is a great deal of information to impart in such a short amount of time. Our instructional coach and I partnered together to organize this presentation. We began with a Prezi that introduced our school and various technology tools that we are utilizing with our students. The group was then divided up and sent to three different locations. One group went to a math classroom using CPS, one classroom where students highlighted projects they have completed, and one group stayed in the Media Center. These sessions were approximately thirteen minutes and during the session in the Media Center another teacher highlighed our use of Gaggle while I shared student work samples including Photostory, Flip videos, and podcasts. I also discussed the importance of utilizing your school's Media Coordinator and/or Tech Facilitator.

Student reflections and questions really made me ask some serious questions about pre-service education. While I believe these students have a great deal of technology knowledge that they use on a daily basis, I am not certain that they have been taught how to apply those to the classroom. I was surprised by how many were not familiar with tools like Prezi or Photostory. They wanted to know more about how to access this technology, how to advocate for the technology in their classrooms, and the logistics of planning technology lessons related to these tools.

All of the discussions of the day really made me wonder if pre-service teacher education is neglecting to prepare students for the role of technology in the classroom. Is it fair to say that we have to hope that these students have a cooperating teacher that utilizes technology in the classroom or that they will be forced to learn it on their own in the end? I just hope that there is a Media Coordinator or Technology Facilitator at their future schools to help them traverse technology integration.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

NCTIES and Twitter: A Conference Evolution

My first time attending NCTIES was great. I was able to gain so many new ideas and tools to utilize with students and teachers. Before I say anything else about my conference experience, I have to tell you a little bit about my conference habits.

First, I am a session hopper. This does not mean that the session I am attending is bad, it is just something I do. There are always multiple sessions I would like to attend, so I try to attend several during each hour. In fact, during this conference there was only one session that I stayed for in its entirety--QR Codes and why they matter to education. I have so many ideas for QR codes and was able to add to those by attending this session. Ok, back to the topic, session hopping. I have done this at conferences for as long as I remember. To further feed my session hopping problem, I have thrown Twitter into the mix!

This was the first conference where I used Twitter actively throughout. Wow! I will never again be without Twitter at a conference. It let me keep up with so much more than I could have ever done before with my session hopping. I was able to "see" what was going on at many different locations at the convention center. Twitter also saved me from a less than exciting session. I was not particularly enjoying one session and with prompting from Twitter I relocated.

I still have a lot to learn about the language of Twitter, but I truly see the added benefits of using Twitter to improve personal learning. I am sure I will have more posts in the days to come about my NCTIES experience, but nothing can surpass the role of Twitter for this conference.