Wednesday, May 29, 2013

This Course Deserves "5 STARS"

     During the end of the year, when things were winding down and kids were winding up, who would have ever thought I could learn so much?  By the time April rolls around, I'm always ready to start thinking about how I can make next year better.  Considering that our middle school is going 1:1 next year, this course couldn't have come at a better time!  Two weeks ago, however, I learned that I was being recommended for the position of Technology Integration Specialist for our corporation for next school year.  Thank GOD I took this course!  I have so many ideas floating around in my head that I was ready to try in my own classroom; now I will have the opportunity to share all of those ideas with EVERYONE in our corporation!  What a great opportunity!
     This course has broadened my perspective on what technology integration truly is, given me a taste of what tools are "out there" for teachers and students to use, and introduced me to a group of people to contact and bounce ideas off of when I need to...all of which are invaluable.  Every module was designed to move my thinking a step further, and it worked.  I'm really planning to spend some of my summer revisiting our course's content to help me prepare for next year.  This course was truly "5 Stars" in my book, and I can't wait for Tech 101!

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Social Media Dilemma

     As a 7th grade teacher and a parent of two teenage
daughters  (not to mention a son who will turn 13 this summer),
I get it.  I know all about adolescents and their social tendencies.
I have policed my own kids' Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts...just to make sure they were following the rules.  The problem is, I am very conservative by nature so the thought of turning my kids out into the World-Wide Web was a little scary.  As a parent, however, I feel better about things because I can check up on them.
     Using Facebook, Twitter, or some other social device in my classroom is just a little too risky for me yet.  Those social networks still feel like I'm crossing the line between student and teacher.  I don't "hang out" with my students in other social situations, and I don't want to hang out with them online either.
     I do, however, see the appeal.  Kids want to be social.  They love Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. because they provide a real audience for their thoughts, pictures, etc.  Kids will actually have discussions on these naturally we teachers see a real opportunity for higher-order thinking and authentic assessment.  I'm not ready though for my discussion about the character traits of the protagonist to somehow be on the same Facebook feed as someone's breakup with her boyfriend.
     The compromise for me at the moment is My Big Campus.  It has a Facebook look to it and students can be social on it, but it is easily monitored and regulated by a classroom teacher.  It definitely provides a more secure environment for us conservatives to bring social media into the classroom.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Curating on Campus

Even though our topic of discussion was supposed to include a curation tool that was used by one of our classmates, all of our classmates (besides me so far) chose to use Symbaloo, a tool I've already used.  Therefore, I'd like to focus on My Big Campus.  Although I'm not totally unfamiliar with MBC, I haven't actually used the bundle feature with students yet.  For next year, I'd like to use the bundle feature to curate resources to go with whatever unit we are studying at the time, but I'd also like to experiment with it in one of our rotation periods.  For that class, I could easily allow more freedom and student choice.  I'm hoping that I can set my bundles up in a format similar to our Blended/Online Learning course and have students work through different modules.  Each module could be open-ended, allowing for the students to learn to use digital tools through subjects of their own choosing.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Ready to Roll!

In a recent interview, I was asked what my best source of information was in relation to using technology, and I answered that it was currently this course, hands down!  I have learned so much about technology over the past six weeks in relation to theory as well as practice. Since our school is moving to a 1:1 setting next year, this course couldn't be more timely.  I've already referred to the SAMR model and Technology Integration Matrix in several discussions about professional development for next year. Even more importantly, my wheels are turning faster and faster with each module as I consider how I want to use technology with my students next year. I have so many new ideas for Padlet and Flipboard and Voicethread and blogging and digital portfolios and...and...and...the list goes on and on. Every module sparks a new idea. In fact, if I work on this class too late (like tonight) I'll have a difficult time sleeping because of the possibilities running through my head!  Every bit of every module is something that I can use and share with others.