I just recently found out, today actually, that I would be re-entering the education technology world full-time as an elementary “computer teacher.” I know that’s not the most ed-tech savvy position name, but it is what it is for the time being. I have spent this past year teaching in an elementary life skills classroom where major behaviors and curriculum development has taken up most of my time. I feel very out of the loop with the newest technologies that are available and want to reconnect and reengage so that I can be the best “computer teacher” I can be.
I participated in the first DEN Institute held in Valley Forge and learned a lot and met a lot of great people while in attendance. I have been looking for the opportunity to participate in another institute like this with likeminded people since finally becoming healthy enough to begin working full-time again.
I will admit that I haven’t been the most active STAR out there. I do introduce teachers and other staff to Discovery Education when I can and I think my biggest this year was showing it to our occupational therapist who felt that the videos with exercises would be very good for many of the students she sees. I did also introduce one of our teachers to editable clips and how to edit them in Movie Maker. This was something she didn’t know that she could do, and she’s done it several times since, making more appropriate clips for use in her classroom.
My expertise at this point in time lies more in the fields of assitive technology and universal design for learning than regular education activities. I’ve had to do a lot of major adaptions for my students to use technology. I had one student with autism who had never been able to do much more than watch videos on the Internet, and figured out a way to allow him to make choices on the computer using a mouse buddy. It was VERY rewarding.
As a Classrooms for the Future Coach, I often have to work with teachers who have issues with using technology in their classrooms. I have one teacher who doesn’t see the point of integrating technology and I have others who are afraid that they will break the computer somehow. Quite often, the biggest problems that I face are fear of trying new things, fear of breaking something, and thoughts that technology will be difficult and time consuming to use. They will come up with reasons not to meet with me because they are too busy for technology, will not do things unless I am there to support them, or will just not be happy when I come around with ideas and suggestions.
I think that I do use the ARCS model when I try to get people to believe in using technology. I try to catch their attention with something that is easy and appealing to them and then show them the relevance to the curriculum that they are currently using. I work with them until they have the confidence to use the tool themselves and then sit back and watch their satisfaction when they use the tool with their students successfully. I’ve always said that if they would give me five minutes to show them something, I could sell them on using technology in their classroom.
I must say that I am very excited about being able to talk about my PLN. They are amazing and a very important part of my life! I can say without question that I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. Their support and knowledge has helped make me the educator and technology geek I am today! Below is an image of my Personal Learning Network.
My first experience with networking was while I was working on my Master’s Degree. We had an on-line community that allowed us to communicate with those in our classes, but also those in our program and the other programs in the School of Business and Education. This was invaluable!!! We were able to get questions answered that we might not have wanted to ask the professor. We also had more resources to ask questions to other than just the professor. But the thing that got me hooked, was the idea sharing! We were no longer on our own little islands where we had to fend for ourselves, we had a wealth of resources from people who were in similar situations at our fingertips.
In my job as Education Technology Facilitator, I was able to join a new learning community, the Discovery Educator Network since we were a Discovery Streaming school. This was an amazing group and still is. We were just building back then, but being able to come together and share ideas and knowledge was amazing! We all had something to gain from each other that we could take back to help our students. Since then, through mainly the people in this group, my PLN has grown and so has what I have learned. These groups that you will see on my mindmap have been an integral part of my education.
I will admit that the first source I go to when I am looking for information quickly or when I am having a bad day is Plurk. I find this much easier than Twittering since the posts are threaded. You can see how quickly answers come in and you don’t have to search through pages to follow conversations like you do on Twitter. I also use my aggregator heavily to follow the conversations on several of the Nings that I am a member. It’s much easier than trying to sort through all of the information that comes in to those groups. I use other tools as well, but these are my primary resources and the places that I get the best information either by request or by the sharing that happens here.
As Inauguration Day approaches, I felt it would be beneficial to share some links that have been flying through the CFF ListServ with regard to this historic day. This site discusses places to go to live stream the events as they are happening. This site is an “online expedition” of the events with daily themes.
This site is put together by Springfield Township, a Pennsylvania school who has students attending the inauguration. They will be taking video and posting to their blogs. Your students are encouraged to comment and ask questions. Judge Rendell has posted a welcome statement and the PDE will be involved as well.
The last site is a blog with many links pertaining to the Inauguration.
As always if you need any assistance or have any questions, please let me know!
Because I believe in practicing what you preach, I have decided to try and blog again. I’m very good at starting them, but have issues carrying through. Often I don’t feel I have anything interesting to say or share with people or I do it through microblogs like Twitter and Plurk. Now that I am in the position of Classrooms for the Future Coach and will be teaching others about blogging and it’s benefits, I figure that I better start to really blog once again.
This blog will be a place to share information with my teachers about interesting ideas and tools for their use, information about upcoming trainings, and a place to share the positive things I see happening with technology at our school. I hope that you will check it often, or better yet, start an aggregator and have it sent there so you don’t have to check it often (we’ll talk about that in a training session).
I have “great techpectations” for you all and look forward to working with you throughout the coming year. Please be sure to check out my CFF Wiki and the Ning Community I’ve created for your use.