Tool 7: Collaborative Tools
One of my favorite collaborative tools from this year is Skype. When it came time to schedule not only classroom visits but also pre-conferences with a large group of people, it became quickly evident that we needed to get creative in the collaboration department.
We were able to use Skype as our key tool to complete all of our ICLE pre-conferences. We then used Google docs to share any documents addressed during the conference.
Tool 8: Taking a Look at the Tools
I've had the opportunity to work with many different devices throughout the year. The devices I enjoy using the most with students are the Apple devices. Most recently, I have been assisting student groups as they create tutorials over different math concepts. They use the iPads and iTouches to video. Then they create their video tutorials using iMovie on the Macs. The variety of video styles that have emerged in this process is simply amazing!
Tool 9: Incorporating Classroom-based Devices
Technology that isn't tied to the learning objectives can easily become a distraction to the entire classroom. While I do hear many positive things about technology in the classrooms, there are many misconceptions about it. I see one of my roles as helping to clear up some of these misconceptions. One thing that I hope to help accomplish is to be more clear about how and why we are using certain devices and to help demonstrate the possibilities that this sort of access opens up to students and teachers.
My two favorite apps this year for use with students have been Hands on Equations, which I use with a fifth grade advanced math group, and Show Me. I actually sat with students as they navigated Hands on Equations, so it was not a station. However, Show Me has tons of potential, and the beauty of show me is that students are creating a product that can be assessed.
The iTouches are also really great for students to go on hunts around the school. I've seen several teachers tie this to learning letters and sounds and to vocabulary instruction. It works well in all contents to give students an opportunity to find their own visuals to connect to new concepts.
Tool 10: Digital Citizenship
I want students to understand that how they act in the digital world impacts them just as much or more than how they act in the human world. The implications are enormous. I am always talking about their digital footprint and how they need to always be aware of what they type into a computer. We talk a lot about privacy.
A touchier subject to deal with, especially with younger students, involves their treatment of others in the digital world. It is so easy to post a comment or send a message. You can't detach yourself emotionally when the words come out of your mouth as easily as you can when you type it into a computer. The difference is, once you "say" something digitally, it leaves a trace. You cannot take it back, even if you apologize. I try to emphasize that to students through my own behavior and through different lessons.
The best way to teach students digital citizenship is to talk to them as they are learning to navigate the digital world. Set some guidelines and expectations, but then model the behavior and have dialogue with them about the impact of what they do. Some of them just don't realize how powerful they can be, and they need to be taught to use those powers for good.
Tool 11: Self Assessing and Reflecting
My favorite tool from this process is my Blog. It is something that I have wanted to try for a few years, but I had never had the motivation to get started. Now, though, it is a tool that I use regularly to reflect on my own practice and to share with others.
I can't say that my vision for a classroom has necessarily changes as a result of this training, but it has helped me to reflect upon some things that I can do to help the teachers I work with feel more confident with using technology in their own classrooms. It has also allowed me to see some next steps for my campus.
Ultimately, we have to remember that technology changes so quickly that we have to be flexible and willing to experiment and dialogue with others about our struggles and successes.