Jumping in!

I began teaching with the typical whiteboard/chalkboard, overhead projector and teacher computer (and that wasn’t really that long ago!). I was lucky if there were computers for the students, but for the most part, they usually went to the computer lab to learn more about technology. I was able to avoid incorporating technology in the classroom and therefore never really forced myself to learn more than the basics.

overhead
We were always so excited when we got a new projector!

         A lot has changed (in a short time) since I began teaching and I realize now that I HAVE to learn more than just the basics about the technology that my students (even at five ) use on a daily basis.

Even after reading Living and Learning with New Media Report ,  I realized just how connected the students are while using the internet.

“Social network sites, online games, video-sharing sites, and gadgets such as iPods and mobile phones are now fixtures of youth culture. They have so permeated young lives that it is hard to believe that less than a decade ago these technologies had barely registered in the lives of U.S. children and teens” (p. 4).

aol  I  think back to my own teen years when AOL and chat rooms were just beginning to take off. Even at that time, I used the chat rooms as a tool for connecting to complete strangers in other states. I remember learning the different codes and language very quickly. Even today, I still use facebook, Twitter and other networking tools to stay connected to people around the globe.

While reading Jeff Utecht’s book  REACH, I quickly learned how many wonderful tools there are on the web to build Personal Learning Networks (PLN) and connect with others for a variety of reasons whether school or hobbies. I have never really heard of the RSS reader until I began this course and read the book (and to be honest, I am still trying to figure it out). What a wonderful tool for researching information quickly! I think about all the time this could have saved me in my research or when I had students do simple research in a google kids sight.

I am amazed at how well the internet connects us to the world and how much we can learn from it! It takes just a click of a button to skype my family across the world, look up a fun song for a brain break or research information on reading workshop!

However, I need to continue to grow and learn in order to keep up with my students and prepare them for a future that will continue to advance.  In the article, World Without Walls, Will Richardson says it best:

“We must engage with these new technologies and their potential to expand our own understanding and methods in this vastly different landscape. We must know for ourselves how to create, grow, and navigate these collaborative spaces in safe, effective, and ethical ways. And we must be able to model those shifts for our students and counsel them effectively when they run across problems with these tools.”

So here I am, ready to jump in and embark on this 18 month journey through COETAIL to do just that!

6 Replies to “Jumping in!”

  1. Hi Amber,
    Thanks for posting. I am still tackling the readings for this week and don’t feel brave enough to begin my post…still sorting out a ton of new ideas, but you’ve given me the courage to at least comment! Like you, I also began with one computer in the room (which mostly gathered dust as it took too long to log in) and a limit to to the number of photocopies we could make. How things have changed! My 4 year old students are quicker when typing their names for their blog posts than they are at writing them out in pencil. We do, however still use an overhead projector…but rather for light, colour and shadow explorations, story telling, and Math subitising games …(none of which were the original intended purpose).
    I am also figuring out this RSS thing, which actually seems pretty wonderful, and I fear, “A big time suck,” to quote Jeff in one of the blogging intro videos. Time well worth sucking? 🙂
    Looking forward to learning with you.

    1. Thank you for commenting! I am very nervous as well (yet trying to get ahead with a week holiday beginning n just a few hours)! There is so much to learn and take in!
      I cannot believe you have four year olds making blog posts! Can you tell me what you use and how you do it. I would love to begin using more technology in my classroom and that blogs are a great way to start (but they are still learning to read and write so I am not sure what I can do).

      1. Hi Amber,

        We are currently using Blogger Jr. It is a very user friendly app, and the little ones don’t need to read or write, but can post pictures, videos, and can talk about the pictures and describe what’s happening in their own words. Of course I can scribe/type for them if they choose as well, and sometimes I go in later to edit or add, but sometimes a picture is all you need!

    2. Hello! I finally downloaded blogger jr and introduced it to my kiddos. It took a bit of an effort to figure it out at first (and emailing the company) but I am up and going! My kiddos love it! Thank you for telling e about it. I cannot wait to use it more!

  2. Hi Amber!

    I know so many teachers who feel the same as you do… but the fact that you’re here blogging about it means you have what it takes to keep up with those kids. So much of what we’ve learned in our own education and professional development needs to be “unlearned” to allow the informal learning our kids are doing with tech to take hold in the classroom and support the formal learning we often desire from them. This week a 3rd grade student, telling me about his favourite new 3D modeling tool, TinkerCAD, made me step down from my “I know five other 3D modeling tools and I am the teacher” pedestal and realize he had found an easier and more efficient way of accomplishing the goals I had set for him. It feels a little demeaning at first to lose credibility as a content expert… but I should be proud that I get to work with students like this who pursue their own learning and critically examine the situation enough to suggest alternative ways of solving problems.

    Best of luck with this new connected learning we’re doing! Don’t throw out that projector yet though, you never know when it just might be the best tool for the job. 🙂

    1. Thank you for your comment. It is amazing to think of how much the children can do on their own! I hope I can learn more about technology in order to provide opportunities for my students to pursue their own learning with technology as well.

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