When I first signed up for the Learning Leader project I knew that it would be a good way for me to continue to learn about technology and to increase my ability to use it productively in the classroom. I have always understood the importance of integrating technology in the classroom, especially in today’s digital world. However, as a grade two teacher, I had been finding it difficult to use technology beyond the SMARTBoard, net books, and laptops etc. My main concern was my students’ ability to independently use technology, and to be quite honest, I wasn’t sure how I would be able to miraculously grow 20 hands to help them all at once. In saying this though, Learning Leader has introduced me to apps that are engaging, and allow my students the opportunity to use technology beyond the laptops in their everyday work. I am happy to say I have seen a shift in the amount and use of technology in my classroom from September until now.
One of my favourite apps is Haiku Deck. Haiku Deck is a simple, and effective method for my students to present information and share their knowledge. I particularly like Haiku Deck because it is very easy to follow for my grade twos, which means they are able to independently work on the iPad when they are using Haiku Deck. In the classroom students have used Haiku Deck for anything from sharing what they want for Christmas from their parents, to making a presentation on information that will be researched on an insect of their choice.
Another app that I have found useful in using in my classroom is the “Show Me” app. This app allows students to demonstrate their understanding of a topic on an iPad. “Show Me” has been very helpful for students’ to demonstrate their understanding of math concepts. I regularly have students use the “Show Me” app to solve a problem in math. Students are able to write down the problem and show how they solve it, as well as talk and record their thoughts at the same time.
Both the “Haiku Deck” and the “Show Me” app have been very useful for my students and easy to integrate in my classroom. An app that I have not used in the classroom, but have found useful for my personal use as well as professional growth has been “Zite”. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the articles on Zite. This app has allowed me to keep up to date on the latest educational articles for professional growth as a teacher. I have also been using Google Drive. Google Drive has been extremely beneficial and useful for me as I am able to share ideas with others, as well as access my files from any computer. I no longer have to worry about emailing myself a file at the end of the day, or putting a file onto a USB drive so I can access it from home.
Coming into Learning Leader I knew that Twitter would be a big part of the process. Over the past year I have begun to use Twitter more and am slowly becoming more comfortable with using it for connecting with others through social media. I am slowly trying to come out of the “lurker” phase and am beginning to share articles and thoughts on Twitter more regularly, however, this is still an area of growth for me. I often find myself looking on Twitter for ideas and articles related to education, however, I am still learning and becoming more comfortable with sharing ideas and commenting on others’ ideas.
I have given two sessions with my colleague to our staff. The first session was on Google Drive. Andrew and I gave this session after school. Overall, Google Drive was very well received by the staff. Everyone likes the idea of being able to share documents with colleagues and were able to give many different examples in how they could do this. However, they were also intrigued at the idea of being able to have students share documents and vice versa. The main glitch we were running into however, was when we had staff try to log into their Google account provided by PSD they could not access it. At the end of the session everyone said they were interested in pursuing Google Drive and Google Docs as a staff and possibly using it on a regular basis in school. The second session we gave was on Snap Chat. Snap Chat is an app that is widely used by teens to send photos on an iPhone or Android device. Snap Chat allows users to take a photo, draw or write on it, and share it with another user, however, the catch is that the photo is dissolved in a matter of seconds once it has been received by the recipient. In saying this though, the photos sent on Snap Chat can be captured by the recipient via a screen shot…so they are really never deleted. The staff was quite surprised to hear about this app and all the myths associated with it. We had a lengthy discussion about our role as educators and how we can help to keep our students safe with the modern technology and ever changing apps. Overall, both sessions that were presented to staff were well received by the staff.
Learning Leader has been a great learning process for me. I have become more comfortable with integrating technology into my classroom in a variety of ways as well as using technology for my own professional growth.