Learning Leader Final Reflection

What have been your favorite apps that you have used during this project and why?

One of the strongest assets the iPad has is it diverse functionality due to the shear number of apps that are available.  We have all heard the “There’s an app for that” ad campaign apple used a while ago.  Well, that ad campaign applies to educational apps as well.  There are apps that can help teach students almost every single curricular outcome imaginable.  This is  great but the apps I really love all do the same thing for me in the classroom.  The best apps, in my mind, are apps that allow students to create and show their learning in a way that matches their personal needs and caters to their strengths.  Apps like Dragon Dictation, iMovie, Inspiration, Google Drive, Show Me, and Skitch all give students a way to express themselves and their learning in a way that works for them. Because these apps make the learning visible in multiple formats students can be extremely creative and can work around learning disabilities to show an understanding that wouldn’t be possible if they were being assessed using essays, multiple choice exams, or other traditional assessment styles . Bottom line is that the apps I love for my students allow them to create pieces that are meaningful to them which makes the students love these apps as much as I do!

Have you had any “A-ha” moments in connecting with others through social media?

One of the biggest “a-ha” moments I have had this year is the amount of bright minds in the teaching world I have access to as a result of Twitter, Youtube, Zite, Pinterest, Blogs, and Tedtalks is unbelievable.  Following these people online means I have access to the knowledge of the best minds in education across the globe.  Not only do I have access to their ideas but to the conversations they have with others on Twitter and in the blog comments.  These conversations allow me to consider multiple perspectives on an idea, and to deliberate on the positives and negatives of an idea for my own use.  They also grant me to access advice on challenges I am facing in my own classroom. Online PLCs allow me to find and gain access to resources I never knew existed.  Sometimes the interactions I engage in online go beyond learning to provide motivation or humour after a tough day in the classroom.  Bottom line is that the internet has provided me with so much fuel for my passion in learning and educating that I now consider it a very powerful learning tool.  In fact, this has been so powerful to me this that it is a major part of my year end professional growth plan.

Discuss some of the sessions that you have delivered to your staff.  What has been the impact in school?

To be honest with the readers of this blog I have been hesitant in conducting technology learning sessions to my staff.  I have never considered myself to be a “techie” I have always considered myself to have a rather average skillset when it came to technology.  This made it rather difficult to put myself in front of a room to direct a session as a “learning leader”.  However, this changed for me during a session on technology I attended with a number of staff from our building.  We attended a session on Google Docs and during the session the teachers from our building had some time to discuss some of the concerns they were having.  It was through this discussion I slowly realized that I could answer most of the questions they were asking.  Even if I could not answer them I realized I knew people that could.  This gave me a lot more confidence in running sessions.  I quickly returned to my school to schedule 2 sessions in the first week of June.  The response was very enthusiastic.  It turns out people in my building are craving this type of knowledge.  In fact I feel like this can be a regular part of contributing to the learning that will happen in our building.

Connecting

I am reflecting on what I think is a pretty cool idea.  Well, at least for me it seems pretty cool. Being pretty new to the profession of teaching I have so much to learn and am so excited that I have been soaking up every tidbit of information about education I can get my hands on. I am lucky enough have some amazing mentors in my corner.  I am connected to some great professional learning communities online through sites like Twitter, Ted Talks, Zite, and Pinterest.  I have deep philosophical discussions with friends and colleagues that are just as passionate about this stuff as I am.  I have read articles and blogs from some of the best educators in the world.  I share the really good ideas with my friends or on twitter or in emails.  Once and awhile there is even a heated debate on a topic that gets me pretty fired up. All these things engage me, they create an incredible learning environment for me and they fuel the passion I feel for my profession as an educator and as a lifelong learner.

In fact, the more I sit here and reflect on it, the more its seems pretty simple and why I never made this connection until today is beyond me. Why are we not engaging our students, our communities and our families the same way?  Sharing knowledge and skills will make huge impacts on our students’ learning and the only way to share is to connect to someone.  Sharing what happens in our classrooms by connecting with families will create discussions at home that are similar to the ones students are having at school. Making our students’ work public and connecting them to a real audience will provide purpose, engagement and excitement.  Creating communities of student experts and connecting them with their peers builds leaders and mentors. It all boils down to connecting learners with each other.  It really does not matter how they connect its just important that connections are made; the more connections made the faster and deeper the learning will be. It is this exact reason why social media is such a great learning tool.

The biggest reason I am starting to blog is to find another way to connect.  I want to connect with other educators so I can learn and share with them, I want to connect with students so that they can see how and what I have been learning, and I want to connect with parents so they can see why their child is so excited about a school project.  The connections I have made with people over the last few years have taught me so much and I am so grateful for what I have gained. It is only fair that we connect our students to this way of learning as well.

Twitter Handle: 

@barndt_77