My favorite and most useful apps that I have used during this project are Dragon Dictation and Haiku Deck. Both of these apps were use frequently by a student who would have otherwise needed someone to sit with him to scribe. Dragon Dictation enabled him to independently respond to questions in Math, Social Studies and Science. In LA he was able to create pieces of writing within a reasonable time frame as well. Haiku deck was used to help students learn high frequency words in LA. In Social and Science it was used to demonstrate understanding of concepts using pictures and short statements.
I can’t say I have had any “A-ha” moments when using social media, but I can say it has changed the way I teach. Social media has given teachers a way to share what they are doing in the classroom without feeling like they are “bragging”. When I am needing ideas all I have to do is ask and surely someone has something valuable to share. If I think I have done something of value, I just have to blog about it and share the link…it is there for others should they find it useful. It has completely changed how I share what I am doing in my classroom, as well as how I get ideas for my classroom. I still use google, but it certainly isn’t the only place I go.
I believe that the process of transitioning from the traditional way of doing things to the more technological way of doing things is more complex for some than others. Because of this, I feel like it was important to introduce all that we have learned at the sessions we completed, and to let staff know that we are here to help as they need it. I feel like my “session” is ongoing. I like to talk to people one on one about where they are in their own journey and then provide suggestions for next steps. I feel like technology can be extremely intimidating to those who are “reluctant” and unsure. I think it is important that we support and encourage them from where they are, rather than making them feel like they should be at a point that they are not yet at.
The positive impact that technology can have in the classroom from both the student and teacher perspective is undeniable, and therefore I believe it is essential that I demonstrate how “simple” it can make what we do, when it is used effectively. It is very challenging however for people to understand and accept that it is not “just one thing”, but that it does require a change in practice. My journey as a “Learning Leader” will most definitely continue, and I am hopeful that I can make a difference in both my students way of learning and my colleagues way of teaching.
I was recently looking back at some articles that I had favorited on Twitter. I reread this one, http://www.edutopia.org/blog/believing-in-students-richard-curwin and it was instantly clear to me why I had favorited it. I am passionate about teaching, but more than that I am passionate about teaching kids.
In my classroom, all students are respected for who they are, with the understanding and commitment from me that they will all need me in different ways. Too often, I have had the unfortunate pleasure of listening to people say things like, “What is wrong with kids these day?” “Why are kids so entitled?” “This is how I grew up and I turned out fine.” “We tried this 20 years ago…I am done jumping on the bandwagon.” I get infuriated inside when I hear it, and often have to bite my tongue almost right off so that my response is professional and respectful…although I don’t always believe the comments are respectful about the children.
All too often we forget that at one time we were children too…children with opinions, ideas, dreams and hopes. They need to be taught that their opinions and beliefs matter, they need to feel that we are proud of them and they need to feel that they can make a difference. If a child struggles with curriculum, does it mean they are failures? Not in my books. When I look back at my childhood, and what it was about it that helped me get to where I am today in life, I can 100% say it wasn’t the curriculum that I learned. It was the people who told me they were proud of me, the people who took the time to get to know me, and the skills I learned because I felt safe learning them.
I know our job is not easy, but I do believe we would all have a much more enjoyable time doing the hard work we do if we put everything into perspective. We are teaching kids first and the curriculum second. You can have the best lesson plans in the world, if you can’t relate to the kids, if you don’t have their trust, and if they don’t feel safe taking risks, you won’t see the “results” that you think you should get. Children make mistakes, that is how they learn. Their mistakes should not be a life sentence.
I have to admit, when I was first playing around with Haiku Deck, I found myself thinking, “I am not sure how I am going to make this useful in my classroom,”…even with the examples given. However, I knew that with some thought and patience, it would come to me. And it did, I have a student in my class with Dyslexia, he is in grade 3 and struggles with books at beginning grade 1 level. He tries his best to learn, and is actually very intelligent, the frustration he feels absolutely breaks my heart! I have been using the Dragon Dictation App and been having some success with it in his writing, but it is still important he learn basic words so that he can improve his reading ability. I chose to create a Haiku Deck for all of the basic words needed to go on in reading that he is missing. I searched the word, and chose an appropriate picture to go with the word (careful, many inappropriate pictures came up for some words). My hope is that he will learn these words in a way that makes sense to him and apply that learning to other reading that he does. I don’t know what the outcome will be, but I do know what the outcome would be if we didn’t try. Thanks George, you gave me one more tool for my special little guy!
I feel grateful to be involved in a group that believes we as educators need to always be learning and discovering. I love that I am working in a school division gives us the time to connect and learn to continue being life long learners.
Yesterday was my second introduction to Twitter, and thankfully it is starting to really make sense, I am beginning to see the value in Twitter for me as an educator. I opened up my Twitter account today, and there right in the column “Mentions” was a comment to me from someone I didn’t even know, someone I wasn’t even following (thanks @gcouros), about something I had tweeted! We had a little debate back and forth about whether obedience belongs in the classroom, or whether a classroom should operate based on mutual respect. I still believe what I initially tweeted, but I love a good debate, and I am an optimist, maybe he sees it my way now:).
Initially I tweeted because I was encouraged to do so, but with the amount of reflection I have been doing since that one reply, I am certain Twitter will be a valuable tool in helping me as a learner as well as an educator. @NealleDickson