Tech, Teaching and Me

Trying to turn off my brain by writing it down

Laughing and Thinking in the Computer Lab

For the past few classes, I have spent some time allowing my students to explore the PhotoBooth program on our new Mac computers. Pure, joyous moments of laughter have filled the computer lab. Even though I consistently tried to keep the noise to a quiet roar, I also smiled the whole time. I watched as 1st graders threw their arms in the air and squealed with delight while they rode the roller-coaster. I watched as 3rd graders created a picture of themselves with two heads and one pair of shoulders.

Learning should be fun. Learning needs to be fun. It should be joyous fun. I want the students to laugh out loud in the computer lab. I want to say, “Quiet down those laughs, please.” Sometimes we forget when we are having fun, we are open to our most creative self. Watching “Tim Brown’s Tales of creativity and play reminded me of all of these things and I am grateful.

Additionally from these week’s readings, I learned more about meta-cognitive thinking. In the article, Developing Meta-cognition, meta cognition is defined as thinking about thinking, knowing “what we know” and “what we don’t know.” The article goes on to explain, “Learning how to learn, developing a repertoire of thinking processes which can be applied to solve problems, is a major goal of education….When life presents situations that cannot be solved by learned responses, meta-cognitive behavior is brought into play.”

In my teachings, the opportunity for meta-cognitive strategies are ever present. Students enter the computer lab and may be faced with a different log on screen than they usually see. As simple as it may be for an older student, this can be a roadblock for a younger student. Teaching the students the steps of analyzing the screen, rebooting if necessary are empowering. Teaching them to think through the necessary steps and the whys and hows of each step is a life skill.

Also, teaching my students to read the message the computers “gives” us is a skill I emphasize as often as possible. Many times students and adults will approach me and say, “The computer has a message and I didn’t know what to do.” I will ask, “What does the message say?” Most often the reply is, “I don’t know.” Learning to stop, read, and think about that message can usually solve the problem. This is learning to learning and thinking through what seemed to be an impossible problem.

Lastly, this year our school added Mac computers to our very PC world. I have enjoyed teaching students and teachers alike to think through the process of the Mac system. It does look different, it operates different, but a computer is a computer is a computer. If we stop, think and process, or learn how to learn and apply those meta-cognitive skills, there is no problem or issue too big.

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Different Types of Reflections

According to the article, “Fostering Reflection by Lana Danielson, “The four modes of thinking enable teachers to connect reflection to practical classroom applications. When the modes are used appropriately, they also help educators understand their own practice and, ultimately, foster the intentional competence necessary for accomplished teaching.”

The four modes are:
Technological (or Formulaic) Thinking-prepackaged knowledge from an external source

Situational Thinking-information gathered from a specific situation or time

Deliberate Thinking-to purposefully seek more information than the immediate context provides; to learn more to better understand the dilemma

Dialectical Thinking-deliberate thinking to gain understanding of a situation and generate solutions

The readings inspired me to purposefully reflect in a previous post. And, inspired me to pursue more educational opportunities for my students to reflect, as well. Using Edublog, my Language Arts teacher and I have created student accounts and blogs to create a forum for our students to purposefully reflect on their work throughout the school year and specific class topics.


Broken Summer Promises to Myself

This week I have found myself swimming in the deep end of personal and professional development once again. It’s not even the end of September and summer is a distant memory. All of my promises to myself of going to the gym everyday after work, not working on school work on my couch on days off, or late into the evening have faded and fall to the ground like those leaves that need to be raked in my yard (not by me :), but my husband).

School is in full swing for me. Lesson plans are in the initial stages of creative and worthwhile integrated projects. Grades have been inputted since progress reports are just around the corner. Teacher technology sessions have begun. I am either planning for lessons with my students, or planning for sessions with my teachers. Either way, I am planning and hoping to walk into some room prepared for the 45 minute block. In addition to these duties, I try hard to use any free time during my day to support and assist my Technology Coordinator with all of the hardware, software and demands we have.

This week my Capstone class began. Additionally, the PLP course that our school has graciously offered to us has started. This is the beginning and it always takes me a while to build up stamina and create a routine for myself. So, right now, I am definitely swimming in the deep end of the pool and perhaps even doggie paddling to keep my head above water.

And, that’s okay. Honestly, I have realized that I really enjoy learning just for the sake of learning.

My daughter left for college last month (Go Wahoos!) She is experiencing an education, experiences, classes, thoughts and discussions that I envy. She is learning. And, learning to learn. I feel the change in her through the phone. My son has decided to go back to school and even though he isn’t exactly thrilled about it, I see a glimmer in his eyes when he talks to me about his Abnormal Psych class. He is enjoying it. He is enjoying learning, again. Last week my husband told me his work was offering an online Spanish class. “Should I take it?”, he asked me. “Why not?” was my response. Really, why not? As adults we should realize that learning is what keeps us fresh, young and vital to society. Call it what you will, out of your comfort zone, learning, new opportunities, challenging yourself, or being uncomfortable…it’s all the same. It is something that makes us grow.

This week my Capstone course asked us to think about reflection and creating or discussing the Personal Learning Network you are a part. Writing this blog allows me to reflect and I enjoy it. I don’t know if anyone actually reads it (besides my husband who I sort of make). I am not sure if I really mind if no one else does read it. The point is, I write it. I use the time to reflect on what is important to me and during that time, many things come in to focus for me. That is enough. I reflect and I learn. And, I am grateful for that moment. I haven’t blogged for months. Well, since the end of my last Capstone class. The checklist of items I am suppose to do for the Capstone class include blogging. I need to remember that blogging is a personal experience that I really enjoy. I don’t seem to remember that until I am done blogging, though.

Sort of like going to the gym…..Maybe I will go tomorrow.