Tech, Teaching and Me

Trying to turn off my brain by writing it down

What Next?

As my Capstone II course winds down, the question asked of me is, “What are your plans for developing the technology skills of others? In addition to assisting teachers in your local school and district, how will you apply current technologies and promote participation in national and global groups that focus on improving the technology skills of teachers?” In essence, what next? How do I take the information, the reflections, the tools, and all of this knowledge and share it with my coworkers, my peers virtually, locally and globally, as well as my students?

I have a responsibility to share this information and empower others as the coaches have generously taught and empowered me. If the knowledge stops with me, I have done a great disservice to those who worked with me, learned with me, and granted me this opportunity. I also realize as I teach these concepts, I reinforce and learn these concepts in new ways.

My learning, my growing, my reflecting, and my sharing of these skills with others will not stop here. My professional growth and development will be a bit more relaxed with a few less stressful moments as deadlines approach. I can spend a bit more time with my family and friends. Clearing the cobwebs from my kitchen and the cooking utensils I used before Capstone courses is on my list. Visiting the gym on a regular basis again is once again achievable. I will put my life in balance with personal and professional growth and responsibilities given equal weight.

Of course, I will share the cool new tools, teaching concepts and the learning and teaching strategies with my students. Yet, how do I share all of my learned knowledge, new skills and new perspectives, with my coworkers, my peers, and with others in face to face, virtual and global settings? Well, for me the answer is simple. The answer is-I just do. I promote the amazing things I have learned. I model the incredible new tools I have discovered. I support all of those daring coworkers around me who are willing to try, and fail with me as we learn and grow. I surround myself, in face to face and virtual settings, with other like minded individuals and pursue other options for professional development. I will investigate in more depth the various opportunities that are available to me through organizations and discussions, such as:

Then, I do it all again and again and again. Those around me will begin to believe in this new approach to teaching as much as I do. They will begin to promote, model and support a few others around them. Perhaps, as the video suggests, I will create a few ‘first followers” to dance along with me. Eventually, we are all “dancing” and everyone wants to join in the fun!


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Together We Are Better & Less Hungry

I just finished reading, Steve Hargadon’s “Long-Handled Spoons and Collaborative Technologies”.  The Jewish folktale Mr. Hargadon shares with us is worth repeating:

“A Rabbi asks to see Heaven and Hell. His wish is granted and he’s taken to a room where everyone is seated at a long dinner table with delicious food in front of them.  However, everyone there is starving and emaciated.  This is because, the Rabbi discovers, while each has a long spoon strapped to his or her wrist, the spoon is so long they cannot pick up the food and actually put it in their mouths. They are utterly frustrated and bitterly unhappy. The Rabbi is told that this is Hell.

He is then taken to another room with everyone seated at an identical long table with delicious food, and each individual also has a long spoon strapped to his or her wrist.  These people, however, are well-fed, for they have learned that their spoons are perfectly designed to allow them to feed each other, which they are doing quite naturally.  They are joyous, happy, and contented.  The Rabbi is told that this is Heaven”

Recently, I have been heavily involved with collaborative efforts. I have been working on a wonderful and time intensive lesson with another teacher at my school. By nature, my job creates collaborative opportunities since I am the Computer Resource Specialist. Additionally, I have been working with a group of 6 other amazing educators, from my school and beyond as we create a wonderful opportunity for our faculty. Lastly, I have been collaborating with my PLN regularly as I have found amazing opportunities to reflect and discuss new thoughts and old thoughts with new angles of viewing. This collaboration has fed my professional soul.

So, if collaboration does feed all of those at the table, why would someone sit at the table and starve? According to the article, Mr. Hargadon explains there is a territorial element involved. “If I just start giving out my ideas and advice freely, haven’t I given away everything of value?” I also believe there is an element of fear and judgement involved for many. If I share my ideas and people don’t think they are good enough, what will I do then? Will they think what I say is interesting or important? Lastly, I wonder if for many, if it either never occurred to them to feed the person across the table and if they do consider it, they really aren’t sure how to even begin.

Let’s examine each one of these thoughts. According to Mr. Hargadon,” ideas have always been easy–it’s the execution that is hard.  And being free with ideas in a world of unlimited conversation is the best way to gather around you a team of people devoted to the same ideas, and it’s the team that really counts now”.  You could tell 10 people a fabulous lesson and 9 of them will not, for various reasons complete that lesson.  Insecurity and judgement is another reason some people don’t want to collaborate with others. It is scary and easy to think, “I have nothing to add or say. No one wants to hear from me.” The answer to that is –nonsense. You have as much to say as anyone. You also learn about yourself as you write, think and talk in any forum. Stop denying yourself and others the opportunity to learn from you. You are not realizing your full potential until you take advantage of these opportunities. Finally, for those that don’t know how to collaborate, I say the time is now. Ask someone, read some blogs, join Twitter. It is time to move beyond the, “I don’t know how” and move to “the show me how” phase. There are plenty of people around you who want to help, or show you how to make these amazing things happen for you. All you have to do is ask.

I receive more than I give by helping others, feeding others, collaborating with others. I benefit and grow because I share my ideas with you and you share your ideas with me and together we mix those ideas until we make new and better ideas. Together we are smarter and more fulfilled than we are alone. Are you ready to eat at the table? If not, what holds you back?

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Creating Future Digital Citizens

According to this study, 92% of US toddlers in 2010 had an online presence. In fact, “on average, 23% of parents share images from prenatal sonograms on the web”. Let’s examine this fact. Do you realize this means babies have an online presence before they are even born? A digital footprint for the younger generation is a done deal! Being a digital citizen is a part of our student’s future, if not present.

Students are no longer in charge of everything connected with their name on the internet. Being in charged of the tag of their name, or a photo is almost impossible. Students must learn their digital footprint will be created with or without them. Teaching students to be a digital citizen and all that comes with it is essential to their future. Learning to flood the footprint with positivity is an essential life skill.

Our students will eventually be “Google Searched” for college acceptance or an employment opportunity. Our students need to learn to succeed they must attach as many positive, thoughtful postings, impressive photos, academic and societal awards as possible to their image so the first “page” of information is impressive.

According to Mike Ribble’s “Passport to Digital Citizenship”, ” these four stages  provide a framework for helping children understand why being good digital citizens is important”. The stages are:

-Stage 1: Awareness-“Awareness means engaging students
to become technologically literate”

-Stage 2: Guided Practice-“The school needs to become a place where students
can investigate with technologies they use every day”

Stage 3: Modeling & Demonstration-“kids need numerous technology
role models to gain a thorough understanding of these complex concepts”

-Stage 4: Feedback and Analysis-“Kids should have the opportunity to analyze and explore why they should use technologies in a certain way”

Using these stages creates the opportunity for digital citizenship reflection and application. Our students need the direct instruction, the practice and the modeling to be effective, competent, competitive, intelligent and kind digital citizens.

For those students who do not have the ability to practice these essential stages at home,  it is more important than ever for schools to create an environment for the successful training of our future digital citizens.

Students need to be made aware, guided, given role models and then allowed to make mistakes and be given feedback for correction and understanding in their digital world.