Recently, Jonathan Wylie, our Tech Consultant at Grant Wood AEA asked me to reflect on how I've used Web 2.0 tools with students. Check out all of the resources on Jonathan's blog or listen to The EdTech Takeout, a podcast put on by Jonathan and Mindy Cairney. Below are my reflections. Please let me know if you are interested in reflecting on these questions with me or if you have any questions about my reflection.
1. How do you decide which tools to use with your students?
In order to decide on what tools I’d like to use with students, I think back to my purpose. As a first grade teacher, my students needed extra practice in some specific skills like word building. If my purpose was to provide them with a practice opportunity of a skill they needed to build, I would give them a tool that helped them fulfill this need. Most often, I like to use technology to help students go deeper with their learning by sharing what they know. In these situations, I provided students with a choice of a few different apps that would allow them to share their learning with a more diverse audience outside of the walls of our classroom. Other factors I considered when deciding what tool to have my students use was how intuitive the tool was for young learners. Could students use the tool with little to no adult support? If I could answer yes to that question it was a tool my students used often. They need to be in control of their own learning and work the some of the struggles they encountered through using the tool on their own.
2. What obstacles, if any, need to be overcome to obtain permission to do a project with Web 2.0 tools?
Using Web 2.0 effectively requires a mindset that is open to failing forward. Teachers using these tools must be flexible thinkers and make meaningful connections to student or teacher passions and content that already has to be covered. Teachers using these tools also must be willing to be the facilitator of learning rather than the driver. Students can use many Web 2.0 tools independently to share what they know. Teachers must be okay with allowing students to be creative in building and sharing their knowledge. As far as permission goes, teachers need permission from their administrators to try something new and know that it is okay if it doesn’t work the first time. Also, obtaining parent permission to share student work is important. Almost 100% of the time, parents are okay with it when they realize the teacher isn’t sharing first and last names and see and understand what type of learning is occurring when students are given permission to share. In my experience, all it takes to cure a hesitant parent is to show them the work of other students. After seeing other students showcase their learning with Web 2.0 tools, they ask to see their child’s work. They, in turn, share with grandparents, aunts, uncles, on Facebook, etc.
3. What advice would you give to a teacher seeking to replicate your efforts?
Try something! Start somewhere! It is easy to keep the iPads in your classroom stacked in the corner without a charge. However, it is even more rewarding when you get to witness students creating and using the tools to share what their learning as a result from being exposed to the content you’re sharing. I encourage teachers to start with an area of interest of their own and go all in. Think about a thematic unit or topic that you love. What resources, books, posters, etc do you already have? What can you find online? How can you facilitate experiences for your students to learn more about the topic? What skills in reading, math, and science do you have to cover? How can you embed those skills into this topic/content? Give it time. It’s okay to spend a month or more on a specific topic. We need to be okay going deep instead of just stopping at the surface. Going deep takes time. Create an experience your students might never get to have if it wasn’t for you as their teacher. Connect with an expert on that topic. Most of the time, experts are excited to hear that students are learning about their passion. Invite families in. They need to know and see what is going on during their child’s day. Giving them a glimpse into what is going on will allow them to support your classroom in more ways than they already are. Share. Share. Share. Share everything along the way. When you’re done, take a day to reflect with your class. You’ll have loved the learning journey so much, you’ll start on another topic before you know it.
Wow. I can't think of a more fitting word to describe the last few days of learning at iPadU hosted by the Digital Learning Team at Grant Wood AEA. iPadU is a three day event focused on integration and effective use of the iPad in classrooms. A number of passionate educators shared their tips and tricks for iPad implementation. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from so many experts in this area.
Clay Reisler (@RecessDuty) kicked us off on Wednesday morning with an engaging, energetic presentation focused on how to use the iPad to help students and teachers increase conversation, critical thinking, collaboration, creation, and contributions. I appreciated his upbeat, comedic approach to presenting. His passion about using technology in education in today's classroom is contagious.
I got to try BreakoutEDU while at iPadU with Beth Swantz (@betswan). This was my first time in a BreakoutEDU session. They always fill up so quickly at other conferences, so I was so glad they offered it at iPadU multiple times. I see so many classroom applications for BreakoutEDU. I really like how the session we broke out of went through a culmination of activities that the fourth grade class it was designed for experienced throughout the year. I also see this being a great staff building activity at any point throughout the year. There are so, so many ideas shared on the BreakoutEDU Facebook page. Always excited to see educators share, share, share!
There are a few themes I took away from the three days of learning.
There is so much power in educators connecting. We've been hearing it for years, but I still get giddy when I meet people I've seen in Twitterverse in person. I also get super excited when I am able to connect with other educators and learn something new and exciting from them. I was able to connect with a variety of educators over the last three days. Some of them are just starting out their journey and some of been part of the education world for many years. I learned something from every single one of them.
Often times, educators connect because they have something to share. I'm convinced that education is the profession that shares the most. In education we depend on colleagues to share and share alike. Sometimes we need help making connections with other educators so we are able to share. iPadU was a great opportunity for so many to connect and SHARE. Mid-summer was a great time for educators to come together around this topic of tech integration and share. We could take it all in without having to worry about tomorrow's lesson plans or creating that assessment before the end of the week.
All of the connecting and sharing inspired a new level of learning for everyone in attendance. It is amazing what we are able to learn from each other. Everyone knows something I don't. I was inspired by all of the educators who really embodied characteristics of lifelong learners at iPadU. As educators, this is the most powerful gift we can give our students. Every single educator in every single session was learning something throughout the three days. That is a LOT of learning in a short amount of time. By connecting and sharing, we will be able to continue to learn.
Thankful is how I feel about the opportunity to share at iPadU this year. I am thankful to have talented colleagues, Kim Fisher (@Mrs_KFisher) and Andrea Townsley (@townsleyaj), to share with at different conferences around the state. I am thankful that parents were willing to share their child with us so we could give educators an authentic maker experience with students. I am thankful that the Digital Learning Team at Grant Wood AEA hosted this event. I am thankful for their dedication to serve districts, teachers, and students in eastern Iowa. I am thankful that the team is passionate, kind, and willing to share. I am also thankful that they can laugh with each other and make the rest of us laugh along with them.
Below are some of the things I'm excited to try and bring back to my colleagues at Benton Community. I am thankful for those who were willing to sharing with me.
Flipboard - @j_allen
SeeSaw/Libraries of Life - @TeamCairney
Opinion/Podcasting - @jonathanwylie
BreakoutEDU - @betswan
Canva - @abridgesmith
Aurasma - @jmasrsh77
Splice - @grogers1010
Expeditions - @sbehmer
Find resources for the presentations I was part of HERE. Please contact me if you are interested in collaborating or if I can serve you in the future.
Check out the pictures below of some of our Bobcats sharing their maker tools with teachers at iPadU.
Wow. Even on day 3 of being post-BCedCamp, my mind is still rolling with new ideas I learned from the 115 Iowa edcuators in attendance. BCedCamp 2016 was a huge success. I am thankful for the Benton Community Teacher Leadership Team (BCTLT) who put it together and those who attended and shared experiences as a teacher-leader.
As I transition from classroom teacher to full-time instructional coach, I have a wide variety of emotions. The strongest emotion I feel is excitement. I am excited to get the opportunity to work and learn with staff, students, and families that attend the Atkins Center. I am also excited to get to work and learn with the other members of BCTLT. Nervousness is another feeling I've been experiencing as I continue to embrace the transition. Thankfully, I was able to connect with so many ICs on Thursday and now feel as though I have asupport group within and outside of my colleagues and family.
Connecting and Supporting:
I always get excited when I get the opportunity to meet other educators face-to-face. Connecting on Twitter and other social media outlets has definitely been a way of life for me the last few years, but when I'm able to meet someone in person, it always seems impact me in a different way. Over 100 educators from almost 40 different districts across Iowa attended BCedCamp. That's a whole lot of passion in one building! It all came through loud and clear as sessions got underway. There were sessions on math and literacy stations, instructional coaching, PLCs, data teams, makerspaces, and more. In every single session, there were educators who spoke up and shared their experiences, answered questions, and offered solutions. I did try to attend sessions focused on instructional coaching. In each session, current instructional coaches talked about needing to have a "support group" that consisted of other coaches. I feel fortunate to be joining a team of experienced instructional coaches to lean on. Some in attendance were the only instructional coach in their building or even district. However, people were sharing contact information like email, cell phone numbers, and Twitter handles in order to either gain or grow their support group. It was amazing! There is power in being a connected educator. Connecting with other educators will help you help others. When you are connected, you can be supported by those you're connected with. When you are supported, you are able to be better and do better for those you serve.
This was probably the biggest, loudest, proudest theme from the sessions that I attended. Taking time to build relationships is key for those in a leadership role. Trust is at the foundation of who we are and what we do as educators. For me, it goes even deeper. I enjoy a lot of different hobbies like swimming, biking, and traveling. Everything we do requires trust. We have to trust ourselves and trust others in every situation. Sometimes, we have longer amounts of time to build and develop the trusting relationship. When I think about swimming and trusting lifeguards, I usually get a few days to build relationships and trust amongst the lifeguards I work with. When I think about flying and trusting the flight crew, I get only seconds to build relationship and trust amongst the people who are getting me from point A to point B. Parenting taxes my ability to trust than any other role. I have to trust those who I choose to surround my child with. Sometimes I get a longer period of time to devleop that trust and other times I don't. Without trust, life is adventureless. Taking time to build trusting relationships will be a priority for me as I move into the instructional coach role. Actively listening to my peers and what they need from me will be how I move forward to build relationships.
At the end of the day, I am grateful. I am grateful to have met and been influenced by so many passionate Iowa educators. I am grateful to be given the opportunity to serve a district that I care truly, madly, deeply about as an instructional coach. I am grateful for my family and friends who have supported me through this process. I am grateful that I am a Bobcat.
When I was at the farmer's market the other day, I ran into a man who is chasing his dream. He created a line called The Red Piglet. Check out his online shop. As I stood in his booth and read his message, my eyes filled with tears. I had to get a couple of his shirts and cards because he accurately shares what I feel in so many of his messages. I am grateful to get the opportunity to practice my purpose.