Hopefully it will not come as a surprise when I say that I am a life-long learner. I feel like it oozes out of my pores, and that if you spend more than 5 minutes with me, you get that vibe. At least that’s what I hope.
And so I also hope that it’s not a surprise that the learning I’m most interested in these days is related to technology. I’ve written about some of it already , in the form of how my kids are blogging, and I’m sure that somewhere farther back I explained how I got to the place that I am now with using technology in my classroom (and if I haven’t, I’m sure I’ll decide to write about it!).
This post is the second one for the class I’m taking right now: EDUC 573–Applications of Technology. It’s a requirement for my Masters; even though my focus is not tech, it’s a topic helpful to every teacher these days. And even in just two weeks, I’ve already learned about and tried countless things! I’m beyond excited about “having” to do things that I’m interested in doing anyway.
So that brings me to my goal from last week. I was most excited about beginning to use my blog “in-the-moment” and pledged that I’d try something on it the next day. Which I did, indeed. This week my class reflected on themselves as learners and wrote their own goals, and we used the blog for our ActivActivity in math rotations two different times this week. And so far I’d say I LOVE IT! Kiddos loved seeing their work all right there in one place (rather than all spread out on their individual blogs), and I loved it for the same reason. We could quickly review what we had shared, and compare our thinking. There have already been several other suggestions for how we might continue to use this together. Love that my kiddos are such great thinkers, but I love even more that they know I’ll listen to and incorporate their ideas into what we do. It is, after all, OUR classroom, not just mine.
The topic this week was related to becoming familiar with and beginning to use learning management systems in the classroom. We investigated both Moodle and Edmodo, and considered how they could be used in the classroom to enhance the learning that’s already happening. And that’s the key, I think, to any tech that you’re using–it should complement the learning goals you already have. It should be the learning goal, nor should it come first. I also think that it’s key that whatever you add be easy to use. And for that reason, I am excited to start playing around with Edmodo in our classroom.
Edmodo is a learning management system that is comparable to “Facebook in the classroom.” It’s a safe, private, focused way for a class to communicate on a topic, and has countless features useful to teachers, students and even parents. I think that the first thing I’ll do (after a suggestion from a colleague) is give them some time to see what it can do. I am sure they’ll figure out alot of the ins and outs very quickly. Next my plan is to start literature circle conversations on Edmodo. We’re just about to start them anyway, and it would make sense as a starting place. I’m excited to see the difference in depth that may happen when kids have a chance to put their thoughts in writing this way. And as always happens, I’m sure someone will come up with a great idea for what to do with it next.
Aside from the LMS, we also read the article “Taking the Digital Plunge” by Bill Ferriter (2009). And while I originally focused in on a quote about how quickly finding like-minded learners helped me want to jump in and get my feet wet with tech, this one might even be more meaningful:
Connecting with colleagues online has helped me explore skills and dispositions necessary for
networked cooperation—skills like finding partners beyond borders, making my own thinking transparent,
revising positions on the basis of feedback, accessing valuable information from colearners, and
creating shared content. It has profoundly changed the way I learn.
This week alone, I’ve signed up and am starting to use Edmodo, created the template for my eportfolio, added over 50 links to my delicious account, and planned a Mystery Skype for next week with a teacher in my PLN on Twitter. I believe these are all powerful tools that used by both me and my students to make connections.
I’m excited to see what continues to come out of this learning I am “having” to do here. It’s so much fun it doesn’t seem at all like work!
What have you learned this week about technology? Have you read “Taking the Digital Plunge?” What did you learn? Have you tried Edmodo, Twitter, delicious or Mystery Skype? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Hope your Edmodo use goes well! The semester I really I hit it hard was right BEFORE I got the iPads, so I had some equity issues with students not being to work on/submit their assignments because of lack of time/access to Internet at home.
What are your learning goals for the Skype? I’ve heard about lots of teachers doing it, but haven’t found a solid instructional use to justify it for my 50 min. class period.
Ooo..didn’t know you used Edmodo! How did you use it in math? And as for the Mystery Skype…good question. I’m not really sure yet. I can really see it fitting into an elementary classroom more easily than yours, though, as we can tie it to geography. The premise is that my kids will ask the other class yes or no questions (and vice versa) to try to figure out where in the world they are. So there will be problem solving and inferring and all kinds of other good thinking involved there, too. Maybe you should figure out how to do a Mystery Skype with a math concept or something…
Perhaps you’re right – could be fodder for my METC presentation, actually – long distance jigsaw? (That’s my idea for this second)
When I used in in my algebra class, I had them do a couple different word problem writing assignments, but mostly it got used by the students asking me homework questions, or me sharing videos. And a little community building at the beginning of the semester.
Tell me more about your jigsaw idea. That sounds cool–or do I need to come to your session to learn more? 🙂
Pick two parallel topics – once you’re the expert, instead of sharing with a group in your classroom, you Skype with a couple other kids in the other class
Do you mean the same class you’re sitting in? It would be cool to be able to do that to collaborate with other math classes in other schools.
Become the expert with kids in your class, share/teach over skype in your new heterogenous groups
I’m interested in Edmodo and what it can do and I think it would be a complement to my learning goals….for staff! How do you suggest I start?
I am just getting started myself, but I definitely see it as a way for everyone to feel that they have a safe voice. It provides a platform for interaction online, but within a “walled garden” (as I heard someone call it). Especially as teachers, we want to be able to connect easily, but putting our words out there for ALL to see can be undesirable. This could be a way for us to hold a meaningful dialogue on topic of your choice (or ours!) in a safe(r) place than Twitter, a blog, or some other public venue. I’m just starting to use it with my kiddos (we’re starting with book discussions), but I will let you know what else we figure out. I might even tell them you want to know–you betcha they’d help you!
I agree ~ I am looking for the safe “walled garden.” I am going to join your class one if that is ok.
Sure! I was going to ask you to anyway. Let me send you the group code you will need. 🙂
I learned about Edmoto at the ASCD conference last summer and just started a group for our new teachers. I’m introducing it tomorrow night at our meeting. Hopefully we’ll be able to use this as a forum to collaborate, learn, and share together. Had hopes of starting a blog, but that seemed like an overwhelming task this year. This seems more manageable! Jen, you never cease to amaze me with your rapid rate of learning and implementing. Your students and colleagues are so lucky to have you!
Michelle, this sounds like the PERFECT venue for that! I agree that it would be much more manageable than a blog; all have a part in creating it, and I can imagine that as a newer teacher, I’d feel “safer” that just our closed group was seeing what I was saying. Thanks, as always, friend for your kind words! I love to learn and then try things that I think will help my kids do the same. But then you know that…:) I’d love to hear how Edmodo works out!