I BLOG ABOUT…
Hi. My name is Kaye, and I am an “Early Adopter.”
As much as I’d hate to admit it, I have a problem. Whenever a new technology tool, website, gizmo, gadget, widget, whatchamacallit that comes along, I have to try it out.
Sometimes, this leads to quiet evenings spent alone when I could be out socializing with my friends. Sometimes it means burnt pizza in the oven. Sometimes it means the undeniable, “here we go again” eye rolls I get from my 8th graders.
Technology integration, for me, has become a necessary step along my professional development journey as an educator. It has taken me some time to get over all the fears that accompanied exploring new territories. Will it be blocked? Is it developmentally appropriate? Is it better than what I’m doing now? What if the kids know more than I do about this?
Growth doesn’t come sans pain. Pain from the limitations of our network. Pain from colleagues wondering why on Earth I have need for such “bells and whistles” when I should simply teach grammar and writing (because we all know there’s no room on the Internet for coherent writers, right?).
Pain from knowing there are limitations for me to plan for a sub with all this Internet-based learning. Pain from my own doubts about whether this is really the right thing to do for my students.
After years of continuously honing my “early adopter” skill set, I have come to this simple conclusion: If I can’t beat ’em, I’ll join ’em. Kids today have levels of connectivity that we could never have even dreamed of in the past ten years! I’ve got some learning to do of my own if I’m going to meet them where they’re at so let’s go.
When integrating technology into your classroom, it may help by starting with these considerations:
After attending the 2nd Annual SLATE 2011 Conference (#slate2011 hashtag in Twitter) in Wisconsin this past week, I’ve been mulling over this post. SLATE stands for School Leaders Advancing Technology Education. Anytime I attend a professional development opportunity, I always want to come away with my “Big Three”: 1) Something I can use immediately when I get back, 2) Something I can sit on and development within the next month, and 3) Something I can spend the next six months developing and then put it to use. Anytime along this BIG THREE journey, I’m constantly looking for relevant learning to share with my students as well as my colleagues.
Well, let’s just say my cup overflowith…
It was handy not being a Twitter virgin because the connectivity and networking that took place was overwhelming and popped up everywhere in every venue during the conference…even the World’s Away Lounge, where I attended my first “tweet up,” meeting people I have had the privilege of following on Twitter. A face-to-face with folks like Tammy Lind (@TamiL17), Curt Rees (@WiscPrincipal), Beth Lisowski (@MrsLGrade3) and John Pederson (@ijohnpederson) brought my PLN (Professional Learning Network) on Twitter to life. Sidenote: I was a little bummed I didn’t get to meet Jessica Johnson (@PrincipalJ), as I have relied heavily on her multiple valuable tidbits on Twitter. Next time, Jess!
Returning to the “real world” Thursday was the door slamming in the face effect. Students needed me. Papers needed grading. Meetings needed attending. Sleep needed replenishing.
I had handouts and Google Docs and links and resources galore; call me Santa. However, little did I expect the reactions I got. I expected everyone as uncontrollably giddy as I was. Some were; some weren’t. You know the feeling. You undoubtedly know the gamut of reactions I got upon my triumphant return.
In honor of two things: their reactions and the #pencilchat back channel that recently went viral, I took it upon myself to pay homage.
Whenever something new comes barreling down the road at us, we have a few options to react. A perfect analogy is A Day at the Swimming Pool:
When it comes to technology integration in the classroom, many of us are venturing into uncharted waters. It can be a little scary, but it’s not going anywhere but forward. If we give each other a chance to learn and grow together, the positive impact on student engagement and achievement is collectively rewarding.
Keep the Tech Faith!
Our roles as educators and parents of middle level learners are daunting ones. We somehow need to prepare our youth for a business world that requires skills not found in teachers’ manuals or academic model standards. Yet repeatedly, we hear business leaders tell us our graduates lack skills necessary for this “new” real world. What do we do to combine our real world of academic accountability and test scores with our students’ future real world of business?
In his book, The Global Achievement Gap, Tony Wagner identifies seven survival skills our students need to not only survive, but thrive, in a 21st-Century business climate. To give insight into what business leaders want from their future employees, Wagner summarizes below:
Now we know what the expectations are. What can we, as educators and parents, do to nurture our middle level learners’ growth in their next “real world?”