Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Do You Believe?

Do You Believe Any Student Can Learn?

Talking to many teachers through the years I have found that most enter this profession for different reasons. Some enter for the love of teaching while others enter for the love of kids. Some enter to make a difference while others enter to be in charge. Whatever the reason may be, we have people in this profession that are here for great reasons, and then we have some that are here for reasons that blow our minds. What it comes down to, though, is the student. The most important question, though, must be... do you believe that any student can learn? If you do, then you will be willing to do whatever it takes, use whatever method, whatever tool, whatever avenue it will take in order to help that student learn. You will be a teacher willing to adapt and meet the students where they are! If you do not believe that any student can learn then you will be stuck constantly "teaching to the middle," using outdated techniques because you are comfortable with them, and you will fight "tooth and nail" with anyone who proposes newness or change. The scary thing is that in my experience I find more teachers say they believe any student can learn but in reality aren't convinced of it...

Do You Believe In Making Excuses?

Most teachers who refuse to embrace change are the ones who are constantly making excuses! It drives me crazy that when I bring up any idea of technology incorporation or 21st century literacy, and am stopped immediately and told "that isn't for our kids" "our kids cannot even write a sentence!" "our kids are too low and that stuff is for high level or ideal students." To me, these are excuses that continue to empower the lack of change in our schools. When will we learn that 21st century skills, technology incorporation, and modern shifts ARE also literacy. Literacy is no longer limited to reading and writing alone. It is VERY important to teach writing and reading, and I am a firm believer that "proper" writing skills and "proper" reading skills must be taught. I am also a FIRM BELIEVER that new 21st century skills are just as important. If only these teachers would spend less time coming up with excuses and more time making a difference.

Do You Believe In Technology Integration?

Unfortunately, teachers still believe that technology integration is a simple power point presentation or a great word processing session. This is when I ask... what is different in your approach? A power point presentation is simply a glorified overhead in many cases and a word processing session requires little brain activity and little thinking or discovery. I do not blame teachers using these tools (I believe these tools are useful in their own right), but rather I blame the school systems and districts for not making it a priority to train teachers properly. Below are some simple sites and tools that could be used to integrate technology into the classroom for beginners. I feel that if technology is incorporated correctly then ANY and EVERY student will learn all the skills they have in the past but at the same time will take learning to a level that is impossible without technology. We must meet them where they are in order to enable their full potential! Below is a simple taste of some tools that can be used... just a little taste :) 100 Incredible & Educational Virtual Tours You Don’t Want to Miss. This site provides an opportunity for students to virtually tour many famous places, landmarks, and countries hot spots. It could be used as a great tool for research and gives the students the chance to interact and "tour" the actual place instead of simply reading information about it.

wikispaces What a great tool! My students use my wiki everyday and go onto it outside of school because they want to not because they have to! Wouldn't it be an amazing thing if we could find tools that encourage learning in a way where kids look forward to using it! My Class Wiki:

Lure of the Labyrinth: Nice game site where students in middle school practice pre-algebra through a video game interface. This is a good tool to use as an alternative to homework once in a while. It can also introduced to the students as something they would use to enhance their learning. It is definitely a site that students in middle school will like.

Thank you to Richard Byrne and his AMAZING BLOG for the descriptions below. Follow His blog for GREAT Technology ideas!

Vokle Vokle is a free service for hosting and recording live web conferences. Using Vokle you can host a live conference in which participants can chat with text while you broadcast yourself. You can also broadcast a conversation of yourself and another person who has their webcam enabled. The text chat room can be used to organize a line-up of people who would like to broadcast themselves to the other chat participants.

Edmodo A microblogging service designed specifically for educational use. Using Edmodo teachers can create a microblogging network for their classes. The latest version of Edmodo updates in real-time so that members of group can quickly respond to each other. Edmodo also provides teachers with a place to post assignment reminders, build an event calendar, and post messages to the group.

Synchtube is a new service for watching videos and chatting about them at the same time. Here's how it works; find the url of your favorite YouTube video, copy that url into Synchtube, and begin chatting with your friends while the video is playing. You can comment on the video and share thoughts inspired by the video while you're watching. Right now Synchtube is in beta and you can only have four people chatting at once, but hopefully that limit will be increased in the future.

Remember the Milk is a free personal organization tool that works online and with mobile phones. Many high school students are carrying cell phones with them so capitalize on that and talk to parents and students about using a cell phone to get organized. Remember the Milk allows students to add assignment due dates to their to-do lists via text, email, or directly on their account homepage. A word of caution, while this services is free, students could incur a lot of charges from text and data communication on their mobile phones so be sure to discuss these options with parents before having students use the text/ data tools.

These are simple tools that can be used to enhance interest and learning in and out of the classroom. There are many, fabulous tools, websites, programs, and hardware that can be brought into the classroom and beyond. It is not the tools that make integration work, it is the teachers who are willing to bring their creativity and passion into their day to day classrooms that really make it come together. It is our job as educators to give the students the opportunities and skills they need to succeed in the future they will enter. Instead of students "slowing down" when they get to school... wouldn't it be great to have them stay at the same speed or better when they enter our classrooms... We are in a world where information flies at the speed of light and students are used to learning at that same speed. If we do not teach them where they are, than they will truly learn through another avenue on their own. I, as a teacher, would like to make sure that my students learn the correct things and how to utilize the technology they have access to at a speed in which they are accustomed to. Even though students are "tech savvy" for the most part, many are still very ignorant when it comes to HOW to use these tools properly. When will we learn that it will take effort, passion, and learning on the teachers part in order to integrate technology fully. I truly believe that all great teachers never stop learning... With shifts happening day by day it will be these GREAT teachers (Including all of you in my PLN!) that will make the difference!

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