Avoidance, Apprehension and Anxiety

This ECI831 class has opened my eyes to soooo many new ways to use technology to benefit my teaching and also my personal life.  However, some days I feel more disconnected than I did pre-Twitter.  I think it’s because there are so many ways to grow my personal learning network and so many outlets (blog, google+, twitter, etc) that I am struggling to manage all of them.  As of late I have fallen off the twitter-wagon.  A few weeks ago it was my aim to tweet once a day and to keep up with my twitter feed nightly.  This has been a struggle for the last little while.  I am also struggling to blog regularly.  And while I’m being honest I must admit that I rarely use my google+ account nor have I been commenting much on others’ blogs.  For this I need to apologize because I realized tonight, after reading back my previous blog, that the questions I posed were never answered and this is disappointing.  I may be struggling with the parameters of keeping on top of all these new networks, but I am definitely giving them an honest try.  Where I am finding the most benefit is in my classroom.  I am really enjoying trying new tech tools with my students and sharing my learning along the way.  Not only does it engage them because it peeks their digital interest, but it shows them that learning is lifelong.  I realize that when our weekly online class is over I will have to look to Twitter, the Google+ communities, and other bloggers to stay informed about the new trends and tools that are useful for technology in education.

Will I continue my blog?  Will my tweets become even less frequent?  Will the e-tools I’m using now become my comfort zone?  These are all questions I have about my future as a wannabe tech-forward teacher.  I want to continue to progress, but I also want to become proficient at using certain tools before I move on to the “next-best-thing”.  Similarly, I was thinking about the types of adaptations I make within my classroom last week as I was preparing for Student Led Conferences.  I was thinking that there are some I feel very confident in applying and some that I’m not sure I’ve ever put in to action.  My question therefore is whether depth or breadth of teaching knowledge and skills is more important?  My personal opinion is that I will never be an expert in every area, however I would like to have a general idea about everything my job entails, and perhaps more aware of a few certain areas.  Could technology be one of those areas?

In other news, I am going to a SMART board training at my board office!  I am very excited to learn some great ways to utilize this new tool to maximize student engagement and learning.  I will be sure to blog about my learning.  Maybe I should make a top ten list or something.  Whatever I learn, I am looking forward to some face-to-face instruction and hopefully some tried and tested resources.  Until now it has been learning via my students, playing around, and some searching of my own to find how-to’s, activities and tips and tricks.

I will keep you posted…


Pechaflickr, Penzu and SMART all in the same week!

Today was the first day we had students this week and already it has been a big week for me…

My classroom was finally graced with it’s SMART board at the end of last week, but suffered some technical difficulties off the hop so it was basically unusable until today.  It being web-video Wednesday in my class, I finally was freed from the shackles of rolling in the projector cart, unraveling the cords for the internet and power, as well as having the students rearrange their desks to fit the monstrosity into the classroom.  Three cheers for the SMART board!!!  I took some pics, but haven’t had a chance to upload them yet.  Will add those to a future post about my #learningproject.

I would also like to share that I got my students started with their Penzu Classroom journals today.  Goodbye duotangs, hello font options!  I think this will be a fun new way to have students write their journal entries.  However, I may have to go over the expectations and guidelines a little more closely since a couple students wrote one line entries with no punctuation and several text message shorthands.  Their first entry was about their e-habits or digital life; I wanted to know what apps, e-tools and social media they use.  I was surprised at how many students talked about ask.fm because until a couple of weeks ago I had never heard of it.  This just goes to show that the majority of my students are probably way more digitally advanced than me.  So far the students seem to be engaged and I like that their journal entries are submitted directly to me and they’re not public.  

Lastly, I really enjoyed the guest lecture from Alan Levine, @cogdog, last night!  He gave me so many ideas about digital storytelling that will work so well in my ELA classes.  Already today we tried doing the improvisational story using pechaflickr.  The kids thought it was awesome!  They wanted to continue doing it the entire class.  In case you were wondering, the subject we used was “farming”.  I am planning to use this for some creative writing activities in the future.  

There you have it…  this could be referred to as Web-nesday perhaps 🙂  Corny or catchy???  Overall, it was a big day in my digital evolution and I am looking forward to continuing this journey of moving outside my paper and pencil box.


Quick Commentary

It’s Sunday evening and I’ve been battling a cold all week so I’m going to make this quick.  First of all, I’m still waiting for the smart board 😦  We are having six installed at my school and apparently some of the classrooms need some electrical work before their boards can go in.  My classroom’s installation is therefore on hold until the electrical work of others is done.  We are one step closer though; they came and painted the surface where the smart board will be going!  Also this week I started created a smart board reference for myself and my learning project.  So far I’ve found some great sites with smart board games and activities, as well as some sites that have how to information.  I am really excited to start using my smart board.

Secondly, I really enjoyed our lecture on Tuesday night about Understanding Digital Citizenship.  Last fall the middle school that I teach at in Swift Current actually had Alec come present to our student body about digital citizenship and the idea of their digital footprint.  The message is so powerful, but I think it might be lost on many students.  I remember talking to lots of parents last year about their child’s online activity and many told me their son or daughter wasn’t allowed to have Facebook or Instagram or Twitter.  At the time I was thinking about how this was such a good idea.  However, after this last lecture and upon learning as much as I have in the past few weeks in this class, it’s true that ignorance is not always bliss.  I totally understand that these parents are simply trying to protect their children from the potential negative outcomes of being a digital citizen, but I think education is the key.  Could we not draw similarities between this and teaching our children about other potentially harmful realities (ex: sex and drugs)?  My parents always thought is was better to be open and honest and trust that I was smart enough to make an informed decision.  Should this not be the same with the digital world that we live in now?  I tweeted and was retweeted (8times!!!) about the idea Alec mentioned about citizenship being built on integrity, on and off line.  We need to be teaching kids, as parents and educators, about what integrity means on and off line.  The big question for me is how do we teach kids that anonymity is not a green light for immoral behaviour/comments.  I know I need to do a better job of teaching and modelling how to source and the difference between copyright and copyleft.

Thirdly, I was playing around a little tonight with my word press account and figured out where you can see your blog stats!  Pretty cool how you can see how many views on any given day, as well as a map of where people are viewing from.  Very cool!

I think that’s all for now.  Every week I’m left with a grocery list of websites to check out, articles to read, videos to watch, people to follow, and concepts to research to better my learning and my citizenship.  I am thoroughly enjoying the learning experience.  Two months ago I would never have imaged myself getting so excited about getting multiple retweets and yet, here I am blogging about it.  Please, if you have any Smart board suggestions I would love for you to comment!

Looking for to Tuesday!

Adios Avoidance!

I am putting my avoidance and procrastination behind me and I’m going to attempt to write my third post.  I think the reason for my lack of sharing in the past couple weeks is because I’ve been feeling very overwhelmed.  Writing a post feels almost as daunting as the 70 RADs that are sitting on my kitchen table, waiting to be marked.  Not that I don’t enjoy writing, in fact I like the opportunity to stretch my writing skills, it’s just that I have so much to say and not quite sure how to say it.  I also think I haven’t totally invested in my digital persona.

I am really enjoying the class and the guest speakers, but there is just such a huge amount of information that it’s hard to take it all in.  I’m also finding it difficult to find the time to blog, tweet, google+, pin, etc.  However, having said that I have started following a variety of education related twitter feeds and I am getting so many awesome ideas and learning so much.  There are more interesting tweets related to education and implementing technology in the classroom than I ever would have imagined.  I am really enjoying being privy to this information, even if I don’t get to every single link.  @edudemic and @edutopia are two that I get a lot of informative links from.  I don’t know how people find the time to search out the articles and information, tweet it, as well as follow others and do everything else that is expected of us in this class.  I appreciate that others have blogged that they feel similarly; I’m finding comfort in the fact that I’m not alone.  Although I may not be tweeting hourly or even daily I do feel that I’ve come a long way from where I began.  I can say that I actually understand what a hashtag is now, where as before I didn’t have the faintest.  This apropos video that I retweeted made me laugh out loud, when before I would have been wondering what a # is the whole time.

Since I last posted about my frustration, you can probably see to the right, I got my Twitter feed working thanks to @suewaters.  I have overcome my first blogging frustration!  Another thing that I have undertaken is a MOOC via Princeton University on Coursera about The History of the World since 1300 (#learningproject).  I had been thinking about my major project and not making any decisions.  Finally I searched some MOOCs and found a few that interested me.  The reason I chose this one is because I think my understanding of history is fairly accurate, but I struggle with putting the pieces together.  And being a social studies teacher I feel that my understanding of historical events should be better.  This class posts two lectures every Sunday.  I was a little late getting into the class so I am a couple lectures behind, but am working on catching up.  So far I have learned about the Silk Roads, Ghengis Khan, the Black Death, the Ming Dynasty, and the Ottoman Empire.  There are also suggested readings, but I haven’t gotten to those yet, and as far as the assignments go, I don’t think I’m expected to do those (?).

My plan for conquering this blog from here on out is to write shorter blogs more often so that my thoughts don’t pile up, making it more of an undertaking.  Ok, I think that’s all for now.  I have managed to take one bite out of this intimidating elephant.