So Far, So Fast: Reflection and Proposal

This final post of course four is intended for personal reflection and a project proposal. I’ve put off writing this post not for lack of ideas but for abundance. The door to technology in teaching has been thrown open and there are so many places I want to go!

REFLECTION

Let’s start with the reflection. If you had asked me a year ago about my use of technology in the classroom I would have told you it was moderate. However, that would only have been true if moderate is a synonym for pathetic. I had a class blog but it was focused on parent communication rather than student use. We used computers for word processing and…that’s about it. What I love about looking back, though, is seeing how far I have come.

I started the COETAIL courses last January but didn’t pick up the pace of technology integration right away. Theoretically I agreed with everything the course presented. Practically, I was overwhelmed with my first year at a new school in a new country and the abundance of intimidating tools I knew nothing about. As teachers from the first cohort threw around terms like Voicethread, student blogging, and Wallwisher I realized just how much I didn’t know and crawled deeper into my paper and pencil comfort zone.

My personal turning point came in September at the Learning 2.010 conference in Shanghai. I participated in a Social Media cohort. The facilitators emphasized working within our comfort zone and coming away with something we could use immediately in the classroom. I had completely dropped my classroom blog so I decided to work on that. Having three days to focus on blog fiddling, classroom conversation, and technology exposure was the opportunity I needed to give technology my undivided attention. Cohort members shared ideas, presented online resources and, most importantly, I was able to do things I felt I didn’t have time for in my regular schedule. I didn’t actually learn HOW to do new things. Rather, I learned how to use skills I already had in new ways. This gave me the confidence to try small things in the classroom and, as we all know, small things often grow into big things before our fears have time to stop them.

And just look at me now. I’m one course and one project away from completing this certificate program AND I’m less than two weeks away from facilitating a technology workshop for teachers who have the same deadly mix of ambition/apprehension I had less than a year ago. Who would have thought?!
Well, actually I would have thought. I have always loved technology and really wanted to use it more in the classroom. But, as I have already mentioned, I like to know exactly what I am doing. I put off doing things with my kids because I didn’t feel like I was enough of an expert. As soon as I let go of that fear a little things took off and my comfort level grew exponentially.

PROPOSAL

So, in the spirit of jumping in blindly I propose a project involving the use of Voicethread in conjunction with scientific notebooking and photography (and hoping I’m not biting off more than I can chew).
This fall I took a photography course from this guy that emphasized using photography to enhance student work. I immediately put cameras in my students hands to document a science investigation and this is what happened. My grade level team has had discussions recently regarding the role of notebooking to document and develop student understanding in science. Finally, Voicethread is one tool I have yet to use at all. By putting two things I am working on together with something I’ve never touched I hope to develop all three and provide my students with an opportunity to synthesize and share their learning in a new and meaningful way.

Here are the general ideas of what I hope to do:

  • Follow the FOSS Stuctures of Life module investigations as stated.
  • Provide each group with a camera and assign the job of photographer for each investigation.
  • Students will choose photo(s) from each investigation they feel best represents the learning they want to share.
  • Students will narrate the photo(s) from each investigation to create a mini-digital portfolio of this unit.

Stay tuned for more details as investigation and technological planning progress. Hopefully this is going somewhere good. Suggestions are welcome!

The Outtakes (aka rejected project ideas that I reserve the right to use)

  • Enhanced student blogging: The thought behind this idea was to continue on the blogging path my class has already started, guiding the students through image searches and attribution, linking relevant sites, etc.
  • Tech Train 2011: Come on…planning for and facilitating a cohort of teachers who consider themselves beginners has to count for something! It’s not working with my third grade students but it does involve furthering the cause of technology as a classroom tool.
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