Archive | November, 2013

Twitter as my PLN

21 Nov

After 13 years of teaching, I decided to take this year off (and possibly more) to focus on raising my own children. With one starting kindergarten and another in the preschool years, I just felt like time with my children was slipping by too fast. It has been a been a difficult adjustment for me, mainly because I miss being “in the loop”. I don’t have a break room to hang out in and get the latest updates on school events, nor do I have interactions with fellow teachers about the latest app or cool gadget. I miss it, but I don’t necessarily feel like I’m completely removed from my ed tech world. And I have social media to thank.
While I try to read blogs and the news to stay up to date, I feel like Twitter has become my indispensable resource for staying in the know. Over the years I have been able to meet many different educators from all over the nation, many of which I follow on Twitter as part of my PLN. I’m one of those lurkers on Twitter, who doesn’t post a ton, but am there every day reading along and getting ideas. I value knowing the thoughts of others, and when I see something that really resonates, I share it.
I know that some people are overwhelmed by the vast amount of information shared through Twitter, and wonder how to keep up. The key is realizing you don’t have to keep up. You go to it when you need it, and you can count on the fact that there is always something new to learn from it. It has helped keep me connected even when I’m running around changing diapers or waiting in the school pickup line.

Computer Science Education Week: December 9-15, 2013

14 Nov

As a former high school computer science teacher (one of the many hats I’ve worn), I was amazed at what my students were able learn about computer programming all on their own.  Give them a problem, and they would figure it out. With a little direction on my part, they created some incredible projects. I realized how important of a skill problem solving is for students to have, and wish that more schools included some form of programming in their curriculum.

To highlight computer programming, December 9-15, 2013 has been designated as Computer Science Education Week. This yearly event is designed to highlight the importance of computer programming, as well as give an introduction to students who may not know much about computer science. One of the newer additions to this week is the Hour of Code. Tutorials have been created by several groups to help introduce programming and app making to students and hopefully open the door to Computer Science for them. Plus, there are several web sites and software programs(Alice, Scratch, Code.org) out there that are a great introduction to programming. Give it a try, you’d be surprised at how easy it really is!

R(e)post of the Week: Pen Pals for the 21st Century

8 Nov

On Edutopia today, Lisa Mim, a fifth grade teacher from Delaware,  shows why the art of letter writing is not dead and how new technologies can aid you in helping your students connect with pals around the world in Pen Pals for the 21st Century. Anytime we can give students an authentic audience for their writing and other communication, we almost always increase motivation and engagement!

If you build it, they will figure out a way to hack it.

8 Nov

Recently, the LA school district decided to slow down their 1-to-1 iPad deploymentbecause some of the students figured out how to hack around the firewall system that blocked them from “undesirable” web sites. In almost every school I have taught, students have figured out a way to circumvent the internet firewalls that have been placed on the school districts’ network. Even if one of the work arounds is discovered by the district IT staff and disabled, the students will find another way. Technically, it is a violation of the district acceptable use policy, but it makes me smile. This shows they are learning in the most authentic way possible, about topics that matter to them. They have been given access to technological tools that are supposed to help them learn, and they want to use them to access apps and web sites that interest them and are figuring out a way to do it. They are problem solving, using their creativity, and exploring. Isn’t this what education should be all about?
The fear of unknown regarding technology has to end. As educators and parents, we need to model and instruct students in the appropriate and responsible use of all technology, and trust our students to make the right decisions. Yes, there will always be a few that can’t handle it, but you would be amazed at what students can create when you give them the tools and let them go.

R(e)Post of the Week: Quiz Bean- Quickly Create & Distribute Online Quizzes

1 Nov

Fridays at PDBYTES are R(e)post Day, where we’ll share the link to a great ed tech post from one of the blogs we follow.

For our first Friday, I’m sharing  QuizBean – Quickly Create and Distribute Online Quizzes from Richard Byrne’s Free Technology for Teachers. I follow a lot of blogs, but his site is definitely my “go to” for keeping current on web tools. I’m recommending his post on QuizBean because it looks like a great site for posting visual quizzes, whether you’re posting diagrams or equations as Byrne suggests, or perhaps quizzing students in world languages or ELL classes.