Monday, September 30, 2013

Web 2.0

Today I took part in my very first Web 2.0 Event. I was at first a little sceptical, because I wasn't sure if I would feel comfortable enough to speak up, or if I was going to feel like I belonged. Since my true passion is Early Childhood Education I decided to look for a Tweet Chat that applied to early childhood. I found #kinderchat

As the event started I was overwhelmed by the welcome that I received, people from the UK were asking me where I was from and commenting on my remarks. This week the subject was on policy regarding early childhood. I had no idea of the working conditions  in some other countries. For example in England there average room size is 44! I was taken back my this. How is this possible? In Iowa the ratio for a three year old room is 1:8 (one teacher for every eight children) and the average class size is 16. During the tweet chat we talked about how if just for one day a policy maker could be in the shoes of a teacher, if they had to be in a classroom with 44 children, with 44 diapers to change or potty breaks, their lives would be changed as would the policies. We also discussed how to support one another knowing what we know about the policies we are dealt. So many said that we can support one another by sharing our ideas, our success, and failures. I have learned so much while being a part of this chat, and I do plan on joining in on it every week.
I think this is an awesome way to stay connected with not only teachers in our town or city, but with teachers across oceans. I will use this learning tool as a support in the future, and a way to keep my ongoing education alive. It is amazing what you can learn about another country and the situations they are in, and how policy affects all of us no matter where we are.
I used to think that policy problems were only right out our front door, and now I think that we need to stay united and fight together.

Food for thought: If you had the opportunity to learn from teachers across the world would you take that opportunity? Or would you just let it pass by you?

Image under creative commons/google images.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Technology is not a fad.

Staying connected is becoming an easy thing to do in this day in age. Yet, in my work place where we have many staff working with the same children everyday we have the hardest time staying connected. So the question came to mind tonight while my coworkers and I were sitting at a round table talking about how we can better stay connected...Why are we treating technology as if it were a fad? Clearly it is not going anywhere, so why are we sitting there wondering how we can better communicate with each other, and the parents of the children in our care? Sure we can do a better job of writing notes and posting them on the board for one another to see, but papers get lost, time is of the essence, and once again communication is lost. Now the only problem is that I work in a non-profit childcare center so funds are limited, but we all have phones, we all use facebook, are we forgetting this along the way? We need to be educators of the future.  By doing so we can take action, we can be responsible for our learning and our students learning. We don't need to know everything or fix every problem, but one thing I know for sure is, we need simple ways to make our jobs less stressful. My biggest passion is Early Childhood Education and one thing i know is that their lives change not just daily, but moment to moment, and we as teachers need to know ways to inform parents of this and other staff that are working with the children. Some days it can be about a food allergy that can be life threatening or it can just be that little Bobby had a hard time waking up from nap today. It doesn't matter what it is, to a parent every moment is important. So I am here saying technology is not a fad, it is a bridgeway to student, teacher,and parent success.
Watch this video clip to give you a BIG eye opener to the fact that Technology Is NOT a FAD! It is here and it is strong.
Are you going to be old in your ways of communication or are you going to take control of your learning and your student's learning by being NEW in your ways?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Engaged Blogging

After spending some time thinking about what I wanted to blog about today, I began thinking about what age/grade I want to teach. I am a double major in Early Childhood and Elementary Education, so my ideal grade would be Kindergarten or First grade. Then I thought; how can I really use technology in my future classroom? I mean more than just saying ok instead of writing our book with paper we are going to type it. So I came across the blog posting by Sam Patterson, with the subject of KidBlog. After looking into this amazing PLT(personal learning tool), it was like hitting the nail on the head. Kid blog is safe, students don't need emails to set up their own blog, and it's different. I think getting kids blogging is a great way for them to be creative, and its going to help them take responsibility for their own work. WHY? Because when they write a blog posting it isn't just going to be turned in on my desk for only my eyes, it will be there for their peers to read. While I am not all that familiar with kidblog I still support the idea of using blogging as another way to meet every students diverse needs.
*While I was on twitter I found another follower who was blogging about kidblog, here are her thoughts about this fun exciting way to get kids engaged.
 How to get a classroom of kids blogging in 5 minutes.
How I would use this tool:
Imagine a room of first graders on a Monday morning. You walk in the room and the air is filled with chatter, you overhear several students talking about the soccer game they played in on Saturday, you hear a group boys talk about the newest "zombie" game, and so on and so on. How would you counteract all that energy into a creative writing assignment? I would use Kidblog. Have them do their weekly journal/blog entry as a way to stay connected with their peers. Eventually, after a few weeks time you can walk into a room with silence because they are all blogging about their weekend fun and experiences.
Also, how about having a blog page setup to communicate with students and their parents. First graders have a lot on their plate, remembering their homework assignments is sometimes the least of their worries. Have a daily assignment entry along with an attachment of the assignment so that just in case the dog actually did eat their homework they find a way to succeed instead of coming up with an excuse of why they didn't.

I am very excited to someday put this tool to use. How are some of you using Kidblog? What are your thoughts?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Eating the Chocolate Cake

I was watching one of my favorite movies the other day...Julia and Julia. A story about a modern day women who begins blogging her way through Julia Child's cookbook. There are some 500 recipes in the book and she wants to complete them in 365 days. This is one of my favorite movies because I love to cook and bake, but also I love how this woman decided to do this blog for accomplish more in a day than just punching in at her terrible job. Throughout the movie I laugh at parts when modern day Julia is having a terrible time in the kitchen and things are not going her way. The next day while walking home from class I had a thought... cooking is a lot like teaching.
We have one year to teach as many lessons as we can, we have to follow a recipe, we use different tools, and sometimes we fail, but when we succeed man it tastes good! Helping a student become independent, self sufficient, and a leader is like taking a big bite out of yummy piece of delicious chocolate cake. Sometimes there will be failure but if we get up in the morning put our chefs hat back on we can create success.
Another part of the movie that helps wrap this all up...while Julia is blogging in the beginning of her journey she feels as though nobody is reading. In fact at one point she asks "Is anyone out there...anyone? " Teaching again is a lot like this, sometimes we feel like we are talking to the wall, but then we regroup and find new ways to engage our students, and get them excited about what they are learning, we are in turn making them responsible for their own learning.
Things we can do so that we can eat the chocolate cake: Give students access. Help them become leaders...But how do we do this? Watch this video, I know it is a long one but it really gets you thinking about how we get to the next step. 

Are you ready to eat the chocolate cake of success? 

Photo credit to Debie R (freekgirl) of flikr.
Video under creative commons. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Simulation vs. Real Interactive Power

This week while catching up on my reading and following of bloggers I came across a blog by Scott Mcleod. The topic that caught my attention was Two Cans and A String Aren't Enough. In the beginning you read about how one teacher is doing what she can to make do with what she has to give students in her classroom a sort of social media atmosphere or simulated world to interact in, but by using paper and pencils. As I am reading this I am thinking wow that's a really great idea. (I hope I am intriguing you to go and read the blog post.)
Scott makes a BIG POINT at the end of his post. Are districts going to look at this teacher's actions and point out that if she could make do than all teachers can make do without digital tools in the classroom? Now don't get me wrong this teacher did a remarkable thing, but in some way she could have used an actual blog or set up an actual classroom twitter account. NO MORE EXCUSES! We need to give students the benefit of having technology not only for social aspect of it, but also for the intellectual aspect of it. We don't have to have a 1:1 atmosphere to start introducing digital tools in the classroom, it all starts with one step, one IPad, or a couple laptops. Look at how many students have smart phones, why not use that to your advantage with BYOD ( Bring your Own Device). Here is a great video of using what you have and making the best of it.

It's time to start doing all that we can to bring in any aspect of technology, not just because it is fun, but because it is going to benefit each and every student. 
Time to get your brain thinking...
Are you using what you have to make do? or is there more that you can be doing to making the "do" a little bit better?

*You Tube clip under creative commons. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Entering the Blogoshpere

A few months ago I began blogging, but I have to admit I started this process as a requirement for a class. I will also confess that I am here again blogging for a class requirement but this time I have begun to see the full advantages to being a part of a "blogoshpere". I have really taken the time in the last few months to dig into blogs and see what the use is and how I can become a better Educator by becoming an advocate for blogging and a become a continual blogger myself. 
Something that I am finding to be useful in finding blogs and staying connected with bloggers is TWITTER! Have you taken the time to follow some educators or even just some people that are passionate about technology? I have and I am amazed everyday at the amount of techies that are tweeting to keep us all up to date,connected, and relevant. It is also helping me to see how technology is being more and more integrated within the classroom.  
Here are a few great people to be following:
Bringing it back to blogging each one of these people that I am following on Twitter also have blogs that I subscribe to. Everyday I am reading their thoughts and ideas on the world of technology through education. I am excited to dig deeper and stay Connected through the world of digital togetherness. Staying connected is a Big part of today's society, so I am a firm believer in becoming a change agent, and in doing so we are building tomorrow's leaders. 
To build leaders we need to stay connected as teachers...and here is an idea as to how it will help our students. 

Ask yourself: 
Are you staying connected? Are you keeping your student's connected? Are you building leaders?