Are you ready to grow? What's holding you back?

Are you ready to grow?    What's holding you back?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Connectivism and Knowledge

How do they relate? One of the strategies we teach in reading is making connections. In everything we read we take the time to talk about how it connects to other text, or to self. The students become better readers and learners because they think beyond what they are reading. If they can make a connection, it means something to them, they gain understanding and knowledge.

Teaching our students how to connect with each other, their families, their communities and behond will help them become strong, productive community members. When students are simply provided with information they have the ability to gain knowledge, but won't necessarily learn how to use it or where to find it when needed. What struck me most in Siemen's chapter about Connectivisim,, was the question, What happens when knowledge flows too fast for processing or interpreting? Are we getting close to a time when there is more information given to us than we can handle? Although the human capacity for learning is tremendous, technology has provided us with ways to organize and manage knowledge. We don't need to be able to store all information, but have the ability to locate it and use it. What that means to me in the classroom is that I need to be teaching students to learn rather than learning for them and simply passing on the information!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What are Blogs?

The idea of what a blog is grows in my mind as I experience them more and read more about them. I think a blog is not only a place for people to freely post their opinions and ideas, but it is a tool to collaborate on similar goals or projects.

As a middle school math teacher I have discovered some advanced math students that are enthusiastic for higher level math activities, a way for them to use the skills and knowledge they have and apply it to real world situations. Not all of those students are currently in my class, so I struggled to come up with a method to keep them involved and thinking, while communicating with me and their classmates. So I set up a blog Math for Life, . On this blog the students are asked to view various videos that relate to the topic. They will be posting their comments and working collaboratively to answer the essential question. The other exciting piece in blogging is the possibilities of inviting other professional into the conversation. It's much easier to do than to have a guest speaker into the classroom.

Last year I set up a literature blog with my reading students and we held book group meetings on the blog, the greatest effect of that was the fact that the quietest students in class had a lot to say, it was great to hear their voice!

For me, this is just the beginning of blogging!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

School 2.0

I am struck by how many times in the past few weeks I have read about our 21st century world, how quickly it has changed over the past 20 years and in contrast how slowly the nation's schools have changed. The gap between the skills our children need to be successful in the 21st century society and what is being taught in schools is growing. Although many teachers make efforts to "keep up" with technology and its affects on everyday living, it would be difficult to affect the needed changes in schools without full input and support from faculty, administration, board members, community members, state and national government. It is much bigger than what one can accomplish on their own, it needs to be larger group effort.

School 2.0, , is designed to help schools organize community discussions and make plans to meet educational goals. It encourages schools to discuss what the next generation of students will need to function in a different world than those who are currently educating them. School 2.0 guides the discussion about ways that schools need to change and how technology supports those changes.

The process begins with the people, it encourages involvement from a number of representatives from the whole community. This is one positive of the program, in my eyes, as it's time for educators to realize and accept the fact that one room, one teacher, school houses are now gone, and so is the time when teachers can close the doors to their classroom and still be successful with their students. In order to prepare our students well for what is coming their way, we must open the doors and go beyond.

School 2.0 leads these community members in a discussion of goals for their students and school. They design a school, program and instruction to support their goals. This is another important aspect, how often do we realize the needed improvements or changes in our programs, when the building or equipment is not designed to support these changes?

The group is then lead to the technology piece, exploring how technology can bring the world into the school and focuses on engaging all members of the community to educate its young. The group is guided in purchasing technology that will support the schools management needs and instructional needs.

Once all of these steps have been taken School 2.0 guides the participants in creating a well-documented plan.

I do believe School 2.0 could be an effective tool for communities to begin the process of change. There is no doubt in my mind that the process needs to happen. But, before it can the people involved need to have a strong understanding of the need. This, I believe, is the bigger challenge. Change is hard for many people, it is difficult for them to leave their place of comfort. But, without the willingness to look into the future for our students, we will not be able to prepare them for the larger world they will encounter.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My Thoughts

How exciting to have, yet another opportunity to learn more about technology, especially when it relates to education and gaining knowledge. The more I learn about technology, the more I realize I don't know! I tend to be a task oriented type of person, who feels a sense of acomplishment every time I complete something and can check it off my list. However, it didn't take me long to realize that technology and my education around it was never going to be checked off. That's okay though, because one of the reasons I went into education was so that I could foster my need to be a life long learner. The constant changes in technology will certainly give me that opportunity.

I am thrilled to learn more about podcasts, from what I know and have seen already, the wheels are turning about integrating them into my classroom. I have used blogs in the past school year to converse with all of my students about their reading. We have had some great book discussions on a blog. Not only is it a great medium for students to contribute to, it also encourages them to listen more to others and respond to their comments. Wiki's are fairly new to me, the idea that we don't just have the experts sharing their knowledge in a one way conversation, but that we have information from many sources that are working together to enrich each other is very exciting.