Teaching Technology to Teachers

Liz B. Davis is the Director of Academic Technology at Belmont Hill School, an independent, all boys, grades 7-12 school outside of Boston, MA.  I enjoy reading her blog,  The Power of Educational Technology.    In a recent post, she gives 10 points on how to teach technology to teachers.  She makes it sound so simple, and yet, I know it works.  Thanks, Liz, for putting this into words.  Here her main points, verbatim. 

1. It isn’t really about the tool it is about how you use it: it’s how to create a meaningful and effective presentation.

2. Differentiate: Provide lots of different avenues for teachers to learn.

3. Don’t be the only teacher: Encourage teachers to work together and coach each other.

4. Ask lots of questions: try to get to the pedagogical goal for the tool.

5. Enlist your PLN: Reach out to your PLN for support and ideas, read blogs, follow folks on Twitter, ask questions, share your frustrations.  [I REALLY TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS ONE!]

6. Remember there is great teaching without technology: respect the expertise of your colleagues.

7. Acknowledge your teachers’ anxiety and expertise: they just haven’t learned how to do it yet.

8. Start with the early adopters: start with the easy folks, the ones who want your help.

9. Observe your colleagues: it will give you some ideas of ways you can support them.

10. Don’t touch the mouse:  when people mouse they learn to do things themselves.

SmartBoard Resources

I find so much useful information on Twitter.  Larry Ferrlazo’s recent tweet recommends a great blog, MagistraM on WordPress.com.  Here is the except and link to Teachers Love SmartBoards.

Teachers Love SmartBoards has an enormous collection of SMART Board resources that are easily searched by subject area and by type of activity. What really has impacted my teaching, though, are the tutorials. These are really easy to follow and will show you how to improve and update your Notebook files to really make an impact in your classroom.”

Best Web 2.0 Applications for Elementary School

Thanks to an amazing list of “The Best Web 2.o Application for Education-2007” from Larry Ferlazzo’s Website,  and Sylvia Tolisano from Langwitches Blog,  I am posting their list of the applications that have been the most useful or promising in the Elementary School scene.  Of course, I’m adding ones that I currently use, as well.  New tools are developing daily – keep researching to stay up to date!

  1. Animoto
    Create your own music video, simply by uploading your own images and selecting music. + Students LOVED seeing themselves on the video. – Limit of 30 seconds
  2. Slide.com
    Create your own slideshow, then embed in your classroom blog.
  3. Slideshare
    Upload your students’ or your own powerpoint files in order to embed them on your classroom blog
  4. Lunapic
    Web based image editor. Great effecs and animations.
  5. Voicethread
    Upload your images, record your voice over each image, invite others to collaborate, embed in your blog, collaborative storytelling
  6. Ning
    Create your own social network place for your students. Ning will even remove the ads, if you write to them that they are for elementary school students. Great potential to teach our younger students about social networkign in a safe environment.
  7. Google Earth & Maps
    Take a virtual tour around the world, create placemarks, add your own images or videos. Have students add their own descriptions. Save and share placemarks and virutal tours on your blog. Embed Google Maps on your classroom blog.
  8. Flickr
    THE best photosharing site. Especially love the many other sites, that mash-up and integrate with Flickr. Once your photos are uploaded to Flickr, there is no need to upload again and you can use the URL provided for different sizes for other applications as well
  9. Picasa
    A Google application relative, I use this constantly to create slideshows to embed in our school website.
  10. Mixbook
    Great potential for collaborative classroom creation, editing and publishing of books. Great variety of layouts, including text AND images.
  11. Tikatok
    Kids channel their imagination into stories – and publish those stories into books for you to share and treasure with friends and family
  12. WordPress
    Blogging platform (Free). Can be hosted by WordPress or your own server. I especially like the widget features, plug-ins and theme varieties available.
  13. Flashcard Friends  
    A  free social network for creating, sharing, learning and self-testing using online flashcards created by the students of teachers. It is a great way to build knowledge and boost test scores. The spelling flashcards are really popular.
  14. ePals
    ePals is the social network optimized for K-12 learning.  Students learn by sharing email regarding their studies.  This application is also now available in Spanish – Eduteca   Bienvenido a la versión beta del Portal en Español de ePals, que lo vincula con la comunidad mundial de ePals

New School Year

Another school year has begun and I reflect on the role of being a teacher and how it has changed for me over the years.  I’ve seen it from several points of view – that of a beginning teacher, veteran teacher, musicologist, technologist, and administrator.  One thing remains the same, regardless of the category;  motivated students want to learn and motivated teachers want to teach. 

Teachers’ pedagogy styles are so varied – just as the students’  learning styles are also varied.  It is miraculous that over a short period of time, those various styles and needs become congruent.  It’s the curriculum that binds the two worlds together, and the administrative acumen that propels the dynamics of education. 

I am really enjoying the luxury of Twitter as an educational tool.  People I don’t even know, but who thrive on education and it’s complexities, will contribute their expertise to ‘tweet’ about innovations, reforms, and new tools.  Regardless of the hour, I can simply type in a username and password, and visit fellow educators all over the world to collect new strategies that are freely shared.  My, how things have changed over the years.

School Resumes Aug.24, 2009

After two weeks of intense professional development and planning, the doors will swing wide on Monday morning and a fresh group of little people will walk in, some with anxious parents, some all on their own.  What will they expect?   It’s up to me to provide an inviting atmosphere that has been well prepared and interesting – it’s so important to get their attention from the first encounter.

So many children, even the Pre-K and Kinder babies, have either played games on a computer or watched their parent(s) use one at home.  At least, that takes some of the fear out of walking into a computer lab full of machines for the first time.  I have to remember that I am teaching digital natives, not digital immigrants.   My task is to assure the little ones that this is not only going to be fun, but a growing-up process.

The Houston ISD technology curriculum for PK-5 begins with input/output devices  and acceptable use policies.  With that in mind as a first-week objective,  I  ‘break the ice’ the first day by taking an informal inventory of what technology devices they have at home  and what they might like to explore.  In varying degrees, I am able to dialogue in general about the objectives and give ownership to the students.

Knowing the curriculum I am teaching for an entire school year in advance allows me plenty of room to navigate and adjust through the content.  My goal for this school year is to have my students, all 750+ of them,  accomplish not just the minimum requirements, but to exceed expectations and be proud to demonstrate what they have learned.

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