To start - I am thrilled to continue my professional development through this course and program, especially after a fantastic and valuable experience through my involvement in PLP this past school year. I have been teaching for a total of 3 years - definitely a "new-be" in the education world. So when I say, 'I have always used technology in my classroom' - do not be shocked, since I have not been teaching long! :) I believe that my job as a teacher is not only a satisfying career, but an important one. More than ever before, education is at a crossroads. We need to choose as teachers whether or not we will make the change that is beneficial and necessary for our students. Change is not always fun, but it will always be a part of our lives. I know, without a doubt, that I have developed more professionally this year through PLP than in my four years of college (should I say that?!?!). Social technologies make it possible and handy to learn from and exchange ideas with educators around the world. As I began to develop my PLN (Professional Learning Network) beyond the walls of my classroom & school building - the learning far exceeded my expectations. I am not where I want to be (by any means!)...but I believe I am on the right track.
As I begin the process towards my masters degree, I want to reflect on my initial thoughts and reactions to Alan November's Ted talk and Randy Nelson's video. I agree with Alan when he discusses how students need to be involved in the own learning. He says, "it's absolutely fascinating what they will do without a grade, without money, just because they...own it, built it!" Students need to be engaged and participating in a learning environment where they are given authentic learning experiences. Do we have a meaningful purpose for each and every assignment? To be honest, I know there are times in my classroom where this has not been the whole truth! When the students take ownership of their learning, make choices, collaborate with others, become connected learners, and have a purpose - this is when learning explodes! Through multiple projects, I have seen the positive results of this in my classroom. One in particular, my students had the choice to pick a topic of interest (within the curriculum) and become the 'expert.' The students used GoogleDocs to collaborate with their group members, as they researched information and created their unique presentations. It was hard for me to give up the control and allow the students to go for it; however, the results WOWed me! :) As the students presented, other students became interested in the topics and researched even more. They started working with other members in the classroom to begin new projects (on their own, without me giving them the assignment). It was totally student-directed, and they learned SO MUCH from each other.
Here is where I get stuck - as I, along with other educators, begin to shift the ownership of learning to the kids from the teacher - what is the most effective way to organize your classroom? How do I get to this place? I have been making small changes, by incorporating various tech tools and 21st century skills in my classroom; however, I do not want to simply give assignments/projects here and there. I want to figure out how to create this culture of learning in my classroom - everyday! Throughout this summer and the rest of this program, my hope is to develop an even stronger PLN where I can learn from others and hopefully someday answer these questions and many more...
"Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success." - Henry Ford
This blog will be a reflection of my experiences this summer and beyond, as I strengthen my PLN and discover new Web 2.0 tools that will engage my students in authentic learning experiences. Also, this blog will be used as my portfolio - a collection of created "products" - as I explore different online tools and activities. Through technology, we have the opportunity to connect and communicate with individuals from all over the world. My hope is that this blog will develop into a resource and inspiration for other educators.