Let’s get this out of the way…
Yes, I’m a millennial. And yes, I know my way around a computer–my ability to effortlessly ford the river in Oregon Trail as an eight-year-old can attest to that. But in considering the ever-expanding world of tech, I’m admittedly intimidated. Striving to incorporate technology into the classroom in a meaningful way tends to amplify those anxieties. That being said, the internet is vast and contains endless resources; ready to serve an ambitious yet anxious novice teacher. Over the past few weeks, I have absorbed the knowledge of ed-tech experts through resources such as feedly and twitter; gathering strategies, lesson plan ideas, and pedagogical approaches to employ in my classroom.
Thinking outside the box: Educator Caitlin Tucker
Through Feedly, I was able to discover the blog of Educator Caitlin Tucker, who, in addition to teaching Honors English in Sonoma County, is a “Google Certified Innovator, bestselling author, international trainer, and frequent Edtech speaker.” While Caitlin addresses a variety of tech-related topics on her blog, I was drawn immediately to a post in which she discusses problems with traditional grades. Even as a novice teacher, I have consistently struggled with the overarching concept of traditional grades– what they measure, how they affect students, and whether or not they accurately gauge mastery of skills. In the midst of a challenging year of navigating the methods and philosophies I would like to practice in my own classroom, Caitlin’s words were helpful. To more clearly synthesize the ideas expoused in her blog post, I’ve created the following infographic (using Canva):
The Web 2.0 Connected Classroom
Again, through Feedly I was able to find a fantastic blog on the intersection of Ed and Tech, titled: Blogging About The Web 2.0 Classroom. The blog is run by a former teacher-turned-Instructional Technologist named Steven W. Anderson, and he serves as a bountiful source of knowledge for all things social media and tech in the classroom.
In browsing through his blog, I was immediately drawn to a post titled: “The Tech-Savvy Educator: 6 Areas of Development.” After being introduced to the SAMR model and TPACK in the beginning of the quarter, I have since more conscientiously considered the how and why behind using different forms of tech in the classroom. As someone who previously thought substitution was sufficient in terms of engaging students–e.g. slapping together a powerpoint and hoping for the best–Steven’s post offers straight-forward, helpful tips on how to evolve into a tech-savvy educator.
In the above infographic, Steven outlines the 6 areas of Tech-Savviness. In particular, I was drawn to area of “Formative Assessment.” as assessments are something I struggle with in terms of quality, and what constitutes quality. Additionally, Steven provides a helpful table categorized into “Area,” “The Why,” and “Sample Tools.” This table reminds me of the “Weekly Resources” Doc we have used in Professor Ciecek’s course, and is also a fantastic way to organize information, concepts, and strategies. In the “Formative Assessment” section, Steven references Padlet, EdPuzzle, and Plickers as formative assessment resources. Additionally, I was interested in the “Reflection” category, which includes resources such as Flipgrid in which students can respond to topics with short videos. Through YouTube, I came across the following video tutorial which better explains how the application can be used in the classroom:
SoulPancake: Inspiration for Teacher and Student
To begin, SoulPancake is the labor of love from Rainn Wilson. If you don’t recognize that name, he’s the actor behind the character Dwight Schrute in The Office:
The tagline of the website is “We make stuff that matters,” which, as an educator, is definitely something I can buy into. While I have been a consumer of SoulPancake’s content for years now, I have recently realized what a valuable tool it is in terms of offering encouragement in times of distress; something my students and I can equally benefit from. While the content is not directly related to ELA, I strongly believe in my role in motivating my kids beyond the scope of content. I want them to be compassionate, kind, and thoughtful human beings. And these videos encourage those things.
Through browsing Emerging EdTech, I came across a handful of motivational videos which I would love to show my students. In the 5 videos posted, my favorite was the following–titled “What’s Stopping You From Achieving Your Goals?”
The video–though brief– treats the topic of fear, which is universal to the human experience. In beginning my career as a teacher, I experience fear. When I experiment with new tech tools in the classroom, I experience fear. When my kids take risks–yep, fear. In browsing through this resource of videos, I noted the topics, and considered the overarching themes and messages. I realized that the act of seeking out these things (topics and themes) is integral to the ELA classroom, and I became inspired to use them in future lessons on teaching my kids about topics vs. themes. Empowered by the message, I reaped the additional reward of finding a way to simultaneously inspire my students and engage them in content-related skills.