Thursday, January 17, 2013

Capstone Reflection 21 Things for 21st Century Teachers Thing 1 to 7

This course on 21 things for 21 century teachers has been a refreshing reminder that what I am doing as an educator in learning new technology is useful and helpful. I have learned about a couple new tools that I had not used before taking this course but many of them I had used before so it has simply been validation that  what I have been using is educational sound and used by others in similar ways to what have used the tools for.  This last summer I had been using twitter to connect with other educators and decided that I wanted to create blogs for my classes to better communicate with students, parents, and concerned others. This face of my classroom has become useful to some of my students and I hope through this course to make my blogs more useful.

A new tool that I am consistently using  is Diigo as a way to develop my professional development library and remember all the awesome digital resources I find. I am currently integrating Diigo into my Careers class to help students share resources with me and with their classmates about different areas of careers that they are researching. This ability to collaborate and communicate with each other is an effective teaching and learning strategy. Diigo also allows me to reinforce the effort students are making to learn more beyond the small body of information that I guide them to. The summarizing and note taking components of Diigo make it an excellent tool for students to develop their understanding and make their own connections between content.

My use of Google Docs has also strengthened my teaching practice by being able to give real time comments and feedback to the summaries that students write. Being able to collaborate with students in this way has been amazing as I see them catch a passion for learning more. I have also used Google Docs to create quarterly plans with class goals,  assignments and additional resources so if a student misses a class they know what needs to be done and why to make up what they missed. Many students have found this helpful in their hectic lives to have a concrete list of what is happening next.

A new tool that I would like to use more in my classroom is Skype. My students often ask me, “Where is the real world application of this math topic?” I would like to use Skype to communicate with professionals that actually use the math we are using in our classroom. I would like students to see that professionals in all areas of careers use math in different ways - not just engineers, scientists, and mathematicians. I envision having a Skype chat once a week where a career professional shares how they are using a particular math topic that we are learning about in real life. It would be great to connect with former graduates of Battle Creek Academy so students can begin to envision themselves doing what these professional alumni are doing.

I have modeled collaboration and communication by sharing my library of research with my students and showing them how a professional would use tools like Diigo and Google Docs. I am planning on presenting a short faculty inservice on using Diigo to help my coworkers strengthen their professional practice. I hope to help other less technologically comfortable students and adults see my excitement for technology and how it has made my life better as a person and as a professional. Hopefully my excitement will help another individual take a risk to try something new with technology in their professional or personal life.

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