Sunday, September 14, 2014

Contribution to Learning and Visibility

Questions to ponder this week...

a) How are you contributing to the learning of others?

b) How are you making your learning visible?


In response to the first question, I think I have made good strides this week in contributing to learning of others with digital literacy  - particularly for teachers. Then again, I better, my job kind of revolves around that! Seriously, I think that the last couple weeks have been primarily focused on assisting teachers in Regina Catholic with becoming more comfortable with the technology being rolled out. I've discovered through my sessions that teachers really mirror the students in so many ways. Although honestly, I must say that most students, regardless their "Tech Comfort" are far more willing to take risks with learning how to navigate new technology. This could be attributed to the whole "digital native" (reality or myth... however you wish to look at it) or the fact that they are far more willing to just "jump" or dive in. In the past couple weeks, it's apparant that most teachers are truly positive and willing to learn something new, and are willing to work through a few growing pains associated with a system-wide roll out of technology. However, there are other teachers - and usually there is one in every school, that is "grumpily-resistant" to change. And it usually means a little bit of grumbling or frustration...But with a little assistance and boosting of confidence, by telling them they know way more than they think they do... they come around. Being that my sessions are not mandatory for staff members, I'm always impressed that even though some of these resistant users are hesistant to learn something new... they are there, trying their best. For this reason, I truly respect their initiative and effort. I'm impressed that regardless much experience most users have, they are willing to learn something knew, as they know it is imperative that as teachers of the 21st century, we have to ensure that we are reaching our students any means we can... which includes the digital realm for which so many of our students "exist".  I hope that my contribution to the learning of others is one of reducing frustration and building confidence. So that the teachers I work with make the effort to try new ways of teaching students so that they in turn can see what digital tools have allowing them to shape their own learning. 

Now in response to the second question, how am I making my learning visible?? Well, by blogging one can see what I'm reflecting upon in my own Edtech pursuits. I am not a stranger to sharing my thoughts in a digital forum. Now this doesn't mean I'm sharing my innermost thoughts with the world or a collection of autobiographical poems, I just like to share my thoughts on using technology in education (as in this blog), as well my classroom lessons and units (as in my classroom blog). For me, teaching is not a private endeavor... far from it. I like keeping a classroom blog, as it gives parents the chance to see what were learning, which is even more important being that I have taught primarily grade 7/8's, and it also gives students a chance to further reflect on our units of study. I like the collaborative opportunity that maintaining a classroom blog offers. 

Anyways, before I go to far in this direction talking about the benefits of blogging, I should make a further effort to answer the question. Well perhaps in maintaining a classroom blog, parents and students can see not only what were learning, but my quick reflections on how the students are doing or what we need focus on in our learning. A reflective comment on my part here and there in my blog,  goes a long way in terms of parents seeing my professional engagement with teaching and learning. Parents can see that the classroom blog is more than a place to see what's for homework, but videos and links that connect and extend what we are studying. One of the best compliments and memories I once had was that a student told me that he and his parents enjoyed reviewing the links and the videos I had posted on different world cultures in my blog for a Social Studies unit. And by visiting my resources, they were motivated to find others. They were so into this exploration, that a couple days later, they sent me an email of other links they found that they thought I could use in teaching. So by making learning visible via a blog, a student was able to take what we were studying into their home. Of course this is kind of a once-in-a-career scenario, but cool nonetheless.

Finally, other ways I make learning visible is through my use of Twitter to connect with my PLN's (Personal Learning Networks). Honestly I have found that with Twitter and by following the right people, it's done more for my own professional development than any inservice or teacher's convention session. Twitter is PD on the fly - explore and take what you want. Quick snippets of what's relevant now from "average teachers" to infamous edtech gurus. I find that if there is something I want to learn more on based on a quick tweet that I scanned, then I research further. Really I can't say any more about Twitter, or people will start to think that I have shares in the company!

Am I making my learning visible? Somewhat...Hmmm, perhaps I could offer more transparency. I need to consider this further. So on that note, is there anyone in the group an expert on Garage Band?? I have to do a session with a class in the next week and I'm pretty green!! Any advice on using it with a group of grade 8's?? :-)

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