Saturday, May 16, 2015

Thoughts about Digital Writing and Teaching

It's fitting that I end my final assignment with this article about digital writing and teaching.  So many people are "afraid" of teaching with computers/technology.  I think the fear comes from the unknown of how to use the computers, what extensions, apps, and other techniques are available.  Then, there's the time involved learning how to use whatever extension desired.  Some teachers might say it's not worth using digital writing tools because the headache isn't worth it.  I totally understand that!!

Also, there's the "end in mind" when using technology.  What's the purpose of using digital writing tools?  I know in my earlier years of teaching with technology was making a powerpoint, publishing papers, or adding pictures to a report.  Crazy enough, I never really thought of technology as a "tool" to supporting students with their learning!!  (I know!)  Technology is a tool NOT a learning outcome.

I love the picture below that I took from the 13-14 IW website.  This explains it all --- technology is something to support learning, to support students, to support teachers.  People need to remember, technology is not the end in my when bringing it into the classroom!!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Case Against Cursive

I have mixed feelings about this article.  Yes, I get why there is a debate about cursive being taught in schools.  Plus, students are so excited to learn how to write cursive.  It's like their first passage into adulthood.  I know some third grade teachers who love teaching the craft of cursive and when students get to fourth grade they want to write in cursive all the time.  Yet, cursive is a skill that takes time, energy, and persistence.  Teachers and students want cursive done right yet, we don't have the time in our day to practice cursive...  I hate the thought that students don't know how to read cursive and often students don't even hold a pencil correctly because it all boils down to time.  Cursive isn't tested, measured, or graded, so why teach it?  I want to teach it because it's history.  I don't teach it because of time.  I have spent enormous amounts of time supporting my students how to navigate their EEE, practices typing, how to use commands to cut, paste, delete, and how to use extensions to help their writing.  Plus, all the time trouble-shooting and fixing glitchy computers --- who has time for cursive?

I do agree with the article that cursive can help students who struggle with fine motor skills.  When I have practiced cursive, students concentrate more on "writing" forming strokes and loops.  The formation of letters is done correctly and (in time) their words can be read.

This is a tough argument, at least for me it is.  No longer do we sit down and write letters in cursive.  However, I think it's nostalgia, "it's what I did when I was in school mentality".  Yet, how can I teach cursive when I have a set of EEE's in my classroom knowing there's so much to learn on those?

I guess I still have sad feelings about leaving cursive behind.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Thoughts about: Literacy and Essential Skills: Why Digital Literacy is Crucial

This was an interest article and it's something I've been thinking about in my own classroom.  I understand the use of technology in the classroom needs to be purposeful.  Students need to see WHY they are doing what they're doing and HOW it benefits them as a learner.  First, we should expose technology to students in the classroom because if we don't (I agree with the article) our students will not be as tech savvy as other students.  The part that I'm struggling with, is the type of technology we have in our classrooms.  Older computers our students use cannot handle the applications/extensions being downloaded on their computers -- or my desktop computer at school.  It's great to learn about how tools can help our students but when the technology impedes the process of learning OR stops it completely because the computer shut down, got stuck, freaks out, etc., it not only frustrates the teacher from trying new technology in the classroom it frustrates the students.  UGH!  Yes, I get that eventually we will get Chromebooks in our classrooms, but what do we do until that happens?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Final Post - IW Conference is done!

First I have to thank Dana for all her help.  She has spent hours with me talking and teaching me how to integrate technology into my classroom.  A huge thank you to Erin and Penny.  Your inspiration during our IW sessions was AMAZING!!  Oh my heck ladies, your knowledge and skill set inspired me to be the best teacher I could be.  A shout out to Marissa.  Visiting with you and seeing your student's work at Innovation Avenue helped me to bring new apps into my classroom so late into the year!  My students thank you!!  A gigantic THANK YOU to Suzanne and Sue.  My partners during the IW conference.  Both of you were so poised, prepared and knowledgable with your craft.

I left the IW conference being inspired to try new and exciting things in my classroom.  Even though it's almost been a year of IW, I still feel I'm using my tech tools separate from my teaching tools (if that makes sense).  When I plan a lesson I want to mesh my tech skills with my teaching skills.  I still think of technology as an "add on" rather than something to be used simultaneously with my teaching.  That's my goal for next year.

The IW conference was great.  I do hope to attend next year and do a better job keeping up with any assignments that I might have.  Thanks for your help everyone!!!  This truly has been a great opportunity to learn and grow my skills.

January Post -- A bit late :)

Okay, I'll try to make up for lost time.  This year has gone fast and furious.  I returned to the classroom after 7 years being an administrator.  The first couple of months were a blur --- really.  I was in a new school, new students, new team, new standards, new curriculum, and new ways of teaching.  I was trying to recall systems, procedures, the do's, the don'ts and all the while not failing my students.  Crazy enough, I wasn't stress.  I knew my students were (most) willing to learn and I just needed to take it day by day.

I must say returning to the classroom has done my heart some good.  Please know I miss working with so many wonderful teachers, but this is different.  Being a teacher again has reminded me of the reasons I started in this profession to being with.  Being part of the IW cohort has given me the PD I was looking for.  I found a way to hook my students into learning and to hook me into learning --- what I wanted to learn.  

One way I was hooked was through Google Classroom.  I started slowly at first (not even understanding how to log in).  LOL.  Now, I love, love, love assigning and monitoring student work.  I started out slow with one assignment, then another, and now most of my classwork is through Google Classroom.  My students now understand they can work on assignments at home if they need more time.  Parents are still learning to check G.C. but good things come to those who wait.  (Or to those who are patient...I'm still working on that one.)

Everyday my world gets a little bit better!!