It is already the middle of July and I am shocked how quickly summer is flying by! This summer has been different than the past three as I will not be teaching summer school. You see, in June, three days after school let out, our 1925 school building was closed and torn down to make way for construction crews to finish work on our new building, which was being built directly behind our building this past year. Without summer school, I have been able to delve into professional reading, draft writings for professional organizations to publish, attend educational conferences both in person and virtually through Twitter, and prepare for my new position as an instructional coach. I have thoroughly enjoyed having this time to grow as an educator and reconnect with my PLN through Twitter and Google+, and I look forward to sharing my learnings with colleagues in the fall. Below, you will find the highlights of my learning so far:
The ISTE Conference is one of the primer edTech conference, and is attended by excellent educators and influential technology integrators from around the world. Sadly, I was not one of the lucky ones to attend in person, but I took advantage of the next best thing...following through #ISTE2014 and #NotatISTE2014. Through both these forums, attendees and those who didn't attend, shared ideas, resources, and support. While reading tweets and musings, I was continually reminded how lucky students in my building are. You see, we are a K-5, soon to be PK-5 1:1 building, with each teacher striving to effectively integrate technology into the content areas. Unlike most schools, our students do not miss out on quality experiences due to a lack of access, and instead are able to shine their teachers support their learning by encouraging creativity and student choice. Our teachers recognize that simply having the technology is not enough, and focus on good teaching and incorporating a variety of instructional strategies in their lessons.
Along with the importance of good teaching and access, I was reminded of the importance of connecting students and myself with peers around the world. I have done a few cross country and world projects including the Flat Classroom Project, #mysteryskypes, #comments4kids, Global Read Aloud, Global Holiday Poem Project, Skype/Google Hangout with guests and experts ranging from newscasters, Olympic torch carriers, to Olympians. While this is a good start, there is more to do! This school year I will be partnering with classes round the country to create a global poetry book, but I want to continue building the contacts my students have. To do this, I will continue expanding my PLN on twitter and Google+, seek out ways to connect throughout the content areas and using a variety of technologies. I also want students to begin making connections themselves. By this I mean if a student is researching a topic, say the Oregon Trail, they search out experts they can interview and learn from. I want students to leave our building connected, empowered, and accepting they are not limited to learning from the books in our library, websites on the Internet, or their teacher's words.
My final ah-ha moment revolves around support. Not all teachers are at the same spot in their personal learning as I am, and there are others that are more advanced in their understanding than I am. Together we need to be willing to share our successes, misses, thoughts and ideas. When we work together by sharing at conferences, publishing blogs or professional writings, posting on social media, or being a listening ear, we not only benefit a colleague, but also their students. Not a day goes by that I don't learn something new through Twitter or blogs that I don't bring back to my classroom or pass on to a fellow educator. We are all in this educational journey together, and need to constantly support each other.
My #NotatISTE2014 Next Steps: