This week I had the opportunity to present at and attend ITEC13. While I presented on iPads in Reading and another time on Web 2.0 and other technologies in the reading classroom, my real learning occurred as I sat and listened to others. During these two days I listened to session varying from Minecraft in the Classroom to Google Apps to Kathy Schrock's iPad extravaganza. The three big takeaways were the importance and necessity of: Collaboration, Connection and Production. As a teacher I need to collaborate in and out of my school, connect with others, and share activities I have produced and found successful in my classroom. It is important that I model these actions for my students because it is equally important that they collaborate and connect with others, as well as produce and publish their work and ideas. While I am blessed to teach in a 1:1 building, all the money spent on different tools doesn't matter if we don't effectively utilize them. If we aren't mindful of our goals, the iPad/Chromebook/MacBook can become an expensive and fancy worksheet. I do not want this for any of my students, and instead want to model what I do after Jeff Utecht, an amazing educator/speaker/author who was our Keynote on Day 2 of the conference. Jeff encouraged us to be willing to accept challenges, take risks and aim high. He showcased several students and classes that have aimed high and are doing amazing things, and it made me realize how much more I need to do.
After attending another of Jeff's sessions on Tuesday, I sat down and wrote a list of personal and professional goals. These included ways I plan to aim higher, and how I want to get my students involved.
1. Blog more to share my thoughts and ideas
2. Continue writing articles, books and lesson plans for publication
3. Be more active on twitter
4. Give back through presentations, working with colleagues and other teachers
5. Encourage others to take risks
6. Get students connected and collaborating through Skype and Google Hangout with experts and peers around the country/world
7. Get students publishing their work through portfolios, blogs and vlogs
I look forward to working towards these goals and seeing the impact it has on myself and my students.
If you have not had the opportunity to attend a professional conference, I highly recommend it. The opportunity to collaborate and learn form other teachers is amazing. Also, if fees prevents you from attending, consider signing up for an Edcamp in your area or participating in twitter chats. Get involved and start sharing your fantastic ideas, I plan to and I hope you join me.
Chances are you've heard of Skype, and perhaps have even used the technology to keep in touch with friends or family. Well, have you ever thought of bringing that tool into your classroom? Video conferencing and collaborating through Skype opens doors and opportunities to your students. Skype in Education's website is full of teachers and experts looking for classes to join lessons and activities, all you need to do is sign up for an account, search and join already created lessons or post your own.
This week our 5th grades welcomed two poets into our classrooms. Irene Latham kicked off our poetry study and answered student questions. The kids loved visiting with a published poet, and Irene offered to have students send her their poetry for feedback! Another amazing thing Irene did was sending each student a personalized, autographed bookmark. Our second poet was Caroline Starr Rose, who shared poems from her book May B, answered student interview questions, and encouraged students to go for their dreams. Both Skype sessions were enthralling, and we look forward to many more as they year continues.
I encourage you to try Skype, whether it is to welcome a mystery reader, an author, science expert, or partner classroom, and explore the Skype in Education website as well. Your students will love the experience, collaboration and access to new information it provides!