Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Reflections

This week we had our final technology integration class with the teachers that participated in the mixed device pilot.  As a final assignment I asked the teachers to complete a reflection and goal assignment that talked about how their year has gone and their goals as they continue with the mixed devices next year.  I have been continuously impressed with the teachers that have worked with me this year.  They agreed to take on this challenge of using mixed devices in their classrooms, and to work with me almost every week, and each one of them has had amazing success.  I want to share some of their reflections about their year of integrating technology.

"I have grown a lot as a teacher this year and my thinking about how a classroom can work and function has shifted. With the influx of iPads and netbooks, the face of the classroom can change, and the way that teacher’s impart knowledge and ideas to their students can and should change as well. This year has given me a new outlook on how to approach certain aspects of teaching, and has pushed me to try new techniques in order to deepen student understanding and interest. I have also reflected upon my lessons and units in a different manner, thinking constantly about how to tweak and refine them to better incorporate the use of these devices. I am happy with how this past year has proceeded in terms of my technology integration and am looking forward to continuing and improving that over the next few years."

"Voicethread is probably my favorite application that I used with my class this year.  Students quickly picked up the skills needed to take and upload a photo and then talk or write about it.  Many of them preferred typing to speaking, but for one assignment they had to either audio or video record.  My students also enjoy looking at their classmates’ presentations and commenting on them.  Again, I’m so impressed with how quickly my students pick up on the technology and how adept they are at using.  For those who have questions there are always others in the class who can answer them.  It’s like I’m co-teaching with several students – it’s a great feeling!"

"Along with the use of the devices I also taught digital citizenship.  It is very important that I prepare my students for their digital futures.  Use of digital tools comes so naturally to them.  They need to be intentionally taught how to use these resources responsibly and safely.  The digital citizenship lessons from Common Sense Media were easy to follow and taught the essential information students need to be good digital citizens."

"This year when I started this course I was struggling with how would this work with first graders. They are very young and come in with a variety of experiences when it comes to using technology. One of my major focuses was to have students understand that when we are using the ipads and ipod touches they are not toys for playtime. Instead they are tools that help us to learn about Science and Social Studies topics. They are also tools that can help them to improve reading, writing, and problem solving skills."

"Using the multiple devices in my classroom has made me a better teacher and provided a new avenue to allow my students to become more engaged in their learning. My students are going to have lasting memories of the new way they learned material in 5th grade.  Thank you for helping me create these memories with my students."

"As I approach next year, I already feel like I am way ahead of where I started this year. I have a toolbox full of programs, websites, apps, etc. that I already have lessons for, plus I have many things that I didn’t get to really try this year that I want to get to next year.  My goal for next year is to allow the students the ability to not use a program just once and move on, but to instead get to know it well so that they can be self sufficient and self motivated to use it themselves."

"I have learned this year that even though I have not mastered ANY device or program, I can still present the basic ideas and that it is just fine not to be an expert. I have found the children are much better at using these devices and programs. I really only have to introduce these to them and they become my teachers and the teachers of their peers. Teacher/student and student/teacher...the lines become blurred.  Isn’t that what collaboration is all about?  It is the ultimate paradigm and necessary if our students are to succeed once they leave school."

As you can see I work with an amazing group of teachers. Their willingness to try new things and take risks in their classrooms, and to share what they have been doing freely and openly has helped shift the culture in our district about what technology integration can look like. As I reflect on how this year has gone there are clear successes. These teachers are now comfortable trying new things, collaborating with their students and allowing for more choice and flexibility in their curriculum and assessments: all practices that further student engagement and motivation. While we have had successes, there are always ways we can continue to improve. For my own part, I will continue to try and find ways to support teachers in developing comfort and skill in using technology, but also in helping teachers understand how they can use technology to create learning environments that truly challenge and engage our students in real-world problems.

As I conclude this post, I can hear the first grade in the room next door using Google Docs to add comments to their peers' writing. Exciting stuff.

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