Amazing Kids

Amazing Kids

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Tech Teacher

I am NOT a tech native. However, I've found that I love how technology can engage students in their learning in ways nothing else can.

Since we are getting (too) close to the end of the school year, I'm thinking about all the ways my students were engaged learners thanks to technology.

  • BLOGGING: I blogged almost daily during my three-month stint in Culebra, teaching on a tiny island at a tiny school. It was such a great experience for me and gave me a global audience. I wanted to introduce my students to it and used Weebly to implement it. Doing it improved my writing and I found it did the same for my students. They put on book talks, poetry, and learned to give constructive comments to each other in a respectful and thoughtful way. 
  • BOOK TALKS: At the beginning of the year we used the Flip camera to record our book talks - advertisements, really - of the book a student had just finished. Kids were super excited to talk about the great book they'd read and see how many other classmates they could get excited about "their" book. That was pretty cool. When we got our iPod, they switched to recording on that. We ended up throwing those babies into Dropbox, shared them with our librarian, and she put them in the school morning announcements!!! From that day on, she knew the fourth grade book talk book would be the next book checked out from the library! That's powerful.
  • PREZI: Really, this could be included in book talks, but it's a different media for kids to share, and they ended up wanting to do a Prezi on other things they learned about, like states and regions! They loved putting some of these creations on their blogs, too, so anyone could see it.
  • iMovie: My students were using this very cool app to make book trailers, and now they're making their own movies and sharing their own stories. And they're doing it during recess! Begging for it! Plus that, kids who weren't even friends at the beginning of the year are working collaboratively to make some pretty cool stuff! 
  • SKYPE: Stephen McCranie and Kate Messner are two totally different authors, both wonderful, and both made an unforgettable connection with my kiddos via Skype. Then one day I had to be gone from school and in the afternoon was able to Skype with my class from a bookstore where I was purchasing books to add to our classroom library. In every Skype session my kids were motivated to move forward with their reading, excited to open the pages of a book and discover new characters, settings, and situations that opened their mind to new possibilities. What an amazing and easy tool to engage students!
  • WIKI: When students started bringing their own devices in to my classroom, I was a bit skeptical. That skepticism turned to delight, however, when during math lessons I posed a question about something - I don't even remember what it was - and asked the kids to work on it collaboratively. Some of them pulled out their devices and looked online with their group to do some digging. It was amazing to see some of these kids become leaders in learning! Honestly, some of those kids had had some pretty "off-task" behaviors until they had the idea to put those smart phones to work! Then they were leading the way in solving a problem! Suddenly, some of those kids realized they really ARE good in math - and even LIKE it!
There are so many more ways technology has impacted my kids this year. My mind is spinning with all of the ways it has engaged my kids and enhanced our learning. We were able to be inspired by people from all over the world. The books purchased for our classroom library came almost completely from someone online who recommended the book, either through a blog such as Nerdy Book Club , from Goodreads or through a connection I've been fortunate enough to make on Twitter

I am SO glad I am a tech immigrant. And because I am an immigrant, I think it deepens my appreciation for it. For the love of learning, for my students and for me, I am grateful to be a part of a global community of learners. Without this technology I would never have the opportunity to meet so many amazing thinkers, readers, and creators, or be able to introduce my kids to the incredible opportunities available simply from the click of a mouse. 


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