Thursday, April 29, 2010

Transitioning from Tyro to Techhead

This week I am proud and honored to have a guest blogger at Zenodotus!  Feel free to pause the Chris Lehmann video in the next post, so you can dedicate your full attention to Heather Mason's well written content below. Without futher delay: 

When I signed up for this blog trade, I was very excited. I imagined that I would connect with another teacher struggling to make tech work in the regular classroom. Instead I got someone who actually knows what they are talking about. What could I possibly add to this conversation?

I can only add what I know. The connected classroom and the use of technology to help learning is not only for those that have knowledge and money. There are ways to incorporate it into all lessons at all levels. Technology isn’t the purpose of teaching, but it is a fantastic tool for getting kids involved in the learning. If you are just starting out, here is my advice to you. If you are a master and trying to get others on board, here is the advice that got me to start rethinking tech…maybe it will help you help others.

Start Small: One of my mistakes when I started to rethink how I worked with students was that I wanted to do everything with every class. Not easy when you don’t really know what you’re doing. Choose one class that you know will do the work and start with them. Next time add another, then another. You work the bugs out of your lessons, learn what students need to be taught (they aren’t as tech savvy as you would think), and figure out the ins and outs of the tool your using.

Pick something that works with what you already do. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither was a truly integrated, inquiry based, super tech classroom. Pick a lesson you think you do well then find a way to tweak it using a tool you’ve learned. You’ll find your teaching will gradually start to change.

Look for tools that change how students interact with information or each other. Power point is a great example of what not to do. If you lecture, putting your lecture points on a Power Point doesn’t really change what you are doing or how students receive the information. But if you use on online chat tool in a class discussion, you change how the kids are talking about the lesson. By using digital bookmarking, you change how kids collect information.

Don’t miss the point. Tech use isn’t the point. What you are trying to teach, what kids should be able to do is the point. If you see a tool that is really, really cool and you are dying to try it, don’t create a lesson just for it. Save it until the right lesson comes along. Glogster is a fantastic tool for helping kids create multi-media web pages showing their research. However, much of what I teach asks students to create longer, more thoughtful pieces if writing and this tool doesn’t help with that. So I don’t use it. I do, however, use sites like Edmodo where I can facilitate a class discussion where all students talk, not just those with their hands up.

Explore To start, here are some sites I use…

Edmodo – Great for providing a safe chat room and link sharing for kids of all ages

Wallwisher- A sticky note page where students can add knowledge as they learn it. (Get some ideas here).

Glogster- I know I said I didn’t use it, but it is really cool and you might like it.

Twiducate – Another chat tool. Easy to set up, easy to use.

Delicious – Changes how teachers direct student research or reading as well has how students keep track of what they find.

And if you want to know more about me, visit my blog, Teacher in Transition, or find me on Twitter (hrmason).
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