Friday, January 28, 2011

Great Links from Neil's Presentation

Neil's blog (incl. book club, inquiry, twitter feeds to follow, etc.):

On Knowledge Building:

Technology doesn't swim itself!

Oh boy, where should I start...I got a lot out of this presentation by Neil Stephenson from an inquiry and professional development stand point.

Online book club -How wonderful to be able to read books that pertain to your professional development with a group of like-minded people that have chosen to read that book as well. I know that a lot of teachers in divisions will decide to all read the same book, however some people are more on board than others. I think I will join this book club as I'm really interested in that book.

Twitter -I've been avoiding the addition of yet another social networking tool but it seems I haven't given Twitter a fair chance. I will, at some point, jump on this bandwagon now that I can see its potential for global professional development opportunities. It's great to know that I can start at Stephenson's webpage to find interesting people to follow.

Technology -Needless to say, I loved the phrase about technology not swimming itself (had to be there). One question that Neil posed really resonated with me: How is the technology helping students think differently? I don't think I can answer that right now and perhaps it's more of a contextual thing. However, I will try to approach future tasks involving technology with this in the back of my mind. Of course the demonstration using the Google Docs was great to see and it was nice to have some answers to questions that I had from our last presentation, i.e. how can you get access for students to google docs without having to set up gmail accounts for all of them?

Inquiry -Loved the resources provided (What did you do in school today?(2009), Liberating Constraints, Sumara, Knowledge Building Communities article) and the idea of creating a learning situation where students need what other students know. Once again, the notion of reflective practice was emphasized...hence this blog as well :) Another great reminder was the role of the experts and how powerful it can be to connect your students to experts.

Favourite -I really loved how the big inquiry project example related to ECE in that teaching is storytelling. Stories are engaging for people of all ages and I loved seeing how this can play out in a higher grade. Can Twilight play a role in high school curriculums? Can all learning be seen through a storytelling lens?

Take-home message -Teaching is the art of asking the right questions.

Need more info -Participatory learning/teaching

Friday, January 21, 2011

GoogleDocs Presentation

GoogleDocs! Where have you been all my (academic) life??? What a wonderful tool. Some of the stand-out moments for me this morning follow:
Forms: Anything that makes my life easier is excellent. I love the way the forms automatically organize themselves with a time stamp. Personally, if I can type feedback, you're going to get way more out of me. That's why having a questionaire in Google Forms is appealing.
Earth: This is something that I already knew about but had conveniently forgotten. Now that it's been reintroduced, I'm pondering its potential in the classroom. I *love* that it's free!
Docs: I'm in love. What an excellent collaborative tool for teachers and students alike. I also appreciated Michele's idea about giving an adminstrator access. As probationary status teachers that need someone to provide us with evaluations, Google Docs could be a great way of keeping your administrator(s) in the loop. The fact that it can be accessed at any time is highly convenient and you don't have to concern yourself with USBs.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Getting Excited

Well, I'm finally here. I've known for a while that I really need to improve my technological savvy and I'm well on my way with this course. I'm really excited to see the newest technologies that can be used in teaching and particularly interested in considering their potential in an early childhood setting. I need some more ideas on how the early childhood classroom can provide students with useful access to technology, how that can be achieved, and to what extent it should. It's obvious, from literature and personal experience, that young children are easily engaged in learning when technology is being used and when they have access to that technology. That said, I also feel that there are a lot of inappropriate ways to use technology, such as simply replacing the chalk board with a smart board.

I'm excited about the possibilities for using technology to connect parents to their children's learning and connect students to their communities. Let the journey begin!