Another school year has ended and as I do my reflection on what I did differently this school year, I would give it to the progress that I made with the integration of technology into my teaching.
My Grade 2 students were able to get a taste of a handful tech tools for fun, creativity and to extend their learning during the last few months of school but I am going to focus on two that we used quite extensively.
This is a common comment from teachers, “There’s so much things to do, so little time.” I can certainly relate to this. Doing a 50/50 time table, my instructional time with my two classes was very limited. My Gr. 2 morning class was with me for Math, Language and part of Science half the day and would go to their French class after lunch. With 2.5 hours with them everyday, that was, when they didn’t have Music, Drama or Physical Education, I knew I needed to find a way to change my pedagogy to maximize student learning. One educator would say, “To get the most bang for your buck, using _______ would help!” I was stressed in finding the missing piece for months.
Just like any other skill, practice makes perfect. How is this possible with time constraint? How can I extend the meaningful learning outside our classroom? How can I motivate my students to own their learning? Reading, writing and math take time to learn, understand and master in depth. Sending them homework over the weekend on paper didn’t provide me value of the learning I was looking for.
Through the support and genius contributions of my #PLN, our class blog, http://kidblog.org/class/miss-manahans-class/ was born! With the pedagogy in mind, technology has helped me to bring out, if not the best, the better of my students in their own pace and space. These were Grade 2’s blogging, entering the virtual world of connectivity and expressing their opinion to the world. They’d learned URLs, how to attach links on their posts, add image header, change font colours while I sit on the sidelines giving feedback on how they can improve on their reading and writing in the form of blogs.
But even when we discussed internet safety and digital citizenship in class, I was still worried about it when they’re at home. Brian Aspinall’s blog on Pedagogy Before Technology was very timely to give me a piece of reassurance that it will be okay. Number 10…We can’t police the internet. We can’t “protect” students from inappropriate ads. What we can do is have conversations. Have discussions about appropriateness and how to handle uncomfortable situations. Let’s educate these young people with the necessary skills to react accordingly to difficult situations, both online and in person and stop hiding behind firewalls. Knowledge is power. Besides, our students see much more outside of school than we realize or like to admit via the interweb or hanging with friends.
No two students are the same in any classroom. They have their own personalities. One student can be very vocal and one can be very strong in writing. I am the latter. Read alouds, shared and guided reading, and read with a partner were some ways that I used to help this student of mine to talk. One day, I asked the class to record their individual reading using Raz-Kids. The student that seldom talks in class recorded and read stories after stories beautifully!
Pedagogy before technology. With this in mind, I am not using technology in the classroom to produce printed worksheets in a digital format. I love this visual from Zeina Chalich.
As I always say, “Build on the skills first. Then, infuse tech to enhance the learning.”
Embedding technology is like getting out of your comfort zone. It’s not an easy path. As I keep moving forward, I am beginning to see a different perspective. As an educator, are you ready to take the plunge and open yourself to a whole new world of edutech-ing, instead of the word, educating?