Change Comes One Little Step at a Time

Posted on July 18, 2008

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Today was day two of our 21clc training (Catch up with day one here), and I spent this day with four fellow teachers who want to make a difference. Four teachers who understand how desperately our high school needs to be using digital tools to maximize learning and reach the digital natives we teach. Four teachers who are willing to learn, even when technology intimidates them a bit. Four teachers who are patient with me as I try my best to help each of them individually–trying to meet them where they are to give them one-on-one help or point them to resources.

I’ve a confession to make though–a brutally honest one: This afternoon, as I was driving home, tired from spending the week teaching a workshop in Hope, having gotten home late last night from a four plus hour drive, that nagging naysayer–who plagues me more in times of stress–whispered in my head, “You don’t have to do this. You’re not getting paid. You need to be working on your own lesson plans–school is less than a month away. You’ve got a workshop to prepare for next week, and you get paid for that one. You’re not going to make a difference. No one really cares about all this; they’re just doing this to appease you, to get you off their backs. You know how to do all this, so why do you feel the need to try to teach everyone else. Just go in your room and teach your students.”

I came home, made myself a home-brewed latte, something that always makes me feel better, and plopped into my recliner, laptop in hand, intent on catching up with the backlog of articles in my Google Reader. One of the first posts I encountered contained this video:
 

It silenced the naysayer. These four teachers and me ARE going to make a difference! We have to. Our kids’ futures are on the line. If I give up, who will fight the fight?

While I am a crusader, I’m not naive. I realize we won’t make a difference overnight.  This is a process, and with each encounter we all learn a little more, grasp a greater understanding of 21st Century Learning, begin to envision how digital tools can transform the way we teach, the way we communicate with students and parents, the way students learn, the way we learn.

Rather than add more digital tools to their toolbelts, I wanted to give them time to learn to use the ones I’ve introduced so far, to understand what they could do with Google Reader and their edublog and to allow them time to experiment, to play, to create.

Here’s a list of the ideas we talked about today, the ways we as teachers can use these tools NOW to make us better teachers.

Using Google Reader

  • Collaborate among 21clc team members by subscribing to one another’s blog and regularly reading one another’s posts. 
  • Enter into discussions by commenting on teammates’ blogs.
  • Read my weekly tech tip (hopefully, I’ll have time during the school year to manage this!) so that we’re not limited to learning new tools, tricks, and uses in our face-to-face meetings.
  • Find other sites to subscribe to: content teachers’ blogs, websites, journals…

Using Our Blogs

  • Have the blog serve as a teacher webpage.
  • Create pages to house information for students and parents: course information, calendar, homework…
  • Customize your sidebar(s) to make your blog user-friendly, including these widgets: search, RSS, subscribe by e-mail, categories, pages (if not in your header), links. Customize with any other chosen widgets.
  • Capture lessons on the Starboard, create a PowerPoint (inserting the captured images), upload to SlideShare and embed in blog post so that absent students can see lesson, students needing more help can see lesson again at their own pace, parents can see lessons to help students at home.
  • Use SlideShare to embed PowerPoints explaining projects, teaching a concept, sharing models and student work.

Did I miss any? I’d love to hear more ideas. If we, as teachers, can learn to use these tools–then we can begin to plan ways to have our students use them to analyze, to synthesize, to communicate, to collaborate, to create!

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Posted in: 21clc