Finally Teaching!

I won’t spend too much time with this blog lamenting about how my transition is going from teacher to ITS (Instructional Technology Specialist), but this week I am especially having a hard time with my decision.  I MISS teaching!  I miss using the technology that I am researching and helping my own students achieve successes through technology.  I realize the bigger picture and that I am helping all the students but, it doesn’t feel the same to me.  For the past couple of weeks I have been helping with a kindergarten classroom and I sure do love being with them – it just isn’t enough time each day.  Today, I will teach my first ITS created lesson to a group of 4th graders.

The way that we have setup our model for the ITS at my school is the teacher’s will send me a lesson topic and I will create a lesson using technology to teach to her class.  I will then go in to her class and teach, while the teacher is in the room so she or he can see all that the technology can do.  Then, the teacher and I will plan a lesson together where she plans to use one of the technologies that I showed during my lesson.  I will then come into her classroom and while she or he teaches the lesson and offer support if needed.  The “I do it”, “We do it”, “You do it” model.

Since school started I have been busy helping teachers USE technology!  It has been exciting to be around because the teachers are excited about technology because they know they have the support they need.  Teachers are adding pictures and animotos to their websites, the teachers are setting up student blogs and using their activotes!

I am going to launch Twitter in a class this week!  I got my ipad today which I will use to pilot the Twitter program at our school.  Stay tuned for my post on the launch!

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Twitter and the Classroom

I was just reading a FABULOUS article entitled “Communications Checklist for 21st – Century School Leaders” and one the checklist items is “Are You Using Social Media to Communicate?”.  If I take that answer on face value my first response would be YES!  Our school has a Facebook page and we share pictures via Flickr.  But, if you think about how we really communicate we aren’t really telling what we are doing minute by minute or even just every few hours, we are posting an exciting event that we want to celebrate.  In order to effectively communicate with our parents and really bring them into the classroom via technology Twitter would be the way to go.   Twitter allows us to communicate in real time to parents and include them in what we are doing.  The beauty of a tweet is that it can only be 140 characters in length – so the teacher or administrator that is tweeting is not really pulling away from classroom time.  Also, how cool would the kids think it was to say that they were tweeting in their classroom!  I could completely see a classroom setup where one student might be in charge of tweets for the day!  How much would parents love that model?

I am going to try to get this setup at my school and I will keep up with the progress on this blog.  I would LOVE to know what is going on at my children’s school so that I could talk to them about it and I could be involved in their day when they are away from me.  We know that part of being in the 21st century community is realizing that everything we do is in real time!  Also, the more we can share the day with our parents, the more comfortable parents will be with us caring and teaching their little ones!

Teacher Training and Khan Academy

We went back to school this week and we are all busy getting ready for our little ones to come next week.   I spent some time this week training teachers on resources they can use in their classrooms including activboards and votes, Khan Academy, and Microsoft Outlook.  When I was working with the principal to plan what we would train on during pre-planning week we really wanted to make the training valuable and use it in a way that they teachers would find the time valuable – we all know how hectic it is getting a classroom ready for students and there never seems to be enough time for working in the classroom!  To that end I showed teachers a lot of fun things they could do with voting templates and agenda boards.

I also showed teachers how to use a website called Khan Academy.  I love Khan Academy, it is an amazing website that will change the way teachers teach math!  I used it in my classroom for the last nine weeks of school last year and my fifth-grade students went from 5th grade math all the way through middle school math in 9 weeks.  Of course, not all of my students went that far, but the website is a self-paced math website that teaches math lessons and then gives practice for the students.  The website also allows teachers to register their classes and see how the students are progressing and where they need help.  Did I mention that it is a FREE website!  I have my own children working through Khan Academy because it is such an amazing site!  The teachers are going to use the site for enrichment and remediation this year as they get used to the site, but I am hoping that within the next year some of our teachers will “flip” their classrooms and the found describes in this youtube video.