I can’t believe it – but summer is over. This is my first week back and since my school is amazing they sent about 30 teachers (myself included!) to the PLC conference in Grand Rapids this year. I’m so excited to learn about how we can create a better school culture and ultimately increase student learning by working collaboratively in a PLC!
The end of summer also means the end of the graduate course I’ve been taking through MSU, CEP 811, about adapting innovative technology in education. It seems like I just started this course and it’s already over – and boy have I learned a lot!
One major focus of this course has been the maker movement. I’ve posted ideas and lesson plans and tutorials about how to use a MakeyMakey in a classroom, as well as read/watched how my classmates thought to use them in their classrooms. During our first field trip meeting, I’m going to show my idea for how to use a MakeyMakey (or two or three!) to have students creatively design an interactive musical room for guests to explore. I think that my co-workers will love this idea and see the potential for getting students to work together in an innovative way while working on general skills of problem-solving and perseverance.
However I don’t know if I’m going to be able to use the specific technology of my MakeyMakey in many other situations. I work at a virtual school as an online Title 1 teacher, so most days I cannot have students physically in front of me to play with the MakeyMakey. As a public school I can’t require that families purchase their own MakeyMakey. My school also has a national curriculum that is created and given to us, so I can’t add it into most of my daily lessons.
Luckily this whole course wasn’t a waste of time just because I can’t use the MakeyMakey frequently! I learned about so many other resources and tools that I’m planning to use with my students. I loved the mind map tool bubbl.us that I tried out last week. Students will be able to create bubble charts and spider web charts electronically using this free and easy to use site.
I have already emailed all my colleagues the UDL guideline checklist that I filled out on my revised musical lesson last week. This year we are really trying to work on our RTI (response to intervention) and inclusion of Title/SPED students in general education courses. I think that this will help teachers to have a comprehensive list to look through and be a good place to start PLC conversations on the same footing.
Interestingly enough I will probably use the creative commons search site more often than any other resource I played with this semester. I can’t believe I haven’t been using this for years! It’s a great site where you can search for pictures, videos, songs, etc. that you can use without plagiarizing or stealing. I used to just go to Google images and copy/paste what I liked (I know – bad, bad, bad) but now I can model to my students responsible internet usage on a daily basis.
I also want to continue updating this blog on a weekly basis. Starting this has been a wonderful way for me to reflect on my continued education as a teacher as well as network with others around the world. I’ve even been updating my Twitter when I haven’t been asked to by a professor! I think it’s important to work with others that are doing what I’m doing or are interested in what I’m doing. The PLC conference that I’m at right now says that the number one thing that schools can do to improve student learning is collaboration. We are taking that to heart this school as a school by forming PLC teams that meet frequently, but I also want to carry collaboration over to my online presence through Twitter and this blog.
My MSU professors this semester have been amazing. They have followed through with what they preach about pushing me to develop my technology and educational skills further each and every week. Last week you saw a lesson plan that I can guarantee you I would not have been able to write 3 months ago. I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what a MakeyMakey is, what the maker movement is all about, what UDL stands for, how to use UDL principals to improve learning for all students, how to imbed links and videos in blog posts, how to tweet effectively, … the list could go on!
This week I’m writing this blog post and adding pictures from creative commons, linking to other sites and my own blog, using Twitter to blog about this exciting PLC conference I’m at, and thinking differently about how I’m going to use the 1:1 computer ratio more effectively this school year in my classroom. I’m changed and I’m hoping to bring some of this change to my co-workers this year. Not because I have to, not because there’s an awkward silence in a staff meeting, but because I’m excited about the how relevant what I’ve learned this year really is. I’m passionate and I want to inspire that in everyone I touch this year. I’m thrilled to start a new school year!
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