Today began back in my dorm room on campus. Having refereed basketball the night before, I elected to stay in Decorah and drive back in the morning to complete more research and work in the schools during the afternoon. I woke up to find some wonderful resources and insight had been sent to me via Twitter by my friend, and technology ‘brain-trust,’ Randon Ruggles (@rruggles) Technology Director at the FAIR School in the Twin Cities, MN. What stood out to me most from Randon’s information were the following two visuals. The first, the TPACK model, displays exactly what I’ve been emphasizing all month regarding teaching through technology, not teaching technology.
This model hits the nail on the head regarding the idea that there are certainly educators with certain aspects of this new field of integration mastered, but the end goal is to achieve Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge. (Whew!) I had difficulty digesting this idea at first too, but the following video helped immensely, and explains the model much better than I can. The ideas are spot on.
Following my unpacking of this idea, I found myself diving into another matrix depicting technology integration by Levels of Integration and Characteristics of Learning Environment. Again, a rather daunting chart in appearance, but immensely valuable ideas and resources. Click on the image below to be taken to the website, where I would encourage you to play around, dive into the content, and utilize the resources! Wonderful information.
As I clicked these links this morning, I immediately dove in to begin digesting this new info, but paid little attention to exactly how I had received the information: Twitter. Keep that in mind…
The next portion of my day consisted of a meeting and “Tech Chat” with W-SR’s Director of Curriculum and Staff Development, also the essential ‘head’ of the technology program here, Bridgette Wagoner (@B_Wagoner).
We had some wonderful discussion on her perspective regarding tech implementation having begun the program in Waverly. One thing she said that really struck me was this:
“We’re not even 50% there. Honestly, we’re probably 10% “there.” Steve Kwikkel (principal) and I talk about the “Bon Jovi Effect,” because we’re “Living on a Prayer” most days (chuckle). There’s always a long way to go.”
In her own, half-joking, manner, Bridgette reaffirmed for me what I have begun to feel about technology in schools this month: There is, indeed, a distance to go, but we’re on the right track. One of the pivotal points, among much interesting content, in our conversation was the idea of students having purpose and control over their educational journey. As I have referenced in previous blogs, there is a paradigm shift now occurring in which we’re seeing kids ‘fired up’ about paper and pencil work again! We cannot be so blinded by the ‘glare’ coming from our new shiny technology that we don’t allow students to work in the way they best thrive. In a focus group Bridgette referenced to me today, students were said to have been rather eloquent in their adamancy that they wanted decisions and ownership of their own educational journey. We are, indeed, rather foolish to think that we will know (without a shadow of a doubt) what students absolutely need to know and will use outside of our classroom. The best thing we can do is to facilitate passions and strengths, foster growth, and nurture the desire to learn in our students so that they feel a true investment in their learning. Technology can undoubtedly play a role in this, and when implemented correctly, can have an immense impact in preparation of competent 21st Century citizens. Because of this, I feel W-SR is definitely thinking along the right lines. As Bridgette said, there is a long way to go…there will always be a long way to go.
As I left Bridgette’s office, I thanked her for her help in publicizing my blog via Twitter, and she responded by saying, “It’s hard not to! I love Twitter…all my people are there!”
Still pondering where exactly to direct today’s blog, I journeyed home. As I sat on my couch, I began to see my Twitter feed explode with additions of W-SR High School teachers joining twitter and tweeting at the district tech integrationist with the hashtag #WSRHS. At this point, I thought back through my day and realized how much it had been influenced by Twitter alone! At this point, and through looking at some of the resources utilized in Twitter teacher education at the HS, I knew where today’s blog was headed.
I have been amazed by what is going on here in my hometown for some time now, but I find it hard to pinpoint a prouder moment than this Twitter ‘explosion’ this afternoon. For some reason, to see my former teachers and fellow educators taking the leap to the world of Twitter in a concerted effort to invest in their students and reach learners on their level, really struck me. Wow.
The pride and excitement is great on its own, yes, but what makes this even more interesting is that the resources presented were phenomenal, and reach far beyond strictly W-SR. Click the photo below for a full document listing all the resources presented today.
A few that really stood out to me were a video on Social Media in Education and a presentation on 35 Interesting Ways to use Twitter in the Classroom. These are invaluable and extremely informational. I will link both below so you are free to explore them on your own.
As I went back through the resources I delved into today, as if it were meant to tie everything back together, I found another link from my friend Randon listing the Top 10 Twitter Accounts to Follow for Technology Education.
As I thought back to how I had received all the information from my Twin Cities friend, then to my meeting with Bridgette and her comment about publicizing this blog online, and finally to this afternoon’s inspiring outbreak of teachers’ accounts, I realized the true reach Twitter has.
Ultimately, though, the idea I want to get across regarding Twitter, or any social media outlet, is this: Reaching students on their level is immensely ‘game-changing.’ Finding this outlet and resource, with which students are already familiar, and using it in the classroom environment not only engages students but excites them to the point that they are truly invested in their learning.
One of my favorite teachers of all time, Jason Groth, once told me:
“Rule #1 of Teaching: Find a way to connect with your students.”
To me, this is a wonderful place to start.