How do I become a truly digital teacher?

I downloaded Evernote this week in an attempt to become more “paperless”.   I typically use Outlook or Notes on my smartphone to capture most of my quick ideas.  I take digital notes for reading material, and use hand written notes in class.  As a college student, I believe Evernote may be a great tool.

But as a future teacher, becoming paperless may be more of a challenge.  I would like to be able to post homework assignments, have students access the document and fill in the required work, then grade the document on-line to provide quick feedback that can be filed for future reference.

The Montclair Kimberly Academy incorporated Evernote into their classrooms, and here is what they say:

Here are some options I’ve considered:

1.  Evernote allows for all types of data to be stored:  documents, PDF, Jing, and pictures.  No smartboard, no problem.  You can take a picture and upload.  Cool new apps are discussed in an article 10 New Features You Should Know.  Additionally, @TheNerdyTeacher did what he called his Epic Evernote Experiment, and I was very impressed with how he has developed a system for class organization.  But I’m not yet convinced that Evernote is for everyone.  Evernote does allow for shared folders, but without a premium account you cannot edit shared notes.  Not all school districts are going to have access to this tech.

2.  Programs like Edmodo allow teachers and students to share work easily with each other and with other students.  Classroom supplementary work can be added or linked easily, like Prezi files.  I thought this to be a very effective tool in the classroom environment.  Edmodo also allow for parental viewing of student work and grades.

3.  GoogleDocs easily allows students to collaborate on team projects which can be share with anyone that has an email account, and students can give teachers access for grading purposes.

What are your techniques for decreasing paper homework in the classroom?


Why I want my students to blog


From +Catherine Flippen and +Jaime Vandergrift, I found A Sixty Second Guide to the Use of Blogging in Education from Educational Technology and Mobile Learning.

Blogging teaches reading and writing processes that facilitate 21st Century learning skills and literacies.  This simple 5 step procedure shows how to implement a blog into your classroom and discusses the multidisciplinary approach that incorporates student blog skills with digital citizenship, quality work projects, and connected learning environments while showcasing students’ work on a global communication hub.

In Retooling the Social Studies Classroom for the Current Generation the authors study ways in which teachers in this discipline can use blogging, wikis, and digital media sharing to improve student engagement and the overall learning process.   The authors believe that technology should enhance student learning, rather than be a simple replication of old ways of presenting materials, and they use as a founding principle the National Council for the Social Studies guideline that implementing technology should

“Capitalize on many students’ ubiquitous, yet social, use of such technology and demonstrate the technology’s power as a tool for learning” (National Council for Social Studies, Technology Position Statement, para 7)

I would like to use blogging as a tool to reach across disciplines, like creating links between literature and history.  Different teachers can examine student’s work across subject areas, and this technique could re-inforce the material on multiple levels.

Are you using blogging in your classes to expand their research, writing and reading skill, or to create a multi-disciplinary approach to learning?   It this an effective strategy?

Digital Literacy Debate – Can YouTube Improve Learning?

The concern about media literacy is not new.  See the video below, Blogging Through History,  for a look at how pamphleteering, Ben Frankin, and Yellow Journalism required readers of the past to look with a critical eye at the written word.  Blank pages were placed at the end of written documents so readers could comment and pass along.  Sound familiar?

These days it seems like everyone is watching YouTube, and some of the content is actually allowing learners to access wonderful, accurate, and thought provoking digital media via the Internet.   Educators like Sal Khan are giving wider access to subjects like Math, Science and History to a diverse group learners on demand with The Khan Academy.  In sharp contrast, there are also the clips of cats skydiving.  So, can YouTube make us smarter?

I believe through proper analysis of the message, it can.  Elizabeth Thoman and Tessa Jolls, in Media Literacy, A National Priority for a Changing World offer us some advice about how to evaluate media.  Since digital media has become more complex, diverse and accessible, the actual content of the message becomes less important than the analysis and further re-communication of the message.  Readers can use the following 5 questions to better evaluate digital media:

1.  Who created the message?

2.  What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

3.  How might different people understand this message differently from me?

4.  What lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?

5.  Why is this message being sent?

The authors add that:  “Now is the time to make media literacy education a national priority in advancing 21st century skills for a 21st century world”

What are you doing in your classrooms to encourage students to learn digital media skills?

It takes a Village

They say it takes a village to raise (and teach)  a child.  How has Web 2.0 with its interactive elements changed the way the village acts in the capacity of educator?

Web 2.0 has created greater flexibility in our methods for teaching.  I found this post from Dangerously Irrelevant with his thoughts about videos compiled by the Digital Media and Learning Resource Hub.

The video that drew my attention the most was this one:

It explores the importance of how we learn, and asks the question, should the starting point in developing curriculum be the content, or should it be “what is the experience we what our students to have”?  How is it that we can best reach our student to create that optimal experience?  Web 2.0 has changed how we can answer that question.

What I have learned from my many years of dealing with a multitude of people is that they all learn differently.  It takes them different times, and it takes different strategies.  You have to approach people from angles they understand.  How can we possibly control the educational process in which children are learning from such a multitude and varied number of static and interactive sources?  I think the bottom line is that we can’t all the time.  What the community of those who educate children can do first is to create a student that wants to/knows how to maximize students’ learning potential while always focusing on creating a foundation of good citizenship skills.

If you are interested in ways to differentiate objectives for your students’ skills to maximize their output view this post by Byrdseed.

Web 2.0 creates an environment in which people are learning all the time, not only through 1.0 ways like  absorbing the information created by others, but also through the 2.0 ways of interacting and creating on the internet.

The Video Citizenship for Cyberkids is a discussion of how we as a community must join together to create a generation of good cyber citizens in our youth.  The internet provides learners wonderful tools, but  risks like cyber bullying and predators are real and must be addressed.  The answer is not to rid ourselves of productive technology, but to teach good cyber citizenship skills to users.  We need to collaborate as a community to discuss best practices.   The teacher might be an entry point is this training, so training programs for educators must be considered.  It is also critical to remember that the scope of education for cyber citizenship must be wider than a classroom.  It takes a village.

How does this new creative and interactive way students are learning change the way we are teaching?  Do you start with the content, what it is you want the student to learn, or do you begin with asking the question what experience is it that I want my students to have?  What have you done  to become more Teacher 2.0 to meet your students movement towards Learner 2.0, and has it required a shift in emphasis in how you teach people to engage with each other?