Robbing the Blog bank !

Phew ! This paperless, 1:1 technology stuff is pretty tough going. I am finding that i have to get in to work a little earlier than usual in order to scan the blogs i subscribe to, whip through the online journals i have found, and to check the twitter feeds of the people i’m following, as well as checking my own, updating my IB film facebook and filtering my emails. In this entry i am going to share the best edublogs and blog sites i have found and used, both in getting this paperless project started and in helping me develop my own 21 C teaching skills.

I have just re-read that paragraph and i feel i must apologize. Honestly, i didn’t think and it just came out. It wont happen again. I didn’t mean to admit that i had been coming into work early, but there is no other way to throw myself into this and i don’t think that the paperless journey or the 1:1 move can be done part-time…it’s all or nothing !

That’s not to say that i wake up everyday, spring out of bed like an Olympic gymnast and rocket to work with unblinking zeal. Don’t get me wrong, if i won the lottery in the next five minutes, the blog may carry on but you wouldn’t be seeing me in person, as my security guards wouldn’t let you on my private island. If i’m honest, i’m not sure that i would tell my family either, because then they’d want to visit all of the time. I’m pretty sure i would tell my wife, eventually, and some of my friends, but i definitely wouldn’t tell that guy who lives opposite and cant work out how not to set his car alarm off about four times every night. Anyway, i digress…

In all seriousness, i am feeling motivated and energized to try new things this year…and i guess this is similar to trying to get students to learn. In order to be successful as a learner, (which is very much how i see myself !) you first have to be motivated and in a learning, “open” frame of mind. This has to be a conscious decision and, for my part, the biggest challenge so far has been making myself work in situations where i don’t know all the answers and have tried to “share” power/control/ the navigation of the lesson …with my students. Not an easy task as it requires a pedagogical shift as well as a technological shift and i can see that i am at the start of a road with no foreseeable end.

Also, and very much connected to this, I see this year as a foundation year and an opportunity to learn and get things wrong and to have no fear of failure when it comes to technology…or the blog. (To steal a phrase from someone, if i’m not making mistakes then i’m probably not on the right track !) I think i have to jump in with both feet and discover new swimming strokes. I have to move the walls of my classroom. I have to push myself and my students into situations where they have autonomy.

Of course, the irony is that i still have to make sure that they WRITE EXAMS WITH PENS AND PAPER, or the results will show that they have learned nothing and that i am a terrible teacher !

It is a juggling act between tradition and technology and i think that this time, ( to indulge all you trudging, knock-need and shoe-less through an MA in education ), when the computer fights the classroom, the computer will win* !

Anyway, this apart…here are some really useful educational blogs to follow, dip in and out of and steal from. (That’s the point, right ?) Anyway, don’t think of it as front-lobe looting, think of it as updating your virtual portfolio of 21C skills !

http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com.ar/2012/04/ten-best-education-blogs.html

http://edudemic.com/2012/10/the-50-education-blogs-reading/

http://plpnetwork.com/2012/05/03/25-top-education-blogs-to-rock-your-world-plpnetwork-chat-recap/

http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2012/12/the-33-best-educational-technology.html

* Computers Meet Classroom: Classroom Wins, Larry Cuban, Stanford University http://sdexter.net/xyz/CompMeets%20Classroom.pdf

A toothless tiger ?

And we’re off…not with a whimper and not really much of a bang either…but at least there is some movement.

The majority of full-time staff at my school have Samsung net-books, with a Wi-Fi connection,(which can be hard wired into media projectors in most classrooms), to ensure seamless teaching and internet access from room to room.

Sounds simple right ?

Cable issues and the frustratingly small and overly sensitive mouse pad aside,(can a netbook suffer from “small computer syndrome” ?), my year 11 introduction to IB Film didn’t go too badly at all.

Obviously i struggled with locating the correct cables to connect everything and obviously i was very tempted to ditch the whole idea and write out my lesson aims and objectives on the board. But i didn’t. I was lucky enough to involve an IT teacher and a Maths teacher as well as a passing PSE teacher in a spot of cross-curricular ad-hoc planning…or, as the layman might call it, “working out where to plug the correct cable in.”

Having demonstrated my digital immigrant status to a room full of natives, i was pleased to discover that my hard work preparing my first ever prezi paid off in that this format was actually new to some of them ! However, my momentary elation was slapped away when one of my charges showed me a short cut on the dropbox shared folder i had proudly set up for the course…

I am most definitely on a learning curve. Hopefully, by this time next year, i will be moving towards the notion of teacher/coach/facilitator and the class more towards the student centered model that seems to be the ideal !

The content of the lesson was very much reliant on my subject knowledge and prepared clips through youtube and free images selected through prezi. It wasn’t a million gigabytes away from how i would have prepared if i wasn’t under the constraints of not using pen or paper. However, the experience really illustrated to me the need to work with the technology, alongside traditional pedagogical skills and not rely on it as the magic box that would push me towards redundancy. It was also enlightening to see the majority of the students (OK, it was a graveyard shift after lunch) engage with the idea of not using pens and wanting to bring into school any kind of computer/phone on which to type/record notes.

The experience also showed me that, unless you can operate the technology, without drawing attention to the technology in itself (and this depends on the classroom, capacity of the member of staff, server strength, amongst other things…), the device you are trying to teach with, will be nothing more than a substantial paperweight, or a massive sidetrack away from the focus of the lesson.

Looking back on the class, i am pleased with how i managed to take the leap of faith, (which goes against the grain of everything i have hitherto accepted/expected as a teacher) and risk an entire lesson, course introduction and first assessment piece, on technology and a paperless infrastructure that i am discovering a step or three behind my students .

I am interested to see how many will access the shared folder on dropbox, where i have put the course outline and the resources and links to a personal presentation due later in the week.

I am also intrigued to see if any of these natives resort to using a pen and paper…