Monday, January 19, 2009

A New Year

The new year has begun with wonderful promise. I've spent some time reflecting on 2008 as an individual, an educator and as a member of E2T2. The year 2008 must go down as one of the most incredible years of my life. A daughter moves to Florida, a daughter graduates from Culinary Arts school and purchases a restaurant with her boyfriend (also a chef), planning and celebrating my new marriage to the man who is the love of my life, my eldest daughter making me a grandma for the first time. Whew... and that's just one aspect of this year.

As and educator I've needed to stretch once again to incorporate not only my love of reading, books, literature, and information literacy as an Elementary Media Specialist but also expand and update my technology skills. As I've trained the Grade 1- 5 teachers and students in the use of our new wireless mobile labs I've gained confidence in my ability to connect with adults as well as students with a wide range of computer experience and skill. I've also become as much or more of a learner of technology as a teacher. I recognize how much faster I learn when I teach the skills to others and the excitement of being looked on as a leader for the school. Most of the time I feel I am just a step ahead or slightly behind the younger teachers who are champing at the bit to get going using the 2.0 tools with the classes.

A major challenge has been the dictate of the district to stick to using Microsoft Office tools in our technology teaching at the present time. Wow, is it hard to do that! I try to remind myself and the other teachers that we are moving in the right direction and hopefully we will be able to really stretch our wings next school year. Some of the projects that the teachers and I have collaborated on have been: using online databases and search strategies with 5th grade students for biography reporting. incorporating PowerPoint as a way for 3rd and 4th graders to present science reports to their peers, second graders are learning to use the drawing tools by designing their own compass rose for geography and first graders are learning how to use Word and save their work to the school server. These may seem like very sterile, unexciting projects when you compare them to some of the things 2.0 schools are doing. They are for us a necessary beginning in order for students and teachers to become familiar and comfortable with the mini laptops and the new schedules and procedures that have been put in place. Meanwhile those who are trying to open our doors to more access to Internet tools continue to make progress.

I had a conversation with my principal about presenting to our staff some information on several of the tools that I believe will be embraced by them as tools to enhance and improve their work. I wanted to introduce them to Googledocs, delicious and show them some examples from the TIES conference I attended. She put me off and stated that the teachers need to learn to use Word, PowerPoint, Excel and possibly Publisher. So you can see where I need to press on and educate those in decision-making roles as much as possible.

There is good news! The three other members of E2T2 and I will be presenting a session at an in-service for the entire district staff in February. Our plan is to entice the teaching staff with Googledocs, Delicious and blogs.

Friday, January 2, 2009


November was an incredible month. Again, we had stimulating discussions about the use and misuse of technology. There was sharing of frustrations and successes. Ryan’s presentation showing what he is doing in his classroom was inspiring.

After learning so much about Googledocs from Molly Schroeder, I went back to school and tried uploading previously created Word docs. Well, I found out that documents that have tables in them do not appear as they were created. That was frustrating. I then tried recreating the tables in Googledocs and was not as successful as I had hoped. Either I did something wrong or there are limits on what can be uploaded successfully.

During this month at my school, I was able to move the laptop carts to classrooms and there is actually a move to hire the tech assistant. When this is finally in place, I should be able to relinquish the technical upkeep and trouble shooting to someone else and then spend more time on working with the teachers with actual projects with the students. Yeah!!

Following Michael Walker’s presentation about digital storytelling I’m wondering if that should be the area I look at for my presentation. Even without the latest technology, it is something we should be able to do at our district. We could hopefully then incorporate pod or screencasting into that experience. I’m going to start doing more investigating into how that might work for us. I plan to present theses ideas to my principal and see what we have available to purchase microphones and more digital cameras. We do have a digital video camera. I’m embarrassed to say I have not learned how to use it other than taping a cassette.

So now, I have to decide where to focus my energies. My time is so limited that I cannot do everything that I wish. I really want to assist the teachers in becoming more efficient with the tools I mentioned earlier. I also want to start using more of the tools in classrooms collaboratively with the teachers. I’m thinking I may have to present the tools like Googledocs to teachers as a group and let them come to me for more information and assistance. Then my focus with student projects will fulfill the expectations of the district as it builds partnerships with the teachers in using effective methods that will grow as we learn to work together.

We’ll see. It’s a start anyway.

October Reflections

Our October sessions were jam packed with hands-on technology learning. Again I had a combination of feelings of exhilaration about the possibilities but tempered by the cruel facts of the present technology restrictions in place at my district. Along with having the opportunity to be in a smaller group while investigating the various technologies, there were some great ideas for how to use the tools. I especially enjoyed getting more familiar with Googledocs. I am hoping that although much of the open source tools are not available at the present time to the teachers at our school, will be able to encourage them to use Googledocs to make their work easier. I know that Delicious would also be helpful for them. I am beginning to think I should focus most of my technology leadership on assisting the teachers to become more productive. That will lead to more comfort and willingness to try other ideas with classes as they become available.

During the weekend I was able to participate in or learn more about podcasting, Googledocs, Skype, Screencast-o-matic, VoiceThread, Scratch, Audacity, Pixlr, Kidcast, SurveyMonkey and too many more to list here. Hamline podcasting 101 is going to be a very valuable resource to share with my teachers.

When I returned to my school one of the first things I did was share the survey I created on SurveyMonkey. We decided to use it as a place to start in our school technology planning.

September Reflections

At our Sept. meeting, we became acquainted with one another as well as the purpose, hopes and dreams of the Technology Integration Academy cohort. The wide range of age, years of experience, academic expertise, the size of districts and availability of technology makes for an excellent and exciting learning environment. As one who learns best in a collaborative group, I am looking forward with anticipation as well as some insecurity to our work together.

Much of our introduction to the changes in the way information is created and dispersed is a reminder of the theory classes I took as part of my MLS in 2005. The theory has not changed much but the tools have been transformed in such a short period of time. By the end of the weekend, I have to admit that I was partly inspired and partly overwhelmed. We looked at so many online tools: Comic Life, Photostory, Googledocs, Twitter, to name just a few.

We had a lot of fun creating our personal learning networks. I really wish I had saved mine after doing it in Gliffy and Wordle. It would be fun to do again at the end of the course and compare the two.

The link below to A Brave New World was awesome and I promptly showed it to the tech committee at my school as well as my principal. They were impressed but because of several tech issues at our school and the delay in getting our laptop project going were also discouraged that we have difficulty envisioning ourselves becoming a part of this new world.

A Brave New World-Wide-Web (David Truss)

Another to share:

The Machine is Us/ing Us (Michael Wesch)

Weekend Reflections

As I went back to refresh my memory of the amazing depth of resources we have been exposed to and during the first months of E2T2, I realized that I was not addressing a specific area necessary for the credits I am hoping to receive from Hamline. My reflections so far have not specifically addressed the weekend session activities. Since I have taken notes at each session I will attempt to rectify the situation in my next posts.