Thursday, March 26, 2015

Teachers Are Needed More Than Ever

I haven't blogged for over a year and now "I'm back!"  This was all sparked by an article I read this morning on Twitter called "Deconstruction of the American Teacher".  It led me to start thinking about educational reform and how I would answer the question, "Should I become a teacher?"

Education has shifted with society over time.  Society has asked many things of schools over the years and the 21st century is changing faster than ever.  In my role as a 21st century instructional specialist I work with teachers on instructional design and pedagogical approaches that infuse technology in a meaningful way.  I focus on how these technology infused approaches will support their instructional goals.

In this work I have realized the need for teachers has not diminished, but has increased exponentially.  Here are a few thoughts on why teachers are needed more than ever in the 21st century classroom.

Relationships:
The part I miss most about being in the classroom is the relationships I built with my students.  I had the opportunity to mold 25-30 learners over the course of the year.  In their eyes I was a "mentor", "cool", or for most "tall" (I taught third grade and am 6’4).  Technology can never replace relationships and as Salman Khan describes in his Ted talk in 2011 it can actually humanize education.  He references how an unforeseen impact of Khan Academy was providing a "higher ratio of student to valuable time with the teacher ratio."  This allows teachers to reinvent classroom time to focus deeper on student needs both emotionally and academically.  Blended learning environments provide more time for that teacher to build valuable relationships with their students.

Architect:
I have been reading the book Teacher as Architect which dives into what it means to be a "Modern Teacher."  In this book it discusses how teachers are more than facilitators, but "architects of learning."  We are called to design and personalize learning experiences for all students while allowing them to have some choice over time, path, pace, and place.  Technology makes this process more efficient, but I feel it makes the need for teachers even greater.  There are thousands of resources available online, but the teacher knows their learners best and is the best person to architect experiences that allow each child to flourish in their classroom.  They know their learners and each year a new set of learners walks through their door with a unique set of needs.  Technology can only diagnose some of those needs, but the teacher is a vital part of providing the necessary learning support so that all students thrive in their classroom.  In the book Blended the authors discuss how many online schools have transitioned to a blended environment because students wanted that face to face contact and interaction.

Should I become a teacher?
Teachers are a vital part of the modern classroom.  They will not be replaced by technology, but only enhanced.  I am not currently in the classroom, but I get the opportunity to work with hundreds of talented educators who are impacting our students of the future.  I chose my current path to make an impact on education on a larger scale, but I know I could return to the classroom anytime.  Being a teacher is hard, but rewarding work.  







Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Kid Friendly Search Engines

Here is the link to the student friendly search engines that students can use to look up resources.  Kid Friendly Search Engines  Also, here are some great sites our Media Center as put together - Media Center Resources.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Office 365 - Microsoft Lync

My posts over the next few weeks will be short videos focused on Office 365.  Office 365 is a cloud based tool our district has access to.  I will provide videos which share how to access different parts of Office 365, and how these tools can be used in the classroom.

This week I am focusing on Microsoft Lync.  Please check out the videos below to learn more about how to access this tool and how you can use it in your classroom.

Microsoft Lync Setup (4 min)

 

Instant Message, Video Chats, and Group Meetings (5 min)



Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Office 365-Microsoft Onedrive

My posts over the next few weeks will be short videos focused on Office 365.  Office 365 is a cloud based tool our district has access to.  I will provide videos which share how to access different parts of Office 365, and how these tools can be used in the classroom.

This week I am focusing on Microsoft Onedrive.  Please check out the videos below to learn more about how to access this tool and how you can use it in your classroom.

Accessing Office 365 (2 min)

Creating a new document and sharing it with others (3 min)

 

Instructional Ideas for Microsoft Onedrive (3 min)



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Science of the Olympics Resources



The winter Olympics are in full swing.  I know many of you have been looking for resources to integrate into your classrooms.  I have found two great sites full of resources that I want to share with you.

Science and Engineering of the Olympic Games 2010 and Science and Engineering of the Olympic Games –These sites are part of NBC’s broadcasts on the “Science of Sports”.  The site has videos which explain the science behind various events in the Olympics.  

Pearson Olympic Resources- Pearson also has a great resource filled with lesson plans to accompany various activities in the Olympics.  Currently they have curling, snowboarding, and alpine skiing.  Bobsled will be coming soon.  Visit Pearson OLE to access these resources and more.  

Teaching the Sochi Olympics History, Geography, and Social Studies- A great resource of activities from the New York Times.

Please leave a comment below if you come across other great Olympic resources I can add to my post.  Thanks to Free Tech for Teachers for the ideas!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Newsela - Great Resource for Non-Fiction Articles

Getting Started with Newsela


Tracking Student Progress in Newsela


**Updated** I want to update this post after using this tool with a few 5th grade teachers in our district.  Newsela is even better than I thought!  You have the ability to assign students articles, but they can also choose their own.  From the teacher dashboard you can track which articles they have read.  There is also a new feature which allows students to annotate on the actual article.  Teachers can view student annotations from the dashboard and reply back to them.  This would be such a great tool to allow readers to track their thinking while reading. 

Close Reading Poster:

When I was in the classroom I was always trying to find non-fiction articles that connected to what we were learning about.  I was working with a team of teachers yesterday and Nicole Vagle shared a great resource to access free non-fiction articles.  The site is Newsela - "Newsela is an innovative way for students to build reading comprehension with nonfiction that's always relevant: daily news." This site has articles for grades 3-12.  You can use this for whole group instruction or create accounts for students and assign articles for them to read.

Here are some of the really cool features this site has to offer:
  •  Articles written at multiple levels of complexity-as a teacher you can choose a version of the article to fit each student
  • It has quizzes aligned to the Common Core to track students progress
  • Newsela also has a teacher dashboard to track Common Core mastery, review quiz results, and assign articles