Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Building a Professional Learning Network

Not only does technology provide tools to improve learning and student achievement in the classroom, it provides educators with opportunities for professional development. Virtual classrooms for educators earning advanced degrees, webinars, video tutorials, and educator blogs are just a few of the technology tools that can support teachers in their quest for life-long learning, all made possible via the amazing internet. We have experienced how the power of the internet helps students gather information in seconds and connects them with learners across the globe, but we need to experience that power for ourselves. Now is the time to create a Professional Learning Network. Develop a network of educators and experts to connect with and contribute to your ongoing professional development.

I know, it can be a bit daunting, especially with so many sources of information out there. Who has enough time in the day to visit all the educator sites, read all the articles, and check out the latest technology tools for teaching? Google Reader can help you manage the flow of information by bringing it to you instead of you going out to find it. You can even carry those connections with you on your mobile phone using an application like Feedly.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Technology and Creativity

Let's revisit that Daniel Pink video for a moment. He highlights the science that shows we are not motivated by incentives when tasks call for higher order thinking skills, the same types of skills we want our students to be using in our 21st-century classrooms. So what can we do to motivate students? We can allow them to innovate and create - an ideal constructivist classroom opportunity. The science shows that when we are given a purpose and an opportunity, we are motivated to achieve.

Embedding technology skills into learning opportunities can increase engagement and motivation even more. Technology supports creativity and innovation via tools like Prezi. The next time you ask your students to solve a real-life problem or apply their new knowledge and thinking to a class presentation, why not try it out.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Technology and Multiple Intelligences

In an ideal world, technology in schools would be integrated into all subjects in order to advance both student engagement and achievement. Technology provides educators an opportunity to do what we do well, even better. One example of this is using technology to meet the individual needs of all learners.
The image below shows my learning style:
Using a voice recording device to capture my thoughts is a good use of technology to meet my learning style. My blog posts all begin as voice memos on my iPhone. When I am hit with an epiphany, I grab my phone and record. I come back later and organize my recordings by naming them according to topic. I listen to my thoughts and refine them for the written version, which often means creating a more purposeful post from the stream-of-consciousness memo in which they began. Students can do this with a variety of audio editors including Audacity or with the built-in sound recording devices found on most computers today.
This is just one use of technology to meet multiple intelligences. Click here to learn more.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Why a Blog is a Wonderful Vehicle for Reflection

A key component of being a learner and a constructivist educator is reflection. A blog is perfect for this because it allows one to organize his/her thoughts in a shared written expression. The writing process of composing a blog gives the writer the opportunity to consider a wider audience and purpose. This form of written expression, unlike others, is dynamic. It allows an audience member to come to it in his/her own time/space and share further reflections thereby creating a dialogue. Click here to read about how blogging supports constructivism and creativity.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Reflection and Purpose

Sometimes we can get so caught up in our day-to-day tasks that we tend to forget how those tasks are related. What is our larger purpose? It is through the act of reflection that we can reconnect to that purpose. The moment of reflection then feeds our day-to-day tasks so that we stay moving toward our goals, our purpose.

The video below of a speech by Daniel Pink, from his book Drive, talks about what motivates us. Purpose is key. I think there are some great educational implications to be found in this video. Tell me what you think.