Games and SEL

jenga

 

This tweet immediately brought I ideas flying into my mind. I retweeted it the second I saw it on my feed. Who doesn’t like playing Jenga? What kids don’t need a little help getting to know one another. In the beginning of the year students struggle in their new classroom. Maybe they are no long with the same classmates as last year. Maybe they are totally new in school this year. How do they learn about their classmates in a fun way? Play Jenga!! What a wonderful idea…and who would of thought you could find it on Twitter?!? I highly recommend checking out Teaching Ideas on Twitter. They are always posting new ideas to do in your own class and it is run by teachers!

Twitter Teaches Teachers

 

leadershipsel

 

Twitter has some wonderful things crawling all over it. Edutopia might be my favorite thing to follow on Twitter. Both the above tweets show the amazing information they can provide us. I am a huge promoter of Leadership and as I finish my Master’s new professional development opportunities always look promising. Check out Edutopia’s Twitter page to learn more about great things to do in and outside of your classroom…maybe you’ll learn something!

 

The Battle of Technology

Schools and Students Clash 

This is a response to the above posted article…

When reading this article I immediately thought of high school students trying to get onto Facebook during their study hall block and failing because of the firewall. Then I realized, if I had access to Facebook during the school day when I was a teen I would want to be on it too. There are many reasons schools block sites like Facebook and Twitter on their WiFi. But if students knew how to properly use these social media sites there would be no problem in having access to them, there would actually be benefits. 

Something that intrigues me is the popularity of Google in schools. The ease of Google docs and the use of the cloud is a huge benefit for schools. But where does the boundary lie…isn’t Google + just another social media site like Facebook? 

If we teach our students the proper way of using these social media sites (many of them already know) then we can use them to our advantage! 

 

BRAIN RULES

John Medina’s book just might be added to my ever growing book list. Coming from a background in Psychology, I have taken many neuroscience classes and love learning about how the brain works. Now being an elementary teacher how the brain changes as we grow is even more interesting to me. I encourage you to take a look at Medina’s website Brain Rules and see if you are as interested as me. 

SPEAK UP!!

Speak Up is extremely important for our education system! How can we better our education if we don’t listen to our students. Reading through the research done by the Speak Up National Research Project about technology use by our students and in our schools was intriguing. Something I always like to do after a new lesson or when I implement a new strategy is to get a sense of how my students felt. Knowing what students use technology, how much they use, when they use, what they use it for, and if they even have it available to them is extremely important for us as educators. The  whole myth theory is true! We are told that we are never going to be as tech savvy as our students. BUT WE CAN BE! We are the teachers…shouldn’t we be able to teach our students?! After reading this research is gets me pumped to incorporate technology into my classroom, but also teaches me to be aware of what my students are already doing with technology. We pre-assess our students before we teach them…we should pre-assess their ability to use technology.

Take a look…see if you become inspired…

Speak Up 2013

EdReach

Are you a Podcast-a-holic? I have friends and family who love listening to podcasts. I had yet to find one I have become hooked on. While perusing EdReach I came across The Reading Room. I listened to show #4 and really enjoyed myself. It was wonderful to hear what classes around the country were doing involving technology and integrating it with reading. This show spoke about Global Read Aloud, which I am already excited to learn more about. From what the podcast said, they are common Read Alouds done in classrooms around the country (and world?). As the students read the books, they interact with one another about the text through Twitter, Skype, Google Hang Outs, and other social media. It is very interesting and provides your students with social interactions outside of their classroom, school, and even state. One of the speakers even mentioned a google hang out with the author. I know my students would love that! This was a wonderful podcast to listen to…not sure if I am hooked just yet!

Are podcasts something I would consider? Hmm…I think listening to podcasts are awesome and having my students create their own podcasts is something I very much enjoy. To be honest, I hate listening to my recorded voice. I think would rather see myself on camera. But stepping out of my comfort zone is healthy…so why not!?!

If you are interested in integrating reading and technology, take a listen: The Reading Room

The Future of Education

“Schools as we know them are obsolete.”

Sugata Mitra’s Ted Talk discusses the future of education around the world. As he began speaking about how we don’t need schools anymore because they are “obsolete” I was not a fan on him.

UNTIL he began explaining his research. At first I questioned it. Are these children in the “slum” learning from the computer because it is something new and they are not usually provided with education? What would happen in America if Sugata ran the same experiment? At this point I stopped the video and started jotting down thoughts… The teacher engages the students. Our job as an educator is to keep the students curious and make them dive deeper into their questions.

“Encouragement is key.”

Sugata brings up how the brain works as part of his theory. The reptilian part of the brain will shut down the rest when it feels a threat or punishment. No wonder students struggle taking tests! Thinking back on your own education what teacher comes to mind? Is it the teacher that showed you they cared about you as a person? Encouraged you to try your best? Maybe they got you to work harder at something you were interested in?

Learning emerges if you allow the self organization of education. Students need to want to learn in order to learn. Sugata’s idea of S.O.L.E. (Self Organized Learning Environment) makes me think about the backwards classroom and inquiry based learning. For younger students in the elementary years, some direction is needed from the teacher and a flipped classroom is more challenging to accomplish. The cloud is a very interesting idea and I look forward to learning more about the progress it has made throughout the world. Take a look and see what you think…

Build a School in the Cloud

Are you on Twitter?

I was an avid Twitter user throughout college, but I had stopped checking and tweeting over the last fews years. As my life has been thrown back into the technology world through teaching, I have been checking my Twitter account much more often and following some more purposeful people and organizations. I love reading the tweets and retweets from @ScholasticTeach, which is the official Scholastic Teachers account on Twitter.

Just an hour ago they tweeted a Youtube video of David Shannon, one of my favorite children’s authors. This clip just made me think about how social media connects us “normal folks” to authors, artists, musicians, actors, and politicians throughout the world. David Shannon’s video was about a summer reading challenge for students with Scholastic. Elementary students know and connect with David Shannon through his popular books including the No, David series and A Bad Case of Stripes. Through experience I have witnessed the excitement students have when authors they know come visit their schools. David gives a challenge for students to read this summer and log their minutes on the Scholastic website. He tells them that the he will visit school with the most logged minutes. Wow! What an incredible tool Youtube and Twitter are to spread the word and connect us all.

If you are looking for a Twitter account to follow about great books and other reading tools for the elementary classroom, I recommend following Scholastic Teachers.

 

TECHNOLOGY is IMPORTANT!

High-tech vs. no-tech

So many emotions going through me! The above Washington Post article just brought me to question technology at one point, but after reading it through my thoughts of the importance of technology came flooding in. Having been raised in the DC Metropolitan area, I know about both of the schools discussed in the article. Flint Hill is a school that is very similar to the one I have been working at the past two years. It is also similar to the school I will be working at next year. These schools see the importance of technology in the classroom and in our lives. Waldorf…I don’t know what to say. I understand the need to parents to limit the amount of time their children are on technology, however, wouldn’t it be better to help them regulate it themselves? Taking it away just makes them want it more, and they will end up binging when they can. We should teach them how to make the choice and use their control over how much they use technology. As educators and parents we should not be controlling but educational. 

Yes, there are moments that technology should not be used and the hands on, natural, experience is better. As a person who enjoys nature and science I see experience as an important thing. Going out into the woods and observing your surrounding is a wonderful eye opening experience. I also believe that when documenting your experience for research or education technology can be a wonderful aid. In my college psychology lab we had the option of using real lab rats or virtual. I opted for the real rats, however, some classmates of mine chose virtual because of a phobia or allergy. In the end, we all came out of the course with the same knowledge. 

I am a strong believer in technology, however, I see the importance of the traditional education approach Waldorf uses. As I read the article I understood where the Waldorf administrators, teachers, and parents were coming from. That is until the author described the students in the classroom. I immediately remembered the power technology and relating to the students has on engagement. Making your lesson engaging to the students is the first and hardest struggle a teacher has in the classroom. Technology helps us with engagement and often helps keep students from dozing off, daydreaming, or passing notes in class. 

Technology has the power to improve our education. Why not embrace it? The fact that Nina Auslander-Padgham does not know how to type at the age of 12 is jaw dropping. If your thoughts about technology are wavering, I recommend reading this article and see where you end up.