From ‘newbie’ to connected—how I learned to navigate the world of technology

I have a confession.

I have never used a SMARTboard. I didn’t use email, or even a computer until university. I’m still a bit taken aback when people refer to me as being “good with technology” because it doesn’t fit the image I had of myself for most of my life.

As a school administrator with a strong belief in not asking staff to do things that you aren’t comfortable doing yourself, I began to explore different digital tools that I hoped would support student learning, as well as my own professional growth. During the beginning of this phase I definitely lived the motto, “fake it till you make it”.  However, the more I dabbled, the more I discovered that with technology, there is something newer and “better” around every corner. The fact that it’s impossible to keep up with the rate of change is a deterrent for so many educators who are beginning this journey.

After struggling with this for a while, I decided that I needed to be more specific in choosing a focus, and then go deeper into exploring how I could use it to improve my practice. That leads me to about a year ago when joined Twitter.

I had no idea how to use it at the time, but I knew that I wanted to be purposeful about using it to connect with and learn from other educators. It was at this point that I think I really began my journey into using technology as an accelerator to transform my own learning. It has challenged my thinking, caused me to become more reflective about my practice and it has connected me with people and opportunities that I never would have otherwise experienced.

agtwitterFast forward to today. I recently returned from Bring IT Together, my first “Ed Tech” conference, hosted by The Educational Computing Organization of Ontario.  Had you asked me five years ago, this is certainly not an event that I would have either been interested in or pictured myself attending. I am pleased to say that I’m leaving the conference with a renewed sense of possibility, passion and pride in my chosen field of education.

My next step is to challenge myself by leading an online book study via Twitter. I have led a number of successful book studies with school staff, but leading one online is new territory for me.

Continue reading “From ‘newbie’ to connected—how I learned to navigate the world of technology”

‘Unconference’ an unconventional learning opportunity

edcamp logoWith the beginning of a new school year, educators are thinking about strategies to make it a success for the students. Many are looking for ways to connect with like-minded people to discuss issues, challenges and opportunities, and to learn together.

If you’re starting to map out informal opportunities for learning, keep in mind that on September 27 a new and exciting opportunity is coming to Barrie. It is called Edcamp—a free, non-board based informal ‘unconference’ that is open for anyone invested in education. Continue reading “‘Unconference’ an unconventional learning opportunity”

Using social media in the Forest of Reading

The Forest of Reading is made up of wonderful programs that promote great new Canadian literature and authors. This year, some Intermediate students will be engaging in the use of social media to discuss the books being read in the Red Maple program. Students will have the opportunity to use edublogs to write about the books they have read, and use Twitter (if over age 13) to share their blogs and comments about the books.

Twitter can be a very safe tool if set up and used properly. This is a great environment for students to connect with other students to share ideas while building literacy skills. Continue reading “Using social media in the Forest of Reading”

Stand up for kindness online

When Simcoe County schools closed their doors today due to weather, I resolved that it would be a great opportunity to write my next blog post.

Unfortunately, I spent a good chunk of the day with a bad case of writer’s block. I decided to look to the Internet for some inspiration and found myself caught up reading a series of controversial “mean tweets”.

Continue reading “Stand up for kindness online”

Twitter: A springboard for school-to-home communication

twitter signParent involvement and communication is key to the idea of partnerships in learning. How many times has a student returned home from a day at school and been asked: “How was your day? What did you learn in class?” and merely replied, “Ok. Not much.” Our classrooms are bursting with exciting learning opportunities and terrific activities that support student growth and development—we simply need to find a way to share this from school to home.

Enter technology.

Many educators are turning to class blog pages, wikis and Twitter accounts as new vehicles to deliver communication to the homes of our students. In some of our Simcoe County schools, printed classroom newsletters have been replaced by Dropbox folder invitations and tweets about the day’s learning. Technology is shaping the daily experiences of our students, and this should beckon us to join in and use the tools that matter to them when we communicate about them.  Continue reading “Twitter: A springboard for school-to-home communication”