EduTech

This week for my Emerging Tech course, I’ve been tasked with writing a blog post that shows some of the new things I’ve learned and what I’ve been thinking about based on the readings and discussion.

Wow. What a loaded prompt!

First, I would like to point out that in terms of educational technology, I’m most familiar with things piloted or mastered in the mid-2000s when I finished my first graduate degree. My, how things have changed! I read an article today, titled: Saving School Libraries: How Technology and Innovation Help Them Stay Relevant” and it has me thinking all of the things. I have always been intrigued by the work of the school librarian, but thinking in terms of working “as a catalyst for social change” is something that never dawned on me (Lynch 3). As an English teacher, I always thought that engaging students in reading and discussion could drive such change and as I worked at the college level, I saw just how thoughtful students were when it came to social events and news. I did not really put a lot of thought into how the librarian can shape students similarly, but I love the idea of encouraging students to research, engage, and utilize their critical thinking skills to make waves around them.

My experiences with reluctant and struggling readers, something I’ll likely discuss often, allows me to work with students through a critical scope regardless of where their skill sets are. Another thought in the Lynch article states that, “Libraries need to provide an unbiased, and unlimited, access to information” (3). This is a statement that I think will stick with me as I think of ways to integrate community and technology within the confines of school walls. Further, I think that utilizing new technologies to advance learning will assist with this.

Through my readings, I’ve been introduced to a few new sites and concepts:

  1. Librarians without Borders: This may become my new obsession, as I see that in 2019, trips to Guatemala and Ghana were organized to set up libraries and learning resources. As I type this, I am mentally thinking of ways to help my husband understand why I should participate in something like this next year.
  2. EdShelf: Perhaps this is more applicable to other educators browsing this blog. I bookmarked this page for later (and even created a Library Resources folder in my bookmark bar!). EdShelf has a number of educational tools listed for whatever task you may have at hand. I’d read an article by Joyce Valenza that touched on Augmented Reality and there’s a whole section of applications available for perusal on the EdShelf site. I also clicked on the Read/Write/Literacy tab and was pleased to see ReadWriteThink has an application (this is a website that I used 10+ years ago for resources for my students). I am really looking forward to delving into this site more!
  3. FlipGrid: We used FlipGrid this week to create a 90 second video about our comfort levels with technology. I really enjoyed this task and learning about this platform. I can see this being used easily in collaborative approaches between content-area teachers and librarians as well as professional learning communities (both in-person and online). I love the idea of students creating FlipGrid videos to keep responses concise (it makes me think of Twitter limiting characters with typing). I think there are a lot of applicable ways to use such a platform: word problems in mathematics; breaking down a science experiment and its outcomes; giving a quick book review; reciting a timeline from history. This is something I really want to keep in mind when I’m working in a school library.
  4. Glogster: This was a site recommended in another Joyce Valenza article. It is animation software and on the site, there are examples of how content area teachers are able to have students utilize this within the confines of an in-class project. This is software that seems valuable to use from mid-elementary school through high school. It is more graphic/animated than Prezi but should offer a similar engagement.
  5. Bubbl: In the same Valenza article mentioned above, there’s a piece that focuses on mind mapping via Google Docs. This jogged my memory: When I used to teach in a special education, independent school, I had my students use a site called Bubbl. This site allowed students who needed to visually map out their thoughts the space and capacity to do so. I have also recommended this to college writing students who need the same processing accessibility.
  6. The last is a concept that I need to wrap my mind around. In both the Lynch and Valenza articles, it is stated that libraries need to advocate for improved digital access to include social media, blocked sites, and cell-phone usage. This is something that I am going to continue to wrap my mind around and think about how these tools can be responsibly used to further the educational growth of our youth. I think a lot of this as to do with the fact that I work hard to preserve a tech-free space within my home and get anxious at times that I’m very far behind in cutting-edge technologies. For example, my three year old thinks cell phones are only for FaceTime with his grandparents (also, for taking pictures) but has never used one otherwise.

While I battle mentally with the cell phone piece, one thing that is starting to give me a little relief is that I’m realizing maybe I’m not as overall technology resistant as I can sometimes feel.  Reading this week’s assigned articles have given me the ability to take a deep breath and rethink my technology uses within the classroom. Sure, I always have preferred to lecture without PowerPoint slides, but I’ve always printed out my lectures for students who need to read and re-read information and may not be adept at note-taking.

As a classroom teacher, I have always tried to touch on the various learning styles my students may have. Now, I am thinking about how I can support teachers with similar tasks through technology-infused assignments and various resources. Now that I’m reading and gaining access to sites, I am feeling less intimidated about the prospect of such a task.

Finally, in the midst of thinking and reflecting on technology in terms of what I’ve had access to and what is available to students and teachers, I want to think of ways that students can publish writing. When I was an undergrad, I received The Writer’s Market as a gift — this was a book with thousands of pages of publishers and contests for writers. I think it would be so fun to eventually run an after-school or advisory program where students write in accordance to contests to submit for a chance at publication. I am not sure if most teens would find this cool, but I’m really jazzed at the thought. (I also find it encouraging that in my nine years teaching at a local community college, I’ve had four students major in English — I know there are other writers out there who are eager to find these opportunities.)

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