Thursday, September 11, 2008

Gadgets & Gizmos & the First Week of School

I have to admit I am a gadget guy. I like finding new tools, the unique power of small and portable technologies, and the power to create they provide. Not everyone is like that, and that's okay. But for our team, three small, but very powerful tools were given to them the first teaching week of the 2008-'09 school year.
As we worked and learned together this summer some of the most inspiring and creative tools we used were Skype, which gives anyone the power to make telephone calls and/or video conference calls over the Internet, and VoiceThread, an online tool for having conversations around media (pictures, video, documents, presentations).
After the bell rang and the students swarmed through the doors, the business of teaching rules, expectations and procedures began. And I see that some of the expectations for learning with technology have changed- positively - among those who are part of Teach21. The Teach21 team received a Sennheiser PC Headset with microphone, a Lenovo web cam with integrated microphone, and a Flip Video USB video camera.
These three small, but powerful gadgets would allow the team to put to use the products they learned about and begin getting creative. Everyone was/is waiting anxiously for the bigger hardware that is to come to make their room a more friendly 21st Century learning space. (More to come on that subject.)
These gadgets weren't included in the original proposal, but it became apparent as we worked this summer that, despite their small size, they could make a huge impact. They empower creativity, foster thoughtful response, have the ability to motivate students, and can put teachers and students in touch with the rest of the world.
We met at the end of a hard day of teaching with a fast and furious distribution of "goodie bags." Personally, I received satisfaction from knowing that, at the least, they gave our team something they could use immediately that would put to use some new found tools and knowledge.

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