Monday, March 30, 2009

Enough is Enough!

I've noticed as we've gone along that with all the requirements of the everyday grind that there comes the feeling that we haven't done enough with our new found tools and knowledge. It will all come together with time. The important fact is that we've started to think about connections and actually make them. We've started to think about integrating technology and we actually have. We've started thinking globally about how our students can create and be engaged by what they're creating.

STUDENTS LEARN WITH THIS PROCESS because they have to think critically about what they are creating. Our last Teach21 meet was a sharing process of what we found at NCTIES, where we put it for teachers to access, and how (using effective digital tools) we captured it all.

To regain perspective on where we are and where we're going we shared a post from Vicki Davis' blog "The Cool Cat Teacher Blog." The post was entitled Do What You Can. Share What You Can It's message was simple - when you feel like you not doing enough you probably really are. Davis says when it's your students time with you give them 100 percent. When that time is over, let it really be over. "Share what you can, when you can and that is enough."

There are many times in teachers' lives that they feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the job and the lists of things to do. I think it's good to remember that when we started Teach21 it wasn't designed to be something else on the plate, but a different entree' that was already on the plate. Davis was the opening keynote speaker at the NCTIES Annual Conference held in Raleigh, NC the first week of March. In that keynote she said that we should all leave the conference with three new things to take back and try or implement. Applied to the Teach21 model I think she means three new ways of doing things we already do - and that will be enough.

Monday, March 9, 2009

NCTIES - Teach21: Building Capacity

Mrs. McMillan and I are back at Bolton after soaking up all kinds of ideas and information at the NCTIES conference. I have never experienced a conference quite the same as I did this year's NCTIES conference. As we attended sessions we kept notes, updated Delicious accounts with new resources, and participated in what David Warlick likes to call the subterreanean conversation.
Connected with my newly added Tweetdeck and using the conference backchannels I participated in the connected conversations of others attending. So - instead of the communication being a presenter to audience/1 to 1 conversation there was the presenter to audience and audience to audience interactions/reactions as the presentations were happening. That made it a much deeper learing experience for me - being able to share ideas and respond to what educators from all over the state were thinking, asking, and sharing in real time. There was a clicking of laptop keys throughout these sessions, but somehow they weren't a distraction. It was just passionate educators sharing ideas in a connected world.
Being able to have these conversations with national technology leaders such as Vicki Davis, Meg Ormiston, Kathy Shrock, David Warlick and Will Richardson was very beneficial, but not nearly as beneficial as having them with colleagues simultaneously.
Our own presentation, Teach21: Building Capacity went well. David Warlick even slipped in the back to hear our story, which meant a lot. Later - in passing on our way to a session he simply looked at us and said, "Good Show." He had blogged that what he wanted from the NCTIES conference was stories and HE HEARD OURS!
Although we collected many ideas to bring back to Bolton more than anything, after hearing what is happening around our state and being able to talk with fellow educators, we are convinced we are on the right path, and doing things the right way. We have never lost sight that it's not about the technology, but what we do with it. This is the reflections video we shared in our presentations - and it's very powerful because it signals shift happening at Bolton Elementary.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Personal Learnng Networks at NCTIES

Mrs. McMillan and I have arrived in Raleigh and have been working for over 4 hours on learning how to develop our personal and professional learning networks using applications/web 2.0 tools like Twitter, blogs (imagine that), wikis and the sort. By the end of the day we'll have spent over six hours developing our own networks, learing of new tools to use and can share that with our faculty and staff. It's great to know we have started that as a team with Teach21 and can now take that to the next level where they'll be truly powerful tools for information and collaboration. We'll learn all we can and post notes to our wiki.