Essential Elements for Growth in a Classroom: 1) Food for thought, 2) Time to think, 3) Encouragement, and 4) Mentorship—Vicki Davis
Teaching in a new networked world is a big undertaking for us all, especially the leaders in technology. Others look to us to do the driving. We are expected to discover the Web 2.0 tools, experiment with them, initiate ideas for projects, encourage our peers to use the new technology, and collaborate with and mentor them.
I’ve come to realize that one of the biggest roadblocks for me is time, not only time to think, as Vicki Davis asserts, but time to search, time to read, time to write, time to view, time to share, and time to teach. I have learned so much over the past year—five technology courses, a technology conference, and a computer camp. To many this might seem excessive (it is!). Web 2.0 is all coming together for me. After all this, I am finally beginning to understand what it is and how it can be used to enhance student learning. I know there are so many great ideas awaiting me on the internet. Just watching videos on sites such as TeacherTube and K12Online08 Video Channel makes me realize why this whole process is slow and arduous. It is so time consuming to keep up with our RSS feeds (which are interesting), search for lesson ideas, and explore new tools (UStream, Elluminate, Mind42, and SecondLife). I would love to introduce a globally collaborative project, but I just need to find the time to research and plan it. We search for ways to teach students how to protect themselves…to teach them the impact of their digital footprint. Should we use i-Safe or CyberAngels? What are the rules of netiquette? How do we best teach searching strategies and website evaluation? There is just so much that falls under the technology umbrella. Sure it sounds great to teach higher level thinking skills through media literacy; I loved watching “Kick it up a Notch—a Film School for Video Podcasters. But one could become overwhelmed with all that there is to do and know.
So why are there so many teachers who don’t use many web 2.0 tools to teach in their new networked world? They don’t have enough time to learn about them. They are focused on differentiated instruction…curriculum mapping…NWEA testing…NCLB…digital portfolios. It never ends. It’s no wonder they cry out, “Just let me teach!”
In my school we are making a dent with technology, but we continue to struggle with answers to the who, what, when, where, why, and how to get the job done most effectively. The good news is that much growth has been made in the past year, our technology mentoring program is thriving, and the future looks bright. Now if only there were more hours in a day!