Monday, January 28, 2008

I Learn, I Practice, I Grow

Over the weekend, I was keeping an eye on Educon in Philly and Twitter. One of the comments that came across Twitter keeps going through my mind. Someone was at a talk by Gary Stager. They wrote that they felt ashamed as a teacher as they listened to the presentation. I plan on listening to the session, so I admit I am writing this without having seen it. I will listen soon. The comment is weighing heavy on my mind.

I believe in the process of conversing, people forget that we are like our students. For the most part, the teachers who are blogging about education, technology, web 2.0 tools, and the like are learning and trying new projects in the classroom on an on-going basis.

I have been teaching computer class in the K-8 grade level for the last six years. I am no different than my students. I learn, I practice, I grow, and I learn some more. What I do is not always perfect. It is a work in progress.

There is no way to have an amazing, global, creative, collaborative classroom unless you take the first step. Those steps are creating excitement in my students. I had a seventh grader who was reading emails from a second grade project today. I have them hanging on the wall. He read it of his own accord and commented on how interesting it was to read about life in other countries. Writing classroom-to-classroom emails is something I’ve always wanted to do. I tried to get a local school to collaborate with me, but it never came to be. Now, with a shout from Tom in the UK, I have my second graders (and any other student in the school who chooses to read the printed letter) connecting with these other students.

I don’t believe edubloggers, as a group, are on soapboxes. I believe we are trying to take what exists and learn to apply it for the benefit of our students. I came a long way from my first attempts at wikis last year to what we are managing this year. We have been having intra-class collaboration in the sixth through eighth grade. They will take those skills and work on the 1001 Flat Tales project next month. I build the skill blocks one step at a time.

We’ve started working with other classrooms through a Classroombraids project and the fifth graders were so proud to show off their VoiceThreads at the open house this weekend.

I’ve even been able to get my Kindergarten class interacting with other children preparing for their 100th Day of School this year.

The students are learning to create podcasts and movies to reflect their learning, too. They have some very nice first attempts to show what they have learned. The eighth grade’s plagiarism podcasts were a first try. My sixth grade math class is working on creating a video about population density, and my seventh grade will be creating audio podcasts about web site evaluation.

It may have been an off-the-cuff comment that I read, but it’s been playing over and over in my head. I know where I was six years ago. I see where my work is today, and I know it will only continue to grow over time. I don’t see why there is a need to feel ashamed of our work. I am not ashamed of mine. I will continue to grow and modify in the same manner that I expect my students to grow. The shame would be mine if I saw the potential and chose not to act.

Image Citation:
"educon_welcome_screen (SLurl)", teachandlearn's photostream. 2008 Jan 18. 2008 Jan 28.

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