Tag Archives: Educational technology

New Goals for a New School Year!

The start of school has been extremely busy this year! Before we get too far into September, I wanted to record some of my goals for the 2013-2014 school year.

After finally finishing my room setup, I realized that I actually have visual representations of all six of my goals displayed around my room. The first, on-going goal I have is to continue creating and facilitating global learning opportunities for my students.

global ed

Last year, I was able to set up a few different Skype exchanges with New Zealand, Alaska, and Minnesota as well as some collaborations through projects around social studies and science explorations. I hope to expand those projects this year and introduce more tools to students that they can use for global collaboration. I really want to help establish the idea that technology can be used as a tool for meaningful learning and exchange across the globe.

Related to that goal, I hope to use my Google Glass (won via the #IfIHadGlass competition) to connect my students with other students around the world. I recently launched The Global Google Glass Project, inviting teachers to sign their classes up to participate in a variety of projects that would take advantage of the first-person perspective of Glass. Additionally, I want to push myself to use Glass consistently throughout the year as a tool for documentation to capture moments of student learning and discovery each day. You can check out more of my exploration with Glass on my Tumblr.

google glass bulletin board

Of course, if I’m asking my students to use the Internet to connect and collaborate with others around the world, I need to be talking with them about digital citizenship. I used parts of the Commonsense Media curriculum last year but this year I want to spend a lot more time discussing topics like: staying safe online, how to search the web effectively, and understanding the Creative Commons. To help with this, I’ll be using the Commonsense Media elementary school digital citizenship poster, who we have named Danielle the Digital Citizen, to personify the qualities of a good digital citizen and make these ideas more relatable for my young students.

digital citizenship bulletin board

In addition to being digital citizens, I’m hoping my students will become Makers, who Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager define as “confident, competent, curious citizens in a new world of possibility.” I’m starting an afterschool Maker Club for my Kindergarten – 2nd Grade students to provide them with more opportunities to be exposed to tools, projects, and ideas that encourage creating, tinkering, and making. I’m excited to have this time to introduce materials like Makedo and Little Bits and also let students guide me in designing new projects and researching new tools. Outside of the club, when possible, I hope to also integrate making into the classroom when it connects to the curriculum or the technology projects we’re engaged in this year.

Maker Bulletin Board

I’m also striving to increase my knowledge of iPad deployment, integration, management, and training this year, as we introduce twelve iPads in our Pre-K class and one in each of our kindergarten classes. I had a few iPads to share last year across all of the classes I work with but I think having them in these classes full-time will create a different experience. I want to continue exploring quality app review sites and rubrics and learning more about how to adapt the SAMR model as a framework for iPad integration in early childhood. My goal is to help the iPads become a seamless addition to each classroom as a tool for creation, collaboration, and communicating new ideas or reflecting on things that were just learned.

Maker Bulletin Board

Finally, although this is probably a guaranteed outcome if I work towards the five goals above, I want to make professional growth an ongoing goal this year. Last year I participated in a few MOOCs for the first time and attended or presented at some new conferences. I want to make sure that in all of the busyness of the school year and my new projects, that I still carve out time to develop professionally and stay current with new tools and approaches to tech integration.

I think one of the most valuable things you can do as an educator is participate in groups or activities that inspire and push you to grow and continue learning and doing/making. With that in mind, I hope to attend at least one new conference this year, submit some presentation proposals, read at least one new book in my field, and participate in some online communities and/or MOOCs around my goals.

I think that’s enough for one school year! Now, it’s time to get busy with the actual implementation piece.

inspiration to grow

What are your goals for this school year?

Do you have any tips or resources to help me meet mine?


The CMK Series – Part 2

In my first reflection of #CMK13 I touched on the idea of success and how it can change over time. I wanted to return to that idea and focus on how important it was for success to become a more flexible concept during my time at #CMK13.

I arrived at the Institute with the idea that failure was not only feasible but likely over the few days I would be there. I was comfortable with the possibility of getting stuck and having to try again. What I had not considered was how strongly I and others would feel a need to achieve and achievement primarily meant success (everything works perfectly!) … at first.

The pull towards achievement came from being surrounded by peers and experts who had amazing and inspiring ideas. It came from the culture of testing and assessment that many of us work in and the deadline of Friday presentations. It also came from a sense that we had all been transported to a magical world where time stood still for awhile and we had less pressures, so we couldn’t waste that kind of treasure!

Of course, as the Institute progressed, achievement became both simpler and more complex. As I relaxed into the unique environment of CMK, a place where you can sit on the floor and brainstorm with a group of dedicated people you’ve never met before and then began to make and create, I realized we didn’t have to worry so much about wasting time. Researching, learning, trying and doing were all extremely valuable and valued pursuits at CMK. Often, those activities can begin to feel unproductive because they don’t produce an immediate product and they are hard to demonstrate or account for when explaining how you’ve used your time.

Enjoying the Process and Learning Through Doing

Instead, at #CMK13 I could allow myself to enjoy the process and to accept that there would be iteration upon iteration of tinkering with a code, trying a wire, and even breaking a few things (woops … that LED definitely needed a resistor!). And through that enjoyment of the process, achievement became simple. It became something that’s obtained by gaining understanding, having ah-ha moments, and then losing the magic and having to start all over again.

One conversation between Deborah Meier and Eleanor Duckworth at CMK particularly stuck with me … that maybe ah-ha moments aren’t the most important because almost as soon as we’ve had them, they begin to fade away and we’re back to wondering how to make sense of things. Yet, as Duckworth has so eloquently described, it’s the more general having of wonderful ideas that can be so powerful, not just the momentary clarity that comes from gaining a deep understanding of them.

CMK was full of wonderful and powerful ideas. Some of them became projects that came to fruition over the course of the Institute and some ideas were dropped minutes after they were raised, never to be heard again but that doesn’t mean they weren’t wonderful or meaningful. And that’s where the complexity comes into play. For me, achievement began to take shape as a self-satisfied notion, something that only I could truly judge but one that was ever-changing. Achievement meant learning and doing, it was making and creating, sharing and trying and stumbling over both small and large obstacles. At the end of CMK, I felt I had achieved a great deal, not because we had a perfect, finished product to show everyone, but because I had succeeded in experiencing the deep process of collaboratively learning something completely new.

Pouring Over Arduino Sketches - Looking for Bugs

Pouring Over Arduino Sketches – Looking for Bugs

There were a few ah-ha moments mixed in with multiple roadblocks. I had small moments of clarity where I was able to explain exactly what was happening and why, followed by confusion when I added a new piece of knowledge that seemed to destroy the whole schema I had just constructed. Ultimately, I walked away from #CMK13 feeling like I could appreciate a much messier, more complicated, changing definition of achievement, and one that I can’t wait to experience again!

How do you define achievement and success? How do you think your students define those concepts and do they leave room for the slow construction of knowledge through exploration and discovery? Or do other ideas about success overshadow them.