As educators we live is such an exciting time to teach. With the onset of the Internet we have had the ability to embed and curate videos, gamify, blog, have Minecraft in the classroom, flip the learning, useQR Codes, access social media and potentially video conferencing some educators could see that it is too much; however, I see its potential to benefit students and enhance professional development for educators.
There has been no time in history where access to information has been so immediate and available. The potential for teachers to connect and be supported in collaboration, not bound by schools, districts, states and even nations inspires me. I am acutely aware that being globally connected presents the ability to bring expertise, skill and knowledge into my classroom beyond my capabilities.
The networks that I have help me to design activities that measure students’ higher-order thinking skills, problem-solving ability, capacity to locate, evaluate, and use information. They have also assisted me to differentiated and individualize the learning to cater for the needs of my students. One idea that came from my global connection was creating short tutorial video’s to support students with additional needs and another to enhance my extension students.
Within my networks are many of the professionals that I call mentors. In a recent post on my blog I wrote about a technique of video analysis that I do to professionally reflect and gain feedback from my teaching mentors, many of who are not teachers at my school.
Exposing students to technology such as those mentioned above have shown to increase student motivation and engagement, prepare students for jobs, and enhance students’ ability to work collaboratively (Jackson & McNamara 2013). I have found that they can assist in creating a “fun” and exciting learning environment. Where students are challenged to discover answers to real world problems.
As I write this post I read from one of my network that they have just video conferenced with astronauts, another is looking to conference with the Prime Minister and another an environmentalist. Personally I have connected with International Athletes, student’s grandparents based in other countries and virtual excursion to the Daintree Rainforest without leaving the comfort of my classroom.
The use of both blogs and twitter as a point where students can post, reflect and publish is a key strategy in my classroom. As my students write they understand that they will be working towards an authentic audience. We had Jacqueline Harvey @jacquelineharve visit our school to shed light on an author’s mindset. As she spoke, she promoted idea that an author always has an audience in mind.
I like the idea that student’s work is not just for my eyes, it is for their parents, grandparents, friends and for the world beyond. Since implementing this publishing initiative the quality usage of language conventions, sentence structure and self-editing has dramatically improved. Duke, Purcell-Gates, Hall and Tower (2006) agree with this when they state that the “Audience is integral to authentic writing” (p9).
Nicholas Provenzano in closing his article for edutopia on August 13 2012, put it this way (slight rephrase) As you look to use your newly made teacher connections to enhance the learning experience for your students you create more engaged learners along the way.
Duke, N .K.;, Purcell-Gates, V.; Hall, L. A and Tower, C. (2006) Authentic literacy activities for developing comprehension and writing; The Reading Teacher Volume 60, Issue 4, pages 344–355, December-January 2006
Jackson, G. Tanner; McNamara, Danielle S. (2013, September 9). Motivation and Performance in a Game-Based Intelligent Tutoring System. Journal of Educational Psychology. Advance online publication.
Provenzano, P. (2012) Connecting Educators Benefits Students – Edutopia http://www.edutopia.org/blog/connecting-educators-benefits-students-nicholas-provenzano