Being an educator who loves to use technology when teaching one of my biggest fears when I landed my first teaching job was that there would be a lack of technology in my new school. The presence of technology does not dictate whether or not I will be a successful teacher but rather it is one of the tools that I enjoy using in my teaching practice. I also feel that technology is also becoming an ever-present part of society and is something that should be embraced in the classroom and in schools. Another important reason for using technology in the classroom is to teach students digital citizenship and giving them the tools to use technology responsibly and effectively.
When I came into my school I was pleasantly surprised by the technology that is available for use in our school. First of all we have a WiFi connection in our school. This to me was amazing as I was so used to being in schools where you always need to be plugged into the wall for internet!
One of the wonderful things at our school is that we are able to sign out a class set of Netbooks from our library. Although not having access to them whenever we need to use them is less than ideal, simply having the option and ability to book them out is wonderful. Before starting the school year I wanted to have blogging as a writing medium option in my classroom. We are using Kidblog.org as for our classroom blogging platform and have found it really easy to use. I know some students are simply more comfortable writing on a computer than with pencil and paper. And for some writing digitally is a huge motivating factor! I have some students blog posts that are triple the length of anything they have written with pencil and paper.
Another tool that we use often in our classroom is Skype. We have used it to do a novel study with other classes, to play mystery Skype, to brush up on our Canadian geography and even to chat with a teacher who had moved to another school. For our novel study we participated in the Global Read-aloud project and read an amazing book called “The Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate. Connecting with other classes for the Global Read aloud project an incredible experience. Who could have guessed that my first novel study with my class would have involved global collaboration! About once or twice a month we play Mystery Skype with other classes from around the world. So far I have been lucky enough to find other classes to Skype with through my Twitter PLN but you can also find connections on Skype in the classroom. Mystery Skype simply put is a version of 20 questions where each class has to guess where the other is. It is a wonderful way to learn geography through hands on experiences. For more info head over to Mrs Ripp’s awesome explanation of what a mystery Skype is and how to run it.
At the beginning of the year I set up a classroom Twitter account. I thought it would be another great digital platform to discuss digital citizenship with my students as well as a fabulous place to connect with other classes and parents. At first I was a bit apprehensive but I can tell you using it with my students has been a great experience. They enjoy being able to share their ideas and get feedback from others while I like having another tool at our disposal.
I am also lucky enough in my classroom to have a document and a digital camera for us to use whenever we need to. These tools have helped us when we need to document our learning or when the students have spontaneously written and performed plays. With a free teacher account from Animoto we have been able to make snazzy videos with our pictures from different events. The document camera has helped improve our video quality during our Skype sessions and gives me an easy way to have the kids follow me when reading our novels out loud.
Although this blog post has gotten a little long-winded there are still many more tools that we use everyday in our classroom and a few new ones I would like to try out in the new year. I will post again about our continuing adventures in our technology use!