Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Some Rambling Thoughts: Part 1

Warning - this post is a bit rambly - just a few things I have experienced or thought about lately.

As a teacher, how do you organize all those great sites, online resources, blogs and so on? This is something I have thought about from time to time, especially as I use and take various web based 'tools' for a spin. As part of my job, I feel I need to keep up and, at the very least, be aware of what is out there. Thus I have lots of sites to juggle. We know that technology is ubiquitous, it is used in just about every aspect of our daily lives, it is also very personal. With this in mind, I introduced a few suggestions to my students (teacher candidates) a few weeks back. Included in my quick tour were services such as Diigo, Pearltrees, Symbaloo, Pinterest (which most were using) and Learnist. RSS was also prominently featured as a way to keep all those news feeds and blogs organized, particularly since they were all writing blogs and Google Reader is a great way to keep track of them all.

Slide_ToolsversusTeaching After doing a rather quick overview, one student asked if they were expected to use them - of course they are not. I told them I was just showing some ways to help organize and it is up to them to find what works in their context, whether it be one of the sites I showed them or something else. This is something I stress to my students, there are so many tools and services to use, that it is impossible to know about, let alone use, them all. The key is to be open to learning what is out there, let their students use different ways to show/share their learning, read and listen to others to see what works for them in their context, find what works for themselves and their students and use it - and share how and what they are using. One way to do that is to build a PLN, to get connected, to share, reflect, and learn.

This makes me think of a pet peeve, if you will, that I have. It is when people dismiss something - even in a hostile manner - that they know nothing about. Twitter is a great example, for some it is dismissed as a waste of time, only good for gossip or meaningless trivia. I am sure you know what I mean. The thing is that many of these people have never tried it, nor do they really know anything about it. The tech we use is personal - find and use what works for you, twitter, or whatever, might not interest you or you may not see the value, but others do. If you try something, and it is not for you, that is okay, but at least you tried and speak from some experience.

In this light, I share stories with my students from my own experiences - meeting people online & off, finding great resources that I did not know about, sharing, being prompted to think and reflect. I believe that since I really started connecting online I have become a more thoughtful & better educator - even in my 35th year in the field. Getting connected and being an open reflective educator can pay great dividends.