Monthly Archives: December 2013

Perspective

Image

From where I sat on my lounge chair at the Atlantis resort on December 7, 2013, I decided to snap a picture of the amazing palm tree that was swaying in the breeze directly above me.  I have other pictures of the palm trees from a side view, but I never had really looked at a palm tree from below.  I have scrolled through my pictures from my Bahamas trip many times and keep returning to the picture in this post.  I remember that when I first took the shot, I was thinking ‘Don’t forget how relaxed you feel right now!’ but now as I look at the picture, I begin to sense perspective.  I am no longer at the resort, but do feel a warmth inside when I view the picture.  I also, though, realize that I am not there.  I enjoyed my view from my chair at the moment I took it, but now I can really see the details of the tree’s limbs and its structure and am able to appreciate how it made me feel relaxed.  I am also in the mood to look back at how my life changed during 2013 and reflect on how I felt as I made a huge decision.

Since becoming the K-5 Technology Teacher for the 2013-2014 school year, I have had some time now to reflect on how it has been going.  Like looking at the palm tree from a distance, I have had time during my Winter Break to examine the journey that I have taken.  It was first of all, a very difficult decision for me to leave the idea of having my own 4th Grade Class, which was what I had enjoyed for the past six years.  Before that, I was a 3rd Grade Teacher for 14 years.  After being approached by my principal to try something different after he liked the many technology projects that I had done with my class, I began the long process of deciding which path to take.  I remember feeling overwhelmed that this new position was even a possibility for me.  I considered myself a digital immigrant and one who loved to to dive into digital projects that excited my students.  While on a plane from Oregon in April, I developed my Job Description of what I thought the job would entail.  I shared it with my principal who affirmed that my vision and his meshed.  At the end of the school year in June, I purged 20 years of books that I loved having on the shelf because they would not fit in my new Computer Lab Classroom.  Most of the resources I use now are online so I was okay with letting the books go, but at the same time, I cherished the educational nutrition that they had given me.  I was aware that the new journey that I would take would require courage and patience, but what I didn’t realize was the amount of resilience that I would need.  

My job allows me to see seven or eight K-5 Classes daily sometimes in the Computer Lab and other times in students’ regular classrooms with iPads.  I enjoy sharing my ideas with my colleagues and seeing the excitement of students when they develop an idea, write, create, blog, critically think, and share their digital products.  I have created projects for students to work on that support the Common Core State Standards that their teachers are following.  I feel very good about what has happened so far.  I am thrilled about what the future holds, although, I must admit, I will have to be patient as the WiFi goes down, or the apps that I had planned to use jump into the cloud as students open their devices, or even if the projects that I want to do don’t turn out exactly as planned.  

What’s Ahead in 2014?  I will be preparing to present my students’ digital projects in March at the NCTIES (North Carolina Technology In Education Society) Conference.  As I do this, I will be continuing to look back at what my students have accomplished as 21st Century Learners who have communicated, created, collaborated and critically thought while using technology.  I am also excited about teaching my students to reflect on what they have done by creating iMovies about their digital projects to show how they are using technology in school then presenting some of the movies at the White House Film Festival website by the end of January.    

I will continue to Tweet about Education Topics, participate in Educational Twitter Chats, follow friends on Facebook, share on Facebook about my life, add Pins and discover new ideas on Pinterest and read blogs, while being a wife and mom who is also committed to eating healthier, exercising and feeling better.   I am thrilled to be in my teaching position and will continue to strive for success.  I love the idea that I read recently that cleaning your house is not a straight path, put a curved one while going from place to place to pick up stuff so roll with it!  I plan to keep rolling, keep finding inspiration, keep creating lessons to inspire my students and to help students venture into discovering their passions!  

Creating and Coding

Image

Recently, I traveled to the Bahamas with my husband on a business trip.  I know that people travel daily, but I do not usually travel by plane as I am an elementary school technology teacher.  It was a treat to travel for me but required a lot of preparation.  Once we arrived in the 80 degree weather, I knew that it had been worth it to make the sub plans, pack the bags and fly.  As a teacher, I prepare students for daily journeys into the unknown.  I feel rewarded for facilitating their experiences with technology which opens up new possibilities for them to communicate, create, collaborate and critically think.

I used an app with my first graders today called Collins Big Cat: Around the World Story Creator.  It gives wonderful scenery, animals and objects for students to use when creating their own story. I began the lesson by having the app read the story “Around the World ” by Anne Wilson and James Carter aloud to students.  They would guess where the animated plane would fly to next.  I showed them on an actual globe where each continent was located.  They were able to collaborate on shared iPads and plan their own story about where they would go if they traveled on a plane around the world.  The picture above is a screenshot that I took of a student’s page in his group’s book.  He was motivated to choose the scenery then type the text on the iPad.  I love the choices in this app and how it allows students to build upon a picture book that can be read to them.  The words that the little boy wrote in the picture above resonated with me because there are truly many places to be in the world including at the edge of the unknown.  My fifth graders later in the day went to tutorials as a part of the Hour of Code and explored many new places in the world of coding!  Most of them had never coded before so they became explorers into new worlds!  See my pictures and description below of their experiences with coding on the iPads!

Image

Image

I have also been introducing my students to the Hour of Code to get them excited about computer programming.  This movement which began in the USA has already reached 11 million students who have visited code.org to learn how to code.  I took pictures of my students’ iPad screens as they worked through the levels of a tutorial on how to program an Angry Bird and Zombies through a maze by using conditions and loops.  Students loved getting to figure out how to maneuver the characters through the maze.  Mistakes were made at times and frustrations arose, but my students persevered and were able to reach the 20th level and receive completion certificates.  They were so proud!  I felt confident that their experiences would lead them to having continual interest in other programming possibilities.

Image