Sunday, July 8, 2007

Professional Development

I recently completed a segment for an ABC Movie Project conceived by Kevin Hodgson. Kevin is the technology liaison for the Western Massachusetts Writing Project of the National Writing Project.
If you are interested in the collaborative efforts of some the technology liaisons of National Writing Project, from across the United States, click on the following link to view the Master Page for the collaborative on-line ABC Movie project.
Kevin and Bonnie Kaplan offered an opportunity to join this experimental on-line project to the NWP technology liaisons. I was interested in learning how to make a digital story. I must admit, my understanding of a digital story was not what I thought it be. I figured that I would just take some video with a camcorder and load it to the computer and them upload it to the Internet. It wasn't that simple and I quickly realized that I did not know how to accomplish my segment of the project. I had to do some creative problem solving to get it accomplished.
The following link will take you to my segment of the ABC Movie Project titled "Little T" for Technology, I hope you enjoy our collaborative efforts. I learned a great deal from this project.

Monday, June 25, 2007

2007 Reflection Tech Focus

As I look back to the beginning of January, I think about how much we have accomplished on our journey with technology during our 5 month Technology Focus Group. I wanted to share basic technology skills that would encourage other teachers to jump on the TECHNO-bandwagon. I seem to get electrified when I get around computers. I guess some of my fellow teachers would just shake their heads with disbelief when I talk about how excited I get with every opportunity to learn something new about computers. I have gained a plithera of knowledge about digital media, the computer's inner workings, and utilizing Internet products, and yet, I know so little.
Our Technology Focus Group used an on-line collaborative document on Google Docs & Spreadsheets to discuss our individual technology needs during our 5 month study group. I lead the tech group with a reasonably, brisk pace through Microsoft Word, Excel, and Power Point. We also experimented with a social bookmarking tool, and as a final meeting we began posting to this TechnoSeeds blog to share our reflections from the past 5 months.
In retrospect, the journey was very successful. We had our share of frustrations along the way. I have always felt that the learning process includes a few growing pains. We dealt with Snow Days out of school on some of the days we were scheduled to meet. The Google doc. made it possible to have an on-line conversation even when we could not meet face-to-face. There were scheduling issues from time to time that posed challenges. Additionally, there was "the plan" to use an Internet product that did not quite work the way I had intended to use it. We tested it and found out I needed to go back to the drawing board. Good thing I am an art teacher! We were able to find a resolution that worked even better than I had anticipated.
The participants gained more knowledge and confidence, including realizing the computer wouldn't exploded on contact. We are all at different levels of learning. I found a high level of frustration myself when I committed to an on-line collaborative digital storytelling project. For some strange reason I thought I would learn how to do things "I did not know" through osmosis, or something. It did not happen. I had to do some creative problem solving to complete my task. It was a humbling experience that reminded me that we all learn at individual rates. Some of us need extra time and instructions.
At our final face-to-face meeting we used a microphone and digitally recorded the conversation. This will enable me to approach podcasting with a tiny experience in my tool belt. My involvement with the digital storytelling project prompted me to learn to record on my computer which, in turn, was shared with the tech focus group. I also continued to gain knowledge about being a team leader and sharing technology instruction.
In conclusion, I must say that I am very pleased with our experience and I look forward to the opportunity to lead or participate in another tech focus group if there is a group of Teacher Consultants who are so inclined.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tech Focus Reflections

Participating in the AWP Tech Focus Group has been an exciting adventure for me. I feel so much more confident with technology. Notice that I did not say that I feel comfortable. But--I do feel confident enough to charge forward and explore many of my technology questions. I am looking forward to the next phase of my adventure.

Technology Reflections

I am a public school Elem. Art teacher. I have one computer in my classroom and have had very little training in computer technology. I used a Mac for years and felt comfortable with it. My school corporation decided that all new computers being issued were going to be PC. I did not know anything about programs on a PC. I panicked.
I had the opportunity to be a part of a technology focus group which met once a month for 5 months. Goals were established and each month questions were asked about technology mechanics that we wanted to answer. Our sessions focused on different topics each month.
I think back on these many months and have some comments to say. I found out from this experience that not only am I a visual learner but I also have to take notes on procedures as I see them being done. My advice to anyone that is a visual learner is to definately take notes so you can go back and follow the steps to successfully run computer technology programs. I did learn some Excel procedures which helped me set up a grade sheet for my different classes. I also confirmed the fact that I am a beginning learner for PC programs and it was hard to have our teacher teach at a faster pace than I could keep up with. I was reminded of my own teaching in the classroom that I have to try to hit that medium paced range of instruction so that I can help those that are behind and further those that are ahead. I do think that by participating in this focus group I was exposed to many new things in a smaller setting. I only wish that could be the case at my school on a regular basis.

In the Beginning

I am happy to say that we have spent the last five months asking technology questions that apply to our collective classrooms in regards to teaching writing to students. You have to learn the "how to"s before you can teach them to someone else. This has given us a chance to develop some technology tools that are being used during the summer institute for the Appleseed Writing Project in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I am certain that I have learned a great deal by being the leader of the first Technology Focus Group. I get very excited when I have an opportunity to learn new technology skills. I held my first two video conferences this year. I provided technical support for two of my colleagues who held video conferences with teachers from Texas in March of this year. Through the process of meeting with our technology focus group, we collectively created a Google document. While we realized that it was a fantastic tool, we found it was not the right tool for blogging for the summer institute. In February, I set up my first private blog that is being used for the summer institute. This is our public blog for teachers who are interested in discussing technology. I am certain that there will be others who would like to pose technology questions that are nagging at them as educators. I look forward to those future adventures where we will have a chance to discuss more technology questions at the heart of teaching students.