My new blog is at http://alicebarr.blogspot.com. Thanks!
Last March, I was selected from a pool of 13 to be one of five Semi-Finalists for Maine State Teacher of the Year. For the past five months I have been working on a portfolio and a lesson. It has been a grueling process and really made me reflect on my practice and hw technology fits in to good teaching and learning. It made me very uncomfortable, yet pushed me in many directions.
Yesterday, all five semi-finalists presented their “lesson” to candidates in the Masters Teaching Program at The University of Maine. Each lesson was completely different, but all of them used technology in some way. One of the evaluators told me that this was the first year everyone came with a computer. (an aside: Interestingly, the students did not have computers, an major change for me. I am used to students being dually engaged with the teachers and the computer, not just the teacher. It made me realize how much technology is around me all the time.)
While driving home, I was reminded of David Warlick’s post about technology conferences he has attended: “This is one of those very unique conferences, the quality of which I first saw when I keynoted the state ed tech conference (ACTEM) in Maine a number if years ago. It took me months to realize what was different — what that quality was, even though it was really quite obvious. It was a prevailing sense that anything/everything that was being suggested, introduced, taught, or discussed at that conference could be taken back to the schools and implemented.” ACTEM has tried to make the focus of the conference be about teaching and learning.
The work we are all doing as workshop leaders, integrators and conference presenters IS filtering down to the classroom. It’s being remixed and used for creative projects and assignments. And the results are impressive. It was great to see all the wonderful work being done in our classrooms and that the MLTI and technology is making a difference for our schools.
Original image: ‘_DSF6082‘
by: marco antonio torres
I am so honored to be asked to guest blog for Wes Fryer, a colleague I greatly admire.. Thank you so much. I am Alice Barr, the Instructional Integrator for Yarmouth High School in Yarmouth, Maine. We are a 1:1 laptop school and are going in to Year 8 of the project. I love what adding laptops to our school culture has done for teaching and learning. I am lucky to work with some amazing teachers, and students.
One of my favorite summer activities is teaching for the Professional Development Center at the University of Southern Maine. There are 4 technology classes that my fellow integrators and I share ranging from Mac Computer in the Classroom, Podcasting and Vodcasting, The Read/Write Web and 21st Century Teaching and Learning with Technology.
This year I am teaching 21st Century Teaching and Learning with Technology. It’s a 3 credit class for teachers that meets from 8:30 – 4:30, 5 days, for a week, which means we pack an entire semester in to a week. It’s exhilarating and fun, but it’s also frustrating and exhausting. Many of these teachers are in classrooms where students have laptops because of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative. They are looking for new ways to engage their students. The course is designed to suggest a few tools they can use in their classroom to work “smarter not harder”, and a few tools that they can use with students. Along the way I show then the NETS standards, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and give them some readings to push their thinking about and hopefully influence their practice.It’s great having the “students” captive for a long time period. The first two days are tough, as they are introduced to three new tools right off the bat; Blogs, bookmarks, and RSS. During Day 3, we look quickly at Google docs, discuss what a PLN is and then they have to start a project. Then day 4 they have explore time and Day 5 they present their work. It’s a whirl wind! I show examples of things that teachers are doing in their classrooms and model technology activities that can be used in their own classrooms. I used some of the no tech activities from the book The Socially Networked Classroom. And yesterday I tried “Speed Geeking” after I read about Kim Cofino’s success with it. Somewhere in there, I slip in standards, reading assignments and homework. As the teacher, it is really hard to know if I am meeting the needs of everyone, and the varying ranges of digital literacy really make the class interesting.One disadvantage to teaching the class in a week is that it does not give the group time to reflect on their practice. While they write nightly reflections about the readings, I really want to push the big ideas about digital citizenship, student centered learning and creative teaching. When the class is in a semester, teachers can go back to their classrooms and try some of these ideas out, come back to class and then run them by their colleagues. In the short class, I have to hope that they will continue to use the tools after they leave, and that they understand the value of being part of a PLN to keep up with ever changing information.
A worry students have is about using the actual tools when they get back to their classrooms. They are afraid that they won’t be able to figure something out if it doesn’t work. Becoming digitally literate is a big concern. Another is designing lessons. One student made a very poignant comment: “I know I need to use technology, I am not afraid to ask the kids for help, the other teachers in my school won’t help, but I just don’t have the skill of the syntax and vocabulary of designing a really engaging lesson using technology. I thought that was critical, and I have to ask, what do teachers do when there is no technology support in their district for them? Is an online PLN enough?
Today they presented their final projects. I am blown away – My #aha-moment. With the array of ideas they shared, this fall, there are sure to be some very lucky students. And judging from some of their feedback; “I learned so much, my brain has been in a state of shock all week” and “Every day after class my mind was constructively busy and excited to put these strategies in practice. Watch out students here I come! “, the enthusiasm and excitement about going back to their classrooms was clearly evident. The UStream of the final projects is here (thank you Cheryl Oakes and Sheila Adams for commenting in the chat room) and the class blogs, so you can follow along are here. In the end, we all learned so much from one another. Thank you so much, students of USMEPC512! By the way, what are you doing for your summer professional development? And thank you Wes, for giving me this opportunity.
In October of 2007, SEEDLINGS, Alice Barr, Bob Sprankle and Cheryl Oakes created a keynote for the K12onlineconference.org . As a result our NING was a gathering space to introduce people to a social network. Now in June 2010, 456 of you are members of a wonderful Personal Learning Network. We did flatten the walls of our learning spaces! In 2007, our purpose was to find a virtual space where we could connect, create, publish and collaborate! We are moving beyond NING and over to FACEBOOK. We hope you will join us here. In 2010 our purpose on FACEBOOK, to continue the conversations, connections and collaboration. Join us, please.
Yarmouth teachers will learn and practice expanded uses of technology for teaching and learning. This course will be setup as sessions of discovery tasks, explorations and reflections. Class discussions and teamwork will be part of each session. Participants will be expected to complete all sessions and interact with each other as well as the instructors during the course. Individual participants or teams of teachers will design a project that involves their students and/or classes. The final session is an opportunity to hear from colleagues about projects that are underway or have been completed. On completion of the course all participants will be experienced with the technology tools learned in each of the sessions and will have used at least one of them as a part of a class project integrated into their teaching.
This year’s course will follow the themes of the article: “Orchestrating the Media Collage” written by Jason Ohler.