Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Slow Down to Go Fast

By now you have probably heard about more than just a handful of different teaching practices utilizing technology, technology tools, digital resources, etc. For sure it can seem intimidating, especially with the educational technology landscape evolving at such a fast pace. There are things that can be done to make it a little less scary and menacing. I wouldn’t say go ahead and ignore some of the great things you hear and read about, but simply put items on a list to remember to go back to (I use Google Keep). For the short term though choose one to three new tools, resources, or instructional practices to incorporate into your daily routine. This consistent use will allow you and your students to fully understand the benefits of the chosen resource, etc. This regular use may also lead to questions and concerns, which is also a good thing.  Sometimes the best thing that we can do to keep up with this train is to, “Slow down to go fast.”

Monday, November 21, 2016

Students as Creators

How many of you have looked up the typical weather patterns in a geographical area during a specific time of year before you booked a vacation there? What about reading a review of a restaurant on yelp, movie reviews on fandango or rotten tomatoes or a resort on trip advisor? I’m sure all of you have done at least one of those things before.

Fisherman are no different. For years, my brother in law and our families spend a couple of weeks in Maine around the 4th of July. Time after time we look up how the striper fishing is going in the Kennebec River only to find out it just isn’t the right time of year for that fishery in that location. But, our options are limited and we go anyway. Sure enough, an early wake up call and hours on the water later we only have a few small fish to show for our efforts. The last handful of years we decided we have suffered enough and have heeded the advice of different fishing reports and sought out closer bodies of water that hold my favorite game fish, the largemouth bass.

The point that I am trying to make in all this surrounds the fishing reports that I pore over or more importantly those reports I wish were available but I just can't find any evidence of. Without the knowledge that can be gained from reading reports and reviews, fishing on a new lake or even finding one becomes a much more difficult endeavor. The time that fisherman put into writing a fishing report can help countless others as well as themselves. The act of putting down on paper all the details of that fishing trip; water temp & color, weather, time, species, bait used, etc. allows the author and other readers to make the most informed fishing decisions before their trip. Without these fisherman creating these reports, it may take a lot longer to figure out the hotspots on the local lake.

Students also must be encouraged to be creators. Creators of information and not just consumers. The internet offers a global platform for users to put their thoughts and creativity on display. The same social networks that students use on a daily, if not hourly basis can be a vehicle for learning as well as for teaching others, sometimes without even knowing it. The ability to take some existing prior knowledge and apply it to producing something new and informative is an important and valuable skill to have. Being a creator is not always an easy thing to do. For me, simply writing this blog sometimes feels extremely daunting as the writing process is not an easy one for me. We must all do our part in encouraging our students to not be intimidated or afraid to represent their thoughts and ideas and present them to others.