LIBE 477 – Reading Review Part A

It has been a number of years since I have tried to put so many aspects of technology together in a functional manner. In the classroom, I could try a Kahoot here, a backchannel discussion through TodaysMeet there, the occasional professional tweet, homework through RemindEdublogs (duh, English teacher), but my biggest experiment remains the implementation of Moodle. All met with various degrees of success and student buy in. Much of it was novelty I’m sure and, in a twist of technological irony, the easier technology and the more students accessed it, the less they seemed willing to participate in my experiments. The learning of and adapting lessons to incorporate technology became less rewarding and was not getting the results I was hoping for, so I used it less frequently.

Being off of the grid for a while was refreshing, but let’s face it, technology needs to become a part of our teaching. Finding myself in the library also lends a new level of technological need, for both, me to learn it to support others and for me to use it to create a virtual space for students to access while they are not at school.

Over the years, from when I first started to try and incorporate technology in my classroom, a definite shift has happened with how people are interacting with the internet. If I stepped out at Web 2.0, the shift has become more interactive and synchronous. It isn’t just sharing, posting, reading, responding; there is potential to collaborate, contribute and develop with a group to create  a product, vision or virtual artifact.

There has been a lot of conversation about how our role as teachers is shifting and how to service students in their accessing and use of technology. There has also been conversations about the way to appropriately use technologies as teachers; the internet is available 24/7 and we are not, there are issues about navigating professional and personal faces that are put out to the virtual world and what is a teacher’s responsibility/obligation to use technology, in the classroom and as a professional tool.

I envision that part of my role as teacher-librarian is to be accessible and encourage both teachers and students to navigate through this expanding area. I plan on learning right alongside them and, in my world, have the opportunity to pursue and help professionals incorporate various forms of technology in their classroom, which will make their job easier over time.

A mouthful, I realize.

Our building only received a stable internet connection a couple of years ago. Now we have blazing fast wi-fi throughout the entire building. We have shifted from kicking kids off our our network because it couldn’t handle streaming videos, to watching them set up interconnected groups to play on-line games. That seemed to be part one of our issue. Now that we have fast, stable internet throughout the building, we should be incorporating it into how we present our material.

This is my interest: How do we do that?

I agree with most of Will Richardson’s key points in Why School? and, as much as there is in there for students to change in how they learn, teachers will have a tough time in changing how they present the material. One only needs to consider the sheer volume of stuff that has arrived on the internet in the last couple of years. Even the number of tools, apps, sites and blogs that profess to help teachers with their job is overwhelming. It is great that you, as a professional, may be interested in using technology, but where to start. Whatever you are interest in implementing needs to have purpose, or it will be recognized as disingenuous, something that the literature has pointed out consistently over the years.

The opportunity through LIBE 477 and beyond that I would like to take on is the leadership, collaboration and co-teaching piece that many may need to take that step into incorporating technology into the classroom with purpose. I think that teachers are already excited about their subject area, but not as many are keen to adapt and learn about technology, let alone the pedagogical theory behind its implementation in the classroom.

The direction that the teacher-librarian role is taking in our school is one where collaboration and time is valued. Our district has provided an increase to secondary level support positions, allowing the TL the ability to focus on supporting teachers and students. An offshoot of this, the way I see it, is discovering and encouraging teachers to incorporate technology in their classrooms. Specifics can come later.

One of Richardson’s premise, if not the premise, is that teaching needs to incorporate real world skill in real world ways for it to be of the most value to our students. Tech needs to be a part of all curricular areas, as it now relates to all areas of the real world, to say otherwise is an attempt to fool yourself. My focus will mainly be on the concepts presented in two of Richardson’s chapters.

The first is on the the idea of teachers becoming and showing that they are master learners, as “[t]here should also be no doubt that, to prepare students to be learners, we need adults in classrooms who can serve as outstanding role models for learning” (Richardson, Why School? Chapter 4).  I happily share the fact that I had a multiple of majors before finding English was the subject for me, then teaching, and that I then went back to university to earn my MA in Literature and am now enrolled in the TL Diploma. In sharing this, I hope to show that I love learning, that I’ve learnt some things and that I recognize that I still have much to learn. I sit on the professional development committee of the school and actively engage in activities beyond for professional and personal growth. I hope that my students recognize that learning doesn’t stop with getting a steady job, but continues always.

Part of this learning is keeping up with the application of technology and its uses in teaching. As such, being able to model and demonstrate new ideas will certainly be an on-going process. Through active and conscientious leadership in this regard, I hope to gain a group of teachers that would all like to move forward together in technology and its uses.

The other one of Richardson’s ideas that I found myself ardently agreeing with was to do real work for real audiences (Richardson, Chapter 5). I have found that students are already doing this, through apps like Instagram, YouTube and so forth. They have replaced Facebook as the way to receive a following and instant “likes.” How can work submitted only to a teacher compete with the rush of hundreds of people responding to “liking” your efforts?

The most success that I ever had was running multiple classes through regular blogging, where they could anonymously see and comment on each others work. Their parents could also look in on their work. Only I had the master list of sign-up usernames. Students felt like they were writing with purpose and took care in their work. Every student showed marked development over the course of the semester and they enjoyed doing it. I would love to investigate options that teachers could access to allow their students to develop and show something to larger audiences.

With these two ideas motivating me, I would also like to stay aware of developing and using applications that can develop some consistency and limit the variety of log-ons, passwords and privacy issues that would discourage teachers and students from using them. Everything possible needs to ease access and usage of technology, especially for those that may otherwise be uncomfortable with it. Nothing will hang them up quicker than forgetting passwords and not being able to log-in. Maintaining  a good relationship with our technology support worker will be important in this.

By putting this things forward, I hope to continue and develop a path of technology incorporation in our school. Some developments have already been seen and I have been approached by a number of people in how to utilize various forms of technology. With such positive responses happening and as my role changes in the coming year to having more library time in my schedule, I can move forward at an even greater rate to assist colleagues with developing their programs to include technology. The students are already using it for their purposes, perhaps us teachers can figure out how to use it for ours.

1 comment

  1. A well written and thoughtful first post. The inclusion of embedded links and image helped deepen the experience for your reader. You have identified some important themes for further research; becoming a technology leader (and learner) is an important role for a TL and, with this, finding authentic ways to engage students with the use of technology. I look forward to seeing where your learning takes you.

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