Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Not on Twitter?!?! Let's Get Started with Twitter 101!

I find Twitter to be one of the best communication and collaboration tools out there. My PLN has grown to hundreds of educators around the world, and they share with me, on a daily basis, new ideas, articles, and thoughts on education. While I feel comfortable on Twitter, I know many people do not, so I created a video with Screencast-o-Matic and EDPuzzle to help people get started with the mechanics of Twitter and reflect on how they will use this incredible social media platform. If you have questions, I'd be glad to share what I love about Twitter, so follow me on Twitter and let's engage in some EdTalk!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

On Being a 21st Century Educator

Teaching in the 21st century has many advantages. Multiple technologies make possible what was impossible twenty-five years ago, when I was a student at the same school where I now teach. Although the technology is faster, better, and more innovative than when I roamed the halls of Mt. St. Joseph, teaching itself is not incredibly different. To me, being a 21st century educator and innovator means a focus on one thing: choice.

In the above clip from Jurassic Park, Dr. Malcolm laments over technology becoming blinding to the point that scientists do things just because they can instead of asking whether they should. If we replace the word "scientists" with "teachers," my views on 21st century education are perfectly summed up by Dr. Malcolm. There is so much technology at our disposal as teachers that many teachers use tech just because it is there and they can. These teachers do not exercise their ability to choose.

Teaching, as always, relies on pedagogy and content. What you want your students to learn, understand, and synthesize is still paramount. True, there are many tech tools that can help streamline material and make it more flavorful for our students. There is tech that makes teachers' lives easier and more efficient. But it is incumbent upon each teacher to choose only that tech that complements a lesson, a unit, or a project. Using a Google product, or YouTube, or an app simply to flout one's use of technology can be damaging and self-defeating. 

Being the best 21st century educator possible means knowing your content, understanding the myriad ways your students best learn, and then applying thoughtful, appropriate technologies, when it best serves the educator and, most importantly, the students. Educators have powerful tools at their disposal, but the most important technology choice is whether to use it at all or not. Only when the technology supports and facilitates learning should it be applied.

In this respect, teaching has not changed much since I was a student. What has changed is what technology is available -- and on a grand scale. More than ever, a teacher must understand his students and his courses and understand what technology helps make his students better learners. With this mentality, focusing on choice, a teacher can wield technology confidently, helping students become more collaborative, allowing students the freedom to express themselves more creative, guiding students to think more critically, and have students communicate more effectively.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

#ETCoaches Blog Challenge Post #1: Reflection & Connection

The Awakening

I began the school year with a hope not to just innovate in the classroom, but to share what I was doing with as many people as possible. I restarted an old blog; THIS was going to be the year I was consistent with it!

School began; I began trying new lessons, assessments, and projects. I began a grad school program in EdTech. And my blog began collecting cobwebs. Then, on September 8, I woke up and saw this on Twitter:

That simple question re-energized the passion with which I began my blog. So here it goes again. I don't want perfection. I do want to share with others, receive feedback, and collaborate. I have two main goals for TeachDMD.com: reflection and connection.

I want to use the blog to reflect on my own practice, not just through relating my successes and failures but through communicating with others who read it. My own reflection hits walls without the fresh perspective of my PLN members. I'm hoping they help me break through these walls to take my practices higher and higher. 

This is where connection comes into play. I hope my blog reaches as many other educators as possible so they can share their wisdom, experience, and suggestions with me. I'm hoping I can help others learn something new as I learn from others.

As I begin my EdTech grad program, I also hope I can collect many thoughts here about EdTech in education, my philosophies on EdTech, and reviews of products, apps, and information related to my program. I hope I can connect with other EdTech educators who will be able to help me learn new technologies in an effort to help my students reach their potentials.

Beyond EdTech readers, I hope to connect with other English instructors who, like me, introduce EdTech into their lessons, where applicable and innovative. I teach British Lit, World Lit, and African American Lit, and I love the creativity and passion with which my students approach the stories, novels, poems, and essays that we study.

The Bottom Line

Simply put, I want to reflect and connect in an attempt to better myself, to learn and grow throughout the year with the help of others. Thanks to Penny Christensen and the #ETCoaches group, I hope to discover many like-minded educators and make this a terrific year!