As this class now draws to an end I have spent lots of time thinking about what I have learned in this class and what I have yet to explore. Each time I think about how great this class has been, I can’t help but think of the Thanksgiving projects that are done every year in school when we list what we are thankful for. Therefore, here is my list for this class. Careful, it is quite long (I never imagined that one class could teach me so much in such a short length of time).
- I am thankful that I got the chance to see that Social Media can have a positive impact in regards to parent communication in the classroom. This past semester, I implemented a classroom blog for my parents and they loved that they could see a little snip-it of their child’s day.
- I am thankful that I got the chance to learn about so many on-line tool. Never would I have had the time to discover all of these tools myself, but now that I know where to go to get a list of tools that I can use, I know that I will be using them in the future.
- I am thankful that I was introduced to the world of blogging. I was skeptical of blogging in the past because I never really saw much of a point to it. Now, having blogged for the last four months (or so), I am loving it. I love that I can share my thoughts with those who want to read about what I have to write about. And if no-one wants to read it that is fine, but at least I have had the chance to share what I was thinking about.
- I am thankful for learning how to use Twitter. It took me a while to start using Twitter but I am starting to get the hang of it. I am still a little sad though that I can’t use it to it’s full potential because I don’t necessarily need to be connecting with other educators right now because of my maternity leave.
- I am thankful for everyone who has become part of my PLN. I love that there are people out there who are willing to support one another and to take part in my learning.
There are many more things that I could list however I think you get the point. I have found this class to be extremely useful, not only for educational purposes but also for personal ones.
This class has been quite an eye-opener for me. I first enrolled in this class because of the fact that I was pregnant and needed a class that would allow me to not have to go to the university once a week for the entire semester. The idea of technology and social media in a classroom interested me, but I wasn’t sure how much I would actually get out of it because I taught/teach Kindergarten or Grade 1 (yes, that was how I thought a few short weeks ago). I did use technology on a regular basis in my classroom but I never really expected this class to show me how much more I could be doing. Boy, was I wrong!
Now that this class is almost done, I can see the “error of my ways” and I can’t wait to try to implement these new found (for me at least) ideas into my classroom. I had slowly started integrating some of the ideas into my classroom, but I would love to do it on a larger scale. The following is few of the ways that I would love to incorporate what I have learned this semester into my classroom:
- Classroom blog – This was something that I had begun (thanks to this class) but I would like to develop it a little more. I would like to have parent permission to put up student’s working and copies of their work, along with everything that I had already been posting.
- Twitter project – Kindergarten Around the World – Allow the students to connect with other children in a Kindergarten classroom in a different country to compare and contrast our lives.
- Digital Storytelling – After seeing how easy this was with my own children, I would love to do this with my students and then post it for parents to read.
- Incorporate more technology – Hopefully, use the SmartBoards in the school for interactive lessons with the children. My school division was also accepting applications for a “Mobile Device Project”, and if this happens in the future, I would love to submit an application.
Now, when it comes to my own personal use of Social Media, I will definitely be continuing with my blog. I find that by blogging, I have somewhat found a voice. I am able to write about things that interest me in my chosen career and there are people that will read and respond. Therefore, enabling me to hash out different ideas, or develop new projects, or create new themes, etc. Blogging has enabled me to find more like-minded individuals who have helped to encourage and support me in the new things that I have been trying.
I realize that there are still many things that I have to learn in regards to Social Media and the classroom. I would love to give VoiceThread a try. I have heard so much about it through everyone but that is one tool that I still haven’t wrapped my head around. I also haven’t quite figured out how I would use it in the classroom. There are still many of the Digital Storytelling tools that I would like to explore also.
I also would like to continue to explore Twitter. I know there are a lot of great chats that I could follow (and I do follow some really great ones already) but I find that I still don’t share as much as I could. I understand that it is all about learning and jumping in once you feel comfortable but something keeps holding me back. I don’t know if it is because I don’t think what I have to share is important enough or if I am uncertain how people will respond to what I say. I don’t know why I let something like that hold me back, because really if it is something you aren’t interested in, you can simply ignore it. I find that I have been taking some baby steps recently by asking for help with different things so maybe I am taking some of the all important first steps now. We will have to see.
This week’s EC&I 831 class was a very thought provoking class. Our presenter was Stephen Downes and the discussion was about the role of the Educator. Throughout the class, Stephen must have mentioned about twenty different roles that a teacher can play. At the beginning of the discussion he brought up two very interesting comments that I had never thought about before. He stated that the teacher is no longer “the sage on the stage” or the “guide by the side”. Through out my education, I have had instructors or teachers that played both of these roles and I find it interesting looking back at my educational career and thinking about the different roles my instructors have played. I find that when I am in the classroom, there are times when I am “the sage on the stage” and other times when I sit back and am the “guide by the side”. I find that with the little ones, it is important that one bounces back and forth between these two traditional roles often.
As class went on, Stephen delved into some more in-depth roles that a teach/instructor portrays in the classroom. When I look at my classroom, I find that one of the roles that I like to play is the role of the learner. There are many times where I will try a new project or theme with my students and I tell them that I am learning along with them. Often to keep life interesting at work, I will pick projects that I have never done before because this allows me to learn at the same time as the children. While the children are working, I am constantly adapting the project so that it is either easier or more challenging for the students. Another role that I play in the classroom is the role of the moderator. When you work with children between the ages four to six, I find that I am constantly trying to make sure that everyone has a turn, that all the students have a chance to participate, that the child who answers every question allow time for the others to answer also. This role however seems more dominant when we are working in a large group setting. I also agree with Chelsi that the role of the peacekeeper is important also in a classroom. As she describes this role in her blog, it is one that educates while maintaining law and order. This role is obvious in a Kindergarten classroom because there are times when I spend most of the day talking about behaviours and how we need to treat others in the classroom. Another key role that I find a Kindergarten teacher plays is that of caregiver. Often the teacher spends more time with the child during the day than the parent is able to due to many different circumstances and it is the teacher that is there to comfort the child when something bad happens, to celebrate when they do something well, to encourage when they are trying something new and to push them when they think that they can’t do something.
This picture sums up for me what it is like to be a teacher right now in a classroom. When you look at this picture, you can see one man being many different things all at once. The only thing that is missing in this picture for me is the students. If you were able to insert the students in this image, I imagine that you would see this man working individually with some students, helping other students with something that is bothering them emotionally, encouraging yet another group to try something new, talking to the whole group about a new concept, evaluating how the students are interacting, etc. I feel as if I could go on and on about what this one man is doing in the classroom and probably never mention everything that he does on a daily basis. When it is written out like this, it certainly feels like we do a lot during the day, but I don’t know if I really want to change that aspect of my job. I enjoy the fact that I am able to be many things to many people at once. I find that is what makes us unique as teachers because we can do this. I often here from parents that they can not imagine doing my job and they seem to always end that conversation with a heart felt thank you. That is just one of the many reasons that I love my job.
Here is an interesting blog post that I came across by following #kinderchat on Twitter.
The End of Facebook in my Class
I find it very interesting that a school district would tell a teacher that they would need to shut down a Facebook account because they didn’t want to hear the parents comments. It must be extremely hard to work for a school district that doesn’t want to hear what the parents are saying about them. I personally love parent feedback, whether it is in person, via email or on the classroom blog that I have set up for my students and their parents. I find that it is the parent’s feedback that makes me question what I am doing (if it is negative) or that reaffirms my choices (if it is positive feedback). I find myself checking my school email account on weekends just to see if a parent has emailed me a question or if they have anything else to say. It is thanks to parent comments that I continue to do certain things in my classroom and changed other activities.
I find it odd that the creator of the Facebook page was instructed to shut it down because clearly it was working in his classroom. Many parents have Facebook accounts and this would have been a simple way to stay in contact with the teacher. Also, Facebook does have privacy settings, so I am assuming only parents of the students would have been “Friends” with the classroom page.
I have never thought of using a Facebook page for my students but that is mainly because I don’t use it a whole bunch myself. I have an account and check it every so often but I do not update my status or post many items on it. Is there anyone else out there that uses Facebook in the classroom? I have heard of some teachers using it for creative writing projects, but the idea of using to to keep parents informed seems ingenious to me.
Continuing along with my earlier theme of Play in the classroom, I came across two interesting videos on Youtube. The first video talks about how play is essential to a child’s development and is as natural as eating and sleeping. This video does touch on a few of my earlier questions about how involved show I be, as the teacher, in the children’s play. It states that an adults involvement allows the children to feel like playing is important and that the adult is able to encourage the child to think of different ways to play. It does still leave me wondering though however that I could involve myself too much in their play and end up changing the direction of the play.
The second video is a keynote speech at the International Board for Educational Research and Resources – Forum 2008. The speaker starts off making some good points but then near the end seems to head in a different direction. One of the interesting comments that I took from this video was that he said that according to research done in the West many serial killers did not have the opportunity to play as children. He states that play is important for the soul.
After watching these videos one can understand that play is important but I am not sure that allowing the children to play means that we should not have instructional time also. I simply believe that the two should be balanced out.