Digital Doors was created as a place for me to blog and share resources that I think would be helpful for teachers integrating technology in meaningful ways in their classroom. My goal would be to write a blog post a week, but with my busy schedule, that doesn't happen. I write when I can and rely on nifty tools to help me share what I am finding when I don't have time to write.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

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Taking time to Create, Collaborate, Communicate and Think Critically

This fall I have had the great opportunity to teach a class at Western Washington University. The class is called Digital Decisions.  The course is for pre-service elementary teachers.  Most of the students are currently in practicums and will be starting their student teaching soon.  The course is designed to help prepare students with the tools and knowledge needed to successfully and effectively use technology for learning in the elementary classroom. Although much of what I am teaching is similar to what I share with teachers in our district, I've had some opportunities to do things a little differently in the university classroom.  Probably the main difference has been time.  My opportunities to work with teachers in the district is always so limited by time constraints that I often resort to the fire hose approach of just trying to share as much as possible during the limited time available crossing my fingers that teachers will somehow find a way to revisit and explore the information shared.  This is not an approach I like and it is not good teaching.  When working with technology, teachers (and students) need time to play and explore.  Especially if tech is to become anything more that a "how to" productivity checklist.  Although I still feel the constraints of time teaching at Western, I do feel like I have a little more time to actually model and teach in a way that I would hope we would work with our students.  I make sure that each session involves an opportunity to create something using both creativity and critical thinking skills.  Students have many opportunities to collaborate and communicate with others in class and also with teachers and experts in the field beyond the classroom walls.  Although, college educators are called "professors",  I try to do as little "professing" as possible.  I want my students doing the talking.  I ask lots of questions and have students work together and share what they are learning instead of me just standing and delivering my knowledge and expertise. The reality of taking time for learning is difficult when the goals of the class are many and the time is limited.  But there is great power in forcing ourselves to do this.

Although I feel like I was able to have success with this with my college students, I am still struggling with how to make time for staff/students to create, communicate, collaborate and think critically when I may only have a one hour window of time to teach a certain group of staff members about instructional technology during a given year.  I try to have structures in place to use a blended model of instruction providing materials, resources and activities that can be done before and after training.  But this approach requires a commitment to extending the learning outside of the training time.  It requires a commitment to continued learning and exploring.  And from me, it requires the ability to follow up with staff and teachers and determine current needs and next steps and the ability to help teachers make those next steps.  Yes, we are all in the business of learning and learning can be hard and time consuming work.

Today is a great day to learn something new. 

Take a look at the online courses I have compiled and created for teachers in our district.  By using the "Just in Time" Flipped model approach, I am hoping to meet the professional development needs of more of our teachers. Pin It Now!

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