I spent the other day listening to Alan November, one of my favorite educators and speakers. I have heard Alan speak numerous times, to different and varied audiences, and each time I hear him, I walk away with some new information or idea for the use of technology with students or for teaching in general. Additionally, Alan’s words are always inspirational and thought-provoking for me, and I leave each of his workshops with an altered perspective.
Alan has a brain full of great thoughts regarding teaching and technology. Here are a few from the other day. I don’t need to explain; they speak for themselves.
“Do not bolt technology on top of what we are already have in place in schools.”
“Every teacher needs to use Skype in his or her classroom. Students should invite their parents to watch them give presentations in class via Skype.”
When looking at an online syllabus for a class in technology, Alan said, “This looks like a piece of paper shoved down a wire.”
“The use of technology in schools should be about Information and Relationships; collaboration with others.”
“Every learner is a teacher, and every teacher is a learner.”
Regarding the use of Ning (or other social networking tools) Alan said, “You need a Ning in every school for the staff to collaborate, and in every district for staff development.”
Regarding collaborative tools such as Google Docs, he said, “Some people don’t learn when taking notes, while others must take notes to learn.”
This is great stuff! Here are some of the tools Alan shared with us. I wasted no time talking with my technology coach the next day, sharing these with her.
- Take advantage of the power of Google with students. Use the search features provided to sift through all of the unwanted stuff. Teach the “grammar of the internet” with Google search features.
- Check out the new Google Custom Search feature while you are snooping around their site. This is a great way for teachers to create their own search engines that tailored are to their curriculum.
- Use Scratch with students. This is a site created by M.I.T. Scratch is a new programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art – and share your creations on the web. Scratch is designed to help young people (ages 8 and up) develop 21st century skills. As they create and share Scratch projects, young people learn important mathematical and computational ideas while also learining to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively.
- Teachers should be using Jing, a screencasting program, in their classrooms. Go watch the 2 minute video on their site. They can explain it much better than I can.
- Make the Intenet as authentic as you can. Use sites like Kiva to show kids that they can help others anywhere in the world right from their computers. Kiva is a site where you can loan funds to those in need, and then they will pay you back. This is a terrific project for students, classrooms, and entire schools. Our student council jumped all over this!
Please let me know if you currently use any of these tools or sites in your schools. I am interested in other opinions.