Tuesday, March 24, 2009

SMART Board Uses Within the Classroom

When I think about what you can do with a SMART Board the words ANYTHING and EVERYTHING come to mind. Anything that you would do or write on your whiteboard could be done using the SMART Board and you would look so much smarter doing it on the SMART Board. I really consider myself a novice when it comes to everything that a SMART Board can do, but what I have learned to do has really been on a trial and error basis. With anything new, especially technology, it just takes time to play around with things to figure them out and that's pretty much how I have learned to do what I know how to do on the SMART Board.

How I see it is whatever you normally write or do on your whiteboard, you could do using a SMART Board and have it instantly saved to your computer. Here are a few ways in which I use the SMART Board within my classroom:

During Skills Block we use the SMART Board to play educational games online.

During Reader's Workshop, we have used the SMART Board to work on our test taking strategies and practice taking sample comprehension assessments.

During Writer's Workshop, you can use the SMART Board to edit student writing.

During Math and Science you can also use the SMART Board to play any interactive games or present information to your students. The SMART Board is simply a great tool that you can use to enhance your teaching and get your kids really excited about learning.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Personal Learning Networks (PLNs)--Suzanne Shall

Learning networks are not a new phenomenon, but they are drastically changing due to global connectivity. Unlike the localized teacher learning networks of the past that heavily relied on face to face correspondence with colleagues across the hallway, today's learning networks provide teachers with the opportunity to collaborate with peers around the world. They are rapid, in real time, 24/7, and free. This diverse network has teachers connecting, collaborating, and contributing through the use of many PLN tools. Alec Courosa's diagrams give you the visual for comparing the changing PLNs.

Today's networked teacher is a life-long self-directed learner who seeks to be a contributor and producer rather than just a consumer. This two-way street allows them to get and to give, to construct their own knowledge and provide to the knowledge of others. You can see that the networked teacher does not forgo typical teacher tools like collaborating with colleagues and digital resources, rather embraces those and adds a plethora of new tools to their bag of tricks.

At Chets, our vision for this year has been to immerse ourselves into as many PLN tools as possible to move from being typical to networked. Many have embraced PLN tools like classroom blogs, grade level wikis, digital photo sharing, google docs, and social networking sites to embark on this journey. We know that we have only begun the journey to connect, collaborate, and contribute, but we are proud of our accomplishments.

Like always, we continue to share our practice with others. We host on average close to 400 educators annually at CCE. They come from across our nation to tour our school, watch classroom instruction, rummage through our student work in portfolios, read our standards based bulletin boards, take notes on our rituals and routines, and capture through photographs our artifacts. We debrief their observations, discuss our professional development, and talk with them about our communication. Because of our change from typical PLNs to networked PLNs, we also spend a part of our day on digital connections. We teach them how to access our blogs, wikis, and webpages, and we introduce them to our Setting the Standard ning. We invite them to be part of our PLN so that when they walk away from our school, they can continue to connect and collaborate with us. With these easily accessible PLN tools, we are contributing to their professional learning, in turn, impacting the children they teach. In this global society where connectivity reins, one has no option but to become a networked teacher, or fear being left behind. I am thankful that we openly embrace the change. I encourage each CCE teacher to continue to connect, collaborate, and contribute. And, if you want to learn more about building your PLN, visit http://sites.google.com/site/buildingapln/.