Monday, March 22, 2010

In Sync

As I hear the droll beeping of my alarm clock in the morning, I no longer give into the temptation of the snooze button.
Why you might ask???? Well, I live, work, breathe, learn, grow and foster growth in a 21st classroom. We are all IN SYNC with one another. Our learning environment has transformed into a collaborative, organic room. Together, we are all growing and changing. The reason I am so inspired to hop out of bed and enter into the new world that is my classroom is because I am no longer the one in the driver seat.
While as the teacher, my job is to be purposeful with objectives, questions, assessments and new role is to be open to the PROCESS rather than the immediate product.
The students are seeking opportunities to use this learning tool in an authentic way.
We are even in sync with the technical aspect of this project. I've released part of the cumbersome, laborious duty of syncing the cart. I am so fortunate to have an all day volunteer all Tuesday. While she is a technological novice, she quickly learned how to sync the cart so it can be accomplished during the school day without pulling me away from instruction.
So what does this atmosphere look like?
Well, to understand really would be to see it, but I'll do my best.
The students are engaged, immersed rather in learning. They are reading books, blogging ideas, asking questions, mapping thoughts, drafting stories, organizing deadlines, emailing artifacts and researching areas of interest.
Learners are now empowered to find the tools and resources rather than being spoon fed them. The skills these students are learning will surpass their 3rd grade year. They are steering.
I find the biggest SHIFT for me is that I have given myself permission to STOP TEACHING THE TECHNOLOGY. I'm surrounded by digitally literate individuals. It is insulting to show them step by step all the features of an app or provide a template. They have discovered more applications and "bells & whistles" than I did when researching the apps.
Check out some of their published work!
More to follow....still trying to have the notion of "no last names" stick with the kiddos. The rest of the work samples will be revised and posted.

Monday, March 8, 2010

21st Century Learners: The Art of Transformational Learning

Lately, as I reflect on the learning that occurs in my classroom, I am energized by the realization that we are just breaking into the notion of 21st century learning.
The greatest discovery I have uncovered as a teacher is the idea of students constructing and creating their own knowledge based around specific objectives. My role is to provide the tools and ask the essential questions. However, providing a cookie cutter lesson is not the vision I have for a modern classroom.
Marazano's Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works offers several ways for this vision to become a reality. This book contains many resources and provides corresponding research. Russel and Sorge are quoted supporting this approach, "technology can give students more control over their learning." The shift that is happening empowers students to be the leaders and facilitators.
In our 3rd grade classroom, students are engaging in this empowerment. I'm encouraging them to construct and apply uses for our ipod touch as a learning tool. Instead of the old approach of teaching the technology (how to make a powerpoint, imovie, etc), students are discovering the apps and working to find applications.
My objective is to teach in a classroom where students are artists, builders, discovers and CEOs of learning (Creators of Enduring Ownership). I hope for my students to understand the difference between being handed a coloring book and a blank canvas. I want to provide the canvas, tools, inspiration and environment necessary for a masterpiece. I'm trying to divert from handing out coloring books, worksheets, workbooks and any other tool that forces learners to stay neatly within the lines.
How am I providing a learning canvas? Below you will see a list of just some of the tools I have discovered to support learners constructing their knowledge. I am eager to see this list grow. Please post suggestions.

Story Kit and Story Robes-Add photos, text and audio to create a digital book
Sketches-Insert and create images including text, shapes and drawing features
iMind Map-Interactive Brainstorming web
Notes- Make lists, take notes, write ideas
Freesaurus-Get to know unfamiliar words by finding definition, synonyms and antonyms
Brushes-Paint, layer and draw artwork
Flashcards-Make your own interactive FlashCards
AudioBoo-Record and publish a podcast

ClassPress-Student-friendly blogs including lots of personalization options
Wiffiti-Interactive virtual board to brainstorm and collaborate
Capzles-Create an online time capsule
Wordle-Design a word collage