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Keeping Up With What’s New in the Digital World!

I’m always amazed at the knowledge of colleagues and wonder, How did they learn about that app or this site!?! Digital tools and trends are growing exponentially, however their quality and usefulness are not all created equal! It’s a real challenge to keep up!

How can a team of teachers stay abreast of new developments in the digital world in order to incorporate great instructional tools that will engage and empower their students?  Chances are there is a wide range of knowledge and skill with digital tools on a team.  However, all teachers must embrace the digital world if they want to remain relevant to their students whose lives often center on the variety of opportunities presented by the web. This chart from the Pew Internet and American  Life Project shows the degree that teenagers are using the internet.

Chart showing 88% of teenagrs are using the internet

Teams with common planning time can develop their own professional learning experiences around the use of digital tools when they

  • designate one team member as the “scout” who finds new sites and apps and shares them with teammates
  • use two or three meetings a month to explore together one or two of the scout’s discoveries
  • commit to using one new digital tool each marking period across all of your classes
  • recruit a team of students who will help you with your digital plan
  • reflect with students about the usefulness of the new tool.

Team teachers must take responsibility for developing their own expertise in digital learning.

Here’s great resource for keeping up with what’s new and helping you identify useful digital instructional strategies.  I found it because I  follow a couple tech integrators on Facebook who are always posting useful links.  A post from Shawn Kimball, a technology integration specialist at Hampden Academy in Hampden, Maine led me to Scoop.it! Into the Driver’s Seat “Building the independence of learners through thoughtful uses of technology”– it’s an online magazine.  With just a click you can follow it and receive the “Scoop of the Day” via email!

Some of the articles online right now are:

  • National STEM Video Challenge: Student Video Game Design Challenge
  • 12 Educational Trends to Watch in 2012
  • QuadBlogging “In terms of young children developing as writers, this is the most interesting development in 20 years.”
  • How to create a collaborative class eBook
  • Download and Convert Web Video from the 100 Best Video Sharing Sites

There are other sites out there that will help teams stay current.  What are your favorites?

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Be a Tech Savvy Teaching Team

Digital devices — laptops, iPads and other tablets, iPodTouches–are appearing in schools all over the world.  Sometimes they just arrive and you are not provided the time nor the training to learn how to integrate them effectively into your teaching.  A savvy team will collaborate to devise its own professional development in technology integration.  Fortunately there are an endless number of resources on the web you can easily access.  Some of these resources are pretty technical and may seem intimidating to folks who are just beginning the process of integrating digital learning.  However, technology integration blogs and websites are being written that neophytes will find useful!  You don’t have to be a techno-expert to integrate digital learning–you just have to be willing to try something new.  Remember, your team is surrounded by experts!  If you can’t get something to work, your students will figure it out and save the day.

Here are five terrific sites related to digital learning.  Check them often–there is something new on them every day.  Better yet–sign up for a RSS feed or email alert.  What’s an RSS feed you ask?  In the least technical language, it allows you to receive updates whenever anything new is posted to the site.  Don’t know how to set one up?  Ask a student or go to http://www.ehow.com/how_5861345_set-up-rss-feed.html.

  1. Wes Fryer’s blog, Moving at the Speed of Creativityhttp://www.speedofcreativity.org/ Wes is an award-winning blogger, and his site is great fun to explore.  One recent posting describes Story Patch an app for the iPad which allows a writer to use both text and graphics to create stories.  The team might spend 20 minutes looking through his blog and find an app or a website or a training that you all want to try.  Working together with teammates for support makes trying something new a lot less daunting.
  2. Larry Ferlazzo is a ELL teacher from Sacramento, California, and his blog Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day (http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/) has multiple postings each day.  He’s a teacher so he is on the lookout for sites that have a practical application in the classroom.  Recent topics include (1) crafting interactive lessons using YouTube,(2) digital maps resources, and (3) resources on Egypt.
  3. Maine121 is the website of Maine’s technology initiative.  Going into its ninth year, MLTI is the longest running 1:1 technology integration project in the world.  Maine Learning Technology Initiative Professional Development (http://maine121.org/) provides free access to webcasts (archived and live), blogs, and resources on digital learning. Recent topics include RTI Tier 1 resources, technical writing, and copyright considerations.
  4. Maine Arts blog (not really just for Fine Arts teachers): http://meartsed.wordpress.com/. Ideas and happenings related to the Arts are cataloged here.  Many of the ideas described can be adapted in other subject areas.
  5. iTunesU (http://www.apple.com/education/itunes-u/) is a free resource that works on any platform–PC or Apple.  There are podcasts and videos that can be used in your classes or for your own edification.  It is an unbelievable resource. If you don’t have iTunes on your computer, download it–now—-it’s free.

Don’t wait for your school system to provide training.  Be a proactive and tech savvy team and create your own professional development related to digital learning.  Don’t know where to begin? Ask your students how they would like to learn and what resources they would recommend–they will have great advice!  Take it.

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