Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Digital Divide

I have always know that a digital divide exists among our school staff. We have teachers who are ready to use whatever technology is put in front of them and teachers who need lots of help or are unwilling to implement technology. It was not until this past week when we were at a national conference as a staff that the digital divide really stood out.

Those of us on one side of the digital divide went into the event with a presentation on Online Student Collaboration and plans to organize a Tweetup. We were really devastated by the lack of wifi available, however; we did not let the lack of wifi affect back channeling. We still used our cell phones to follow Twitter as closely as possible. We were excited about the opportunity to meet other people that we follow on Twitter. We were even more excited when we got someone new to try Twitter.

This is probably where the divide really became noticeable to me. We were excited to share with other people but we weren't sharing with our other colleagues. We were connected to other people while they were connected to each other. They shared their breakout sectional experiences with each other between sessions, at dinner, and in the evenings. Whereas, we shared our experiences as they were going on. We were continuously connected with each other even though we weren't in the same sessions.

Now leaving the conference we are back to our normal routines but have we increased our digital divide by isolating the others on the other side or have we spurred their interest to cross the bridge.

How has your use of technology changed what you get out of a conference or other professional development?

*Picture: Dunloe Gap Valley Mountain Valley. amanderson2. 7 Feb 2009. CreativeCommons License

Sunday, March 27, 2011

LEA reflections

This week I got the chance to go with my colleagues to the LEA: Lutheran Education Association Convocation. It was a gathering of around 2,600 educators from all over the US and the world.

I was very excited about the conference because I going to present along with my colleagues (@kevcreutz, @gilmorekendra, and @karacornejo) on Online Student Collaboration. Feel free to check out our wiki of resources leastudentcollaboration.wikispaces.org

The conference in a whole was a very uplifting experience. Getting the chance to be with so many other educators that are in the same situations as myself was reassuring.

Conferences are a chance to grow as an educator. They give you the chance to learn new things and get new resources. I went to lots of great sectionals some helped me gain new resources for my classroom and some helped me personally.

Break out sessions
One that really stuck with me was called The Phoenix Effect presented by Dr. John Oberdeck of Concordia University Wisconsin. The Phoenix like in Harry Potter is a bird that bursts into flame and then rise again and is reborn from the ashes. Many teachers especially Lutheran teachers have a desire to please and do well. This means that these teachers have an inability to say, "no" and are perfectionists. When this happens teachers can experience a burn out or a point which they can't take any more.

We have to be able to recognize the signs that this is happening in ourselves and in others. Burn our can make both our bodies and mind sick. Unrelieved stress is not good on our bodies. When you feel stress you have to ask yourself, "How am I feeling?" "What am I telling myself?" "What is happening in my body?" We have to watch out for others and let them know when we think they are taking on too much.

Face to Face Interactions
My favorite part of the convocation was the face to face interactions that I was able to have with a few of the people that follow on twitter. Getting the chance to meet @dawblack and @coachburk at our tweetup/meetup was a great opportunity to make new connections. Those face to face interactions extended into the sectionals that I attended as I met teachers who wanted to learn more about what I do in my classroom. Through the conference we were also able to get some other teachers to use twitter. Using the #LEA2011 hashtag I was able to find new Lutheran teachers to follow to build my PLN.


The most difficult part of the conference was that wifi was not available in most areas of the convention center due to the cost to the organization. I was able to use the 3G on my ipad to use Twitter but without wife my Tweetdeck columns did not refresh as well as normal. I wasn't able to check on others tweets as easily as I have been able to do at other conferences. It also limited many of my colleagues who did not have access to devices other than their cell phones to get online. When leading our sectional, Online Student Collaboration we weren't able to get our participants online to experience the tools themselves.

Thank you to @gilmorekendra, @karacornejo, @kevcreutz, @bmarolf15, and @NateDomsch for the fun and fellowship on the bus and Thursday and Friday night.

*LEA logo from the LEA website www.lea.org

Creative Learners

This week at school we got some new playhouses for the kids to play in. The playhouses were very popular but the kids quickly found an other way to use the materials.

The students enjoyed the scraps of Tyvek. They started carrying them around the playground and finding different ways to lay them on the blacktop.

Two of the boys started stacking the planks on top of each other. As they stacked I could her lots of problem solving in their conversations such as, "No that one needs to go on the bottom it is bigger." They were working together: "Get that one and put it on top."

The next day the some new students found the scraps of wood just as intriguing as the built a pirate ship.

They found new ways to use the boards, discovering that they could lay them on their sides to make walls. They also used the turned over basketball hoops as place to ride their pirate ship.

As they play we did realized that a few ground rules needed to be developed like:
1. The long plank is a 2 person piece, for safety it needs to be carried by 2 people
2. because none of our pieces are the same length, we can't stand them on end and build a bridge

The only problem is we only have 5 scraps of wood. It looks like I need to expand their learning by giving them some more resources.