Reflective teaching Day #28 – Curriculum driver

Day 28- @TeachThough  30 Day Reflective Teaching Challenge   

Respond: Should technology drive curriculum, or vice versa?

Is this a real question? Technology is a tool that we use to learn and express our learning. Curriculum is the subjects or course of study in school. Should we study technology? Sure. Should it drive what we study? Absolutely not.

Technology is ever changing. When I was studying to be a teacher, I took a technology in education course that featured “Hypercard Studio” as a prominent technology tool. This was 16 years ago. Is this technology tool still around? NO. Technology is ever changing. Curriculum should be more of a constant.  Curriculum should not be based on a tool. Dd we base our curriculum on the pencil, film strip or overhead projector? Teachers need to think about how technology helps students learn and communicate their learning with in our curriculum.

Curriculum needs to be broad enough so that it does not need to change do to the date on a calendar. Curriculum needs to focus on how students learn, not tools they learn with or how they need to express their learning. A few years back PowerPoint was a dominate tool in education for expressing learning. Now look at all the alternatives we can use!

Why I like twitter to be a connected educator!

Two years ago, I thought Twitter was  source of gossip. Filled with advertising, celebrities and people who just wanted to be up on the current rumors and goings on in Hollywood.

After having a conversation with a fellow teacher while eating chicken wings and watching the NCAA tournament, I was convinced to give it a second look. It started slow. I didn’t know who to follow. What to do. After spending some time as a lurker ( sometimes even feeling dirty for doing so). I started participating. I participated in chats. I developed relationships.

Yes, relationships. I meet people online and engaged in meaningful conversations. Fellow teachers were sharing what was going on in their classrooms. I listened, learned and then started sharing my story. Looking for a chat for middle level educators, I noticed a void. After some pushes and promises of help from friends. #MSCHAT was started in August of 2012. My network of educators has grown from the 40 teachers in my building to the hundreds or even thousands I interact with on Twitter.

Now as I approach 10,000 tweet milestone, I have been asked why twitter? Why not Facebook, Tumbr, Google + or any other online community? Twitter is simple. I don’t need to write or produce many things. Just 148 characters. I can lurk if I don’t want to be seen. My activity is not judged by logins, posts or friendships. It is an on-demand PLN, no strings attached. Best of all Twitter is kind, caring and helpful. I can’t remember an unkind word, discouragement, or rudeness on Twitter from educators. Everyone is helpful. They will point you in the right direction if they can’t help. I feel it is a wonderful community of learners, working together to become better educators.

I always say their are a million ways to skin a cat. Twitter is my preferred way to connect as an educator. Try it! If you don’t find it to your liking, there are many other ways to connect.

Lurking on Twitter: Voyeurism at its finest!

When you hear the term voyeur, you mind starts to think about Peeping Toms, and old ladies peeking out of windows from behind curtains. The word has negative connotations. I have recently found that being a voyeur can be a good, if not a great thing.

Twitter gives it users the ability to be voyeurs. Users can lurk on twitter, following hashtags, chats and people. What I am talking about has nothing to do with intimate behavior. I am referring to following peoples thinking and learning on Twitter. Watching people engage in conversations about learning and how they learn is powerful.

On Twitter, groups of people gather to discuss a plethora of topics daily. By following people who think creatively and share openly, an voyeur can learn many wonderful thing. I have personally learned the following:

  1. How to use multiple web applications
  2. Standards based grading systems
  3. Homework policies
  4. About Digital Citizenship Resources
  5. and many more ….

I have found my most powerful learning comes from watching educational leaders and authors show how they learn on twitter. I have followed numerous chats where respected educational minds have lead the discussions and followed discussions. Where questions are asked and answered. Where a group of leaders leads each other in their own discovery of how to lead best. Twitter has the power to connect minds and it also has the power to be transparent and show the collaborative learning that true leadership comes from. Remember being a voyeur on twitter can be a great learning experience.

Simple Free Learning Tool / Quizlet

This is my first review as a blogger. I hesitate for a few reasons, mainly there are many reviewers of web applications. Secondly, I do not blog to sell products, I blog to share my opinion and inform other educators of what I see and do in my classroom.

Our middle school staff has been talking lately about how to have students acquire needed content vocabulary. Students seem to understand concepts but lack the subject specific vocabulary. Over the years I have tried many different activities to help enrich students vocabulary skills, ranging from flash cards, match up games to written definitions. a few years ago, I hear about ““, which is self-described as “Simple free learning tools for students and teachers.”

Quizlet comes as described: a free, simple to use tool for all. For starters, you don’t have to even sign up for an account to use all of the wonderful tools that it has to offer. So, you can try it out without signing up for an account. Nice feature. When you first arrive on the site you can search for “sets” of vocabulary by subject. It is very easy to find “sets” that others have created and you are free to use them  as you see fit.

Quizlet is set up to help student learn their vocabulary: spelling and definitions. The program will create flash cards, word games and quizzes to help a students learn. If you cannot find a “set” of vocabulary pre-made for your use, you will have to sign up for a free account and input your vocabulary based upon your needs. Often you will find some of your needed vocabulary available, which you can copy and then add the words that were not available.

A student just needs the address for your “set” of vocabulary (no account needed) to access the tools to study the vocabulary. The students can play games with the vocabulary on-line or print off flash cards to study offline. If you are working with ESL or students with speech and languages issue: Quizlet has the ability to read aloud the words and definitions. Personally, my 8-year-old son, who has apraxia has used Quizlet to help him learn to pronounce words. I have used the this feature as well when refreshing my spanish skills before a trip. The programing is able to translate to/from Spanish, English and French.  Which will help in World Language instruction.

I feel that Quizlet is a great tool that all teachers should have in their toolbox for vocabulary acquisition. If you have not checked it out please take the time to do so. The features are simple to use for students and teachers alike. I have been using it regularly with my classes this year and have seen great results.