I wasn’t supposed to attend ISTE 2010. My husband had invited someone from the organization that he works with in Kenya to go with him, but that individual was not able to obtain a Visa, so I went to Denver with my husband. I was very excited about going, and about learning all kinds of new things. But I have to say, I was very disappointed – at least in the offerings for elementary educators. The biggest reason – they really didn’t offer me any new information. And I have to say that is because I taught in Irving, TX from 2002 – 2009, a time when Irving ISD was in the middle of a big technology implementation program. I had access to cutting edge PD, I just didn’t know it.
Even though I didn’t really learn anything new, I did come away with a few good ideas that I plan on implementing in my classroom. So the conference wasn’t a total loss. My husband actually attended some presentations that he really liked and learned from. But he attended the sessions for Technology/Curriculum Directors.
The biggest lesson I learned is that my PLN (on twitter and Google Reader) does more for my professional growth than I thought it did. And in a way, I guess I’m spoiled because I LOVE that I can learn something new just by checking my Twitter account, reading my weekly newsletters from The Daily Café and Choice Literacy, or sitting on the couch and reading the updates in my Google Reader. The bottom line is that I have a Rock Star PLN that ISTE just can’t touch.
So, after it was all said and done, the most valuable piece of learning that I came away with is this: in order to learn what you need to, you have to know how to find it and it helps to surround yourself with people who can help you find it. Honestly, I already knew that, but my experience at ISTE brought it home in a big way.
There were a few things I learned that I thought were worth passing on. My summaries and commentaries are below.
I CAN SEE ME READ: USING WEBCAMS TO IMPROVE FLUENCY
This was what was called an “Informal Poster Session” which basically meant that the presenter was set up in an exhibit hall and was presenting his information to people who came by his booth. I really liked this kind of presentation as it was not a “sit and get”. I was able to spend one on one time with the presenter and have all my questions answered.
I Can See Me Read is a research study done by Timothy Frey, Kansas State University. The premise of this study was a students’ reading fluency would increase if he/she could hear and see himself reading. In a nutshell, students in first, second and third grade classrooms use a webcam to record themselves reading a short passage. When the student completes the recording, they follow a set of procedures that help them identify the words they misread and help them analyze their pace and reading expression. Student’s also conference with the teacher before going back and rerecording the same passage.
The study found that the use of the webcam, the procedures that the students followed to analyze their reading as well as the one-on-one conferencing they received with their teacher helped to improve their reading fluency and their accuracy.
I will definitely be using this in my classroom. This is one way that technology can transform the way I teach. Reading smoothly and with expression is one of the hardest things for students to learn how to do. I can model it everyday for them through read alouds and focused mini-lessons. However, I think when they are able to see and hear a recording of themselves, they have a better understanding of how they sound as readers. And when they understand how they sound, they can make the changes they need to in order to be a more fluent reader.
Thank you Timothy Frey!
LET’S DO IT: PLANNING FOR TECHNOLOGY IN AN EARYLY CHILDHOOD CLASSROOM
This presentation was actually a disappointment for me. I was hoping to get new ideas on how to arrange my classroom that would facilitate technology integration with 6 year olds, how to plan for technology integration with 6 year olds, and how to manage 6 year olds while they are using technology. While the presenters did offer information on those topics, none of the information was new to me. It was at this point during the ISTE conference that I began to realize how fortunate I was to have been a teacher with Irving ISD during the implementation of their 1-to-1 program. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the technology PD I received while in Irving was truly cutting edge. The information the presenters were offering was information I had received 5 years ago. Been there, done that!
While that was a disappointment, I did manage to find a gold nugget of information on the presenter’s wikispace. Twiducate is a closed twitter-like network developed by teachers for classroom use. It’s a place where your students can “chat” with each other inside or outside the classroom. The teacher has total access to all tweets and can even delete tweets if needed. I love this idea and will consider using it in my classroom – once I run it by my Technology Director, i.e. my husband. 🙂
I also came away with the idea having a class Twitter account. We are going to be tweeting things that we are learning several times a day. And I’d like to hook up with another first grade class and have a “twitter pal”. I’ll be hitting up my Twitter PLN and see if we can connect with another first grade classroom out there.
SUPPORTING BEGINNING LITERACY WITH TECHNOLOGY: TWO LITERACIES WITH ONE STONE
This presentation was also a disappointment. Once again I was all ready to get new ideas on how to use technology to help my students become better readers. When the presenter started out with starfall and brainpop, I knew I was in trouble. However, something she said at the beginning of the presentation really worked its way into my thinking. She said that this is a transitional time in education because the definition of who is literate is changing. In fact, the definition of literate is changing. It used to be that you were considered literate if you could just read and write. Now, the definition of literate includes technological literacy. What’s more, literacies are merging and changing all the time. So not only do we need to ensure that our students are literate (digitally and otherwise), we need to ensure that they have the ability to adapt to our changing world. The question that we need to always be asking is this: are we teaching are students to be life-long learners? Because it no longer matters what you know. What matters now is do you know how to find out what you need to know.
So, what does that mean in a first grade classroom? I’m not sure yet. But I’m working on finding out.