This site suggestion came from a SPED teacher in our division. She emailed and said:
"I found a great free resource. It is www.modernchalkboard.com It has free smartboard lessons and some with accompanying worksheets. The website is free at the moment while they are building more resources. I went through and downloaded anything I might need before they begin charging."
Students at AES used Wordle to create word clouds on what they are thankful for.
My colleage has shared two wonderful apps with me. The first is Story Wheel. Story Wheel is an educational game in which players record a story by spinning the wheel to get a picture, and then narrate a portion of the story. Students can listen to their story with beautifully animated pictures. http://www.storywheelapp.com/about_story_wheel.xhtml
I have been an ITRT for about 6 years now. ITRT stands for instructional technology resource teacher. Of course I prefer to call myself an instructional technologist. The difference is in how I want to be used. By adding the word resource to my title it seems to suggest that I am only another tool in case you need to make use of me. The term instructional technologist suggests that I am an expert in the field of instruction, which I am. The real purpose of an instructional technologist or ITRT if you prefer is to help design instruction.
There are positives and negatives about my job. One thing that I love about being an instructional technologist is that I am constantly learning. I enjoy spending time on the net learning, collaborating, and networking with professionals around the globe. I learn something new every day and that is thrilling! For me participating in a webinar or reading through a blog is like a mini vacation. Nice while it lasts but then you have to return home to reality.
The reality is that since technology changes daily with new gadgets and gizmos, it is hard to keep the focus on what is really important in a lesson--what is important to an instructional technologist--i.e. instruction. If there is no other purpose for a gadget other than it is cool and new, there is really no purpose for the gadget. I feel that too often we buy up new tools and then look for ways to use them in the classroom. This is so wrong! It's backwards. What have the students learned if we come in with the state of the art equipment to video-tape and stream a lesson putting the focus on the equipment and the fact that we have streamed it without thinking about the lesson itself. Too often I have witnessed an amazing presentation done by students using a gadget or web tool. The presentation is awe inspiring! Then you ask the student about the content behind the presentation and get nothing but blank stares.
I have heard it argued often in my field that we need these new tools to engage the students. If we don't use these new tools then we are damaging the students. I think this sells the student short. I think students want to learn and want to be challenged. Of course they would like to play with a new gadget, who doesn't. But let's be real. Students want to be interested in learning as well. I have had the experience of bringing in a new gadget to do a drudgery task and the students roll their eyes at me. The task was not challenging and therefore not engaging no matter what gadget we used. Recently a student told me about when their dad opened a box and found an old gaming system from the 1980s. The student was entralled! It was much more cool than the XBox the student had. What made it cooler than the newer gaming system of today? I think it was the challenge of learning something different.
As caring educators and professionals in our field, we should determine the instuctional needs of the students and then decide on how to meet those needs. At that point, if a new technology will work, wonderful. If we can get by with an older technology that is wonderful as well. After all the instruction of the 21st century boils down to problem solving not how to use a new toy.
This is what defines a true instructional technologist: a person who cares about their students enough to plan out a thoughtful, engaging, challenging learning experience.
“Expecting teachers to change their practice, without providing a thought-out vision and philosophy for why they should change will only result in frustration.”
Making the Shift Happen
In honor of the football season here is a version of No Child Left Behind.
The football version of what is going on in education right now. For all educators in and out of the education system.
1. All teams must make the state playoffs and all MUST win the championship. If a team does not win the
championship, they will be on probation until they are the champions, and coaches will be held accountable. If after two years they have not won the championship their footballs and equipment will be taken away UNTIL they do win the championship.
2. All kids will be expected to have the same football skills at the same time, even if they do not have the same conditions or opportunities to practice on their own. NO exceptions will be made for lack of interest in football, a desire to perform athletically, or genetic abilities or disabilities of themselves or their parents. ALL KIDS WILL PLAY FOOTBALL AT A PROFICIENT LEVEL!
3. Talented players will be asked to workout on their own, without instruction. This is because the coaches will be expected to use all their instructional time with the athletes who aren’t interested in football, have limited athletic ability or whose parents don’t like football or even encourage their child to try out.
4. Games will be played year round, but statistics will only be kept in the 4th, 8th, and 11th game. This will
create a New Age of Sports where every school is expected to have the same level of talent and all teams will reach the same minimum goals. If no child gets ahead, then no child gets left behind. If parents do not like this new law, they are encouraged to vote for vouchers and support private schools that can screen out the non-athletes and prevent their children from having to go to school with bad football players.
5. No matter how dedicated a coach is or how hard the players play, the game of football is only as good as the media and John Q. Public says it is. The opinion of any fan that has a poor experience with a certain game or with team will be used by state lawmakers when deciding whether the game of football is constitutional. Coaches who speak out for their profession will be labeled as troublemakers.
“The successful teacher is no longer on a height, pumping knowledge at high pressure into passive receptacles….He is a senior student anxious to help his juniors.~William Osler”
Discovery Education, formally United Streaming, has got to be at the top of my ten most favorite educational services. Discovery Education is an online library of visual media. They have images, videos, podcasts as well as a means to create a webquest or online lesson, complete with onlne quiz generator. I love this tool! Furthermore, this tool has partnered with Edmodo, my favorite learning management system, so that the resources may be used in an Edmodo lesson. Too, Discovery is tablet friendly, making it the perfect differentiation tool. Below is a cheat sheet for how to get up and running quickly with Discovery Learning.
This is a very cool site. Add a term to the search box and watch as the service creates a timeline out of You Tube videos.
Hi, my name is Melanie Lewis. I am an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher for Amherst County Public Schools, located in the beautiful state of Virginia. I LOVE my job! I get to work on my hobby, anything that has to do with computers. I get to work with teachers and students, and I am definitely a people person. Plus, I DO NOT have to give grades. Wonderful, huh? Let me know how I can help you better integrate technology into your classroom.
ACPS' 1st computers
I know only one thing about the technology that awaits us in the future: We will find ways to tell stories with it. ~Jason Ohler