Monday, June 21, 2010

Tech Gathering: Extending Professional Communities

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."
- Helen Keller
Last week I was fortunate to be able to attend an evening technology chat at Katie's house. Nearly a year ago (after the Michigan trip that changed my technology/professional life) I attended my first chat with friends from nearby districts. At that time, I was just getting started reading blogs, following twitter, and thinking of ways beyond Pixie to use technology in my classroom. I've learned a lot since then, and was feeling much more confident as I entered the house. I'd prepared a list of questions before arriving, and actually had something to share about how I had used technology differently in my classroom in the past year. All was good.

Maybe it was the food, maybe it was the conversation, but when I arrived the kitchen was full of people. After snacking, chatting, and catching up, we began our conversation about technology. The plan was to go around the circle, each person would introduce herself/himself and share something s/he had done with tech. Of course, each introduction resulted in questions and conversation. Everyone had so many useful ideas for technology. (Franki shares her reflections to tech night at A Year In Reading.)

After almost making it around the circle, we broke into smaller groups to share websites, show examples of student work with technology, and ask/answer questions. It was an amazing evening! Now to figure out how to support my primary students to become more independent and flexible with technology. On Twitter, Mary (@MMBrothers) reminded me, "Let primary kids explore tech, model for them, let them guide each other and they will become independent." It sounds so easy...

I'm left wondering:
  • How will I begin my year differently with technology?
  • What do I want my students to be able to use/do?
  • What are the possibilities with wikis? (Most of the teachers at this meeting are using wikis for so much more than I am. I think I'm missing something.)
  • How do I want to digitally save student work, videos, photos, etc. to create a "portfolio" (there is probably a better tech word for this) I can send home with students at the end of the year?

Shared sites I want to explore:
  • I'm very interested in finding more ways for students to digitally create and publish their work. Katie shared Kathy Cassidy's website. It is full of examples for ways primary students can use technology purposefully (not just "let me tell you about them"....actual examples which show children demonstrating understanding through technology). Katie also shared Kidblog a site which allows kids to blog in a secure environment.
  • Mary Lee shared Toondoo. A site which allows students to create comics.
  • Everyone's talking about, and it constantly came up in our discussion: Animoto. I have no idea what can be accomplished with this site, but everyone keeps telling me to use it. I guess I need to explore a bit.
The evening was thought provoking. Ideas for using technology in word study, using Flip cameras in the classroom, and pros/cons of Glogster were also shared. I suppose in the past year I've significantly increased the amount of technology I use for "consumption". Twitter has exponentially grown my professional community and constantly provides me with new information about teaching. Blogs help me to improve my practice. Communication with educational professionals continues to become easier.

In this next year I know I need to grow in my use of technology to "create". This is true in my classroom as well. I need to find ways for my students to create with technology. By myself, change would be challenging...
but with this community, it is possible.


  1. Hi Cathy,
    I so enjoyed this post! I feel like we are kindred spirits on the same learning journey. I am really trying to incorporate more technology in my teaching practice and the links you provided will be very helpful.

    I have to admit I am a bit envious of the amazing learning community you have there! I am thinking I am just going to have to start a group here! Just another thing to add to my summer to do list! :)

  2. Hi CAthy! I loved this review of your experience of tech night!! I am thinking I need to get on the ball and use your thoughts as a reminder to take back some learning and goals the next time we get together!! I need to try the edu chat too..Thanks for helping me with the groups. Also, thank you for the pie fillings...YUM!

  3. I haven't looked at Google Reader for a while, so I was so delighted when I read this summary of our evening together back at Katie's. How perfectly you put it, "but with this community, it is possible."

  4. Susan,
    You are so right! I am lucky to have such an inspiring community of learners to provide support. There are so many voices willing to share their questions, attempts, struggles, and successes. All with the goal of making learning better for students. I wish you were closer as you could join us. Perhaps you should drive down for some conversation and shopping at our favorite book store (Cover to Cover).

    Community means a lot of different things. My local community provides me a great deal of support, but my online community also keeps me up to date on the latest thinking. I'm glad to have you as part of this community. You have much to add to the dialogue.