Sunday, July 25, 2010

Back to School Food for Thought (AKA Anytime Resources for Tech Integration and Your Digital Footprint)

I don't know when the new school year or term starts for you, but in our little corner of the planet known as Texas, most public K-12 schools start up in late August. The closer that start date gets, the more we educators start thinking of plans and goals for the new year. Over the past couple of weeks, several links have come my way via Twitter which I think would be valuable for educators to visit as the summer begins to wind down and preparation for the new school year gears up.

Technology Integration

The links below are excellent resources for anyone aspiring to integrate more Web 2.0 technologies into their instruction. Those just dipping their toe in for the first time as well as experienced integrators will get ideas from these sites. As someone who provides professional development to teachers, I found some ideas I'd like to share in the upcoming school year.
  • Reflection: A Year of Implementing Web 2.0 Tools in My Classroom - Kim Munoz (@techmunoz on Twitter) shares her successes and challenges after her first year of delving deep into Web 2.0 technologies with her middle school students. Visit Kim's post for examples of how she used specific Web 2.0 tools with her students. My favorite parts of this blog are Kim's transparency when it comes to the parts that didn't work, and her final conclusion that "’s not all about the tool, but the content you have to work with to teach the tool."

  • How to Use New Media Tools in Your Classroom - Seven short videos from bloggers and contributors at Edutopia which give you tips on using Twitter, Facebook, wikis, digital cameras, YouTube, Nintendo Wii, and GPS devices in instruction. Even if you do not have access to all of these resources in your school, just watching the videos might encourage you to think outside of the box and investigate ways to integrate these technologies into your instruction.

Social Media and our Digital Footprints

If you are reading this blog, then you participate in social media on at least a very basic level. If you also have a blog of your own or an account on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flikr, or add any online posting/commenting you do here, you're leaving traces of yourself all over the Internet all of the time. Multiply what you are doing by at least ten and that's how much evidence your tween and teen students are leaving. It behoves us as professionals to keep ourselves up to date on the implications of the evidence we are leaving behind - both for our own benefit and for the benefit of the young people we have the responsibility to educate.
  • The Web Means the End of Forgetting - If you click no other link in this blog post, I hope you'll click this one. The story from the New York Times is lengthy, but packed with important cautions regarding what we post online and what is posted about us and the future consequences of that information. As much as I try to stay current in this area, I learned several new things in this story. Here's a teaser paragraph to draw you in:

    It’s often said that we live in a permissive era, one with infinite second chances. But the truth is that for a great many people, the permanent memory bank of the Web increasingly means there are no second chances — no opportunities to escape a scarlet letter in your digital past. Now the worst thing you’ve done is often the first thing everyone knows about you.

    How can you resist reading it now?

  • 12 Healthy Habits to Grow Your Online Presence and Keep Balance in Your Life - Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher on Twitter) has grown a tremendous online presence in the education and educational technology world over the last five years. She shares a great deal of wisdom in this post based on her experiences. The one which spoke to me the most was Beware of Flattery because I'm a sucker for positive reinforcement! All of her tips are helpful for those of us who want to contribute positively to our profession. As an added bonus, Vicki has recently started a Facebook page. If you have a Facebook account and become a fan of hers, you will receive helpful tips for being more productive in your professional environment.

  • Think Before You Tweet - Beth Still (@bethstill on Twitter) wrote this guest post at Wes Fryer's Moving at the Speed of Creativity blog. In it Beth reminds us that anything we say online can be seen by anyone at any time. She is honest about some tweets she posted that came back to haunt her and she shares thoughts on the dynamics of online and offline relationships and how they intersect. I also find the comments on this blog post a fascinating read. I think Beth might make a fortune if she reproduces and sells the sign her husband made for her after her indiscreet tweet incident - I Just Wish My Mouth Had a Backspace Key! The good news is, our keyboards do have one. Do we use them often enough?
As you begin thinking about the new school year ahead, or just improving your instructional and professional practices at any time during the school year, I hope these links will help you and lead you to other resources as well. If you have sites you think are valuable in similar ways, please make a comment on this post and help us all add to our toolboxes!

"Welcome back to school" image provided by Kevin Connors via Used with permission.