Friday, July 15, 2011

I am GROWING, Hear me ROAR!!!!

Growth involves realizing how much you need to learn.  This course has allowed me to see what I am not familiar with and how far I need to grow.  It also showed me how much I need to improve upon so I can be a better educator.  I have learned about new resources like Prezi, Webquests and how to create my own web page.  These are my greatest areas of growth.  I am excited to continue to develop my knowledge.  This also motivated me to find other technologies that will benefit me and the staff at school. 
I will be able to reach more students and parents utilizing the technologies I learned and created in this course.  All of this will help me spread information about careers so parents and students can make more informed decisions.  Speaking about careers is an important part of my position at my school, so to find new ways to make it happen are exciting and extremely motivating.  I am excited to begin using Twitter to connect with professionals in other fields so I can ask questions and learn more about careers and pass that information on to students, staff and parents.  It is an exciting time to be an educator with the new advancements in technology.  I am looking forward to continued technological growth!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Technology Pool....Dive Right In!

Pushing someone who does not know how to swim into the deep end of the pool seems cruel and unusual.  However, this is the only way to get someone out of their comfort zone and into perhaps something they will become good at.  Using technology can be looked at in the same way!  So how would I get people to integrate technology?  I would throw them in the deep end!
You want to make sure they are comfortable with what they are using.   I feel by demonstrating it works and allowing someone to use it without piling more and more on them is the most effective way.  Go slow and you can convert your fellow teachers to using technology in the classroom.
The best way in my opinion to serve as a teacher leader is you have to be the one who goes out and finds ways to use technology and be able to present them to staff.  You also have to be available to help them with it and demonstrate it uses in the classrooms. 
Our school has gone to a Technology Policy in which students will be able to use tools like Twitter as an educational tool.  My fellow classmates will be able to help as many of them have more extensive use of twitter than I do.  So I will lean on them to gain the knowledge needed to utilize this in my school.  I will also use Webquests in my work with Career Awareness.  I am very excited to use the one I created for my class.  We will see how it works!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Internet Resources- The greatest, but do you have the latest?

Well, concerns about technology?  Do you have time for concerns?  By the time you have a concern, there is something new.  In fact, by the time I finish typing this blog entry, there will probably be several new things.  The biggest concern I have is keeping me and my sources/resources current.  The Internet is changing rapidly, so what is there today might not be there tomorrow.  So when planning, say a WebQuest for instance, you must make sure your resources are up to date and working.  There is nothing worse when you the sites do not work and you have a classroom full of kids not able to get on to a site to complete an assignment.  So you must be able to allow yourself an adequate amount of time to check these resources and swap out any that do not work.  I would be concerned they are not current and I would have to make sure they have been updated with the correct information.  Remember, just because it is on the Internet, it is not always true!
To alleviate these concerns, again, I would leave myself enough time to check the resources.  Perhaps you chunk your exercises so they are not overwhelming.  The Internet is an important part of our day to day lives and there are a vast amount of resources available for everyone to use and to find.  The key is to make sure they are still available to use, they are relevant to the task at hand and they are appropriate to the audience you are using them with.  Giving myself the time to check and review would make me feel a lot better.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Access Databases...Creating my own data warehouse!

The two main software applications I use are Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel.  I use these to communicate by writing memos, directions for the staff, notes to parents, keeping track of data and tracking trends in the data.  They are very important to my day to day tasks on the job.  I even use Word as my email editor to make sure I am not making any errors, as I want to communicate clearly to whoever my audience is.  As an administrator and school leader, this is very important and critical to me.  Although I use them frequently, I have not scratched the surface on what I can do and how I can apply it to my job.
I still want to learn more about Microsoft Access and create my own databases for the data I collect for various projects.  I know how to use the databases, but I want to have more knowledge in how to create them and create forms to increase parent communication.  My plan would be to take classes on using Access, practicing building databases and make practical use of the database.  This would make data collection more succinct and the process of communicating this to parents more streamlined.  We have an Adult Education Instructor in Access, so I would take his class and use him as a resource.  And of course, I would use good old fashioned trial and error.
There are many database programs out there you can buy, but with the current economic climate, you can save your school a ton of money by developing your own.  This is what I would like to set out to do, then I would have my own and a sense of accomplishment.  And the staff would have access to all of the data in one place, which would make them able to find it in one spot.  Creating this would make this portion of my job easier, once it was built.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Are you ready for some.........?

Do educators ever feel prepared for the 21st century?  Can you ever feel prepared for something which changes in a moment’s notice?  To continue the sports them from my last blog, it is like preparing for a football game all week and having a different opponent show up on Sunday.  The constant additions and changes to technology require you to keep an open mind and prepare you to be a lifelong learner.  I feel I am prepared because of the school I work in.  Being in a technical school allows us to get new technologies right away and make changes on the fly.  The challenge with this is it is hard to become a master at one because of the amount that comes out at a given time.  You truly have to prepare for one opponent knowing in the back of your mind another one will be there when it comes time to play the game.  Do you ever feel prepared?  Can you ever feel prepared?
Our students leave our school with the tools to be 21st century learners.  They are equipped with problem solving skills and ability to communicate when they leave.  The students are more adaptable at times than adults in the sense they can change quicker.  Students are more willing to go out on the ledge and explore.  They are exposed to many different forms of technology at our school.  These include: email, moodle, blogs, and various websites for educational achievement.    However, are all students exposed in the same way?  The answer, sadly, is no.  Some of the students do not have access to the technology others do.  They do not have a computer at home, or a Smartphone.  They may not even have a cell phone.  Sometimes, we do not even have the resources to expose them to everything because of lack of money and the most precious commodity…..time.  Overall though, we prepare our students for the 21st century and give them more opportunities than they could get themselves.  We put them in the stadium and on the field. 

I feel strong in the area I can adapt with change and have a willingness to learn new material.  My biggest challenge is having the time to learn and to develop all of my technological skills.  The time to master something before new technology comes along.  The 21st century skills require time to develop skills to prepare for jobs that are not even created yet.  We need to not only get into the stadium, be on the field, grab the ball, begin running with it, but also cross the goal line and kick the extra point.  Then we have to do it again for something different and not even know what we are getting into.  Can we win the game?  I believe with the proper commitment, we can get ahead of the technological age and hold the trophy high!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Technology for Administrators

Innovation in education can be something really powerful if done correctly.  Currently I am an administrator at a full time comprehensive technical school.  Part of my job is to make sure our instructors are using tools to make our students lifelong learners.  Along with instructional strategies, technology can be a catalyst to learning and growing as an individual.
I have read the NETS for Administrators from the site  I feel I have lots of room for improvement on meeting each one of the standards.  But by no means do I think I am deficient in meeting these standards, I just want to meet them at a higher standard for all teachers.  Right now I am privileged to work with some really innovative instructors who are very comfortable with using and trying new technologies.  My goal is to get everyone to at least try something new and document it into their portfolio.  I want to help build a small learning community for teachers to share with one another.
I do not have a fear of technology, just a fear that I am not meeting the needs of our students.  I feel comfortable learning how to use different forms of technology and learning about its practical uses.  I can understand the fears, but I jump into the deep end and to use a golf metaphor, Tee it High and Let it Fly!  It takes some confidence it will be working when you go to use it, but you must be prepared for it not to work and be ready to go to Plan B.
I am ready to learn some new uses of technology and new avenues in which I have not explored.  I am ready to learn from my class and see how they use and see how I can adapt their ideas into my school.  I want to get some of the instructors who are a little skeptical to use something they have not used before.  I want to see teachers sharing their knowledge with one another.  I would like to observe a giant school of sharing and collaborating among staff and students so all can learn from one another.
It is time for the next challenge education has brought to my doorstep.  We have finished the first round.  The door has been opened for me and I have greeted our new playing partner. Now it is time to offer technology a drink and strive to know it even better.