20 February 2009

Getting Educators involved with Web 2.0

While browsing Sue Waters' edublogger, I was pleasantly surprised to find a contest in which I might be able to win a year of supported blog hosting at edublogs.org.  All I have to do is post about a topic in which I am very interested: Getting Educators involved with Web 2.0 (more than just for checking email).  This topic has been on my mind a lot this week and I have been very nearly obsessed with adding technology to my own classroom, thereby having a positive impact on both my students and my colleagues.

Today at lunch, I was talking to some of my fellow science teachers about using wikis in the Science Classroom.  I was actually surprised at the amount of mocking and cynicism I encountered when I mentioned this.  Mishelleyb sent an article by Ruth Reynard, from campustechnology.com, which was extremely informative for a teacher (like myself) who is considering adding a wiki/blog project to the classroom.  I talked with the lunch bunch about it and got mixed reviews; everything from "You have way too much time on your hands" to "Why don't you send me the link for the article?"  I also heard questions like "what is a word cloud?" and "what's the difference between a wiki and a blog?" I was both annoyed and pleased.  Annoyed because some of my peers probably thought I was neglecting my school work and "goofing around on the 'net"; but pleased that there might be just the tiniest bit of jealousy that a newbie teacher might be making a bigger impact on students than the mature veteran teacher.

Because I want my colleagues to be able to succeed with today's digital natives, I ended up sending the link to every one of our science teachers.  All of the responses so far have been positive.  The majority of tit came from my department chair, a veteran teacher who is motivated to teach 21st century skills in his classroom.  He is excited about the new things we are learning together; we have begun to find good information that we constantly share with each other.  I told him I would be doing some research for my wiki/blog project over the weekend and would give a full update on Monday.

Just as a little side note, I am the only teacher at my school (as of my last check) who does any type of discussion board or asynchronous discussion outside of class.  I was asked to and did give a short presentation about what I do and what I think are the Top 10 Best Practices for using a discussion board  as part of the classroom environment. I gave this presentation to about 60 teachers in my building.  Since I am only a second year teacher, this was the first time I had ever spoken in front of my peers.  Imagine me, a lowly newbie, telling all of those master teachers about what I do in my classroom.  Why would they even care?

Speaking of caring, I have gotten some really positive comments this week from students.  One that stood out to me was this:

"So I have to say first off that you have been very influential to my learning experience. Although I might not always get what we are doing in class, its been a great environment and I really have learned a lot. I like that we're open in this class and it really has helped knowing more about you and people in the class. Thanks Bowie!"

My physics students seem to really enjoy the discussion board when I can provide them with a good topic.  If you are interested in seeing what our discussions are about, email me and I will provide you with a username and password so that you can access that part of our classrooom.

I would really be interested in what you have to say about using the web in your classroom.  Many teachers are considering this move towards technology immersion in their classes but just need a gentle nudge to push them over the edge.  It only took me attending two events in two weeks and hearing an excellent speaker on technology in the classroom.  What will it take for you?