Thursday, September 24, 2009

Technology Beyond the Classroom

An advantage to the year-long staff development model is that you have the same participants every session, so there is opportunity to reflect on the prior sessions. This time can be an opportunity to ask questions or share accounts of how the technology was used since we last met.

Today I planned to start off the session reflecting on the September session when we covered RSS and Google Reader. I love RSS and am a big believer in the ways it can be used to make teachers' lives easier. However, RSS can sometimes take some getting used to. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out how best to use it and how to get around in Google Reader. So I wasn't sure what to expect when I asked for teachers to share any stories of how they'd used RSS or Google Reader since our last meeting.

After a few murmured responses a teacher said I taught my husband how to set up his Google Reader account. (laughter) What a great response.

I think too often in the effort to make connections to the curriculum, we forget to connect with the teachers who are people. If educators make connections between the technology and their lives outside the classroom, they'll be more willing and comfortable using the new technology. It's no coincidence some of the better teacher bloggers I've seen recently also have personal blogs they share with their families and friends. If subscribing to RSS feeds to the local paper, sports page or Target encourages checking the Google Reader account, that also has some ideas for teaching, so much the better. I've seen that the teachers who use Skype to communicate with family, then come to Skype workshops are much quicker to put it to use in their classrooms.

It's not about teaching just the technology, it is about giving teachers tools that they are inspired to use in and beyond the classroom.

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