Despite spending a great deal of my summer planning how to effectively incorporate technology into my classroom, it still took me 2 1/2 months to get there. There are a variety of factors that contributed to this delay, but each begins and ends with me (for more on those, click here). At some point I had to pick my brain apart to remember what exactly was the point of me using technology. Once I remembered that it was to help my students be effective communicators, I was able to choose 2 tools that could assist: twitter and blogging.
twitter before, but there's not enough I can say about it. First and foremost, it creates an authentic audience. Because my students are following each other they are writing, I mean tweeting, for each other just as much as they are tweeting for themselves. I've recently showed them how to retweet. Retweeting is a form of reinforcement. It's one person saying to another, "That was a really great idea & I think others need to hear it!" or, "Wow! I didn't think of that. Thanks for sharing & I think others will be interested, too." Retweeting has 'upped the ante' of authenticity and actually changed the quality of their tweets. I am encouraged by the 'conversations' they are having on twitter and look forward to moving towards replying to each other ~ with a lot of proactive teaching 1st!
classroom blog would be a great place to think about math (see my previous post). Because of the blog, they are seeing how each other think about math, solve problems, and how to explain their own thinking. All the while, quickly learning a variety of strategies. In just 2 days you can see the difference! The challenge for me will be finding a way to continue this type of mathematical engagement.
I know that I want to move both to a higher level of thinking, so they are more than a glorified worksheet / notebook. But I also know that I have to take these steps first to prepare them for the larger risk-taking step.