I spent yesterday with a group of committed, eager to learn primary teachers. They were from a growing school on the outskirts of Sydney which has a reasonable number of classroom computers, some brand new SMARTboards and no dedicated ICT teacher. I was there at the invitation of their head teacher and with permission from mine. I had been invited to assist them with the integration of newly delivered SMARTboards and the integration of web 2 tools into their teaching programs.
I broke the day into three sections. For the first hour and a half we looked at SMARTboards together, many of them had just received theirs and like myself two years ago they knew very little. In fact most of them had received no instruction in even how to instal the SMART notebook software, connect them to their computers and set up the data projectors. They had managed to sort these basics for themselves but it never fails to amaze me how the distributors don’t consider these facts when installing these expensive items of equipment. Apart from opening them up and sorting out a few pages most of them were complete newbies. Firstly I referred them to Chris Betcher’s excellent post IWB’s are no silver bullet and we discussed how they will need to put in many hours of personal time into truly becoming familiar with their SMARTboards. I then ran through some of the basic tools and together we looked at many of the IWB sites I like to explore when looking at other people’s lesson ideas, as well as the SMARTboard revolution ning. I showed them my SMARTboard delicious page and a few of the files I have made. Then together they created a few essential pages.
During the next session we explored web 2 tools. I ran through a prezi I had created, about why we as educators need to change our ways. We then looked in more depth at edmodo and edublogs. I followed this by taking them to my techie brekkie site and taking them slowly through lesson 33. In the afternoon we created a school wiki and I taught them how to put all the links we had explored into it. They now have a resource to share in the future.
It was a great day. Although I was tired at the end, I really felt I had inspired and assisted a great bunch of teachers to start their own learning journey. Many of them signed up to start a blog, created several files and explored many of the links I showed them. Two particular aspects to the day continue to stick in my mind though and I would like to share them with you. At one point just before lunchtime, I was mentioning Twitter and trying to explain just how much I have benefited from my PLN and the great connections I have made from it. I sent the following Tweet. ‘Showing Twitter to a group of newbies please RT and say where you are from‘ .Within an hour I had received over 60 replies and my tweet had circled the globe with responses from several continents. That just blew their minds and there and then several of them signed up. Thank you so much if you were one of the respondents, you really helped me to show what a community of learners there is on Twitter.
The second was near the end, an older and obviously highly experienced teacher admitted to me that she knew she had to do something but that she just did not know where to start. After a chat it became apparent that her experience with the internet was very limited and that she felt nervous about everything I had spoken about. She did however say that she was interested in finding out more about Studyladder. So I led her through the process of signing up, assuring her that no, it would not cost her anything and yes, it was safe to give out her email address. Once in the site the fact that she could find free lesson content, free worksheets, videos and games for her students, literally blew her mind.
One response to all of this would be to say how could she not know? After all computers have been around for thirty years etc etc. I prefer however, to look at the possibilities for learning that I hope I managed to open up. This group of teachers wanted and were eager to learn. Many of them were on their way but not all of them had the expertise or resources to know where to start. So if you are reading this secure in the knowledge that you are using all the tools I mentioned and more in your teaching program, can I urge you to reach out to a teacher who does not.
Why not volunteer to hold a TeachMeet or to attend the next ones to be held this term in Sydney. Or start your own techie brekkie. Or open up your classroom to a student teacher. Or join me next weekend at 11.00 am (Australian time) at RSCON3 when I will be discussing TeachMeets, techie brekkies and other ways to help teachers to learn.
Thanks to langwitches for the image. Tool set, skill set, mind set which I think summed up my day so perfectly.