Ms. Cassidy's Conversations with Dr. Strange:
Interview with Kathy Cassidy Part 1
Interview with Kathy Cassidy Part 2
Interview with Kathy Cassidy Part 3
Introduction to Technology:
Ms. Cassidy is a first grade teacher in Canada. She is a true 21st century teacher, educating and building 21st century learners. Ms. Cassidy was first introduced to technology in the classroom when she was given five computers with internet access; however, you could not put any type of program on them. She had to find useful, engaging tasks for her students to do on the internet! She found things like blogging and webpages.
School and Parents:
She started this internet involved learning on her own, but soon she found that she has a good support system for her use of technology. The school administration may not have always be too interested, but were always willing to let her try something new. Even the parents really enjoy the activities their kids are performing. Of course, we must have the parents' permission first. On the first day of school, all of the kids get a form sent home letting parents give permission for their child to use the computers and have his or her work posted on the internet. The parents really seem to enjoy this because they can see their child's work on their blog as an online portfolio.
Blogs as a Learning Tool:
Blogs reflect each child's writing process. Kids and technology go hand in hand. Technology will not go away, so the tools we once used must change because the world has changed. Online opportunities are so great that it is a disadvantage to the students to not allow them to use it. What difference do blogs make? They provide an audience. The kids know people all over the world have the possibility to read the blog instead of just the teacher. The students develop relationships with other students outside of their classroom that are assigned to comment on their blogs. Ms. Cassidy's room has an online cluster map showing every time someone from another place in the world comments on one of the student's blogs. Ms. Cassidy says her kids are beginning to take these online experiences for granted because it is so natural for them.
As we have seen throughout most of our own experiences, some teachers don't want to change and refuse to embrace technology. Does every teacher need to be technologically literate? Yes. Students develop their own online networks to keep up with technology, and we should do the same. We have to keep learning. Where should we start? Like Ms. Cassidy, we should start with our interests. We should have our own Personal Learning Networks, helping others and having others help you. When it comes to embracing new ways of collaborating, we are going to have to change our views in some areas. Some educators are worried about cheating, copying another student's work. In order to avoid cheating, teachers should be presenting information where you must take other's work and make it your own. Students and teachers both have to go through this shift. In order to protect students, we must also teach them digital citizenship, what and what not to do on the internet.
The video First Graders in Mrs. Cassidy's Class perfectly shows how technology can be utilized in a classroom. Mrs. Cassidy describes her classroom and her approaches to learning through technology. Mrs. Cassidy's class is very tech savvy, and all of her students seem to really enjoy being that way. They write on blogs, play educational games found of their class webpage, make videos, and use wikis, skype, and even their Nintendo DS's in class. Their blogs serve as online portfolios of their work. The students extremely enjoy writing and getting comments on their blogs, and they know to always be safe. Their class webpage allows them to independently choose what to work on through choosing which educational games to play. They are helping themselves learn by choosing games. On their wikis, they can ask people questions to help them put together their projects. Making videos helps them work together in groups, and then they post the videos to their blogs for others to see. Skype brings in experts in certain fields to further explain a lesson, or it can bring in the students' buddies from across the world. The Nintendo DS is the last technological bit mentioned in this video, and the most interesting. While they are used for games, they can also be used to teach problem solving and sharing. What wonderful ways to embrace technology in the classroom!
What I Would Use:
Well, after watching these videos, I want to teach a first grade class and use all of these approaches from Ms. Cassidy! Reality beckons however, and I know I truly could not handle teaching first graders. Instead, I am going to take Ms. Cassidy's classroom and apply to my future high school English classes! First and foremost, I am going to blog. My students are going to blog. We are all going to blog! I love this idea of using blogging as a writing portfolio for all to see as well as connecting my students to the world. Problem: I know all of my students won't be so enthusiastic about this whole blogging thing as I am. I foresee getting them to really put forth the effort to have a great blog might be a tough hurdle to leap. Hopefully, they will have exposed to blogging before they reach my class though so maybe they will enjoy it. Only the future can tell. Even if they are not enthused, hopefully I will have the skill to engage them and use their passions to develop some good bloggers. I will also definitely have a class webpage/blog where all homework and classwork can be found. Several of my college English classes have had blogs, and I have found them so useful. Problem: Getting the students to actually use the blog is going to arise at some point I assume. I really don't know how to face this problem, but maybe with time I would be able to figure it out. I also would enjoy using videos and Skype in my classroom. I would like to use videos as a part of projects and Skype as a tool to connect by class with the world. I don't see a major obstacle with this idea. Hopefully, I will have a large enough Network by the time I am a teacher to have many friends around the world to connect my classroom with. Well, really, I guess the major problem facing all of these ideas is the simple fact of whether or not technology is available inside of my classroom. In order to blog, use webpages, make videos, and use Skype, my classroom will have to have computers or iPads available. Hopefully, all schools will see the growing need to embrace technology by then, because if not, then I am going to have to do some crafty thinking to get my future students to where I want them to be! I know my future students would thrive just as Ms. Cassidy's and benefit so much if I could use these approaches. As Ms. Cassidy says,
"Little Kids, Big Potential"