I realized something today, less than five minutes ago really. I was watching this really incredible video from PBS about 21st Century Learners and I realized that I was hungry. (I haven’t figured out to embed the video into the post so here’s the link PBS – Digital Media – New Learners in the 21st Century)

I’m hungry. No, not for food, but for innovation and real change in my world and I haven’t felt like this since I was a new teacher. I’ve always been willing to try new things if they were good for my kids, but the more I watch, experience, learn — the more I want to be part of that change. I’m excited about teaching again! And, I have one blog post (Wright’s Room) shared by an incredible colleague (@technolit), my PLN and Twitter to thank for pointing me in this direction. Who’d have thought that February 1st would mark such a profound change for me?

I want to ‘flip’ my classroom! I want to turn all of my classes into passion-driven classes with project based learning. I want my kids to really learn and to take responsibility for their learning. (I didn’t realize I was already doing this in one of my classes; I just knew that it was good and that kids walked out learning real stuff that they will use in their lives.) I want to share with my friends and colleagues. I want to teach! I want to learn!

Woosh! Having said that, I think I’m going to take a minute to catch my breath and then jump back into the pool. I guess my point for writing this post — to say thank you. Twenty six days ago I loved what I do, but today, I still love what I do, but I’m excited to do what I do. I’m hungry to learn more, to share more, to create more. Everyone else who is passionate about their work will get that and those of you who don’t, give yourself the opportunity to be excited about what you do. If you aren’t excited — then why do it?

So, again, thank you.

Well, it’s been a little over two weeks since I was inspired to begin my journey of becoming a 21st century educator and I couldn’t be happier. In a time period that’s been filled with challenges and triumphs, I feel like I’m light years ahead of where I was just fourteen short days ago. How can that truly be possible?

Fourteen days ago, I decided that I would learn how to use Twitter.I began following about fourteen people, I’m now up to 45 and I’m following a list as well. Seven days ago I inspired another teacher to get into Twitter and began teaching him how it worked. Yesterday, I entered a contest for my classroom using Twitter (I submitted four entries / tweets!) and today, well today I emailed my principal and asked him if we could explore a Twitter account for my school after reading Brendan Schneider’s HOWTO: Start Using Twitter For Your School. One paragraph into that email and I had volunteered to set up the school’s Twitter account, to teach other staff how to Twitter, and to take responsibility for the school’s Twitter account (running all school posts by him or another admin first). I went on to explain how I felt it would be an appropriate, timely, and innovative way of reaching out to our parents and our community.

How, or rather when, did I stop being a Twitter neophyte and instead become confident enough in my brand new skill that I volunteered to teach other people or represent my school? I really don’t know when it happened, but I do know that all of the incredible information and support I’ve received from people I don’t even know has given me the courage to put it out there.

All I can say is thank you. Thank you to the Twitterverse and for all of the incredible educators out there who share and support newbies like me.

So, my next challenge (not that I even remotely know everything there is to know about Twitter), do I explore the new Google site I’m creating or continue participating in the three wikis I’ve joined or maybe I will find another blog or five to add to the twelve I’ve already got in my reader or….and the list goes on.

Two weeks ago I was afraid of learning about one thing and instead I’ve learned about multiple things and there is no looking back. Look out 21st century, here I come!

You Can’t Be My Teacher!

Posted: February 8, 2011 in Me & Technology

Justin Tarte – Life of an educator…: 10 videos that will IGNITE a discussion – Part 2

Justin shared ten more videos on his blog and as I watched through them, I was struck by You Can’t Be My Teacher (Ironic that I can’t figure out how to make this a link, but I’ll keep trying.) I’ve seen videos with similar ideas, but this one struck a chord for me. Perhaps it is because I have been so hungrily reading and learning this past week in order to avoid becoming the teacher who can’t be his teacher or perhaps it is that as I left a comment for Justin, I realized that I had become that teacher.

When I began my teaching career in 1998, I was 33. Now, I was far from the average new teacher graduate because of my age and my desire to see and use technology in my classroom. I was far from a digital native, but I loved technology — so much so that I insisted on bringing technology into everything I could. Everything I learned was from the internet. My excitement was contagious and my Board responded by having me provide PD to other teachers.

I was enthralled with what could be done and my kids loved it. I had kids who would come by after school so they could work on their projects and I spent most lunches in a computer lab so kids could have extra time. It was easy; it was fresh; and I loved it! (I should probably tell you that I taught in a classroom across from a brand new computer lab. We had top of the line equipment because our school had just been rebuilt.)

It wasn’t until I responded to Justin yesterday that I recognized how far from that teacher I had now become. It wasn’t that I no longer had the interest or desire, but I’d allowed myself to become jaded. The technology in my school is no longer up to date. Until last year, we still had computers that could take floppy disks. Now, that may sound absurd, but it was true and what was even more absurd was that I allowed it to be my excuse for not using technology in my classroom!

What an epiphany for me as I wrote yesterday and how grateful I am for the incredible people who share their thoughts and their resources so I could have that awakening.

So, in one short week I’ve done a complete about face as a teacher who talked the talk, but no longer walked the walk of embracing and using technology in her classroom. Although I’m still off on medical leave, it won’t be long before I’m back at work and then I can put some of my plans into action. I will have my kids blog. I will teach my kids about Diigo, Dropbox, and Bitstrips. I know that that list will be much larger by April, but I am thrilled at what I’ve learned in one week. I can only imagine how much more I’ll learn in seven weeks!

In one week I’ve gone from technophyte to technolover and just yesterday when I retweeted Justin’s tweet and then shared another thought about digital textbooks with two colleagues in my Board, I received my first direct reply in Twitter and one of my colleagues told me I was just “a hair ahead of the curve”. What a compliment! I was thrilled and it was all because so many other educators have taken the time to share what they know and what they love. I hope that one day, I’ll be able to return what has been given to me so far, because it is exhilarating and I want to shout it from the rooftops, but for now, I’ll be content with sharing it here.

LoriTheLaw – Twitter Part 1

Posted: February 2, 2011 in Me & Technology

So, yesterday I began blogging after being inspired by another teacher’s blog and I made the promise that by the end of this month I would know how to use Twitter and more about it in general. Well, yesterday was a productive day! I already had a Twitter account and two people I was following (not that I’d ever seen anything they’d tweeted since the day I signed up a year ago) so I rediscovered my account, set up a profile, and made it look the way I thought I’d like it to look (for now).

After my mini-celebration at being so tech savvy that I could actually flesh out my Twitter profile, I set to figuring out how to “extend my reach”. So, I started by looking for the name of the teacher whose blog I’d been inspired by and ‘lo and behold I found her. So, I figured that since she found such a rich collection of information, resources and support from the people she followed, I could have a look and explore the people she was following much like I would explore an annotated bibliography. After I was done there, I had 13 people I was following, but I didn’t stop there!

My next stop was the woman who had pointed me to the teacher’s blog. I remembered her having talked about Twitter in other posts so I looked her up and repeated the process. Needless to say I am now following 28 people and there are 7 people following me! I don’t know who a number of those people are and I find that fascinating because I am such a technophyte, but hey, I followed a bunch of people I’d never heard of or met before too!

So, today I continued to explore, and I quickly spent four hours roaming the internet and exploring the incredible stuff that people have shared. Wow! That’s really how I feel. I’m not quite so overwhelmed anymore, because I’m taking the time to explore each thing in bite size chunks and get a real feel for the new tools I’m discovering. So, I’m still calling myself a technophyte, because learning one aspect of a new tool does not a geek make, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction!

My next challenge will be to figure out how Twitter can benefit the kids in my classroom. Yeah, yeah we have a cell phone ban, but it won’t be the first time I’ve closed my classroom door and done something I know is good for kids and will enhance their learning experience — one day educators everywhere will embrace technology and use it the way we should.

Hello world!

Posted: February 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

So, it is somehow fitting that my morning began fairly typically, but then I read an email that directed me to a blog and well, long story short — here I am. This will be an adventure, a journey, a roller-coaster ride, and most of all a discovery. I teach and I want to be a better teacher. My thoughts on how to be a better teacher are to embrace the technology that is increasingly available and make it work in my classroom.

In my own words, I am a technophyte (someone who is relatively new to the world of technical gadgets and gizmos). I have the desire and the ability to learn about new technologies so now I just have to make it happen. It would seem to make sense that I should first explore the use of using a blog in my classroom, but the blog I read this morning inspired me to become a real user of Twitter so that’s my first goal. Today is February 1st, 2011 and I promise to learn something new about Twitter every day for the next month with the ultimate goal of creating a network / following and being part of a network that will feed and nourish the technophyte.

So, follow me on my journey and who knows, maybe I’ll find some other technophytes along the way and we can all stop being dinosaurs together!