Friday, May 20, 2011

How It All Began - Part 1

Let's just say that this year was life changing for me in terms of my teaching.  I have always been interested in technology, even when I was a child.  I was fascinated by gadgets and loved logo in the 80's when I was in elementary school.  As an adult, I have always tried to integrate technology into my teaching, as much as I could with the resources that I knew about.  But how far could I get with a Smartboard and a tablet PC laptap?  (Pretty far actually.)

Then everything changed.  After taking a professional development course online about blended learning, in the summer of 2010, through the Online School for Girls, I was introduced to a whole new world that I didn't know existed.  It was my introduction to Web 2.0.  I had no idea that not only was my use of technology going to change, but so was the way my students were going to learn.

The first tool I was used was Haiku.  Haiku is a web-based LMS (learning management system).  My school had been using Moodle for years, but I hated it and refused to use it with my middle school students.  I found Moodle to not be intuitive, and I struggled with uploading information and moving it around.  If I struggled with it, then how would my middle school students do with it?  (Don't answer that.  I know the kids are the natives.)

I did learn about a few other tools, but nothing stuck with me like the use of Haiku.  School started in the fall, and I had my pages up and running with a free teacher account.  I have to admit that I started off pretty slow. I only posted links to interesting websites and uploaded extra math practice worksheets.  I made it optional for my students, as I wasn't sure how it was going to work.  (See Part 2 for update!)

The 2nd most pivital moment for me this year was attending the Education Innovation Summit in the fall of 2010 at Hathaway Brown School outside of Cleveland, Ohio.  The conference itself had a huge range of topics, but the one that stuck with me was iCreate, iInnovate, iLearn, a presentation by three teachers from Marymount School in NYC.  I had no idea that technology could be used to vodcast, podcast, create ebooks and visual art in education.  How could I be so clueless?

This was the beginning of my fascination and craving for an iPad,

This post describes my journey up to December 2010.  2011 brought many more exciting changes, which I will share in my next post.