Writing my way through the school year!

keyboards,monitors,computers,CPUs,technology,offices,internet,communicationI am not a digital native by any means. I am 52 years old and have been teaching for 27 years. I am the teacher people assume is scared to touch a computer for fear of contracting a virus.  I am the teacher they assume has dust gathering on the classroom computers like moss on a stone.I am the teacher they assume says playfully, “I have to get my grandson, nephew, niece, to open my email.” I am the teacher people assume still uses the overhead. I am none of these, and young or old, no teacher should be.  This is the 21st century and our students are 21st century digital learners!

About ten years ago, I took a course in instructional technology and fell in love. There is absolutely no way I could go back to teaching the way I used to.  I realize I am fortunate.  I teach in a school with laptops, (even though I would love Ipads), we have two computer labs, and approximately 4-5 classroom computers in each room.  But, we didn’t always have these resources, and I still found a way, to not only educate, but to engage my students, digitally.

What is digital learning?  Here is the definition from the  Digital Learning Day  webpage:  “Digital learning is any instructional practice that is effectively using technology to strengthen the student learning experience. Digital learning encompasses a wide spectrum of tools and practice, including using online and formative assessment, increasing focus and quality of teaching resources and time, online content and courses, applications of technology in the classroom and school building, adaptive software for students with special needs, learning platforms, participating in professional communities of practice, providing access to high level and challenging content and instruction, and many other advancements technology provides to teaching and learning. In particular, blended learning is any time a student learns, at least in part, at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home and, at least in part, through online delivery with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace.”

That’s a mouthful!  Here is what digital learning means to me. It means allowing students to take control of their learning using technology as a guide.  It means creating comic strips to depict a situation where the Bill of Rights is being violated. Having discussions about shared books with students across the world on Edmodo. Completing research projects with Qwiki and then posting them to a worldwide audience using Kidblog. Reading a story and creating a word poster about it using Wordle or Tagxedo.  Implementing QR codes as a classroom tool.  Sharing a Black History project using an avatar from Voki. Using your IWB (I have a Smartboard) to make your  lessons interactive. Skyping with a marine biologist in another state to bring a story to life. It means so many things, but most of all, it means using technology as a tool to engage and challenge our 21st century learners!

Looking at the list above could make digital learning a scary prospect. Time is not something that a teacher has a lot of, either at work or home. But you don’t have to do everything at once. It took me a while, and every day I still learn something new. Take baby steps, try one  new thing a month. Let the students show you, or give you suggestions, on what you can do with the myriad of tech resources that are available. Grow your PLN!(Professional Learning Network). Join Twitter,  and then drop in on some of the Teacher Chats that are available.  It’s amazing how much you can learn from your peers!

Dip your toe into the 21st century, it may be cold at first, but it warms up very quickly. You’ll find that technology is a tool that not only engages and challenges the student, but the teacher as well!

“If we teach today’s students as we did yesterday’s, we are robbing them of tomorrow.”
— John Dewey


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Comments on: "Digital Educators Needed for 21st Century Digital Learners!" (18)

  1. Reblogged this on One Change a Day and commented:
    #digitallearningday

  2. Lauren Mann said:

    Thanks for the list of great new places to check out. I use Wordle for an end of year gift to students. Each student has a piece of paper on their desk with their name on it. Everyone walks around the room and writes a nice word describing that friend on the sheet. I take the sheet and add their name and all the nice words onto Wordle and laminate this wonderful page for everyone to take home.

  3. Mr. Gosselin said:

    Very inspiring! Thank you for sharing your insights-I could agree more. Your students are fortunate to have you.

  4. Doris Spencer said:

    Thanks, I am sending this to the rest of the staff, trying to get them motivated to move towards more digital learning.

  5. Nudrat Rahman said:

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I can relate to it as my journey is somewhat similar to yours. Technology gave me the shivers, but it all changed with a course I was forced to join by my school Head and i never looked back .

    Today when I look back I can trace back my digital journey from practically being a big zero to an Education technology coordinator in five years. Today I proudly share this with teachers in my training sessions to motivate them, “if i can do it so can you” its how badly you want it …. because the greatest fear faced by us today is that if we are not ready to change we will be left behind .. And for teachers it is extremely important to keep abreast with latest trends in both education & technology to make it a worth while learning experience for their pupils… Its now or never .. the decision is up to us…

    • You are welcome. And good for you!(0 to Tech Coordinator)
      So many teachers feel that technology is just “one more thing”, when really it is an enhancement of what we already do.

  6. […] of experience reflects about learning and incorporating new technology in her classroom. A recent post focuses on the need for 21st century teachers in today’s learning environment. After listing […]

  7. […] Perhaps one of the most candid personal accounts describing this event can be read in the blog, Diary of a Public School Teacher! The author talks about her 27 years of teaching and learning to use digital technologies in the […]

  8. […] al respecto es la descripción en el Diario de un Maestro de Escuela Pública – en inglés, Diary of a Public School Teacher!. Ahí, la autora nos habla de sus 27 años de experiencia como maestra y de cómo ha tenido que […]

  9. Dear Public School Teacher,

    I read your blog often, in sport for your work and that of all teachers out there! My folks are teachers too… so…

    Today’s entry got me thinking. I loved it! In fact, I used it in my own blog for this week. If interested, here you go: http://www.ateneodigital.com/2012/02/06/digital-technologies-educations-best-friend/

    Enjoy!! And thank you some of that inspiration!

  10. Very inspiring article…let’s strife for this change together starting with ourselves and our teaching community based on true inspiration.

  11. […] background-position: 50% 0px; background-color:#222222; background-repeat : no-repeat; } oldschoolteach.wordpress.com – Today, 8:30 […]

  12. Take a look at arthistoryworlds.org and comment. The purpose of the work is to gather the images and information about art around the world one place. In the best of all possible worlds I would like teachers to have students do something with the information after they complete a unit.. Yes it is not finished and yes you all and your students can participate in the research going forward and backward if you have anything to add.
    kbolman@arthistoryworlds.org

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