A View of Digital Learning Day from Washington D.C.

This is my twenty-fifth year of teaching, and some days it feels like yesterday. Then there are other days  I am  reminded that years of experience can be challenging. There tends to be an assumption made by many that teachers with years of experience don’t like change, or innovation, and I am here to say that is not the case. My role, the responsibility of all of us in the profession who have been around awhile is to evaluate those trends and changes, and use our skills and experience to make wise decisions about what will best serve our students. There is a distinct balance between the art and science of teaching, and that role of teacher can never be under valued, or outsourced. We know what is best for our students because we live and breathe the work. Never is this more true to me than in the face of teaching digitally.

I woke up the morning of Digital Learning Day nervous, not just because of my own presentation, but the reality that I was the senior teacher presenting in the room. Most of my colleagues were much younger than I. They referenced their experience in the classroom with an Apple 2E playing the Oregon Trail. I vividly remember teaching in that classroom with that one stand alone computer in the back of my room, with 4 inch floppy disks and a printer with the dreaded spool feed that tangled and tore more often than it printed text and a few dull black and white pin printed pictures. My first question was, and will always be, how with this device expand the minds of my students? How will they learn with these new tools, and how will I need to incorporate this into my teaching? What will I need to learn and how will I grow? We have come a long way that computer and I, we have both evolved. I went with the intention of sharing the work of my students and my vision that as teachers we must take the lead in this digital learning arena. We are teaching our students to be positive digital citizens,  and to create media, not be defined by it. Giving student voice and choice in a blog sets up a space for students to try out their ideas, to communicate with each other, and to live in a digital world bigger than our classroom. It is messy, but worth the effort in my opinion.

Here is a link the movie that I used to introduce the lesson. CVMS Goes to Washington http://animoto.com/play/j25bbhSieX4PoAL22RyviQ This video allowed me to focus on why I was there, to share the work of my students. And so I spent the next hour passionately discussing blogging with kids, and more importantly, allowing them to see our work. Our focus was on academic commenting, this idea that our blogs are our professional work space. We want to not just post social information, but more importantly hold academic conversations in this space. Here is the slideshow I shared with those in attendance.

The best part of the presentation doesn’t appear on the slideshow. It was the conversation between those in attendance in D.C.  with those students who were writing on their blogs at 7am in El Cajon California. We set up a special Edmodo page (www.edmodo.com)  for the event rather than opening up our blogs. Students posted their work, and we asked people to respond using an academic tone. Here are a few snapshots of their conversations: