Monday, December 12, 2011

SLATE 2011: Starting a Fire!

After returning to the classroom from my trip to SLATE 2011 conference (School Leaders Advancing Technology Education),  I had to put out a few fires in order to get everything back to normal, but now, I plan to start a few more.  I learned at summer camp that fire is a good thing; it allows for new growth!
Fire #1:  No Digital Presence is Worse Than a Bad Digital Presence
Seriously!  Since the inception of Facebook and Twitter and other social networking tools, educators have fretted about how to control it and prevent our children from creating a negative digital footprint at the cost of completely ignoring the importance of helping our students create a positive digital presence.  Most schools ban social networking cites calling them dangerous, distracting, and a waste of time, yet over 800 million people log into facebook each day.  Beth Lisowski and administators from Whitnall presented on the School Communication in the 21st Century which is very different from a traditional newletter home everyday or a monthly school newsletter.  I was inspired to start my own facebook page for my students, parents, and colleagues to access information that is truly important to special education students.  If you know me and my educational philosophy, you know that I believe if something is good for special education students, it is good for ALL students.   I intend to keep spreading the word about the social networking cites that are having a very profound impact on my professional development.  I also intend to continue growing my Professional Learning Network.  Please find me on twitter @MelissaEmler and "like" my fb page.  My goal is to help you learn something!

Fire #2:  Policy to Match Practice
Our school recently went wireless and purchased about 10 iPads that are being tested in a variety of classrooms throughout the school.  We are learning a lot, and things are going very well.  I went to a session about Bring Your Own Device done by leaders from New Berlin, and my superintendent attended a session about 1:1 computer initiatives.  We both learned a lot about these two options, and our team sat down during team time and collaborated about where we might be going in this world of technology.  Upon our return to the district, the superintendent and I used Google Docs to review and converse about the policies we need to address in our district in order to move forward.  We used New Berlin's Appropriate Use Policy as a stepping off point.  Our awareness has been heightened; the benefit for our students will soon be recognizable.

Fire #3:  Consumer/Producer Lines Blur
Scott Mcleod was the opening keynote speaker, and he was great.  The most important message I took away from his topic was the blurring lines between consumer and producer.  When the internet began, we avidly participated in finding the information that could transform our thinking and grow our knowledge, but as the internet ages, there is an expectation of producing content to make it what it is.  Scott shared encouraged leaving comments on Amazon about a book because essentially that CREATES Amazon.  I love when students produce something to illustrate learning.  The most valuable and important learning happens when students create and publish work that makes them proud.  Encouraging students and colleagues to create and publish is my focus at this point.  At one point, this message was on my class webpage, "Do more than you want to do, work harder than you want to work, CREATE something you are proud of, and you will meet my expectations."  I need to put it back!

Technology integration is going to be a long, continuously buring wildfire, but growth will surely follow the fire.

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