“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.” – Morpheus
Well, it is official….I have taken the red pill – the red pill called CoETaIL! Jeff Utecht has led me down the rabbit hole and I am intrigued! It is hard for me to imagine my life without Google Chrome, RSS Feeds, social networks, ‘Messing around’, ‘Hanging out’ and ‘Geeking out’. I feel that I have two lives. My PC (pre-CoETaIL) life and my AC (after CoETaIL) life. I love looking at my blog and seeing where the dots are appearing on my visitor map. I am spending hours on my Avatar and revising my online portfolio time and time again because I am finding more cool things to add to my social blueprint!
Living and Learning with New Media defines ‘geeking out’ as —an intense commitment to or engagement with media or technology, often one particular media property, genre, or type of technology. Geeking out involves learning to navigate esoteric domains of knowledge and practice and participating in communities that traffic in these forms of expertise. It is a mode of learning that is peer-driven, but focused on gaining deep knowledge and expertise in specific areas of interest.
Saturday morning was an explosion of ‘GEEKING OUT’ among fellow CoETaILers. Paul Sanderson was the tech guru lending a hand with computer problems and broken extension cords. Melissa Enderle was the banana bread expert and shared her insights working with special needs students. Nick Corben was ALWAYS ASSISTING Melanie Smith with her AWESOME ALLITERATION on her blog post titles. The conversations were endless and ongoing, never allowing for the 7 seconds of silence theory. The morning ended with a celebratory scream from CoETaIL tweeters: @mscounslr, @NickCorben and @sweetthunder413 . We were looking at online resumes and I found something cool on Pinterest. I said I was going to TWEET about it and immediately they both rushed to see who could RETWEET first! We were “geeking out” for sure.
I don’t want to sound like a teacher’s pet or to convey that I have ARRIVED with 21st century learning because I HAVE NOT, but I feel that this CoETaIL stuff is in my blood now. While grading, I feel like I cannot comment on student’s work without including a link or two. I am looking for ways to incorporate Google docs in everything so that the students and myself can collaborate. My free time is spent looking at knitting blogs and tweets (my latest hobby), so that I can feel connected with other experts around the world. I think about technology all the time and my conversations in the classroom have turned to 21st century learning and finding ways to improve.
I love to CHECK things off my list. Sometimes I will create lists of things that I have already done, just so I can check them off.
Well, imagine my surprise when I read about the NET standards and realized that I have been able to apply standard #2 just this past week – CHECK!
2. Design and Develop Digital Age Learning
Experiences and Assessments
Teachers design, develop, and evaluate authentic
learning experiences and assessment incorporating
contemporary tools and resources to maximize content
learning in context and to develop the knowledge. - iste.nets.t
In 7th grade social studies we focus on five areas in Asia: India, Japan, China, North Korea and South Korea. The students learn about the geography, culture, ancient history and modern history. For the past two weeks, we have been finishing up our China unit and my teaching partner and I wanted to take a project that was pretty successful last year and incorporate more technology this year.
Here are the assignment guidelines for 2013: Ancient China project
In previous years we had not incorporated any technology, instead the artifacts were hand made and the explanation for the essential questions were simply typed and displayed alongside the artifacts. On our actual museum day, the students stood next to the exhibits and would answer questions from visitors. It was awkward and not very authentic since you do not have the actual historians standing next to the museum exhibits today.
This year we decided to tweak a bit and added pieces such as a Google map and Sound Cloud for audio recording. The students were able to collaborate on the Google map and then embed into a website called Weebly. Most of the work was done in class, but some of the students did not use their time wisely (imgine that with middle schoolers) and they created a script in Google docs and recorded separate portions of the audio on their own time. On the actual musuem day, my teaching partner and I simply switched classes. We asked all students to bring in some earphones or earbuds to plug into the computers and we sat down at exhibits and listened to various turning points in ancient China and short term and long term effects from that invention. While we were reflecting on the finished products, we both felt this was much more authentic and the students were able to learn more through technology. Check out some student work below (shared with their permission).
I am loving my life in the Matrix and although it has been time consuming and at times frustrating to navigate through this world, I feel that I am a changed person/educator. Come join me – take the red pill!
“Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.” – Morpheus