This is a guest post from Jodi Samsinak, an IB English teacher at Ozark High School in Ozark, Missouri. The post was originally published on her blog, The Writers Block. Want to see yourself on the Edmodo Blog? Submit your story.
I just returned from FETC (Florida Educational Technology Conference), one of the nation’s largest ed-tech workshops, and was surprised at the variety of educator tech levels that I encountered. Some people approached me with complex questions about blogging, such as which platform is best to use, or how to assess students’ blogs using screencasting. However, the majority of clientele that I encountered at FETC had initial questions about beginning a 1:1 program, and this gave me confirmation that our students, teachers, and community are advanced in the digital age.
Here are my top 10 takeaways from FETC 2014:
10. Every student has the right to ask, “Why are we doing this?” and “How does this relate to my future?” Technology should be used to enhance our understanding and not merely for the sake of using technology. If we can’t answer these critical questions, it’s time to take a step back.
9. Nothing lasts forever, except your social media posts. Keep teaching digital citizenship. Kids need to be taught the power of the Internet and how their posts can affect them and others.
8. Every teacher needs to leave a digital footprint. Our students should have access to our content 24/7. This isn’t only for students, but for our stakeholders as well.
7. Collaboration is critical. We’re no longer working in an environment where we can choose to work alone. In a Google session I attended, keynote presenter Jamie Casap said, “If a Google employee works alone, it’s frowned upon. We must change school from an individual sport to a team sport.” Casap went on to explain that collaboration is also about being willing to change your mind and being flexible. This is something that we can all take back to our classrooms and our PLCs.
6. Social media is not a bad word. In the past, education and social media have not blended. At FETC, presenters showed us that they can and must go hand in hand. For example, use Twitter to create a hashtag for your classroom discussion (#IBLit, #WorldHist, #Odyssey) and all of your notes under that hashtag will be stored for students. Wait, you’re not on Twitter yet? If you haven’t started Tweeting, you must! Over and over again, FETC presenters said “Twitter is the single best form of professional development.”
5. Social media is great, but it’s also great to turn it off. Wherever you are, be present. Set a time limit for yourself and your students. Be engaged with your family. Put the “right things” first.
4. Kids aren’t just texting anymore. You knew that. You’ve seen it. So what are they doing instead? They’re taking pictures…in your class! So why not let them take pictures and incorporate apps like Instagram into your curriculum? What about Tumblr? Think of the engagement if you asked students to “photowalk” your curriculum. Before they write about the content, ask them to storyboard it with digital imagery. Mastery goes up when students create using what they love.
3. Our schools are still the place where kids use technology the least. Wow! This was hard for me to digest. Think about this one for a second. If we’re preparing them for a tech-future, then we better be preparing them by using the tools that they’ll need for success in their future.
2. It’s not what I learned at FETC (or at any conference), it’s who I connected with. Establishing, supporting, and growing your PLN (professional learning network) is important. Conferences like FETC help you to connect with other like-minded individuals who support you and help you grow. What are you doing to grow your PLN? Edu will always be about people, so make sure you put people first.
1. No app can replace a great teacher! It’s true. Even at FETC, where I was surrounded by Google Glass, Tobii eye mobile (eye tracking mouse), sketchnoting, and other amazing apps, the overwhelming takeaway is that no technology will ever replace us. Education is a complex field, and teachers do amazing work every day. Great teachers are hard to find, so rest assured that tech will not replace you. Keep doing what you do best—create great lessons, inspire kids to be their best, and believe that everyone can grow. As we say at Ozark: Every Child, Every Day, Whatever It Takes!
Did you attend FETC or another educational technology conference? Share your take-aways in the comments section below, or in the Edmodo Communities.