Throughout July, the Edmodo blog will feature EdmodoCon 2016 speakers. For our first installment, meet Global Classroom partners Marjorie Miller and Iwona Kowalik. They came up with projects for students to create and share, including class videos, city presentations, holiday traditions, learning languages, Skyping, and much more. Together with their students, they have overcome geographical and language barriers to “Learn Together.” Be sure to register for EdmodoCon to catch Marjorie and Iwona’s presentation.
Briefly tell us about yourselves. What are your roles and where do you work?
Marjorie Miller: I am a K-5 innovative gifted teacher for the West Shore School District in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania.
Iwona Kowalik: I am teacher from Wrocław, Poland. I’ve been teaching Maths and ICT (new technologies) for 20 years. I work in primary school (pupils age 9-13). I am passionate about using new technologies in the classroom. I am a founder and participant of 14 eTwinning projects between my school and schools from France, Spain, Italy, Malta, Hungary, Turkey, Romania, Malta, Germany, Czech Republic, Greece, Ukraine and others. I am still looking for new opportunities for personal development and collaboration with teachers from all over the world.
How did you find Edmodo, and what inspired you to apply to be an EdmodoCon speaker?
MM: I first learned about Edmodo during a Pennsylvania Educational Technology Exposition and Conference (PETE&C). I was so enthralled with all of the possibilities while using a program like Edmodo. What inspired me to apply to be an EdmodoCon speaker was the excitement and inspiration I experienced while watching EdmodoCon every summer. I always dreamed about being one of the speakers and it came true! It is honestly a dream of mine! I am so grateful and honored.
IK: A few years ago during an eTwinning conference in Rome, I heard about Edmodo. I decided that it is great opportunity to get new experiences and a very useful tool for blended learning. Last year thanks to participating in EdmodoCon I met my wonderful partner, Mrs. Marjorie Miller from Pennsylvania. We started working together by creating an Edmodo Group called “GLOBAL CLASSROOM 2015-2016.” Our students had amazing opportunity learning so many things together, so we decided to show our collaboration to other teachers. That’s way we prepared movies about our work and applied to be EdmodoCon speakers.
What kind of Edmodo explorers do you think your presentation will resonate with most and why?
MM: The Moonwalker, because global learning is unexplored territory in education. It takes the classrooms outside of their four walls and helps them explore the world around us. This is innovative instruction at its finest and something that the internet has made possible for all of us.
IK: I think my presentation can resonate with the Mountain Climber, because I will talk about collaboration despite of the huge distance between our countries. Mrs. Miller and I will show some examples of common activities and events in the two schools in the US and Poland, and how we were all able to learn together.
What’s the best piece of advice you have for teachers and administrators who are just getting started with edtech or blended learning tools?
MM: My best advice for teachers and administrators is to always empower learning, unleash talent, and lead a culture of creativity. We must always keep in mind what is best for the learner, not what is best for us and our current teaching styles. Great educators can work within the constraints of our current educational system and still create innovative learning opportunities for their students. Administrators need to incorporate innovative professional development opportunities for their teachers.
IK: Edtech tools are very useful in strengthening of the teaching process. Every teacher can choose some tools among so many proposals! We have amazing opportunity to develop knowledge of our students! We can show them all the world! Our students love new technologies so we should to use them to improve students’ motivation and creativity. Sometimes use new technologies requires preparing some materials or new skills, but 21st century teacher should learn more and more. Don’t be afraid that your students know more than you! Just use their knowledge, make them experts in your classroom. Sometimes let them be teachers!
What’s the one thing you hope your audience takes away from your EdmodoCon presentation?
MM: The one thing I hope my audience takes away from my EdmodoCon presentation is that it is possible to travel the world with your students and collaborate with other teachers from around the globe.
IK: Be courageous. Just use new opportunities to learn together!