This post is also part of “DigiLit Sunday,” hosted by Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche. This week’s topic is Blended Learning. Please be sure to visit Margaret’s blog to read more Digilit Sunday contributions.
“A human must turn information into intelligence.”
~ Grace Hopper ~
On an ordinary day in 1972, something very extraordinary appeared in the Resource Center of my elementary school. Two teletype computer terminals were installed, connecting our little school to the mainframe computer at the local university. A telephone receiver had to be positioned in an acoustic coupler (aka modem) to make the connection. After typing in a series of commands, the mainframe computer “ran” our program, and the result (usually a image of an animal created with Xs) was printed on yellow paper. Welcome to the computer age!
I would never, even in my wildest imaginings, have predicted that forty-five years later I would be able to sit at my kitchen table, pull up images of that miraculous machine, type these words, and then, with a single keystroke, send them instantly out into the wide world.
But here we are. And for all the news of hacking and worries about keeping our data secure, computers and technology have enhanced education in countless positive ways, and the possibilities for its use are endless.
As a literacy leader in my school, it’s essential that I keep up to date on developments in the world of literacy education. Blended learning is the most effective way for me to accomplish this. Attending a conference in real life is energizing. It’s always a thrill to meet one of my literacy heroes, and I love the being able to talk with other educators about their experiences face-to-face. But conferences are expensive and not always available.
However, thanks to the advent of webinars, YouTube, and TED Talks, I can attend a conference in my living room. I can usually replay key points for better understanding. Best of all, I can share with my colleagues and we can learn together. Follow up discussions often yield more insights and new ideas for application. Reading books and articles related to these topics only leads to deeper understanding.
Twitter and blogging is another key component of my blended learning life. Joining Twitter chats lets me have real-time conversations about a particular topic with other teachers. Through blogging, I’ve made connections and become friends with educators from around the world. These brilliant people enhance my learning and my teaching practice every day.
My experiences with blended learning have been essential to my growth as an educator. They have also been critical in helping teachers plan similar opportunities for their students. Opportunities that will nourish their curiosity and imagination, and give them the skills to prepare for a future we can hardly imagine.
Favorite Professional Learning Resources
- Heinemann: A wealth of samples, webinars, podcasts, and more are available on this website
- Stenhouse Publishers: Previews of new books, study guides, a newsletter and more are available here.
- The Educator Collaborative: Led by Chris Lehman and many other rock star educators, this group, among other services, hosts an online Study Group series for a small fee that brings focused, topical PD into your school. (Or living room!)
- The Two Writing Teachers Blog: In addition to hosting the March Slice of Life challenge, this blog and the incredible women and man who run it consistently post high-quality content for writing teachers at all levels.
- Teachers College Reading and Writing Project: From weekly Twitter chats to week-long Summer Institutes and free Saturday Reunions, TCRWP is a goldmine of information and knowledge.
- Good to Great Twitter chats are held every Thursday evening. Dr. Mary Howard and friends always have thought-provoking guests to spark the conversation.
This is just a short list of the resources available for online learning. What are your favorites?
Thank you to Stacey, Betsy, Beth, Kathleen, Deb, Melanie, Lisa and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and on Tuesdays throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.