Sunday, July 14, 2013

Healthy Balance

I have some really great memories growing up as a child. Many of my memories consist of me riding bikes or playing outside with the neighborhood kids, and many times doing so until the sun went down and our parents were shouting for us to come inside. However, I also have fond memories of my brother and I playing nintendo games and computer games (you remember the gorilla game where you typed in a certain degree to see if his boomerang, or whatever it was, would make it to the other side?) together. It seemed like a perfect balance.

As a mom, a teacher, and a technology lover, I am finding it hard to create that balance. The balance of letting my child play with things that require no electricity, while at the same time exposing her to all of the great technology we have at our fingertips! I want her to have those great experiences and memories outside playing 'ghost in the graveyard' with flashlights, making crafts, having tea with her stuffed animals, etc. However, in our current world, I am realizing that it is harder than I thought to try and keep her away from the electronics.

My daughter is 15 months old and LOVES Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. She also loves to be outside... AND... she also LOVES any handheld device that she can touch and swipe. At 15 months old, she can already manipulate an iPhone with an ease that surprises me.

So if she loves to be outside, what's the problem, right? Just take her outside and play with her.  That is what we do. HOWEVER, in almost every single Americans' possession today is a phone, and most likely, it's a Smartphone. Well, I am one of those Americans. I take it outside with us because we have no house phone. It is of upmost importance that I hide this phone at all costs while we are outside, because if she sees it, our outside playing then becomes a tug of war between the two of us and the phone.
I am a huge advocate of technology and I think that all children should be exposed to it because it will become their life in the future. We will not be going backwards with technology so it is important that children are familiar and comfortable with all aspects of technology to help them be successful in any future career to which they aspire. However, I think there is also something to be said for being able to connect with the world outside of technology. Children need to develop social skills, and build self esteem through human interactions. These types of things can only be done by engaging in face to face conversations. For example, playing sports or being a part of a team is a great way to build both social skills and self esteem. There has to be a healthy balance. Even if a child loves technology- they could go out and become a member of some sort of technology team. This way they are building their social skills, while still doing something they enjoy. A healthy balance.
So, does my daughter have a healthy balance at the age of 15 months? I like to think so. We do a lot of different playdates, and she will begin a program in the fall for half a day twice a week. However, this will continue to be an inner battle for me. Am I giving her a healthy balance? 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Brain on Overload

This past week, I was fortunate enough to get together with a group of my colleagues to share, learn and create ways to implement technology in the classroom. It was one of the best weeks the BEST week of professional development I have ever been involved in.

One of my passions as a teacher is finding creative and innovative ways to incorporate technology into my instruction and what I left with after this session was a brain on overload. The possibilities are endless! Even kindergarteners are capable of being digital learners.

So in this blog, I thought I would just share some of the many amazing ideas, research, lessons, websites, devices, and programs I have encountered that I would like to use at some point in my teaching career. 
  • Ms. Cassidy's Classroom Blog - I am sure many of you have run into this blog before, but I had not and I have fallen in love with it. She has great ideas on how to use technology in the classroom.
  • What Does 21st Century Learning Look Like in an Elementary School? This post was where I found Ms. Cassidy's Blog. It lists lots of other great links as well as discusses how students should be "practicing the 4 C's: communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking".
  • Storify - One of the blog posts by Ms. Cassidy talks about her students tweeting and then turning the tweets and their work into a story using Storify. Not sure how this would work with permissions and privacy issues, but I want to look more into it.
  • Going Global - I started blogging with my students last year. I want to take them and their blogging global. I found this site called and want to look more into this as well.
  • Mentor Mob was another great site that I found when I was doing some research on flipping classrooms for kindergarten. The teacher had used this site to create differentiated 'play lists' for students to do independently. This link is an example of what her playlists looked like using Mentor Mob.
  • Twitter - I would LOVE to be able to incorporate twitter into my classroom. Possibly making a class account and using it as a survey tool or global connections tool for my classroom instead of each child having their own. I know there is probably a flaw with that somewhere, but I am just writing my ideas now and tweaking later.
I have several other ideas that I want to dive into and experiment I said before, the possibilities are endless! 
I hope to update my blog, in the future, with successful stories of how my ideas were implemented in the classroom!