Beth Holland

Food for thought…

Off the Grid

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I haven’t written anything in months. My last post, a final attempt to fill my last fundraising envelope (thank you again, Mary), was the last time I even logged into my blog. So, where have I been? Off the grid!

It started with our two week trip out west. No email. No Internet. Minimal cell phone coverage. It was wonderful. I didn’t miss the emails, the constant contact, the hours spent glued to a screen. During that time, my news reader compiled over 500 articles of interest – most of which I just marked as read. To be honest, I haven’t even really checked my Twitter feed since the beginning of August – unless you count the few logins to show my students the concept of a microblog.

Before I left, I was dialed in. My PLN was jamming between the tweets, the posts, and the news letters. I was reading and writing a ton, but then, I just stopped. I thought for a while. I even just reflected on what I had learned. Originally, I wanted this blog to be well read – like Tim Byrne’s or Will Richardson’s. Thing is, I just don’t write enough. I’m ok with that.

See, we’ve had a crazy start to the school year. Our middle school has been infused with new teaching talent, and it has been wonderfully hectic. My 8th graders have finished their video trailers of their summer reading books. Our new history teacher immediately charged the 7th grade with creating podcasts to tell the stories of Native American tribes. While the 6th grade may have started out with a more traditional technology project – one that exists solely in the lab – it served a larger purpose: in the first few weeks of school, they learned about boolean searches, reviewed the concept of web browsers and search engines, practiced their note taking, and discovered the difference between blogs, microblogs, and wikis. Not too bad for the first few weeks. With these skills, they have then created posters to illustrate the concepts of various parts-of-speech and started a series of spreadsheet challenges to reinforce what they have learned in their math classes. Even our 5th grade, which has traditionally collaborated minimally with me, has jumped into the mix. We reviewed basic word processing skills by creating timelines of ancient man, have worked with graphic organizers to support their language arts writing, and start author studies next week.

I’m exhausted, but in a good way. The key thing is that I haven’t been completely driving these projects. I’ll talk more on this later, but the key to successful technology integration is that the teachers have the conceptual idea, or can voice the curricular need, and then I can help them create the project using the available tools. The day of the computer lab class has long past. Looks like our teachers have started to embrace it.

Author: brholland

EdD Student, Writer, Speaker, Consultant

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