September 6, 2013

Be a EdTech SuperHero- Easy Tech Tools Educators Should Try This School Year

My kids absolutely love super heroes. Well, what boys don't. Even though I can't physically fly,  jump through buildings, or stretch myself to the back of my car to grab one my boys while driving, I still like to consider myself a superhero when it comes to using technology. Becoming a tech super hero didn't happen to me overnight. It took some specific planning, and dedication to improving my craft. Focusing on one tool or a few tools at a time, is key to making sure you don't find yourself knee deep in tech craziness and overwhelmed, but in fact, you find yourself ahead of the game, and you want more, and you can handle it!

One of the simple ways to begin to unleash your tech superpowers is to build a strong PLN, your Personal Learning Network.  A personal learning network are people/places you go to gain knowledge, share knowledge, and collaborate with others of like minds and interests. Let's face it, as awesome and fabulous as we all are, we can always learn something from each other. This can easily be done virtually through social networks such as twitter.

 Twitter is one the easiest and common ways to develop a strong PLN. In order for it to be valuable, you also need to be a contributor. You have awesome things to share with others. Following people who share the same role you do in education, or what you aspire to be, is key to staying connected, and current with tech trends. When corporations want to get the word out on their new products, they usually take to twitter and other social media first. Twitter allows you to create your own learning opportunities, anywhere, and anytime. The connections you make through social media lead you to a wealth of knowledge that is not made possible without it.

Blog & Follow Blogs -
Thousands of educators are blogging everyday and have wonderful ways they are using technology in their classroom. Why re-invent the wheel? If you find someone who has great ideas that they are sharing through their blog, why not try them out? Well some of you might say, "they make it look so easy, there is no way I can do that with my kids!" Let me let you in on a little secret, most of us have no clue what we are doing. We practice trial and error until it works out. Some lessons turn out fantastic, others are a flop. But.. the one's that flop, we look at them and figure out why, we tweek it and make changes, so when we do it again, it turns out better. The most important thing is you can't be afraid to try. Pretty soon, you will feel comfortable with what you are doing in your classroom, and you want to blog yourself. You are doing fantastic things in your classroom everyday, why not document them through a blog. Don't be shy, give the world a glimpse into your classroom.
Some great blog sites to get you started are: blogger, edublogs, and wordpress.

Still looking for ideas of tried and true ways other educators are using technology in the classroom? Try searching on Pinterest. There are so many edtech pinterest boards, where people post apps and blogs to try out, as well as ideas for using and iPads, and other technologies. If you are a visual person, pinterest is perfect for you.

Teachers Pay Teachers- If only I would have thought of this! Teachers are taking what they have created for their classroom and sharing it with others. Some items for free, some are at a low -cost. Let's just face it, a lot of us don't have the time to spend hours developing lessons and projects for our students, due to various reasons, but having access to thousands of projects and lessons at your finger tips delivers a powerful one-two punch. Save time by browsing through resources other teachers have perfected, and use them to provide meaningful learning experiences for your students.

Participate in webinars, online classes, or tech forums. There are so many free webinars available to educators or various topics, covering various tools. Join organizations like TCEA, or Simple K-12, or ACDS. Most webinars are archived, so even if you are not able to catch the live one, you can go back and listen to the recording. The cool thing about that is you can stop, rewind, and pause when you need to, and take notes easily.

Learning from other educators or tech superheroes is a sure way to strengthen your tech knowledge, and help you unleash YOUR tech savvy super powers.

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