We have decided to participate in Reflective Teaching: A 30 Day Blogging Challenge for Teachers. This challenge was created by Te@chThought, and the daily prompts can be found here: Reflective Teaching questions. We encourage any teachers to join us in this challenge. Your responses do not have to be lengthy; a paragraph or two would suffice.
So, here is our Day 2 prompt: Write about one piece of technology that you would like to try this year, and why. You might also write about what you’re hoping to see out of this edtech integration.
Amy’s Response: Parent Contact is Essential
My response to today’s prompt piggybacks on yesterday’s prompt about what my goals are for the coming year. While I cannot wait to read other responses to technology (to learn more) I admit that I am a bit out of the technology loop and would really benefit from the opportunity to attend an education conference with a technology focus – or technology sessions. Heather and I share a wish that we will be able to attend a blogging conference because we would enjoy increasing our blogging knowledge base and expand our craft. Sadly, with limited funds (in our district and our own personal bank accounts) the chance of this happening is slim. Yet, we can still hope and dream! Perhaps someone will stumble across our little blog and lavish us with technology opportunities. We love learning how to be more digitally literate and connecting with other teachers helps us to feel less isolated. (One of the opportunity costs of living in the rural Upper Peninsula of Michigan).
While I try to use technology in my classroom, I do have limited resources at my fingertips. I have a DonorsChoose.org project posted for a new projector (the one in my classroom is ancient) and a project posted for a MacBook Pro. My creative writing students create digital stories and it would be fantastic if they were able to use the computer for their projects. Putting together digital storytelling kits that would include a camera, computer, microphone, and other resources for my students to check out is a fantasy of mine.
My technology goal for this year is not grand, but it is very important. Every year I start out the school year with the best intentions to send home at least one handwritten note for each student that focuses on a positive about their behavior that I have observed. I ask the secretary to print out address labels so I can attach them to note cards. While I love the idea of this form of parent contact – without fail I get bogged down by the beautiful chaos of teaching and year-after-year manage to only send a handful of notes home. So this year I have decided to simplify the process and commit to sending one email each day during my prep period to a parent or guardian that highlights something positive about their teenager. I will still acquire address labels – because I believe in the power of a handwritten note. Email may not be as personal but it will make it easier to dash off a message. After all, I have my student contacts readily available in our grade program. I am hoping is that the daily emails will be a constant reminder to focus on the positive and will serve as a memory trigger to pop a few handwritten notes in the mail each week. I have printed out my rosters and am ready to start crossing off the names!
Heather’s Response: Remind Students About Assignments
Today was a successful first day of class, albeit a whirlwind. I enjoyed seeing the seniors again and hearing about their summers, and the juniors proved themselves to be an energetic bunch. Each year I am amazed on the first day of school that we teachers do our thing in front of large groups of teenagers for five class periods in a day. My body takes a couple of weeks to adjust to the surges of adrenaline. I feel so exhausted tonight that I can barely focus my eyes the computer screen let alone focus my mind on new ways to use technology in the classroom.
I do have one plan in mind, though, for using technology to increase homework turn-in rates. The tech tool that I plan on using this year is Remind. Remind is a free service for teachers to send messages to students and parents. It makes staying in touch with the class easier and keeps the teacher’s phone number private.
There are many ways for teachers to use Remind. I would start by sending reminders about upcoming homework assignments and tests. I also would like to use Remind to send students kudos when they do great work. My goal this year is to create a caring classroom, and I will explore ways that I can use Remind to help me reach my students in a positive way. Here is a link that provides 10 ways to start using Remind. If you have other suggestions as to how I could use this tool to improve communication with my upperclassmen, please let me know.
You might also want to check out our responses to the Day 1 Reflective Teaching question.
If you would like to continue with our 30 day blogging challenge, please follow this blog (on the right side of the page) and/or follow our new Facebook page: Blended Voices – Two Teachers Blog. We look forward to sharing this journey with you.