I think that one of the most powerful tools of the teacher is the act of reflection. Trying something, noting results, and evaluating possible reasons takes time, but for the successful teacher, happens all the time: after each class period, each unit, each year.
I started this blog as a place of reflection, especially in my attempts to use of technology effectively. As with every diary or journal I've ever started, somewhere along the way life got in the way, and I took a little hiatus from the frequent posts. Of course, once you're out of habit it's even harder to start up again.
I haven't been using as much innovative technologies lately because I began to get feedback from my students that it was getting a little overwhelming. The curriculum at my school is academically rigourous, students are expected to spend about three hours at home each night to prepare for the next day's assignments, in addition to after school commitments like sports teams. Adding new technologies to learn was beginning to add to my curriculum. I don't want to sacrifice the core subject matter, so it's important to remember that even though this new generation of learners may learn technologies faster they still need time to learn, experiment, and discover the value of different technologies. It takes extra time to become efficient on any new activity, and they get frustrated (maybe more quickly) when there are roadblocks like slow Internet access or down websites.
Of course, I'll keep learning and using new technologies and imagining ways to use current programs and applications to help my students learn more effectively.
On a recent paper assignment I gave my sophomores the option of using comapping.com, Inspiration, or Word to write an outline for their paper. I reminded them that ultimately they are in charge of learning how they learn best; I'm just here to help them figure that out. And, of course we reviewed the pros and cons of good old fashioned paper and pencil-also an option. I think that they appreciated the choice and the reminder of why we do what we do. Students got to work pretty quickly and most used Inspiration, a program that they have used many times last school year. Many chose Word and a few chose comapping.com-the most recent application that they have learned.
I found their choices to be interesting, but most importantly, it was a very productive class period.