Friday, September 25, 2009


While sitting in class yesterday, my cadre was brainstorming ideas for our blogs.  We are supposed to become experts at something in an attempt to narrow our focus around dissertation ideas.  Keep in mind, we are all 1st year students and are in the early phases of all of this! 

My previous posts have been serving as a "think tank" or journal of some sorts around getting teachers to use technology in authentic ways to enhance learners' experiences.  I've also been tinkering around with various web 2.0 tools, and also researching new media literacy and social bookmarking sites, like Diigo.  Anyway, I ran across this idea of "collective intelligence" while researching new media literacy.

Collective Intelligence Defined (by Wikipedia)
Collective Intelligence (C.I.) is a group  intelligence that emerges from the collaboration and competition of many individuals. It is important to distinguish Collective Intelligence (C.I.) from shared intelligence. Collective Intelligence is the knowledge available to all members of a community, while shared intelligence is knowledge known by all members of a community.

 As it turns out MIT is doing some interesting work around this concept as well as a host of other researchers.  I think my question will be, "How can teachers' collective intelligence be harnessed through the use of technology?" For me, this may be a powerful way to truly shape professional learning communities, and explore teacher leadership simultaneously.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Get Out of the Way

I was having a conversation with my literacy team yesterday, and one member expressed concern over technology usage in general. His comment was that he didn't feel comfortable using his laptop, and, in turn, felt that he was limited in his ability to integrate technology in a meaningful way.

This reminded of a comment one of my classmates made during a Blackboard discussion. Her current profession requires her to work with K-12 teachers specifically around technology. She observed that there was so much concern about making sure teachers were the experts, that it blocked possible progress in terms of students. Plainly put, she felt that "teachers just needed to get out of the way". My sentiments exactly!!!

As I stated in a previous post, I still do not have the knowledge base that my kids have around using my Mac. One of my closest colleagues is the chairperson of our annual "Living Museum" project, which is basically a history fair that involves high levels of critical thinking, collaboration, and problem solving. We've worked together closely over the past few years, and have seen our kids produce thought-provoking, entertaining documentaries, year after year.

I didn't realize until recently that he had no idea how to make an I-Movie. I was actually shocked when he pointed this out in passing. I, like everyone else, assumed that since his kids produced such wonderful media, surely he must be teaching them how to do it. No, as it turns out he just "got out of the way" and continues to do so. Thanks for the lesson DMJ.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Leading by Example!

Wow, after reading my previous post, I guess I did have something to say after all! Don't worry, I don't plan to be that wordy in the future. This one will be relatively short. I'm thrilled that after constructing my 1st class wikipage, one of my colleague has already quickly followed suit with one of his own in science. The social science teacher on our team as eager to show the both of us up with the "ultimate wiki page"! This is all a testament of the power of modeling and leading by example.

Also, I just wanted to share this interesting article form Education World, since I was reflecting on the meaning of true tech integration driving in this morning. I also liked this from Edutopia on handling technophobic teachers. Enjoy!

Monday, September 7, 2009

My How I've Grown!

This is my first blog and I must admit I am at a bit of a loss in terms of what to say! I suppose I should begin with why I chose to do this. There are a couple of reasons. The first being I currently serve as the literacy coordinator at Carter G. Woodson Middle School on the south side of Chicago. We have one of the few truly one-to-one laptops in the city. With that said, I feel a need to use our students' natural inclination towards technology, to enhance their learning and mine as well.

I've recently started a doctoral program in Learning Technology at Pepperdine University. I'd like to rewind a bit and point out that I never saw myself going this direction with my educational pursuits. I have over 10 years of experience working in urban settings and my primary focus has been literacy. I took a position at CGW Middle School 3 years ago and was thrust into the world of one-to-one laptop learning.

In the beginning, I definitely was not a "digital native". In hindsight, I was quite resistant after teaching "just fine" without laptops or computers for that matter. I vividly remember refusing to use it unless it was absolutely necessary. For example, I had to use it for things like attendance and recordkeeping, but I pretty much left it alone outside of these purposes.

I don't remember exactly when the transformation happened. What I do remember is assigning some literacy project and giving my students lots of choice in terms of how they demonstrated understanding. What I got as a result were everything from standard research papers, to comic life presentations to podcasts., thanks to the DYN program at our school.

Keep in mind, I didn't know what any of these things were at that point, and wasn't even a Mac user. Honestly, I still have no idea how many of the application on my Mac work, not like the kids do at least. But, this is exactly my point. I don't have to be the expert- I have 25 of them everyday that are willing to take the lead on this journey! Besides, as one of my colleagues constantly points out, applications come and go, true tech integration is a much more complex process.

I attended school for about a week this summer for "tech camp" and already have a ton of ideas of how to make this blog work for me. I've already set at a class wiki (it's my first and I'm extremely proud of myself by the way), and plan to experiment with various Web 2.0 tools as a starting point. I'm eager to create a true professional learning community, where professionals not only in my building, but around the world can chime in and help to push my thinking in terms of helping teachers to embrace the digital revolution happening as we speak.

I am now faced with the task of leading tech integration in my subject area and would like to use this space to exchange ideas, questions, frustrations, and whatever else this blossoms into. At the very least, it will serve as a space for my reflections as I attempt to balance being teacher and student simultaneously!