Friday, August 16, 2013


Last year, I introduced myself to my first graders with a PowerPoint. It was thoughtful. And cute. But it was merely a PowerPoint.

At the time, this was as technologically savvy as I could get. My first graders still seemed to like it, however. I shared pictures of myself when I was their age, accompanied the PowerPoint with energetic dialogue, and projected fun personal facts for all to see. For instance, I was a Uintah Elementary School... Unicorn. The kids could not get over how funny that was to have a Unicorn mascot. I stood by the magical creature and reassured the gigglers that Unicorns are the most powerful mascots of all, because they will never die. (Vocabulary Word? Immortality) ...The didn't buy it.

Side Note: It is important to "humanize" yourself in front of your students. Typically, students feel more inclined to work hard for/with a person they genuinely like and respect. This does not mean teachers should become their students' best friend. It means teachers should share parts of their lives with them. In return, students will feel comfortable sharing with the classroom community, and teachers won't be considered "the enemy", hopefully.

As I draft out the first week of school as a first-year second grade teacher, I'd like to incorporate the PowerPoint again, or... maybe not. Secret: After learning about iMovie, Prezi, Vocoroo, Tagxedo, Edublogs, Kidblog, Glogster, Educreations, QR Codes, Edmodo, Pinterest, Xtranormal, and more, in my graduate classes, I believe I'd like to try something new: Similar "Getting to Know You" information presented in an innovative way. Kids these days speak technology. Why not speak their language?

Of course, I mustn't get carried away. Integrating technology is not a cure all. And I still treasure days and lessons without it. I value teaching students how to use a 3 inch thick dictionary, compose a friendly letter with pencil and paper, and play games, unplugged. But to withhold new technologies from them due to my limited understanding of new technologies is to do them a disservice. They must stay up to date. When they graduate from high school, they must be able to compete with our increasingly fast paced electric world.

This fall, I am lucky enough to have access to a SMARTboard in my classroom. I had access to one last spring, but I generally stuck with the basics. I'd like to learn how to "create" uniquely designed interactve lessons instead of "borrow" them from others. I can imbed links and adjust images on the screen to "move when touched", but there are so many more bells and whistles I haven't tapped into. Again, I do not want to the "bells and whistles" to get in the way of teaching and learning, rather, I'd like them to accompany and support student learning.

I am excited to begin my teaching career during a time of infinite possibilities. The future ahead of us will require students to "get it". I cannot sit on my hands and rely on PowerPoint to expose my students to the tech world. We, as teachers, need to get out there and "learn" how to utilize Web 2.0. I expect my students to reach for the stars. So, I must reach too.

For now, I must wait until next week to really see what is available to me as a new teacher. I know I am receiving a Dell PC (As a Mac user, I'm already seeing lots of "Hi, Dell. My name is Kate. How do I use you?" sorts of conversations.) And I believe I have access to ipads here and there. (We have a small, portable ipad lab... I think) Until then, I'll revamp my Ms. Olsen intro, and try to familiarize myself with as many 2nd grade appropriate sites as I can. I am always interested in learning about new websites, so please, do share!


Ms. Olsen

(More Ideas!