Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Power of Words

Wordle is such a great tool. It really gives us the power to see the intent of a document. Here, at the Connected Classroom, is a Wordle created from the NETS-A document just released by ISTE. With that in mind, I thought I'd see what Wordle would do with the NETS -S. I removed the words "student", "use", "using" and "technology" thinking that it's a fairly obvious assumption that those words would occur frequently in the document. Here's what Wordle came up with.

I kind of like this: digital, information, and learning - all of those words are important as we help our students use the digital learning tools that are available and that help them locate, organize and use information.

Now, let's see what the NETS-T looks like. Once again, I removed "teachers", "use" and "using" as well as "technology" - again, feeling that those words should be pretty obvious. Here's the result:

Learning comes out on top - of course, that's really what I would have expected to see. But, I'm also noticing that model, tools, and digital are fairly large words here. That is what I hope we can continue to think about in our work in my district next year. Teachers learning to use the digital tools and modeling their use for our students in order for them to begin to use those tools for their learning.

Embracing Imperfect

I'm reading an article today on AssortedStuff titled "Imperfect is What You Want." This is making me reflect back on the work we've done in our school district this year in creating digital stories, having students blog and working with wikis.

It's always been the case that we want our students to achieve some level of perfection before they publish their work.  But, publishing to the walls of the hallway is different than publishing to the world.  It's when we start putting our work and our voice on the web that we begin to be even more afraid of the imperfect.

But, imperfect is the beginning of growth isn't it?  It gives us a chance to go back and look at our work and reflect on what we can improve on or take stock of how far we've come. The web then is the perfect place for us to begin that journey since it provides a way of archiving the work that we do.

As I think back on the work done last year in my district, I keep thinking about the fact that we've tended to use our technology tools too much for just the end product - the "Project."  I worked through this thinking a little bit in a previous post when I was reflecting about how the use of the technology became problematic in some of the "projects" when the inevitable glitches or lack of knowledge on the teachers' part prevented them from moving forward. We waited until the end product needed to be created before we taught students how to use the tools.  I think this makes our work more difficult when we're at a point where we need to come to a finish on something, especially those projects that brings us right up to the end of the school year.

So, next year we should begin to embrace imperfection early on and learn together as we go.  Imperfect is a part of life and a part of working with technology and imperfect means that we're growing.