Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Journey

I have often wondered about the person behind the words that I read on a blog. Who are they? What are the circumstances that got them to the place that they are at now? This blog entry is about just that.

More than 25 years ago I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with the desire to use my early childhood degree to change the world! I felt at the time that the best place for my talents was working with the youngest of students. I wanted to affect them when they were so alive and impressionable. In a few years I had married, born twin sons and my priorities had changed. It made no sense for me to work outside our home and be a teacher to others. The next 10 years I became a stay at home mother, parenting and being actively involved in my 3 children's lives, including their public school education.

I had not given much thought to technology while a student in high school or college. I didn't take and had not wanted to take typing class because I was going to be the boss not the secretary. My feminist spirit was quite strong. How changed the world is compared to then.

My sons were not "truck, tractor or sports" kids. They were scientists, questioners, book readers and had a passion for computer games. Before they were 10, they knew more about the computer than I did which was a slight embarrassment to me. Computers not the television became the technology of choice in our home. It was time to learn how to type!

When my daughter started 1st grade I was fortunate to get a teaching position as a kindergarten teacher for a school district in central Wisconsin. A year later, rather than continuing to take my 6 credits for renewing my certification, I decided to get my masters degree. I had thought many times about this but had not got much past the "looking at it" stage. The program had to work out both with my home life including time, distance from home and finances. It had to be something that I was really passionate about or else I would not have the sustained interest. The Technology In Education Masters program from Lesley University, Cambridge, MA was the program for me. We met one weekend a month with 2 weekends equaling one 3 credit class. We had professors come to us from all over the United States teaching a class that they were experts in. This masters program started me on my journey into technology in education.

Just a few months after I started the masters program, my principal requested that I switch teaching positions and become the computer teacher for 3 elementary schools in the school district. With an enthusiastic and spirited desire, I started. I have never looked back.

We never know how things are going to turn out. I have had many trials and tribulations but I have never regretted my decision to take a different road. I am starting my 7th year doing a job that I love! The computer and technology that is a part of our lives, is allowing me to make a positive impact on the students and staff in our district. I am lucky!

My sons are now in college, majoring in computer science and software engineering. Our entire lives have been affected by technology in really positive ways. My daughter is passionate about technology as well. I often get a glimpse into what life is life in the eyes of a teenager today. I am grateful for that. It is interesting to think about how things started and how the world has changed. I look forward to continuing the journey - which direction will it go?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


For many years there has been as much excitement as frustration with the world wide web. Personally, I have remained an optimist while realizing the problems and difficulties that many have complained about. The dial up vs. high speed access, slow to load websites, incompatible programs, patches and updates, viruses, trojans, worms and popups, highjacked home pages, spam- the list is long.

Technology and the internet is constantly evolving and in my humble opinion, continues to improve with the talents of the developers, businesses and the people that contribute to it. Communication on every level - is instant if you want it to be. Our world can be as large or as small as we want it to be with just a few clicks of the mouse. Almost anything that we can imagine for entertainment, commerce, or education is available on the internet.

There will still be times that the technology does not work perfectly, but compared to where things were just a year or two ago, computers, the internet, and technology in general have come a long way. Will the frustrations go away? Some might, but other challenges (ones that we cannot imagine) like security and identity theft and others will take their place. Things that we cannot even imagine today will be changing our lives. I have hope that the next 5 years will bring changes that are as exciting as the web 2.0 tools that we are using today. I am looking forward to it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A bit of commentary on technology in the classroom...

As I sat today in my web 2.0 class I was excited to learn about more tools, applications and ideas that I can use both personally and professionally. I am most excited to try and doodle with my students to begin digital storytelling. More time than I care to think about will be spent looking through rss feeds of things of interest to me. I can easily see how web 2.0 can become an all consuming activity for some...

My classmates were first asked to comment about an article "Turning On The Lights" by Marc Prensky. I agreed strongly with the writer about how we as educators need to engage and make our teaching relevant to our students lives. There was good discourse in our group with some colleagues bringing up that technology was not the only way to engage the learner. While I agree with this, in my teaching experiences, integrating technology in a meaningful way for the student, has excited students in ways that other teaching methods do not. I don't think that the teacher has to know it "all" in order to bring meaningful integration of technology into the classroom. A positive attitude and the willingness to learn new things is critical.

In order for the teacher to change from the giver of knowledge to the facilitator of learning, fundamental change needs to take place in the education environment. Many people more knowledgeable than myself have been writing about this topic for years. Change happens slowly in educational institutions. I am hopeful that for the first time since I have been in academia, that the new generation of native digital learners/teachers will begin teaching seamlessly, integrating technology and have fresh ideas to change what has sadly stayed the same for too long.

Integrating technology into our teaching might take more planning time. For some it will take us out of our comfort zone and make us feel less in control. It is a given that things will not always go as "planned". It is imperative that we do it so that we have engaged, thinking learners and not just students that can parrot back to us the answers that we want.

Monday, June 23, 2008

New to blogging so a few thoughts...

I have enjoyed reading many other blogs and have been very interested in starting my own. Do I really think that I am an interesting enough person for you to read my thoughts? Maybe. I am a primary computer teacher and to see my website visit this link. I am big into using SMARTBoards in the primary classroom and have done many trainings with teachers in the Waupaca, WI school district.

I have many interests with some being related to technology in education. I use Macintosh computers at the 2 schools I teach at and a pc at home. Over the summer I am learning the new Leopard operating system and the newest versions of iMovie, iDVD and garageband. Also, I am learning how to podcast and how to make animated movies using storytelling Alice.

Other things I like to do include discussing liberal politics, vegetable and flower gardening, reading novels for pleasure and spending time with my family. I am happily married for more than 20 years and have twin sons in college and a daughter in high school. I have 2 indoor/outdoor cats and a very sweet shih tzu named Tiki. She has kayaked with me and is my constant companion.
A new artist that I discovered and really like is Lizz Wright. Her music is hauntingly beautiful.