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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tool 8: Technology Tools

As mentioned before, I don't have a classroom equipped with netbooks, IPads, IPods, etc.  However, as a school we are able to access these items through our library and in the classroom.

Some ways that I have incorporated the use of technology with students is through advisory.  Often, we have topics to be discussed that are best taught through web resources.  It is great to be able to have our teachers group their students and let each group of 2 or 3 have a netbook and be able to explore.  We have done this with Career Cruising, college-going resources, and service learning projects.  Additionally, I have created a Google Doc survey for our seniors to complete about where they are with their financial aid.  Students can use the netbook to complete the survey, giving me accurate information as far as whether they have completed FAFSA, applied for scholarships, etc.

Additionally, we are making a shift this month with our AP Spanish testing.  Rather than use outdated tape recorders, we are going to use Audacity software on the netbooks for recording the oral portion of the AP Spanish test.  I'm a bit nervous about the shift, especially since we are testing 45 students, but I am working with our tech support team and our Spanish teachers to make sure all goes smoothly. 

As far as managing the devices, I believe our teachers have put standards into practice to insure that the equipment is used and cared for. 

Tool 7- Reaching outside the Classroom

While I don't have a classroom, it is very exciting to hear about teachers using these tools to connect with classrooms around the world.  Such great learning can take place as students from different countries study the same content, and then are able to discuss via Skype, blogs, etc. their impressions and their learning.  I see this particularly applicable to the International Baccalaureate curriculum, where students are studying identical curricula across the world.

One idea I have is to use tools such as Blogger, Skype, and Wikispaces where our current students could connect with students who are currently in college to get advice and help as they go through the college application process.  This could also be a way to develop a system of support on different college campuses where our students are in attendance.  As our seniors decide where they will be attending college, they can connect virtually before even starting class.  I believe this could help students settle in more quickly and give them a solid foundation that will allow them to be successful at university.  As we look forward to the district's next five year plan, this would be a great way to help students complete college, not just enroll.

I also like the idea of collaborating with other professionals in my field- across our school district, across our state, across our country, and across the world.  I can see using tools such as blogger or a wiki where college counseling professionals could collaborate on best practices for teaching essay writing, resume writing, financial aid, and more.