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Teachers Who Blog About Technology: Reflective Practitioners

In the 'Teacher Tips for Mobile Technology Series'

Readers of our blog will have noticed that recently we have been on a tear about teachers — about putting the work of creating curriculum on the backs of teachers, about not listening to teachers in the construction of ed tech products, etc. (We are about to write a blog about the crazy situation where teachers — in every district and sometimes in every school — are now being “asked” to write curriculum to implement the Common Core State Standards. Stay tuned.)

Why all this digital ink about teachers?

Simply put, one of us (ES) has finally “gotten the teacher-as-key-to-the-classroom religion” — a perspective that has been quietly and patiently espoused by the other one (CN). (ES’s “getting the religion” is certainly helped by the fact that his wife has been a kindergarten teacher for the last 10 years and brings home zillions of classroom stories — as well as all manner of germs.) (Comment by CN: Talk about a slow learner!!) And, as is typical amongst converts, ES has become a veritable zealot in defense of teachers and teaching. 

In our blog spot this week, then, we want to introduce our readers to the blogs of two teachers: Jennifer Auten and Ariel Margolis.  We have come to know these teachers, and subsequently their blogs, as they responded to our blog about using our collabrified apps (e.g., WeMap, WeKWL) — apps that support synchronous collaboration — that run on iOS and Android devices.

Jennifer is a veteran teacher who has been writing a public blog about how she uses technology in her first/second-grade classroom for the last two years. Here is a bit of a description of Jennifer’s classroom:

“I love using apps. My iPads have 200-250 apps on them. The students have no problem picking up new apps and procedures. I think it helps that many apps use similar icons and gestures and the students are very comfortable just trying things until they find what works.

In a week they probably use 5-20 different apps. In doing a project, I typically offer the students a choice of 7 or 8 apps; they each have their favorites so sometimes they might use their favorite app for 4 different projects while other students might use 4 different apps.

Each activity is designed to take a typical student 10-30 minutes.

We use iPads as much as possible, which is about 40% of each day for each student. The iPads are assigned 2 students to 1 iPad.“

Ariel, eighth-grade science teacher and self-identified school IT specialist, has just started a blog. The energy and enthusiasm in his blog is contagious and rejuvenating!

In Jennifer’s own words, here is why she started to blog:

“I started the blog a few years ago because there were teachers who would email me and ask for ideas about what I was doing ... it seemed easiest to put it in 1 place rather than email 4 different people the same thing. Also, I get ideas from others so I think it’s good to share with others.”

Jennifer and Ariel are professionals; as professionals — as reflective practitioners — they are part of a community of practice where they “get ideas from others [and] share with others.”  Ariel — good luck with your new blog; may your enthusiasm help to energize your colleagues. Jennifer — keep sharing your classroom experiences; we do indeed learn from each other.

Please, BeingMobile blog readers, drop us a note (soloway@umich.edu) and tell us about your blog!

About the Authors

Cathie Norris is a Regents Professor in the Department of Learning Technologies, School of Information at the University of North Texas. Visit her site at www.intergalacticmlc.org.

Elliot Soloway is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the Department of CSE, College of Engineering, at the University of Michigan. Visit his site at www.intergalacticmlc.org.

Find more from Elliot Soloway and Cathie Norris at their Being Mobile blog at thejournal.com/beingmobile.

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