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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sprint or Marathon: #satchat Inspires

I hope to try Voxer soon. 
Today as I prepare to set up my classroom, I participated in the Saturday morning #satchat. It was the perfect choice as starting the day with a group of invested educators is a great way to motivate positive teaching/learning efforts.

#satchat is a Saturday morning chat from 7:30-8:30am EST (#satchatwc is later in the morning for those on west coast time).

Today's #satchat motivated me in two ways. First, Dennis Schug, prompted me to think about new ideas with the "sprint or marathon" metaphors. When should a new idea be treated like a sprint, and when should a new idea be treated like a marathon? This was a great thought for me, a teacher who likes to jump into new ideas and is sometimes frustrated when my enthusiasm is not shared.

I started to connect this thought to my desire to try out new tech. Since the onset of ed-tech, I've engaged with multiple new platforms in ready ways. Sometimes, after trying a new venue for five minutes, I know it's not for me or my students, and other times a quick look and try tells me that it's a keeper. New tech for me is more like a sprint--my experience helps me to quickly determine the value of a tech tool with regard to audience, growth potential, and use. The use of new tech tools has invigorated my teaching, student engagement, and learning for me and my students.

Yet, varying opinions related to tech use exist, particularly tech use for the under-13 crowd. Many still fear tech for young children, and others still don't understand its potential.  Rightfully, leaders want to be cautious as there are many rules related to tech for children under 13, yet there is substantial potential for these children too. Learning about tech at early ages when children's minds are open and agile promotes later positivity and flexibility with tech use. Also, tech tools, like no other tools, can help us to differentiate well keeping all children invested and learning with engagement and interest.

When I speak of tech use, it's not the scene that some imagine, a scene of a child glued to a computer. Instead, tech use in my class is a blended use. Children, mostly working in small groups, use the tech tools as a part of the whole learning experience--it's a piece of the learning choreography, a tool that supports, enriches, and clarifies the learning--it's the notebook-calculator-library-pencil-drawing tools-and-more all-in-one.  All committed learners today, young and old, understand the value of tech tools--the tools are amazing!

So for me, trying a new tech tool is a sprint, and for the under 13 crowd, I believe it's a sprint that should be supported with ready protocols so that teachers can seize the moment and serve a child or class well.  As far as the overall growth of tech tools, infrastructure, course design, well that's more of a marathon--ideas that take greater systematic thought and collaboration.

Secondly, today's #satchat introduced me to Voxer in a deeper way. I really want to try it out with some fifth grade math teachers to discuss teaching a specific standard. It sounds like it could be a super venue for that. Any takers? If so, please email me at maureenprattdevlin@gmail.com.

Thanks to the #satchat moderators for this weekly dose of inspiration, challenge, and learning--the kind of professional learning that truly moves educators forward to teach children well.