Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Thoughtful Thursdays: A GPS For Learning

When I traveled to South Dakota a couple years ago, I remember the car rental agency worker asking if I wanted a GPS. I have a tendency to get lost, so this probably would've been a good idea; however, I did decline at the time, thinking I would "figure it out" in my seven days in the Black Hills. 

When the closing speaker of the #SLATE2014 Conference, Julie Mathieson, spoke of South Dakota, traveling, and more, I knew it would be a great speech to reflect upon, just because I love the area and insights. One of the questions she prompted was being mindful of how we are empowering our learners through time, space, path and pace of learning for our students. If we are mindful of these concepts and foundations, through self-paced design and thought toward learning styles, our teaching strategies and mediums prompt intrinsic rewards for students!

The doesn't mean there isn't going to be traffic jams, detours, road blocks, and perhaps even an accident along the way - both for the student and for the teacher or technology even. As a teacher facilitating this learner, we are the encouraging drivers ed instructor in the front seat, calmly encouraging our learners to approach cautiously yet with confidence, thinking ahead on their map to where they need to be academically, thereby encouraging higher levels of thinking and those intrinsic rewards to get there!

Throughout the conference, my mind was swimming with new ideas and things to do with my learners, to integrating tech throughout the general education classroom. The way in which technology has allowed for personalization and relevancy in application is amazing to watch or see. The tools we heard are so applicable to redefine our learning experience and move towards an agency for change - for student agency in their learning.

Learning, just like traveling, is an epic road trip across various cities, counties, states and even countries for the worldly traveler. It starts small, as a road trip starts simply with starting the car. Our responsibility as teachers is to continually ignite the engines of our learning community of students, confident to try something new as a risk taker, and ultimately, a kid, a student, fostering curiosity to take the next step together - to try, to be, to LEARN, together.

Three Easy Things to Start Small from the #SLATE2014 Conference:

1. Explicit Vocabulary Instruction can be as fun as Trading Cards or a ThingLink Word Wall!

2. Students need a place to share their feedback digitally beyond a doc or project - make a blog or backchannel! (Also check out some blogging rubrics...)

3. Use Free Resources that Work: Wisconsin Media Lab, Badgerlink and more - a lot is here for US as teachers and educators and for our learners!!!!

Have you been using any of these resources or more? Give a shout! We'd love to collaborate!!!

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