Leading up to this week, I have learned many new things regarding inquiry, especially when it comes to the idea of facts and concepts. I enjoyed learning about how they are pertinent pieces of information that students must understand to take part in inquiry. I also was able to work on my skills when it came to creating investigable and non-investigable questions. I would have to say that this proved to be a bit of a challenge for me in some cases. I find that I do a lot of non-investigable questioning my classroom, and after this week's readings, my goal is to try to turn some of those non-investigable questions into investigable ones, so that my students can have a more active role in inquiry.
This past week, in particular, I learned about the different categories that exist within
Web 2.0 tools, along with the various ways to incorporate these tools into
inquiry-based learning. I felt that I had a background with many of these tools because I have used them in my classroom, and I have had a few classes involving them already. This made me feel like I was in my "comfort zone." Despite having experience with it, I still feel that I learned a lot this week. I love the fact that Web 2.0 tools offer such a variety of categories such as Presentation Tools, Video Tools, Mobile
Tools, and Community Tools...all of which can be tweaked to fit the needs of your students and the ever-changing classroom.
I found that the common theme among these tools is that they encourage sharing and
collaboration in an Internet-based forum. It is wonderful to know that many of our students not only collaborate using these tools in the classroom, but they are eager to continue using them at home. Many even share what they're doing with their parents; therefore, there may be a bit more to the typical dinner conversation when a parent asks what their child did at school today:) Another positive thing to mention is that most of the Web 2.0 tools provided to an educator are kid friendly. I know I personally value the fact that I can tell parents that what their children are doing in class is not only helping them learn new concepts and technologies, but they are also safe while doing so! Whether students are
watching or creating an interactive Prezi with information literally zipping around the screen, or using Kid Blog
to present inquiry questions through an interactive and safe blog site, students
are employing the Internet as an interactive tool, not as a stagnant
My burning question for this week reverts back to the typical question of time! When does a teacher have time to implement so many of these wonderful Web 2.0 tools into their lessons when there is SO much other curriculum and standards to cover? I feel like this has become a common question that I ask myself EVERY day when lesson planning. I have been teaching now for seven years, and I have never felt so much pressure as I do this year when it comes to fitting it all in and having lesson plans that cover every last thing that could possibly occur. Whatever happened to flexibility within a classroom? I am not sure if this is just my district or if others are feeling that pressure too, but the thought of incorporating this technology is just one more thing to do. I LOVE technology and try to use it as much as possible with my students, but I am finding that the high-stakes tests are driving us to teach towards standards only, leaving little room for creativity and technology enhancement!
On another note, having the resources available to do many of these things from this week proves to be a difficult task for some. We are blessed in my district to have so many technological resources available to us, but with so many teachers feeling the need to incorporate technology, the demand for more resources has increased. One must also keep in mind the time it takes to deal with any technology issues that occur along the way.
Overall, despite the issues, I find that using Web 2.0 tools in my classrooms has proved to be a wonderful experience that the students truly enjoy. It fills my bucket when I hear them talking about how much they enjoyed a particular activity that we did that involved a Web 2.0 tool, and that is what keeps me motivated to continue trying new things. As hard as it can be at times, I know that the students really do appreciate the things they have available to them. Afterall, it is the world they are growing up in, they want to be immersed in technology!