Monday, March 10, 2014

Teacher Leadership Challenge | March 10, 2014

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 5.01.03 PMThis multipart series is intended to help teachers grow their leadership practice and ignite conversations about education online, through blogging, and in person.
The goal of a teacher leader is to improve the learning of all students through their efforts, collaboration, and influence. The 2014 Teacher Leadership Challenge is a weekly installment activity that poses a prompt on an educational topic or issue. Your challenge is to respond to the prompt in 500 words or less via a post you publish to your blog. The aim is to get more teachers thinking globally about their classroom practice and their own connection to the wider education community. You can subscribe to this blog to get the weekly challenge sent automatically by email.
You can share your post to Twitter using #TLC2014 and spark conversation with educators. In addition to posting on your own blog, you can elect to include your post in the weekly collection showcase blog. To do this, simply email your completed response post to the showcase, at Make sure that you include the title of your post with the week of the prompt for proper tagging (e.g., "My Post Title | September 6, 2013") in the subject line (without "re:") of your email, and the full post laid out in paragraphs in the body of the email. Posts are automatically published by sending the email. You can embed images and URLs into the body of your email, and the post will publish while maintaining your formatting and layout. Check out others' responses in the response collection or on Google+ each week, leave them your comments, and get the conversation rolling ahead for teacher leadership.

This Week's Challenge:

How Does Technology Help Teachers "Ignite Learning" in Their Classrooms?

It's that time of year--the month of March. This month means the NCAA March Madness Basketball Tournament, the start of spring, and education conferences galore. As Sarah Brown Wessling from the Teaching Channel puts it in her guide to getting the most of education conferences:
"When the calendar flips to March, it’s like Opening Day for education conferences."
macul logo 1In Michigan, one of the largest annual education conferences is hosted by the Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning (MACUL.) The MACUL Conference is the biggest edtech conference we have in the state, and it's also one of the largest in the country.
This year, the conference theme is 'Ignite Learning' and thousands of educators will be thinking about how to accomplish this during the three day affair.
While  educators have long been inspiring kids in their classrooms, the ever-changing world of educational technology continually generates more opportunity to engage students. This is exactly what the MACUL Conference is all about. Educators know that  emerging technologies provide a new opportunity for sparking curiosity and learning in students. But how exactly does learning get jump started?
In honor of the 2014 MACUL Conference in Grand Rapids this week, the #TLC2014 is posing the question to the entire education world:  How does technology help teachers "ignite learning" in the classroom?
Is it the technology that captivates students and makes them desire to learn more about the content? Or, does the learning activity become enhanced by the technology? How do you use technology to engage students and kindle the learning 'flames' in kids? Can learning be 'ignited' without technology in the same way?
Take this Snapguide lesson plan, for example. It contains a project-based learning idea that uses technology to give kids an opportunity for creating a collaborative audiobook using Soundcloud. It fits the bill of innovative, collaborative, and technology enhanced teaching and learning. But how does it ignite learning? What is it about a project like this, or the technology that it entails, that would allow it to ignite learning in kids?
What opportunities does technology provide for students that would not be available without it? Is the ability to communicate, collaborate, or create what sparks learning, or is it the chance to engage in those skills using technology?
Some argue that the nature of the world today has to include technology to 'ignite learning' for kids, because classrooms are full of digital natives who thrive in technology-rich environments. To what extent do you believe this to be the case? Are "kids these days" just wired to operate in a digital environment, or does the digital environment provide something that the analog world is missing?
Ultimately, technology has tremendous potential to support instruction,  enhance teaching and ignite learning. But how does this take place? In what ways does technology "ignite learning?"
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Image Credit: MACUL | Logo and 2014 Conference Banner