Saturday, August 1, 2015

Summer Institute in Digital Literacy

"You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  There is no other like you." ~ Angela Cooke-Jackson

     Wow!  What a week!  A team of teachers from my district just spent an entire week at URI's Digital Literacy Institute.  It was absolutely amazing. I am inspired but overwhelmed, encouraged but fearful.  I have learned so much at one of the best conferences I have ever attended.  The quote above was my favorite quote from the week.  It really hit home with me as I embark on a new journey in my district.  At the time it was spoken, I was feeling much anxiety about expectations - from admins, from colleagues, even from myself.  These words caused me to step back and take a breath.  I truly believe that everything in life happens for a reason.  I believe there's a plan that was created for me but not by me.  These words reminded me of just that and just when I needed to hear them.  Funny how that always seems to happen...

   Getting back to the conference ~ Like most teachers (if not all) I had goals for this week.  After all, I was spending nine hours a day with these people.  It was going to be worth my time if it killed me.  So here's what I was looking for:

  1. To learn some new tech tools that I could bring back to my colleagues.
  2. To begin thinking deeply about my new position and how I could be my very best at it.
    That was it.  Not too lofty, right?  After the first day, it was clear that I did not shoot high enough.  I knew right away that I was going to meet and surpass my goals.  I even participated in an unconference as a presenter! There were only five participants but I didn't know that when I threw my name in the hat.  I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and I did.  It was great! 

I'm sure you've heard of the SAMR Model.  It's illustrated below.

   Fluency in digital literacy will move teachers and students through this model until proficiency is reached.  It is critical that digital literacy become a natural part of the classroom - just like literacy itself.  

   In order to accomplish this, we need to move beyond the cool tool excitement and into a mindset that understands that the tool of choice is considered last in planning.  It was such a relief to hear this and at a TECH conference, no less!  The learner, the standards, the outcomes all need to be considered first.  Only then should we be deciding which tool will best meet our needs as educators of the digital natives.

    I'll be back later to highlight some of the 'cool tools' we learned about this week.  In the meantime, consider will you encourage digital literacy among your students?


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