Monday, January 11, 2010

Stretch into a New Year

I'd like for you to start thinking about how you can "stretch" yourself in 2010. So often, we get into a routine and sometimes feel a bit uncomfortable when our routine gets jostled. These routines may even vary between school and home. I recently read an article found on the U.S. Department of Education's website entitled, "Harnessing Innovation to Support Student Success - Using Technology to Personalize Education." This article states that "more than half of young adults send or receive text messages daily, three out of four teens between 15 and 17 own cell phones, and eight out of ten teens say they've helped an adult do something online that the adult could not do him or herself." This article was published in 2008. I wonder how those statistics would look in 2010. If you have never sent or received a text message, then I would suggest you need to "stretch yourself." If you've never had a teenager show you how to do something online to help you learn, then why not "stretch yourself" and ask one for help? I don't know how many times I've seen my own children do something with technology that prompts me to ask, "Will you show me how you did that?" 

Just last week my 16 year old nephew stayed up all night using Google to help him build his own FTP (File Transfer Protocol) server. How awesome is that! He enjoys using technology and finds ways for him to learn these techniques on his own. He is "stretching himself" everyday by using Google, online forums, Facebook, and other media to help him figure things out.

Do you have a Facebook account? A twitter account? A blog? An online profile? Do you use ANGEL or some other Learning Management System in your classroom? If not, then I would recommend you continue to "stretch" and start by just using one. Once you start, you can start adding friends and build a place where you can learn, interact, and share information about your classroom. I use Twitter for professional use and I use Facebook for personal use on a daily basis. In fact, at ESU 4, we recently set up a Facebook page for those of you using Facebook. I can tell you I learn something from Twitter and Facebook everyday. 

I recently read an article on JenuineTech's blog in which the author reflected on managing your online presence. Here are a few tips from that blog:

1. Stretch yourself by 10%. Invite more people to be your friend on twitter, join a ning and comment on a forum, participate in a project, try a new option in your classroom.

2. Don’t hesitate to share an idea which you think everyone always knows about. Not everyone is online 365/24/7 and ideas get missed, overlooked, or not seen for a variety of reasons. So go ahead and share….I can promise you that someone will say "wow, I had never seen that before and thank you for sharing.”

The author goes on to list eight other ways in which to control and mange your online content. I highly recommend reading this article in your attempt to "stretch" this year. You can find the blog at:

So, will you make it a New Year's Resolution to "stretch yourself?" Try one new thing in your classroom, in your district, in your professional experience. Try it and see how it goes! If it doesn't work, figure out a way, ask for help, or try something else. Try expanding the classroom beyond the confines of your physical space by inviting a guest speaker via Skype or some other form of distance learning. I know I will be finding ways to "stretch" myself. Will you?

The 2010 Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship contest is underway in each ESU in Nebraska. Entries must be submitted to ESU 4 by March 12, 2010. You can email me for an entry form or you can download it here.

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