In managing the often overwhelming amount of information available to teachers today, I have found that my most useful, frequently checked resource is Feedly, as it ultimately does the managing for me in terms of finding new, relevant articles based upon the sites that I have added to it. So needless to say, I was beyond excited to see that we would be using it so heavily throughout our time in this course.
Somewhat related background/tangent: I was first introduced to RSS feeds (essentially the same function as Feedly) when my husband I were looking to adopt two new kittens roughly 6 or so years ago. Instead of constantly needing to check various pet adoption sites to see if they were updated, my husband, who is far more tech savvy than I, set up a RSS feed to alert us to anytime a new kitten was placed up for adoption (Full disclosure, I did not realize the competitive nature of rescuing shelter kittens until I began that process). Fast forward 6 years later, and I am now technologically addicted to RSS feeds, specifically Feedly which has come to replace my beloved Google Reader (R.I.P.).
Oh, and the cats are doing fine as well!
I tend to use Feedly most heavily to capture new ideas, articles, and resources that are posted to some of my favorite blogs and sites; when I become interested in a new topic in education, I simply search for new feeds or sites to match my inquiry and they are added to my blogroll. Not only does this help to organize new blogs that I find interesting, but also I can add search terms like “Keystone Exams” or “21st Century Learning” and other educational jargon that pop up anytime it is mentioned in an article or blog post. This has helped me stay current with the seemingly constant changes in education, specifically state mandated standardized testing, today.
I also use Feedly to keep in contact with some blogs and resources that I have found tremendously valuable for new ideas or discussions about pedagogy and best practice. Some of the sites that I get most excited to see new posts from are: Granted, and…Thoughts on Education by Grant Wiggins; principal and digital leader Eric Sheninger’s A Principal’s Reflections; and The Huffington Post: Education. While my Feedly is often overrun with hundreds, if not thousands of posts that I have not checked, when these three post something new, they always draw my attention and usually result in my annoyingly emailing the link to some of my close colleagues at work. Which, I guess leads me to reflect on the second topic of this post, in that I first typically read interesting things online and then connect with my colleagues within my department to see just how this information might pertain to our daily practice. I think (perhaps idealistically) that most educators today would say that they strike a balance between gaining support and research for new ideas online and then bounce these ideas against their colleagues to see if any of them are practical or worthy of implementation.
Perhaps this implementation part is what I struggle with the most, as I often place aside new, innovative ideas and practices in favor of traditional methods that have proven to get the job done in teaching my students. However, these old methods are perhaps not the most creative, thought-provoking, or student-centered; they instead, in being what is most comfortable for my teaching, are not often best for my students’ learning. In moving forward with employing new ideas with my students, I would like to be able to create something where the students themselves are finding out the best ways to approach, to develop, and to sustain their learning, especially when it comes to technology, a topic with which they are more familiar and comfortable than I.
To draw back to my earlier metaphor, just like when I myself needed to use technology to solve the problem of the competitive nature of kitten adoption, on a grander scale, I hope to promote the same, but more involved problem-solving and technology use in my students to sustain their understanding and promote ideas, tools, and skills they will continue to grow with and use in their lives after they are done in my class.