“Summer break”: two words that bring smiles to both teachers and students. For those in education, summer is a time for relaxation, regrouping, and also new learning. Whether you are attending a conference like ISTE, or creating your own personalized learning experience, utilizing this “break” to explore new technologies and strategies that help expand your teaching toolbox can be very rewarding.
Not sure where to start? Here are some questions to ponder when choosing your summer learning experiences.
Dive Deep into Digital Assessments
What creative measures do you use to assess students through digital media? Most schools have adopted online standardized testing. This makes it extremely important for teachers to expand their knowledge of digital resources aligned to Common Core. Showing a video is no longer a sufficient way to successfully integrate digital media. True integration involves an active learning experience where students are creating, and are able to make a personal connection with the content. I give some suggestions for formative assessments here, like Kahoot and EdPuzzle.
A Splashing Good Time Collaborating and Creating
Are you exposing your students to opportunities that allow them to collaborate, create, connect and critically think? Or are they just consumers? What does a digital age classroom really look like? Does it include students and teachers working collaboratively, creating learning spaces & opportunities in unlikely places, like bringing augmented reality into a classroom art show? How are you creating transferable skills? A student learning to create digital stories with video in their broadcast class should be able to transfer those same skills to their English class when asked to write a personal narrative.
What're You Wading For? Expand Your Classroom’s Walls
While you’re lounging by the pool, think about how you can share the awesome things going on in your classroom. How can you expand the four walls of your classroom to develop lifelong learners, producers, and publishers? Many teachers use blogging as a way to share information with parents and other educators the wonderful things they are doing in their classroom. Need some ideas? EdTech Magazine created a list of Must Read Educator Blogs. Check out their list.
Big Strokes: Connecting Worldwide
Are you a connected educator? How do you leverage your relationships with other educators? How do you measure how effectively you have been integrating edtech tools into the classroom? Are you using Twitter, Voxer, Skype, Google Hangouts, or other social media tools to expand your personal learning network, or PLN? Social media allows you to create your own learning opportunities, anywhere, and anytime. The connections you make through social media lead you to a wealth of knowledge that is not made possible without it. Twitter is becoming the new Google search, because you are able to find content, and valuable dialogue on any topic by using the search box on Twitter. Find out more ways to connect with and learn from other educators here.
Take a Dip and Learn From Others
Maybe you are more comfortable connecting with people in person than through the virtual world. Attending conferences, edcamps, and playdates are great ways to make lifelong friends, and connections in your local community.
As we bring this school year to a close, I am sure you will use this summer to relax, but also reflect. As educators, we must constantly be looking and searching for new and innovative ways to engage students. Don't let the whole summer go by without exploring fantastic ways to improve the quality of your instructional practices, by refilling your learning toolbox!
Patricia Brown is a professional development specialist, an adjunct graduate professor, and an edtech consultant. She is also an official EdSurge columnist.