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Hotchalk Global

news & tips

A collection of helpful articles on teachers and teaching

Ed Tech: 4 Tips from Cool Cat Teacher that Will Make You a Tech Savvy Teacher

Photo of Vicki Davis in blue shirt, collared shirt smiling.

By HotChalk Staff

Vicki Davis is a technology teacher and has a lot going on. She’s a fulltime teacher, mother of three, an author and co-creator of the Flat Classroom Project focusing on technology that expands learning. Oh, and she blogs.

In 2005 as Davis honed in on collaborative learning, she jumped into using wikis – websites that allow multiple people to edit them.

But, she said, “It wasn’t enough to connect my students to each other. I realized we should be talking to the world.”

Luckily enough, Davis teamed up with teacher Julie Lindsay and her class in Bangladesh. Students there and in Davis’ Georgia classroom were reading the same book.

“We started to see students having interactions with people across the globe. It is so authentic. You realize you can’t get that from a textbook.”

What started as a project with 23 students creating a wiki about Thomas Friedman’s book The World is Flat is now a project that has touched 5,000 students a semester. It has reached almost 20,000 students since starting.

Today, Davis’ students use wikis, amass Twitter followers and more, as they learn.

While there’s no single solution, Davis said, technology can enhance learning in every classroom. Here are some of her tips:

Get Engaged: Connect yourself through Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds or blogs to communities that work on issues you care about professionally. Use whatever technology you are comfortable with to push information to you.

“Student engagement,” Davis said, “will never exceed the engagement of teachers.”

So, make yourself a role model and increase the exchange of information in your life. By joining in on conversations or catching up with the latest thinking online, you become part of a larger community, too.

Make time to learn: Technology is constantly changing and there is much to master. But find time to do it.

Davis used her daily break time – 15 minutes – two to three times a week to do this. First she’d discover what she wanted to learn about and make a list – from wiki to QR codes and beyond. Then she’d spend her next breaks working her way through the list.

“Break it down,” she said. “If you want to eat a watermelon, you don’t eat it whole. You eat it a bite at a time.”

Use tools you love: “It’s important that as teachers we use technologies we are passionate about,” Davis said. “Every classroom is like a fingerprint. They are all different.”

When teachers focus on tools they love, students can feel that passion and excitement. It makes the tools part of the engagement, rather than something that must be done.

Personalize the classroom: Davis believes that teachers can tackle core areas while using technology to allow students to find their own passion.

Her students work on writing, engaging the outside world, project management and more by pursuing their personal interests – like ePublishing or autism – in class projects.

“We have to personalize the classroom,” Davis said. “We are making originals, not copies.”

Davis knows that all of this is hard. The world, she said, is changing. There is less time, more students, new technology and tests. But, teachers can never give up.

“We can either get ready for the victory party or have a pity party,” Davis said.

Davis and Lindsay’s book on the Flat Classroom Project is now available. And, between teaching, being mom, conferences and blogging, Davis is working on her second book.  Collaborative Writing in the Cloud is due out this fall. Check out the project’s wiki.

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