Mentorship Interview

Prior to participating in my interview with Shauna, my friend told me about a software that I could download that would record both the video and audio of our Skype conversation.  So last week I downloaded Vodburner and was all set for my interview.

About ten minutes into my Skype call with Shauna, I lost the audio recording, and ten minutes later, the video recording failed as well.  Therefore, here is a brief summary of my interview with Shauna:

-Do you think technology is important to include within your classroom?  Shauna explained that she finds technology to become a crucial part of her classroom.  She sees using technology more than just typing up a word document and handing it in; her and her students are always looking for new apps to try on their two iPads, Issac and Ivey, or interacting with other classrooms.  She did mention that she only sees technology as being useful when they are using it for something that couldn’t be done another way.  For example, skyping classrooms in California, Spain, New York City, Delaware, and South Korea in the near future.  She was even telling me how they facetimed one of her students while she was in DisneyWorld, and how her parents skyped with them as they skiied down a run at Whistler mountain!  She believes that it is times like these when the walls of the school disappear and students can learn outside of the the four walls of the classroom.  One thing Shauna stressed was making technology purposeful.  Her motto are the three C’s: collaborate, create, and communicate.  If using technology doesn’t apply to one of those, there might be a more effective way for the students to learn.

-How does technology benefit/hinder Churchill’s beliefs as an Alternative School? Benefits: can host several tenants, and allow individualized self-paced learning.  She explained that in her classroom students are constantly moving at different paces.  Technology benefits those students that need additional time, but also those that may move at a quicker pace.  She continued on to share that part of Churchill is allowing students to take an idea an run with it.  Technology allows that to take place, as students can “run with it” at their own pace.  Hinders: she explained that some people may view technology as time spent away from nature and “real world” activities.

-Do you have any “go to” resources that you look at for ideas regarding teaching, technology, assessment, etc.?  She began by saying that her resources continually change, depending on what she is looking for at the time.  Blogs she believed were her go-to’s.  She explained that if you read a variety of blogs, you’ll learn a variety of information from different sources.  She also explained how Twitter is beginning to be such a valuable resource.  She said that if you follow enough good people (professionals, bloggers, etc.) you are bound to find something.  Her latest go-to resource is Skype In the Classroom.  She explained how she signed up at this site, and sent out requests to teachers from around the world.  From that, her class has skyped with classrooms in California, Spain, New York City, Delaware, and have set up Pen Pals with a school in Uganda.

-What is one thing teachers need to be aware of when taking students on an online adventure?  First off, she said you will be faced with problems; anticipate the problems, and manage expectations accordingly.  She told me that before I skyped in with her class for the first time, they went over what was expected of them as participants, what was expected of our skype conversation, and what problems could arise.  She said it helped her and her students prepare for the numerous situations that could occur.  She also explained that since some of her students are already blogging, they had a conversation about digital citizenship, being aware of what they are posting, but also being aware of who is viewing and commenting on their blogs.  She explained how she has taken instances of cyber bullying and digital citizenship and turned them into teachable moments with her students.

-What is your best advice for beginner teachers who want to connect their students learning to technology?  Plain and simple: try, and if it doesn’t work, try and try again.  She also said that find something you like and share it with your students; eventually they will start coming to you with new things they found, and utilizing technology will become contagious.

-What is the best thing about incorporating technology into the classroom?  What is the worst thing?  She believed the best thing to be authentication.  She explained how when she told her students a particular assignment would be showcased on her blog for everyone to see, their quality of work increased.  Just like you and me, students want their product that will be made public to be a product they can be proud of.  She also said that having fun with it, and trying new things regarding technology.  The worst thing she believed was always searching for the next big thing.  She said that sometimes she’d be having so much fun trying all these new things, that she was tired of constantly searching.

Overall, I learned not to trust Vodburner; technology is part of our present and future; and when incorporated effectively, it can really benefit both our students and us as educators!

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