As another Cool Tools for Schools comes to an end it is time for some reflection.
What I learned……
This year I found that I began by following track 4. I quickly realized that just learning and playing wasn’t enough and it was time to start using these tools for my real life (as opposed to my “book smart” life). I think one of the biggest things I learned doing this is the real value of an authentic learning experience. When I was vested in the outcome because I wanted to use it for a lesson, my sister’s baby shower, or the annual report I found that I delved much more deeply than I would have if I was just exploring the tool to explore. To sum it up I learned: There are two very valuable levels to this program. EXPLORE to know what is out there and DELVE DEEP to use the tools. This year I did more deep delving. I created a cool Padlet for my sister’s baby shower (it was cool even though not many people used it), I spearheaded a complete revamping of our annual report, and I started combining tools by using BlendSpace as a storage location for our ScreenCast lessonsScreenCasts as lesson tools. I explored a check in system that didn’t work out for us only because of the time factor. The biggest challenge is knowing when to stop!
Next year I want to revisit the check-in system, expand my use of screencasts (perhaps even teach a professional development class on making a screencast) and explore some quiz options to be used for Freshman Orientation. I also discovered that the professional development projects that have the greatest value to me at this stage in my career are those that don’t just show me things but give me an opportunity to apply my learning. To that end I will be looking for PD classes that include a work component.
I loved learning this way!!!!
Each year I wonder if it is worth it to pursue Cool Tools again and each year when I get to the reflection page the answer is a resounding YES!!!! The “Things” are so detailed I find that there is always something new to try, explore and learn about. My first few times through the program I learned of a lot of new tools. Now I am at the point where I can say “hey, I have heard of a tool for that” and use the tools in greater depth. Can’t wait for the next phase of Cool Tools!