Think about the word network. Seriously, stop for a moment and think about that word. For me, I think about computers connected to one another, or maybe a big brain/master computer that allows other computers to talk to each other. After a while of thinking, I tend to think about the verb: to network, as in, “I’m going to ISTE to network.” It wasn’t until I started reflecting on this today that I realized these two words are related.
Network and network are polysemes–words with the same spelling and distinct but related meanings. (It’s a version of a homonym.) It’s curious to me that in the year 2013, these once-distant words have such similar meanings. I’ve blogged before about begin a connected educator. Heck, I even teach a course on it. It just occurred to me how
important essential the internet is to my professional learning. I can’t imagine teaching without it.
The sense of community I feel as a teacher is profound. Twitter, Google+, and the internet in general are a significant part of that. At the Next Vista Awards last month, I met an eduawesome teacher. We talked about video, ed tech, music, beer. But, he’s not on Twitter or Google+. So… I don’t even remember his name. Contrasting that with a conversation I had a year ago at ISTE. I met Corrine Okada, we connected on Twitter and Instagram, and we continue to collaborate and communicate.
We take the ability to communicate with anyone around the world instantly (and for free) for granted. We can connect with teachers globally like never before. ISTE recently announced award recipients (and I’m one of them). Within a couple hours of an article being posted, educators from around the world were congratulating me. Again, we take communication like this for granted. If you stop and think about what’s actually happens, it’s amazing. Erin in Michigan and A.J. in Philly are congratulating me. It’s super stinking cool!
When I think of technology in the classroom, my first thought is always about what I can do in the classroom with tech. Thinking about students and tech is always second. I’m wondering how my students might respond to a prompt about their learning network. I think the answer would make me sad. I’ve never even asked my students how they use the internet to develop a personal learning space. I don’t think they’ve even thought it was an option. So, while I’m edustoked to have a supportive, robust learning network, I need to spend some time considering how I can support my students in developing their own learning space online.
Last February, Jared Hathaway, a fourth grade teacher, asked me to work on a song he started with his kids about the types of rocks. Seeing the brilliance of Jared’s plan, I decided to write a song with each of my 14 general music classes.
After writing 14 original songs, a student asked if we could make a music video to go with the song. So, we made 14 music videos to accompany the album STEAM-Powered Songs. (All 14 videos will auto-play in the embedded playlist below.) This project was selected as a California Student Media Festival winner in the category of Elementary Fine Arts!