Monday, May 30, 2011

How Will I Spend My Summer Vacation? A Guest Post About Summer Learning

Today's post comes to you by guest blogger, Carolyn Rains. If you would also like to be a guest blogger here, check this out!

My name is Carolyn Rains and I’ve been an educator in Alabama for 26 years. I’ve spent my educational career working with elementary students and teachers. I serve as the Technology Instructor for Albertville Elementary School, in Albertville, AL. I also currently serve as the Alabama Leadership Council Chairperson for the Discovery Educator Network.

Many people think teachers do nothing education-related in the summers. I admit I do my share of ‘nothing’ in the summer. But after recovering from the pace of the school year and sleeping late a few mornings, I begin to search for the newest training related to the list I compiled during the school year-things I’m interested in, but didn’t have time to fully implement into my classes.

As a fan of Twitter, I must admit I am more of a ‘stalker’ in the Twitter world than a contributor. After only one day on Twitter I can add many things to my list such as new tools and strategies to integrate current tools.

Many wouldn’t consider Facebook a learning resource, except to see who is dating whom. I use it for personal, but also professional reasons-many useful to inspire learning in and out of the classroom.  I have the opportunity to learn what other educators are doing in their geographical area or maybe participate in a national/global project with them.  When educators learn a new strategy or find a new tool we get excited and obviously have to share it with someone! It’s then often shared on Facebook or Twitter and I add it to my list.

So... where do I go to find training on these wonderful tools and techniques?  My summer vacation should be longer just so I can get it all in.  Information about online training can be found almost anywhere, such as Twitter, Facebook, podcasts, Edmodo, newsletters, wikis, blogs, etc. These are saved in my Diigo list, a social-bookmarking site.

Face-to-face training is important, as well. Alabama’s state technology conference is in June. Many well-known speakers and educators from across the state present in one/three/six-hour sessions in a formatted-for-all conference. Friends are made and lots of interactive learning takes place.

The most inspiring conference I attend all year is the week-long conference with the Discovery Educator Network, otherwise known as the DEN.  Educators from across the US attend this conference, which requires a competitive application process just to attend.  At the end of this conference you leave excited, connected, highly motivated, appreciated as an educator, and exhausted! Presenters at the conference are there with you for several days to allow further access to their expertise.  Networking time is also provided-who knew teachers would have so much information to share with each other? Professional connections are made and relationships built. When challenged about related issues during my school year I call on these educators.  The DEN Team is there the whole week and prepared to help you with anything or answer any question you might have, no matter how crazy. They also present, in their usual cutting-edge, professional, but fun and engaging way throughout the week. It’s true that sometimes educators don’t ‘feel the love’. But these former teachers make you feel important, valued and motivated to learn. After all, isn’t that the goal of both teachers and students? I strive for that when I return to school each August with all my new tools in my toolbox.

As we all do, I also learn by teaching. This summer I will present the many ways to use Flip cameras and iPads to integrate technology into the classroom, at regional events.

So...to answer the question, “How will I spend my summer vacation?” My answer is, “I will spend time learning and having fun with family and friends.”


Follow Carolyn on Twitter!

1 comment:

krebstock said...

Carolyn! You are a rockstar! The Blog post is awesome. I hope you have a fabulous and informative summer!