Thursday, December 27, 2007

2007 in Review -- You have learned 100 things!

2007 is coming to a close, and as I looked at my Blogger Dashboard today, I noticed this is my 101st post. So, if you have been reading this blog since it's inception, you have (hopefully) learned 100 things! And, if you are a recent subscriber, the great thing about blogs is, that the archive is there, so it's not too late to catch up!

Some of the bloggers I have been reading (see the "More Blogs of Interest" list from Bloglines on the lower left side of this blog) are posting their "Top 10 Lists" and "End-of-the-Year" reflections for 2007, so I thought perhaps I would do the same.

I am typically not one to write deeply about issues or my personal views. The main reason I began this blog was to share information about using educational technology, that I formerly distributed via email. Blogging has also been a great "back up" for my brain. If I find a useful tool or application and write about it here, I never have to look very far to retrieve the information. And, sad to say, as I grow older, these tired brain cells seem to drop information from the memory banks much more quickly than I would like to admit.

I would like to point out, however, this has been a great year for me personally and professionally. I find it hard to put into words the gratitude and great respect I have for those who were instrumental in nominating and supporting me, as I received two incredible peer-recognition awards this year: the 2007 Outstanding Technology Using Educator award from the Illinois Computing Educators (ICE), and the 2007 Outstanding Leader award from the International Society for Techology in Education (ISTE).

I am reminded of a quote (reportedly in a letter to Robert Hooke on Feb. 15, 1676), from Sir Isaac Newton: "If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." There are truly some gigantic shoulders that have provided me with a fantastic "view" of the possibilities for reaching and teaching each and every child, and in my position as a staff developer, the adult learners in schools. I continue to be amazed at the learning made possible by technology in our very "wired-world." And, yet, with all of the tools available, I still read stories about educators who remain disconnected. How sad for them and their students. We still have a long way to go, or do we?

The good news is that we, as educators, do not need to fear attempting innovation in isolation. If I am inclined to try a new approach to teaching a topic, unit or problem, there are literally hundreds of like-minded educators available and willing to assist, only a few keystrokes away. Research has shown that in order for professional development to be successful, it must be ongoing and embedded into daily practice. I truly believe educators must model lifelong learning so that our students can witness the value of learning firsthand. Establishing professional learning communities can help make this happen. It's important to note that communities of like-minded folks can exist in-person or online. Tools commonly labeled as "Web 2.0" provide connections and collaboration in ways not possible just a year ago.

This year, I have made numerous "connections" by networking with educators using Twitter, most recently being introduced to my very generous Secret Elf (online), who I can't wait to learn more about and from. I have "attended" virtually-hosted conferences using Elluminate, and dropped in and participated in informal sharing of topics via, and have shared in kind. I have pondered why educators teach, and have attempted to pay attention to the continuing evolution of technology, and its possibilities, so that I can find the best tools for learning and teaching to share with the adults in my school. I often think of The Three Princes of Serendip, the fairy tale in which the heroes “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.” I wouldn't quite place myself in the "hero" category, although I'm amazed by the amount of valuable "learning" information I continue to stumble upon each day, thanks to the generosity of the educators in my sphere.

I can hardly imagine what the new year will bring. My hope is that learning will be great in 2008, for me, and for you and yours. Happy New Year!

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