Will digital tools lead to the closing of our school doors?

 There is so much technology it is hard to keep up.  As soon as I think I have one tool down, there is a new one to explore.  My project group really pushed me to try new tools like Wiggio and embedding videos into our Wikispaces.  Even when the technology did not work exactly as we expected everyone was quick to find a new way to get the job done. I never imagined it would be possible to really do a group project in cyber land but my group proved me wrong.  I believe everyone worked together and did their part to make create a resource we could all use in the future.  One of the key pieces is that we always had someone willing to be the “leader” of the group.  While this role changed there was always someone willing to step up and get us rolling.  When I think about applying a virtual team project to students, the leadership must be taught and embedded into the project.  For adult teachers, I think this was a natural process but for youth I think this is a skill we need to develop through modeling, practice and very clear expectation.  Providing rubrics and checklists were helpful to me.  I was also thinking about the student who doesn’t normally participate or do their work how do we get them engaged in a group project like this?  How do you differentiate for your students with special needs without bringing attention to the student?  I can see creating Wiggio groups fro my students now and helping them set up their tasks and projects.  I can picture doing many group projects this way and allowing student to track their own progress.  When students are able to break a project down into smaller pieces they might not see it as so daunting.  The sense of accomplishment will grow as they mark each task done.  Student can create their own checklists using Wiggio too and collaborate on individual projects to support each other. 

While in our groups work we did not use Trello, I can believe it would be a great tool to help differentiate within the classroom.  Often times, students need to set a different pace or have a modified assignment.  Trello offers a platform to publish an assignment and make modifications for individuals without the peer knowledge.  The stigma of groups can be eliminated.  Like in Wiggio, Trello allows students to break projects into workable parts.  I thought the kinesthetic action of moving an assignment into the “doing” column would help give students the visual reminders about their work.  This also serves as a great place to place support documents or tutorials that reach students at multiple levels.

Out of all the new tools, I have explored I am sold on Evernote for portfolios and student notebooks.  I see so many uses from progress monitoring to taking class notes and doing projects.  The skills they develop using these tools can easily transfer over to the professional world as they transition out of school. 

The one tool we have used extensively in this class that I am still not sold on is Twitter.  While I can see its uses and benefits, to me it is just another place to get lost in cyber land.  I have read several articles that are swaying me, yet I am still not sold on using twitter.  To me, I see it as another way kids will be bullied and an easy distraction in class.  But maybe in time, I will be convinced.

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