Guest post by Ariel Margolis

Thousands of tweets. Hundreds of educators. Tons of ideas. Lots of energy. This is how I felt attending the online Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC). In the comfort of my home, I learned live with teachers, administrators, and ed-tech gurus about current educational theories and several types of educational technologies. Granted, it would have been more powerful if I had actually been at the conference and could network face to face, yet there was a strong connection created virtually with all the tweets being sent out and hangout rooms that the conference established. And, I was able to glean several take-aways that I brought back to my school and wish to share with all of you.

  1. There are essential skills we need to teach (how to read, how to count, how to ask questions). Yet, the goal is to teach kids to become… not to learn…when all along learning is the avenue to becoming good thinkers, good citizens, and good contributors.  (adapted from Marc Prensky)
  2. An Essential Question for teachers: What  should we teach our students in this VUCA (Volatile, Unpredictable, Complex, Ambiguous) world? (Marc Prensky).
  3. Students should have both voice and choice with regard to their learning. Let assessments be used as a learning tool by the student  (adapted from Chris Long)
  4. Gaming – be it digital or not – is a way to help children think. Try it! (Tamra Hogue)
  5. All information today is accessible. The teacher is not to be the primary source or deliverer of content (adapted from Chris Long)
  6. Technology is a tool to help not only meet students’ needs but also prepare them for the future.

There is a lot more I can share (for those who are interested, I have all the PowerPoints and am happy to share them with you - just shoot me an email at amargolis@ksa-ne.org), but the main point is this: we are embarking on a huge journey through education – where students are becoming lifelong learners much earlier on; where teachers (and parents) are embracing the idea of mistakes as learning opportunities; that the process is just as important (if not at times even more important) than the product; that tinkering, playing, and socializing are just as important as learning how to read, write, and perform addition; and that technology offers opportunities for all learners to experience the richness that the world has to offer. The number of us who are journeying together is growing each day, and there is no stopping us. That is very comforting.

In my school, I am considered the expert in flipping classrooms and bringing educational technology into the classroom, along with individualized and personalized learning; albeit I have been teaching for almost 17 years, I am in my SECOND year of flipping and individualized/personalized learning as I incorporate a ton of technology. So, while I am seen as the expert… I am really a novice. Learning from gurus and networking with others help me not only bring new ideas to my classroom but also provide me with a Personalized Learning Network, which I wish to grow as much as I can. Conferences like FETC, technology companies and community blogs, like LessonPaths, fuel me and help me stay the course! We are serving the future… we are serving those who shall service the world and bring it to a better place.