Ms. Cassidy is a shining example of an effective teacher! Given the chance to utilize something of which she had little knowledge, she took on the challenge of educating herself AND her students; what we see today is an exemplar pioneer whose wisdom is sought out by educators and pre-service teachers alike. Having formulated a working resource base, Ms. Cassidy had some smart ways for students to use classroom computers to be successful and gain confidence and allow all those involved in a child's education to benefit.
In the beginning, a webpage was her first production. She mentioned the strong support she had, and the importance of involving the parents in the whole process, from online safety issues to flexibility that putting their child's work online afforded parents. I would involve parents of my students by granting them access and involvement, as their willing of permission and understanding is key to its success.
The students feel proud of their work, as it is viewed by other classmates, classes, schools, parents, grandparents, and many more, as they enjoy their virtual audience. They like the encouragement, and it helps them begin their educational portfolio of learning. Since technology is here to stay, as she points out, these kids will continue blogging, tweeting, etc. Having them begin as youngsters keeps their mind actively learning and maybe even start a PLN they can use and improve over time.
Ms. Cassidy encourages us to take opportunities and participate - if not, we possibly handicap ourselves and our students in the classroom. Every teacher should be technologically aware, and students need an online network of their own, so you (as their teacher and tech person!) must keep learning. I want to have my students use twitter to find resources for subjects we are studying; they will have to use them to develop their PLNs. The benefits of twitter are: the students could see how immediate access and information can be delivered and utilized; resources for videos, webcasts, podcasts, webquests, interactive posters and websites, and discussion forums (such as edchat) can be joined in real time; threads of discussion and replies can lead to interesting and useful information and people; projects can be formatted to include tweets, twitter polls, and networking sources.
Focusing on the importance of safety and self-reliance in using the computers, Ms. Cassidy directs the students how to navigate safely and stay on task. Being positive is important, and they model it through their blogs, posts and responses. Time is essential, and the teacher can use it accordingly in class activities. Using it in rotation not only gives every child more time, but it keeps the activity fresh and novel, so that students look forward to what they will write and how they will write it, which makes them spend their time more wisely. With the virtual 'eyes' of the cyber world peering at them closely, children relish the idea of sharing their lives with those who are interested and will give them feedback. These computer websites, used effectively, facilitate confidence, pride, respect and a sense of accountability in students; they also obligate teachers to share in their accountability for students learning.