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Calling all teachers! What worked for you this year?

Maybe it's "May Madness?" I'm not sure. But this is the season when I reflect on what worked (technologywise) with teachers and students and what didn't. So I'll begin upbeat and share some highlights from my broadcast journalism class and technology teacher training sessions. Broadcast journalism is a new course and a high school elective I implemented at my school this year. Students were expected to produce their own news stories, learn the art of television news-scriptwriting, watch (via field trips) how news outlets operate, and learn best practices for television journalists. 

This is the short list and there's more to come. I also encourage readers to share their own.

1) I began the year with newsroom grammar exercises and a regular viewing of CHSTV, a news program produced by high school students from Carlsbad High School in California. Trust me, if you're a high school journalism teacher, you'll want to watch their work. It's a very high tech, broadcast quality news show with teen journalists producing live broadcasts on a daily basis. 

2) Reporter Research Letters: This was a fun one and very rewarding. The task – students conducted online research locating reporters across the country and comparing the news from their state to ours. After  the research was completed, the students wrote letters to each reporter comparing news in NYC to news in the (selected) reporter's state. The best part of this project…get ready…95% of the reporters wrote back personalized letters to my students and shared some wonderful stories from their on air experience which we later read aloud in class.

What worked for technology teacher training?

When teachers see a technology person in the hallways, even if that tech person isn't a "techie" there's always a happy face. There's a constant need in the classroom tech arena that always needs attention. This area is a bear in and of itself. That's an entirely different post. But if you really think about the amount of tech support a school needs just to function it's mind blowing! So when a teacher learns something new, in regards to technology it's a good day. Just today, I shared with a teacher how to use the EDIT UNDO feature in Microsoft Word – this was after I (purposely) deleted an important lesson plan she was creating in WORD. Try to picture her face when this teacher thought she lost everything. It was priceless and reminded me that we're all at different levels in the undefined school of technology. Anyway, the edit undo command brought the lesson plan right back for this teacher and she was relieved. She also wrote on her note pad in big letters REMEMBER TO EDIT UNDO! It was a real moment for her.  Hence, my motto with tech training, never assume anything when it comes to teacher ability. There's always something to learn and if you succeed in helping out, you have a friend for life. Also, patience is a virtue.

What didn't work?

1) Everything – just kidding!
2) Three students did not receive reporter letters back. It's never easy to explain this one to students.
3) Not having the right technology tools on hand when needed. It's so important (if you can) to have video cameras, editing software, and enough TIME to work on news stories. One dead battery in a camera can truly mess up a class session. The key…think ahead and ALWAYS have a back up plan.
3) Sending too many links to teachers for their classes – even if they asked for them. An overzealous "tech person" or librarian can easily overwhelm a novice teacher in the tech arena.