Statistical analysis is a valuable tool that any profession can use in order to figure out what's going right or what needs to be fixed. Looking at the data gathered by the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE) is important in our work to support the need for physical education in schools and the need for our children to get more physical activity in their daily lives. It shows us the hard truth about the amount of activity our students (especially girls) are getting on a regular basis.
As an athlete, looking at personal stats tells us what areas we are the strongest and where we need to do more work. Any sports fan looks regularly to evaluate how a favorite team or player is doing. Statistics are part of our everyday lives so why not use it to improve our professional lives.
There are plenty of positive things that sites, such as Linkedin, Plaxo, and a personal website site have to offer. Each have their own features that can enhance a person's professional portfolios. Linkedin offers a tool for sharing work history, education and special skills that employers are able to view. Plaxo is a great place to keep a person's contacts in one place, as well as up do date. It can also sync to a person's calendar to help keep important dates organized. Lastly, a personal website is a great place for a professional to post any information they want to share socially or with potential employers. It's a place for a person to show their creativity and design a site the emphasize their strongest qualities. A person can post their resume, pictures, and even a blog to share their thoughts.
Along with the positive aspects of these site, there comes some negative. There is a potential for undesirable information to make it's way on to a site. If a person is not careful to control what is posted, then a person's personal life can cross with their professional life, and some of that information may not be appealing to a potential employer. In addition, these sites can be difficult to maintain, depending on how many a person has up and running. I, personally, have a difficult time keeping up with multiple sites. I feel the need to check them regularly somewhat overwhelming. If a person has a Facebook, Linkedin, personal website, professional and personal emails, and a Plaxo account it can be very time consuming to keep up with everything. I do, however, like the idea of having one or two sites and creating a professional network that is manageable and effective.
Technology has done a tremendous amount for our ability to collaborate and connect with others in both professionals and personal settings. When I think back to the way schools were run when I was a student it's amazing to see the differences, from the way the front office collected attendance to the way we communicate and share information about our classrooms. Technology has allowed teachers to share strategies, curriculum, best practices, along with a million other valuable pieces of information that improve our ability to be quality educators.
In addition to the use of technology, the ability to work collaboratively in a face to face setting is extremely valuable. The opportunity to attend trainings, conferences, workshops and meet actual people and shake their hand is a form of networking that will always be important. Attending a conference or training gives people the opportunity to share ideas and create lasting connections that can lead to greater collaboration in the future. Using good old fashioned networking is an important part of becoming a well rounded professional. When a relationship can be formed with a face to face meeting, the collaboration can continue through the use of technology after the conference is over.
Wiki sites have been something I have heard about and felt I understood on the most basic level. It turns out I was right, I didn't know much about the extent of what is available. I was surprised to learn the various uses for Wiki, such as networking between colleagues, professional organizations, or committees using it to communicate among it's members. Wiki sites goes well beyond just Wikipedia.
Wiki in education has been debated and many educators are skeptical of how it should be used in the classroom. However, Wiki sites are much more than just a place for people to post information, its' also a way for people to connect and collaborate. The fact that one page can be a developed over a number of years and have a several hundred authors suggests that the information has been tested. Educators should be cautious when using sites such as Wikipedia, however the concept of Wiki sites is an amazing resource for many in the field of education.
Both Facebook and LinkedIn are new to me in the last couple weeks. As I set up both accounts I found myself feeling nervous about posting too much information. I understand that both sites can be great networking tools, but putting personal information on the internet goes against my instincts.
My impression of Facebook and LinkedIn is that both are social media sites, however Facebook is more informal. It's a great place to connect with people and communicate on a casual level. LinkedIn is designed for professional networking. The information included on the site is valuable when trying to connect with other professionals. I can see value in using both the sites for connecting personally and professionally.
Technology is an important part of our classrooms today, both for the students and teachers. Students enjoy using technology in the classroom and teachers have countless valuable on-line tools available for them to choose from. The challenge becomes selecting the right ones and using them effectively.
Schools are utilizing Ipads and cell phones in new ways that were not thought of in recent years. There are many apps available for teachers to use for a variety of reasons. As I looked through some that are available for educators the ones that stood out to me were those that help organize data. The Teacher's Assistant Pro allows teachers to track information efficiently and communicate with administration and parents quickly and easily. Finding ways to input evaluation scores, behaviors, and achievements in the classroom in an efficient way is something that would be incredibly valuable.
Web 2.0 has allowed us, as the consumers, to be active participants in the distribution of the information that is out there. It's pretty amazing to look back and see how far we have come when it comes to communication and the internet. I typically get intimidated when new forms of social media and technology are introduced and it takes me a while to get on board, but looking back it's hard to imagine how we functions without some of them.
There are so many sites out there that can be useful in the classroom. A couple from the list that I found to be interesting are Kwiqpoll and Mentor Mob. I'm interested in using Kwiqpoll on my school website to find out more about my student's thoughts on various topics and Mentor Mob to create some exciting presentations on health and wellness. I plan to take some time experimenting with them to see if I could use them in my classes.
I feel that I need to keep putting myself in my student's shoes and think of what would be the most effective way for them to receive information. It can be tricky for physical educators to find ways to incorporate different types of technology simply because the majority of our time is spent in the gym, weight room, swimming pool, etc. With that said, I do think incorporating things like podcasts could be a great way to gain students interest and keep them engaged.
A few years ago I changed the way I structured my classes, incorporating interactive folders. These are folders that I keep in my classroom that include cornell notes for each unit of instruction, weight lifting charts, diagrams of the muscles of the body, fitness testing scores, and a place for them to set personal goals throughout the semester. Incorporating interactive folders was the best thing I've ever done for my students. They are more engaged and are able to grasp the information through a variety of ways.
The folders also allowed me to start using more technology in my classes. Once I had a structure for them to take notes, I was able to use the smart board more effectively. Not only am I able to use the smart board to present the notes as we talk about each unit, but I can also incorporate videos (I think their favorite is the amazing badminton rally from the Olympics). They couldn't wait to get back in the gym and play after watching that. It has also allowed me to present information from the CDC website, such as the map of obesity rates across the country over the last 25 years. By using technology effectively I can keep them engaged without losing valuable time for them to be physically active.
This brings to start thinking of ways to have them use podcasts as a means of gaining information. By having them listen to podcasts on their own time it allows class time to be for more physical activity. It might also be a great way to incorporate a class blog. Students could be required to listen to a particular podcast and then post their reaction on the class blog.
It's a delicate balance for physical education teachers to use technology, but when done effectively I think it can be very powerful for students. We don't want to lose the time students need to work on the physical skills they need so desperately, but we want them to leave our class gaining the knowledge to be able to live a healthy life.