Power in the Palm of your Hand

I have learned so much over the past ten weeks of my COETAIL journey. The World Wide Web is a wonderful place where new and exciting things are happening every day. With information literally in the palm of our hands, the opportunities, roles, and responsibilities of teachers and students have changed drastically. Penpals have been replaced with digital collaboration tools and social media. Students can collaborate with each other easily and the opportunity to spread positive change is more achievable than ever. Exciting times!!

“With great power comes great responsibility”
-Ben Parker

Thanks to the World Wide Web teachers have new and innovative teaching tools available to help students with different learning styles, ability and understanding access curriculum. It has revolutionized teaching and pushed the standard of best practice to new levels. Students can express their learning and understandings in new, fun, creative ways that best suits their personal learning style. They can research their own passion projects and connect with people around the world to take their learning further.

This new found, education freedom comes with some strings attached and can be used for good as much as it can be used for evil. In order to empower students to use technology to make a positive difference in the world, educators have some work to do.

  1. Abandon your inner Luddite! Keep up with what’s going on in the ed tech world.
  2. Teach students explicitly about the pros and cons to the Web.
  3. Model good digital citizenship with your students.
  4. Catch them when they fall. Their mistakes are now a matter of public record. When students make poor choices, use the opportunity to make it a teachable moment and help them find a way to make things right.
  5. Educate your parent community.

As I move forward in my COETAIL journey I am excited to use the new concepts and skills I have learned. I mentioned in an early post that I would like to implement Genius time. While this is still a work in progress, we are well on our way. Our Agents of Change service learning unit is coming up soon and I am hopeful that students will be able to find their passion project and put it into action and collaborate with each other, as well as students from around the world.

In order to do this properly, we have some ground work to do to prepare our students to reach out and cultivate their PLN. We have spent time in the classroom explicitly teaching digital citizenship, copyright, and online safety. We have modeled good digital citizenship in the classroom. Our next step is to empower our fourth graders to use their understandings to research, design and implement their service learning project. I’ll keep you posted!

Photo Credit: symphony of love Flickr via Compfight cc


Jennifer Byrnes

My name is Jen and this is my 10th year as an educator. I am a fourth-grade teacher at the American School of the Hague. I have lived and worked in the US, Uk, Italy, China and the Netherlands. I have taught grades K-4.

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2 Responses

  1. Shane Gower says:

    Hi Jennifer

    I enjoyed reading this post. I remember working on course 2 and that feeling of excitement and wonder coupled with a sense of trepidation and increased sense of responsibility to do it right.
    It was enlightening to see the 5 points that you suggested to empower students. I thought of a small mnumonic to help remember these points. But only works if you add the word ‘help’ to number 5. e.g. 5. (Help) Educate your parent community.
    Then the mnemonic could be “M.A.T.C.H” 1.Abandon…. 2.Teach…. 3. Model…. 4.Catch…… 5.Help…..
    I too have been thinking about a genius hour of some sorts. I was thinking “appy hour”. But due to time constraints at the moment this difficult to get off the ground. Hopefully the new year will bring greater motivation and effort to get it started.
    Really liked the positive tone of your post. Keep up the good work.

    • Thanks Shane! MATCH! What a great idea!! And I love the idea of adding ‘help’ to ‘educate’ because it is true. We can help to educate the parents, but the responsibility ultimately lies with them. We should be launching our Genius Hour later this month. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. 🙂

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