Weekly Feature



2010-05-06 / Local News

SOMEONE YOU SHOULD KNOW

by KIMBERLY MCDOWELL
Principal’s article discusses

Catherine Huber Catherine Huber tech-savvy teacher tactics

At Northwood Elementary, tech-savvy Moodlers are blogging about the latest teaching tactics and using Nings to post educational links, ultimately leading to the use of forums to engage in conversation regarding the latest academic methods to be used in the classroom.

If you didn’t understand some of the aforementioned words, just ask Catherine Huber, Northwood Elementary’s principal, who recently received national accreditation for her technology based article published in the May 2010 volume of “Educational Leadership,” which had the theme “The Key to Changing the Teaching Profession,”

Titled “Professional Learning 2.0,” her article defines the lingo of a new generation of Web services and applications — “Web 2.0” — that offer an opportunity to collaborate, share and create educational content through such social-networking tools as blogs, Wikis, and Moodles. Thanks to Huber’s initiative, these tools are now being used by and between staff and administration at Northwood, enhancing both communication and teaching practices.

“One thing we really believe in here is having adults being able to collaborate ... and providing the best possible experience to our learners,” she said.

With the help of Rosalia Carraba, library media specialist, Huber transformed Northwood personnel into “Moodlers,” or anyone who uses a “Moodle” — Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment.

A Moodle was introduced at the beginning of the 2009-10 school year and is an open-course management system encompassing other such tools as forums, databases and Wikis (i.e. “Wikipedia”). These tools enable teachers to post educational information on the Web that is intended to be read, shared and used by other teachers, as well as to spark discussion.

“Web 2.0 tools are based on the understanding that professional learners can both be consumers and producers of information .... [the tools] can provide access to opportunities to consume, create and share information and ideas,” Huber wrote in her article. She also references Twitter, the new-wave of social networking that enables Northwood teachers to “follow educational thinkers” and engage in instructional conversation.

Although all schools throughout the school district are rich in technological initiatives — Promethean whiteboards, laptops, digital voice recorders and cameras, to name a few — Huber said Northwood Elementary is simply the steppingstone for using advanced, Web-based technology for communication.

“There aren’t other buildings in the district using it the way we are for our own learning,” she said, “But there’s a lot of learning going on in the district. It’s a great place with a lot of thoughtful, smart people ... teachers are very strategic and purposeful with how [and when] they integrate technology.”

“It means a lot to have the district recognized on a national level, because it means so much to me personally,” added a humbled Huber, who is a graduate of West Seneca schools.

The principal is hoping to go one step further by eventually implementing Web 2.0 tools into the classroom for student use. For more information on the article, visit www.ascd.org.

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