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5 Things to be Thankful for in 2016

(Disclaimer: This is cross-posted from the Oracles Hotspot blog.)

It is that time of year again when we are to be thankful for the many blessings in our lives. Many of us are appreciative of our strong friendships, healthy families, and love for life! I try to remind myself of the many things that I am thankful for on a daily basis.

Since it is the week of Thanksgiving, I figured it is time to write about 5 things to be thankful for in the world of education technology. Check out my list below. Feel free to comment with what you are thankful for in your world of education.

1. Evaluations

I know, I know. I am crazy. But how many times do you look back at a lesson and wonder just what others think? Over the years of teaching math, I had many lessons that I looked back over and critiqued. Considering the fact that most of my lessons were written and created by me, I didn't always have very much input from outside sources. Maybe I am hard on myself, but I feel that most of my lessons could have been much, much better, if I had someone else view it, give some positive feedback, and have their own ideas of how to make it better. I actually enjoy the process of being evaluated. And I'm sure that ever since teacher pay has been linked with evaluations, most of us feel like Dwight from "The Office".

2. Professional Development

Of course professional development (PD) would be in my top 5! It is one of my most favorite parts to my technology integration specialist position. I enjoy attending professional conferences so I can learn from others. But I really LOVE presenting PD to others and watching them when their light bulb goes off! You start to see the gears turning in their head and then see them start to think how they can implement that tool or tactic into their own class. It is a priceless view from a presenters standpoint.

3. Professional Learning Networks

We all have our professional learning networks (PLNs) that we rely on to become better at our passion--which is teaching. Lifelong learning is a topic that gets thrown around quite a bit, but it is an attribute that I believe all of the best teachers possess. PLNs help shape the way we learn and teach within the walls of our own classroom. I am fortunate to belong to a couple PLNs (EdTech Heroes, Indiana Connected Educators, and Indiana Council of Teachers of Mathematics) that always challenge my thoughts, beliefs, and educational theories. Without being challenged I feel I would be stuck in my ways and never try anything new. Most of my communication with my professional learning networks occurs through Twitter. My wife actually makes fun of me because I do so much reading, retweeting, and collaboration through Twitter. But it is so easy to communicate with others from around the state, not to mention the world!

4. Innovative Technology Tools

Innovation springs from creation. If you don't give students and teachers the proper tools, it may be difficult for them to be very creative. Which in turn, makes it difficult to be innovative. I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with and to bring many innovative technology tools to my current school corporation. I am very thankful to work under some administrators that are forward thinking and believe that we need to get these tools in the hands of our students. My favorite innovative technology tools are drones, 3D printing, Google Cardboards, and 360 degree cameras. Just a few years ago, none of these items were invented, let alone were they present in a school environment. What kinds of tools do you have in your school that allows your students to be creative and innovative?

5. Google Suite for Education

Google has revolutionized education with their Google Suite for Education. G Suite is not just for producing a paper or creating a presentation. Its tools allow for collaboration, sharing, and efficiency. There are so many apps, extensions, and add-ons that work with each of the individual Google apps to make life so...much...easier... I just love most things that Google features within its G Suite for Education! Of course there are those naysayers out there that say Google will never make it in education. Well, I think the same thing was probably said about cell phones, cars, and the light bulb. Ha! Going forward I believe Google is really onto something with their G Suite for Education. Considering it costs thousands of dollars to stick with Microsoft, there have been many public education school corporations that are turning to Google.

So there they are--my 5 favorite edtech items that I am thankful for in my life. I am sure there are many that I could have also posted about, but these are the ones that make my professional life the most exciting and productive. Feel free to leave some comments below with what you are thankful for in your edtech world.

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