Maker Spaces: Reflections from #SatChat 11/1/14

Posted on November 1, 2014 in #SatChat,Personal Learning Networks,Professional Development by Lisa Suhr


My responses from this morning’s chat:


Going from Effective to Highly Effective: Reflections from #SatChat 10/25/2014

Posted on October 25, 2014 in Personal Learning Networks,Valuable Web Resources by Lisa Suhr

This morning’s #SatChat Twitter chat topic was “Going from Effective to Highly Effective.”  The questions posed by the chat moderators and my own response tweets are here:

Q1:  Pedagogically speaking, what does a highly effective teacher’s classroom look like? #satchat
A1: Ts make clear WHY they teach WHAT they teach by helping Ss see connections to own lives & do so enthusiastically. #SatChat
Q2: How can school leaders support teachers as they move from effective to highly effective?#satchat
A2: Model differentiation! Get to know Ts as individuals. Their strengths? needs? what type of praise does each respond  to? #SatChat
Q3:  Do teachers need to be connected on social media to be highly effective? Why or why not? #satchat
A3: no but they are missing out on lots of personal growth and opportunities to help their students connect globally if not! #SatChat
Q4: How can teachers be highly effective when using technology? #satchat
A4:  Allow S choice of what tech to use & when to use it based on task at hand. Use it to make “expert” connections for Ss. #satchat
Q5: What characteristics are symbolic of a highly effective school leader? #satchat
A5: Same as HE Ts: keeps Ss at center of  decisions, focus on relationships, willing to differentiate, praise & critique #satchat
Q6: Please share resources that can help educators move from effective to highly effective.#satchat

A couple of links I gleaned from the talk this morning:

8 Ways Teachers can Talk Less and Get Kids Talking More

Great Bloom’s Taxonomy Chart for Teachers

And finally, I’m exploring a tool I’ve seen for a while that is useful for curating information found on line,  Storify.  Here is my first Storify “story”:


Reflections from a Twitter Chat: Connected Educator Month

As part of my “celebration” of October as Connected Educator Month, I thought I would post a short reflection following my Saturday morning Twitter chat today. I like to participate in #SatChat which occurs every Saturday morning at 6:30 am Central Time (where I live). It’s pretty early, but I’m a morning person, so I’m already “up” if not fully awake…a couple little dogs are on a morning routine that helps ensure that I’m ready to go when 6:30 rolls around. So I grab my coffee and log in to HootSuite, the tool I like to use to more easily follow the chat messages as they come in. This morning, I just climbed back in bed with my laptop and participated in my pjs…now that is some convenient professional learning, right there!

As I was participating in today’s topic of “Game Changers,” I was challenged by some of the questions the moderator posed, especially Q2: How does your philosophy of education impact student success? and Q4: Does your philosophy of education make you a game changer? So I thought about how I could have an increased impact and be more of a game changer. This reflection combined with Connected Educator challenges I’ve been working on resulted in a conviction to be more reflective and regular in my blogging practices. I frequently share things from my Saturday morning Twitter chats with individual teachers or administrators in our district, but I don’t know if I have ever actually blogged my reflections for all to see. Who knows…maybe someone, somewhere will read my reflection and be challenged to impact students under their direction in a positive way. So, here is my first post reflecting personally on #SatChat October 18, 2014:

Game changers are important to keep education moving because the world is constantly changing. We’ve all seen the quotes about how industry has changed so much in the last 100 years, but if a teacher from 100 years ago walked in to a school or classroom, they would know just what to do because education has changed very little while other industries have been through total transformations. I hope in the schools I support, a similar transformation is starting. We don’t need to change everything…just the things that are not the BEST. Keep what’s best and change the rest.

A couple of quick resources to share that I gleaned from this morning’s chat:

1.  An article to read about Rigor:  22 Ways to Add Rigor to Your Classroom

Although the term “rigor” is not a new one, the emphasis on rigor in education today is high.  We see it mentioned in new standards, new teacher evaluation tools, and lots of educational commentary.  I like the definition of Rigor from  The Glossary of Education Reform which includes this phrase:

“ instruction, schoolwork,learning experiences, and educational expectations that are academically, intellectually, and personally challenging”

You can read the whole article explaining rigor here:

2.  A blog post that could challenge you, but also might help you maintain sanity as a teacher:  Buried Alive:  A Cautionary Tale about Piles of Work

In this post, Starr Sackstein reflects on sharing responsibility with students as a way to both empower students AND maintain a reasonable work load for the teacher.  While she is a journalism teachers, her post has relevance for teachers of all subjects.

In the future, I’ll try to be more reflective following my Saturday morning Twitter chats, so that others can also benefit from my early, weekend morning forays into professional learning in my pajamas!

Twitter Chats for Personal Learning

Posted on October 17, 2014 in Personal Learning Networks,Productivity by Lisa Suhr

My ongoing personal learning over the 24 years of my career in education has seen many changes, but one of biggest changes technology has brought to personal learning has been the convenience of learning anytime, anywhere with anyone! This month is Connected Educator Month and as I proceed through EduBlog’s Teacher Challenges, I’m trying to document my progress here on my blog. Step 3 in the Challenge focuses on Twitter Chats for personal growth.

I’ve already written briefly about my favorite Twitter chat: SatChat on Saturday mornings at 6:30 Central Time here in Kansas where I live. Good thing I’m a morning person, huh? I’ve participated many times over the last year or so in this chat. First, I just got up and made my coffee and tried to follow the #satchat hastag using Twitter itself. Not very impressive. Then I dug a little deeper and tried out HootSuite as a tool to make the chatting experience more manageable. Hootsuite allows you to open a columnar window into which ONLY the tweets with the desired hashtag will feed. They still come through pretty quickly, but this made it much more easy to keep up with. You can expect a welcome message from a moderator or two and then a stream of introductions at the designated start time. Soon after, the moderator will post a discussion topic that you can identify by its starting “Q1,” meaning “here is discussion question 1.” You may see a few “retweets” of the Q1 tweet, then you can expect the flood of responses to the question to come in labeled with “A1″ indicating “this is my answer to question 1.” After a few minutes Q2 will be released and then the A2 tweets start flowing in. Most Twitter chats I’ve participated in have 4 -5 questions in an hour long chat.

The chat experience is even more powerful when you use it to make connections with other like-minded participants. It is a great way to find people to “follow” on Twitter, or even to communicate with directly in whatever way you like to communicate for other projects. Other tips I have: I have both a laptop and an iPad on which I have participated in Twitter chats. Even though I’m pretty good on my iPad keyboard, my own personal preference is still to participate on my laptop so that if I do decide to post an answer, I can most quickly get it typed and submitted. But it is pretty rewarding to have my iPad nearby and hear the notification sounds come in when one of my posts is “retweeted” or someone “favorites” or “direct messages” me because of something I posted.

If you haven’t ever tried a Twitter chat, I challenge you to try one as part of Connected Educator Month 2014. Here is a great link with a schedule of several educational twitter chats that happen regularly. Be sure to cognizant of the time zones each one is marked in. Its also a great way to find hashtags you can search Twitter for even if the time of the live chat doesn’t work for your schedule. (Thanks, CybraryMan, for the great Twitter resources posted here:!!)

Using Blogs as Part of Your Personal Learning Network

Posted on October 16, 2014 in Personal Learning Networks,Productivity,Professional Development by Lisa Suhr

As part of Connected Educator Month, I’m participating in Edublog’s PLN Teacher Challenge. Each step of the challenge focuses on a different aspect of developing a PLN, or Personal Learning Network. Step five focused on the use of blogs for enhancing your PLN. I use as a blog aggregator to make following several blogs more convenient.
Feedly allows me to find bloggers I enjoy and have all their posts filter in to one single location so I can look at the headlines when I have time and read the posts which interest me most. I can add or remove blogs that I have “feed” in anytime, so If I’m working on a specific temporary project, I can add blogs that apply to it and then later I can remove them to help prioritize my time! Here is a screen shot of what Feedly looks like in case you’re interested:

Along the left side you see the list of blogs which I have selected to follow. On the right side you see the headline view where I see a chronological listing of the headlines from the blogs feeding in. I can focus on one single blog at a time if I want by clicking on its title of the left. There are also some controls which allow me to mark posts a read or tag them for follow up. Clicking a headline, shows an overview of the first few lines of the post in this view with links to the actual website. If I select a blog title on the left, then expanding the headline allows me to read the entire post right inside Feedly without ever leaving.

I also try to post on my own blog and share my blog with others in my PLN to be a “contributor” to the field, and not just a “taker!” I don’t know how much other educators benefit from my blog, but I do know that the process of reflecting in writing has personal growth value to me even if no one reads what I have written. Organizing my thoughts and getting them down on screen is often a way for me to plan and brainstorm and fulfills a need for creativity that I have! Even though I am a bit sporadic on my blogging, I still keep trying to occasionally post!

Are YOU a Connected Educator?

Posted on October 4, 2014 in Personal Learning Networks,Professional Development by Lisa Suhr

October is a month of many celebrations!  As a child, Halloween was always something to look forward to; the costumes, the candy, the running around the neighborhood unsupervised!!  It’s also Breast Cancer Awareness month…pink ribbon campaigns all around and Susan G. Komen’s name is everywhere.  And as the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, I honor it with all sincerity.

But did you know . . .

October is also the month we challenge educators to be Connected Educators?  There is a formal campaign to spread the word to educators everywhere on the value of being connected!  You can see the Connected Educator website here:  I love the subtitle of this website:  ”Helping Educators Thrive in a Connected World.”

So, in honor of October, Connected Educator Month, I challenge you to consider your own professional connectedness and to do one thing this month to begin developing or enhancing your Personal Learning Network.  Here is a great video to introduce the concept of what a PLN is and why its valuable:

As part of the first challenge of Connected Educators Month, I watched this video and added my comment about what a PLN is.  Here is how I commented:

The concept of a PLN for me has changed over the years that I’ve been in education (25!!). When I first started teaching, technology was limited and I relied on my building and district colleagues, professional reading, college courses I took and professional organizational memberships to continue to learn. Attending conferences introduced me to short-term connections to others, but not until email came in to the picture did long-term connections to others outside of my small rural Kansas school district become possible. My first long-term “expert” connection came through a partnership with the American Meteorological Society that paired science teachers with practicing meteorologists to increase our learning through in-person visits as well as course work faxed back and forth between the teacher and the meteorologist!! My first long-distance peer connection was with a teacher in the Boston area who I met through the online Monster Exchange project and with whom I emailed and exchanged drawings and writings of our classes by uploading projects to the project website.

Today the social media technologies that exist completely change the ease of connections and the variety of connections available to educators. It is exciting to me to see the opportunities that our young educators have for such professional growth early in their careers! It should be good for retention as well as improving the profession!

Respond in the comments about your own PLN or what you’ve done this month to begin or enhance it!  Happy Connected Educator’s Month!

TED Talk Tuesday: Episode 1

Posted on July 1, 2014 in TED Talk Tuesday by Lisa Suhr  Tagged ,

20140701-072328.jpgI am going to write a series of posts focusing on some valuable TED Talks. Since I will publish them on Tuesdays, the series will be called TED Talk Tuesday! If you haven’t spent time exploring what’s available through TED, you really must! Start by browsing at this link! And if you have suggestions for me on talks I should include, please comment on one of the TED Talk Tuesday posts!!

This first TED Talk Tuesday post features my “takeaways” from a talk by Tom Hierick at TEDx Powell River, titled “I Am the Future.” Watch the entire talk yourself for the most motivation, but if you don’t have time, here are the points he made that were most relevant to me:

** The current circumstances of our students don’t determine where they will end up…just where they are starting. Our job as educators is to help them plot the course from where they are starting to where they want to end up.

**Every student is a story waiting to be told. The job of educators is to help them tell their stories.

**There is a Chinese proverb that says, “The one who plants a tree rarely gets to enjoy its shade. How does this apply to me as an educator?

**If kids come to us from strong, healthy, functioning families it makes our job easier. If they do not come to us from strong, healthy, functioning families, it makes our job more important.

**Kindness extended gets multiplied. be inspirational to someone.

**Everyday you have an opportunity to exert positive influence.

**What would you do if you knew you would not fail?

** In education, relationships are the most important thing. Connect first with the heart, and the head will follow.

I have a harder time making these kinds of meaningful connections with kids now that I am in a support role in our school district instead of having my own classroom. I hope to be intentional this coming year to get to know more kids personally and help them tell their stories!

Sketchnoting and MOOCS

Posted on May 30, 2014 in Apps and Applications,iPads,Productivity by Lisa Suhr  Tagged ,

Let’s be clear: I love MOOCS. If I had unlimited funds, I would just keep taking college classes in all sorts of topics because I love to learn new things. I hope that when I am retired, I live near a campus that allows senior citizens to audit courses for free like ESU did when I was in college!! So when I heard about the concepts of MOOCS…free Massive Open Online Courses, I was elated. And not just a little intrigued by the design aspect since I was formally trained in Instructional Design and Technology during my masters work. I’ve participated in MOOCS from a a couple different platforms, but mostly Coursera. I’ve taken my first poetry class, Listening to World Music, Beginning Guitar, a course designed for technology coaches like me, and now a course specifically about how to generally coach teachers. I didn’t complete all the lessons but grew a little in courses on songwriting and something called “disruptive technologies,” too.

One of my classmates in this most recent class shared her weekly notes done in a process called sketchnoting, and I became inspired to try it myself. It reminds me of the concept mapping that I always had my science students do to make connections between concepts in class, but on artistic steroids. Visual drawings enhance the main points of the notes to help the note taker retain what they are studying. Color and doodling enhance. Here is my first sketchnote from the class:


Now granted, there are mostly just words in this page, so one of my goals will to become more artistic and graphic and less text-based as I do my next sketch notes. The app I used was Paper 53 for iPad and on this first one, I only used the free version which has limited tools and colors. I might experiment on the next one with a different tool as the add on for Paper costs about $7. It was super easy to share, though and could be emailed quite easily in a file that opened fine on my Windows laptop, too.

Now if you want to see some professional Sketchnoting, head over to the Langwitches blog and check out Silvia’s work on the same subject . . . I could let this put me to shame, but instead I choose to exercise a growth mindset and instead be INSPIRED by her work! Here is her post and sketch on the same week of the course we are taking: Sketchnote from Silvia at Langwitches

What a Loser # 13: PowerSchool Teacher

Posted on April 1, 2014 in Apps and Applications,iPads by Lisa Suhr

The PowerSchool Teacher app offers limited access to their account for current PowerSchool users. Since our district users PowerSchool for its student information system, it can be useful to teachers in our district. However, Please be aware that there are limits to what can be done through the app as compared to accessing the PowerTeacher program on a computer. Teachers can do basic grade book functions through the app and can enter attendance with full functionality. However, as of right now, there is no was to submit attendance through the app, so users will still need to log in to the account on a computer to do that. Rosters do show for each class assigned to a user along with student pictures and basic information like birthday and student demographics. My belief is that this app will become more and more powerful in coming releases as PowerSchool developers begin to write Flash out of their programs, making the entire program more iPad friendly. If you have this app on your iPad, be sure to update it so that new developments can be part of yr options!!



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