Category Archives: Personal Learning Networks

Committed to Improvement: #Edublogsclub

I’m excited to be participating a in weekly blog challenge project that starts here at the beginning of the new year: #Edublogsclub! Each week, members of the challenge receive a prompt and are challenged to write towards this prompt during the week and publish their blog post. If you want to try the challenge along with me, click HERE to learn more and sign up!  This is my first weekly challenge where the prompt was to write a post that “tells your blog story.” So here goes:

This is not my first blog post, but I also don’t consider myself a successful blogger because I haven’t been consistent in my blogging practices in the past though I’ve tried several times to improve! I read other blogs through a feed reader (Feedly) so that I can just quickly skim the headlines. My favorite blogs are ones where new resources are shared as I used those to stay abreast of new ed tech that I then share out to the staff I support in our district.  I also read posts suggested by members of my Twitter PLN. I’m choosing to participate in this challenge to try to establish blogging as more of a professional habit. I hope that by receiving and responding to the prompts, I’m challenged to add other blog posts that are relevant to what I’m learning and sharing with others as well.

My biggest fear as I get started is that my posts will be long and wordy.  I know that other writing I do (emails, etc) can sometimes get too wordy and hard to follow, so I hope to keep things succinct and easy to read.  I’m also worried that the time I spend blogging will not be worthwhile since hardly anyone reads my posts.  In response to this fear, I hope to be able to focus on finding value in the process for professional growth and reflection of my own whether anyone reads or not!

Give it a Try: Twitter Chats

I’m getting ready to try my hand at my first opportunity to co-host a Twitter Chat and I wanted to make a brief guide for some of my colleagues who might have never taken part in a Twitter Chat before!    So this guide assumes first that you have a Twitter Account.  If you are brand new to Twitter, a better place to start is here:  http://cybraryman.com/twitterforbeginners.html.  Otherwise, follow these steps and tips to make a Twitter Chat a good experience:

  1.  Use a third-party app to help manage the “flow” of information during the chat.  I like, HootSuite but TweetDeck is also good.  These tools both have both app versions and desktop versions.  I prefer to work from my laptop AND iPad during a chat!  Once you choose one of the above tools, set up a column to follow the hashtag of the chat you’ll be participating in.  This filters out all the other Tweets and allows you to focus on just the relevant information at the time the chat takes place.
  2.  Understand the lingo and shorten words where you can to save characters.  Otherwise you won’t be able to fit your comments into 140 characters.   Ss = students, Ts= teachers, convo = conversation use the ampersand (&) and drop a few vowels where it won’t make the word impossible to read:  frm = from, f/ = for  Think about how you took notes in your college classes and shorten things up in logical ways!
  3. Questions will come out with a label:  Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4 and you should respond to questions with answers with corresponding labels:  A1, A2, A3, A4.  If you forget an post with it…not to worry this happens occasionally and others will still be able to tell what you’re responding to most of the time.
  4. MOST important tip:  If you respond, be sure to include the hashtag of the chat so that others following it will see your contribution!  #CSedChat is hashtag I’ll be adding to the end of each of my tweets during the chat I’m helping to moderate!  It will be in each question and each answer!  (Bonus:  after the chat, I can still search for tweets that were made using that hashtag and find them all when I have more time to look through the resources!)
  5. Lurking is ok…jump in and watch if you’re too scared to contribute.  That’s a fine way to start!  But don’t be shy about sharing your expertise!

Why Consider Why?

Why? One simple word can make all the difference. Whether planning a learning experience for young people or adults, “Why?” is an important place to start.  Today during the early Saturday morning educational Twitter chat I like to participate in, #SatChat, someone shared the following video, that made me start thinking about that little word: “why?”  Take a few minutes to watch:

Watching the video and reflecting a few minutes on it, reminded me of a conversation I’d had a day or two ago with colleague where I shared some thoughts I had after watching a TED Talk given by Simon Sinek, the author of “Start with Why.”  A few months back, I jotted a little “note-to-self” to look up “Sinek’s Golden Circle,” probably after reading about it on a blog or seeing it mentioned in a webinar.  I can’t even recall today where my first exposure to it was, but I can tell you that it motivated me enough to write myself a reminder to learn more about it!  I ran across my note the other day on one of the many Post-it notes that are on my desk, and I took a little break from work to start my research. I started by Googling the phrase and looking at some of the images that came up.  I dug into the concept a bit more and came across the following video of Sinek giving a TED Talk on his ideas.  The video is at the bottom of this post; it’s a little longer, but worth the watch.  I started thinking of all the applications the idea of “starting with why” has in the field of education, and I began to believe it is an important reminder to us as educators.  Children, young adults and especially adult learners we work with need to know the “WHY?” behind what we are teaching them.

Just as important as activating prior knowledge, explicitly pointing out the learning objectives for the lesson, or framing lessons within essential questions, the learners we work with need to know why what we have to say is important.  And for us to convey “The Why” to our students, we have to be able to articulate “The Why” ourselves.  So I challenge you today to add a step to your lesson planning or professional development planning that focuses on “The Why” of time you’ll spend with your learners.  What is “The Why?”  How will you communicate “The Why?”  See how it changes your planning process and delivery of your lesson or professional development!

 

 

Personalize Your Professional Learning!

One of our optional tech training sessions I offered this summer was all about taking your professional learning into your own hands using technology tools. I put the resources I shared with participants into a LiveBinder to organize things and share some of my own thoughts and challenges with them, and I wanted to make it a little more accessible. So I’m posting access to the “binder” here on by blog as an embedded object for you all to use! Take a minute to comment and let me know what you like and what I should add to this binder! And have a great time learning about the things you’re passionate about!!

Click here to open this binder in a new window.

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

 


My responses from this morning’s chat:

 

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

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
A6: VIDEOS https://www.teachingchannel.org/ MOOCS https://www.class-central.com/subject/education WEBINARS http://simplek12.com & BLOGS http://feedly.com/  #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:  http://edglossary.org/rigor/

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

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:  http://cybraryman.com/twitter.html!!)

Using Blogs as Part of Your Personal Learning Network

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 feedly.com 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:

20141016-091213.jpg
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?

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:  http://connectededucators.org/  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!