Category Archives: Professional Development

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!

Adobe Voice iPad App: A Tip Sheet

image of tip sheet

As part of our district’s emphasis on college and career readiness for our students, in a few weeks all teachers are going to get a 1/2 day to visit local businesses to learn more about how their content and/or the “soft skills” we teach students are applicable to today’s employers.  Following the visit, we are expected to create a digital artifact of our visit.  I’ve been brainstorming all the cool ways these visits could be documented, and I’ve created a tip sheet for a fairly new  free app that I’ve been experimenting with and plan to use to document my own visit for the day:  Adobe Voice.  I’ve created a tip sheet for new users of Adobe Voice that can be downloaded from this link:  Adobe Voice Tip Sheet.  The screen shot in this post is of my tip sheet.

Adobe Voice allows the user to insert  images of their own OR icons from their vast library, then record audio narration over the top.  Multiple images can be added to tell a story and the app even has its own background music and themes to choose from.  Once you’re done the app saves directly down to your photo library on your iPad as movie file . . . that’s right . . . a movie file!!  How cool is that?   (I just had a little flash back to my old Windows Photostory days, only Adobe Voice is way easier!!)

Google Classroom Video Resource: Sharing!

Here is a Great video on using Google Classroom!

In today’s blog post, I’m sharing a video I ran across through a useful resource I use to learn about Google Tools:  www.thegooru.com.  I’m often asked by staff to show them quickly how to use Google Classroom, but this tool has become more than a “quick share,” so I’m hoping that being able to help folks create their first classroom and then sending them to this blog post will be useful!

This video is about 50 minutes long, but you can forward through the first part of the video because this is a recording of a live webinar and the first 6  minutes (or so) are the presenter inviting the live viewers to join his Google Classroom account so they have live participation.  As a viewer of the archived video, I just suggest you forward in the video to about 6:15 and start it there.  (This should make the viewing length about 45 minutes total.)  The video was published in September of 2015, so as of today, it is pretty current on what Google Classroom can do.)

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:

 

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!

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:

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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!

Voki and Tellagami: Avatars for all Platforms

Another project for the Digital Differentiation workshop I’m preparing! This time I was looking at avatar creation as a way to differentiate either the deliver of content to students or, even more excitingly, as a way to differentiate for demonstration of mastery of knowledge.

Students could create a Voki or Tellagami project that includes script-writing to show deep understanding of the content you’ve been working on. They could even make a series of these projects if the 30 second time limit isn’t long enough. If you’re lucky enough to be working on the iPad with both Tellagami and iMovie…smash those apps together! Record short Tellagami projects, save them to the iPad’s photoroll and then import them into iMovie to piece them together into one single movie!

Anyway, here are my two talking avatar projects for you to compare:
Tellagmi Project:

Voki Project: (Warning: Voki uses Flash and will not play on an iDevice.)