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I know that the title of my blog is Reflections on Ed Tech, but today I’m taking a moment to reflect as an educator. Renovations to one of our schools begins this summer and it’s the building in which I have an office. This is the end of my 8th year in the role of Technology Integration Specialist, but I also taught first and second grade in this district for 15 years before that.

I’m cleaning and going through things in drawers, bookshelves, and in file cabinets and it’s a wonderful walk down memory lane. I’m viewing the timeline of my life as an educator.

FullSizeRenderI’ve come across an election unit I created while student teaching. I won’t reveal who was running for president that year, but let’s just say there are mimeographed papers in the folder. Notice the issues under discussion; not much has changed.

After that, I taught in Boston at a very special school. Those memories are kept alive through the friendships that remain strong and a well-connected community.

While in graduate school for my Ed.M., I did an internship at Tom Snyder Productions. IMG_3931That’s where I met Peter Reynolds and others with whom I’m still connected. My name is
on one of the teacher’s guides to a product developed there, (proud moment), and I also have other products from TSP that I used while in the classroom. Those are strong and positive memories!

Most of what I’m finding are materials from my teaching days here in Vermont. I have file cabinets full of my resources that I think I’ll be recycling today. It’s a bit emotional, but if I ever needed materials like that, I’d likely use a different path. (OER) So many of these materials are things I created and that are only in hard-copy. Sharing resources with one another has always been important, especially in our digital world.

IFullSizeRender (1)‘ve found scrapbooks given to me by students or whole classes along with many photos. Those students are in college now. In my mind, they remain in first/second grade. There are tidbits of my life scattered around this small space, that give me pause and generate smiles.
Through it all, I’m also thinking of colleagues who are among my closest friends. That’s what happens when you work together over time, building trust, sharing memories, and depending on one another.

This reflection is generating some thoughts about education. Some things never change.

  • It’s still and always should be, about the kids. They come first.
  • Positive relationships with students create community and foster success.
  • The connections we make with colleagues matter, for us and for our students.
  • “Power is gained by sharing knowledge, not hoarding it.” ~ anonymous quote, but a good one. We need to share what we create, share via blogs, and share our reflections.

I’m learning a lot by spending some time looking through my own things. Give it a try.

 

 

 

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At the dinner table tonight, I brought up the topic of choosing our #OneWord for 2017. After being home over the holiday break, my husband and I did some cleaning out. It makes sense that he chose Simplify as his word. When we asked our son, his reply was “No.” I think that’s his word … we’ll keep working on that after we finish laughing. #TeenageHumor

oneword17Last year my word was Try. I have always loved that word and all that if connotes. My word this year is Positive. Given the political climate, I want to be sure that I focus not on that, but on my own actions. I intend to stay positive, react positively, speak positively, and collaborate positively. I also connect this word to having a growth mindset, which also means I’ll take a positive approach to whatever comes along.

I hope that having a positive attitude will cause more positive things to happen. We’ll see.

I shared the #OneWord challenge with our whole faculty and staff and created a Padlet on which we can all share our words. I won’t connect it here so that everyone has time to  contribute to it, but will follow up with another post soon.

Stay Positive!

 

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Blogs I Follow

This week’s #ETCoaches blog challenge: How do the reading of blogs influence you as an educator? Which blogs do you follow/love? Do you use a RSS reader?”

follow

I receive most of the resources and blogs that have an influence on me via Twitter and the Google+ Communities of which I’m a member. It’s my PLN to the rescue, once again. I used to use an RSS feed, back when Google Reader was an option. Then I realized that most of the blogs/people I follow share via Twitter. It felt redundant to have an RSS feed and Twitter, so I cut out the RSS.

Some of the blogs are thought-provoking, some share resources, and others share ideas about pedagogy. They all benefit me in different ways.

Here are some of the blogs/people I follow.

Thanks for reading; I always appreciate feedback.

 

 

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This week’s #ETCoaches blog challengeWhat tools are you using that you are loving? What problems do they overcome? How can others replicate your success?

etcoaches-tools

There are many tools I use, that I promote for others to use, but here are a few at the top of my list that assist me in my work as an EdTech Coach.

Hootsuite: I rely on Twitter to build my PLN, provide resources, make connections, and for the best professional development. I use Hootsuite, (others might use Tweetdeck,) to visually access different streams on Twitter at once. It helps to join and follow Twitter chats as well. You can integrate other social media accounts too. It’s a lifesaver.

Diigo: I use Diigo to save and organize resources. In my role as an EdTech Coach, I have resources coming at me all day long via email, feeds, blogs, and Twitter. I need a way to save them so that I can easily access later. For example, I share a Tech News every other week (or so- being sensitive to other things going on in school). I collect items over time that will be of interest to our faculty and staff. I tag those TechNews and then, when it’s time to put the news together, I search for resources with that tag. Easy-peasy.

Canva: I use Canva to create visuals for the Tech News, blog posts, posters, flyers, and more. It makes me feel creative! See graphic above.

Smore: Those who are reading this might be wondering what tools I use for the TechNews I mentioned above. For years I did that using a Google Site, adding a new page with columns for each edition. I discovered Smore a few years ago and found that it was more visually appealing. Now I share the link to the Smore, and I embed it on the original Google Site in a new page, so that the archived editions are available too. Our school newsletter goes out to families once a week using Smore as well and it’s been well received. I’m curious to see how this might change when the new Google Sites are officially available.

PhotosForClass: I don’t use this other than to model, but I highly recommend that our students use this site. Search for an image, download it (even on a Chromebook) and insert it into projects, sites, or blog posts. It automatically includes the proper citation on the image itself. Great for teaching about WHY we need to cite our sources!

Google+ Communities: In addition to Twitter, I use various Google+ communities to ask questions, get ideas, and share. Some of the communities I visit most often include: Instructional Technology Integrators, Google Classroom, Chromebook EDU, and Bringing the World Into the Classroom.

Google Hangouts: I’m a member of a 5-person team in our school district. We’re all spread out with considerable distance between our schools. We meet once a week via Hangout to keep the team together, share what’s happening in our schools, work on district-level projects so that there’s consistency, and basically, collaborate. Hangouts make this possible without us having to factor in travel time to get together.

Common Sense Education:  Most EdTech Coaches know of this resource, but just in case… it’s an amazing site for Digital Citizenship resources as well as EdTech reviews. This is a must for your list.

There are many more, but these tools help me create, collaborate, share, connect, and stay productive.

 

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I’ve started to see, once again, members of my PLN on Twitter sharing their one word for 2016. They’re awesome and inspiring and got me thinking. I’m seeing words like #be and #empower. I imagine over the next few days as we near and enter 2016 that we’ll see more.

As educators, we’re often asked about that one teacher we remember. Or the one experience in a classroom we never forgot. Once I became a teacher, I wanted to be one of those teachers for my students. I imagined, as we followed the Iditarod live in the early days of utilizing the Internet for such things (around 1995), that my first and second grade students would always remember me as the teacher who guided them through that experience. Then we started creating websites and blogging, and I thought perhaps that was it.

But when I do run into students from the past, they often bring up what I shared as my ‘favorite word’ and how they never forgot that. Long ago, my students cut out 4 foot letters that spelled out the word TRY, decorated each of them, and helped me affix them to the wall.

Whenever a student was stuck or said, “I’m finished” after very little effort, I just pointed up to the word on the wall. As I thought about this post, I realized that my favorite word was a harbinger of times to come- before #grit and #mindset hit the scene.

That’s my word for 2016, as it has been for many, many years. I’m only sorry that I couldn’t find a photograph of the original.

try

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As is the case for many of us, having structure helps. By that I mean having clear, regular expectations for yourself, whether it’s self-imposed or provided by an outside source. I know that if I don’t have a regular routine or someone waiting for me, I don’t exercise as often. Yes, I just confessed that. I need structure and I know it. That may not be the case for all who have different drivers motivating them to do many things.

Last year I participated in the #reflectiveteacher (check out that hashtag!) 30-Day Blogging Challenge, sponsored by TeachThought. I blogged every day for a month! My goal was to set the ball in motion and then I’d easily blog on a regular basis after the challenge ended. As you can see by the dates on my posts, that fell to the wayside.

Its-possible-to-becomeA colleague from Vermont (@betavt) created a Twitter challenge to encourage people in his district to tweet and connect with one another at the beginning of this school year. I watched it from afar to see how it went. Then, with permission, I borrowed and adapted the idea. We are using it to tweet from our school, using the #wsdvt hashtag as a part of our work for Connected Educator’s month. There are a few educators in our schools who have joined in, but not as many as I would have predicted. I wonder why? There’s great structure!

Also as a part of Connected Educator’s month, Lani Ritter Hall (@lanihall) is posting a Daily Connect on the Connected Educator’s ning. It’s a quick activity which exposes us to a new tool, encourages us to try it out and share it, and then use it to connect with others. Today’s Daily Connect encouraged us to use AnswerGarden. I’m learning something new every day.

I’m responding well to the structure of these two activities and have tweeted each day as well as tried Lani’s Daily Challenge. I find that having structure helps direct my learning. Hmmm, it’s likely the same for many of our students as learners, as well as for our colleagues. I’m encouraged to suggest to teachers and students that they create challenges like these to engage and provide structure for learning, for others.

And look, without any structure, I’m blogging. Maybe I have grown!

image created with Quozio.com

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We are making plans for our annual Theme Week which takes place the third week of February. I’ve written about Theme Week in the past here.

theme weekThis year’s theme is Connected Cultures Through Wellness. That seems to encompass many ideas, almost too many! In the workshop that the tech integration team offers, we like to offer something inspiring, fun, and that hopefully will filter back into the classrooms and influence teachers and students to try new things that enhance learning.

Last year we did that with the Aurasma app and augmented reality. The year before that, iPads were fairly new in our school and we offered a workshop around digital photography using various apps. Both were successful in getting students excited and they transferred that excitement back to their classrooms.

So, this year’s brainstorm is now upon us. We will have 4 groups a day for 4 days. Students in each group will come to work with us twice. One group comes at the same time on Monday and Tuesday, and then another group on Wednesday and Thursday. That’s a total of about 2.5 hours to get something accomplished. By the end of the week, we’ll have worked with about 200 students.

Please help us- we’d like to use the power of our networks to get ideas. What ‘new-ish’ technology tools can we use to address the theme, while having it not feel like traditional school work? Students love Theme Week because it’s a break from the normal routine; the workshops provide opportunity to do something fun and different.

Feel free to help us with the brainstorm in the comments below or on this Padlet. Your input is greatly appreciated!

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