As we start the beginning of a new year, I’m often struck by the posts I come across on Twitter. In December, we see the “Best of” lists – best apps of 2016, best posts of 2016, and so on. Then as we shift to January, we see the “Trends” lists which includes things like “Trends in Education for the New Year” or “Predictions for 2017”.
As an educator, we always know that new things come our way. New initiatives, new ideas, new resources. And we struggle with how to fit it all in. We ponder how we’ll add something new and then consider what we can take off our very full plates.
As a Technology Integration Specialist, I come across these posts and wonder. Do we add more apps to the collection on our iPads? If so, do we let go of one or two to make room? When I see lists of the “top Chrome extensions”, do we add more? Do we take away from what we’re using to replace it with something new? How do we know that the new one is better?
I find that I have more questions than answers. I hesitate to add more to our teachers’ plates. I read about new sites, tools, extensions, gadgets, and instead of jumping to incorporate them or pass them along to our teachers, I’ve decided to focus my energy on using what we have, better.
We are fortunate to have access to devices such as iPads and Chromebooks. Along with those comes access to powerful tools that we’re not using to the fullest extent. We can do better with what we have. (That’s not to say we’re doing poorly!) I will still check out what’s new and current, because I have a great PLN and I love to learn, but there’s plenty of room to grow with what we already have. Consider this a resolution. I’m sticking with the ‘old’ while considering the ‘new’.
Want to join me?
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Posted in audience, connected, reflect, sharing, teaching, twitter, wsdvt, tagged Collaboration, Education, Sharing, Twitter, Vermont, wsdvt on October 31, 2016|
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Many readers may be familiar with the Humans of New York, a series that shares interviews with people in New York City. It’s a great way to tell the story of that city from many different points of view.
Here in Vermont, there’s a Twitter handle called @ThisIsVT, where each week, a different Vermont resident shares their story, their view of Vermont, and offers different perspectives of this great state via tweets. The bio for the account changes each week to reflect who is doing the tweeting.
We have a fairly active Twitter hashtag for education and educators in Vermont, #VTed. It’s used for all things education, including tweets from those at meetings and conferences, school or district shares, and as a vehicle for educators to connect and build their PLN. There’s a chat every other Thursday evening at 8 pm EST. We hope educators know that all are welcome, even if you don’t live in Vermont.
A new Twitter account, @ThisIsVTEd was born in September, building upon the @ThisIsVT idea and expanding it to education. It was an organic evolution among the facilitators & participants in a #VTed chat last year. Each week, a different school or school district takes the helm and tweets out their story, their happenings, and their point of view of education in Vermont. Thanks to Ned Kirsch (@betavt), Jason Finley (@finleyjd), and The Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education (@innovativeEd) for getting the ball rolling with this great idea!
Last week it was our turn in the Williston, VT schools. While we didn’t capture every element of what happens in our schools or even each teaching team, it provides a nice window into what makes our schools special. Here’s a Storify I put together to showcase last week’s tweets from @ThisIsVTEd, as well as tweets and Instagram shares with our schools’ hashtag #wsdvt.
@ThisIsVTEd has rotated to a new ‘tweeter’ this week. Be sure to check out the bio on Twitter to see who is tweeting! Regardless, it’s a fabulous way to see what’s happening in Vermont Education. We’re back to tweeting from our usual account, @wsdvt.
Window photo: Creative Commons/Flickr via James Lee https://flic.kr/p/8mN4qm
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Over the past two weeks, I’ve been asked to work with teachers and students to help introduce Google My Maps. Now that it’s found in My Drive, it’s getting used more often. I’ve always been a fan of maps in general, and we’re starting to see more and more applications for using My Maps.
One teacher is using My Maps to help students see the historical timeline and locations of flight. Students are creating layers for different famous aviators, including the Wright Brothers, Amelia Earhart, and Charles Lindbergh. They’re dropping pins at various locations depicting where events happened in the history of flight for each aviator. then they add extra information in the placemark from text describing the event, to photos and videos.
Another teacher asked me to support students who were excited about their personal travels over the summer. The students had photos from their trip in Drive, so they were able to map out their trip. I’ve never seen fourth grade students so motivated and invested. I have a feeling that they’ll become experts and teach others.
This past week, I had the opportunity to work with faculty from another school for an in-service day. One activity we did revolved around integrating a variety of Google tools. Teachers responded to this form, then saw the data represented in a sheet.
We then imported the sheet into Google My Maps to see our data in a different, visual representation. Here’s the result.
This activity sparked enthusiasm around all of these tools.
Here’s a quick screencast to show how to import data from a sheet into My Maps.
I’m excited to continue using Google My Maps with a variety of students and teachers.
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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?”
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.
- My Island View, Tom Whitby https://tomwhitby.wordpress.com/ Great perspective, always gets me thinking.
- FreeTech4Teachers, Richard Byrne http://www.freetech4teachers.com/ Amazing resource!
- The Principal of Change, George Couros http://georgecouros.ca/blog/ I’m not an administrator, but this blog has some excellent ideas and again, perspective on current topics in education.
- Alice Keeler, http://alicekeeler.com/ The best resource for Google Classroom and much more.
- Common Sense Education, https://www.commonsense.org/education/blog Most people go to CommonSenseMedia, but don’t realize there’s a blog for educators. Don’t miss it.
- Blogging through the Fourth Dimension, Pernille Ripp https://pernillesripp.com/ A great teacher with powerful things to say.
- Educator’s Technology, http://www.educatorstechnology.com/ Super resources.
- TeachThought, http://www.teachthought.com/ Again, all sorts of ideas, not necessarily EdTech.
- GAFE 4 Littles, Christine Pinto, http://christinepinto.com/gafe-4-littles-pln/ I just learned about this one, GAFE for primary level!
- Paul Solarz, http://paulsolarz.weebly.com/educators Paul is a classroom teacher. I have followed him for years (see his resources about passion projects). He wrote a book called Learn Like a Pirate that I have shared with classroom teachers. It almost makes me want to go back to the classroom.
Thanks for reading; I always appreciate feedback.
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Posted in Change, collaboration, integration, learning, reflect, relationships, teaching, wsdvt, tagged Collaboration, Professional development, reflection, relationships on September 18, 2016|
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Here’s this week task for the #ETCoaches Blog Challenge:
“What are your strengths, areas for improvement, challenges, successes in your current role?”
I’ll break down the individual areas with some thoughts below.
Strengths: I’m a good communicator. I respond quickly to inquiries or requests. I share new tools, ideas, and resources via a Tech News often, but not too often. As a former classroom teacher, I know how much teachers are juggling and adding another email isn’t helpful every week, so I spread them out. I stay positive and try to remain neutral.
Areas for Improvement: I know that I need to continue to build relationships, even though I’ve worked in these schools for 22 years! I’d like to work more closely with our special educators and increase my awareness of their needs in their work with students. After research and a long approval process, we’ve just purchased Read & Write for Google for all of our district’s students, grades 3-12. I’m very excited to share and support folks with this incredible resource with all of our faculty and staff.
Challenges: Like many, I’d say that time is always a factor. Determining how I best budget my time and prioritize is always a challenge. I hope to model best practices and demonstrate that student needs drive our work. We’ve embarked on some new things this year that require shifts for all of us.(We’re dropping traditional grades and gradebooks, moving to standards-based learning and reporting; middle school students now all have ePortfolios that also function as a personal learning plan, to name a few!) My challenge is to provide the support and encouragement necessary to help make this a smooth process.
Successes: I’m extremely fortunate to have opportunities to offer professional development to our faculty and supporting staff members as well. I feel that those are well-planned and facilitated, offering support, encouragement, and ideas that can be implemented right away. It is not my intention to share cool techie tools. I hope that I communicate that curriculum and pedagogy come first, followed by a discussion of how digital tools might best support the learning.
Those are initial thoughts. I’m noticing how often I used the word ‘support’. I guess that’s a big factor of who I am and what I do. As always, I welcome feedback!
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Posted in integration, teaching, tech, video, wsdvt, tagged Educators, greenscreen, Professional development, retn, Teacher, Technology integration, Vermont, video on May 3, 2016|
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Our use of green screen technology with video is expanding every day. We currently have a green screen set up (screen and lighting) in each of our two buildings, with more on the way. Teachers are excited to incorporate this into their programs to enhance and support learning.
Last fall, 8 educators from our schools gave up their own time to attend a green screen workshop offered one evening by RETN. (Regional Educational Television Network). The amazing facilitators, Doug Dunbebin and Jill Dawson (@), made a lasting impression on our teachers and from them to our students.
New videos featuring green screen technology have been created as a direct result of this workshop. The videos range from sharing about a field trip at the first/second grade level, to creating PSAs about Child Labor at the middle school level. There are more projects in the works as well and other teachers are joining in.
Thank you to RETN and Jill. Doug’s legacy lives on.
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As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I have the wonderful opportunity to work with small groups of third and fourth graders on a rotating basis throughout the year. We focus on various topics under the realm of digital citizenship. We meet once a week for 6 weeks.
During the first 4 weeks, we learn about the topics of:
- Keeping Private Information Private
- Strong Passwords
- Copyright and Giving Credit
- Cyberbullying and the Power of Words
I use a variety of materials with students, the bulk of which from Common Sense Media. The final two weeks are devoted to creating a product to help others learn and get some tips about these topics. Earlier this year, groups used BookCreator and HaikuDeck on iPads to create a product.
Most recently, we use AdobeVoice to share our stories about Digital Citizenship. Each student made their own story, and then I used WeVideo to string them all together into one video for each group. The stories have become more powerful and serious as the year progressed.
Here’s one example.
I welcome your thoughts and feedback, as always.
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