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Posts Tagged ‘connected’

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 written quite a few posts that are about the power or usefulness of Twitter. Recently, I’ve noticed discussion on Twitter and in other forums about Twitter’s future. That has caused me to stop, pause, and reflect.

As an educator, I can’t think of a more perfect tool.

US ON TWITTER

I could share the many ways our teachers utilize Twitter as professionals and/or with their students. I could share how they’ve connected to experts, authors, other classes, and joined collaborative projects. I could share so many more things. But let’s keep this simple. I think Twitter provides us with something that other tools and sites do not – a quick way to share with, connect with, and access the world.

I saw this post yesterday, and hope that others will consider how we can use Twitter for GOOD. Let’s harness the power of this great tool, help one another, and move forward positively.

 

 

 

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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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I’ve read a lot of posts during Connected Educator Month, about the value of being connected. I consider myself a connected educator, though sometimes more connected than others. What you put in directly relates to what you get out; it does take work and time. However, it’s well worth it. As many have said in a variety of ways, “all of us are smarter than any of us.”

What Being Connected Is:

  • Developing trusting relationships online and face to face
  • Giving as much as you take
  • Sharing
  • Collaborating

Last week I went to visit another school district to facilitate a session for their in-service day. I offered a session about the importance of blogging with students. When I shared about students writing for a larger audience and the change in motivation, a number of teachers in the room asked how you build that audience. How do you find other classes with which to collaborate?

I said that I use my PLN – especially networks on Twitter and various Google+ Communities of which I’m a member. Many in the room stared at me as if I was from another planet. I reflexively turn to these networks to ask questions, to share ideas and resources, and to connect that I don’t even think about it anymore. But for someone new to it all, it can be intimidating. chain link

Tips to Get Connected:

  • Start slowly, it won’t all come together at once.
  • Join one of these networks – Twitter or Google+. Just one. See how it goes. If you like it, keep going. If not, try the other one.
  • Ask others who are already connected to help you.
  • Observe, watch, lurk.
  • Put your toes in the water and send out a tweet or a post in a community.
  • Take risks. No one will judge you. Instead you’ll be welcomed.

There’s a whole wide world out there full of educators who are sharing and connecting. Join it. It will change how you view education and your work, and then have an impact on your students as well. Get smarter- connect.


 

Image originally from: creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by jspad: http://flickr.com/photos/jspad/3349733909

Then adapted with pixlr.com

 

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hard workAs much as I have written about and speak positively about connecting, it’s not easy. That was reflected upon recently in this post, “The Top 4 Excuses for Not Connecting.

I’ve been thinking about this as well, even before I saw that. Honestly! For me, being a connected educator requires putting in the time and building relationships. The time element is challenging for everyone. Yet somehow, there are thousands of educators blogging. I don’t even know the number of educators on Twitter, but it constantly amazes me that at no matter what time of the day, there are people sharing, participating in chats, and supporting one another. And they have the same 24 hours in a day. It all comes down to how you choose to prioritize.

Building relationships takes work in any realm and it’s no different when you’re trying to get connected. Over the past years I have made many professional connections, both face-to-face and online. But like any other budding new friendship, you have to commit and put forth the effort to build them into relationships that thrive. Relationships are both give and take. You can’t take if you don’t give. I have found that to be true- the more I give, the more I get.

Despite these challenges, it’s worth it. I feel very fortunate to have connected online a few years ago with Kay Bisaillon, whom I finally got to meet face-to-face at ISTE in San Antonio and again in Atlanta. When I saw her again this year, it felt like I was visiting with an old friend and we picked up right where we’d left off. The connection there is strong, at least for me. I know that I can turn to her with questions, ask for help making connections for collaborative projects, and seek her perspective in new ideas.

It took a few tries before Kay and I finally met in person a few years ago, but it was worth it. That’s just one example of how devoting the time to building relationships makes connecting pay off.

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Yes, the 30-Day Blogging Challenge came to an end for me, but thankfully now there’s Thoughtful Thursdays! The folks at TeachThought are encouraging us to blog on Thursdays during Connected Educator Month.

Here’s today’s prompt: What does “connected education” mean to you?

I have blogged quite a bit about being connected and the value of my PLN. Feel free to check out the tags to the right to view some thoughts about this from past posts.

To reflect on the question for this post, I’ll share events from recent days. This week in our schools, each of our teaching teams were given a half day out of their classrooms to plan integrated/interdisciplinary units. I sat in for some part of each team’s meeting. It’s been a whirlwind week; I’ve visited with 14 teams so far with one more tomorrow!

Throughout the course of these meetings, I’ve added technology integration ideas to the brainstorms and planning. I was happy to hear a number of teams ask how they could provide opportunities to move up on the SAMR model through different activities and events. I shared many ideas, like the Global Read Aloud, Mystery Skype/Hangouts, and classroom collaborations.

Some teachers asked, “What would be the one activity or tool that would give the most bang for the buck?” I do find that the topic of blogging is usually my answer many times to such question; blogging accomplishes so many things in a simple way. Students are working toward Common Core Standards, technology standards, improving keyboarding in an authentic manner, and learning valuable skills about digital citizenship as they compose posts and comments for one another. They are writing for a larger audience, often beyond their classroom and even the school. This impacts their motivation and drive to write well. To kick it up a notch, teachers can connect with another class and leave comments for one another.

42 secondsThen I’m asked,  “How do you find other classes to connect with for this purpose?” I often have to say that I can help them connect through my networks and PLN. I can put it out there on Twitter, using hashtags that I know will reach the audience we need. I can access a number of Google+ communities on which I can seek other classrooms for projects or blogging. I can reach out directly to groups that I’m a member of, or even specific individuals that I’ve collaborated with in the past. I’m ready to go and help them connect. But why can’t they do this themselves? They can, but are much more limited if they’re not connected educators.

I notice that I feel I have all of these networks and resources, but that some of the teachers inquiring don’t. That’s the benefit of connected education for me. I can turn to experts around the world for assistance, not just those in my school building. I can seek answers to specific questions and get better results than I would with a Google search. I feel informed about developments in education because I’m reading tweets, posts, and articles I come across daily. I access and pass along this information and then find that I’ve seen it long before it gets shared through other channels. As a recent commercial stated, “that was so 42 seconds ago.”  I’m on the leading edge.

This is a ramble more about being a connected educator than connected education. But it’s all connected, right? There’s real value in this, for many adults and many students.

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