Friday, July 12, 2013

My 11+1 Essential Tools for using Social Networking as Professional Development

"Real PD starts with wanting 2 learn Not with learning something once for one hour once a year Take control of your profession" Tim Charleston (@MrCsays)

In May, I presented at the iPARA Expo in Los Gatos, CA.  My topic was the opportunity that social media and networking provides for educators. I started with what I know...after some thought I realized I use at a minimum 9 different social media tools every week day!  I sure thought computers were supposed to simplify our lives!  Here is a screen shot of just the apps I use, not to mention the websites.

  1. edmodo - In addition to using +Edmodo to communicate with students and parents, I also use communities and groups to connect with other educators and learn about new ways to integrate technology with curriculum.
  2. Twitter - I read twitter like some people read the news. I check it daily to see what new things are going on with education and technology (#edchat).. In his post, Twitterati: Progressive EDU leaders or outliers?  Tom Whitby writes Today’s technological tools for collaboration now enable it globally, timelessly, and virtually endlessly. The key factor in good and effective collaboration is connecting with right sources. 
  3. Youtube is a great resource for teachers and students. I have not yet begun to tap into its vastness of instructional and professional development videos.
  4. Blogs - Not only do I write for reflection but I also follow several other bloggers in the field of education.  Grace from Teacher Learning Community suggests: Reflect on your work from time to time by blogging about your experiences. Decide what has worked and what hasn’t? What should you do different next time? You can always draw from other people’s expertise as well. Social media is all about collaboration, and what better way to do that then by teaching and learning from other passionate educators?  Then share your blog with your colleagues. Build a list of blogs to read for professional development purposes…and make sure you subscribe to them so you know when they’ve posted new content. There are many teaching related blogs out there.
  5. Wikis - I use wikispaces as a repository of information. Our current wiki is managed by a group of us involved in a 1:1 iPad pilot. 
  6. facebook -I do not use this yet for professional purposes but this year plan to use a professional page/profile for parent communications
  7. google + -   I find this a better source of professional information than facebook.
  8. diigo - social bookmarking -   Not only can I save my bookmarks for use from any machine, bt I can also see what others are bookmarking and find new and interesting 
  9.  Pinterest  Simply a great source of ideas!
  10. LinkedIn and Tioki, which is kind of like a linkedin for educators, connects users with job opportunities. 
  11. Edshelf -  -Find the right educational tools for your needs - Reviews and recommendations of tools for education
  12. This just in - Graphite, a recently launched resource from +Common Sense Educators, provides curated recommendations and reviews of educational apps and tools.

Jason Tomassini from Education Week  suggests via the Huffington Post that teachers check Twitter for hashtags related to education technology, elementary education, and 1-to-1 computing initiatives featuring iPads. He found what is certainly true for this teacher, that we use Facebook in our personal life but we aren't on Facebook with our "teacher hats on."  I know for me I am more likely to use a designed for teachers and not likely one frequented by my students, current or past.  I don't even accept friend requests from parents of my current students. I know they can see my posts in a roundabout way, but it is just a line I have drawn for myself.

Eric Sheninger, "online idea-sharing tools like RSS feeds, digital discussion forums, and blogs have the power to expand PLNs to previously unimaginable sizes. By using social media tools such as Twitter, social bookmarking sites, and social networks, educators can participate in the new era of professional development—an era of idea exchange that is accessible anywhere, anytime and that connects the field’s brightest minds. These tools are real-time, cost-effective, and accessible around the world, and they are driven by practitioners, not just consultants. 

Social media–facilitated idea sharing and online personal learning networks also bypass the challenges of traditional professional development, including time and money constraints, uninterested participants, and an overemphasis on irrelevant or boring content. 

 George Couros ‏@gcouros  "Connecting on Twitter has not only created higher expectations for myself in education, but for people in general. So much awesome out there"


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Kids Blogging

I have blogged with my students for the past three years now and have been trying to figure out, within the bounds of our Responsible Use Policy, how to up my game.  I started blogging with my kids as a way for them to find their authentic voice.  We mostly wrote about books we were reading and I have also had students respond to journal type prompts. I used Google’s blogspot as my platform as it was free and easy.  I posted and my students would comment anonymously using only their initials as identifiers.

 I moved to a new district where they required all student writing to be within the ‘walled garden’.  So I moved to +Kidblog, a free app where students post freely and privately within just our class.  Again, we mostly used the blog for journal prompts and reading logs. I was most excited when, without prompting, one of my students started a story, to which other students added chapters!

But still, I want more fro my kids from this experience. I want their real and authentic voices to shine through. I want them to learn the value writing.  And I want them to learn to be responsible citizens, both in the virtual and real worlds!

This summer I discovered  Pernille Ripp.  Within 24 hours, I came across two or her posts about her blogging experience with 4th graders.  She had some great ideas that I wanted to capture and share. 

From +Ian Jukes' Fluency 21 blog, Ms. Ripp gives practical eleven steps to blogging with students. 

I love the idea of starting out on paper. I often take for granted that kids know how to do something which they have not yet learned to do. Blogging on poster paper with post-its for comments provides opportunities to discuss real time issues like safety and style.

The second post came by way of Here she talks at a higher level about how to give students a voice in their education.  How and why and most of all, listening to those voices then reflecting and revising based on what you hear.

She has some great ideas for ‘blog challenges’ with categories such as about me, and  about school at Student Blogging Challenges - A List of Ideas

Finally, Ms. Ripp has some great suggestions for integrating blogging throughout the curriculum.  

In the end, blogging should not be a burden in your already full day. Students should love blogging, not see it as a chore (which is also why I never grade my students’ blogs) and they should be eager to express themselves and expand their worlds.

So this summer I will be researching ways to 'go global' with our blogging as well as integrating with curriculum, not just language arts. I also want to learn more about how to use twitter with my students.

4 Essential Apps for 1:1 classroom

Today I attended  #AppyHour with Graphite and   +Common Sense Educators  A team from Graphite presented 4 essential apps for 1:1 classrooms.

 +Kelly Mendoza moderated two teachers:

  •  Lisa Butler- middle school teacher, PA, 6th social studies teacher, their school is 50% 1:1 and 50% BYOT 
  • Jennifer  – Pittsburg, PA Her hot tip? check out google vine

  1. +Animoto  Educator Pro paid version or a scaled down but completely functional free version for classroom use. I have used this for years and love it. It is easy to use for me and my students. Only problem I have is that with preview, you cannot hear the whole song or all of the lyrics. So I only let students use instrumental versions of songs OR I have to preview their product before they can watch it. Great idea from Lisa Bulter (@srtalisa) to use animoto for kids to produce tutorials on other tools (ex symbaloo)!
  2. Google Earth – be sure you have clear learning goals for students to follow in geography, math, science, writing and reading (google lit trips
  3. Google art – Amazing source for all things art. Can be used for story starters, use with art vista/docent program, view world wonders. You can take virtual field trips! Check out lesson plans and ideas under educator tab
  4. Schmoop – free paid, 0-12 grade  Tools and resources to help make learning fun. It can be used as homework help, to introduce topics or to support classroom teaching.

West Valley iPad Expo