Category Archives: PLN

EDCI 338: Media Clip on Research Background and Interests

This post marks the start of a new educational related journey for me.  I’ve decided to go back to school and further my understanding of the best practices available to engage and motivate my learners.  I’m part of a small cohort #tiegrad and our first assignment is to create a media clip based on our educational interests.
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I’ve been involved in education in Chilliwack since 2007 and I currently work at Central Elementary Community School.  I am looking forward to the program but I am a little nervous about being able to juggle life, work, and school, especially with my first baby on the way.  The last few years have been extremely satisfying as an educator.  I’ve have started to develop a voice in education, continually try to improve my craft, and started to myself questions like, “What kind of learning environment am I creating?” “Does the activity I’m asking students to do relate to the learning outcome?” and “Am I feeding my students knowledge or posing questions to which we can discover the answers to together?”

I have several areas of interest I’d like to share with.  One area of interested is a part of my weekly schedule I have coined CHOICE – Children Have Ownership In Choice Education.  You might know it as genius hour, enquiry learning, or personalized learning.  I think it’s important to create time in the weekly schedule where students are encouraged to find their passions and explore them.  During CHOICE, I don’t plan to have too many answers for students, but plenty of questions.  I can visualize what it looks like, to some extent, but I’m having difficulty creating a framework to suit all my learners.  I wanted to include it in my schedule last year but couldn’t find the right time.  Perhaps the right time is not when everything is aligned, but now.  I read Will Richardson’s book “Why School?” last year and I loved Larry Rosenstock’s quote:

“We have to stop delivering the curriculum to kids.  We have to start discovering it with them.”

I get it!  It makes sense to me, but I still wonder what it looks like for all my students.  I am looking forward to reading Angela Maiers, “The Passion-Driven Classroom” which I believe speaks to this type of learning.

Another area of interest to me is self-regulation.  I work in an inner-city school with a disproportionately high number of at-risk children.  Many of these children are either too stimulated or not stimulated enough to partake in the learning process.  The need to develop students’ ability to self-regulate has become glaring obvious to everyone who works in my school, so this year I’m working with a new program called MindUP curriculum developed by the Goldie Hawn Foundation.  MindUP teaches social and emotional learning skills, brain science, a positive mindset, and mindful awareness.  Right now we’re working on deep breathing techniques, and will soon be learning about important parts of the brain, and how signals in our brain get blocked during times of stress and over stimulation.

I‘m an avid Twitter user and have found real value in Twitter over the years, particularly when developing learning networks, making connections, and working to improving my craft.  I like to explore student-learning networks in more depth.  The thought of my own students making connections with other students, teachers, professionals from around the world who work in fields they are interested in excites me no end.  I’ve tried them with students with mixed success but never with a whole class.

Game-based learning is an area of education that fascinates me.  I’ve just finished reading Now You See It by Cathy Davidson and in her books she talks about designing lesson in a gaming format where lessons allow for risk taking, meaningful creation, nonlinear navigation, problem solving, and an understanding of rule structures  So many of my students play video games and are engaged, motivated, and incredibly creative with them.  Nothing would please me more than to transfer some of those experiences into the classroom.

Finally, I have to let you into a little secret.  All the areas of professional interest I’ve mentioned already pale in comparison to what gets me up in the morning.  Four years ago I took my grade 6’s to Free The Children’s We Day in Vancouver, and that one experience change my views on education and what’s really important in school.  Building positive healthy relationships with one another, exercising tolerance, forgiveness, and above all else caring for one another is what really matters.  Thanks to We Day, my classroom has become a hub for social justice issues both globally and locally.  We fight hunger, stand against inequality, educate our local community about homelessness and water issues, and advocate for human rights.

I look forward to learning and sharing with you.

Professional Development Ideas for 21st Century Teaching

Does your school offer the professional development you’re need?

Recently I worked with my Twitter PLN on the topic of professional development.  Directly after the Tuesday Edchat session we worked on a document together, describing the kind of professional development opportunities we wished our schools districts offered.  We also discussed how we could developed our own in the interim.

Here’s a list of my favourite professional development opportunities I wished my district offered:

Personally, this type of collaborative effort excites me as an educator.  I would ultimately like to master my craft (education) and I feel like I move one step closer every time I connect with fellow educators from around the globe.

Many thanks to #Edchat, my PLN, the following educators – @actionhero, @missbartel, @21stcenturychem, @DrTimony, @cybraryman1, @davidwees, and everyone else who contributed to the document: http://bit.ly/aFuWAd

8 Ways To Keep Current With Technology and Technology Integration In The Classroom

8 Ways To Keep Current With Technology and Technology Integration In the Classroom

  1. Create a Personal Learning Network (PLN) and use technology as a method of communicating, collaborating and sharing ideas.  Your PLN may be local: educators in your school, nearby schools, or district wide. Alternatively, you may also decide to develop a virtual or global PLN using social networks such as Twitter , Educator’s PLN, Classroom 2.0, or for Canadian content CEET.
  2. Use a social networking tool such as Twitter to communicate with other education professionals.  Twitter is a micro-blogging web2.0 tool where education professionals share ideas, resources, ask for help, and provide opportunities to collaborate.  Updates, or Tweets as they are known, are restricted to 140 characters.  Therefore communication is to-the-point.  To find education professionals already using Twitter follow the link: https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AmdX57Dqx0tEcE1fWkU1QlMwU2dxRGFibmhsOFoyYUE&hl=en_GB
  3. Participated in Twitter chat such as #edchat – a weekly discussion about education issues at 4pm PST on Tuesday’s, or #teachertuesday
  4. Use an RSS reader such as Google Reader.  An RSS reader brings all your favourite blogs to you instead of having to go out to the Internet to view them.  Once you’ve subscribed to some educational technology blogs, you can share your feeds with other educators.  My Shared Google Reader Feeds
  5. Take advantage of social bookmarking.  Social bookmarking tools such as Diigo and Delicious allow users to store their bookmarks on the web, which makes them accessible from any computer with an Internet connection.  Additionally, these tools allow users to share bookmarks with others.  In other words, if you find a great resource site and you’d like to share with your PLN you can do so with one click of the mouse.  A very powerful tool in the PLN arsenal.
  6. Participate in Virtual Professional Development (VPD).  Sometimes as educators we need to take control of our own learning because our Districts are unable to provide differentiated professional development for all teachers.  With this in mind, I’ve found workshops, webinar’s, and webcast’s covering a wide range of technology related topics everyday of the week.  Here is a link to view upcoming events.
  7. Join and participate in technology Ning’s, Wiki’s, and blogs.  These spaces are kept current by educators who believe technology integration should be the norm and not an add on.  Here are links to my technology Ning’s, Wiki’s, and some excellent technology blogs.
  8. Take some time to share your ideas with other teachers in your school.  Soon you’ll be learning from them.  Sharing and learning with and from others educators makes it easier to keep current with technology and technology integration in the classroom.

Using YouTube To Enhance Your PLN

Yesterday I set up a YouTube account with my Gmail address and created my own YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/mrlistersd33

One of my goals for the channel is to create content to share with my PLN.  I intend to create short video’s of successful lessons, webcast’s to introduce and highlight new web 2.0 tools, video of students demonstrating effective use of technology in the classroom to, and examples of how to turn ‘offline’ activities ‘online’ to name a few.  I also plan to use the channel as place to store video’s that enhance my own professional development.  In other words, store and view video’s from educational experts I respect and follow.

Once you’ve created your YouTube channel you’re able to subscribe to other people’s channels.  In keeping with my theme of professionalism I only follow other educators or those closely connected to education.  When you’ve found the people you like to follow you can also invite people to follow you, through email.  Give permission, YouTube can access your email address book and contact some or all on the list, inviting them to follow you.

Here’s a couple of video’s that I found recently and remind me why it’s important to use technology in my classroom and move from deliverer of content to facilitator of content:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ILQrUrEWe8]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-P2PGGeTOA4]

Broadening My Horizons Using Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking is the third tool I use to build my PLN. A powerful social bookmarking tool such as Diigo can be useful in sharing, annotating, and organizing your bookmarks and the bookmarks of others in your PLN.

Bookmarking and Sharing

Using the Diigo service allows users to bookmark a URL to Diigo’s servers which means those bookmarks are then accessable from any computer or smartphone with an Internet connection.  During the bookmarking phase users can tag the bookmark to easily find the page for use later.  Diigo allows user to search their own bookmarks by title, by URL, or by tag.  User’s are also able to organize their bookmarks by creating lists.  For example, a teacher may opt to create a list that mirrors the subjects taught by that teacher.  Therefore when he/she needs to find bookmarks related to science he/she can easily click on the science list within the user’s Diigo page.  It is also possible to take a snapshot of the webpage you are going to bookmark.  This could be useful when comparing sites that change often.  Not only is it possible to bookmark URL’s using Diigo, it’s also possible to bookmark pdf’s, blogs, and any other online material.  Finally, if you have a Twitter account you can automatically tweet your latest bookmarks directly to your followers, during the bookmarking phase.

If Diigo was purely a bookmarking service it would be solid product, but it offers its user’s so much more, making it a great product.  Once you’ve developed a set of bookmarks it’s possible to share those bookmarks with friends or members of your PLN.  This allows you to see what blogs your peers are reading, what websites they’re saving for later use, what paper’s they’re reading, and who is sharing bookmarks with them.  This is a powerful option when collaborating or attempting to expand your knowledge based in a particular area.

Annotating

Before, or after for that matter, a URL is bookmarked it’s possible to highlight text and pictures.  The is particular useful when researching.  It is also possible to add notes to the page with multiple sticky notes.  Annotations will then be saved during the bookmarking phased.  These pages can also be sharing with members of your network or PLN.

Searching

One of the most exciting features of Diigo is it’s ability to search the Diigo network for tag’s of your choice.  For example, if I need to find resources on ‘digital-storytelling’ I would visit my Diigo homepage and type ‘digital-storytelling’ into the search box.  Diigo then gives me options on my search criteria.  I am able to either search my existing saved sites, search the whole Diigo network for ‘digital-storytelling’ sites, or search my friends (PLN’s) sites.

For additional information on Diigo please visit the following link to view Diigo screencasts and tutorials:

http://help.diigo.com/home