Thursday, December 4, 2014

My Final Blog Post... For This Class... But Not Forever...

What does it mean to be connected? What are the benefits of being connected? Why would educators want to be connected?

I have found myself trying to convince educators on the benefits of being connected for the past couple months. It’s not necessarily about being connected to the level we have been in this class. It’s about being connected so that there is an opportunity to explore the best practice and ideas of other teachers around the world. A couple years ago, when I went on Twitter and starting following Twitter educators and EdTech “Gurus”, I started to find that I came out of my “bubble”. The bubble or that network of teachers that one might interact with within their school or their division.

Being engaged in Twitter gave me a chance to talk about education. It gave me a space to converse about the "stuff" I'm interested in, without talking off the ears of my non-teacher friends. Now don't get me wrong, I love collaborating face to face and discussion education. But how often do we actually get that opportunity?Once or twice a month? And even that might be a stretch! So rather than complaining that there is never enough time to collaborate, I found my space in Twitter to do exactly that. A teacher no longer has to wait for a convention or an inservice… the answers can be found in your own PLN via Twitter or in a community like Google+. Others might suggest that many answers can be found reading a book.Read a book? No way, that’s just one person’s perspective. (Actually I'm just kidding, remember I was a Teacher Librarian for a short stint). In reality, by going on-line, a person’s education become not just a selection of reading, but a multimedia digital inservice with videos, podcasts or even communities like the one we engage in.  You know there should actually be a poster... “Take back your own professional development…Don't wait for that inservice... Explore digital spaces to educate yourself!”

Okay, that’s enough ranting… As I mentioned in a previousblog post, I had a chance to present at a Teacher Librarian “EdCamp”. It wasn’t really an EdCamp as all the presenters were kind of prechosen based on a questionnaire sent out. But anyways, it was a start. At the EdCamp, I presented sessions that relate to this class and the point of being a connected educator. My sessions included: MOOCs and Digital PD, Battle of the Books Goes Digital, and Genius Hour. All the sessions went really well. The session that surprised me the most was the excitement over the MOOCs and digital PD. Teacher Librarians were really excited to learn about MOOCs. Many were amazed that universities like Stanford and MIT were offering courses. They were also excited by the number and variety of courses offered through Coursera and Canvas. And many were shocked to learn that they were FREE! As I was presenting and getting the Teacher Librarians to peruse the classes, many started saying, “I’m going to sign up for that one” or “That’s too bad, it’s already started”. Of course a majority of teachers had never heard of MOOCs but this definitely did not suppress their enthusiasm.

After the MOOCs part of the session, teachers started to explore Twitter and the tweets from the “Teacher Librarian Gurus” and “EdTech Gurus”. Intially they thought that Twitter was like Facebook, until I helped them explore my Twitter profile. And I explained who I followed and why (not all 400+), but my top 15. Then people started to get it when they saw the tweets. It became apparent that by being engaged in Twitter I was learning about what was innovative. No longer did I have to wait for some consultant or coach, like myself ;-), to tell me what was new and worth trying out. I was finding out first hand right from the “Gurus” themselves. And what was cool, I could even tweet at these individuals and ask questions. As we explored, many lightbulbs went on. Teachers were starting to see how being connected could make a difference in teaching, and that by being connected, I wasn’t chatting about trivial stuff as what often comes up when on Facebook, I was developing my own Professional Learning Network and it was with those people of whom I wanted to hear their ideas.

Now that’s not the end of my story… sorry, I know I tend to go on and on… That EdCamp was a month ago. Now I’m starting to hear from teachers that they’re learning about Genius Hour, Mystery Skype and Flatclassroom. But the best part is… They are also talking about their Digital PD and “this thing called a MOOC”. The part about this story that I find inspiring, is that many of these teachers heard about these opportunities from their Teacher Librarian. Interestingly enough, and this is worth noting… their TL reached them via Face to Face staff meetings, yet now they are excited about the opportunities to connect digitally. How cool is that???

I’m not sure I have more to add to this last blog post, I will continue to add to this blog. I might have to change up the categories, as I won’t have a “Class Reflection” but I like sharing what’s hot and my perspective on it, or how I would use that tool in the classroom to extend learning. I will also post to the blog roll of my Major Project Website the Teaching With Technology Hub, but in that space it wont be the same. I’m excited to say that my "Hub" with some of my ideas such as sharing “Classroom Digital Stories” (Genius Hour, Blogging and Mystery Skype) is going to be presented at a RCSD Board Meeting in January. (And yes, I'm excited, yet nervous!!!) So I’m a bit torn. This is great, but I feel as though when I blog in that space it will be different than in this space...  In the Teaching With Technology site  I “represent” the division. I will have a “Dual Digital Identity” in some ways. I won’t be able to really state my thoughts without being a little political. In any case, I don't mean to sound negative, I'm actually excited that the site is gathering enthusiasm. Although the "hub" is a website and blog rolled into one, I think that this will still suite the needs of my division. The blog roll will allow me to share the latest "digital story" or project idea, but the website will offer an organized layout to share those ideas. So thank you Katia for sharing this advice in thinking of ways of making it more collaborative. You're right, I needed a space to connect with teachers and offer opportunities for their input. Now I just hope that people will actually comment...

Overall this class has helped me consider how I can have the most impact in helping teachers in my division find ways to connect and explore ways to make their students' learning visible. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

My Summary of Learning for ECI 831

A Reflection on My Reflection

As I was composing my Summary of Learning, I really started to get into sharing my learning journey. I'm not usually a linear thinker, as my brain tends to usually bounce around like a ping pong ball in Smartcar, so I decided just to share my reflections and how I reacted to what I learned as the course progressed.  Initially I  had difficulties with what to write, so I started to storyboard in, which seemed to get my creative juices going in terms of what I wanted to share. Over the course of our course :) (yes that's intentional), I've been going into many classes in my school division teaching and assisting teachers with ways they can integrate technology. While I was doing this, I started taking videos and photos of kids at work. I also found that even resources I've been creating for my major project helped in telling the story. So as I got into the project, it all just started to come together.

Overall I really enjoyed this creative process and finding the words and images to tell the digital story of my journey in the ECI 831 class. I happened to show my project to a colleague, and she immediately got excited about students telling their own learning journeys. Perhaps even a class learning journey with narration at a grade 12 graduation instead of a Power point set to music... Just an idea.... Don't want to rattle tradition.... Or have students write their own learning journey at the end of a school year,  after they've reflected on their blog posts and assignments over the course of the year. It could be a metacognitive, reflective video that highlights a learning journey. Maybe that was the whole point of Alec and Katia getting us to do this... Hmmmm....

My Summary of Learning Video

I made this video using Windows Movie Maker, then layered on music and narration. I chose to record small chunks and rerecord if needed, then to do it in one take (which is impossible if you have kids running around your house!) Although inserting just the right image at the right spot of my narration took a little time, it was actually very easy. Some aspects were time consuming, such as the cartoons! But overall it went well and regardless of how I do, I actually feel proud of my project.