It’s All About Who You Know #IMMOOC

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Image from Pixabay

“I believe isolation is the enemy of innovation. I will learn from others to create better opportunities for others and myself.” ~George Couros

Week 2: Take one of the “Characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset” and write an example of how you exemplify it in your own work.

I fell into my job 10 years ago and was only supposed to stay until they found someone to replace the teacher who had left. I was not “techy”, I was not digitally literate, I did not even know how to make a Power Point (which at the time was the benchmark as it was a term I knew). I was basically learning things right before I was teaching my classes.

Because my classes were scheduled intermittently throughout each day, I had blocks of time where I could “play and learn” and basically figure things out. I browsed, I searched, and found Richard Byrne of FreeTech4Teachers and Kelly Tenkely of i learn technology (and later, founder of Anastasis Academy). I basically hit the learning jackpot! By then I went from being temporary to having a full time contract. At the same time I learned about Powerful Learning Practice because there was a cohort in my school. I did not become part of the PLPeeps until year two of my job, but that was ok, because I had plenty to learn and try until then. Plus, I had become friendly with one of the fifth grade teachers with whom I enjoyed brainstorming so I had plenty on my plate.

It was during my second year of teaching that I joined PLP and Sheryl Nussbaum Beach encouraged all of us Peeps to create a Twitter account. At the time (September of 2009), I did not know what I would tweet about. Who would want to listen to me or anything I had to say. Who wold really care? I let that Twitter account sit there for a while, idling, laying dormant until later that spring. I went to a PLP conference at the Philadelphia Convention Center where there were speakers like Will Richardson and many others to connect with. It was the first time I saw a hashtag used and so I decided I would tweet interesting things from the conference and use that hashtag. One tweet led to another and I was hooked.

I started following people from the conference, especially those whom Sheryl followed and suggested.  I found Eric Sheninger, Jackie Gerstein, Jerry the cybraryman, Tom Whitby, Steve Hargadon, Alec Couros, and George Couros. I learned about virtual spaces like Nings, blogs, and wikis; massive open online learning sites like Coursera; educational chats like #edchat, #ntchat, and #sschat; conferences like #edcamps, Teachmeets, and TEDx, and began going to those to meet and connect with more people. It was fortunate that I had a built-in conference partner in my friend and colleague Wendy who was always up for a good conference.

I made connections and learned from people who in the Twitterverse and educational sphere are rock stars.

Being connected is just one of the characteristics of The Innovator’s Mindset. It is these connections that excite, motivate, and inspire me to try new things with my students, share what I learn with my colleagues, and continue to evolve and grow as an educator and learner.

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Boo! A Not so Scary Share

This week I am sharing articles and posts that I think are timely and important.

I just read this article about the importance of helping and teaching our students not only about how to be good digital citizens, but also how to be good digital leaders. Just because they don’t see themselves doing anything stupid or silly online when they Google themselves does not mean that they should not be found at all. We need to help and encourage our students to create a positive digital footprint so that they can be found when Googled, and that when they are, it shows their leadership, innovations, and inspirations.

Since many are implementing digital portfolios, I thought this EdWeek article by Larry Ferlazzo about the importance of making reflection a habit would be appropriate to share. EdWeek articles require a log in to read. This is free to subscribe to with your school email and a password.

I read an article from The New York Times about teaching math and in it was this great site for math riddles to be used for problem solving and critical thinking that I thought you might like to try with your (older for many riddles) classes. The riddles range in difficulty from easy to very challenging and topics from Geometry to Algebra, probability, logic, and more and would probably be best if these were worked on in small groups so students can practice problem solving collaboratively. 

Here is a site that I shared last year but that came by again in my Twitter feed this morning. Hstry.co is a cool site for learning and creating using interactive multimedia timelines like this featured one on Life in the Colonies or this one on Using Twitter in your classroom. You can include text, images, videos, and quizzes in the timelines you create and then share or embed these on your site. One drawback that I have is the inability to filter timelines by subject. The site is free to sign up and free to create, though access to some of the really great bundles that Hstry.co creates  (and there are some really perfect ones for our 4th and 5th graders) are for premium users at $49/year. Beyond that, it’s pretty cool.

That’s all folks.

“‘Assessments that Don’t Suck'” the Art of Color and Twitter

I know many of you have thought about using Twitter with your classroom and now Twitter  has come up with a way to make multiple users able to tweet from a single account (your class account) without the need to share your password. Now you have to be tweeting from Tweetdeck, which is a platform that allows you to create columns so you can see the twitter searches that you are interested in without having to do a separate search each time (ex. You could have a column for #edchat a column for #4thchat –or whichever grade you follow- a column for your notifications), which is not a big deal at all. Just think how great it would be if your class was tweeting about their learning, sharing the excitement, sharing the innovations, and learning from other classrooms. This might also be a great way for a team of teachers (think grade level or department) to tweet about what they are doing.

This next is absolutely the best thing of the week hands down. The title is “Assessments that Don’t Suck” and the teacher, Paul Bogush, offers 24 different ways to creatively assess your students, rather, they are 24 ways your students can creatively show and share their learning. One of my favorites, is the Notecard Confessions idea. In this he gives a day-by-day account of how he introduces the lesson and then step by step how to do this with your class. It puts your students right into the character, whether historical or fictional, and clearly shows evidence of their deep understanding of the material. Now you really must take a look at all of the 24 ideas as each one offers different ways for your students to show what they know. Some are tech based, others are not (like the Footsteps idea, or the  “I’m Breaking Up With You” letter- aka the Declaration of Independence lesson- which I love). Imagine trying different ones as a class, then allowing your students choose the one they want to do for an assignment later in the year. Now that would be empowering and engaging! I am serious when I tell you how excited I was to see this on Twitter today and I would love to help you implement these assessments with your class.

OK, I thought the last was the best of the week, but I think my art friends will beg to differ once they see this learning series from PBS Learning Media. This is the sixth of an installment on Elements of Art, this on Color where you can share short videos and hear from artists discussing the various elements of art. The rest of the art school series includes videos on space, form, shape, texture, as well as videos on hip hop, printmaking, crocheting, and more- all areas of the art world. These say they are for grades 6-13, but I do think that with guidance and facilitation from you, our upper elementary students can enjoy learning from these artists.

For those of you who would like to see what else there is this week, then please visit today’s Shipley PLN Lower School Edition.

“Chance Favors the Connected Mind”

ID-100129789This afternoon I was listening in to one of the #ETMOOC collaborate sessions, tweeting interesting ideas when the moderator, Alec Couros put up a slide with this quote from Steven Berlin Johnson, “Chance Favors the Connected Mind.” Of course it struck me as both interesting and something I thought worthy of sharing so I tweeted it out. Almost immediately Lisa Noble (@nobleknits2) asked me how this was true for me. I decided to mull it over and write about it as I didn’t think that I could do it justice in 140 characters.

First I did what any good learner would do if they did not know the context for the quote, I googled it (using “” around the words so the search would keep the words together as a string). I found this TED talk by Steven Johnson titled,
“Where Good Ideas Come From“, watched it and found even more great ideas which I tweeted out. But the one that still remained intriguing is “Chance favors the connected mind”.

I like it because it states the importance and benefits of being connected. One of the ways I like to stay connected is to take part in Twitter chats like the weekly #edchats that often have hot topics like Homework or the importance of teacher selected professional development, where the tweets fly so quickly that it can make your head spin. The “conversations” are stimulating, engaging, thought-provoking and for me, often make me think and rethink my position and feelings. The great thing about these chats and Twitter in general, is that it allows educator and other users to connect with others and engage in conversations, ideas and resource sharing, that otherwise might not have happened since the participants are from all over the world.

How does ‘chance’ come into play? I think in a couple of ways. First, one never knows who will be in a particular space at a particular time. With Twitter, using hashtags increases the possibility that something one tweets will be seen by people who follow that tag, but it is chance that it is seen at any given moment by someone who may take the conversation to a different level; who may then tweet something back that will lead to further discussion or connection. I also think chance comes into play because people who are “connected”, who are “networked” have more opportunities to engage with people they may not have in their current place, space or time.

So, another way I like to connect is through online courses like #ETMOOC. But just taking part in the course, listening to the sessions, doing the assignments, does not build these connections. What it does, is create the environment for making these connections and creating these chance opportunities. And that is something that Johnson says in his talk, we need to be in the right space so that our networks can grow. But again, we can be in the right environment, but not make the connection. We need to put ourselves out there, we need to listen, read, comment, reply and engage with others so that we can not only be in the right place, but we will also be there at the right time to make these connections that may lead to something great.

Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net