#AISQ8 is starting a slow chat: #AISQ8chat

Last week Christina emailed six staff at our school to share information about the first ever #nesachat. Then we got thinking about how many staff at our school are actually on Twitter. We were pretty surprised (and excited) that there are 15 of us! For our school, this is kind of a big deal. The dominoes started falling from there: I created a list of all our Tweeting peeps, we settled on a new hashtag (now #AISQ8, formerly #AISK), and started tweeting about our MS/HS Edcamp (#edcampq8).

This week we’re taking it a step further with a slow chat (#AISQ8chat). We’re hoping to expand on what people already know about Twitter and help some of our staff become more comfortable using it as a professional development tool. This week it will be a 3-day slow chat centered around a Twitter K-W-L. Details are below (created by Christina). Please help initiate our staff to the power of Twitter by participating with us 🙂 Looking forward to it!

PEAK 2013 pt. 2 – Making the Web Work for You

After my first two sessions at PEAK last weekend, I gave a brand new workshop. As excited as I was about my Google Apps presentations, I might have been even more excited for “Making the Web Work for You.” I focused on becoming a connected educator and specifically on Twitter (I purposely left both of those terms out of the title because I didn’t want to scare anyone away). I’m realizing that besides meaningful technology integration, GAFE and being a connected educator are my passions. I love working with anyone, anywhere on these and don’t need anything in return.

I started by appealing to their feelings (educators never have enough time) and highlighting what they thought Twitter was. I then talked about what it actually is and gave them testimonials from the survey I created and other connected educators. I was heavily influenced by Steve Anderson‘s Twitter series but did have significant time constraints. I highlighted searching, hashtags and a few other must-knows. Then I gave them time to create accounts, explore some hashtags, find people to follow. A genius idea from Jeff – make sure everyone in the class follows everyone else before the session is over. I ended with ideas for organizing all this new info and next steps.

It was a great plan. And then I realized 20 minutes before the start of the session that Twitter was blocked at the school (!!!). Oh my goodness. I tried several different things but unfortunately I had forgotten my wireless router at home and we were in the basement (so my phone wasn’t working as a hot spot). But..it was okay. I let someone borrow my iPad and we just went with the flow. The workshop didn’t go exactly how I planned it but I still got great responses and people were excited about the possibilities of becoming connected. It was another example of how becoming a teacher has changed me – I’m flexible and don’t get easily rattled! 🙂

International Mindedness & Twitter

Thank you to everyone who helped me last week by answering my questions about Technology Coaches. My PLN is awesome!

Our school is starting voluntary focus groups based on where we feel we need to improve in our Middle Years Program practice. Because of my passion for culture, I chose to participate in the ‘International Mindedness‘ group.

Our initial meeting was just me and Deb, our MYP coordinator. We skimmed some literature from the IBO and then discussed what international mindedness might look like in our school. Our short-term goal is to help teachers incorporate/recognize the three dimensions of global consciousness (global sensitivity, global understanding and global self) in their unit plans.

As we were brainstorming, we discussed that maybe it was easier than one might think. In Earth science, instead of just teaching about sand and water (because that’s what we have in Kuwait) teachers should also be teaching about soil, ice, etc. The technology coach in me couldn’t help but connect international mindedness to global collaboration through the use of technology. Social media baby! Students are no longer confined to studying what they can see in their environment or what a book tells them.

Dinner is served

Kuwait is rife with pollution and we tend to focus on how bad it is here. During a unit of study, students could create a hashtag and share pictures of pollution in Kuwait on Twitter. With careful hashtag selection, these tweets could be seen by other students around the world. The goal would be to get students from all over to share pictures of pollution in their countries. I could see this idea getting changed around (for the better) by students. I’d love to see what could come of something like this across different content areas in our school when students took ownership of it. Students are on their phones constantly…let’s allow them to be open-minded communicators!

#NESA_SEC 2013

To be honest, I attended the NESA Spring Educators Conference this year because my husband was chosen to present. Instead of wondering around Bangkok by myself for 3 days, I decided to pay (a lot) to attend the conference in the hopes of mediocre professional development. What I got was much more than that!

Networking: I had the opportunity to meet Dana Watts and Scott McLeod in person (and attend their sessions). I’ve been following them on Twitter for awhile and have a bit of a blog-crush on Scott’s Dangerously Irrelevant. I also found many new international educators to follow – my list is still primarily US-education based and I’m ready to expand my PLN! The discussions that took place on Twitter were equally as valuable as the sessions I attended.

Sessions: I really enjoyed the idea of the 4-hour workshops. Scott McLeod’s workshop blew my mind (as did the keynote). I was inspired & challenged by the content Scott delivered and by the collaboration that I participated in and witnessed. Check out the unit/lesson plan my group made (we had approx 25 minutes to create it). We then presented the lesson to another group who gave us feedback (and vice versa). I was completely overwhelmed at first (and didn’t like the constraints  but then it got me thinking -if we could do this in 25 minutes, what could teachers who actually teach this content do in an hour (or more!)? And I ended up really liking the fact that Scott had given us constraints – it focused us and was much closer to reality (we all have standards…). If I had gone to nothing else, these two sessions would have made the entire conference worth it.

Decisions: Scott & Jayson handed out fliers for the School Technology Leadership programs at the University of Kentucky during the workshop. My first instinct was to set it aside without really looking at it. The longer I sat in Scott’s workshop the more I felt that piece of paper calling to me. I listened to Scott and Jayson talk about the program and did a little of my own research. Wow. Even though I’ve already started my Masters with COETAIL, I felt pulled to the UKSTL Masters. Scott, Jayson and Dana were nice enough to answer a few questions for me…and my mind was made. I’ve been (quickly) assembling my application ever since (due May 1). I’m really excited about the possibility of being a part of the next UKSTL Masters cohort (I’ll still complete the COETAIL certificate, but won’t do the Masters). The more I sit on my decision to apply the stronger the pull becomes to be a part of ‘it.’

So…the Spring Educators Conference was a success. I am bummed that I missed out on the opportunity to meet Doug Johnson and attend his sessions. Next year the conference doesn’t back up to Spring Break…but if there’s a good line-up of presenters I might just pony-up the cash and go again. 🙂

What have you been doing lately to become a better educator?

Last month, I bookmarked an article to read – Technology Doesn’t Teach, Teachers Teach by Bill Goodwyn. As I was finally reading it this morning, this quote really jumped out at me:

…we urge our colleagues in the education community to increase their efforts to provide not only the resources to our teachers, but also the necessary professional development [not always mandatory]. We must recognize that the teacher-student relationship comes first. Only then will we continue to see improved results in the wired classrooms of tomorrow.

This got me thinking about what I’ve been doing recently in the professional development category. I’ve been giving PD to our staff, but what have I been doing so that I am becoming a better educator? I’ve also been challenged recently as to why a Technology Integration Coach would need PD other than the IB training offered. Here are some of the PD opportunities I have been seeking out and some of my thoughts…

I don’t do much educational reading over the summer. I rarely get on Twitter and don’t touch my Google Reader. Some may criticize this, but for me it’s a much needed break (especially this year). As we’ve gotten back into the swing of the school year, I’ve been fortunate to have the time each day to spend time reading through my blogs and keeping track of what’s happening on Twitter. I’ve found new people to follow and blogs to read. Although I cherish how my PLN has grown during the last 2 years, I also find myself overwhelmed by all of the educational material put out there on a daily basis. What is actually quality? Who is just trolling for views? Even after you pare down all the information, there is still an incredible amount that is worth reading and using – who has the TIME to do that and how do you choose which tool or idea is best? But attempting to answer these questions is why Twitter and blogs have been and continue to be great places for me to go for self-guided PD.

We are now working at an IB school with all three programs (PYP, MYP, DP). Training teachers in IB is (understandably) a top priority. We currently attend weekly meetings to work towards being category 1 ‘certified’ (we won’t actually get a level 1 certificate, but we will be able to attend category 2 and 3 workshops). It has been very interesting to learn about the IB and MYP curriculum. A lot of it is just common sense & good teaching but quite a bit more is so incredibly different from what I did in the States. I’m eager to learn more in order to collaborate with teachers to integrate technology into the entire IB curriculum.

Working in a Google Apps for Education District and using Chromebooks in my classroom inspired my interest in Google Edu. After attending the South Carolina Google Apps for Education Summit in June, I knew I wanted to learn more. Although I would love to attend a Google Teacher Academy, it’s probably not going to happen in the near future. Another goal of mine is to become a Google Certified Trainer. The first step towards achieving Trainer level is to become a GAFE ‘Qualified Individual.’ I’m currently working my way through the modules and I’m half-way there! I still have the longest three modules & exams to complete – Calendar, Docs & Sites. I’ve already picked up so many tips, tricks and ways to incorporate Google into the classroom that I’m excited to keep going. As I continue to learn more…I’ll be sharing the love on Twitter!

One of the ways in which I have grown as a teacher is becoming a ‘sharer.’ I don’t want to just consume on Twitter and blogs. I want to help people through collaboration. I’ve slowly been doing a better job at this – first in my department in SC, then in my district, through my Twitter & blog and more recently by presenting PD to other teachers. While still in South Carolina I was fortunate to have the opportunity to present at a SC AATF workshop, at the SCFLTA conference and at the GAFE Summit. This year, I’m adding presenting to a new staff and presenting at international GAFE Summits to the list. My husband and I were accepted to present at both Bangkok and Mumbai. My presentation is titled “Conjugating Google Apps in the World Language Classroom.” This will be a great opportunity to meet and learn from new colleagues in educational technology from around the world.

But why do all this? Would I still have a job if I didn’t spend hours each day forcing myself to go above and beyond what is expected? Probably. Most people have no idea what I’m doing on a daily basis for my own professional development. Would I feel good about myself if I wasted my time? Probably not. I’m eager to learn in order to help our teachers implement technology meaningfully. Actual technology might not be changing on a daily basis, but HOW people are using it does. I won’t claim to know everything but there sure are a lot of resources out there that can help me (slowly) come closer. I also can’t forget that I am no longer in the classroom; I’m not using technology with my students on a daily basis. My best ideas seemed to come to me in the moment…how can I keep them coming? I don’t want to lose my connection to meaningfully implementing technology in the classroom. The only way to stay current and relevant is to push myself always be ‘better’ than yesterday.

#RVKony Day 2 w/ @Invisible Roadies @ICDeepSouth #KONY2012

Whew! Day 1 was a great success (in my humble opinion)! My students stayed on task and made some great comments on their articles. They loved being able to annotate a document at the same time and thought it was the coolest thing that they could see what their partner was doing to the document in real time. One of my biggest challenges for Day 2 was finding an online platform for my students to discuss what they read and #Kony2012. This proved to be quite difficult! Chatzy is blocked with no hope of becoming unblocked. I didn’t want anything complicated that students had to “learn” (left out edmodo, Campfire, etc.). I also needed something that identified them and that I could moderate (left out TodaysMeet, etc). One of the ITS at another high school in my district suggested Google Groups. Since we are a Google Apps for Education district, I took this idea and ran with it!

1. When students walked into the classroom on Friday I had these instructions on the board…

2. Students in the outside circle had these directions waiting in their email…

3. In addition, if students in the outside circle expressed an interest (on their survey) of tweeting, they also had these instructions…

4. Students on the inside circle discussed the Kony 2012 video, Invisible Children, the articles they read and their thoughts & opinions on those issues out loud. I moderated this discussion if needed (although one of my classes did so well I barely said a word :)).

5. Students on the outside circle weren’t allowed to say anything out loud…they expressed all of their opinions on the discussion board and Twitter while listening to the inside circle. I embedded both the discussion board and the #RVKony TweetChat into a google site, however the students were having trouble viewing them. That’s when I added the link at the bottom of the page so that students could go independently to the google group.

6. While all students were discussing in both circles (out loud and online), I had the TweetChat on the board so all students could see what was being said on Twitter.

The day went incredibly well and I was extremely proud of my students! One discussion got quite heated while another one went so smoothly I barely had to say a word. A couple highlights from the day..
*my 3d period only participated in the online discussion because we were watching the Kony 2012 video in the gym with the Invisible Children Roadies (Deep South team).
*we were lucky enough to have Laura (from IC) come spend time with my 5th period class. She sat in the inner circle and joined the discussion. It was an amazing asset to have her there with us! (and she was impressed by how well read the students were!) In the future, it would be great to have a Roadie with each class, if possible.
*a couple other teachers/classes in the school participated in the online discussion. I tried to get the word out (sent an email about FREE lesson plans!) but it didn’t catch on quite as well as I would have liked. But this project could definitely become a larger school project with time.
*one of my students chose to come back to my class for the last period of the day and help us tweet out what students were saying (on discussion board and in class). He struggles in French, however something about this issue connected with him. He was planning on skipping and going home, however I convinced him to come to my class and help out with Twitter.

I encouraged my students to create their own opinions from the information. I didn’t care if they agreed or disagreed with Invisible Children & Kony 2012, I just wanted them to have an educated reason for what they thought. If you want more information, here are some of the resources I gathered.

This week was one of those weeks were I love being a teacher. Educating students about current events, encouraging them to think and create their own opinions, getting them involved in a REAL discussion and seeing how much they care…priceless. 🙂

#KONY2012 is coming to us! #RVKony

Today is a day I love being a teacher! I’m so excited and have so many ideas in my head right now I just need to get them out there. Hopefully this will also help get people involved so that these ideas turn into something real for my students and everyone involved! Update: Thanks to everyone who has read my ramblings! I have a pretty good plan laid out now…check below!

This Friday (only 2 days away!) is the last day before Spring Break and the 5th annual visit from Invisible Children. I first learned about IC when the “Roadies” came during my 1st year teaching (spring 2010). This encounter inspired my husband and I to donate on a monthly basis to the Legacy Scholarship Fund. I’ve kept up with IC but our donation is directly debited and I don’t have to “do” a whole lot. When I watched the Kony 2012 video that has created so much controversy throughout the last month, my passion was reignited. I want to help my students get educated, care about something and DO something about it. This Friday, I know my students hearts and brains aren’t going to be into learning French (Spring Break!!!), so I want to get them educated about what’s going on in the world and help them form opinions concerning a real-world topic (whether they agree with me or not). Here’s my plan:

*Thursday I will be pairing up my students (update: here is the survey I gave them today). I will then be giving each pair an article to read and discuss (links to come). The articles will range from very positive to very negative to neutral to purely informational (on my way to finding & sharing lots of info). Since I’m teaching in a 1:1 classroom, I want the students to be able to collaborate together online (and not print off hundreds of articles). Update: Right now I’m planning on either using google docs (document for each article, share w/ students, they collaborate) or crocodoc. Still playing around! I am still figuring out exactly how to have my students do this in part while using our Chromebooks. Ideas welcome!!!

*On Friday most of my classes will be “discussing” what they’ve read. Each pair will be split up into two groups. One group will be the inside circle and will be discussing their opinions out loud. I want to allow them to share what they read/learned and the opinions they formed but I also want to have guiding questions in case the discussion stalls. The second group will be the outside circle. These students will be using Chromebooks to converse through a back channel. Because Twitter is not reliable at my school (https is blocked), I am experimenting with different websites. Right now I’m probably going to be using a premium room on Chatzy.com (update: no I won’t! It is blocked at our school and won’t be unblocked). I love the simplicity & look of TodaysMeet, but don’t want my students to have so much freedom and anonymity. I don’t want them to have to learn a whole new platform, it needs to be simple and fast! I will be moderating both the spoken and online discussion. Any other ideas for discussion rooms that can be moderated? Update: Adobe Connect doesn’t work with Chromebooks. Tweetchat is blocked too. Campfire is currently looking like the best alternative but I’m not the biggest fan. Even newer update: Thanks to some wonderful people in my district, I created a google group. This group has a discussion board (not a chat room). Students will be able to create topics and reply to each other. I then created a google site (only viewable if logged into the district domain) and embedded the discussion group. Right now I’m working on finding a way to embed the Twitter discussion into the site (#RVKony). Things I’ve tried – direct from Twitter, Hootsuite, FeedBurner.

*ONE of the things I’m really excited about is my 3rd period. The IC Roadies will be with us the entire period so we won’t have time for the normal discussion. However, my class has been given permission to bring our Chromebooks to the presentation. Which means they’ll be able to have a live online discussion while they are watching the Kony 2012 video for the first time (!!!!).

*Where I get even more excited is all the possibilities!! Here are just a couple of things I’ve thought of…
-other classes in the school can join our back channel chat room and discuss the issue in real time…even though they are in different classrooms (now if I can just get some other teachers on board. Update: I have at least 1 other teacher who is willing to try and sent an email to our entire staff.).
-while each class is discussing (aloud and online), I’d like to designate a couple students to use their phones to tweet out using #RVKony. This way what is happening in our classroom will also be a discussion with other people around the world. However I need a way for my students to see the Twitter discussion without using Twitter. Any ideas for how to search & view hashtags (w/out Twitter)? Update: Thanks to a friend on Facebook… hashtags.org and tweetchat.com (tweetchat is blocked for our school, hashtags is not). Newer update: Still figuring out how to embed into my google site (hosted by my district). See above for details.
-I want to get the word out NOW, not after the fact. I want my students to participate in a discussion with their peers and people around the world (#RVKony). I want them to realize that the world is bigger than them, bigger than our school, bigger than our city. Please share with anyone and everyone! The more people that participate in the #RVKony discussion on Friday (9am-3:30pm), the more meaningful it becomes.

These are my rough ideas and I don’t have much time to throw it all together. But it’s not the morning of and I’m confident that everything will come together!