Why are you connected?

Tomorrow (afternoon of February 2) I’ll be facilitating a workshop for #AISQ8 (elementary) staff on using social media in teaching and learning. From my experience educators need to buy-in before spending (precious!) time learning and developing their social media presence. And that presence is essential if you want to genuinely use social media in teaching and learning. How can you help your students become connected if you aren’t?

I would love your (my wonderful PLN) thoughts on some questions to (hopefully) help garner some buy-in from teachers. Feel free to discuss here, on Twitter, on my COETAIL blog or if submit here if you prefer to remain anonymous. Merci bien!

  • Why have you chosen to use social media to create an open network and be professionally connected? What sparked your commitment?
  • How did you become connected? What, specifically, did you do to cultivate your PLN?
  • Why do you stay connected? What keeps you coming back to your PLN?
  • How do you stay connected? How do you balance what you put in (time) with what you get out (benefits)?
  • How do you balance creating your social media brand with staying authentically you (in a space where many people don’t actually know you personally)?
  • How has being connected impacted your learning? Your teaching?
  • Why have you chosen to use social media to create an open network for your classroom/students? What sparked your commitment?
  • Why do you keep your classroom connected/open? What impact has this had on your students?
  • What advice do you have for teachers who are looking to start using social media for teaching and learning?
  • What ‘connected’ experiences have impacted you/your classroom the most? These personal stories can have a huge influence on other educators thinking about becoming connected.
  • Any other thoughts are also welcome and appreciated! 🙂

Ancient civilizations coming to life

Have I mentioned that I one of my biggest passions is connecting classrooms around the world? Hopefully that’s old news because I’ve let it ooze into most of the posts I write. The grade 2 blog about Sharing the Planet w/ a focus on water is up and running – and they’re eager to read posts & comments from classrooms & experts around the world.

Next up – grade 3! Andria and Anna have been going through the COETAIL journey together and are gearing up to start their course 5 final project. They have chosen the IB PYP unit of Where We Are in Place and Time in which the students will be learning about ancient civilizations. Read more specifics here and here.


via Stux on Pixabay

Andria and Anna are hoping to connect their students to other classrooms that live in the ancient civilizations they will be studying – China, Egypt, Rome/Italy, Greece, Maya (southern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador) and Mesopotamia (Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria). Although Mesopotamia is the closest to Kuwait, it might also be the most difficult to connect to.

Their unit starts at the beginning of March. If you or anyone you know is interested in connecting to a grade 3 class in Kuwait, please let one of us know! They are open to Mystery Skypes, video chats, asynchronous communication and any other ideas you have 🙂

Extending learning w/ global collaboration – Middle School Art

One of my favorite things as a coach is to work with a teacher and then see them take the initiative. Last year as part of my COETAIL final project I collaborated with our middle school art teacher (Lindsay) to create a unit based around photography using the Design Cycle. One of the most powerful pieces of the unit (IMHO) was the connection we made with Brian & Yuko of Photohoku. As part of their inquiring & analyzing, students created questions for Brian & Yuko. We then did a Google Hangout with them and the students were able to talk to them in real-time. The students loved it.

Fast-forward 4 months to the current school year. Lindsay approached me for details on how to use Google Hangouts to connect with an expert. The students were learning about the Volumes of Design and she had arranged for a collaboration with Jodi Harvey-Brown (Statement of Inquiry: Our interpretation through time and space facilitates change.). We decided on a Hangout On Air so that students could re-watch the discussion whenever they needed to. I didn’t do any of the planning – just the technical details to help it be a success for the students. [Luckily I had presented on Google Hangouts in Michigan this summer and had some resources readily available. Google Hangouts On Air can be tricky!]

Lindsay arranged with the other 8th grade teachers so that all of her students could be in the classroom for this special event. Students created questions in advance and Lindsay sent them to Jodi so she had a heads-up. During the hangout, students asked her questions in order to help them create their own book sculptures. The event was yet another reminder of how meaningful & powerful it can be to connect our students to experts around the world. Teachers no longer need to be the sage on the stage – they simply need to help students safely connect to other people who have knowledge or skills of value.

[If I had to do it over again, the only thing I would change is discussing the norms of this type of activity with students before beginning. Many of the students had never been involved in something like this and weren’t really sure how to act. I also think it would have been helpful to explain a few features of Hangouts prior to starting.]

Connect to ES #music classes!

Our elementary music teachers have started a blog in order to connect classrooms around the world. I LOVE it! If I haven’t mentioned it before, my favorite use of technology is the connections it allows. I had no hand in the idea for this blog and I’m so proud of our teachers for their initiative and drive. As an IB World school, this is a great opportunity for students to become open-minded, inquirers and communicators.

From their About page:

This blog is an attempt to connect music classrooms all around the world, with the overarching goal of helping students realize that they have something in common with students all over the world. This is a place for questions to be asked and answered, performances shared, and music to be celebrated!

They have had 3 posts from other schools so far and are hoping for many more! If you’re interested in participating (or want more information), email Nick & Stacey. The blog is currently private to protect students’ identities.

musicroom2musicroom

Connect to ES #music classes!

Our elementary music teachers have started a blog in order to connect classrooms around the world. I LOVE it! If I haven’t mentioned it before, my favorite use of technology is the connections it allows. I had no hand in the idea for this blog and I’m so proud of our teachers for their initiative and drive. As an IB World school, this is a great opportunity for students to become open-minded, inquirers and communicators.

From their About page:

This blog is an attempt to connect music classrooms all around the world, with the overarching goal of helping students realize that they have something in common with students all over the world. This is a place for questions to be asked and answered, performances shared, and music to be celebrated!

They have had 2 posts from other schools so far and are hoping for many more! If you’re interested in participating (or want more information), email Nick & Stacey. The blog is currently private.

musicroom2musicroom

Advice needed for Technology Coaches

In February, my husband and I were hired as Technology Coaches at an international school going 1:1 this fall with iPads. This position was a brand new position and we were told we were hired because of our experiences working in 1:1 environments and giving PD. We found out a couple months later that they had hired a 3rd coach to work with us (no longer would we be working as a husband-wife team, but with another person whom we had never met). Upon arrival in August, we found out that the three of us would be working as a K-12 team (our school has about 1800 students and is divided into divisions – elementary, middle, high). We are excited about this new venture, but are in need of all the help we can get in order to be successful. As a team, the three of us came up with the following job description….

The primary role of the technology coach is to collaborate with teachers in order to
integrate technology in a meaningful and effective way in their classrooms. Responsibilities may include:
– assisting teachers in lesson planning regarding the integration of technology in ways
that support teacher goals and further student achievement.
– facilitating school-based high-quality professional development across all grade levels
(prek-12) and subject areas.
– meeting and working with teachers in teams or individually on an ongoing basis to refine
 their knowledge and skills. Examples include in-class coaching, peer observing,
and/or modeling of instructional strategies.

It is up to the three of us to make the K-12 vision of the admin a successful reality. If you have experience as a Technology Integration Coach (or a similar title), working as a K-12 team of teachers…or any other relevant expertise, please share below!

MANY MANY MANY THANKS!

#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. 🙂