Connected Classrooms: What’s your WHY?

Two blog posts in 2 days…I’m on a roll! And maybe I have a request too 😇

From the time I can remember (really only middle school for my brain), I wanted to learn another language (French) and use it. It might have had something to do with my aunt & mom both studying abroad in France. Maybe the fact that that same aunt was my HS French teacher also had an impact 😉 The strong connection I felt with France after living there for almost a year stayed with me when I started teaching French in South Carolina. Except my students didn’t share my connection. So why the heck would they want to learn French?! Many of them had no plans to leave the city, state or country. Why should they care?

That is how I realized that it was essential to my students’ learning that I create a connected classroom. Being able to connect with French speakers around the world allowed my students to be able to authentically use the French they were learning. Since my time in the French classroom, my passion for supporting connected classrooms has only increased. Living in Kuwait can feel isolating, however, opening up the world to students makes me feel invigorated.

connected teacher.png

So, in addition to my new COETAIL role, next month I will also start as the Academy mentor for the Eduro Learning Connected Teacher Micro-Credential. I wasn’t sure it was something I could take on. But my passion for supporting educators in creating a more connected world for their students won out. I can’t think of many things that I love more! In addition to being a mentor, I’m also contributing to one of the courses.

local to global

That’s where you come in!

Sneak peak: One week of the course will be all about why educators invest in globally connected classrooms. It will include a series of short videos from educators around the world sharing their why. Sound like something you’d be interested in? Share your availability below and I’ll be in touch! Thank you in advance 🙏

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#21CLHK 2016

I attended my first 21st Century Learning Hong Kong Conference two weeks ago (I can’t believe I’ve already been back for over a week!). I attended the Being an EdTech Leader pre-conference with Matt Harris, iPhoneography Walk & Dinner with Cathy Hunt (with the special guest Avinash), Data Driven Dialogues for Coaching with Sarah Fleming, a variety of keynotes and workshops and the Women Leading Change post-conference with Stacy Stephens (the entire reason I attended the conference to begin with).

Since being back, several of my colleagues have asked how the conference was. Reintegration after amazing professional development is difficult for me. People want to know what I learned. I don’t know how to put my experience into a short soundbite. So I just defer to “It was wonderful!” But really it was more than that and more than simply the little tidbits that I picked up. It was way more about the way it made me feel.

Connected

I had the opportunity to ‘meet’ and get to know people that I already felt like I knew. Being connected gives me energy. I was honored to be able to get to know each of these international colleagues on a deeper level.  I know people say Twitter is dying but I hope that whatever comes next allows us to stay connected and create even stronger bonds when we’re thousands of miles apart. Working in international schools can feel isolating. But being connected makes you realize you’re not alone.

Affirmed

Interacting with the people I did and learning about their situations affirmed what we’re doing. We have a lot of great things happening at our school. And I have a lot of great ideas and qualities. I’m not bragging – we all have great ideas and qualities. But part of life (especially professional life) is recognizing how awesome you are. 21CLHK helped me do that.

Of course I had a lot of takeaways and learning experiences. But they all can be boiled down to those two feelings. A HUGE thank you to everyone who had even the slightest impact on my first experience in Hong Kong.

For my own memory and reflection, I Storified both #21CLHK (as much as I could) and #wlead. I also took notes and pictures throughout the conference. These are all resources I’ll come back to later when I need to feel a little more connected, affirmed and inspired 🙂

#21CLHK pt. 1

#21CLHK pt. 2

#wlead

All my notes & pictures (GDrive folder)

Resources from presenters

An Inquiry into Teaching & Learning w/ Social Media

Yesterday the #AISQ8 elementary school engaged in an afternoon of professional personal learning. Based on previous feedback from staff, the leadership team asked me to facilitate a workshop on teaching and learning with social media. I used Kath Murdoch‘s Inquiry Cycle to plan the workshop and brainstormed with Christina to help refine it. I used Elena Aguilar’s Mind the Gap Framework to assist teachers in identifying their areas of success and growth (re: teaching & learning w/ social media).

Pre-assessment (we didn't have time for post)

Teachers identified their areas of success and growth.

I reached out to my PLN to help get buy-in from teachers during the Finding Out stage. There were lots of awesome responses! A HUGE thank you to everyone who took the time to contribute 🙂

We got started late and were pretty rushed in the 40 minutes we had and had to skip most of the Making Conclusions & Taking Action steps. I’m excited to have this new workshop framework for introducing teachers to social media and can’t wait to try it again! I was particularly intrigued by the discussion that the Think-Pair-Share lead to. It’s interesting to hear differing perspectives on what social media is, why we use it and how different media are used.

Update: I did not share the picture above with teachers after our workshop. So today (9 days later), I sent a follow-up email with the picture and some probing questions to get them thinking:

  • What assumptions are (still) informing your perspective about social media (in education)?
  • What have you done in the last 9 days to mind your gap?
  • What will be/has been your first small step forward?
  • If time was not an issue, how would you use social media in teaching and learning?
  • What will you do this week to mind your gap? This month? This year?
  • How would you answer these questions?

I’m not expecting responses but this gave me a chance to work on my questioning skills. I hope it gets them thinking as we head into the weekend!

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! 🙂

#AISQ8chat – an #IBOLP series

Sometimes I’m really dedicated to blogging. Sometimes I’m not. If I’m absent for an extended period of time it’s because I’m just too dang busy living life to sit and write about it. But there are some pretty great posts floating around in my head (and even written down somewhere!). 😉 In order to prompt me to actually sit down and blog, I need to be so excited about something that I just can’t help myself. After 5 months, today is the day!

Thanks to the efforts and excitement of a lot of my colleagues, #AISQ8 has grown from 4 or 5 people to over 30 in the last year! If that isn’t something to get excited about, I don’t know what is. Besides sharing the great things happening in our school (we were inspired by #sisrocks), I have enjoyed engaging in discussion on a weekly basis ever since Christina and I started #AISQ8chat in February. Browse our 2014-15 topics, 2015-16 topics and all the archives.

Since its beginnings, I’ve wanted to do a multi-week series. Part of my motivation was that Christina and I never seemed to have enough topics to chat about and many times we were still coming up with questions on Monday evenings. But most of it was that I wanted to go further with my colleagues about how (and why) we actually live and teach the IB Learner Profile. Thanks to Heidi and Christina, today this became a reality! [Insert giddy squeal here]

Here are the details & vocab you need to know to participate in the #AISQ8chat Learner Profile series:

  • Everyone is welcome!
  • Starts Tuesday, 10/27, and will continue for the next 14 Tuesdays (except December 22 & 29).
  • View the IB Learner Profile
  • We made up some new hashtags:
    • #IBOLP = International Baccalaureate Organization Learner Profile
    • #IBOLPT = IBO Learner Profile Traits
  • IBOLPT Continuum: ⌧ checking the box <——————————————–> way of life
  • We will be releasing the questions each Sunday (although they will be the same each week, just with a different #IBOLPT).
  • In week 1 we will explore why and how we, as stakeholders in the school community, live the #IBOLPT.
  • We will spend 1 week on each of the IBOLPT starting with Risk-Takers next week.
  • After exploring 6 traits, the week before (12/15) and after (1/5) winter break we will take time to reflect and make some conclusions.
  • Our last chat (2/9) will focus on hiring staff who live (professionally & personally) the IBOLP.

Here are a few tips & tricks I shared with #AISQ8:

  • During our Tuesday slow chats we usually release Q1 by 8am, Q2 at 11am and Q3 by 2pm (just in time for our faculty meetings!). However you are welcome to reply to any question at any point throughout the day.
  • When you have time on Sunday and Monday, start formulating your As to the weekly Qs. Then use Hootsuite to schedule them for Tuesday so that you don’t have to take time away from teaching. [Don’t worry, you can still edit pending Tweets if you change your mind.]
  • When you do have a couple free minutes on Tuesday, browse #AISQ8chat and engage in the conversation. Ask the community clarifying or probing questions. Twitter is your Personal Learning Community – you will get out what you put in 🙂
  • Christina will be Storifying #AISQ8chat every Wednesday morning. Didn’t have a chance to engage in the conversation on Tuesday? We still want to hear from you! Feel free to answer any of the previous week’s Qs from Wednesday to Monday. Please just remember to include #AISQ8chat. You can also add #AISQ8unchat if you’d like.

#AISQ8chat banner 10.27.15

Virtually presenting at #MACUL15 from #NESASEC – success!

Our #MACUL15 session just ended and I wanted to blog about it while I was still giddy from the experience. Minutes after the session had ended several attendees had already started reaching out to other educators around the world to connect their classrooms. That’s powerful. When we can inspire educators to think outside their norm, realize the power of globally connecting their classroom and take immediate action…I get butterflies inside just thinking about it!

John and Mary were in room 140D at MACUL in Detroit, MI. Jeff was in our apartment in Kuwait. I was in my hotel room at NESA Spring Educators Conference in Istanbul. We used a Google Hangout to connect 3 continents to present to educators about globally connecting their classroom. To be expected, we had some technical difficulties at first. But as we got rolling, the technology cooperated nicely. This was a first for all of us but John did a great job coordinating the 4 of us. Thanks to all that came and watched 🙂

Our main points:

  • Connecting your classroom has a positive effect on student learning.
  • It’s simple – you don’t need a lot of advanced techy gadgets.
  • Plan with the other teacher in advance. Prepare your students for different cultural norms & to ask quality questions.
  • There are lots of places to start connecting.

Below is our slide deck. We provide links to help educators start immediately (where to start). Check out the Google Form and responses from educators around the world – we’re trying to make it as easy as possible to help classrooms around the world become connected.

PLEASE contact us with any questions or if you’d like us to help you and your classroom get connected. Eager to hear from you and positively impact student learning together 🙂

#MACUL15 – Live from Kuwait (& Istanbul)!

John, Mary, Jeff and I will be presenting at the 2015 MACUL conference in Detroit on Friday. Jeff will be in Kuwait. I’ll be in Istanbul (at the NESA SEC). John & Mary will be in Detroit. We will be in 3 different countries, on 3 different continents, teaching educators how to globally connect their classrooms. None of us have ever done a session like this and we’re excited for a unique approach to presenting!

What we’d love from our PLNs:

  • testimonials from educators & students around the world – Why connect? What is the power of connecting globally? How have global connections transformed your classroom/learning? Feel free to share these with us in any format!
  • join us live! Watch the broadcast or let us know if you’d like to join the Hangout and talk to attendees for 1-2 minutes about the power of global connections.
  • complete this short survey. We’ll give the results to the attendees of the session (and you if you’d like them) so that global connections can begin immediately!

THANK YOU!