Collaboration, Kuwait, Professional Development, Social Media

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! 🙂

Collaboration, Kuwait, Professional Development

Input needed: tips to cultivating a thriving PLN

Jeff and I have a few upcoming presentations we’d love some input on! Please fill out the embedded Google form below…then check it out as the answers populate. Please feel free to use any of the information gathered for yourself!

At PEAK in a couple weeks (…10 days) I’ll be presenting an hour-long workshop on how social media can make educators lives easier.
Session title: Making the Web Work for You
Session description: Come learn how social media and other websites can save you time and energy while also enhancing your lessons. By the end of this session you will be on your way to creating a thriving Personal Learning Network with other educators around the world. It may be helpful to bring your own laptop or tablet.

In January, Jeff will be presenting a 4-hour workshop on getting involved on Twitter and blogging.
Session title: Becoming a Connected Educator
Session description: Thousands of educators all around the world share their thoughts, ideas and lesson plans with each other every day, and you’re only 140 characters away from joining them. In the first half, you’ll learn how to leverage Twitter and other forms of social media as a means of finding new ideas. In the second half, we’ll get you set up with your own blog so you can start sharing with the world.

Check out my Diigo library for some of the resources we’ve previously found.

Professional Development

Input needed: tips to cultivating a thriving PLN

Jeff and I have a few upcoming presentations we’d love some input on! Please fill out the embedded Google form below…then check it out as the answers populate. Please feel free to use any of the information gathered for yourself!

At PEAK in a couple weeks (…10 days) I’ll be presenting an hour-long workshop on how social media can make educators lives easier.
Session title: Making the Web Work for You
Session description: Come learn how social media and other websites can save you time and energy while also enhancing your lessons. By the end of this session you will be on your way to creating a thriving Personal Learning Network with other educators around the world. It may be helpful to bring your own laptop or tablet.

In January, Jeff will be presenting a 4-hour workshop on getting involved on Twitter and blogging.
Session title: Becoming a Connected Educator
Session description: Thousands of educators all around the world share their thoughts, ideas and lesson plans with each other every day, and you’re only 140 characters away from joining them. In the first half, you’ll learn how to leverage Twitter and other forms of social media as a means of finding new ideas. In the second half, we’ll get you set up with your own blog so you can start sharing with the world.

Check out my Diigo library for some of the resources we’ve previously found.

Collaboration, Kuwait, Social Media

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!

COETAIL, Course 2

Thoughts on Digital Safety – Nothing Revolutionary

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

Student safety and cyber-bullying has been the focus of a lot of press lately. As educators, we need to be aware that just because students know how to use devices (tablet, computer, etc), they don’t know how to behave when they’re using them. Behaving appropriately online is not an innate ability that students are born with. Instead it is something that must be taught. Who and how is the golden question!

This responsibility of teaching kids digital etiquette needs to be shared by both school and home. Parents can start from a young age at home. Common Sense Media has lots of great resources and parent agreements to support parents. Although I’m not a parent, I think it is parents’ job to help students understand how to appropriately use technology instead of banning it. If your kids are inappropriately using the technology that you gave them, help them learn what they should do differently instead of simply taking it away. Am I a crazy no-kid lady?

Unfortunately, not all adults understand how to behave online. This is where schools should come in to support and educate parents. Once students start school, teachers should be incorporating digital citizenship into their lessons on a daily basis. In 2013 most people own multiple devices, these type of lessons do not need to be an “extra.”

Parents and teachers also need to be living what they preach – if you don’t want your child to text during dinner, parents shouldn’t either; if you don’t want your students to text during class, teachers shouldn’t either. We need to be constantly modeling digital etiquette for our students.

Parents and schools should be working together to help students harness technology for good. Bullying and students being disrespectful to each other is nothing new. Unfortunately, however, technology can exacerbate the situation. Many students around the world are doing amazing things with technology (even if the media focuses on the negative). Scott McLeod‘s keynote, Powerful Technologies Powerful Youth, at the NESA Spring Educators Conference in Bangkok last month highlighted some of these students.

It is important that both children and adults are aware of the power of technology (good and bad). Explicitly and implicitly teaching students how to behave online is the job of the community, not the individual.

Community Garden Work Day

This post doesn’t seem revolutionary or original to me. But I’m glad I had the opportunity to find some good resources and get my thoughts down on “paper.” 😉

COETAIL, Collaboration, Kuwait, Professional Development, Social Media

#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. 🙂

COETAIL, Course 2

Personal and Professional Collide Online

Surfers almost collide at Morro Rock, Morro Bay, CA

I have to disagree with hiring and firing based on profile photographs. Shouldn’t your personal life be left at the door? A person working five days a week deserves a little down time on the weekends. What a person does on his or her own time on days off should not be used to judge work ethic because that person may be serious and hard-working when they enter the workplace. Employers know that Facebook is popular and that our generation is utilizing it, but business and personal lives should not coincide. ~Samantha MacConnell, Don’t overestimate privacy of online information

Samantha has a great idea. And in an ideal world personal and professional lives wouldn’t intersect. However that’s not the world we live in. Everything we do online affects our lives. ESPECIALLY as educators.

I attempt to keep my personal and professional lives separate by using privacy controls and choosing how I use social media. My Facebook is personal – I have high privacy settings, stay up to date on any privacy changes and don’t talk (much) about my professional life. My Twitter is professional – I have it completely open to leave a positive digital footprint and rarely talk about my personal life.

I currently have 3 blogs – two professional and one personal. All three blogs are completely open and searchable on the web. Living in Kuwait, we are very careful about what we put on our travel blog. Anything questionable either goes on Facebook (high privacy!) or doesn’t get posted.

All that said…if a student or employer manages to find me on Facebook, I’m not worried. I don’t live my life in a way that would get me fired. And if I did, I would understand that there could be consequences for making my actions “public.” Although I value privacy and attempt to have a certain amount of it, I know there really isn’t any such thing on the internet.

[I love Google products…but I didn’t even attempt to go there re: privacy.]

 

COETAIL, Course 2

The Digital-Education Disconnect

Rural Disconnect

As an advisory teacher for a group of seniors last year, we spent one 20 minute lesson talking about their “digital footprint” (I’m not even sure we used that phrase). I barely remember the lesson so I’m sure my students remember it even less (I wish I would have known about this lesson!). Adults love to TALK about how what kids do online now will impact their future, but do we walk the walk? How many adults in education are actively concerned about their digital footprint? How many of us know that what we do online can hurt (AND help) our chances of getting jobs? Yes – I believe that as (international) educators we should have a digital footprint that helps demonstrate what we can bring to an organization.

A theme often talked about among connected educators on Twitter & #edchat is how to get more educators involved in the conversation. In a US system where many teachers stay in the same position/district for their entire careers, will they ever see the benefit of a positive digital footprint? Teachers who never change jobs would rarely think about if their employers are looking for a positive footprint. International teachers are in a different boat. From my (limited) experience, it seems that we change jobs much more often – some people as often as every 2 years. Our digital footprints may be closer to the forefront of our minds however I think it’s still quite common to focus on the negative effects of social media and not how it can actually help us grow in our practice. That said, how many people know the ins and outs of their privacy settings on Facebook, Twitter, etc?

And then there’s the administration. How many administrators that are actively hiring are looking at applicants’ digital footprints (positive or negative)? What do admin actually KNOW about the people they hire (besides what’s on their beefed up resumes and what their references say)? A simple google search provides a plethora of professional evidence. I wonder if any of my administrators during the last 4 years have bothered to see what I’ve put online.

A couple months ago I watched the beginning of a keynote by George Couros during Calgary Educational Partnership Foundation‘s Online Safety Week. He talked to the students about how everything they do online (even during grade school) will affect their job prospects later. Ironically students had already been tweeting (using the hashtag) about how they didn’t want to be there and other not so nice things. Little did they know George was online watching them!

Kids don’t understand the gravity of their actions online (specifically social media) nor how to harness their power for good. But who’s teaching them? There aren’t many adults out there with the skills to do so. This mix will lead to a very interesting future for all of us!

Collaboration, Google, Kuwait, Professional Development, Social Media

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.