Tag Archives: education

How about a little of both?

I still see the debating on social media, in news articles, blog posts, and the like. Some healthy debate is good. It creates learning, it broadens horizons, it gives us those, “Oh I hadn’t thought of that” moments. I’m talking about comparing one device or platform against another and trying to figure out which one is better for kids. It feels like we still want there to be “the one” that is all encompassing and all powerful that we put into our students’ hands. Hint: there isn’t one. 

picture of rock em sock em robots toy

It’s like how people are surprised sometimes to hear that I own Apple products. “Kyle! I thought you were a Google guy!”. Well, yes, that’s true I am but did you know that the very first computer I taught myself was an Apple Performa 550? Or did you know that I stood in line at 4am to get the iPhone 3GS? I love my MacBook, iPhone, and iPad but I also love me some Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Calendar just like I love some Clips, iMovie, and Keynote. I have different preferences for different things that I need to do on any given day. I also use PCs and Chromebooks too (cut to dramatic visual). Honestly, I don’t want to be an expert on any given one. I like to know enough just to be dangerous and then I learn more as I need to. 🙂

My point here is that yes, we need to be doing our homework when trying to decide the kinds of devices and platforms we want for students to create and learn with, but maybe it’s time we stop trying to be so locked into just one? Let’s just focus on what our students need and not make it a this vs. that thing anymore. I’m not saying throw proper planning, professional development, and financial responsibility aside, but let’s be more open to what’s possible. As technology departments and as school districts, maybe we need to be thinking bigger about what role we want technology to play in our students’ learning opportunities. We must remember that while learning is no longer tied down to happening just during school hours or just from our formal teachers, learning also isn’t tied to just one platform.

Keeping Up With The Maintenance

There is always a heavy stream of information on Twitter or any other network you belong to on a myriad of topics and buzz words. Skim over a hashtag as of late and we see a million and one ways to do better with technology, implementing personalized learning, project-based learning, makerspaces, etc., etc. No doubt that this is the beauty of being connected in various spaces – to learn from anyone about anything anytime you want.  These topics are good as well as important, but where my mind really focuses most lately is how we’re properly (or not) preparing our teachers for these things. We can talk the talk and claim we’re going to walk the talk, but at the end of the day are we truly willing to do what’s necessary to make the talk and the walk into a lasting change?

picture of people checking under the hood of a car

https://www.flickr.com/people/tcee35mm/

We have to be talking a long, hard look at what kinds of teacher learning opportunities we’re giving our teachers first in order to give them successfully to our students. Wanting to give students more personalized learning? Then that’s how teacher PD on the topic should be designed. Allow teachers to experience it as a student if you’re wanting them to create it for their students. I saw lots of tweets about this very topic earlier in the week, and all were in favor of it, but no one was talking about how they’re preparing teachers for it. If they were, it was outweighed by the “personalized learning for everyone” posts.

We also have to make sure we’re providing “regular maintenance” opportunities beyond the initial learning opportunity. It’s like a car – what happens if you don’t regularly get an oil change or have the tires checked? The car is going to not run as intended and eventually wear out. Now put that into perspective with professional learning. Are we giving teachers enough time to reconvene and share or at least reflect on what worked/didn’t work? This is key “maintenance” our teachers need. If there aren’t instructional coaches in place (technology or otherwise) that teachers can work with, we must incorporate more self-reflection into professional learning and have teachers share this with each other.

Our teachers deserve this and our kids definitely do. We have to make it a normal part of the “scheduled maintenance”.

 

The Summer of Social Media

This post is a guest post for McGraw-Hill and is also posted here

Summer is a great time for many things: family vacation, 4th of July, BBQs, swimming at the pool, and generally recharging. It’s also a time that educators can give adequate time to new learning opportunities. It might mean attending a conference or workshop, working towards a graduate degree, or getting a special certification. Regardless of the reason why we know the time is valuable and can be used to become better for our students.

kids jumping into a lake

One thing that I think summer is great for in terms of professional learning is investing the time to better understand how you can use social media as an educator. Social media can be used as a great communication tool for a district, school, or a classroom. It can also become a great go-to resource for getting just in time information or following along with a conference you can’t attend in person. There are lots of options to try and summer is a great time to figure out which one(s) is best for you. Here are some options to think about:

Twitter. I’ve been on Twitter for nearly 9 years and it continues to be my most valuable resource. You’ll find me sharing blog posts, resources, and tech tips there. What’s even better are the brilliant people it can keep you connected to; someone you have seen present at a conference, an author, or a fellow teacher you share a common content area with. Don’t forget about the hashtags! Hashtags are keywords you can search around to find great people to connect with and get resources from. Even if you don’t have a Twitter account you can always go to search.twitter.com and type in any hashtag to see what’s being discussed and shared.  If you want to follow along with one of the biggest edtech conferences in the world, be sure to follow the #ISTE17 hashtag over the next month. This is just one example of so many.

You’ll find lots of great chats happening on Twitter as well. These are regularly scheduled discussions that happen on the same day and at the same time usually on a weekly basis. Our district is even having our own chats during the summer using our district PD hashtag – #GVEaglePD.

Twitter is definitely one of those things that follow the rule of “you get out of it what you put into it”. If you create an account, be sure to add a profile image, fill out your bio (we want to know about you!) and spend some time with it and give it a good chance!

Google+ Communities. Maybe you want some online PD that doesn’t limit you to 140 characters and gives you more of the social media experience maybe you’re used to (think Facebook)? I would look at joining some Google+ communities.  There are loads of education related topics that have communities. Find the one you like, click Join, and you’re off and running. In each community, you’ll see posts labeled with various categories, and there will be comments on various posts along with links, videos, and images. If you want a Google+ community on Google in Education, you’ve got one. If you want to learn more about project based learning, you’ll find it there. A tip: when you set up your profile on Google+ make sure you list your school district, what you teach, etc. because you’ll see more education related communities recommended to you when you click the Communities tab on the left side of the page. You can always, of course, just use the search box at the top of the page too.

Blogs and blogging. Sometimes, the best professional learning is just getting to do some reading and reflecting on your own. Many teachers enjoy following various educational news sites; many of which have regular writers that are currently practicing teachers and administrators. These can be organizations like (but certainly not limited to) Edutopia, EdSurge, ASCD, Education Week. and THE Journal or individual bloggers like (again not limited to) Katie Martin, Matt Miller, Shelly Terrell, and Doug Johnson.

As you start finding more and more online blogs and other sources you like to read regularly, I always get the question of how to manage all of them. I love to use Feedly (free version), which lets me aggregate all of my blogs and news sites into one place in an organized, clean interface. You can access it on the web and they have a mobile app as well that comes in handy for me to catch up on reading during my kids’ sports practices. 🙂

YouTube. Ah, the power of video. I always enjoy finding examples of and sharing the power that video can have in education. We are hard pressed to not find an instructional video on a particular topic. Now I know all of those videos are not instructional in a positive way, however, our students need us to be good models of effective use of YouTube. There’s too much great stuff there not to! There are great channels like (but of course not limited to) FriedTechnology, Tara Martin, Veritasium, Minute Earth, and Crash Course.

We can then of course jump into teachers using summer time to get comfortable with creating their own video content for their students too!

Are there more options than the 4 mentioned here? Yep definitely. Please share other suggestions in the comments and add more hashtags, communities, blogs, and channels there too. We’re better together, right? Enjoy your summer!