Digital Learning Resources Have a New Home

 

DLR-Detour

A few weeks ago I let you all know about the problems with our Digital Learning Resources (DLR) Moodle course. While this probably won’t be the final home of the DLR, I’m happy to say that many of the modules are now available on my webpage. I’m taking each of the modules and turning it into a Google Slides presentation and then linking that to my page. Instead of moving from tab to tab, you’ll navigate from slide to slide to explore the resources. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than not having access at all. Currently there are 13 modules posted. If you need a module that you know was on the Moodle but don’t see it on the webpage, please let me know and I’ll get it there as soon as possible. Otherwise, my goal is to add one more each day until the entire course is rebuilt.

Thank you all for your patience as we work through this transition. If there is a topic you’re interested in and would like to see added to the DLR, please let me know. You can access the new Digital Learning Resources page by clicking here or on the “detour” sign above. You can also find my webpage on the MASD homepage under Academics then Instructional Coaches

 

 

Vote for a Video with ClipChoose

With so much video content online, it is important that our students know how to watch a video to learn from it, not just for entertainment. This media literacy is part of the PA Core ELA Standards across the grade levels (look for standard 1.2.your grade level.G, but can be applied across the content areas.

A few weeks ago while browsing my Twitter feed, I came across a new resource called ClipChoose (via @rmbyrne on his blog). ClipChoose is very easy to use. To create a poll, first create a free account. Next, simply paste in the links of up to 12 YouTube videos and post a question. Then share the link to your poll. Participants click the link, watch each of the videos, and then click a button below the video they think best answers the question. The picture below is a screenshot of a poll we used at the TIC meeting last week.

ClipChoose-SAMR

You can also browse ClipChoose for polls created by others. Click here to view a poll someone created to see if students could identify a story told in first person.

ClipChoose is very new and there are a few things that are listed as “coming features”, including the ability to make polls private and to edit polls you’ve created. It’s not a fancy site, but it could be an engaging way for students to practice making meaning from video. As one of the TIC members put it last week, it’s kind of a sneaky way to get kids to engage with content multiple times or from different perspectives.

A few things to think about if you decide to try ClipChoose…

  • At the moment ClipChoose only supports YouTube videos, so it will be most relevant for our high school students.
  • There’s nothing stopping students from voting for multiple videos or from voting for the same video multiple times. I would still allow students to vote, but I’d follow that up with some sort of written activity in which students tell which video they chose and why.

Next time you have several videos you want students to view, consider using ClipChoose. And don’t forget about your colleagues! Try it out on your fellow teachers at CPPD, department/team/grade level meetings, etc., and as always, add a comment below to let us know how it goes.

Google Chrome User? Try These Three Tips

On two recent Fridays, Kirsten Zelenky, Jess Bock, and I had the privilege of attending Google Educator Bootcamp sessions held at IU12 and IU13. The training, led by Rich Kiker (@rkiker), was packed full of information designed to help us pass the Google Educator Level 2 Certification exam. I don’t know if I’ll actually take the exam, but I learned a lot of things about Google Apps for Education that I can use and share with all of you! Today I’d like to share three quick tips to make your Google Chrome browser experience a little more convenient.

Reopen a Closed Tab – Have you ever accidentally closed the wrong tab in your browser? In Chrome, simply right-click (Control-click on a Mac) on any open tab and choose “Reopen Closed Tab” to open the last tab closed. It works something like the “undo” button, so if the tab you want wasn’t the very last one you closed, you can keep “reopening” tabs until you get the one you wanted.

reopen-tab

 

Pin Tabs  If you’re like me, there are a few tabs that you might keep open all day long while you’re working. For instance, I almost always have Google Drive open. To save space in my browser, but keep Drive at my fingertips, I can right-click on that tab and choose “Pin Tab”. Chrome will shrink the tab and move it to the left side of my window. The Drive icon still shows, so I can quickly identify the contents of the tab. To “unpin” a tab, simply right-click and choose “Unpin Tab”.

pin-tab

Open a Tab in a New Window – Sometimes I have two tabs open, but I’d like to see them side by side. To make a tab into its own window, simply grab the tab and drag it down on your screen. The tab will open in its own Chrome window. It works in reverse, too. Drag a separate tab into the tab bar of another Chrome window and it will become a tab in that window. Watch this short video for a demo.

For additional information about Google Chrome features, check out this page from GCF LearnFree.org 

Know any other great Chrome tips? Please leave a comment to share them!

Are You #MASDproud?

masdproud

My faithful (or even occasional) blog readers might think, “Oh, she’s writing about Twitter again…” – and they would be correct! I can’t imagine going through an entire Connected Educator Month without reminding everyone of the power of Twitter for developing and growing a professional learning network. But I’m not going to spend much time today writing about how Twitter works or telling you who to follow. For that, you can login to our Digital Learning Resources course on Moodle and check out the “Twitter for Teachers” module or see what I’ve shared on my webpage.

Today I want to focus on using one aspect of Twitter – the hashtag – to build connections. Hashtags are a little like a search term. Even if you don’t have a Twitter account, you can search for a hashtag and see everything that’s been tweeted using that tag. It’s a great way to focus a Twitter search and find what you’re looking for. So let’s think about that in reverse. If you can find tweets on a particular topic by searching a hashtag, it stands to reason that a good way to get your tweets out there is to consistently use a hashtag that makes sense and that people will remember. Once they discover that you’re sharing information of interest to them, they will likely start to follow you. That’s a way to make connections!

So let’s use Twitter to tell the story of all the great things happening here in our district. Let’s make connections and build community. If you are already on Twitter, please make an effort to share great things happening in your classroom or school using the hashtag #MASDproud. If you haven’t yet made the leap to your own Twitter account, I urge you to go to https://twitter.com and type #MASDproud into the search box and see what comes up…and then consider adding your own voice when you’re ready. Let’s flood the Twitter-sphere with all the great things going on in Mechanicsburg and make #MASDproud a way to connect with one another and the world.

I know I am #MASDproud. Are you?

Listen to Learn and Connect

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Hopefully you all took a few minutes to find some good blogs to read and comment on this week. Wait…what? You don’t have time to search for blogs and then read them? But you still want to be the best teacher you can be. You still believe in lifelong learning and the fact that we’re never really “there”. So when I ask you to sit down at your computer and read blogs, some of you probably think, “And just when am I supposed to fit that in?” Today, I offer an alternative.

The BAM! Radio Network is “the largest all-education talk radio network in the world, offering programming from the nation’s top education organizations and thought leaders and reaching a wide audience of people passionately committed to quality education.” BAM! features dozens of audio interviews on a huge variety of educational topics. You can search for and listen to individual episodes (each about 10-12 minutes long) or subscribe to a particular channel through iTunes. Sure, it will take a few minutes to search the site and find a channel, but once you do, subscribing to a channel will allow you to have new episodes automatically appear in iTunes as soon as they are available. Now you can get your daily dose of professional learning during your commute, while waiting for the kids to finish piano lessons, or while walking the dog.

You can search for channels using the “Browse All” tab on the homepage. Check out the screenshot below for the current choices.

BAM channels

The list of hosts is impressive. These educators come from a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives and the shows feature guests who are, in many cases, teachers and administrators who are “in the trenches” and share their everyday experiences. Interested in the flipped classroom concept? Check out “Tales from the Flip Side” with Jon Bergmann. Want some ideas for engaging students? Try “Hooked! Captivating Students with Matt Miller. Interested in “Movement and Play”? “Music and Learning”? There’s even “School Principals Radio”, “School Financial Officers Radio”, and “School Nurses Radio”. There’s something for everyone!

Once you find a channel you like, I encourage you to find out more about the hosts and guests. Look them up. Follow them on Twitter. Do they have a blog? Listening to your PD can lead to new connections in your personal learning network.

If you like to learn by listening or if the idea of learning while doing other things fits your schedule, I encourage you to check out the BAM! Radio Network. It’s a recent find for me, but one I’m glad to add to my professional learning toolbox.

 

Connecting Through Blogs

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I’ve often reflected on the fact that much of my best professional learning has come from informal conversations with other teachers. Sometimes that happens in the hallway after school or in the faculty room over lunch. But increasingly, those conversations also happen online. While it’s always been possible to read articles and books to learn new teaching strategies or to dig deeper into content, what happens when you need clarification of an idea? You can’t ask a book a question. You could try emailing the author, but getting a response could take weeks – and that conversation is limited to you and the author. Enter the power of blogs.

For those who aren’t sure how a blog is different from any other webpage, the main difference (in my opinion) is conversation. A blog includes two main components: a post, written by the blogger (author) on a particular topic; followed by comments, written by the readers and the blogger. The comments are the key. When I read a blog post, I can share my own thoughts and questions and start a conversation, not just with the author, but with other readers as well. It’s a little like a book club – minus the schedule and the snacks. I can read a book on my own. Or, I can read a book and then get together with others who have read the book and talk about it. This helps me connect with others who have similar interests, but who may or may not think the same way about what we’ve read. Our conversation can challenge my thinking and help me to see things from a new perspective.

Fortunately for us as educators, there are many blogs out there to help us expand our conversations. If you’re shy, you can start by just reading the posts and comments. Even the wallflower at a book club will probably learn something from listening to the conversation of others. Eventually I hope you’ll feel comfortable enough to make a comment of your own; to add your own voice to the conversation. This is a great way to make connections with teachers other than those you see on a daily basis.

So how do you find good blogs? I’ll be honest. I find most of my blogs via Twitter…but that’s a topic for another post. There are a few organizations out there that publish lists of educational blogs. Teach 100 is a popular one that ranks blogs based on several different criteria. I haven’t found a way to search by topics though, so this one could take a while to sift through if you’re looking for something specific. A faster way is to search for your topic, but include the word “blog” in your search. For instance, a search for blog teaching math returned the following:

blog teaching math

You’ll have to click on a few titles and read a few posts and comments to decide if the blog is really of interest to you. Once you find a blog you like, check out sidebars and see if there is a “blogroll”. This is a list of other blogs that blogger follows….kind of like getting a book recommendation from someone in your book club. I’m working on adding a blog roll to Learn.Share.Repeat. – stay tuned! But if you’d like to check out a few blogs I read on a regular basis, take a look at these:

The Principal of Change  – George Couros is a principal and innovative learning consultant from Canada. His posts always push my thinking.

Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension – Pernille Ripp is a 7th grade teacher who blogs about developing passionate learners.

Free Technology for Teachers – Richard Byrne shares some of the most practical posts I’ve found and helps me stay on top of the “new things” out there for teachers and students.

I’ve never met any of these three bloggers personally, but I feel like I know them because I’ve read their work and interacted with them through comments and on Twitter. I am “connected”, knowing that I have some “go-to” blogs where I know I always learn something new.

This week, I encourage you to spend some time looking for a blog or two that will benefit your professional learning. When you find one, share it with someone in your department or grade level to expand the connections even more. Also, remembering the power of sharing and conversation, leave a comment here and tell us what you found. Together we all know more!

Get Connected!

teacher collab quote

Here at MASD, we are pretty good at collaboration. Teams of teachers meet regularly to plan lessons, evaluate student work, share concerns about individual students, and to enhance their own skills. We have rich conversations that translate into important learning experiences for kids. Our curriculum and assessment system is the result of dozens of teachers coming together with their collective strengths to create something better for our students. Collaboration is a good thing. We often say, “The answer is in the room”…and many times it is. But what if it’s not?

Fortunately, there’s a bigger room out there…with a lot more teachers in it.

October is Connected Educator Month. What does it mean to be a “connected educator”? Why is it important for us to make connections and learn from those outside our daily face-to-face interactions? Tom Whitby makes the case for connection here. I encourage you to read the entire post, but this paragraph gets to the heart of it:

The term “connected educator” in this context refers to educators who are exploring or embracing the development of collegial sources and access to all sources through connections made using technology. They are not abandoning their face-to-face connections. They are still maintaining relationships with colleagues in their buildings and district, and they still maintain connections with students and parents. They are expanding their reach however to global connections made possible through technology. They are taking advantage of the ability to connect with a vast array of education experts in order to improve their own expertise in education. They are connecting with authors, thought leaders and lead learners around the world in order to achieve this. We call these collaborative innovators, “connected educators”. Their number is growing and we call this a “connected community”.

In recognition of Connected Educator Month, each week in October I’ll feature another post about ways teachers can grow their personal learning networks. I’ll share a variety of options so you can choose the ones that appeal most to you. To get us started, check out this short video about personal learning networks…

If you can’t wait for my next post, you can find a list of events scheduled for Connected Educator Month here. My hope is that by the end of October you will have taken steps towards developing or expanding an online personal learning network and that you’ll share your story. If the answer really is “in the room”, don’t we owe it to our students to collaborate in the biggest and smartest room we can find?