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

 

 

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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.

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!

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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?

Learning From One Another

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MMS Librarian Jess Bock sharing Twitter with her colleagues.
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MASH Math teacher Ben Motter shares how he flips his classroom to provide more time to interact with students face-to-face.

Last Friday afternoon, while our elementary teachers were digging into data to get a broader picture of their students’ strengths and needs, our middle school and high school teachers were digging into their own digital learning. Each building organized sessions, facilitated by teachers who volunteered to share ways they use digital tools and resources to enhance learning. Session titles ranged from “Twitter for Professional Development”, to “Digital Collaborative Writing with Google Docs and Google Classroom”, to “Flipping the Classroom (with WeVideo)”. Teachers had the opportunity to learn from colleagues about how they use tools such as Kahoot!, Edmodo, Turnitin, Symbaloo, Chrome extensions, Diigo, Google Classroom (and many other Google Apps), Moodle, Twitter, Kidblog, Portableapps, PollEverywhere, Socrative, and more to support learning and help students develop important literacy skills. I was fortunate to be able to visit many of these sessions to see the collaboration and sharing that took place. In every session I visited, the focus was on how these tools can help students to think critically, to communicate and collaborate, and to create products to demonstrate understanding. Kudos to all who facilitated and helped to organize these events, and to everyone who took part in the conversations throughout the afternoon!

If you participated in any of these sessions, either as a facilitator or a learner, please leave a comment below to share something you learned or to provide your thoughts about the experience. Learning from one another is such a powerful form of professional growth. Your input will help to inform future learning opportunities across the district. Together we all know more!

Summer Learning Challenge

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Image by Nic Adler on flickr.

It’s the last day of school, so I’ll keep this short. Summer is our “down time”; our chance to unwind and take a break from the constancy of the school year. But, just as we tell the kids, that doesn’t mean our learning has to stop. Once you’ve had a chance to catch your breath, I’d like to offer a small challenge. This summer, try one new thing related to technology or digital learning. Here are a few ideas…

Pick one that’s new to you…or come up with your own idea. Then come back and leave a comment and share what you’ve learned. Have a great summer, everyone…and Happy Learning!