I had the opportunity over a nice long holiday to look back at what I published via Twitter. Because I am nearing 5K tweets and I tie my twitter account heavily to my job I feel like it is a great time to look back at my top tweets, categorize them, and wax philosophically about what they mean to me.
Miss 140 characters yet?
I am fortunate to be able to travel to ed tech conferences as they relate to my work. This year I was able to attend: ISTE, iNACOL, GaETC. ISTE is such a large event and to go there one knows one will only be able to experience a fraction of the event. I took away inspiration, a few new connections, and a healthy respect for what it takes to sing karaoke from ISTE.
iNACOL was new to me this year and as it was mostly full of online educators with an introduced element of blended learning most of the attendees were such a wealthy of knowledge for me! I learned so much from the sessions and the vendors.
Georgia ETC was a wonderful place to connect with the growing numbers of our county participants. I also made the acquaintance of Christopher Craft @crafty184 who is an *uber* expert in all things Google. I hope we are able to hear from him in my county very soon.
Right after ISTE 2013 I knew Minecraft had a place in education. My then 5YO had been dabbling and I was fully on board after hearing Jane McGonigal @avantgame and feeling her passion at the ISTE opening keynote this summer. I made some connections via Twitter and locally, found some super resources and am now aiming for next fall to create an after school Minecraft club for the elementary school my son attends.
Personally, I also threw a 6YO Minecraft party – worth mentioning because I continue to develop my understanding of the game best by talking to kids playing the game over adults trying to control the play of the game. Next party for my son? I want to host joined play so that I can observe and talk to the kiddos as they play. Research or fun? Why not both?
3. MELTDOWN and/or RECOVERY over Google Reader & Posterous
2013 was a year to try the resilience of a GoogleReader and/or Posterous user, goodness help you if you were both like me!
Posterous was the easiest blogging solution. Ever. I had it set up perfectly to fulfill the pic-a-day addiction the grandparents, 14 hours away, had developed. While it existed past it’s Twitter acquisition, it still wasn’t enough time for me to find the optimal replacement, until the most recent evolution of posthaven.com. I struggled through an awkward Tumblr phase which very much confused the grands; FYI you don’t want to explain Tumblr to any senior citizen. Only in the past few weeks has Posthaven even added some of the starter features I took for granted in the old site, email subscribers, post by email…. While it was a rough year searching, then waiting, for a complete replacement I am very happy to pay $5/month for Posthaven. The conversion was predictably, these are two of the guys from the original Posterous after all, perfect. Three years worth of pictures are now available to the grandparents, who still some times act as if the Internet is turned off, but at least I’ve done my best with Posthaven to supply a frictionless path to the faces of my offspring.
The next step? IfThisThanThat needs to add them as a Channel!
I wish I could say I was as satisfied with my replacement for GoogleReader. While I use Feedly.com and love the fact they Feedly does have a channel with IFTTT.com I note that I simply do not read the feeds as frequently. While the interface is a more modern look and feel, while the import process was smooth, I am just not using it as much. It is a shame, I know there is great, original content that I should be reading and the location/interface seems to be hindering that. I guess it is safe to say I am content with Feedly, but keeping my options open!
4. CONTENT CREATION
I had some serious revelations this calendar year about content creation. I can trace the start of this to the SoftChalk training I organized for all district media specialists in a district – you’re either laughing quietly right now or you haven’t had this realization yet – that content creation IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. Content evaluation should be for everyone, but were we asking teachers to create textbooks before or just pick a textbook? But my experiences since January have really cemented the idea that some teachers are able to create content, while it would be diminishing returns to ask some really good teachers to not teach and learn the philosophies behind creating content.
I also believe that just as districts have provided textbooks or supplemental materials in the past, digital content needs to be purchased as well. Starter content needs to be provided to teachers. Not a full (prescribed, bleh) curriculum like a credit recovery model, but instead high impact content around key concepts pivotal to the curriculum. This can set the standard for content creators in district, give educators enough to dabble in the blended environment.
I have learned about technical considerations like SCORM and the newer Tin Can. I have learned about LTI and experienced the wide varieties of integrations vendors are currently integrating even within this “standard.”
But most important to me, I have learned some Instructional Design principles which I can implement, share with others, and could use beyond my current position. I have deeply considered some differences between face-to-face, blended, and online instruction and the requirements and niceties of the content/platforms for each of those varieties.
I read To Sell is Human by @DanielPink – – and was not able to think of much else for while! My favorite quote was: “…we’ve moved from a world of buyer beware , to seller beware- where honesty, fairness, & transparency is the only viable option.” I thought so much of it that I recommended it to my boss.
I also read Jeremey Donovan’s How to Deliver A TED Talk – http://ow.ly/s7Y3t – and wondered why we are all waiting for someone to invite us to do a talk? Why don’t we all have our “talk” developed already? There are some educators who may never be asked and I can’t take the chance that they won’t deliver a talk formally – I want everyone to think about what makes them tick and then share that with all of us. Mine? Stay tuned.
I also really listened to John Wooden talk for the first time – I had been reading quotes since the early 90s, but only just heard a YouTube of him this past summer. Wow, he helps me to feel my potential connection to coaching teachers as much as administering programs for the district.
I have started looking at who my leaders are in life. Mostly, I find myself in search of a leader now-a-days.
If you have read this blog in the last six months you’ve noticed my interest in apparently sampling every educational MOOC that is trending on Twitter. I have participated in the Blended Schools Network MOOC #BSNMOOC last April, Digital Learning Transitions MOOC #DLTMOOC in September and November, “Rapid Book Publishing for Educators” Nov to Dec – a free course on the Canvas network – I was more impressed with the Canvas platform than the imaginative way this author/teacher had come up with to sell his “required” ebook to his customers, I mean students. I am currently enrolled and participating in Georgia Virtual Learning/School’s #eteacherTOOL MOOC and am pretty pleased with the depth of assignments and remain intrigued about their “review” of my contributions for $49 and offer to grant me a credly.com badge which one is supposed to be able to post to LinkedIn. As always, I will keep you updated on this blog!
I plan to take part in Kennesaw State’s K-12 Blended & Online Learning MOOC. Completion to differing levels can be rewarded with 2 Georgia Educator Professional Learning Units, 3 Georgia Educator Professional Learning Units, or 3 graduate credits through Kennesaw. I believe I have previously pointed out that PLUs are the only reason a teacher would take such a course, but I plan to participate and will be looking for fellow teachers from my district and area who are interested in learning in this asynchronous (assumption) fashion.
These are not going away for me! This should be a top offer/choice for students trying to organize/synthesize/share information. I continue to search for and curate resources for creating infographics. The latest infographic I created was for a MOOC and I still find easl.ly the easiest free web-based software with a nice array of exporting options.
Expect to keep hearing from me about good resources on inforgrpahics. This would be a good place to mention Pinterest as well. The visual nature of Pinterest lends itself to any graphic element such as infographics. My Pinterest board on Graphics includes more than infographics, also see my Strictly School board for better educational content. Also if Pinterest interest you, maybe my post on creating a feed from my Strictly School Pinterest to my WordPress blog.
I have not fully explored the possibilities of Pinterest in education. I’d love to hear your ideas/experience with this intriguing site!
8. NEWLY FOLLOWING
I have made some nice acquisitions as far as follows this year:
@DaveGuymon was a tweep of John Hardison’s @johnhardison1 we met at ISTE this summer. He is making the transition from face to face to online teaching in middle grades in Idaho, has a terrific voice in his Take Five – Professional Development in 5 Minutes podcasts. While his contributions slowed as he took on his job and going back to school, the idea of PD in five minute chunks is a great one.
#edtechchat was a chat I first participated in during the Digital Learning Transitions MOOC. Like the name says, the course was massive and the chat was crazy quick. I have never seen a chat with a MOOC before; I think I would go into it with a different strategy than a typical chat if I do that again. The chat was after the first assignment so the stats were impressive: (insert stats HERE). I really found that I liked the moderator @thomascmurray Tom Murray – Director of Technology and Cyber Ed, 1:1 & BYOD, Blogger, Speaker, #sbgchat co-founder, Keystone Tech Integrator, 2012 BSN Leadership Award – and he is also one of my fav new follows this year.
#makeredchat was a hashtag I happened to see one night as I was checking out what the #edchat topic would be. They are in the same time slot as #edchat so they appear to be a smaller! closer knit chat. They drew me in and I asked a few questions, got some great insight, and several of the participants made sure to send me really great information on the maker movement.
@BlakePlock Shelly Blake-Plock had a recent blog post on EdSurge where he called out those who would have your professional development carried out by video professor alone. It is a great read which hooked me this month and pointed me toward anestuary.com and I signed up for the newish Sanderling product, a PD-social media marriage of sorts. What makes me excited about it is that current integrations present
#fivewordtechhorrors was a hashtag that had me counting like I was composing a haiku in middle school, but laughing instead of crying. I self-corrected and got back to business after a wild streak, but see #13, I just love to laugh!
9. PROFESSIONAL LEARNING
I am passionate about making my position between classroom teachers and technology personnel useful. So much so that sometimes I am a jerk. Sorry. Kinda.
My job is to make the district technology serve the classroom teacher. Sometimes it is an inordinately difficult battle to make that happen, full of compromises and investing in future relationships over making the technology work for teacher *right* now.
Aside from my struggles to make my days count for, not against, classroom ease of use I have explored new ways for teachers to consume Professional Learning (PL), but honestly I have struggled with how to compose meaningful PL to be delivered to teachers. When I consider the extreme amount of reading, discussion with colleagues, and thought over time that I have put into changing the manner in which I want to consume PL myself I should not be shocked that busy classroom teachers have not traveled that same path at the same time. I struggle to have patience with those who have not thought of different ways to grow themselves professionally yet.
Professional Learning does not need to always be sit-n-get in the Media Center after school for one hour. In fact, short bursts might be the best way to entice teachers to consume meaningful, practical applications for their practice. Duh you say? Well, let’s think about why that is not being done…. or is it?
Traditional PL is mandated. There is no pressure to lure, entice, and attract customers. But in fact Twitter already does a good job of that – attracting educators on their own time. Let’s look at the success of twitter: just-in-time, as small of a chunk as you want or as deep as you desire, always on, vary your own interaction along the continuum of lurk to participate. And what about the un-conferences, where people are encouraged to leave a session which may not be meeting their needs? What if the professional development teachers had to complete had to meet these standards? What is you could walk out on a session which was not meeting your needs? Does that blow your mind too?
So how can the system which has always done Professional Learning as a synchronous, one size fits all approach modify itself? Traditional PL has also happened to the teacher, what if the teacher was empowered to choose/customize their own PL from a district/school menu?
New standards such as the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards are the perfect occasion to try something new. The venue to offer this is just what the Internet is bursting with right now, Twitter chats, online courses, maybe a customized MOOC-idea, but definitely with some asynchronous offerings! Districts/schools need to follow the same guidelines as creating content for classrooms, start with what is available out there already:
- Coursera Signature Courses
- UbD courses by ASCD
- PBS Teacherline
- Intel Teach Elements
- PD 360
As long as I am dreaming I will mention that the idea of 20% time could really help a school/district follow a passion which might set them apart. Administrators should like the idea of seeing what their teachers can come up with if they are given time weekly/monthly to develop something new, exciting, beyond what their typical prep time allows them to currently create.
I know that some people also take offense to the words “Professional Development” versus “Professional Learning.” While I appreciate the subtle differences as pointed out to me I have used them interchangeably. Maybe that is the pivot point some folks need to facilitate this shift in the way we allow teacher to continue to grow in their chosen profession.
10. What I GEEK about…
I am a classroom teacher, who is now in the Tech Dept. I will never be someone who was going to get hired straight into the Tech Dept – I am generally cool with that. But I will need some credit for the things I am able to figure out when left to my own devices lately…
- I will run XML calls to our LMS if needed, but mostly I try to figure out what could be accomplished by such calls & get an expert on it. But before we had an exert to call – I could do in a pinch
- I am solidly able to FTP my own coursework into our LMS – if I break it, I don’t panic, I fix it
- because “spite is a reason” (see #13) my team and I will create/maintain a gravity form in WordPress if you insist we track/submit change requests through email
- I think I have a lot to learn, but I love to share what I have learned and what I think I have learned too
- I get to learn with the people I work with – daily – it exhausts and excites me all the time
I feel the need to need to stop the use of this infantile font wherever I see it. Okay, they are special education students, but must they be subjected to the “Sped” font of all their elementary school days? How about any other handwritten font?
For the Love Of God, please download Architects Daughter already!
When my choice as a co-teacher was to either give my special education students a Scarlet Lettered font worksheet and identify them as SPED or to use it with my whole class and have to look, read, correct something with this stupid font I wanted to vomit.
Sorry, it is just a personal snobby quest to rid my world of Comic Sans, which I will win.
12. PURE SELF INTEREST
I have done a good bit of blogging (for me) lately and that is due to a challenge I received from John Hardison @johnhardison1 at ISTE. He pointed at that I could write in the same voice in which I talked. Yep, someone had to actually point that out to me. I have IFTTT.com set up to tweet out to #edchat ever blog post.
I have also been left high and dry by my Detroit Tigers and Lions this year. Please suffer in silence the angst filled tweets that these two teams inspire, it is not nearly as bad as being a Detroit fan.
And then there are just things I feel so strongly about which always crop up in my tweets: poverty, professional learning, students creating versus consuming, content literacy, and teachers advocating for themselves.
Listen, if you want to make something stick for me, just make a Seinfeld reference already. I was not into The Office, I stopped watching Dr. Who. Don’t know much about the series? If you want to make something sticky for me I predict you will find some YouTubes and watch a couple of seasons.
A TED talk that gets me laughing is also powerful in my opinion. My recent favorite was Rita Pierson when I heard her featured on The TED Radio Hour on NPR. I recommend checking out her and The TED Radio Hour on NPR as well.
The best laughs come from those going through the same craziness as you though. I could not make it through some days without Greg Odell @ugaodawg and Danica Pruitt @crayonkeepin – you’d do well to follow them and hope for a small amount of the fun and learning I get daily.
The process of this blog post was pretty useful for me as a reflective tool. I literally scrolled through my 2013 tweets and snipped tweets of significance to me/my understanding of my position on important ideas, etc. I then used PicCollageLite to create compilation of themes I found within my pile of significant tweets. Once I had done this the pre-writing for this post was pretty much complete; the selection, narrowing down, choosing forced me to inspect what was important and why.
I would recommend if you can carve out similar time you give it a go as well! Happy 2014!