It All Takes Work

What’s a PLN you ask? Well, a Personal Learning Network is an essential part of being an educator these days, in my opinion. I can’t imagine how I would have survived the last 5.5 years without one. PLN’s allow you to connect with other educators in your field or just other like-minded educators. They are not always in similar jobs but generally have similar styles. My PLN journey started out small. A few contacts I had made through professional development (PD) that I would regularly email and ask questions. It began to grow when a Google Trainer told me this story about how to use Twitter. This started a journey that is continually developing as I wrote about in my post “It’s all about the PLN

One of my goals in that post was to become less of a lurker and participate more. I can’t say that I have made huge progress with that but I did try to make more effort during this course.

Staying involved in my PLN is what helped me complete my Course 5 project though. Without my PLN I would not have been able to move the project into Redefinition. It all started with this tweet to my PLN. This tweet resulted in two teachers working with me to help complete my project.

Another place that I am active in my PLN is Facebook. At first, Facebook was only for personal stuff. But now there are some very good PLN groups on Facebook and I find myself engaging with them more and more. For example, this one for Book Creator. Instead of traditional twitter chats, they have their chats online in a book. So instead of answering questions in posts, you answer questions by making pages in the book. Now with their new collaboration tool, it is even easier! I wasn’t going to be awake during this online discussion so I snuck in and added my answers to the book the morning before they held the chat!

 

I also try to share my expertise when I can through my PLN. I try helping out teachers who have questions when I can. My one caveat is that I make sure that I read the comments to see if my answer has already been stated. I hate nothing more than repeating what someone else has already said! That is what the “like” button is for!

Here are a few more examples of how I have participated in the Book Creator Facebook group.

 

 

My PLN is also a place for me to grow and develop. I learn new things every time I engage with my PLN. I am constantly forwarding myself posts to reread and review. I use Pocket to help collect articles to review at a later date or just collect ones that I may want to reference in the future.

My inbox in my school mail is full of articles that I want to re-read or share with my teachers. Sharing information with my teachers is actually one of the main reasons that I stay on top of latest changes. If I can give teachers information that will help make their lives easier than that is one of my goals!

One way that my teaching partner and I have been doing that is through interactive Google Drawings. I totally stole this idea from one of my PLN Peep Carrie Zimmer who creates Tech Tidbits. My teaching partner and I started creating our own. Here is one example, if you click on the link underneath you will be redirected to the interactive image (click around, though the cursor doesn’t change pretty much every image is a link).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another way that I have begun to help my teachers develop their PLN skills is to create an in-house Seesaw Chat group. It is starting out with a few select teachers as a place that they can go and help themselves if needed by asking each other questions. It will also be a place where I share Seesaw information that I think they may want to see from my other sources. I think this has a lot of potential, but I will need to see where it goes in the future to see if it fully develops!

Are New Tools Changing Teaching and Learning?

EQ: Have (and if so, how have) teaching and learning changed with the introduction of new tools?

This is a very good question. The answer to this question is both Yes and No. Yes, teaching and learning are changing when you consider that teachers are becoming less experts in their subject areas and more mentors. But No, because teachers are still a necessary part of the process.

Yes, teaching and learning are needed for effective planning and guiding of experiences. No teachers are not needed to stand at the front of the room for every lesson and lecture.

I guess my point is that teaching and learning are transitioning from one “style” to another. That being said it isn’t a 100% switch. Teachers will still need to do things that are considered “traditional” at times, but the traditional system of the teacher as expert standing at the front of the room lecturing even to young students will be less and less frequent.

Part of the reason for this is because educators are tired of seeing students not succeed simply because this system doesn’t work for them. Teachers intrinsically want to see all students succeed. To have a student who doesn’t succeed for no other reason but that the system is not ideal for them is frustrating. Teachers, in general, hate that and try very hard to avoid it.

Education in some circles is moving away from one size fits all to everyone has their own size and we teach them what is best for them. I think that the tools that come with the introduction of technology can play a huge role in this. For example, a simple app Book Creator on the iPad and now Book Creator Web App on your browser are both simple apps that allow students to build resources for themselves to help throughout their schooling.

I have had classes use @BookCreator to create a math reference book. They started at the beginning of the year creating a page with each new math concept that they learned. The students would each create a page explaining the concept in their words, that they could reference in the future when they needed it. The first time we did this was with 5th graders but it could be started in any grade. This could absolutely be done to some level with a paper notebook. But the app allows this reference book to go into the modification level of the SAMR model, with the ability to add audio recordings and video recordings.

In this case, technology is changing elements of teaching and learning. But at the same time, the math concepts may be being taught in a traditional method. I think that the issues that many forward-thinking teachers get frustrated with the time it takes to get schools to move forward in the ways that they can see a school should. This goes back to my previous post that teachers can be hesitant to change. I think that admin falls into this as well.

I think it is very important for schools wanting to move forward to be sure to vet new staff for the mindset and attitude that will allow this to happen. I can think of several teachers at my school that I would like to clone because of their attitude towards change. These teachers see change as a challenge that they want to face head-on, but that they want support while doing it. Which is where I come in, my role as the ES Tech Integrationist is to help support teachers so that they can use technology. But it goes beyond that I am often times helping teachers see new ways to deliver lessons, collect evidence for assessment and plan for new experiences.

Friendship Books by: PK

The PK students had been studying how to be good friends and learning the language associated with friendship. Towards the end of their unit they created a book using the pictures that they had taken showing friendships. 

In previous lessons to remind them of how to take good pictures, they learned about what makes a good picture and how to hold the iPad. Then they were asked in small groups, to take a picture to show friendship happening in different parts of their room. 

This book is a result of follow up lessons to that where they learned to insert an imagine into their book. They they sat with me in their small group and recorded sentences about how the picture showed friendship. They created several pages and recordings each to show different ways that friendship is shown in their room. 

Then we exported our books as movies so that we could share them with our parents.

 

What is Winter by PK

Last week PK finished up their work on Winter. For IT we created short ChatterPix Kids videos on what winter meant for them. Then they downloaded their videos from Drive, inserted them into Book Creator and added their names. 

I then combined their books into one and exported it as a movie. Here is their final piece!