Friday, February 26, 2016

It's Time

One of my goals for over a year is to get back to blogging, and sharing all of the amazing things I am learning and seeing with the wonderful educators that I have the privilege to work with everyday.  However, it seems like each day there is a reason to put it off one more day, as there are more pressing things to do.  I say that I am going to share it later,.. I will do it tomorrow.  One of the things I share with teachers that I am working with is that as you learn something new, it is important to jump in and make it intentional to build it into your routine.  I think it's time to take my own advice!

So many teachers are doing wonderful things with students in the classroom as we are in our third year of 1:1 in our district.  It makes me smile and grateful each time I walk by one of their classrooms and see the powerful learning that is taking place.   They are changing the learning in the classroom in ways that I would have loved to have accomplished as a teacher.  They are connecting, differentiating, collaborating, enriching and extending the curriculum with students.  Students are getting opportunities for choice to share their learning, as well as each getting a "voice" to be heard.   These are just a  few examples of what is happening on a daily basis if you walked into our schools..

I am so proud to be a part of the learning initiative and see students preparing for their future!   As teachers and students are jumping into trying new things and sharing with each other, it is now time for myself to reconnect with my pln and share some of the things I am learning along the way as well. Modeling is so important!  As I continue the conversation with teachers about extending their learning beyond the four walls of the classroom, I must also make the time.

I am ready to reconnect!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Building Connections

Today, more importantly than ever, networking and connections are essential towards the learning of every educator and student.  New information and resources are shared everyday digitally, which allow for wonderful learning opportunities. Sharing your knowledge and resources with your personal learning network, or PLN,  will allow these networking exchanges to grow, build , and flourish into amazing learning experiences for many students throughout the world!

Two years ago I began building connections in the Flat Classroom Project, A Week in the Life, as well as my PLN on Twitter, which focused on many teachers on #4thchat.  I was discovering learning opportunities that made my classroom more engaged, meaningful, and connected to the world.  I also joined other organizations, such as MACUL, and the MAET program, which furthered my passion for educational technology, as well as connecting with essential educators that have transformed my outlook on the future of learning.

This past year, my connections have continued to grow and evolve, as my own profession has changed.  While I am no longer in the classroom, I have the opportunity to share these learning experiences, networking opportunities, and projects with more teachers and hopefully have a trickling effect to impact more classrooms than just my own.   Collaboration is essential in today's society, and we must model that with the learning that is taking place in classrooms everywhere.

I am very excited to extend my PLN and build global connections throughout the Flat Classroom Teacher Certification program, as well as my participation and membership in the International Society of Technology in Education, otherwise known as ISTE.  I am really looking forward to attending my first ISTE conference this year.   I want to learn and connect as much as possible while I am there, which has led me to join the ISTE conference Ning, as well as the ISTE Newbies group as well!  It is so important that other teachers that I work with don't regard me as just, "talking the talk", but also "walking the walk".

It is a personal ambition of mine to continue growing, participating, connecting, and learning to model how as educators we must always continue on the pathway of learning.  If you would have told me two years ago what I would be doing today, I wouldn't have dreamed that my goals would have flourished beyond my expectations.  I cannot wait to see what is in store for the next few years!  I am grateful each day for the connections I have made, and look forward to the connections that I will find tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Story Problems Can Be Fun!

Last week I had the opportunity to work with a wonderful class of fourth graders that were very excited to share their video story problems with the world!   Their teacher found out about the idea through our JCISD monthly tech challenge sent out to teachers in our districts, as well as other districts in Iowa and Nebraska that also collaborate on the project.  Students were buzzing with anticipation as it was getting close to their turn to record the video.   As the students were recording, other ideas about problems they could share kept coming out.  Students were engaged, excited, and eager to share their creations with others!  They are also hoping to share these problems throughout their school as a challenge to other students.  I actually heard more than one student say, "Story problems are fun!".  Those four words are such a validation to teachers that sometimes stepping out of the box and taking a risk reaps more rewards than imaginable!

We also had another elementary class take it one step further and go to the local hardware store and create video story problems!  They partnered up with a class in the high school to help them create, record, share and solve the problems.  Powerful learning was definitely taking place in that store!

I hope you will stop by the video story problem channel and leave them a few encouraging comments to keep them motivated and willing to share their learning with others!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Growing, Learning, Connecting Globally!

While it has only been a couple of months since I have completed my graduate work in my Master's program at Michigan State University, I have decided to continue my studies globally with a familiar project that has fascinated me for over two years- The Flat Classroom Project Teacher Certification program.  A few weeks ago, I noticed the tweets about the projects starting again in February and March, and it reminded me of the wonderful learning opportunity my class experienced with the Flat Classroom Project: A Week in the Life.  The project all opened our eyes to global connections and collaborations, which has affected my perspectives and passion for collaborative learning experiences in the classroom.  I purchased the book, Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds, and was immediately hooked!  I knew that it I wanted to continue my journey with this program!

The class began a couple of weeks ago, and I am so grateful to be a part of a wonderful cohort of teachers throughout the world that also are passionate about global, collaborative learning!  I look forward to the challenges and experiences in this project, as well as providing learning opportunities for teachers that I work with, to become globally connected in future!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sharing and Learning with Edcanvas

Each time I meet with teachers, I want to make sure to provide them with several resources that will help them learn more about a particular subject, tool, or project.  My goal is that our first discussion is a starting point to their technology integration on a particular topic.  It is not solely about the technology, but using a website, tool, or project that connects to their pedagogy and content, to maximize their learning in the classroom.  I am a big fan of the TPACK model, and my goal is to continue to share this with teachers as they become more technology proficient with their curriculum.   It is exciting to see how teachers are transforming and changing the culture in the classroom.  As a part of the JCISD team, we have also been building a website filled with resources that will be a place for teachers to go when needed.   However, as we know new projects and tools come out daily, and our website continues to grow with an abundance of resources.  Sometimes this can be overwhelming to teachers, and they prefer to examine just a few sites.   I have found the perfect tool that will allow me accomplish this!

Edcanvas is a great site that allows you to create a visual board that shares websites, images, videos, and pdfs.  It can be used as a  presentation tool for a small pd, or even a resource to share a few particular sites with students on a particular topic of study. Once you share the board, you will receive a QR code, link, and an embed code for several options to make it readily available to colleagues or students.  It has searching features, as well as connections to Flickr, Dropbox, and Google drive, which make it simple to collect, and share.   The concept reminds me of a mini- Pinterest board, which is definitely well received by many!

Here is an example of a board on how Google Hangouts can be used in the classroom:

I have also created Edcanvas boards on Skype in the Classroom,  Moodle, as well as favorite iPad and Elementary Writing resources.  Since the tool is new, the creators of Edcanvas are continually looking at ways to grow, improve, and maximize the potential as a invaluable learning tool in the classroom.  This is definitely one of my favorite sharing resources right now, and look forward to using it often with teachers!  Hope you will take some time to check it out for yourself!

Friday, February 08, 2013

Snowy Day = Personal Learning Day

One of the things that I love about my job is that I get to visit different classrooms each day in several districts. It is so great to see all of the learning that is taking place, as well as discover some wonderful new ideas to share with others!  Yesterday I was very busy helping students planning their video story problems for our February Project Challenge!

I really enjoy working with the students and see their engagement, passion and creativity!  I was even greeted at one classroom yesterday with a thank you picture for helping them with iPads!

Every time I leave a classroom, I am inspired to learn more!  I want to help them in every way that I can to maximize the learning opportunities available in the classroom.  That is why I am grateful that while today is a snowy day, it also provides time to stay in one place and have a personal learning day!    With the help of my PLN, I am finding great resources, tutorials and examples of some wonderful learning taking place that I hope to share with the classrooms that I visit.   Some of my personal favorites that I have found today are:

A Journey of iPads in 2nd Grade

Using the iPad with the Writing Process

Tired of Book Reports, Try One of these Ideas

I cannot wait to get back into the classrooms next week and share all that I am learning about today!

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Fueling the Fire

Photo from Krissy. Venosdale on Flickr
 One of my favorite things that I loved to incorporate into my classroom were authentic learning experiences that would allow students to connect and become actively engaged with their content.   Students were leading the way and taking ownership of their learning!   This passion was so contagious that it ignited new opportunities throughout our curriculum. One example from my classroom last year would be how often we would use Skype to help us learn our social studies curriculum.  Rather than read a story about New Jersey or Massachusetts, my students would learn about these states from students in the actual states!  My class would then teach others about Michigan.  This was such a powerful learning experience that will leave a mark on their learning path.  Students extended these connections and collaborations in their writing through blogging, as well as other collaborative projects that provided engagement, and success!

Witnessing this passion and engagement for student learning was very contagious.  This inspired me to keep building new experiences where students would want to come to school each day, and to keep learning when they went home at night!

While my role has changed, my passion and enthusiasm for learning continues to grow as I have the opportunity to help other educators in our county to bring these experiences to their own classroom.   It is so wonderful to be in a position to provide the resources and tools to help teachers make the jump and kickstart a new way of learning into their classroom, as well as prepare students for the future.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity to team up with Bev Berns, another educational technology consultant from Iowa, and together we began planning monthly challenges teachers in our 30 coordinating districts that would provide the monthly project topics along with resources, tools, and common core connections to help them get started!   We have provided three projects for K-12 classrooms that included Skype, Blogging, and Video Story Problems.   It is so wonderful to see these projects go into full effect in Jackson County! We plan to continue to bring challenges for the teachers to get them to think outside of the box with support along the way!

 If you are ready to fuel the fire of learning in your classroom, take a look at our February Challenge!