Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Making Students Aware of the 4Cs

This post is week 3 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators from hotlunchtray.com. Find out more by clicking here.

I am constantly thinking about the "4Cs of the 21st Centruy" when I work with students or coach teachers. The 4C skills are: Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, and Critical Thinking. 

According to many, like P21.org, these are the skills that our students need to be successful in the current workplace, as well as the workplace they will walk into. Until recently, I hadn't put too much thought in making the students fully aware of how classroom activities are developing these skill sets for them. Yes, I've shared with students before how their time at school should and will be spent developing these skills along with learning content, but I don't promote them on a daily basis with students. I plan on making this change for my learners in the coming school year.

It is common practice to display the student learning objectives for the students in every lesson. Along with those objectives, I'm going to begin displaying a 21st Century Skill objective for them as well. The idea being that by the second semester of the school year, students themselves will be able to identify which skill they are developing. To me this doesn't have to be a major shift in anything my colleagues and I are currently doing. Some examples of this could look like:

These are two pretty basic statements that I can post for students, but they could make them aware of the fact that we are working on these skills. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

#PLN: Using Twitter to Impact Your Professional Learning

This post is week 2 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators from HotLunchTray.com. Find out more about this challenge by clicking here.

2of 8weeksofsummer FBThe most important/impactful professional learning I have ever participated in was developing my own Personal Learning Network (PLN) through Twitter.  When I tell many of my fellow educators this, they look at me with a strange look on their face. Whats a PLN? and how on earth are you doing professional learning with Twitter?

My explanation of a PLN is an asynchronous (sometimes synchronous) group of learners that openly share and discuss their resources with anyone that wishes to join in. The great thing about a PLN is that the learner can engage where-ever and when-ever they want. I also use the term engage very loosely. Many people are lurkers, meaning that they just go through a topic and read what other people say/share. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Some weeks, I barely have time to check my twitter feed, while others I'm on twitter several times through out the day.

How do I get started?
There are several platforms that can be used, but Twitter seems to be the most popular. There are a couple steps that you take to get going.

Step 1: #Hashtags
Find hashtags that apply to what you want to learn about. The very generic ones are #edchat & #edtech. There are many, many hashtags, and some groups even make up there own. Here are some resources of Educational Hashtags to use in your Titter Search Bar:
The Complete Guide To Twitter Hashtags for Education  from TeachThought
60 Popular Education Twitter Hashtags from Getting Smart

Step 2: Follow, Follow, Follow
Once you search through hashtags, find people that are posting frequently about those topics and follow them. Don't feel bad about being choosey either. If you click on that persons profile and you find there are more posts about what they eat for lunch than what you want to learn about, then don't follow them. Here are just a few of my favorite Education Twitter users:

Need more convincing?
Here is an excellent SketchNote from Sylvia Duckworth on why you should give a PLN a try!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Professional Learning: Keeping A Balance

This post is week 1 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators from hotlunchtray.com - Find out more about the challenge by clicking here. 

I know that I'm in the right profession, because when I learn I get excited. I share what I learn to twitter, voxer, this blog, as well as other mediums. However, if I'm being honest with myself, I begin to admit that I don't keep a good balance of learning about all of the aspects of my profession.

I find myself quickly getting wrapped up in coding in the classroom, makerspaces, technology integration, and so on. As I reflect upon my professional learning I have to ask myself, "Do I really take a balanced approach to all of the professional learning topics that I need to stay on top of?" My self critical side says, "no, not really."

I'm going to take this prompt as a challenge to balance out my professional learning goals.

Content Curation: Google Keep or Padlet? 🤔
To do this, I plan on using either Padlet or Google Keep for content curation. I am going to set up a few different labels/pages: Educational Leadership, Pedagogy Practices, Curriculum Development, Technology Integration, 21st Century Skills. After I figure out which tool I'm going to use, I plan on setting a goal for at least one link per month shared to each category. As I check throughout the year, I can see how balanced I am with each category.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Extending Your Reach

Last week I was able to be a part of the 4th annual Innovation Institute in Springdale, Arkansas. I have been fortunate enough to be a part of the planning committee for this event and present at it every year. This year, we invited the Arkansas Commissioner of Education, Johnny Key, to come and give a short speech before our keynote.

Key made the excellent point that "technology will never replace great teachers/teaching." A point that many of us have all made before, and agree with. Then he added, "However, it can extend your reach." An excellent point, and one that isn’t stated enough.

It is easy to get wrapped up in “cool EdTech” for the classroom. How often do we get wrapped up in “extending our reach” to our students through EdTech? To do this let’s make sure we are asking some of the following questions as we plan our lessons:

  • Does this app deliver content to my students in a way that can’t be done without it?
  • What 21st Century Skills (Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, or Communication) are my students engaged in while using the tech?
  • Is the feedback process to students and/or parents improved by using this app?
  • Does using this tech offer student voice and choice opportunities? (Such as sharing their learning with peers in and outside of the classroom)
  • Does the tech/app allow for anytime/anyplace learning?
We can use EdTech for efficiency and engagement, but our goals should be using EdTech to extend our reach as educators.

For the last 3 years or so, this blog has really focused on apps and tools to use in the classroom. While I feel that I've been able to help teachers through that aspect, I've decided that it's time to start to shift that focus.

This shift isn't because I'm not proud of what this little blog was able to do, but more so the fact that I want to help teachers by offering more than just tools. I want to help teachers think about how technology effects their pedagogy, as well as the learning in their classrooms. I'm looking forward to this step in having my reader's grow along with me.