Can Social Media Have a Role to Play in Managing a Successful Classroom?

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano, cross posted to Langwitches Blog
This post is part of C.M Rubin’s monthly series in the Huffington post: The Global Search for Education: Our Top 12 Global Teacher Blogs. This month we are answering the following prompt:
Can Social Media Have a Role to Play in Managing a Successful Classroom?
As in previous posts in the series, I am examining the prompt from a semantic point of view and ask myself immediately: What do we consider ” managing a successful classroom” (and even what does it successful mean)? I also stumbled immediately over the word “CAN” and cringed when I wondered if it could say “Should” or “Must”? Semantics aside and out with an easy and short response: YES, social media can play a role in a successful classroom.
social-mediaMaybe a better question would be: Why is Social Media not playing a larger role in managing successful classrooms?
  • Social Media is one venue (of many) to LEARN… why should it not play a role in our schools?
  • Our students are gravitating (on their own) to Social Media for learning on their own terms outside of schools… why should we not take advantage of that for their learning in schools?
  • Learning for the 22nd century increasingly means being social and connected… why should we not take advantage of the platform to support that kind of social and connected learning ?
  • Social Media adds so many layers of depth to traditional learning strategies to include modern/now literacies… why would we not want to expose, facilitate and support our students in becoming literate in the area of global, network, media, information literacies and digital citizenship?
  • Communication has changed in the world around us. It is more visual, it is more concise, it is shareable, it is exponential in terms of the reach of our communication…how is this reflected in our current curriculum and pedagogies? (to quote Heidi Hayes Jacobs: “What year are we preparing our students for?”)
  • Information has changed our lives. The way we have access to it, the way we filter it, the way we consume it, the way we need to evaluate it, the way we produce it, the way we disseminate it. Social Media plays an integral part in the way information flows in our daily lives… why would we not give the learners in our classroom the opportunity to play, experiment, touch, mold, nurture, take apart, put together, create, disseminate, connect and learn to live and thrive in a world of exponential growth of information? Why are we not preparing our students with the critical skill of searching, not just information, but people trough our human networks.
  • The lines between our lives and “digital lives” are blurring at an accelerating speed, just as the difference between citizenship and “digital citizenship” is becoming hazier… why would we not embed authentic learning opportunities in our classroom to foster positive citizenship (analog and digital)?
  • The world is shrinking. Connecting, communicating and collaborating with people from around the world, due to technology, is sometimes easier than the same task involving people from the same geographic location… how can we not give our students the opportunities to broaden their geographic and cultural horizons by interacting beyond their culture, language and perspective

Take a look at some of my documentation over the past years from the trenches of Social Media in the Classroom:

ASCD Connect21 Summer Camp

Join the Curriculum21 team at ASCD Connect 21 Summer Camp:

August 6-8, 2015

The first ASCD Connect 21 Summer Camp
Becoming a 21st Century Teacher, Leader and School

ASCD_Connect_21_CampYou will create a personalized professional learning experience!

August 6-8, 2015 at the Gaylord Conference Center -greater DC area

TAKE A LOOK: http://connect.curriculum21.com

The What? Why? How? of Documenting4Learning

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano
cross posted to the Langwitches Blog

My work in formalizing Documenting4Learning is moving forward. In good old fashion, regarding practicing what one preaches, I am documenting my journey:

My exploration got started with my own change and heightened layer of learning as a direct result of documenting. The continued action research, is fueled by my firm believe that sharing is a crucial component of our work as educators and the “learning revolution

Sharing means amplification. Amplification means spreading good practices, reaching more people and connecting beyond our own limitations of zip codes and language barriers.
Interested in learning more about how to use documenting4learning as:
  • the glue that will connect your school’s professional development initiatives together
  • build capacity among your teachers to make their learning visible
  • communicate, collaborate and connect among professional educators
  • action steps to use data to inform teaching
  • supportive skills to implement and grow e-portfolios
  • re-think teacher observations in your school
  • creation of institutional memory

 

Documenting4Learning-by-stolisano

Student Voices: Using Social Media to Share Your Passion and Affect Change in the World

The GIN (Global Issues Network) conference brought together an amazing group of young people, all united in their desire to change the world for the better and collaboratively find solutions to the world’s problems.

The Global Issues Network (GIN) empowers young people to collaborate locally, regionally and globally to create solutions for global issues. Each year, thousands of students worldwide engage in GIN-related activities.

langwitches-GINI had the opportunity to work directly with students during two breakout sessions about the use of Social Media (Thank you Lisa Goochee for your support and participation) Students had been researching, planning and working together on a solution under a chosen topic listed in the twenty global problems identified by Jean-François Rischard in his book High Noon: Twenty Global Problems, Twenty Years to Solve Them (2002).

They had created video trailers showcasing their projects and prepared presentations to share with their fellow GIN conference attendees from International schools all over Central and South America.

How could these students:

  • reach an audience beyond the conference attendees?
  • strategically build a network to connect with other students interested in global issues?
  • disseminate their challenges, solutions and ideas to receive feedback and gain support?
  • make contact with NGOs, experts in their field of interest or potential funding partners?
  • continue working with other teams and schools to continue to grow their projects beyond the physical dates of a face to face conference?

The answer: Building a social media network. While there are many different social media platforms that anyone can use to build a network in order to affect social change, the basic idea behind the potential of connecting, collaborating, communicating, crowdsourcing or crowdfunding is similar to all platforms.

  1. Create a “storefront”, a profile or bio to let others know who you are and what you stand for
  2. Build a network by strategically choosing people/organizations/companies to follow
  3. Encourage the “right” people to follow you back
  4. Contribute quality content
  5. Participate in conversations (give feedback, ask questions, add perspectives, add value)
  6. Build a brand (document your work, share , interact, inspire, present, showcase, etc.)
  7. Grow, weed and maintain your network

I challenged the group of teens in my session to take another look at a Twitter . Most had an account, but we encouraged the ones who did not to create one.

  • How could they use the account to connect and promote their project?
  • How could social media help them build a positive digital footprint and become part of their portfolio?
  • How could they build a network of peers and experts?

The rest of the session was hands-on.

  • create a Twitter account (if you didn’t have one)
  • choose a username
  • create a profile description
  • Tweet1:INFORM: share something with follow GIN attendees (use the hashtag)
  • Tweet2: CONNECT: mention a keynote speaker (give feedback, ask a question, connect….)
  • Tweet3:REFLECT: share your aha moment
  • harvest usernames of other GIN attendees to add to your network

Twitter-challengeHere are a few examples of students sharing a tweet with their network.

Who else is teaching social media skills, techniques and strategies for students to start building their own learning/professional network? How are we supporting students to harness the power of social media? How do we encourage students to add their voices about the issues they are passionate about to the conversation? Can you share your strategies as a teacher with the rest of us?

Professional Development: Got a Twitter Minute?

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano
cross posted to the Langwitches Blog

Funny how a Learning Network trail can lead one to unexpected destinations 🙂 Follow along the bread crumbs to see where the trail came from and what it led to…

1. I shared a presentation on Sketchnoting For Learning
2. Sharon Bowman, left a comment on slideshare and tweeted the link

Sharon_Bowman___sbowperson____Twitter3. I followed the link to Sharon’s website, and purchased one of her books titled: The Ten Minute Trainer: 150 Ways to Teach it Quick & Make it Stick.

As a professional development provider, I enjoyed her suggestions of 1-minute activities with the objectives of:

  • understanding
  • reflecting
  • reviewing
  • focusing
  • articulating one’s own thinking
  • making thinking visible
  • creating connections
  • sharing

Sharon used analog material, such as paper, pencil, index cards, sticky notes and face to face dialogue and conversation in her workshops. There is NOTHING wrong with that and EVERYTHING right with her approach to take lecture type presentations and divide them into small easier digestible chunks, then give the attendees time to review, reflect, discuss and share what they learned.

“shorter segments of instruction are better than long ones, and learners remember more when they are involved in the learning”

4. My thoughts turned to ideas how we could amplify these short activities beyond the attendees of the workshop and at the same time include an activity that:

  • exposes participants to network literacy
  • helps them contribute to and build a Personal Learning Network
  • collaborates and connects with a larger number of other workshop attendees, as well as a potential global audience
  • documents their learning beyond the physical time of the workshop
  • supports reviewing, reflecting, discussing and sharing their learning

5. Many of Sharon’s activities seemed to be a natural fit for amplifying them into Twitter activities, embedding the SAME learning objectives she has for her analog activities.

6. I sketched the following notes

got-a-twitter-minute-based-on-10-min-trainer7. I look forward to sharing the following 1-minute activities at my next workshop as an option for attendees in addition to some of the analog ones.

Connections

  • Share something you already know about the workshop topic
  • use the #workshop hashtag
  • follow someone who is also using the #workshop hashtag

Pair Share

  • share the most important fact or concept you just learning in the last 10 minutes
  • tweet it out and specifically @mention someone else

Shout Out

  • shout out a number between 1-10
  • tweet (that amount) of ways that can impact your practice
  • use #workshop hashtag

Doodles

  • Make up a metaphor of the most important concept you learned
  • sketch the metaphor
  • take a photo and tweet it using #workshop hashtag

Signal

  • make a noise signal, if you have a “tweetable moment”
  • articulate and share your tweetable moment
  • tweet it out
  • use the #workshop hashtag

Time Sponges

  • tweet out two things you want to learn at the workshop
  • reply to someone else’s tweet by answering their question

Think & Write

  • tweet one sentence that summarized the information you heard about
  • use #workshop hashtag

Exit Ticket

  • Tweet 1 opinion about an issue related to what you learned
  • tweet a question you sill have. “How about…”
  • use @workshop hashtag

Action Plan

  • tweet out a sentence starting with “I plan to…” with what you learned
  • share how you will hold yourself accountable

4 Big Ideas Around the Connected Educator

Cross posted to the Langwitches Blog by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

 

We are in the middle of the Connected Educator Month.

I am looking at 4 big ideas around the connected educator through the lens of connected professional learning.

Globally Connected Educator- Beyond Plugging In.001 I think about the isolation of a teacher within their classroom walls and how connectedness to a global network of experts and peers could expose and add multiple perspectives to their world view and professional practice. I am amazed every time by the transformative nature of teaching and learning, when harnessing the power of a network to crowdsource authentic data, resources, connections and collaborators. Last, but not least, the idea of being able to model for our students what connected learning in an interconnected world means is a moral imperative for educators who are charged to prepare our kids for their future.

Globally Connected Educator- Beyond Plugging In.002Local Isolation as an Educator

Interesting, that when thinking about being connected, my first thoughts turn to the opposite, of being isolated as a teacher. How to break out of the loneliness one can feel as a learner, reflective practitioner and someone looking for feedback when spending most of one’s work day inside a classroom with the doors closed. Traditionally, teaching has been and is one of the most isolating professions.

  • Isolated in a physical classroom.
  • Isolated as the only Spanish teacher in the entire school building.
  • Isolated as the only member on a non existing grade level team.
  • Isolated by being surrounded with children the entire day without speaking to another adult.
  • Isolated when only hearing oneself speak when lecturing to a roomful of students, class period after class period, repeating the same lecture over and over again.

6 Ways to Avoid Feeling Isolated in the Classroom by Rebecca Alber (Edutopia)

Globally Connected Educator- Beyond Plugging In.003Being Exposed and Gaining Perspective

How can teachers open up the walls of their classroom and become connected to experience and gain perspectives from other educators around the world? Being connected to other educators and experts gives teachers, for the first time the exposure of multiple perspectives and constant opportunities to access different points of view.

  • Opportunities from someone who does not live in one’s zip code
  • Opportunities to connect with someone of a different country, culture and language
  • Opportunities to learn from people regardless of stereotypes of age or sex
  • Opportunities to learn from newbies and experts.
  • Opportunities to see through the eyes of eye witnesses

Globally Connected Educator- Beyond Plugging In.004Take Advantage and Harness the Power of the Network

Once connections are established, trust has been given and received, the network machine has started to function. It is the moment when sending a “shout-out” into your network is not just met with silence. A shout-out is met with a response, an answer, a re-tweet, a comment, feedback, a push back, added value, etc. This goes far beyond traditional face to face network connections though. Traditionally one expected the response from a few people.

Crowdsourcing though”is the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community”. The response could easily be co-created by fifty, hundreds or even thousands of people contributing. Part of network literacy is the understanding of and harnessing this type of network intelligence. As David Weinberger in his book “Too Big to Know” stated “The smartest person in the room is the room”. It is the exponential potential that makes being a connected educator transformational.

  • Crowdsourcing for authentic data collection
  • Crowdsourcing for multiple points of view and perspectives
  • Crowdsourcing to collect resources
  • Crowdsourcing to gather different approaches to solve problems
  • Crowdsourcing to increase efficiency
  • Crowdsourcing to assemble individual pieces to make a whole with small contributions of each individual
  • Crowdsourcing to participate in and collaborate on projects

Globally Connected Educator- Beyond Plugging In.005The Moral Imperative to Model Network Literacy and Learning for our Students in an Interconnected World.

One of the modern literacies is Network Literacy. In the Harvard Business Review, Eric Hellweg, outlines 4 key attributes to this network literacy. The capabilities to

  1. Obtain a basic understanding of network technology.
  2. Craft your network identity.
  3. Understand network intelligence.
  4. Understand network capabilities

I strongly believe that if we want globally connected students, we need to have globally connected teachers.

  • Students need teachers who model connected learning and not just talk about it.
  • Students need teachers who have experienced connected learning in order to translate and tweak that experience into their classrooms.
  • Students need connected teachers, who can connect them with an authentic global audience, peers and experts.
  • Students need teachers to model building an academic learning network.
  • Students need teachers who are adept in applying global pedagogy (approaches, strategies and techniques to facilitate learning) to their curriculum.

When you think of connected educators, what are your big ideas that surface? Connect your thoughts, come out of your isolation, share your perspective, add to a crowdsourced collection of global pedagogy examples and how you model connected learning for your students.


Building an Online Professional Development Hub for your School

By Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

Cross posted to the Langwitches Blog

Teachers and administrators struggle to find time to work together in a meaningful way. There are plenty of meetings scheduled. Many teachers leave these meetings though with the feeling of “could have spent my time doing more important things”. How do we squeeze in one more meeting to help teachers grow as professionals? How do we add one more opportunity for teachers to learn important new skills, listen to one more educational consultant, one more expert on a new initiative? How do we give teachers the time to learn with and from their own colleagues? How can teachers learn from what is going on in the classroom next door? I am a strong advocate for educators experiencing the type of learning they want to expose, inspire, support in their students’ learning. If education for the “now” and for the future demands that schools and educators prepare our citizens

  • to be avid (digital) readers or writers, they should be modeling being a (digital) reader and writer
  • to learn to collaborate and work on a (global) team, their teachers should have the skills to work on a (global) team
  • to be online learners, their teachers need to be comfortable learning online
  • to share their learning with peers, their teachers should be openly sharing their own learning with colleagues
  • to become network literate , teachers need experiences with “a basic understanding of network technology, crafting a network identity, understanding of network intelligence and network capabilities”
  • to leverage the power of a learning network to solve problems and answer beyond “googleable” questions, then their teachers should be connected to a learning network
  • to own their own learning by actively participating and contributing, then their teachers need to be doing the same and modeling life long learning

Building an online professional development hub/community for your school  will give your faculty the opportunity to experience exactly this type of learning.

  Building_a_PD_community_at_your_schoolAn online PD Hub moves teacher learning into the “Now”, away from one-size-fits all professional development, away from Tuesday’s faculty meeting at 3 pm, away from sitting through professional development workshops that are not relevant to one’s students or subject areas. Building_a_PD_hub-whyWhy would you want to invest time and resources into building an online professional development hub for your school?

  • Anytime Professional development can happen in your pajamas on a Sunday morning or (if you are a night person) at 10 pm at night. Teachers can learn in small chunks of time… 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there… without having to sit through an extended period of time at the end of a long day of work or on a scheduled workshop at 8 am on a weekend.
  • Anywhere Learning happens not only in the faculty lounge, media center, at a workshop venue or in a conference room. It can happen at home, in your car (listening to a podcast), waiting at a doctor’s office or at your children’s swim practice or dance lessons. Professional development also does not only happen locally, but teachers can connect to colleagues and learning opportunities around the world.
  • Sharing Ewan McIntosh said ” Sharing and sharing online specifically is not in addition to the work of an educator, it is THE work”. Educators are inherently people who share their knowledge. Technology enables us to share at a larger scale, beyond students who are physically in the same place at the same time. Web 2.0 tools give us the ability to create, publish and disseminate what we want to share with a world wide audience. Personal Learning Networks (PLN) are built on the fact that educators will share and contribute to the network as much as they are “taking” from it.
  • Curating The word “curation” was taken from the context of a museum curator, who selects, organizes, and presents artifacts to the public using his/her professional knowledge. The school’s PD hub becomes the place (“museum”) for curated information, especially selected, organized and presented by professional educators for each other.
  • Crowdsource Crowdsourcing is defined as obtaining information or input into a particular task or project by enlisting the services of a number of people. David Weinberger said: “The smartest person in the room is…. the room”. Harvesting the collective experience of teaching and learning in your school community is worth enlisting all members of your school. It is about taking advantage of a platform that supports and encourages contributions and collaboration through experiences, perspectives and educational data.
  • Engage in conversation Many teachers are completely isolated in their classrooms. There is seldom time to chat with colleagues, conversations are cut short by the bell ringing, the next meeting, car pool duty or students needing additional help after class. Meetings are taken up with administrative issues and endless paperwork to be completed. A hub, designed to foster and support conversation among administration and faculty, allows educators to engage in a conversation in their own time, their own space, their interests and at their own level. It also fosters an important modern skill of being able to ” engage colleagues through the use of technology. It’s vital that we educators explore the use of digital PLC’s and the learning that can come from the connections”.
  • Making learning visible A PD hub, is a platform to house a myriad of media (text, images, slide decks, videos, audio files, etc.) that showcases and makes the learning taking place at the school visible. Teachers share student learning as well as their own learning by making it visible for others to read, view or listen to.

Building_a_PD_hub-characteristics Characteristics of an Online PD Hub for Schools. A hub is:

  • shared Sharing of resources is the beginning, sharing of successes and failures in our professional practices to receive feedback is the next.
  • documented By documenting (taking the time to writing down reflecting on teaching and learning) and sharing the documentation provides evidence of a process and created artifacts.
  • searchable The documentation is not scattered, nor available to just a few members of the school community, but is collected in one place that is searchable for all for future evidence and connections.
  • archived Resources, artifacts and reflection of learning do not disappear after a project, a book study, a webinar or a workshop is over, but are being archived for later retrieval to be searched, built upon and connected to future professional development learning.
  • open for feedback Sharing openly and transparently online (even on a closed school PD hub) adds the component of being able to receive feedback for your contributions from other members of the hub. The feedback cycle becomes an important component in the school PD hub for motivation, continuously extending your thinking and work.
  • an aid in the process of writing and reflection Every teacher is a writing teacher. Every teacher strives to help their students reflect on their learning. John Dewey said: “We don’t learn from experiences, but from reflecting on the experience”. Teachers have little opportunity or take the time to continue to write and reflect on their own. A PD hub gives teachers the platform and the “excuse” to practice and hone their writing and reflection skills to then be able to take these skills and translate them into their classroom and teaching.

Building_a_PD_hub-challenges

  • Time There is never enough time in the life of an educator. Building a Professional Development Hub for your school will raise hairs on the backs (and resistance) of many just by thinking that it is one more thing to add to their plate. It is imperative to make it clear to members of your school community, that the time invested is of importance and will replace time spent on a different task. It is also important to clarify that in the beginning, a learning curve when reading, sharing, reflecting on the the hub is to be expected. The time invested now will pay off later.
  • Basic Tech Skills Building an online Professional Development hub for your school is challenging if the majority of your faculty lacks basic technology skills. With basic skills, such as password and login management, typing skills, a certain fluency in reading and writing on a digital platform, etc. The lack of these skills seem to make the transition to a digital environment for learning filled with high obstacles and too far to reach. I have been wrestling with the issue “It is NOT about technology“/ It IS about Technology for a while ( Never Was About Technology?- Time to Focus on Learning?, Take the Technology out of the Equation) and of course, it is not about the technology (it is about learning), but I am observing more and more educators , who are not comfortable with nor technology literate, are being left out of/ behind LEARNING opportunities. It is a subtle change, one that can be masked by surrounding yourself with colleagues and administrators who do not value nor take advantage of the transformational opportunities in teaching and learning through technology.
  • Embed Culture of Reflection If a school does not value reflection as part of the learning process or educators are not used to sharing their reflection, embedding reflection in your online PD hub will be a challenge. Teachers and administrators need to see the value and benefits for their own learning and growth. This does not happen overnight, nor by writing 1 reflective post. Learning about the value of a reflection over time to demonstrate growth TAKES time. According to Carol Rodgers in Defining Reflection :Another Look at John Dewey and Reflective Thinking, four criteria emerge from Dewey’s work that characterize reflection: Reflection is a meaning making process that moves a learner from one experience into the next with deeper understanding of its relationships with and its connections to other experiences and ideas. Reflection is a systematic, rigorous way of thinking, with its roots in scientific inquiry. Reflection needs to happen in community, in interaction with others Reflection requires attitudes that value the personal and intellectual growth of oneself and others.(further reading: Reflection in the learning process, not as a an add-on, Reflect…Reflecting… Reflection, The Reflective School by Peter Pappas)
  • Not comfortable with sharing While sharing has always come natural to me, this might not be the case for all your teachers at your school. Some educators are not comfortable in sharing their success or failures. Reasons behind these feelings have been “I don’t want to brag”, “There is nothing I could share that has not been shared before”, “There is noting I can think of”, or ” I am a perfectionist, I could not possibly write down what I do”, “I am worried/afraid people will judge me/my writing/my spelling/my opinions/my teaching/etc.” The fact of potentially receiving feedback, embeds a different mindset when authoring and sharing material and documentation. Many are not used to that kind of open and transparent feedback.
  • Building a Culture of Sharing How do we move from “never having thought about sharing my work, my reflections, my successes and failures, to a culture where sharing is deeply embedded how we work, learn and teach together. Not an easy task to build that culture, to make the act of sharing part of the fabric of our school? (further reading: Sharing and Amplification Ripple Effect, The Power and Amplified Reach of Sharing, Sharing in Education- Is it Changing?, There is a responsibility of sharing among Educators, It’s All About Sharing & Collaborating)
  • Self- Directed Learning Schools, universities and continued education opportunities of pre-internet days as students have groomed us to sign up, show up, listen and receive credit as proof that we were present. With the growth of the Internet, social media platforms, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), personal learning networks (PLN) blogs, wikis, etc, the learner is in charge WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and HOW to learn. Materials are not pre-chosen, resoures are not stagnant or quickly outdated, a myriad of media is available to match one’s learning style. It is a challenge and struggle for educators and schools to transition to a new mind shift, where professional development is NOT chosen for them, but self-directed. Self-directed also requires the increasingly important skill of staying focused and the capability to select and filter an increasingly overwhelming information landscape.
  • Self-Motivated Learning Closely related to self-directed learning is being self-motivated. The opportunity to learn anytime, anywhere and anyhow brings with it the challenge of intrinsic motivation. What happens when there is no roll-call, not physical presence required and a certain anonymity of what has been read, how much time was spent in working through resources and conversation threads? How much participation of the individual contributed to the overall connected learning of the group?
  • Quality Contributions Having a professional development hub for your school and having your teachers contribute to the hub with resources, blog posts, images and videos does not necessarily equal quality contributions. It is imperative to clarify for teachers what is considered “quality” for your school community. Does a comment ” I like what you shared” constitute “quality”? Does it contribute to the value of the original post? Does complaining about students or parents enrich learning for your school community? What contributions enrich the school’s learning community and what might teachers add that distract from learning, are unprofessional in nature or contribute to a culture of bullying, passive aggressiveness and negativism?
  • Clear Expectations Taking all the above mentioned challenges in consideration, it becomes important for administrators to set clear expectations for their faculty, if an online PD hub is to be successful. Will it be mandatory to participate? How much participation is expected? What happens, if a teacher chooses to not participate? What are consequences? Will there be consequences? What basic technology skills are expected/ required of faculty to be able to participate as a full member of the online community? What is the expectation of professionalism? Who will moderate, re-enforce these expectations? How will you set and communicate expectations of quality contributions?

Building_a_PD_hub-steps

  1. Choose a Platform There are many platforms to choose from for your online PD hub for your school. There is no right or wrong decision which one you will choose. I would suggest you choosing the same platform, that you are or will be using for your students. It makes all the sense in the world to have your teachers experiences and work with the same platform your students will be working with. Questions to ask when choosing the platform (to make sure the platform has the capability to accommodate your requirements): Will it be an open to the world or a closed to only members of a specific (school) community platform? Does the platform have potential for future growth? How much technology know-how do you need to set up and maintain the platform? How much will it cost? (Examples of PD platforms: WordPress Multi-user site (self hosted), Edmodo, edublogs, Eduplanet21, Ning,Google Plus)
  2. Build Content It is essential, especially in the beginning, to start building content on your community. It is hard for beginners, with little or no experience in online learning to envision the potential of the hub when nothing has been shared, no conversation has taken place and no visible evidence of a return investment to the time you are asking them to spend on the platform. It is worth the effort to invest in starting to populate resource areas, share downloadable and demonstrate how quality contributions might look like. You might also want to strategically ask specific members (more experienced ones with online learning) of your community to contribute in order to make “how it could look like “visible for others.
  3. Set Expectations Expectations can represent a challenge (see above). The clearer the expectations are for your school’s online professional development hub, the more successful the hub might become. Without set and communicated expectations, many hubs have fizzled out and did not fulfill the learning needs of the community. Once these expectations are communicated to members, revisit them often, embed them in conversations, in faculty meetings and faculty communications. If a pedagogical success, not only the mere existence of such online hub has become a priority and is to be part of the fabric of professional development at your school, expectations cannot disappear as yet another momentary initiative allowing members to fly under a radar.
  4. Model Use Administrators, especially a principal or head of school, are lead learners of a school community. In order to model good practices, their presence, participation and involvement is crucial on your online PD hub. Administrators model quality contribution, feedback and sharing, important characteristics of a flourishing online community. The mere presence and involvement of administrators, not only models, but also communicates clearly the shift of self-directed and motivated learning in digital places. Outside the digital learning platform, every opportunity should be taken to “demonstrate the value found with your digital [learning hub]” and strategically identify learning taking place as a result of connections made through the PD hub.
  5. Support Basic Tech Skills Different levels of comfort and fluency in regards to basic technology skills will be among your faculty. Make sure you have a system in place to support various levels. Walk in tech support, available step-by-step tutorials in paper form or for download, video tutorials of basic support involved in consuming, producing and contributing via the online hub. There is also the possibility of establishing a buddy system to connect less savvy teachers with mentors/coaches to support and guide the in becoming participating and active members of the school PD hub.
  6. Make Learning Visible What could you share on your online professional development hub? Resources, links to articles, book reviews, etc.? What makes YOUR SCHOOL’S hub unique, if members start sharing the learning that is taking place in their classroom with their students and in their own learning as educators. It is natural step to start Documenting FOR Learning and to share that learning in a visible way in a variety of media platforms (text, images, audio, video, etc.)

A Reflection on TEDTalk21: Creating a dynamic and joyful environment

cross-posted from Just Start for Kids and Schools

Golden light of evening over Torrey PinesGuest Post By: Craig Gastauer

Natural learning experiences are generated by observation and questioning.  As individuals share their different perspectives, each of us begin to make meaning of these experiences and deepen our understanding of the world.

Hiking on the cliffs above the the Pacific Ocean with my nine year old son creates for us a safe space to explore the world.  Questions abound as we come across animals, plants, rock strata, and even the wonderful variety of people we encounter.  And as a science teacher I may have an idea of much of what we come across, I hear from the nine year old perspective new questions and thoughts that may have never occurred to me.  There are no texts or assignments forcing students down a path that the teacher wants the student to focus.  Instead, the child’s questioning and wonderment lead the discussions and the ideas to explore.  The generated excitement even invites those people passing by to add their understanding and questions.  Learning opened through the initial questions and new insight allowed us to look at the experience in new ways:

  • Why are all the organisms under plants or why are the animals a certain color?
  • What eats what?
  • Why there are more insects than lizards?
  • Why do the birds circle above?
  • Why?  Why?  Why?

The TEDTalk21 invitation to remember a safe learning space reminded me of how a simple hike led to an natural and engaging learning experience in which my 9 year old has developed a new understanding of the world in which he lives.  But it has also opened a new learning experience for myself.  Seeing the child’s excitement and the additional different perspectives brought into the experience has led me to wonder:

  • How can this excitement and natural engagement become the learning norm in my classroom?
  • How can these natural interactions be replicated to invite in others through new formats using digital literacy so that everyone can impact their own creative learning process?

Actively participating with the Lead21 team in learning how to actively engage learning through the use of technology to replicate this system has opened a new world.

 Why are so many of us using technology as a replacement of the ribbon based typewriter instead of the social environment that could help learning flourish?  

Setting up something as simple as a student blog opens the door to the natural learning cycle.  Asking students to publish their learning, followed by others positively promoting different perspectives or inquiries, provides students an opportunity to re-engage with all these ideas to deepen their understanding.  The static learning experience transforms into a dynamic space that strengthens them as resilient learners.

For teachers, this promotes deeper learning of the content, but also of three essential components to becoming engaged, life-long learners.  We can help them learn to self-regulate, self-motivate and self-evaluate their learning process and products. As teachers, we need to:

  • Promote and actively engage students in asking where they are in their learning process
  • Ask what strategies they have employed and how they have worked
  • Ask what their engagement is trying to achieve
  • Ask what their next steps need to be in order achieve their goal

We can never create a destination to where every student wants to go to, but our students can. By opening up the learning experience to a more natural, collaborative, self directed way, students can take charge of and build their own meaningful learning process.

Reflection question (would love to see your comments below):

How do you set up the use of technology to incorporate the natural learning cycle in order to help students deepen meaning making and become more independent learners?

Craig is a high school biology teacher in Northern San Diego County.

3 Steps To Start Learning How 2 Learn

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

Cross posted to the Langwitches Blog

There are a lot of thoughts and ideas about what learning in the 21st century is supposed to look like. Most likely you are constantly bombarded with books, workshops, keynote presentations, webinars and good old lectures (yes, even on the topic of modern learning…) that remind you that it is time to upgrade traditional teaching and learning.

3steps

It is NOT about technology, but about thinking > We live in an era of information overload. We need help in filtering and managing it > Collaboration and sharing is at the heart of learning > What happens to the work that is not shared? > People and relationships are at the heart of learning > Our network is what propels us to action!

The following six quotes from Judy O’Connell, Alan November, Mitchel Kapor, Clay ShirkeyHeidi Hayes Jacobs and Chris Lehman exemplify the backdrop for taking action as a learner in 2013 and beyond…They plant the seeds and layout the path to not just LISTEN TO and TALK about what should/needs to be done, but also set the stage for 3 Steps to START learning how to learn.

thinking-with-technology

fire-hydrant-info-overload

collaboration-sharing

no-one-sees-it

infrastructure

network

Some will continue to listen to and read about these visionary ideas, but when Monday morning (or the next week, next quarter, next semester or next school year) rolls around, the routine sets in and everything is back to business… to normal…to last century…

I am more convinced than ever ( and will keep saying)  that NOTHING will change in teaching UNLESS, educators have an opportunity and the motivation to EXPERIENCE new ways of learning for THEMSELVES!

I have a suggestion for the ones that have heard, have listened, but do not know where to start.

3 Steps to get started in managing their information overload, starting to document their work with an audience in mind and share their work, becoming part of the conversation and the mechanism of connected learning.

  1. Curating via Social Bookmarking
  2. Using a blogging platform to document work, learn with and through media, create with an audience in mind (read,  write and comments on blogs)
  3. Create a learning network via Twitter to build relationships, participate in conversations and contribute to the learning of others by filtering through your lens (perspective/area of expertise) and by adding value

bookmarking

blogs

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It is about telling your story. As you are telling it, you are teaching and modeling for others. You are engaging in a metacognitive process to help  make sense of learning today (so different than when we grew up). Over time, telling your story, will create your unique brand of learning.

tell-story

Amplifying Learning Opportunities- Part III of Literature Circles

by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

cross posted to the Langwitches blog

In Part 1 of Literature Circle Discussions, I shared 6th Grade Humanities teacher, Emily Vallillo‘s well structured and organized Literature Circle lesson. In Part 2, I shared the upgrade of traditional lit circles to a new learnflow which included filming the discussion to annotexting the film with behavior’s observed and metacognitive reflections on student blogfolios.

DUE to the sharing of their work on their blogfolios and the dissemination on Langwitches blog as well as via my network on Twitter the learnflow did not stop, a new learning opportunity arose, when Author, founder and co-director of Habits of Mind, Bena Kallick made contact.

Students and teachers are getting a taste of and are being reminded that learning in a connected world is never over… The simple fact of documenting and taking the time to publish “what we are doing in class”… is connecting us to a world of learning opportunities.

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We arranged a Skype visit. In order to prepare for the call, students learned about the author by researching the Internet and set up different jobs they were responsible for during the video conference.

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  • Videographer (recording Skype call)
  • photographer (taking visual notes with images)
  • Official Scribe (official note taker of Skype conversation)
  • Speakers (introduction, keep the flow of conversation going)
  • Note Takers (taking individual notes for themselves)
  • Live Blogger (create a post for the classroom blog)

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We looked at our objectives for the Skype call

  • Awareness that sharing with a global audience amplifies learning opportunities
  • Learning and information do not only come from texts and books
  • Metacognition of learning habits
  • Connections to own work
  • Communication skills
  • Collaboration skills
  • Note taking skills
  • Awareness and modeling of network, media, global and information literacy

skype-bena-kallick-flip camera

Agenda for Skype Call

  1. Introduction
  2. Students explain their work in literacy circles, process of creating the video and annotexting.
  3. Bena talks about how she found out about students’ work about Literacy Circles. How she made connections to her own work
  4. What are habits of Minds? How are they related to learning targets?
  5. Q & A

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While the different stages of the Literature circle work were part of the learnflow,

  • lit circle discussion>
  • filming >
  • annotexting>
  • reflecting >
  • sharing >
  • disseminating>
  • receiving feedback >
  • making connections>
  • Skype call

skype-job-silvia-tolisano

I observed the students’ workflow in the classroom:

  • Speakers were in charge of introducing our school and talking with our expert. They had been prepared with the agenda of the skype call
  • A collaborative Google Doc had been shared with all the students to add questions that they had for the expert. One student, sitting next to the speakers was in charge of keeping up with the incoming questions and speaking to the expert during Q& A time. He marked already asked questions and selected best suited questions from the growing list on the document.
  • A Live Blogger was in charge of preparing a post on the classroom blog. He was to incorporate images from the photographer and video segments, once the video was edited.

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After the call was over, we realized that we had much information about the call “stored”in different places as well as as different media. Our job was to figure out HOW to CONNECT the different types of information.

  • in our brains
  • on the Flip camera
  • images on our phones and iPads
  • on a Google Doc (Official Scribe)
  • on the classroom blog (Live Blogger)
  • on individual notes (note takers)
  • on a collaborative Google Doc

The Official Scribe documented the Skype call. See a sample below:

Bena – “What kind of questions do you ask at the circles?
Brenna – “Clarifying questions and Deep Discussion

Bena – How does that extra person help? The person taking notes in the discussion.
Maya – At the end of the discussion, they tell us what we do well on, what we should improve, what they liked about the discussion.

Bena – Are you using Habits of Mind? I think it would help sort of, help you guys to discover new things.
No, but I think we might start to.

Where did you get the idea of habits of mind? And When did you make it?
Bena – “I had the idea since I worked with my partner, and we started looking at all those different ways to think like in those literature circles. All of those skills like comparing and contrasting. Disposition for thinking – not only do you know how to compare + contrast but you dare to do so disposition attitude are called habits of mind. Listening is a habit of mind and empathy, because you are not just going to say something, but you ask questions and try to understand the points of view.” “When I hear another person’s perspective, you try to understand – Helping your mind be as flexible as possible”

Why did you choose us?
Bena – “You are special. I was interested in what you guys were doing. Since I was following Mrs. Tolisano, I saw it. I wanted to bring Habits of Mind to your work, so you don’t just use ordinary skills, but you understand them. I skyped with other classes. What makes you special, is that you guys brought in technology.”

Can we have this for other subjects?
Bena – “Habits of mind are beyond any of the areas. You can use it for any area and even outside school. I worked with students working with habits of mind, some people started getting bored at a party, and they thought flexibly and used skills. I hope you can bring them everywhere. Where would you get it? Bring it to some of your classes and show them about it.”

Have all your books been about habits of mind?
Bena – “They have been about educational things. Not all habits of mind, but all about how to think and ways of thinking. Higher level thinking is how the world is right now. You are asking good questions which is a habit of mind. Communication, which you guys are doing. From Mrs. Tolisano, I noticed you guys work hard, and maybe you can start mapping things out. I have co authored all my books 16! Thinking collaboratively, is also a habit which is why I worked with a partner.”

As part of the debriefing, students contributed a short “One Thing I Remember…” ( here is a selection of their answers)

  • I remember that she said “Habits of mind are everywhere”that affected me because it made me think that we think all the time and we don’t even notice it -Jess-

  • What I remember the most is the I remember the most from the conference was how she talked about how you should be flexible, so that creativity will come to you, also, you will learn more. -Maya-

  • I remember that she said that habits of mind can be used outside of school. – Jack

  • I remember when she said that she made the museum for teachers and students who is going to learn about habits of thinking. -Nana-

  • I remember how she said that it [HOM] wasn’t only for humanities or english but it is for everything.-Martin-

  • One thing I remember is how Bena said that people need to learn how to use more exquisite language in our everyday talking instead of saying “that was awesome” but saying why it was “awesome” and making our conversations meaningful-Claudia

  • I remember when she mentioned that she made a museum for a good reason that really was an inspiring thing to help kids understand about how important habits of mind.. -Juan Pablo

  • Something I remember Is that she said habit’s of mind can be used anywhere.- Camila

  • One thing I remember is that she said that she created the museum for students and teachers that were going to about the habits of thinking and I thought that was really cool. – Gabe

  • André – One thing that I remember she said was that she said that two people are better than one, so she likes to write books with other people.

  • One thing that I remember is that she said that not all [her] books are about habits of mind but all of them have a connection to education. Juan

  • Yael – I remember is that she said she worked with partners because of the habit of Thinking Interdependently. Also, how she worked with a partner for all of the books because it is better to work with two minds that have two perspectives, than one mind that thinks on its own.

  • I remember that she said how people at a pajama party decided to use the habits of mind and think flexible. – Brenna 😉

 

Habits of Minds from langwitches on Vimeo.