Developing a Personalized Learning Network: Week 8
About two years ago, when I was working in China, I began developing my Personalized Learning Network (PLN) for several reasons. It was my first international school experience and I wanted to make the best out of it. And if I am really being honest, the city I lived in wasn’t my favorite and my PLN was also a good outlet. Additionally, because things move so fast and there is always something new, a good PLN could help me keep up and share. It’s a great resource for free, personalized, professional development. After attending several conferences, I began to build what I thought was a strong network of educators. I began to spend a lot of time swimming the waters of my developing PLN and I found it to be helpful and inspiring. I even put together a couple of workshops at my school in China regarding the benefits of developing a strong VPN with a focus on Twitter. And then I moved to Istanbul.
When I arrived in my new Turkish city, I fell in love. What an amazing, magical place with so many things to explore. Also, IICS is a Google school. Learning about Google became a major focus and I ended up taking a GAFE course with Jeff Utecht. So much to explore and learn! However, this resulted in a lost focus for my PLN. I basically fell out of the habit. This is where I find myself today.
For me, the next step within my PLN is sharing. I will comment and retweet, but I haven’t shared much of what I do within my classroom and school. When Dr. Bieber spoke of this within the Week 8 video, I was comforted to know that he had many of the same reservations that I find myself struggling with now. What makes what I am doing worthy? How do I know if someone will get something from what I do? And the worst fear yet… what if I don’t get any subscribers???
I understand the value of a well-vetted and developed PLN – all of the ideas and connections have the potential to greatly benefit my teaching. Since I will start my new position next year as a Tech Integrator and with this course, I thought this would be a great time for me to make time and get back into my PLN.
In thinking of next steps, I have several in mind. Earlier this year, I began an online professional portfolio using WordPress and I will use this platform to reflect weekly on something classroom or school related (not necessarily technology focused). Once published, I will share this on my Twitter feed as well as my Google+ account. Since I teach at a Google school, I would like to model how to effectively use Google+ and I believe this is a good start. I have tried to use Linkedin more effectively several times, but I find it confusing. I will continue to keep my information there current and I might look in on some groups, but overall, I really just don’t get it. However, I would like to develop a Diigo account for resources and articles that I think other teachers at my school would benefit from.
As far as advice, one bit of advice that the current Tech Integration at IICS gave me was to create a time in my daily calendar to research, plan and organize. Essentially, create time. With so many new ideas, strategies, and tools out there, I thought this was simple, good advice. Also, don’t be afraid. It is not like the stream of information is going to slow down to wait for me to feel comfortable or relevant. Time to jump in.
Below are some examples of the social media platforms that I use both personally and professionally:
A guide of tips, tricks, and advice for moving your face to face course to a blended environment: Week 7
When I first read about this assignment, I immediately felt overwhelmed because I thought of my new position next year and started thinking of all of the different comfort levels and tech abilities of the different teachers… and I almost jumped ship. But then I watched the video and the teacher talks about baby steps and that’s when it all started coming together.
The first teacher at my school site that popped into my head was Jenny. As you will see in the presentation, she is hesitant to use technology and doesn’t always see the value. However, as a school, we are headed towards a blended learning environment so it is something she understands that she needs to know. As a result, I tried to keep my tips, tricks, and advice very simple and easy to follow and to make sure that I am there to demonstrate how to use the tools with quick mini-lessons. It is my hope that in starting small and simple, it will build her confidence and she will start to explore these tools and many others on her own, independent of me. I hope you enjoy the presentation:
As a side note, I recorded my presentation using Screencast-O-Matic and published it on youtube, but the video becomes blurry towards the end. When I tried to publish it again, it would not do it because it was a duplicate. I included a link to my presentation below the embedded youtube which you can view, minus the blur.
Assessment and Evaluation Tools and Strategies for a blended online course: Week 6
The week’s task was a group task and it was a bit frustrating. We had some contact but one group member was very busy with work (as happens with everyone), so this person was late getting to the party. Another group member dropped out for a few days and everything seemed very last minute. Granted, this could have easily been me and this is not meant to throw anyone on the bus. Work comes first, class second. This situation just helped to remind me of the frustrations that students might have to deal with and as a teacher, I need to be aware and empathetic to these occurrences. How will I help students who are frustrated and how can I help students who are overwhelmed or very busy?
Also, I had to adjust my expectations and as a result, I wasn’t as gun-ho to participate. When I didn’t hear from anyone after I had created a Google Doc, I sort of just started to do things without the other group member’s feedback. Again, this could be me next week, too busy to think, but it was interesting because I felt more responsible but at the same time, a bit defeated. In that sense, this was a great week as I had a different perspective but also, glad the project is complete.
Week 6 Presentation
(Google Doc of collaboration on the last page of presentation).
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Blended Learning: Week 5
This week’s task was to outline the advantages and disadvantages of a blended learning environment. I wanted to use a different presentation tool other than Screencast-O-matic so I decided try Powtoons which was introduced to me by the current Technology Integrator at my school. Additionally, a student in my class independently created an amazing presentation using this web 2.0 tool. Little did I know how much I have to learn! Long story short, I could not figure out how to enable the Voice Over function on Powtoons. After recording my voice using Garage Band (.m4a files), I discovered that Powtoons only supports .mp3 files. Like I always tell my students, using a new technology can be an amazing experience or a beautiful disaster. Mine was the later and I ended up using Screencast-O-Matic in the end to show my Powtoons… I think that is called irony. Ah well, I hope you enjoy the presentation.
Understanding the learning styles of your students: Week 4
Below is my response to Task 4 for my TTC course. I surveyed students this week to find out their differentiated learning styles (auditory, visual, and tactile). From this data, I needed to discuss how this information might impact my blended learning class environment in terms of tasks, communications, and protocols.
I asked students to answer questions twenty questions on a recommended quiz from Education Planner. Nineteen students responded to my Google Form but one student put in the wrong information so her results were not included leaving me with 18 student results:
My class data:
Auditory (learn from sound): 27%
Visual (learn through seeing): 11%
Tactile (learn through touch): 22%
I was surprised that my results leaned towards Auditory. I would have bet that students would have been more Visual and Tactile. The students are always very excited to do hands-on manipulations in class. It’s easy to recognize when it is time to stop the ‘teacher talking’ by the squirms and movements around the classroom and move onto an activity.
Also, it makes me wonder if with the technology that we have today, students simply aren’t getting outside and doing things – they are inside on their computers, not really doing ‘physical’ things. I remember my dad used to just send us outside until dinner time. It was a fantastic time to explore the real world and just build stuff and get my hands dirty. From talking to my students, it seems the only time they are really outside is when they are in a structured, group activity – they aren’t just outside to be outside. Is that why they aren’t as Tactile?
As far as how this affects my blended classroom, this data actually helps me. My main communication for students and resources was going to be students watching and creating videos and presentations (to review what we are learning,are going to learn, or presenting on what they learned). The auditory seems to be conducive to this form of communicating, learning, and producing. I think it would mostly impact the Expectations, Protocols, and Communications. Particularly for my class this year, I would have to be available to explain and clarify assignments beyond written and verbal directions. So I would have to be available more in the non-school hours. This class seems to need clarification from me directly. This can also be an age issue in terms of confidence and independence, but from this data, I also believe it is a learning style issue. It is knowing when to take that control and when to let loose the reins that is a critical balance when teaching, especially in a blended learning environment.
CREATING CULTURE AND CONNECTIONS: Week 3
The video below was created to think about and develop the protocols and logistics to support a learning community in a blended classroom. This video helped me to streamline my thinking but at the same time, left me with questions regarding facilitating the course with my students. I included videos, photos, links, and one student presentation to support my ideas and also show what I am already doing to develop culture and connections within my classroom. I hope you enjoy the video:
Also, below a link to the Google Presentation so you can check out the links in depth:
Creating Culture and Connections
Below is my video for my 2 to 3 minute introduction to my blended learning course. Enjoy!