You Can’t Make Everyone Happy All The Time

knowledge

You can try though. And we did. And we’ll do it again on May 28, 2009 for the next Google Learning Institute at the CMSCE, Rutgers University.

expectations

There are a few things that we will plan to do differently. It’s tough to say since the feedback was positive, yet the participants were of two skills sets. (Compare the three comments.)

speed

I’ve had a few days to reflect on last Thursday’s GLI and the discussion that GCTs Erica Hartman, Kern Kelley, Jesse Spevack and I had afterward. I also read the evaluations several times and look forward to speaking with Mark Wagner about moving forward with a possible third GLI this summer. I’ve spent the weekend thinking about the 110% effort I give towards my preparation for a professional development event and that I expect when I go to experience someone else’s presentation I have rather high expectations.
Here’s some PD thoughts  I’d like to share:

  1. Describe your event accurately and stick to the description.
  2. Make sure when you prepare for PD that you have materials that accommodate every level of user. Have some step-by-step literature available as well as resources for delving deeper into the topic.
  3. Prepare for every type of learner. Try to provide printed materials, digital copies of those materials, video tutorial links and additional reading resources as well as any other relevant data you can provide.
  4. It’s always better to have too much prepared than too little.
  5. Make sure you come with a feeling of flexibility so that when technical issues arise, you can go to plan B. (Let’s face it: Have a Plan C and D as well.)
  6. Make sure you take an extra dose of patience with your morning coffee so that you don’t get frustrated with the attendees. They haven’t seen the presentation ten times like you have. They may need more time than you planned.
  7. You may think you are the expert in the room, but always plan that there is someone in the room who knows more than you do. Invite that person to contribute to the presentation. (This will work out nicely for you should you come across something you don’t know or that has changed since the last time you saw it ie. an updated version of software.)
  8. Thank everyone for attending your session / workshop and give them your contact information. The PD doesn’t have to end when the timer rings. Encourage your attendees to take a look at your social bookmarks, subscribe to your blog or follow you on Twitter. Go ahead, give them your e-mail. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

I really do read the comments that people leave on evaluations. I try to adjust and improve my work based on those comments. Please leave a comment if I’ve left something off this list – we’d only benefit from it. Thanks!

Pictures from the 3/26/09 Google Learning Institute
Pictures from the 3/26/09 Google Learning Institute

Using the Power of Twitter: Building Online Learning

Map of lthumann's relationships
Map of lthumann's relationships

I realize there are many amazing posts on the merits of using Twitter to develop a PLN. I also realize that there already exists dozens of collections of tools for making the most of Twitter. Yet, as I prepare for my presentation at NJECC‘s annual conference tomorrow, I am compelled to write one of my own.

Tomorrow, sometime after the lunch hour, I am presenting “Using the Power of Twitter: Building Online Learning” at NJECC’s 23rd Annual Conference. Here’s the session description:

“How can educators around the world use technology to connect, collaborate, teach, support and inspire each other? Collaborative Internet applications allow educators to create online communities that support their professional learning and relieve their isolation. In this session we will focus on the ways two social networking tools, Twitter and Classroom 2.0, can be harnessed to build a rich and powerful learning community. We will discuss tips and tricks to leverage the potential of these networks. We will provide resources to help attendees set up their own networks during and after the session. Finally, we will capitalize on the face to face connections within the workshop to further enrich our online learning community.”

There’s so much about Twitter that I won’t be able to share because I will want attendees to take advantage of the face-to-face networking time before they go off to develop their online learning networks. I thought I would mention some of the tools and topics I would have liked to discuss tomorrow here, so that anyone attending still has access to the information – all in one place – and of course to share with my PLN what I feel are valuable resources.

Twitter Memes and Hashtags:

Follow Friday
Each Friday, Twitter users suggests other Tweeters to follow. They end or begin their Tweet with #FollowFriday (An example.)

Gr8t Tweets for the month of March
Re-Tweet (RT) one great Tweet a day and include the hashtag #gr8t at the end.  All Gr8Tweets show up on the Grt8Tweets Wiki home page. Here’s a list of who’s participating. (Though I’m sure there are many, many more.)

Using Twitter Hashtags – This is a great explanation of what a Hashtag is and how they are used.

Ways to Build your Network:

Twitter4Teachers – An extensive list of educators on Twitter  – categorized by subject area / grade level
Who Should I Follow? – Find new Twitter Friends
Mr.Tweet – Discover great people relevant to your current needs

Searching for Tweets and Twitterers:
Twitter Search – Search by keyword, Hashtag or even Twitter ID
TweetScan – Searches Twitter and allows you to get e-mail updates
Tweetdeck – Group people together and have separate columns for @Replies, DMs, Groups and the public timeline

Cool Twitter Tools:

Tweet Wheel– allows you to visually discover which of your followers know each other.
Top Twitter Friends –  Including a list of your top 20 BFFs and suggestions of Twitterers to follow.

For discovering many more Twitter tools:

Top Twitter Tools for 2009
Twitter Fan Wiki

I know there are so many more tools and resources out there. Many folks in my PLN have created screencasts and video tutorials on how to use these tools and on the merits of using Twitter. They are all in my Social Bookmarks at http://delicious.com/lthumann/twitter or http://www.diigo.com/user/lthumann/twitter. I also bookmark anything related to Twitter to the Diigo Twitter Freaks Group. Please join us!

5 Changes To Education Meme

Image Source: http://www.medicalpracticetrends.com
Image Source: http://www.medicalpracticetrends.com

I have been tagged by Beth Knittle for this meme. TJ Shay began this meme with the following rules.

List FIVE changes you would like to see in the educational system.  Your responses should represent your perspective and your passion for learning and students.  If you have been tagged, tag as many people as you choose, but try for a variety.

This is the first semester in many years that I am not taking a graduate class in the evenings. I decided to take a break so that I would have more time with my family and to devote to the astonishing amount of professional development offered through the folks in my PLN via distance. Last semester, as I sat in a room without wi-fi listening to the class discussions, I found myself really feeling like I could spend my time more wisely participating in EdTechTalk events, the DEN or ISTE in Second Life or even some of the impromptu gatherings that happen via UStream or Skype. I just wanted to make sure that I was putting myself in an environment where I could learn.

One thing that stuck with me from one of my recent classes in supervision was that when you go into a school or a district as a new administrator, you should not make immediate change. You should observe and learn the culture before you can make decisions as to what would make improvements.

So, though a part of me wants to make changes in education, the other part of me knows that these things take time, and I’ll keep working towards making improvements within the districts that I have come to know the culture and populations of. The teachers that I work with know that I believe in “taking baby steps” and that things take time.

Here is my list. There are a few that are a bit more achievable, but I can dream big, right?

1.  I would like teachers to view themselves as professionals so that the portion of the population that doesn’t, that sees teachers as working from 9 to 3 and having summers off, will know how much we are devoted to our profession. There are so many devoted educators that put in countless hours to improve teaching and learning in their classroom and to make sure that they meet the needs of their students. Let this be known.

2.  I would like all educators to see the positive in each and every student. I know it’s difficult, but they are all someone’s child and they all need love, understanding and sometimes extra assistance or compassion.

3.  I would like students to play a larger role in the writing of curriculum. If we give our students more opportunities to take ownership of their education, then maybe there will be more success stories. Students need to invest in their futures as well and this is one way for them to do so.

4.  I would ask that administrators find the needs in a district before taking on an initiative to fix something. There is always more than one way to look at something. Let’s make sure we are addressing the right issues before determining what we think are the right solutions.

5.  I would like all teachers to “be teachable“. Mandated professional development is not always the way to go. Educators, and people in general have to WANT to learn in order to truly learn. I would love it if all teachers were open to trying new things, open to doing what they already do well – more, and willing to share resources. How do we accomplish this? Well, I do believe that enthusiasm is contagious…

If you are reading this post, you most likely have thought about this list of 5 things to improve in education. Perhaps you’ve even implemented changes to make these improvements. I’d be curious to know what other things you are looking to change. I therefor tag the following bloggers, but anyone is welcome to leave a comment or post the meme on their site.

Clif Mims

Chris Craft

Cheryl Oakes

Liz Davis

Bud Hunt

My Aha! Moment of the Day February 27, 2009

The picture taking MACHINE - Kevin Jarrett
The picture taking MACHINE - Kevin Jarrett

I really thought that my Aha! Moment regarding the reload was going to be that it was worth all the time it took to help plan it. During the months leading up to the Google Teacher Academy Reload for the 2nd Cohort I came to know Cristin Frodella, Product Marketing Manager, Apps – Education Edition, Google a little more as she turned down some of my ideas for sessions. My mind went crazy with making sure the Cohort was kept up to date, that the Agenda was populated with the resources from the presenters I had asked to share that day. There was so much to be packed into 2/27/09, yet plenty of time for the educators to socialize and network with each other.

There were countless moments during the day that could have counted as my Aha Moment.

It could have been having been completely distracted as Kevin Jarrett surfed on http://FailBlog.org using his Broadband access as I ignored my GPS and made every wrong turn possible heading into NYC early Friday morning. (That was a first for me – being in the car with someone surfing the Net on their laptop – I so wanted Kevin to be the one driving.)

It wasn’t the fact that the Google Teacher Academy is a wonderful opportunity and continues to be fulfilling as I already knew that or I wouldn’t have offered to help organize the day.

It’s not the experience of going to the Google building in NY. We joke about the micro kitchens, game room and the services that go along with being employed by Google, but the most enticing element of being there is the level of energy. I think I already knew that. I just needed a reminder. (I could take another reminder anytime.)

And then the presentations that I had seen ahead of time came to life. I thought for sure that these would contain my Aha! Moment as each contained a piece of knowledge that captured my interest – too many to list here.

It wasn’t the Monster Milk Truck from Jerry Crisci.

It wasn’t the Google Bunch Video from the Sitterleys.

It wasn’t seeing the definition of  Copyright from Kristin Hokanson.

It wasn’t the Ocean Layer in Google Earth 5 from Bruce Poldermanlealia

It wasn’t that Nancy Sharoff aka Laelia Laval wore purple hair in real life to match her purple hair in Second Life or that 17 GCTs completed this Google Form during the 30 minute demonstration to either be a Buddy in SL or that they wanted a Buddy in SL to help build the presence of GCTs in the virtual world.

It was the Web 2.0 Smackdown. Just when I thought everyone was completely exhausted and that their brains were on overload and that I had kind of ruined the mood of the room with a failed attempt at leading a question and answer period using Google Moderator, I announced the Smackdown. I wasn’t sure it was going to go well. I figured there were three things working against a successful Smackdown:

  1. Comments from the attendees that they were unprepared as they were unaware this type of activity was going to happen at the Reload.
  2. The Web 2.0 Smackdown was scheduled at the end of a rather long day.
  3. What I thought was a bad feeling in the air due to a failed attempt to use a piece of technology I was not that familiar with. (But hey, who knew I was leading the day? I was only supposed to HELP!)

Here is a list of the tools that were demonstrated. They weren’t all Web 2.0, but it wasn’t about that, it was about sharing tools that we liked and we wanted to share with our GCT colleagues. Even Barry Bachenheimer who had been fighting laryngitis all day wanted a second turn. But we had to bring the day to a close.

  1. http://www.polycom.com/global/documents/support/user/products/video/pvx_quicktips.pdf
  2. http://makeownringtone.com/
  3. http://p22.com/musicfont/
  4. http://www.livescribe.com
  5. http://play.typeracer.com/
  6. http://fcit.usf.edu/matrix/index.htm
  7. http://camfrog.com/
  8. http://scratch.mit.edu/
  9. http://mywebspiration.com/
  10. http://issuu.com/
  11. http://www.xtranormal.com/
  12. http://www.voki.com/

I love the enthusiasm. I love the collaboration. I love the willingness to try to new things and to learn from one another.

You just can’t beat that. That was my Aha! moment. What a way to end the day.

Image Source: KJarrett's Flickr Stream
Image Source: KJarrett's Flickr Stream