Comfort Zones

roseLiz Davis and I presented three workshops together this past week at BLC. The first is one we have done many times together and separately, it comes as second nature to us at this point. The second workshop I developed almost a year ago, we just worked together to select the ed tech leaders we would showcase and who would talk about who. The third workshop was developed originally by Liz and is out of my comfort zone. This is the second time we have led it together and each time attendees have responded well and have seemed to really enjoy the activities, but in the hours and days leading up the the session, I definitely wasn’t into it. (And Liz called me on it the morning of the presentation.)

So, as I sat on the long train ride back to New Jersey sans wireless, I thought about some of the situations that take me out of my comfort zone. I thought maybe this might be a time in my life that I should face some of them and challenge myself to move past some of the more trivial ones. Perhaps, if I am feeling bold, I might even consider trying to overcome the more complicated challenges as well.

As we went to dinner each night in groups, some large and some small, I commented on the fact that I had never dined alone in a restaurant. My companions asked if I had ever been to a movie by myself, another trip I have yet to make solo and I realized that though I rather enjoy having alone time, it is usually in the privacy of my own house.

I prefer to sit either in the front or the back of a room. The details of left or right are irrelevant, what is important to me is that I am aware of who is around me and when I have people both in front of me and in back of me I find it distracting. (Not that there aren’t ten other things going on to distract me anyway.)

So, back to this last session that Liz and I led at BLC. It was the last slot of the last day. “Goal! Define Your Goals and Leverage Your Network to Achieve Them!” was how we intended conference attendees to leave BLC with a plan in place on how to achieve one of their goals and who was going to help them. Here’s some of the goals set by the attendees:

@Dunningk – I want to do a monthly vlog and post it to our website.

@shadowg – Send the tweet to all BA students and faculty.  Few people respond with ideas.  A few faculty send message not to tweet them, very upset with me.  Ideas from students start to form.  Block the upset faculty/students.  Students now are building ideas presented and working with the librarians and other students, such as podcasts, videos of how to, book suggestions,  library makeover ideas……

@nicolesandburn – I hope to start a wiki/blog/podcast for my French and Spanish class

@trinapaynter – I want to create technology playground days (workshops) for teachers to try out new technology tools.

@analogurl – Implementation of Scratch into Elementary school curriculum, to promote student engagement, collaboration, critical thinking, etc.

Well, after thinking about some of the trivial goals above and having all that downtime on the train (as many of you sat in airports), I have come up with these three goals for myself:

  1. I’d like to begin playing music – quiet, soothing music, as teachers are involved in hands-on activities in PD events. I saw this two times in different forms at BLC and I think it is rather successful for some learners.
  2. I plan on increasing the amount of time I have PD attendees out of their seats. This may also bring many out of their comfort zones, but so many educators at BLC complimented Liz and I on the fact that we get folks up and around the room, that I’d like to bring this practice into more of my typical PD.
  3. This is the toughest challenge for me. I’m going to ask educators to try some free writing in my sessions. I typically encourage attendees to multitask during a workshop and as we work together, feel free to check e-mail, Facebook, whatever they would typically do while they would use the computer at home. But, during this time, I would encourage attendees to put everything else aside and focus on visualizing our group goal and writing about it.

I took so much away from the four days I spent in Boston. I will be posting more soon, but I figured documenting my goals was a good place to start.

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Success at the Second EdubloggerCon East

Group Photo from EduBloggerCon East 2009
Group Photo from EduBloggerCon East 2009

Yesterday marked the second annual Edubloggercon East. We met, thanks to the Alan November team, at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel from 9:00 to 5:00. Our agenda was packed. I’m planning to blog about the session that I led on backchannels (Jeff Lebow UStreamed it and it is archived at EdTechTalk.com), but I need to meet with Liz Davis to finish preparing for our sessions at BLC09

The sites from the Web 2.0 Smackdown (thanks go to Steve Guditus for taking such great notes) are listed here:

Lee Kolbert shared bubblecomment.com

Joyce Valenza took us to Google to demonstrate Google Squared, the Wonder Wheel and “Show Options” in Google

Andrew Connelly from Glogster talked about the benefits of the Education version of Glogster at http://www.glogster.com/edu/ – check it out – up to 200 student accounts per teacher

Jim Walker shared the Firefox add-on Fireshot for taking screenshots and easily editing them

Raju Gupta showed us Socrato!

Andy Pethan shared Aardvark

Karen Janowski shared the Pulse Smartpen by LiveScribe

Emily Valenza shared Instructables

Lisa Parisi shared ImageChef for generating your own images with text on them – so cool!!

Beth Lloyd shared Xtranormal for taking your text and making it into a movie – take a look, it’s so much more than that.

Kelley Connoly shared Stixy

We took a look at YoLink

Darren Kuropatwa – talked about how WolframAlpha will change homework. (Students will have to explain why WolframAlpha used the steps it did to solve the problem.)

Liz Davis announced www.socialtecheducation.com

Thanks go to everyone who attended both physically and virtually – it was a fantastic day!

My Plan for a Pocket Clone at NECC09

No Foolin’

She'll be my Pocket Clone during NECC09
She'll be my Pocket Clone during NECC09

This will be my solution. I have been talking with many folks in my personal learning network lately about how to stay on top of things and have been mentioning that I am interested in the concept of cloning. Well…this is my temporary solution.

Don’t judge me.

Think of her as my version of Flat Stanley. I may send her to sessions with a few of my friends and ask that she be photographed so that I know she was there and then view the UStream later so that it was as if I was there soaking up the knowledge myself.

I may keep her in my laptop bag as a backup in case I have over committed myself. I may ask her to hold up my end of the conversation. I’ll just let everyone know that I’m feeling a little tired and quiet ahead of time (like right now).

The point is that we could all use a little help. I’m looking forward to being an observer, a participant, an assistant this go around. I leave tomorrow morning and arrive in DC by mid-afternoon. As I spend my time at NECC and Edubloggercon, these are the things I’ll be thinking about:

July 7, 14 and 21     Keynote for the NJEA Technology Institutes, Stockton University, NJ

July 15 and 16          Google Workshop for Educators, CMSCE, Rutgers University

July 28                       Edubloggercon East, Boston, MA

July 29-31                 Building Learning Communities 2009 (BLC09)

August 5                     Google Teacher Academy, Boulder, CO

What will I take away from the time I spend face-to-face with so many from my PLN in Washington? How will I use what I learn to enrich what I share with other educators over the next few months and beyond? What can I share with them? What can I share with you?

But, please, don’t forget my Pocket Clone.