The #eduonair conference and PD in NJ

On May 2, 2012 Google hosted its first conference using Google Hangouts On Air. During the 8-hour conference, there were over 40 presentations on everything from robotics to 1:1 initiatives to using Google Apps in schools. The presenters all donated their time to try this new way to present, interact and archive professional development. I have supported this form of PD over the last few years as I truly appreciate the archiving so that educators can go back at any time and watch again. Other organizations have been practicing this for a couple of years including Classroom 2.0 Live and The Global Education Conference.

Speaking of professional development. Did you read the article about the possible discontinuation of the 100 hours in NJ? I’m concerned about how the new standards for professional development are going to be determined in NJ. Though I strongly believe that teacher assessment should be driven by evaluations and student achievement gains, I also believe that there has to be a standardized directive from the administration on how much and what type of PD teachers should participate in.

What are your thoughts and concerns on requiring professional development hours for educators? How should the hours be counted? Who should determine what type of sessions are attended?

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Looking to Hear Success Stories from Educators in NJ

On Saturday, March 17, 2012 I will be speaking at the first ever West Essex Tech Symposium. This special free event has been designed to educate K-12 teachers, administrators, media specialists, school boards and interested community members on the innovative uses of technology in education.

I am one of three keynotes that will be presented that day. Eric Scheninger and Patrick Higgins will also be presenting, so I encourage you to attend and also check out the many sessions from fantastic teachers and admins across NJ.

I would love to share your story during my keynote, “Possibly the 648th Time You’ll Hear About 21st Century Learning”. Please consider filling out the form below, contacting me directly or passing the link to this page on to someone you feel has a story to share. It’s these stories that encourage other educators in NJ and elsewhere to shift their teaching strategies to help prepare our students for what is to come.

How Can We Help?

The "Fail Whale" made an appearance at the #140conf meetup

It was the last question asked from the audience at the #140conf meetup at the New York Times building yesterday in Manhattan. Just over 70 social media gurus gathered to listen to three members of the NY Times team speak and then a panel of educators (of which I was honored to participate in) moderated by Parentella.com founder Aparna Vashisht.  Liz Pullen, Deven Black and I fielded questions regarding how Twitter was being used by educators for professional development, with students, and as a social networking tool in education.

Here’s a link to the  Ustreamed recording of the panel if you are interested in listening/viewing the discussion that Aparna moderated. I think that many in  the audience were surprised at just how networked teachers CAN be. So I think that when Chris Kieff closed the conversation that evening with “How can we help?” we were right to answer with Donors Choose and to just continue supporting educators as professionals.

7 Steps to a Twitter MakeOver

TwitterMakeover

If this visual looks familiar to you then you are
either in need of a Twitter Makeover or know someone who is.

There are ten items that people might look at when they check out your Twitter page to decide if they want to include you in their personal learning network (PLN).

1. Don’t go with the default Twitter background. I’m not saying you have to go and upload a background from Twitterbackgrounds.com, but at the very least, click on the Settings button at the top, right corner of your Twitter window. Once you are in Settings, click on the Design tab and then select from one of the preset Themes. Click “save changes” and you will have a nice new background for your Twitter home page.

2. We know the Twitter bird is cute and that it comes in several different colors, but nothing says you are a Twitter newbie more than the Twitter default avatar. All you need to do is have a picture saved somewhere. It can be on your hard drive, it can be on your shared drive or a thumb drive. It can even be on a photo CD. You just need a picture of SOMETHING. Then click on the Settings button at the top, right corner of your Twitter window. Once you are in Settings, click on the Picture tab and then click on the Browse button. Locate the picture that you want to use and then click the Open button. Click Save and you are all set with a personalized avatar.

3. What goes under your name in the top, right-hand corner on your Twitter page, is your location. You need to let folks know where you are. What country is a great start. The more specific you are, the better. To fill out your location, go back to the Settings page and look about half-way down for the Location slot. You will answer the question “Where in the world are you?”.

4. Underneath your location will be your “one line bio”. This is so important as this is going to be where you will indicate that you are an educator. If you do not fill this information out, most educators will not follow you. Actually, most educators are looking to see in what area of education you teach. Be as specific as you can. To fill out your “one line bio” go back to the Settings page and look about half-way down. Twitter allows you up to 160 characters for this.

5. Tweet something interesting. Are you looking to develop a reciprocal relationship or are you looking to lurk? If you are looking to lurk, you can actually just use Twitter Search and you don’t have to sign up for a Twitter account. But if you are looking to develop a PLN in the Twitterverse, then you have to start contributing. Tweeting that you are “sitting in a workshop” or “trying out Twitter” isn’t really a productive contribution. You might want to consider Tweeting something that you have recently bookmarked or seen someone else Tweet. Also, you can Tweet the URL to a website that you have used with your students or colleagues and say why you used it.

6. Find people to follow. The people that you follow tells a lot about what you are interested in. Your potential Followers may scan the list to get an idea of what you are interested in. Consider using the following sites to help you find other educators to follow:

7. Don’t protect your updates. If you do this, potential followers can’t see who you are.  This is what you look like to them and as someone new to Twitter it says you are not looking to be a part of a reciprocal relationship.

protectedWell, I was going to write up a list of 10 steps, but it turns out it only takes 7. I met with most of the teachers from the Center‘s 21st Century Learning Initiative for a second time this past week after having them use Twitter and Diigo for about a month and decided that we would do “Twitter Makeovers” on many of them. What a great group of educators willing to try new tools to learn and share!!

Final Preparations for #NJEA09

I was honored when the folks that ran the NJEA Technology Institutes this past July invited me to run some sessions at the NJEA Convention this fall. I had remembered reading the blog posts and Tweets from fellow NJ educators while they were in the High Tech Hall last November and felt a bit envious that there was such a large gathering of local teachers interested in using technology to improve teaching and learning in the classroom that I couldn’t be a part of. But this year, I’ll be there in Classroom 2.

My good friend and colleague, Kevin Jarrett, has been sharing resources with me and the others involved in the showcase. Here’s a map to the High Tech Hall as well as the two Classrooms that will be in the Convention Center dedicated to the technology integration. I was also able to (finally) find a link to the online program guide on the NJEA website.

program

I’m presenting five one-hour sessions with the theme: Stretching Your Technology Dollar –  Shoestring Innovations

Thursday, November 5

9:00am Thinking Inside the Box

11:30am Did You Say That Was Free?

1:00pm Are We Teaching Standard Students?

Friday, November 6

9:00am This Is Not Your Grandmother’s Google

11:30am Don’t Be Late-That’s So 2008

Each session will be hands-on in Classroom 2 which is loaded with computers. The way I understand it, you can’t sign up for a seat, so you’ll need to come down to the High Tech Hall a little on the early side should you see a session that peaks piques your interest. While you are there, there are tons of mini sessions going on and there are other one-hour workshops in Classroom 2 as well.

I’m looking forward to networking with and learning from many folks I don’t get to see face-to-face too frequently. I hope to see you there too!!

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.