Pick one new skill and give it a try

images.inmagine.com/img/image100/10086/10086059.jpg
Source:images.inmagine.com/img/image100/10086/10086059.jpg

Late this past Tuesday I was asked if I would put together a presentation for a group of high school teachers. The high school administration is working on making better use of the hardware and infrastructure already set in the building and they have set up a professional day with some 90 minute workshops on how to integrate web resources into the content areas as a way of renewing the buildings interest in matching the students needs. To kick off the day, the technology coordinator asked me to make a presentation to the 150 or so high school teachers that would “get them excited” about using technology.

If you’ve met me, follow me on Twitter or read my blog, you know it doesn’t take much to excite me about technology. This stuff is my passion. So I immediately recognized that what might be really engaging for me as a member of this audience on a Friday morning at 8am, might bore the heck out of a high school biology teacher who has no interest in technology whatsoever. Thanks invance for your continued support and assistance.

This I found a bit unnerving.

The other issue I was having was that I found out about this presentation Tuesday afternoon and was due in another district on both Wednesday and Thursday. So there wasn’t much time to prep anything. I mostly planned my slide show in my head and wrote notes at red lights while driving. And then finally, Thursday evening, was able to put my presentation together.

I’d like to share it with you. I wish it were later in the day so that I would be able to invite my PLN to join a backchannel and present with me, but I realize that 8am is very early. I may try to set something up on UStream if I get the chance once I am there. I will definitely be on Twitter, looking for moral support as I have to say that this is the largest group I have presented to.

Did I mention that this is the first district I ever taught in?? No, I guess I didn’t happen to mention that.

As Liz Davis I had great fun asking session attendees to dance with us at Educon2.1, I decided to play some music while everyone is settling down. I don’t quite have the nerve to ask 150 people to get up and dance.

I will introduce the video Pay Attention and then use this slide show to lead my discussion. If I’m not able to record it using UStream, I’ll have my iPod Classic with me so that I can record it that way as I’d like to go back and hear it myself. I’m very curious to see what improvements I can make on this particular presentation having had so little time to prepare.

Be Teachable

sunday-at-educon21-0331
Written on one of the tables at http://educon21.wikispaces.com/Conversations#e313-4

Many bloggers have been posting their take-aways from Educon2.1. I have to admit that though I was sad to leave SLA and my PLN on Sunday afternoon and even sadder to say goodbye to Liz Davis as I left her at the Philadelphia Airport an hour later, my brain was fried. I wasn’t ready to think about next year or reflect on this year’s conference.

Let’s be honest. I wasn’t ready to drive home as I hadn’t had enough sleep. I wasn’t ready to tackle all the laundry that was waiting for me or to have to go grocery shopping to make sure that we had supplies for the girls’ lunches on Monday. Oh, and I wasn’t ready for my workshop on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday. I was shot.

What are ya gonna do? Get ready!!

The next day I drove back towards Philly to work with a group of teachers on UDL. It was our third of 5 sessions together, so these were teachers that I had already built a rapport with. We talked openly about good teaching and what was working in their classrooms and then I asked them to take my presentation for the day and redo it so that it was more accessible to them.  We worked on the concepts behind multiple methods of presentation and worked on which tools would help them meet the objectives of the UDL framework. At first they were uncomfortable with editing my presentation. I explained that I had designed it that way to make a point and to teach me a more appropriate way to present these same ideas. I was hoping that they had really looked at the YouTube videos and wikis I had shared with them about PowerPoint reform.

On the drive home I spoke with a tech coordinator from a high school in North Jersey. We had been trying to connect with each other for a couple of weeks, so using the hands-free device in the car, I listened to him talk to me about how great the school’s infrastructure was, how they had at least four computers in each classroom, plus a couple of COWs. What he needed from me was to come in and get the teachers excited about using technology and to give them the tools, skills and confidence to bring their school into the 21st Century. I found myself thinking that I’d be happy to help him as log as his staff was teachable.

0128091The next day I drove to North Jersey to finish some SMARTBoard mentoring I mentioned in a previous post. I had 5 sessions mapped out for the morning ranging from a group of pre-k teachers with no IWB experience to a 5th grade teacher with over a year’s experience who was thirsty to learn the more advanced features of the technology.  What I didn’t expect was the middle school language arts teacher who walked in the room who had just started working at the school the prior week. She immediately asked me how this technology would help her get her students to be better writers. I asked her how she teaches them to write. We only had 25 minutes together, so you can understand that I needed to make some pretty quick decisions. She was very much against using any technology in the classroom because (…and you’ve heard this one before…) when she was a student, she learned to write just fine without a computer.

I sat and calmly talked with her about how not every piece of technology meets every need. That she might consider using collaborative documents with her students. I asked her if she wanted to make sure that her students were ready for high school, college and the work force in addition to being good writers. She said she was interested in learning how she could integrate technology and still teach the pedagogy behind good writing. She was open to ideas. She was teachable. I invited her to the upcoming Google Learning Institute at Rutgers University.

I was scheduled to drive back towards Philly today to work in one of the middle schools in Camden City School District. I work with a team of stellar teachers there in my 21st Century Learning Initiative. Though I’m disappointed it was canceled due to the snow (the district closed the schools), it gave me a chance to go through my inbox, my notes from Educon2.1 and look back at the week and what’s still to come.

What have I learned?

I tell people I try to learn something each day. I’m pretty sure that on the days I’m out in the field working with teachers I learn way more than one thing. I know I learn more than one thing a day when I attend a professional development event, be it in person or virtually.

I try to be teachable. Whether you are a noobie or a seasoned educator or somewhere in between – be teachable.

Going Places in Life

It was this time last year that many of the folks in my PLN headed to Educon2.0. I had the pleasure of making the face-to-face connections with educators that I had been communicating with online for many months – some even longer. It really was a fantastic weekend.

"You are one of the people who goes places in life."
"You are one of the people who goes places in life."

I have to admit that I’ve saved something since that weekend. Something that I don’t usually do. In my wallet, for the last year, has been the fortune that I got at the Tai restaurant, Asia on the Parkway at the hotel many of us stayed at and will be staying at again this weekend.

I don’t know what really made me hang on to this one over others I’ve received. But I’m glad I did. It’s not just for me – it’s for all of you that have been on this journey with me. We work to develop our professional (or in some cases personal) learning networks, we work to share our resources (it is sometimes a lot of work to do so), we share our ideas, we share our ups and downs and what works and doesn’t work. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with so many of you. I’m disappointed that so many of you are not able to attend Educon2.1. But you too, are one of those people who goes places in life. So I’ll see you sometime soon.

“You are one of the people who goes places in life.”

Seven Things You Don’t Need to Know about Me

Liz Davis tagged me in this meme. I figured that it would be a great topic of conversation as my husband and I prepared for the family to come for Christmas dinner. It was pretty entertaining to create the list as we peeled shrimp, sauteed various vegetables, and worked to keep the kitchen clean and the kids occupied.

Seven Things You Don’t Need to Know about Me

1. I was always envious that my cousin had a lavender room when we were kids. I fulfilled a childhood wish by selfishly painting my daughter’s room lavender.

chocolate

2. I actually dropped a math course in college because the professor lectured using his middle finger. (The professor was rumored to have been the inventor of AstroTurf, but I’ll admit that it wasn’t until I wrote this that I finally confirmed that false.)

3. My first career out of college was in book publishing.

4. My second career out of college was in financial services. But I moonlighted as a cannoli stuffer in my then boyfriend’s (now husband’s) pastry kitchen.

5. I met said husband at a photo copier. He was making copies. (Don’t you remember the Saturday Night Live skit with Rob Schneider?)

6. My husband accuses me of favoring Dirty Dancing as my movie of choice, but it’s really Clueless.

7. My parents had my brother and I convinced we were allergic to chocolate growing up. When I got to college, I became a chocoholic – and lived to tell about it.

Here are 7 more bloggers that may have 7 things to share:

AJ Kelton

Clif Mims

Kern Kelley

Erica Hartman

Angela Maiers

Lisa Durff

Cathy Nelson

You Get What You Get and You Don’t Get Upset

http://www.babble.com/
Source: http://www.babble.com/

Several weeks ago I was with my husband at parent teacher conferences getting good reports about how the girls were doing in school. There were no big surprises. Our first grader has great handwriting, the kindergartener is an excellent reader. Our first grader is on the shy side, our younger daughter is friends with EVERYONE. Our first grader tends to be bossy, our kindergartener tends to be a bit immature. But the wise words that were delivered during the evening conferences that have stuck with me ever since, were those not of the teacher’s, but of my five-year-old.

You Get What You Get and You Don’t Get Upset

WHERE DID SHE HEAR THIS? Her kindergarten teacher admitted it wasn’t in her class. We don’t use the phrase at home. (Well we hadn’t. We do now.) She must have heard it in her own network of friends and teachers in the last year or so, but was able to use it appropriately when one of the children at her table didn’t get the color crayon he wanted.

Our letter read: The NECC 2009 Program Committee has completed its review of this year’s proposal submissions, and we regret to inform you that your proposal(s) were not accepted for inclusion in this year’s program.

Every effort was made to balance the program in the areas of content, topic, grade level, focus, and audience. Due to space limitations, many excellent proposals could not be accepted. We appreciate the time and effort involved in preparing a proposal, and thank you for offering to share your expertise with other educators.

Ok. So, now what?

Last night on Twitter, there was some wallowing (I was bummed that the proposals that @lizbdavis and I submitted together didn’t get accepted), some genuine anger towards the NECC-proposal-approval-process and thankfully, some kudos and congratulations.

tweet1

tweet2

tweet3You can search Twitter, if you’d like to see all the Tweets about the submissions. Just use http://search.twitter.com. Last night I only search for “NECC”. Today I searched for “congrats necc” and it made me smile.

Steve Hargadon, blogged about Edubloggercon2009 and NECC Unplugged urging everyone to sign up and participate in the conversations and present their sessions there. So if your session was rejected, you still have the opportunity to present in D.C. this June. Also, Vicki Davis blogged today about rejection and reminded us as educators that it is about the students.

Ok. So, now what?

For me? I’ll be at NECC09 as a listener, sharer, contributer, collaborator, however I can participate and learn. I’m looking forward to it. But for tomorrow I need to focus on the work I have coming up with teachers and students and the other projects I have going on.

Congratulations to those of you who will be presenting at NECC. I’ll give it another go next year.

The Six Degrees of GCTs

You may be familiar with the game, “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”. The challenge of the game is to connect every film actor to Kevin Bacon in six cast lists or less. The game was developed in 1994 by some students at Pennsylvania’s Albright College. Today, it exists in several formats including a board game and a web site generator.

6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon Generator
6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon Generator

It all started in 1967 when  Stanley Milgram, an American Sociologist decided to test what he termed the “small-world problem”. He randomly chose a few people in the mid-West and had them send packages to complete strangers in Massachusetts. Each package had an ultimate target destination, which Milgram estimated it would take hundreds of exchanges to reach, but the experiment proved him wrong.  The packages arrived to their pre-determined recipients in (on average) between five and seven exchanges. According to articles published on Milgrim’s experiment,  his findings inspired the phrase “six degrees of separation.”

Lots of others have jumped on this craze though.  There’s John Guare’s play, Six Degrees of Separation which premiered in 1990. There’s also the movie by the same title released in 1993.

In August 2008, Microsoft set out to test the theory of the 6 Degrees of Separation. Using data from their Microsoft Messenger instant-messaging network in June 2006 (equivalent to roughly half the world’s instant-messaging traffic at that time):

  1. They looked at 180 billion different pairs of users in the database
  2. They found that the average length to connect two users was 6.6 hops
  3. 78 per cent of the pairs could be connected in seven steps or fewer

And then there’s the 6 Degrees of Wikipedia.

I choose to go from Google to Education and these were my results:

I would need only 2 clicks – – Google – – Ann Arbor, Michigan – – Education

6 Degrees of Wikipedia
6 Degrees of Wikipedia

6 Degrees of GCTs
There are now over 250 GCTs and we’re about to welcome 50 more. How are we all connected to each other? Before we used Social Bookmarking tools like Delicious and Diigo and Social Networking tools like Twitter, Plurk and Facebook would it have taken 6 hops to get to each other? Maybe. But I think we’ve got a really strong network of dedicated educators who need maybe two hops at the most to reach each other. I’m really proud to be part of such a strong community.

cert_teacher1

By the way, for those of you who were asking about the video I created for my application back in 2007, the old link is active, but it doesn’t come up in any search queries. I’ve re posted it here.

What’s Your “P” in PLN Stand For?

My post from last week drew more attention than I anticipated. I developed the presentation 21 Ed Tech Leaders You Just Have to Meet for a session I was facilitating at the annual NJAET conference, but do to the power of online social networking, its audience was much larger.

I found the comments people left to be exactly what I was looking for. A few responded to my request to suggest other ed tech leaders to follow such as Wesley Fryer, Doug Johnson, Scott McLeod, Clarence Fisher, Cheryl Oakes and Stephen Downes.

Karen Janowski called me out on the fact that my list of 21 did not include any ed tech folks that focused on struggling students and Universal Design for Learning. I surprised myself with that one as I go to Karen for lots of support and refer people to her UDL Toolkit on a regular basis. Paul Hamilton, Brian Friedlander and Ira Socol also would have been great additions to my list as advocates of using tools designed for students with special needs to help the general education population.

But it was Miguel Guhlin‘s comment that got me thinking back to the process of selecting the 21. Though I did make sure to include some local educators as I was presenting to a NJ association, and I also wanted to provide a variety of areas of expertise so that I would have something in the presentation that was of interest to everyone in attendance.  But much of the voice of the presentation was in HOW I presented the information.

What does your “p” in PLN stand for? If you look at the big numbers, my “p” stands for professional. But when it comes down to it. The ed techies that I communicate with on a regular basis are part of my personal learning network. I had a story or an anecdote to say about pretty much every one of the 21 ed tech leaders I presented on October 14. There are a few on the list that I don’t have a personal connection with, but that I just learn so much from,  I had to share their story.

Do you separate your personal and professional learning network? I’ve learned in conversation that many of my colleagues are doing the same as me. They are keeping their networks on Plurk small and personal. They use Twitter to share resources and ideas.  We all seem to benefit from the social bookmarking in Delicious and Diigo and from networks there as well.

There are a few additional ed tech leaders that I would have liked to include in my original post from last week. Along with those I mentioned above, they are Jeff Utecht, Alan Levine, and Hall Davidson. These are three ed tech leaders I would like to meet. There are many more, I’m sure.