Sunday, May 29, 2011

Wordle Works

Wordle: Matisyahu's One Day

I created this picture on Wordle, an amazing site that takes words from poems, stories, lyrics, etc. and creates a word collage (or wordle). Check out the wordle I created using the lyrics from Matisyahu's hit song "One Day" featured in NBC's 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics commercials!
Can you think of one way wordle can be integrated into education? 

Nintendo Can Improve Education?

The other day while researching the cost of IWB's (interactive white boards) I came across this video. I was floored at how Johnny Lee, then a graduate student, and currently employed at google, created his own IWB from scratch in a highly cost effective manner. Advances in technology are truly amazing.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Using Technology Properly and Effectively

Although this clip pokes fun (no pun intended) at what people feel comfortable divulging on the Internet (the term TMI- 'too much information' comes to mind!) the reality is different people use social medial/communication vehicles like Facebook and Twitter and etc. for different purposes. 

Twitter, for one, can be a very powerful professional development tool for educators. A few hours ago I read this article entitled '10 ways for teachers to collaborate.' Although these 10 suggestions are subjective as every school operates differently, there was one suggestion which I feel can be used universally by any teacher no matter how busy and I quote:
"9. Establish an online PLN. 
Use social media to connect and collaborate with educators anywhere, any time. Get the most out of Twitter. Ask someone to help you get started on building an online network..." 

Building a personal learning network on Twitter for example takes minimal time to establish, some time to maintain, and has all the time in the world for you to access at your leisure. 

For example, while waiting in line at a supermarket checkout aisle as the person in front of me disputes the price of an item with the cashier, I access the Twitter app on my iPhone, immerse myself in a conversation on best classroom management practices in the classroom with another educator across the country while checking out a link on how a tubric (rubric in a tube shape) can elevate a student's focus on the essential question of a particular unit or lesson. In fact, that is pretty much what happened last week. 

Bottom line- because of my PLN I was able to spend 10 minutes furthering my education- in a checkout line at the grocery store. Think about it. And feel free to ask me to help get you started on building your online network.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Project Based Learning Explained

I saw this video circulating on my personal learning network and wanted to share it with you. How would you integrate project based learning in schools? Is it a vehicle which students can use to learn an ongoing unit or is PBL a paradigm shift to the extent that brand new curriculum must be created?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Why Twitter?

Although Twitter has been available to the general public since 2006 I just started using it this year.  Twitter is a powerful social and networking tool. In the months since I began tweeting I have used Twitter primarily for educational purposes. I began by reading tweets from other educational professionals both in general and  Jewish educational fields and starting following some of them. The more tweets I read the more I understood how they could be incorporated into educational settings. Whether it was a link to a video I could use as a trigger clip to a lesson plan, to someone’s philosophies or personal mission statements on education, they always left me thinking how I could refine and enhance my skills as an educator.
I created my own education #hashtag list (#edtech, #jed21 and #jewished for example) and started partaking in a few Twitter ‘chats’ on education or education technology.. As you probably know by now you are limited to 140 characters per tweet so one’s words must be straight to the point. Whenever I sat at my computer I would be sure to have my twitter feed open so I read and saw what people were sharing. I liked connecting with educators spanning the country, in real-time, in laser focused conversations.
There is definitely a feeling of being connected to other educators on Twitter which continually provides a support system and reenforce the importance of being an educator. You feel like you are constantly engaged in a professional development arena with people of similar interests who want you to be successful too. That being said, I am still trying to get a handle (pun intended) discerning which people tweet for genuine or self-serving purposes.
Having experienced this feeling of continual learning, I am now at a point where I speak to other educators and persuade them to try Twitter. For some educators microblogging is such a paradigm shift and so out of their comfort zone that they do not want to even begin learning about it. For other educators, the feeling of connectedness and continual support outweighs the fear of the unknown and they take the leap. And although microblogging can be intimidating and leave you feeling overwhelmed at first, over a few months you slowly begin to understand why over two hundred million people are tweeting too. Not too long after that you will start asking why there are only two hundred million people tweeting.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Twitter and PLN's

This past week I partook in a weekly educators chat on twitter. The main discussion focused on how to exemplify leadership, and after a few minutes many educators were using the term GTY (greater than yourself) as a component of leadership. A broad variety of examples were given to explain the concept of being GTY, from staying up late at night putting on the finishing touches of a lesson plan to empowering others to be change agents in their schools. It really was a great discussion. The next day I was still chewing on the GTY concept and wanted to discuss it with my colleagues. During one break I visited one of the educators lounges and started recapping my twitter chat from the night before. There were five educators in the room and all five had zero clue what twitter was. I took out my iPhone, pressed the twitter app, and demonstrated how I use twitter as part of my personal learning network. After sharing some of my methods one of the educators (not a 'newbie' mind you!- one with some years of teaching experience) had a look of bewilderment and starting asking me lots of twitter and personal learning network questions. I tried to answer/explain as much as I could in the two minutes I had left and as I was leaving the educator said to me "For a while I have been debating whether to switch to a smartphone but I never had a good enough reason. I think our conversation on personal learning networks gave me enough conviction to take the plunge. Thank you."


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Making a Difference

I saw the above video on The Educator's PLN and thought it could be a great trigger clip for student leadership. How would you use it?

Survey: Educators lack training to teach online safety -

I have been reading literature discussing ways to instill within kids/teens the tools they need to be safe when online. Consider the following findings from a recent survey on teaching online safety in the classroom: "79% of teachers said parents should be primarily responsible for teaching their children about cybersecurity, compared with 60% of administrators and 45% of tech coordinators." "55% of teachers "strongly agree" that online safety should be covered in the curriculum, compared with 82% of administrators and 85% of technology coordinators."
What do we learn from the teacher perspectives? On the surface it seems right that about 8 out of 10 teachers feel it is primarily a parents responsibility to teach online safety- A math or history teacher would wonder "where do I carve out time in the curriculum to teach online safety/digital citizenship?"
Yet at the same time 5.5 out of 10 teachers think that online safety should be covered in the curriculum (perhaps not within their own subject areas...)
So what is the right approach towards teaching online safety? Should curriculum be redesigned in a way that weaves online safety into its fabric? According to the survey findings for every 10 teachers only 2 would embrace this change. Should there be a separate class on online safety/digital citizenship as some public and private schools are currently doing? That approach can create, among other challenges, budgetary and time constraints.
Can their be a happy medium? Does a scenario where administrators factor in enough budgeted professional development time allowing technology coordinators to effectively educate teachers to the point where teachers can easily weave online safety into their curriculum (deep breath) sound plausible?   What do you think? What is realistic to you? Is it a 'cop out' to scrap everything and say the onus should fall primarily on the parents shoulders- or do parents need to step it up in the digital age?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

PLN's Revisited

I have discussed PLN's in the past and will continue to bring them up as they are an integral lifeline for educators in the 21st century. If you want to understand the value of a PLN, have started venturing into the world of PLN's or just feel overwhelmed and want to hit the PLN reset button, check out this short clip which may help puts things into perspective.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Should students use their own mobile devices in the classroom? - Related Stories - ASCD SmartBrief

For years researchers, futurists and technology gurus have asked how can schools can integrate technology in the classroom? With each passing month students are buying or being gifted iPads, iPhones, smartphones and other mobile technologies.  With the ever-increasing popularity and affordability of these devices it is no surprise to hear updated questions such as "can mobile devices enhance learning in the classroom." I came across this link on my personal learning network and wanted to share it with you.  What are your thoughts on students using their phones in class for learning? What are the pros and cons? Is this question subjective or objective (does it depend on the student or teacher or could they be effectively integrated in every class all the time? Will this entire discussion be rendered obsolete with in a few years (or months) as technology progresses to a point where everyone in our society is constantly wired in?
Looking at the big picture, I am a big proponent of technology in the classroom. I think incorporating cell phones into a unit, theme, or lesson plan can change how students perceive learning in the classroom. However I also believe that for any technology to be effective in the classroom there must be an effective educator, one who is 'green and growing' and not 'ripe and rotten.' When an educator strives to be a transformative learner then he or she will have a higher success rate incorporating technology in education to ultimately create an environment of authentic student learning.