Thursday, July 30, 2015

E3Technology Conference: My Reflections (Day 2)

After a wonderful first day of learning about incorporating technology in education, I was looking incredibly forward to Day 2!

We began by listening to our keynote speaker, Shannon Miller.  As a teacher librarian, Shannon has had so many interactions with so many different students...and in one way or another she has equipped each of them to go after even their craziest dreams.  She had branded their school library "The Voice" because she kept reiterating how important it was for students to share their stories with their own personal voice.  I loved that the students in her building truly embraced that motto!  She showed us countless pictures, videos and news articles of students taking ownership of their education and making something unbelievable happen. One of my favorite stories she told was of a a student who showed great promise as a writer.  Shannon reached out to friends on social media and asked how to get this young lady in touch with a publisher.  Now, this girl spends lunch time skyping with her editor and publisher in New York City to discuss her four novels-in-progress. Thanks to Shannon I desired to dream bigger.

I then headed to what I knew would be a wonderful session by a Andy Streit.  He has earned the reputation in our district for his work with reinventing his curriculum in his 20th year of teaching to incorporate the corporation's move to 1:1 and becoming nearly entirely paperless in that time.  Obviously, he would be an ideal person to lead a session on Essential Apps for the 1:1 Classroom!  And, we were not disappointed.  Check out everything he taught us about here.  My favorite apps he demonstrated were Nearpod & Reflector (more to come on their uses later!).  Andy used the perfect blend of TONS of information but at a pace that allowed questions, real examples from the classroom and even some experimentation time.  Thanks to Andy I desired to dive in with less trepidation.

At lunch I had the pleasure of becoming more acquainted with two of the new teachers hired at my beloved Lakeview.  It was so encouraging to see experienced teachers already mentoring them, and also to see brand new teachers with the desire to learn, try new things and ask questions.  Lakeview is undergoing a ton of huge changes this year (new principal, 1:1 for the first time, over 10 new teachers hired, etc) but I am so confident that our students are in great hands!

After lunch, I learned how to make Excel my BFF with Amy Mencarelli.  Amy is the perfect person to teach me something intimidating like Excel.  She is upbeat, she is relaxed and informal, and she is incredibly knowledgeable.  That, mixed with a group of teachers who asked great questions, lent itself to a lot of applicable tips and shortcuts that I had never known before when using Excel. She showed me things like how to format multiple sheets at the same time (hello MUCH faster Cross Country Season Records!) and also how to concatenate (WHAT?! Excel is a genius robot!).  My mind also really benefited from big picture things ("Think of Excel as a much smarter calculator").  Thanks to Amy, I desired to be more efficient in the little things. 

The last session of Day 2 was my last presentation.  I had the honor of teaching 12 educators about the "Vast World of Twitter Chats."  You can read about the first Twitter Chat I helped to create, or some helpful resources I have found on Twitter as a teacher, as well as what my presentation description was at E3tech. We worked under the assumption that these educators were already on Twitter and knew the basics, but didn't feel like they were truly tapping into the resources others spoke of.  So, I taught them the basic "how-tos" of Twitter chatting as well as some of the best education chats out there to date.  But the last half of my presentation tried to focus on how student directed education Twitter chats are still few and far between.  I challenged them to think of how student learning in their content could be amplified with regular Twitter chats like #spanstuchat or #scistuchat.  I really hope that some of the teachers in that room experiment with reaching students via Twitter chats...I think they have huge potential! The Haiku Deck I used is here, as well as the Smore flyer I sent around with additional notes and links if you would like to look over exactly what we discussed.  Below, I included the mock Twitter chat we participated in during our session. You'll definitely want to follow these new "Tweachers"!

And once again, no prizes won for this Maestra :( BUT I left with a huge smile on my face due to all the transforming conversations that were had and the electric encouragement that is spread when so many inspiring educators are in the same place.

(This professional development opportunity brought to you by the Indiana Department of Education's Summer of eLearning.) *Applause*

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

E3Technology Conference: My Reflections (Day 1)

What a wonderful two days of learning we have had!  Every year this conference gets me energized and inspired to make differences in the lives of students by thinking outside the box.  And this year, although I am for the first time not preparing to welcome students into my Spanish class in the next two weeks, was no different!  We heard incredible stories, made unbelievable connections and drank in TONS of new possibilities.

Let's all take a moment to thank Indiana eLearning for this opportunity.  *Applause*

Day One:

As our first keynote speaker, Todd Nesloney blew our minds with each story he told of how "students stop having limitations when we as teachers stop creating them."  He challenged us to hold students to extremely high expectations.  But something I heard repeated throughout his stories was the idea that we as teachers must hold ourselves to that same high level of expectation.  Not in that our classrooms have to be perfect and all our papers have to be graded on time, but in that our students deserve our best effort everyday to blow THEIR minds.  The part of his keynote that stuck out to me the most was how he opened:  with a picture of children in mid-lurch at the start of an Easter egg hunt, with excitement flashing through their blurry movements. He posed this poignant question that really got to me:  "How is it that children have such natural awe and wonder at things and yet often those same children, by the time they sit in our desks, have somehow lost that?"  Thanks to Todd I desired to be more engaging.

Then, I had the privilege of presenting what I have done in my classroom with EDpuzzle in a small breakout session.  You can read my first experiences here, or read what my session description was here.  I was so thankful for the 18 educators who came to learn about this video editing tool and how they might be able to use it to enhance student learning.  If you want to learn more about what we discussed, my Emaze Presentation is here as well as my Smore flyer with additional links and notes.  Here are the thoughts and comments we exchanged on Twitter about my presentation:

Next, we had a delicious Panera lunch as we enjoyed further conversations with educators and companies we made connections with earlier that morning.

Two more sessions we available in the afternoon.  I chose to see some of my former colleagues present (Dr. Chris Boyd & Mrs. Val Weinstein) about engaging apps to use in the secondary classroom.  These two ladies have a reputation in our school for experimenting with new things, learning quickly and utilizing innovative technology for student learning in ways the rest of us only dream of.  I knew I couldn't miss their session!  Thanks to them, I learned about ThingLink, Pocket, and many others.  Check out their presentation here! My mind reeled with the many ways these apps could have positively affected student learning in my classes the past three years.  Thanks to Chris and Val I desired to venture outside my comfort zone to find new answers to recurring problems.

My last session of the day was spent learning from Justin Weaver about the best ways to go about blogging and using social media to advertise your school or classroom.  He even taught us some best practices of photography (which I am clueless about!).  Many times these conversations are a little over my head, and although I didn't get everything that was being discussed, I definitely benefited from tips that were mentioned (for example, how to interpret stats from your blog, some design suggestions, options for featuring student work, etc).  Thanks to Justin I desired to be more intentional with my blog.

Great prizes were raffled away to finish up Day One, including a Chromebook, an iPad mini and a 3D likeness of yourself thanks to the 3D printer everyone was excited about.  I'm decidedly NOT a lucky person when it comes to these types of things, but it was awesome to see area teachers get incredible things they could use in their classes or for themselves.

I left PUMPED to see what Day Two had to offer!  I also left so encouraged and thankful for the school corporation we live in where the educators that impact students in our area are so motivated to be their best. Have I mentioned that this place is my dream job?! :)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

My Confession...and Resolution

I guess I have to come clean:  for much of my adult life, I have been a thief.

Probably much of my student life, too, if I'm being honest.

In the name of full disclosure, my stealing was as a result of laziness, not intention.  But, still.  Even just this summer I was regularly in the practice of using images made by someone else and never never NEVER giving credit.  My mind reels to the dozens upon dozens of PowerPoint presentations I have made teaching, the brochures and marketing that I did for our trip to Peru, the countless handouts and worksheets that I have tried to "spice up", and the hours upon hours that I have spent Tweeting or reTweeting something I liked.

And no concern whatsoever for citing their origin.

Perhaps that lack of concern is rooted in the fact that I assume everyone feels as I feel.  I have a laid back personality in this respect.  I couldn't care less if someone knew my name or not.  I despise being the center of attention.  I can't think of a scenario where I would demand credit for anything.  Most of the time, I do my best to push credit (even deserved credit in some instances) to others.  I've always found humility to be an attractive quality.

And then Twitter rocked my world in SO. MANY. WAYS.

Recently I over-read (oversaw? eavesdropped? stalked?) a conversation I found to be rude and ridiculous.  Five or six people were ganging up on one individual who had tweeted an image without citing who created it.  They attacked like a flock of vultures who saw an opportunity to pick their prey apart.  Did they have a valid concern?  Probably.  But it's hard for me to hear anything you are saying when you are obnoxiously rude and petty about it.  My empathy is for the other person and you become the bad guy instantaneously.  And then one apparent-vulture-lady Tweeted something to the same effect as the vultures, but with all the emotion removed and just the facts stated objectively. Not vulture-like after all.
Their words specifically caught my attention because Justin was Tweeting exactly what I had done/felt before.  I never claimed to create this.  What is the big deal?  Isn't it assumed that everyone "Google Images" what they need and comes up with something they didn't create?  Mirna was Tweeting something so black and white, something I would tell students, and something I myself was not doing. Ouch.  As I searched for more #digitalcitizenship Tweets, I came across this one:

OUCH. (Have I said that in this post yet?!)
How can I create projects where I require students to cite their sources if I'm not bothering to cite mine?  How can I expect the librarian to co-teach with me for 2 days to correctly explain the difference between plagiarism and paraphrasing when the remaining 178 days I undermine what she just taught?  How can I continue doing what I've been absentmindedly doing for the past 5 years if I want to improve in so many other areas?

I think the big "AHA!" moment came when one of my blog posts about "Tweachers" really took off.  I mean, "took off" for me.  I posted resources for teachers found on Twitter and all of the sudden some of my educational role models were posting my link on Twitter!  Before I knew it, people I didn't even know were linking my blog post in articles they publish weekly.  For those of you who have largely successful blogs, just pretend you remember what it felt like when you were first getting noticed :)  It. felt. good.  I liked seeing my name next to work that I had put effort into.  I liked getting credit.  I liked people knowing my name because of my work.

Wait, WHAT?!

And all of the sudden, it clicked.  All of the individuals out there who have created visuals, photographed incredible scenes, and come up with ideas better than mine deserve credit for their accomplishments. And that doesn't make them self-centered or rude or demanding.  They don't even have to care about it, to be honest.  It is my responsibility as a professional and as a respectful human being to make whatever effort necessary to give others rightful credit.  In word or in deed.   And I'll be honest, I have very little clue of where to start.

Here are the links I am currently searching to find out more about how to be a more responsible digital citizen and how to teach students about digital citizenship as well.  With more and more schools moving to 1:1, I am realizing how pertinent the need for teachers educated on this topic and actively modeling this topic truly is.  So, feel free to browse along with me if you find yourself in the same boat as I am:

  1. Curating vs. Stealing
  2. Why Digital Citizenship Should be on the Minds of Educators
  3. 6 Resources for Educators
  4. Teacher's Guide to Digital Citizenship
My "next step" for the moment is to read through these articles (and more!) for future change, but also change in small ways immediately.  Recently, I have begun just tweeting someone and asking/checking if I have their permission to link something to my blog, Smore eflyer or even in a presentation in advance.  They always say yes, but some do specify "please give credit."  Which I no longer think is self-seeking, but rather a legitimate concern.

I should include that Justin (the man I mentioned who was attacked by vultures?) corrected his mistake for all to see.  I was pretty impressed that someone with his platform for influence would admit an error and post the correction publicly, even when that correction came because of vultures.  And the kind not-vulture lady?  She kept being kind :)

Monday, July 20, 2015

E3Tech Conference

The E3Tech Conference starts 1 week from today!

Didn't you hear me?! What are you waiting for? Stopping reading this blog and go register to attend!


Click here before you go any further.

Overkill? I think not.  I have personally attended this conference for the past two years and it has been my favorite professional development of all time. Warsaw Community Schools organizes and hosts the conference, which means it is always extremely well done. Presenters come from all over the country with a wide variety of backgrounds and expertise, which means you can learn about all the "up and coming" things in the world of #edtech.  They give free prizes (I'm talking ipads, classroom sound systems and subscriptions to software here, no joke) .  You network.  You eat Panera. WHAT ELSE IS THERE IN LIFE?! It's two days of stretching, learning, experimenting, and planning for the upcoming school year.  If you miss it, you're silly.

Need more convincing? Thanks to the E3Tech Conference, I personally have learned about flipping my classroom (thanks, Brian Bennett!, inquiry based learning, blogging, using Google for more than just gmail (thanks, Matt Miller!), setting up video conferencing, recording my voice with Fuze, using Evernote for student conferences (thanks, Heidi Class!), teaching character development in every subject (thanks, Angela Maiers!...AND, not to mention, this was the conference that first introduced me to the wonderful world of Twitter 2 years ago (thanks, again, Lorinda Kline!).  The keynote speakers I listened to TWO years ago still stick with me because they challenged my preconceived notions of what technology could and couldn't do.  Should and shouldn't do.  I can still remember direct quotes from these speakers because they were that poignant.  That relevant. I tell everyone I can that if you can pick one conference to go to...GO TO E3!

Not sure what you will find there? Read on!
"There will be sessions offered in the beginner, intermediate, and advanced categories, for primary (K-2), intermediate (3-6), middle (7-8) or high school (9-12) levels.  General sessions applicable to any grade level or subject area will also be available. One-hour breakout sessions and longer workshop sessions will focus on interactive, hands-on learning. Earn Professional Growth Points (6 per day) while preparing to reengage your students with knowledge you can immediately apply." -E3Tech Website

For the first time this year, I will be presenting at the conference!  I am both humbled and PUMPED to get to share two ways that technology has truly impacted my learning, teaching and my students.  It feels like "giving back" to the conference in a way because I have benefited so much from what others have shared!

My first presentation will be held Monday, July 27 at 10:30am.  It is called "Video Lessons Using EDpuzzle."  Earlier this year, I blogged about my first attempts with EDpuzzle in the classroom.  I plan to use this session to address how any secondary teacher could be using EDpuzzle in a variety of ways.  My short description of this session states:
As we learn more about "flipping our classroom" and integrating 1:1 technology in our schools, it is vital that we find the right tools to use. EDPuzzle allows you to make any video your lesson! Participants will learn the basics of how to upload a video, edit it, embed quiz questions and assign it to their classes. They will see how EDPuzzle grades assignments for you and the resources that are available for teachers as we see what students do and don't know. Before leaving, teachers will create an EDPuzzle account and experiment with how they can use this in their content area.

 My second presentation will be held Tuesday, July 28 at 2:00pm.  It is called "#chat."  Earlier this year I blogged about a specific Twitter chat I helped to create.  I hope to address not only how Twitter Chats can grow one's professional learning network (PLN) but also how they can be used for student learning. My short description of this session states:
Are you new to Twitter? Come learn how to grow professionally by participating in the wide world of Twitter chats. Feeling clueless about what Twitter chats are? This session is for you! We will learn chat etiquette and "how-to's" as well as be introduced to a few of the most popular educational chats going on now. Participants will also learn how to create Twitter chats for ongoing student dialogue after school hours. Please come with a Twitter account already created.

If you are interested in attending the conference, here is the recently posted schedule of presentations.

If, by chance you can't make it, be sure to check out the hashtag #e3tech on Twitter later for ongoing dialogue about what we are learning!