PSA Day – Blogathon

network34As a professional, reflection takes up a large part of our lives. Active choices stem from reflective moments steering our professional learning.  Ultimately that learning reflects back into our classrooms with students. 

We were privileged to spend Friday with a group of K-12 teachers and student teachers at Burnaby Central. Titled “Blogathon“, it provided an opportunity to experience the social media world with our blogs. Goals of the participants ranged from a basic understanding of how to communicate using social media, how it could be used to have students dialogue with each other (increasing literacy skills), how it flattens the classroom by inviting experts and other schools (critical thinking), how to share information with parents and community (green friendly world), how to use blogs as a vehicle for formative assessment, how to integrate various web tools as teaching/learning workflow, how digital citizenship plays a key role today.

Beyond the basics, we looked at images and resizing (even the new copyright changes), using widgets to extend information [News Announcement, T-Countdown, Google Language Translator, MailPoet (as subscription), Gravity Forms (surveys)…]
*Written instructions can be found under LEARNING HUB > BLOGS > HOW TO

Throughout the day, participants explored, created, extended comfort levels as well as shared their experiences and challenged personal thinking. What vividly stood out was the collaborative nature of learning; fully hands-on, dynamic, open, questioning and connecting.  Comfort was felt in jumping over and helping others – result was empowerment of others as well as a spark that the ‘helper’ knew more than they thought.  And yes, there were frustrating moments when the technology didn’t work.  The experience served to provide other avenues of learning. Patience was a virtue and we had lots of chances to practice that.
Some snippets of overheard conversations:

  • This is amazing… I can see how this would work in my language arts program
  • You can’t be serious – I can use the ipads with the students to go directly to the blog. This is live ideas gathering if we use Padlet on the blog. 
  • (eyes sparkled) I’ve been waiting for this for a long time; Gravity Forms will ‘change my life’ (in how I can assess)
  • I can’t wait to teach this to my class…it’s more than I hoped for. I can use the math lesson, capture it, put it on the blog and have students discuss it on the blog.
  • You mean I can actually send my news to parents automatically! What will you think of next?
  • I love the web tools – picmonkey, edu.symbaloo, padlet, pixabay… They’re going to love learning these.
  • There’s so much – this is so much fun. I want more.

The success of any Pro-D happens at the intersection between the relationships, environment and the desire to seek out and grow. These are growth mindset opportunities to be in an ‘ideas incubator’ to construct new knowledge, deconstruct obstacles and be re-energized on the journey.

What was your PSA day like? I would love to hear. 

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Who’s Telling Your Story If You’re Not?

storytellStorytelling is as important today as years past – perhaps even more so. There are many competing forces and it is challenging to capture audience’s attention.  Questions to consider might be “What is your story? How are you telling it? Is it getting to the audience you wish? Why bother?” Answers will differ depending on who you ask – teachers, students, administrators, community.

Social media is an easy way to get the word out. These include blogs, wikis, Twitter or even various online magazines. Even QR Codes placed on class windows and bulletin boards lend to a sharing of story. (It becomes easy for parents to use their smartphones to capture and take home little snapshots of information.)

Using multiple platforms can be challenging. A blog is a good starting point— it offers many ways to bring out your creative genius as well as a place to share what is happening in the school or class. The platform allows for inclusion of images, audio, video and text (something for everyone). Posts can be short or long, ‘newsletter-ish’, or just capture the ‘moment-ish’. It offers students a chance to flex their voice and create a positive digital footprint. Especially when the commenting function is being used to go beyond superficial communication, to ‘lift and clarify’ thoughts.

Why bother? Your voice, your story much like your students need to be heard. You may think that there are only little things but they may be huge in the life of someone else. You’ll never know until you share and celebrate the great learnings that are happening in your class or school.

So how is your story being told?

In-Between the Cracks – Questions Spark Genius

dandelion  Have you ever looked at a dandelion? I mean really looked at it from all facets? OK so you have to crouch down, let your imagination flow, and ignore the stares that will obviously come.  In a little while, you’ll get a stream of questions from a group peering over you, “What are ya lookin’ at? Did you lose something? What’s going on?”  This is what happens when you wander the playground during recess or lunch at a school. Sooner or later you’ll get a crowd and then the questions start slowly at first, then a cavalcade erupts as curiosity builds. Admittedly some questions are quite impossible to answer in this lifetime.

I started this partly as an experiment, partly as a idea to find and explain the meaning of beauty and partly to get some fresh air. In all ‘worlds-logical’ a dandelion is a weed and one that takes genius power to eradicate. Yet here it is growing in spite of the odds, in-between the cracks, almost daring you to stop in your tracks. Sometimes I wonder if some of our students are like this, growing in spite of the odds against them. Or perhaps existing until someone takes notice and allow their genius or spark to flourish.  I wonder what would happen if we connected to that little spark – would the outcome change? I wonder what would happen if we took the questions so authentically offered and placed them inside our school walls, allowing them to fill the rafters. Then cradle them gently and give them voice and choice to find their own answers. Then what would happen… I’m feeling that a “learning walk” might be in order.

What do you think will happen?

Digital Learning Day – Feb 5

The days of January have been whizzing by, partly due to the start of another term and partly due to our wonderful west coast weather.  Having some sun certainly invites a bit more energy in the steps as well as some hopeful signs of spring just around the corner.

I am hearing about so many projects in flight or in the planning stages of inquiry wonder.  Many have chosen to invite the technologies allowing entry points for learners.  Did you know that February 5th is  “Digital Learning Day“?  Although we know that many of you already use technologies in seamless ways, this is a day designed to invite you to further participate in a little something special.  Maybe it’s a connection with another class across the way through your blogs.  Perhaps it’s an encounter with creating a podcast or using QR codes to showcase/share your work with books.  Maybe it’s questions you post out on Twitter about things you wonder. How about creating a found poem and building it into a wordart piece to post?  This month’s Learning Technologies newsletter is full of ideas for you to ponder and put into action.  Consider celebrating the day with a little something special.  Drop me a line and share your story.

Since I’m a huge fan of Peter Reynold‘s work, I love how he captured the ideas for digital learning. It just looks so inclusive!

Peter Reynolds
Peter Reynolds