Tag Archives: PLN

Must Read Educational Sites for Summer

This is reblogged from my post on FreeTech4Teachers

There are a lot of resources on the web for educators, and it can be challenging to sort through all of that information to find those hidden gems. Here are a few of the websites and blogs that I recommend to educators looking to get started. Some are on the general topic of education while others focus on specific themes or topics. Check out this list and add your own in the comments below!

General Education Topics

Edutopia – Edutopia was founded by the George Lucas Education Foundation to provide a place to share evidence-based practices and programs that help students learn. They cover topics from professional development to digital citizenship initiatives.

EdWeek – Education Week covers topics in education around the country, including public, charter, and independent schools. They report on current events, publish articles, and touch on pedagogical practice. Some parts of EdWeek are free but note that others are paid.

Huffington Post Education – The Huffington Post Education section includes a curated list of stories and blog posts on education. They may cover school policies, digital equity, or teacher pay disparities. This is a great resource for educators who want to keep the pulse of topics in education.

NPR Education – National Public Radio reports on education topics at the national, state, and local level. Always a great resource, NPR reports on topics such as chronic absenteeism or violence in schools.

MindShift KQED – MindShift focuses on innovative practices in teaching and learning. They cover both theory and practice in a way that is both academically sophisticated and accessible in short bites.

Educational Technology

To read the complete list, visit FreeTech4Teachers

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3 Ways to Expand Your PLN This Summer

This is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius.

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Summer is fast approaching; this is the time of year when teachers are preparing students for exams and trying to keep their classes from descending into the Lord of the Flies. When it finally arrives, summer is an important time for busy educators and allows them to relax, recharge, and often work on honing their craft in both formal and informal professional development. With the more flexible work schedule of the summer, it is also a great time to build up your Professional Learning Network (PLN) — especially one that expands beyond the walls of the classroom.

Here are a few resources to help you do just that:

Build your PLN on Twitter

Twitter has become the online PLN for teachers. If you haven’t yet explored Twitter as a professional development tool, then summer is a perfect time to do that. Check out this article to help you get started. Once you dive in, here are some great organizations and people to follow (in addition to this author of course):

Educators

  • @JohnKingatED – The Secretary of Education is an important individual to follow on Twitter. He will post updates on Public Education Policy and highlight various trends in education.
  • @TheJLV – Jose Vilson, Founder of #EduColor, Social Justice advocate, author, public speaker.
  • @globalearner – Alan November, a prominent educator, speaker, and education trainer.
  • @DrTonyWager – Expert in Residence at Harvard Innovation Lab, prominent author, and keynote speaker.
  • @Saradateachur – Sarah Thomas, Technology integrationist, social justice advocate, researcher, and prominent speaker.
  • @HeidiHayesJacob – Founder of Curriculum 21.
  • @web20classroom – Steven W. Anderson, educator, author, and evangelist.
  • @AudreyWatters – Educator and writer of @HackEducation
  • @AngelaMaiers – Educator, keynote speaker, author, and educational advocate.
  • @TomWhitbey – Educator, Tech Evangelist, and founder of #edchat.
  • @cybraryman1 – Former Librarian and Educator, Jerry Blumengarten, has resources on just about every topic imaginable including a massive list of PLN Stars.

Organizations

  • @DailyGenius – Learn something new every day!
  • @EdTechTeacher21 – The official twitter handle for EdTechTeacher; learn tips and tricks, pedagogical methodology, and more.
  • @Microsoft_EDU – The official twitter handle for Microsoft.
  • @GoogleForEdu – The official twitter account for Google Apps for Education
  • @NPR_ed – NPR’s education team
  • @Edutopia – Learn about the latest posts and articles from innovative educators.

Follow a Blog

With summer comes a little extra time to do some reading. Here are a few blogs you should sign up for (in addition to this one). If you need help organizing your Blogs, or would prefer not to sign up for blog updates via email, try using an RSS reader. My favorite is feedly.

  • EDUWells – Richard Wells is an international leader in the world of education. Read about his experiments in the classroom as both a teacher and an administrator.
  • Jonathan Wylie – Every time I read Jonathan’s blog, I learn something new! Use his blog to learn new tips and tricks, explore existing tools, and for deeper discussions on effective pedagogy.
  • Cool Cat Teacher – I love Vicki’s blog. She explores everything from the emotional taxation of teaching to effective practice in the classroom.
  • The Principal of Change – Eric Sheninger is an educational leader that advocates the role of reflection in educational practice.
  • MindShift/KQED – MindShift explores everything from devices in the classroom to the need for recess. You will always learn something relevant to your classroom on this site.
  • Cult of Pedagogy – A digital magazine for educators.
  • Hybrid Pedagogy – A peer reviewed, online journal that explores the role of technology in education.
  • EdTechTeacher – Their instructors post a few times each week and cover topics from technology, to teaching, to the latest in research.
  • CMRubinWorld – Writer, Cathy Rubin, regularly interviews some of the most prominent educators in the world. Her monthly global blogger series also features great work from a range of educators.

Subscribe to a new Podcast

Podcasts are great ways to learn new things. Many of them are free, and you can find them in various places (iTunes Store, SoundCloud, Google Play, and more). Here are a few of my favorites:

Expanding Twitter, checking out new some blogs, and subscribing to podcasts are three easy, flexible, and free ways for educators to expand their PLN this summer (and even into the school year). Check out these examples and leave some of your own in the comments!

5 Ways for Teachers to get Started on Twitter

This is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius.

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Social Media and education have a complicated relationship. Most educators come into contact with it for the first time through a negative experience – a disciplinary action involving students or even peers. As such, many administrators have actively cautioned teachers against the use of Social Media, and many educators themselves have condemned Social Media as a mere distraction to education. However, much like other tools out there, the reality lies somewhere in between.

Let’s take Twitter as an example. If you’re unfamiliar with Twitter, it’s a microblogging platform. This means that users can share thoughts, links, and other information in short bursts of information (140 characters, plus links and/or media). In the last few years, Twitter has emerged as a powerful platform for educators. In fact, teachers make up a significant amount of the traffic volume on Twitter, and roughly 25% of educators are users of the platform. This makes Twitter an excellent platform for educators to connect with others, share, and learn. Here’s a quick guide to get you started.

Get on Twitter

This is the most obvious step – time to get an account! To start, go to twitter.comand sign up for an account. Create an avataraccount with your real name and set it to public; that’s right, limited privacy settings. Many of us have been taught to fear being ourselves online for everything from “stranger danger” to reprisal from employers. Your name is already available in the broad universe of the internet on a variety of media (try Googling it), so Twitter is really not a risky venture. Next, consider this yourprofessional account. This means you will be representing yourself as your best professional self, the way you would in a meeting at school or in the classroom. If you want to, set some personal boundaries to keep it professional (for example, no talking about politics or religion). Next, personalize your Twitter page – set a background photo and a profile photo. The default “egg” is a deterrent for many people to engage with you online. If you’re uncomfortable with it being a photo of yourself, consider an online caricature. For example, you can post an avatar of yourself (both Funko Pop and Simpsons characters are popular) or select a photo of a beloved pet or a vacation photo. Finally, download the free iOS or Android App for your phone and/or tablet to access Twitter on the go.

Explore the Interface

The interface is intentionally clean to make it easier to navigate. At the top, you will see the subjects: Home, Moments, Notifications, and Messages.

twitter interface

Your  “Home” screen will include Tweets posted chronologically (the newest at the top). In this feed, you will only see what the people who you follow publicly post. “Moments” highlights what is trending throughout all users as well as topics divided by subject. “Notifications” includes material directed at you – responses to your tweets, retweet notifications, follower notifications, and tweets directed directly to you. “Messages” are private messages between users – think of this like Instant Message. You will also see your number of tweets, people you follow, and your list of followers. On the left, there is a list of trending topics and hashtags (it will label those that are “promoted,” meaning someone has paid for them to be on this list).

Follow Users

Who should I follow? Is a common question. Start with people you know and admire – an educational leader (like the secretary of education John King, Ph.D.), authors, academics, publications, thought leaders, and more. Next, you can go to lists like Mashable’s 10 Rockstar Teachers on Twitter to help you get started and expand your list. Don’t worry about following a lot of people. Be selective (at least initially). Lurk, read, and observe what these individuals are doing. I also like to go and see who my idols are following on Twitter and find a few new gems for my Twitter Professional Learning Network (PLN). The more you observe on Twitter, the more your following will grow organically.

Hashtags

hashtagsNothing seems to cause more angst for newbies to Twitter than the concept of “hashtags.” Think of a hashtag as a way to categorize content on Twitter. For example, if I’m going to share something about a new feature in Google Docs, I will add the hashtag #GAFE (GAFE = Google Apps for Education) to my tweet. This will allow anyone searching for news on #GAFE to find my tweet. Within Twitter, hashtags are hyperlinked – if you click on one with a tweet, it will pull up all tweets with that hashtag (divided into “Top Tweets” and “All Tweets”). This can be a great way to keep up with a particular topic trending on Twitter. If you would like a list of educational hashtags, check out this post that catalogues hashtags by subject and content.

Share

The biggest hurdle for new Twitter users to overcome is actually sharing content! However, it’s vital for engaging with Retweetyour Professional Learning Network (PLN). You can share by “retweeting” a post. Do this by clicking the “retweet” button on a Twitter post to share and ensure that the original poster gets credit. Better yet, create and share your own content! Most newspapers and blogs now have a “share via…” button on their posts. This will allow you to share via a website itself which often automatically includes information such as a link and a title. You can then add your own text and hashtags (e.g. #edtech or #edchat) and then click share.

To create a post from scratch, click on the “post” button on your Home screen. The button looks like a quill on a square, in the top right corner of your screen. You can then add text, links, photos, video, and more in the tweet window. Though you are limited to 140 characters (excluding links), share away!

Once you get the hang of Twitter, you will see your PLN grow as you engage with others online, and you will probably find additional features on Twitter; check out more advanced lessons from Justin Reich in his article Teaching Teachers to Tweet. If you do, be sure to share your new tips and tricks with your PLN (on Twitter)!

5 Tips to Get the Most out of ISTE

This is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius.

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This summer, thousands of teachers will be descending on Denver to attend the 2016 ISTE Conference. ISTE, the International Society for Technology in Education, is the largest, and sometimes most intimidating, tech conference due to its sheer size and the volume of attendees and vendors. I have been a regular attender of ISTE for many years and have learned a few things about how to get the most out of the conference. Here are my top five tips for getting the most out of ISTE:

Download the ISTE App

ISTE has a robust conference app that is free for users. There is a lot to navigate at ISTE: calendar, locations, vendors, and more. The app will have the most up-to-date information at all times – speakers drop out of the conference at the last minute, a room change may happen, or you may want to track down a vendor whose tool you saw featured in a talk. The app will tell you everything you want to know. You can look up workshops and presentations by speaker and topic. It is the best tool for sorting througheverything about the conference.

Single Out 2-3 Topics to Explore

One thing that I have learned is that it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of poster sessions, workshops, and presentations at ISTE. To prevent information overload, go to ISTE with a goal in mind. What are the topics or ideas that you want to learn about most? Do you want to bring Digital Storytelling in your classroom? Build a robust Digital Citizenship program? Want to up your Google Apps game? Is your district or school rolling out a new tech initiative next year and you need more information? ISTE is a smorgasbord of teaching and learning, so focus on two or three topics that you want to explore. This is not to say you should avoid attending an off-topic session that grabs your attention, but having a clear focus at ISTE will help you to get the most out of your conference learning experience.

Vote with your Feet

Not every session will fit your expectations. If that is the case, you should feel free to “vote with your feet.” In other words, if you aren’t getting what you want out of a session, then you should leave and go to another one. Time is your most valuable commodity at ISTE, so use it wisely and explore as much as possible. Move around, enter a session late or leave early, and learn all that you can!

Go to Networking Events

ISTE has a lot of opportunities to network with like minded educators and leaders. If you are a member of an ISTE Professional Learning Network, be sure to check their bulletin board to see if they are hosting an event. By the way, PLN’s are open-enrollment, so you should feel to join one last minute and engage with your peers at the conference! In addition to PLN’s, many vendors host happy hours or networking activities to help educators come together and engage as professionals.

Take Breaks

It’s easy to get lost in your ISTE conference and not realize how much physical and mental energy that you’re exerting. For example, one day last year I clocked over 27,000 steps (almost 14 miles) on my Fitbit! Don’t let conference fatigue get you down. Take regular breaks, both physical and mental. If you’re staying in a conference hotel nearby, take a break in the middle of the day to reflect on your morning. You can write a blog post or a journal entry if it helps you to process; enjoy a long lunch (perhaps with a new networking friend); or just take a walk or a jog in the city. Taking regular breaks will help you to stay on your game throughout the conference.

ISTE is the mother of all tech conferences, but you can easily tackle it if you keep these tips in mind. Instead of coming home a little lost and exhausted, you’ll return to your school excited, brimming with new ideas, and ready to tackle the near year!

Expand your PLN: Educators & Resources to Follow on Twitter

Twitter is an amazing resource for collaborating with colleagues. If you are looking to expand your PLN via Twitter this year, then check out this fabulous educators and education focused accounts on Twitter!

Educators

Patrick Larkin – Asst. Supt. for Burlington Massacdusettes Schools,  NASSP National Digital Principal Award Winner (2012).

Vicki Davis – Best teacher blog winner * Mom * Speaker * AUTHOR Reinventing Writing * HOST Every Classroom Matters * Top Teacher on Twitter

Jennie Magiera – CTO of , PLAYDATE co-founder, White House Champion of Change, Google Certified Innovator, Apple Distinguished Educator, TEDx speaker.

Susan Bearden – IT Director, . Co-moderator , . Bammy, Making IT Happen Award Winner. Creator . Blogger-speaker-consultant.

Lucy Gray – Apple Distinguished Educator Lucy Gray is an education technology and social media consultant; co-founder of the Global Education Conference.

Todd Nelson – Principal/Lead Learner at , White House Champion of Change,  Recipient, Co-Host of  & Co-Founder of 

Alec Couros – Professor of edtech & media, education researcher, consultant, connected educator, keynote speaker & open scholar – Faculty of Ed., University of Regina

Carl Hooker – Director of Innovation Eans ISD, CEO of @Hookertech, Godfather of @iPadpalooza, Speaker, ADE 2013, T&L Leader of the Year.

Felix Jacomino – Host of @MiamiDevice, Dir #EdTech at @ssedsorg in FL, 21st Century, PBL Advocate, PD Provider & Presenter.

Richard Wells – Author http://iPad4Schools.org, Speaker, Leader at NZ High #School. NZ eFellows15, Art grad. Apple edtech iPadEd – @huffPostEdu Top 10 Teacher Blog.

Tom Whitby – Author,Blogger, HS/MS Teachr 34 yrs, HigherEd 6 yrs. Founder #Edchat, EDU PLN, Edchat Radio, 6 Linkedin Edu Groups. BLOG My Island View http://tomwhitby.wordpress.com.

Jose Vilson – The teacher Gotham deserves. Author of This Is #NotATest. Founder of #EduColor. Race, class, education, teacher leadership, and my conscience.

Devorah Heitner – Raising Digital Natives • Digital Citizenship.

Bryan L. Miller – Director of EdTech @PineCrestSch~#PioNear~Keynote Presenter~Consultant~#FLEDChat Co-Moderater~Co-Founder @EdCampSoFlo

Jonathan Wylie – Educator & Technology Consultant for @GrantWoodAEA.

Doug Robertson – Sometimes I walk by children, tap them on the head, yell Goose! and run away. 5th grade Teacher, CUE Blog Editor.

Sarah Thomas – High school Tech Ed teacher. Lover of collaboration, liver of life. Passionate about using social media to connect w/ educators.

Michael Matera – World History teacher, @ASCD Emerging Leader 2015, Techie, Game Based Learning & Gamification sherpa.

Wesley Fryer – teacher, tech director, author, speaker, essentialist DE ’05-GCT ’09. @k12online & @EdCampOKC Organizer ATA @CasadySTEM @eyesrightblog

Adam Bellow – eduTecher / eduClipper / WeLearnedIt Founder, Educational Technologist, Edcamp Foundation Board Member.

Audrey Watters – writer @hackeducation (http://hackeducation.com ), ed-tech’s Cassandra, author of The Monsters of Education Technology.

Karen Blumberg – Do-gooder, NAIS Teacher of the Future, organizer (TEDx, EdCamp, RoboExpo), bargain shopper, traveler, and photographer living just enough for the city.

Angela Maiers – Speaker, Author, Educator. Founder @Choose2Matter. Driving the conversation on 21st century #leadership, #innovation, & digital media.

Organizations:

Hybrid Pedagogy – A Digital Journal of Learning, Teaching, and Technology / Critical Digital Pedagogy and New Media / Host of  Chat.

SmartBrief Education – Publishes and curates articles relevant to education.

FETC – FETC – Future of Education Technology Conference, a division of LRP Conferences, LLC, is one of the largest conferences in the U.S. devoted to .

ISTE – International Society for Technology Educators.

Huffington Post Education – An education news source and online hub for passionate voices.

Edutopia – Inspiration and information for what works in education.

Daily Genius – Helping teachers, students, parents, and everyone in education learn something new every day.

Products & Services:

EdTech K-12 Magazine – Ed Tech issues facing K–12 IT leaders, admins and educators.

Common Sense Educator – News, curricula, tips, and professional development for integrating technology in the classroom.

Google for Education – Helping prepare students to create the future. The best of Google, for education. Follow for product announcements, program updates and industry news.

Microsoft Education – Discovering, highlighting and enabling innovation and achievement among students, teachers and schools.

New York Times Learning Network – Teaching & Learning With The New York Times.

Tools for Professional Learning: Curate, Share, Connect | Edutopia

For six years, I taught in a basement classroom with no windows, and yet I could see what was happening around the world thanks to the Internet. Though I tried learning something new each day, until I put systems in place, I spent more time searching for materials than actually learning. I realized that to effectively engage in professional learning, I needed tools in place to curate content, save what I found, and connect to other educators.

Read more at Tools for Professional Learning: Curate, Share, Connect | Edutopia.

Great Blogs & People on Twitter for Educators to Follow

Teachers often come to me and say that they have heard of a PLN (Personal Learning Network) and that they want to start following relevant blogs and even to start getting involved on Twitter. However, starting always seems a bit overwhelming. I have put together a short list of blogs and Individuals/Organizations on Twitter that are a great place for educators to start. After you get a handle on it, be sure to expand that PLN to subjects and people that pique your interest and address your specific needs.

Great Blogs for Educators:

General Education Blogs:

Ed Tech Blogs:

People & Organizations to Follow on Twitter

General Education News

Educational Technology

Innovative Educators

Great Technology Tools

This is just a simple list to get you started. After you get a feel for how a PLN works, expand your list to include people and organizations that are relevant to you. After all, it’s your PLN!