Tag Archives: Professional Learning Network

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 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!

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!

3 Ways to Kickstart Your PLN

This is reblogged from my post on Edudemic, “3 Ways to Kickstart Your PLN This Summer!”

It’s summertime! This is when educators, free from the daily schedule of a classroom, can focus on professional development. More specifically, summer is a great time to network and to build your personal learning network (PLN). If you’re unfamiliar with a PLN, it’s a network of individuals you foster specifically to learn from and cultivate your professional skills. They are especially important in the world of education where classrooms can easily isolate you from your colleagues and peers. Starting a PLN and cultivating it is surprisingly easy and doesn’t take a lot of time.

Free from internet filters on many campuses, take some time this summer to fire up your social media tools (FacebookTwitterNingPinterestLinkedIn). Many people are intimidated with engaging others online. However, the internet and social media allow you to connect and interact with people you would never get to meet in real life. The key to your PLN is that it’s about people. As Justin Reich highlights in his article, “Search People, Not the Internet,” your colleagues (in real life and online) are a more effective resource than the internet at large. They will help to focus and share information relevant to you in your field.

Here are three great tools and techniques you can use to build your online PLN:

Find Folks On Facebook

facebook-screensMost of us have a Facebook account. We use it to keep up with family and friends; posting vacation photos and admiring your cousin’s photos of her new baby. However, Facebook is also a great resource for kickstart your PLN, especially if you are just getting started.

I use Facebook to follow some of my favorite Educational resources like Edudemic, EdTechTeacher, ISTEEdutopia, and Education Week. It helps to keep me up to date on educational news, pedagogy, and professional development opportunities (many of which are offered for free or at promotional discounts via Social Media!). Even when I’m logging on to see what my mother is up to, I can get some great nuggets of information in my news feed. Also, if you’re like me, you have a lot of friends that are educators, so Facebook is a great way to share information with them.

Embrace The Power Of Twitter

twitter-birdTwitter is by far the most prolific of Social Media tools used by educators. If you have attended an educational conference recently, I’m sure you’ve seen and heard about twitter handles andhashtags. It can be a little overwhelming at first, but take a deep breath.
In order to use Twitter as an effective and engaging PLN tool, you need to figure out who to follow. You can start with people that you know in education: this esteemed author, theEdTechTeacher team, and of course Edudemic. Jerry Blumengarten (aka @Cybraryman1) has a great list of recommended PLN Stars. Just be sure to follow other educators and leaders that you know and respect as they will often guide you to others.

Hashtags are another great way to explore ideas most relevant to your interests. Here is a great list of the most popular educational hashtags that can help you to broaden your PLN and provide you with greater access to resources.

Once you are feeling more comfortable with Twitter, try an e-reader like Flipboard. It will load your news feed and allow you to read your PLN on your phone or tablet at your leisure, be it on the couch or poolside.

Start Visually Learning On Pinterest

pinterestPinterest is another excellent tool to find recipe ideas, accessorize an outfit, or discover a great set of lesson plans. In fact, there is also a whole “Education” Category on Pinterest. Simply browsing these posts can give you some great ideas to employ in your classroom. Additionally, there are some amazing educators and institutions that have repositories of lesson plans, blog posts, and more that they share on Pinterest. Check out this Edudemic article, “20 Innovative Educational Technology Boards on Pinterest.” It has some great people and organizations to follow.

Pinterest is simply keeping a scrapbook of ideas and information (that you can also share with others). It allows you to curate ideas, projects, lesson plans, and more. Be sure that you share information that you find as well. See a great tweet? You can pin it for access later! Start and curate your own education board (or a few)!

This is only a short list of the tools available to you to kickstart your PLN, but I encourage you to explore and collaborate with others online. Building and sharing your pedagogical skills in a classroom is key to innovative education and the core of 21st century learning. Besides, with all of these tools available on a computer or smartphone, they could make for some really interesting beach reading.

Update Note: I have put together a short list of blogs and individuals/organizations on Twitter to help people get started!

Twitter Basics for Teachers

While attending the iPad Summit last week I had the great privilege of meeting Richard Wells – edtech guru and proud kiwi. He shared with us this amazing infographic designed to help educators learn to use Twitter. See more great information on his websites iPad 4 Schools.

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