Capacity, Connections and Camp

Another Learning 2.0 event has come and gone. I think I’m finally getting over my conference hangover – after such a full-on weekend my mind just sort of went blank and kept racing at the same time! – and can look back at all that I learned and shared. It’s hard to believe that I was skeptical about this conference when I first heard about the new cohort/unconference format. I’m so glad Simon May convinced me to go to Learning 2.010. Now I don’t think I’ll ever think about missing one as long as I’m in the region!

Capacity

As a member of the Technology Learning Leaders 1 cohort it was great to get to know Charlotte Diller and George Couros. The two big points of emphasis from them were “Start with the why” and “Build capacity.” This really reaffirmed the work that I’m trying to do because, while not stated as eloquently, these have been foci 2 for me over the past year. UNIS’ work on the Learning and Technology Plan, while not complete, is exactly in place to answer the “Why?” question and my focus on coaching and teacher-led workshops is about building capacity.

In our mini-sessions during cohort time, I took part in some great discussions about blogs and portfolios. A school-wide blogging platform is something that I have been pushing for a while and it was great to get so many perspectives at once on how they can be utilized effectively. There is no “right way” and so it is important that the “Why?” is discussed first! I also learned a lot about the various coaching models that are put into place at different schools. WAB seems to have a very strong model of offering skills-based coaching within the school day. IST puts a strong focus on self-assessment of needs and abilities. This year I am trying a system of working first and foremost with the new faculty by identifying one of the NETS Standards for Students and Teachers as points of emphasis. I’m hoping that we can shift the focus from an emphasis on technology skills to one of pedagogy, curriculum and best practice.

Connections

It sounds really corny, but Learning 2.011 felt a bit like coming home. There are so many people in Asia that I interact with online; #learning2 gave me a chance to catch up with a lot of them and meet some of them for the first time 3.

I was really honored to be one of the 20 teachers highlighted in Jabiz’s keynote. It’s amazing to think that it was only one year ago that we met at Learning.2010.

I was really excited to revive Twitter for Teachers with Keri-Lee. We ran this as an impromptu unconference last year and had a good response. We decided to run it as a workshop this year and it apparently was pretty popular: we were asked to run it a second time as well! My Twitter stream is overflowing with all the new connections that I made.

Camp

Thanks to Alec and George Couros for giving rise to one of my favorite hashtags of all time: #summercamp4life. With the ease of communication and collaboration, it is so easy to translate those conference promises of “Keep in touch” into actions. While Learning 2.011 may have officially ended on September 11, the conversations and the learning can go on forever. #summercamp4life.

Images

Welcome! by Clint Hamada licensed under CC BY NC SA
My Tweeps
by Kim Cofino licensed under CC BY NC SA
#summercamp4life by Clint Hamada licensed under CC BY NC SA

Notes:

  1. Apparently they use the term “Leader” quite loosely!
  2. Math teacher!
  3. I wish I had the time/space/memory to list out all the great people I got to chat with. It really is an amazing list!

Twitter for Teachers #learning2

Keri-Lee and Clint met on Twitter in 2008 and have since spent numerous holidays, along with their families, together across Asia. Cross posted at Tip of the Iceberg.

To help facilitate our Twitter for Teachers session at Learning 2.011, we have decided to post the general outline of our presentation and any resources on both of our blogs. We’d love to hear your feedback and how you are using Twitter to interact with your PLN. Feel free to leave your Twitter name in the comments as well!

(Mis)Perceptions of Twitter

We’ve all heard the “I don’t care what you had for breakfast!” diatribe against Twitter. We’re curious to know what the perceptions our participants have about Twitter.

How We Use It

Twitter, like anything else, is simply a tool. Use of that same tool will vary widely from person to person and Twitter is no exception.

Top Tips

For those just starting out in the Twitter game or for those that started an account years ago but never really got into it, here our some of our top tips for using Twitter to expand your PLN:

  • Public, Personal, Private – Just as we would tell our students, it is important to understand the distinction between public, personal and private information.
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  • BPLBio, Photo, Link. It’s hard for others to separate the gold from the spam when you don’t fill these things out!
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  • Tear Down That Wall! – Don’t protect your tweets! Again, it’s hard for others to decide to follow you back if they can’t see what you’ve added to the conversations.
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  • Go Beyond Basic – While Twitter as a service is fantastic, Twitter as a website is less than desirable. Try a Twitter client like TweetDeck, Hootsuite, or Echofon (just to name a few!) that allows you to separate your Twitter feed into easy-to-monitor columns.
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  • Lists – Twitter lists allow you to create groups within your Twitter stream. You can even include people that you do not personally follow. Even better, you can follow lists that others have meticulously created. (Kim Cofino has a great International Teachers list.)
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  • Hashtags#learning2 #edchat #scichat #mathchat #kinderchat These are all examples of hashtags. Hashtags make it easy to group and search for tweets about a specific topic. Using a Twitter client like Tweetdeck, you can even use a hashtag to create an easy-to-follow column in your client. @cybraryman has a comprehensive list of education-related hashtags.
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  • Search For It – Is there something that you’re passionate about? Chances are there are others on Twitter who are passionate about the same thing. Use the Twitter Search function to find people who are talking about your hometown, your favorite sports team or anything else you might be interested in.
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  • Lurking (aka Legitimate Peripheral Participation) – One of the best and easiest ways to learn Twitter etiquette is to lurk amongst some of your favorite lists or hashtags. Once you see how things work, it’s a lot easier to join in!
  • Retweet and Reply – For some, the highest compliment you can pay them on Twitter is to retweet them. For others, they prefer the conversation that comes along with an @reply. Either way, it is a great way to engage others and to add followers to your PLN.
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  • Conversation is King – Twitter, first and foremost, is about connecting with people around the world who can help you grow as a teacher and as a person. This happens through conversation and through getting to know one another as you would a fellow teacher on your campus. Sometimes these professional relationships develop into personal friendships that last a lifetime!
While it is extremely well-used and on the verge of becoming cliche, the best metaphor for your Personal Learning Network is that of a garden. It takes time and energy and patience to cultivate a PLN. But if you stick with it, it can be a very beautiful thing!
 
Image Credits:
Squawk! by Kevin Collins licensed under CC BY NC
Looking Up by Louise Docker licensed under CC BY

A(nother) Learning 2.010 Reflection

Last weekend I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Shanghai at the Learning 2.010 conference. It was a fantastic experience for a variety of reasons:

1. I got to meet up with a lot of my twitter friends: @klbeasley, @intrepidteacher, @dearlibrariann, @mscofino, @kurisuteen, @courosa@dkuropatwa, @megangraff, @betchaboy, @brianlockwood to name a few. I’m certainly not the first to say it, but those connections are worth more than a thousand keynote speeches.

2. One of my colleagues, @lissgriffin, jumped on the Twitter train with both feet and now is a Twitter force-to-be-reckoned-with! Beyond that, it was so rewarding to watch her realize that, as much as she may try to tell you otherwise, she’s on top of this ‘teaching with technology’ thing. Some of the ideas she’s coming up with are mind boggling. One day soon I’ll get her to either a) start her own blog about what she’s doing in her classroom or b) guest post here.

3. My cohort was pretty amazing. Led by Kim Cofino and Darren Kuropatwa, we explored the Future of Learning. The idea was to work in small groups to explore this topic in more detail after a few introductory discussions and activities. In just over 90 minutes my group cobbled together a presentation we called ‘Bridging the Gap’. The focus was on what we felt the future of learning is and what can we do now to put us in a position to be ready for that future. It was a good experience to be thrust into the role of the students, if only for 2 days. Working under a deadline in classroom conditions to create a product that you must then present to your peers: something many teachers take for granted that students can do. It’s hard work and we need to make sure we give them the time they need to create products they can be proud of.

We also had to contribute a slide to the Great Quotes about Learning and Change Flickr group. Here’s my submission.

I’ll have more to say about what I learned in my cohort in a later post.

4. Facilitating unconference sessions was very rewarding. I volunteered to facilitate a session on Tech Integration in a 1:1 School. I didn’t suggest the topic, but I figured it is my job and I do work at a 1:1 school so I was pretty well qualified to at least lead the discussion! Keri-Lee and I also ran a Twitter for Teachers unconference session, mostly because of conversations that we had with other teachers the previous night about the “banality of Twitter.” Needless to say, we disagreed. Twitter is only as useful as you make it, that’s true. Some teachers just need a little help in seeing how to make it useful and I hope we did that. (As an aside, is there another community of professionals that is using Twitter as actively as teachers?)

I was at the Learning 2.008 conference as well. I will be pushing hard to make sure I can be involved with the next iteration too!

Trans v. Inter Disciplinary – A Visual Guide

I’ve been busy preparing for my upcoming MYP workshop in Mathematics and I’ve been getting all ‘Presentation Zen‘ on the slides. Yes, it adds to the amount of preparation (I could just use some ‘canned slides’ for all workshop leaders) but this way

  • gives me ownership of the content
  • makes me really think about what I’m presenting
  • allows me to make something that I’m proud of
  • will be more helpful to my participants (I hope).

One of the ideas that I was really struggling to present was the difference between transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary teaching and learning. I realized it was because I didn’t fully understand the nuances of them myself!

So, with the help of Twitter (@klbeasley, @amichetti, @stangey especially) and our Curriculum Coordinator, I came up with the following visual metaphors for monodisciplinary, multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary teaching and learning. I wanted something that people could recall in their head to help explain the differences between these terms.

All of the original images used were found on Flickr and licensed under Creative Commons. Please feel free to use or reuse them as you see fit!

I have included some brief explanations on the Flickr pages (each image links back to its Flickr page) for each image but have purposefully left them off here. I wonder if those images clarify, to you, the differences? If you go back and read the explanations, does that help?

Any comments or suggestions, either on the content or the presentation of the slides, are greatly appreciated!