Keep Yourself Informed – Make a Twitter List

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In times like these, you really need to keep yourself informed.  It is one of the responsibilities that come with living in a democracy.

It is not enough to complain about the bizarre situation in the United States.  Even though I am Canadian, it is really important to keep informed.

There are daily reasons to keep informed and alert.
There are daily reasons to keep informed and alert.

One new way I am trying to keep informed is by setting up a special Twitter list on American politics.  My list is growing daily and it includes many of the dominant opposition voices to the current regime in Washington.  I am also including Donald Trump’s account on the list.  His tweets are objectionable, but again, it is important to see what he is putting out.  A Twitter list is like your own specialized information channel.  I use them frequently to focus my feed on specific topics.

I am also using Scoop.it to share the tweets and articles I find important.  Keeping informed is part of our responsibility, sharing what we find is also essential.

Apart from developing my new Twitter list, I am also signing up for more political blogs and collecting them for my daily unroll.me e-mail.  Again, it is really important to channel as much relevant information as possible to keep aware of a political situation that changes daily.

My list will continue to grow.  I need to create a really good news channel through Twitter and at the same time, I want to follow and support those out there that are doing their best to stand in opposition to the current American political situation.

You can do your part – follow my list or create your own.

Whatever you do, stay informed!

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https://twitter.com/mcguirp/lists/american-politics/members

 

The Principal’s Role in Digital Transformation- Four Tools You Should Be Using – Blog post # 5

 

 

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This is a position I have been in before.  A large part of my role as an administrator has been to encourage the development of new teaching techniques based on digital technology and at the same time, work hard at making the learning at school more visible through the use of social media.

The move to digital transformation however does not last.  Generally, the tools that we use especially to communicate with parents are not always picked up by the next person to fill the role of school administrator.

There is a systemic problem here.  Administrators are not trained in the use of technology or social media.  Many are still hesitant to use Facebook or Twitter and fewer still blog to or text their parent communities.

Part of the problem is that many administrators did not teach at a time where the use of digital media was becoming more prevalent in the classroom.  There is also very little time spent on forming administrators as digital leaders in their schools. Many administrators are still deeply suspicious of social media.

To me, there are several basic tools that all administrators need to be using.  All of these tools have been around for years and do not require a huge amount of technical expertise to use.

Facebook: Many administrators seem to have grown up at a time where Facebook simply was not trusted by educators.  What they don’t realize is that most of our parents grew up with Facebook and still use it as a way to communicate with friends and family.  Facebook is easily the best tool to let parents into the school to see what is going on every day.  Administrators need to use Facebook to open up their schools to their parents – they deserve to know what is going on.

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Twitter: Twitter needs to be used as a way to quickly communicate with parents and administrators should also be using it daily to keep up with the most recent trends in education.  We have a responsibility to stay well-informed and that means developing a good list of people in the education field that are then followed on a regular basis.

Remind:  downloadThis may seem like overkill, but parents choose their own way to communicate with their school.  You need to use a variety of tools so that parents can choose how they want to hear from you.  You don’t need to use Remind, but you need some form of text communication with parents.  Remind is very easy to set up and parents are the ones who decide if they want to receive your text messages.  Remind is now set up to allow parents to respond to your texts – all in a way that preserves the privacy of the user.

Blogging – you need to blog!  The day of the tired out monthly newsletter is gone, thank goodness!  Having said that, this does not release the administrator from communicating with parents on a regular basis on what is happening and what is coming up at school.  At my last school we used Edublogs to send a weekly post to parents on what was planned for the upcoming week.  All the teachers contributed to the blog with a rundown of their plans for their class.  The blog was the very best tool we had.  Parents and teachers read it every week to keep up to date with all academic, sports and social news coming from the school.  It was an invaluable tool and one that really should be used by all administrators.

A portion of the school blog - produced every week. You can find the whole blog here http://stanthonyconnects.edublogs.org/
A portion of the school blog – produced every week. You can find the whole blog here http://stanthonyconnects.edublogs.org/

There are many other tools that can be used to engage your parent community and new ones are being created every day.  My main point is that this is part of the administrator’s job in 2017.  I don’t know how we can ask our teachers and our students to become adept at using digital technology when our own principals lage so far behind.

There is hope.  If you are an administrator –  challenge yourself – start learning today!

Should educators be connecting – of course!

Isn’t it wonderful when a writer poses a question, then answers it right in the title?  Why read on – you have your answer!

Well, I hope you will read more.  Of course, we should all be connecting and I would argue that we all do in an increasingly varied number of ways.  I would argue that educators need to reflect on how they are already connecting and how these connections are contributing to the development of their personal learning networks.

Here in Ottawa, we just spent two wonderful days of learning hosted by the University of Ottawa Faculty of Education and Discovery Education.  We had some excellent workshops on PLNs and new professional development.  Derek Rhodenizer presented a great workshop on Personalized PD.

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He makes the excellent point that we all connect using a whole variety of methods, including podcasts – something that Derek does frequently. I never thought of using podcasts as a way of sharing learning, but it works for Derek.  For others, it might be blogging, Twitter, and more recently Instagram or SnapChat.

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Derek’s presentation is important.  He emphasizes that we are all connecting – even if we don’t know it.  We connect even when we have a conversation in the hallway after a long day – learning is going on all the time, we just need to acknowledge it and grow our networks.

The Ontario Ministry of Education in its excellent Capacity Building Series has several monograms on the importance of teachers making personal connections to advance their personal learning through collaborative inquiry – one in the series states that teacher inquiry is a critical part of teachers’  daily work. (pg. 1 Collaborative Teacher Inquiry September 2010)

In my presentation, I focused specifically on Twitter, Voxer and Discovery Education’s Educators’ Network called the DEN.  What I love about the DEN is that it focuses on the development of personal relationships through small, intimate  ‘Day of Discovery’ conferences, virtual conferences, summer institutes and a variety of social media tools.  The emphasis here is on the personal conversation which really makes it unique in this digital age.

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Focusing on the human connection is becoming increasingly important.  One great, relatively new PLN tool is Voxer.  You can find me on Voxer at mcguirp – happy to connect!

We were able to display the power of personal connection through Voxer by inviting Donna Miller Fry to talk to us during one of the workshops.  Here is part of what she had to say to the workshop participants. 

Pretty amazing to have such an influential Ontario education contribute to our learning in Ottawa while she waited for the power to come back on in Thunder Bay!

So, we all connect in some fashion.  How do you connect? You are doing this – what is your next step?

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Making Learning Visible – Connect with parents using social media

These are the notes from a recent webinar that I did.  I wanted to make sure people were able to get the links we discussed during the session.  My first webinar – a very interesting experience!

We started with a prezi that I have used and modified for a few years.  It covers a whole host of communication tools, but every time I ask people what they are most interested in it turns out to be blogging.  Today seemed to be the same.

The importance of blogging with your parent community

I use a variety of blogs for a variety of purposes:

The SAN Script – daily to keep in touch with staff and put out information of interest. http://stanthonycatholic.edublogs.org/

St. Anthony Connects: A weekly blog to the parent community http://stanthonyconnects.edublogs.org/

Both these blogs are Edublogs – http://edublogs.org/ easily my favorite type of blog. It is a WordPress blog with an incredible help desk. I pay around $7.00 a month for each blog and it is money well spent. The assistance from their technical staff is excellent and that is the most important factor for me. There are also lots of great extra features like more templates, special fonts, print friendly button, contact us box and many additional features. When you get a pro subscription you also have at least 50 other blogs you can set up.

Teach Talk – https://paulmcguire1.wordpress.com/ and Principal Musings http://principalmusingsoneducation.blogspot.ca/ that I use to write about various topics in education.

This is from Blogger a great blogging tool to start with

The main importance of blogging is keeping in contact with your community. Better than a monthly newsletter you can put it out as often as you want. Parents can subscribe to the blog or you can send out the link.  With our community, the blog can be translated into several different languages, a really valuable asset in a community with a high immigrant base.

The community blog does things that a monthly newsletter simply cannot do including

  • Schedule for the week
  • Photographs – from the past week
  • Teacher notes – for the upcoming week – a really important feature!!
  • Teacher links to newsletters and blogs
  • Translatable into many other languages
  • You can embed videos for personal messages using apps like Touchcast

Here is a recent Touchcast I put out on the blog as well as our facebook and Twitter Page – just another way to get your message out there!

Social media apps -Twitter,Facebook,Flickr, Instagram

 

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/StAnthonyOCSB

We have 265 followers following 402 – the Twitter Page is one great tool that we use daily to post photos and updates on what is going on at our school.  We also link our Google Calendar up to Twitter so events get posted twice.

 

Facebook: We have over 100 likes on our Facebook Page and it is a great way to make the school experience more real for parents.  We post videos, pictures announcements and interesting information for parents on the page.  The most important thing to remember for Twitter and Facebook – post interesting material often.  Focusing on the students is one of the best ways to engage your parents.

https://www.facebook.com/St.AnthonySchoolOttawa

Facebook also will give you some really useful statistics on your audience reach.  We reach as many as 120 people with some of our posts!

 

 

Instagram – slide 7  

https://instagram.com/stanthonyocsb/

This is a great way to get the perfect moment to the parents.  Parents can sign up to follow Instagram and the photos will show up right in their inbox.  The photos are also posted directly to Twitter.

  

Challenges of connecting to hard-to-reach parent communities

How do we engage? By making students the center of the story.  We make short videos of sporting events and post them to Twitter and Facebook.  The kids love them so my hope is the students will lead their parents to our sites.  Here is a short one made using iMovie.

Finally, in the dying minutes of the webinar we started to address hard to reach communities.  We had the opportunity to hear Joe Mazza @Joe_Massa a few times this week.  He brought up all sorts of good ideas on how we can engage communities.  I have included a Storify here that encompasses some of the main points in his presentation.

Storify of Tweets: https://storify.com/mcguirp/ocsb-forum-with-joe-mazza

We finished on a great question – how to you ensure the safety of the student?

We address this by obtaining informed consent from the parent. We are careful never to publish the names of students and we do our best not to take pictures of students where parents are uncomfortable with social media.

Here is a sample of a letter we have used – we would love to see other examples of letters schools use.

ECOO 2014 Some of what I learned – part I..

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This is my favourite conference.  I come away with great material each year and I make face-to-face connections with people I follow on Twitter and truly admire.  Some quick highlights in this category.  Sitting at a keynote and realizing I am sitting next to Donna Miller Fry who I have learned so much from this year.  Talking to George Couros just before his keynote and getting his words of wisdom, “man you really need to change your Twitter photo, no one can see you”.  Doug Peterson, my hero then chimed in “your photo is rather dark”.

These seem like very simple exchanges, but for me they show how much I have learned in the last year from these great educators.  We have barely (or never) ever met but there is a shared intimacy that comes from being part of the writing community on Twitter.

Some of the best learning at conferences for me now comes just from these quick connections.  They will be enough to sustain our on-going on-line relationships where I will continue to be enriched by their experience on an almost daily basis.

I talked to lots of vendors and attended as many keynotes and workshops as I could when not doing registration, but I think there is huge value in all the conversations with committee members (a truly wonderful group of people), vendors and twitter learning partners.  It is amazing to me that after 30 years in education, my learning experience is richer than ever.

We hear it now lots in workshops – to be an isolated educators really makes no sense anymore.  I truly lived that over the past four days.

I have lots more to write about, but as George says – relationships are key, certainly the most important aspect of the work we do.

Thank-you everyone, great seeing you all!

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this is the way to finish a conference – what a great group!

Where is the next network? Google Educator Groups

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Google (Photo credit: warrantedarrest)

I am always looking for opportunities to push myself to learn more.  I find that becoming an active member of networks is a great way to do this.  At the very least, it gets me to write and post more material.  The OSSEMOOC is a great example of a network that has motivated me to post.  It’s a little like the ‘publish or perish‘ notion.  If your blog is publicized on other sites, but better keep writing!

Yesterday, I heard about another network that looks like it has potential – Google Educator Groups #GEG.

I took a look at where you can find GEGs and there are none in Canada!  We need to do something about that.

The idea behind the GEGs sounds really interesting.  From their site, GEG leaders benefit in the following ways:

  • Meeting like minded people, breaking the walls of isolation
  • Becoming well connected to people of similar passion
  • Building learning management, event management, communication and organization skills as you hold events.
  • Eligible to attend local GEG Leader summits hosted by Google

This is what is wonderful about social media and education, there are so many great networks that you can join that connects you to other educators.  In the past year I have connected to ECOO (the BIT 2014 Conference), OSSEMOOC, DLMOOC (need to get back to that!), #SAVMP mentorship group via @gcouros, a terrific Edmodo book chat on Digital Leadership through #satchat, Learning Connections – Google + group run through #OCSB as well as a whole host of Twitter chats and Google + discussions.

Every day I learn through these great networks.  At this point, I can’t imagine being an educator and not being connected, my networks are my own personal school.  There are so many great initiatives and ideas out there that I would be totally in the dark without my learning partners.

Even worse, without my personal learning network I would be dependant on professional development delivered in the tradition method through our own district.  This way of learning simply does not work anymore.  We can complain about this or we can do something much more useful – make up your own learning network – get connected – today!

So next, time to get some GEGs into Canada – any volunteers?

Develop your personal learning network – Now!

 

 

I’m sorry to say but the teaching profession is often an isolated and lonely one even though we are surrounded by people the biggest part of our day. A teacher is usually the only adult in the classroom, lunch is often with the students and our work area after class is in most cases in the classroom itself (because that is where our computer is). Our time outside of teaching is spent either preparing lessons, going to informational meetings in the school or writing reports. Our time to develop ourselves as professionals, discuss professional issues & exchange ideas is neglected or even ignored in many schools.

Ingvi Hrannar – from Personalized professional learning with Twitter

This article is so good I had to refer to it right off the top The main point – develop your own personal learning network, – never again accept the generalized PD model where everyone gets the same thing.

We expect a huge amount from teachers these days – more than ever before. But at the same time we are being trained using a 19th century model – one talking head at the front of the room. Any time you go to a workshop and that is happening you know this is not the way things have to be. At the very least, we should not call this professional development.

If we are to be treated as professionals, the learning model needs to reflect that we are all quite capable learning what we need on our own and in groups of like-minded professionals. The model that we have developed in our schools over the past three years is very important – it is the only way to go.  We have developed a system where the professional learning goals for the school are developed by the teacher teams from our three schools.

I find the learning goals coming from these groups get better and better.  The goals are more attuned to conclusions based on student work.  The goals also build on the work that has already been accomplished.  As administrators, our role is to facilitate this group learning experience, we do not deliver the information.

We are all professionals and if we respect the work we do every day we need to make sure we all stay in control of your own professional development.Never let anyone tell you that they know better than you do. There are so many people out there thinking and writing about educational issues – you need to choose who speaks to you and who you will learn from.

Hrannar has another great blog post that I think is worth reading –  14 things that are obsolete in 21st century schools. If you read this post, take a look at obsolete item number 13 – ‘One-Professional development-workshop-fits-all’

I had to include a photo illustrating this point – I have seen this before and I think it should be posted anywhere teachers or administrators are subjected to drawn out talks by so-called experts.  

 

                                                                                        have you been to this session?

I do think this form of information delivery has its place. I take in workshops given by guest speakers all the time, but the big difference is that I choose these sessions and I am actually interested in the information.  Unfortunately, we are subjected to monthly sessions where someone else has decided that this information is invaluable for my professional development.  There are simply so many other ways to learn these days. Why can’t we try one or a few of these ideas?

  • an edcamp style session where participants choose what they want to learn and others volunteer to pass on what they know
  • learning hubs formed by people who are interested in a common learning goal.  Professional development flows out of this goal throughout the year, hub members blog about their findings
  • a concerted effort to use Twitter and Google+ to develop our own personal learning network – time at gatherings to develop these networks.  Share lists of who to follow and good hashtags
  • join a MOOC, or even better start our own!  Take a look at two MOOCs here:  DLMOOC OSSEMOOC
  • work on developing common blogs – we have teachers who have done this – the OCSB Learning Community
  • join an Edmodo book study as active participants

There are lots of other options, I think it is important that we explore what is possible.  Learning using a 19th century model just isn’t good enough any more.  We need to challenge the status quo and find new ways to let our learning take off!

There are some signs of hope.  In our board we have a terrific group called Learning Connections.  These teachers are doing some really interesting work and are certainly offering new and exciting ways to offer PD to educators.  Last month, I attended one of their sessions.

The first part of the day focused on interactive displays  led by teachers currently in the classroom.  Each workshop came with a card with a QR code that led to a great summary of the main ideas.  We had ten minutes at each site, then we moved on to the next display.  A Google presentation has been made of the day and it is certainly worth a look.

Even better, once we had visited all the teacher displays, we were tasked with coming up with a summary that would take in the main ideas from all the presentations.  So we were actually able to create content from what we had seen.  To make this experience even better, our media guides tasked with helping us with our presentations were all junior-level students – brilliant!

Let’s hope that the spirit of innovation that is alive in our teachers will soon be shared by more people.  Let’s throw out the old tired models of transferring information and begin to develop new and vital professional learning networks – Now!

Our first Edcamp

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one of three workshops put on for our first Edcamp

How can we possibly find the time to give teachers opportunities to learn about new technology?  There is no question that we need to find a way to change the way we deliver PD.  Teacher learning needs to be embedded and easily accessible so that everyone can keep up with all the changes being brought on through Google, Apple, chromebooks and apps apps apps!

We are experimenting with a version of the edcamp model. To do this, I gave over our regular meeting time (once per month) and allowed teachers to sign up for three 20 minute workshops.  Fortunately, we had three staff members who were willing to present.

I don’t think this is how a regular edcamp would work, but we were dealing with limited time and no more than 15 staff.

The model needs some work, but based on the staff comments (below) I am already convinced that it is a good idea to give up staff meeting time on a regular basis so that we can build a stronger learning culture here at our school.

Really enjoyed the round robin of activities. Small groups work well

Snacks were amazing. Time was perfect.

IEP info was very useful. Symbaloo was interesting. Vine was neat but 7seconds is very short for a video.

Love the idea of these mini workshops as a staff meeting. It doesn’t even have to necessarily be technology related. Could grade partner meeting time be part of it?

Sometimes we get so busy and we’re communicating in a rush, so extra time would be great. 

Very good. Just enough time.Timing good, more specific programs, eg, great spelling or writing app. Went smoothly. Time frame was sufficient: quick, to the point and gave us enough info to understand program/ app should we decide to explore further. Thanks to presenters

Timing good, more specific programs, eg, great spelling or writing app. Went smoothly.

Time frame was sufficient: quick, to the point and gave us enough info to understand program/ app should we decide to explore further.

Thanks to presenters

 

here is the original google form we used to get ideas from the teachers

and… here are some of the learning needs we still need to work on – based on teacher response.

  • Kid Blog Edmodo
  • top 5 math apps –
  • top 5 reading apps –
  • top 5 presentation apps
  • symbaloo
  • Interesting apps or software.
  • Technology for non-readers
  • How to be more interactive with Smartboard
  • Not sure How to effectively use twitter in the classroom.
  • Time to explore google/apple apps.
  • how to integrate technology when you don’t have enough computers/ipads for the whole class
  • making mini-movies using the imovie app (I think that’s what it is called)
  • how to save youtube videos to use off-line
  • Using Lucid Chart, Read Write for Google

What a terrific list!  Time to plan our next edcamp

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#ecoo13 Learning through global collaboration, exploration and innovation

Flat Stanley

Kristen Wideen @mrswideen

Learn to incorporate global collaborative projects with your primary students. Discover strategies and resources for engaging students in all curriculum strands with authentic student examples.This presentation will highlight resources for facilitating learning through global collaboration. Student blogging, global read alouds and collaborative projects will be explored in depth.

Support notes from Kristen

Thank you so much for attending my session.  If you have any questions or comments you can find me online in a lot of places.  Listed below are some of the ways you can get a hold of me:

 

Twitter: @mrswideen

Class Twitter: @mrswideensclass

Professional Blog:  Mrs. Wideen’s Blog

Email: mrswideen@gmail.com

 

Here are a few ways to connect with other classrooms.

 

Skype

Download Skype Here: http://www.skype.com/en/download-skype/skype-for-computer/

Skype In The Classroom: https://education.skype.com

Mystery Number: Here

Twitter

Twitter:  Download Here

Index of Twitter Chats: Here

Blog post about activities you can do with your class on Twitter:  I Created A Class Twitter Account, Now What?

Blogging

Download Kidblog Here.

Download Edublogs Here.

Primary Blogging Community Here.

Quadblogging Here.

Collaborative Projects

Projects By Jen http://projectsbyjen.com

Epals http://www.epals.com

 

Skype or Google Hangout

Mystery Skype – skype to someone and you have to figure out where they live.  Students ask questions to the Skype connection

Mystery number – using Skype or Twitter – one class chooses a number the other class tries to figure it out.

Sharing an inquiry – any question can be explored between classes

Primary Blogging Community – project linking up classrooms to blog together – now has 80 classrooms working together K-4

What is the Primary Blogging Community?

The PBC is a community of primary teachers (children aged 5-10) that want to share their students’ learning via their classroom blog and their students’ personal blogs.  Classrooms will be grouped with 3 or 4 other classrooms from around the globe.  The program is 8 weeks long.  The first 4 weeks will concentrate on the classroom blogs only.  Each week, one of the classes will be the focus class and the other 3 classes will be visiting and commenting on the focus class blog.  The following week, the second class will be the focus class, and so on.   This is a chance for the other classes to see what is happening in your school and class, to discover where in the world you are located and to learn about how to write a good blog post and to watch how you model and work together to write good comments.  After the first 4 weeks, we switch the focus from your classroom blog and concentrate on student blogs.  The same rotations occur but the focus is solely on your student’s individual blogs.

Flat Stanley Project – everywhere that Flat Stanley went the students blogged about this.  Example of a multi-media Flat Stanley site

Here is a Flat Stanley blog

A key point for blogging – kids need an audience!  If you close your blog the students have no audience and they will lose interest.  Consider the potential of teaching other students around the world.  Kids need the feedback and comments.

Example of a project that connects – ePals

epals

#ecoo13 Thursday Keynote – amber mac @AmberMac

Doug Peterson starts off the second day of the conference #ecoo13
Doug Peterson starts off the second day of the conference #ecoo13

Part of Amber’s bio:

Thursday 24th October, 2013

8:15am to 9:30am (EST)

Amber Mac is an entrepreneur, television host, professional speaker, and bestselling author. She co-hosts a TV show on CTV/BNN called AppCentral, which airs nationally in Canada, Australia, and South Korea. Amber is a regular contributor on CTV News Channel and has appeared on various other networks, such as CNN. She writes weekly for Fast Company, where she discusses social business, digital productivity, and how to work smarter. Amber has also hosted a number of online video shows for Fast Company, which her digital marketing company produces.

“Amber Mac is a virtual Swiss Army Knife of networking: she displays an endless amount of enthusiasm and energy that nearly crackles off the page. More importantly, she demonstrates a deep and practical understanding of the necessity of extending one’s personal and professional presence online.”

Amazing conversation!

my notes are all here  I wrote as fast as I could!

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