Monday, February 20, 2017

3 Untapped Social Media Resources Worth A Second Look

In a world where we are constantly bombarded with information as adults and as educators, there are still many untapped resources to learn from and share with and grow, especially through social media. Being a connected educator doesn’t mean sticking to one favorite platform and having that singular lens to learn from. We want students to have multiple perspectives so we should expect the same from ourselves.

If there is any doubt that very nearly everyone uses social media, let’s examine some stats from the Pew Internet Research Study. This is an ongoing look at the way all of us use digital resources, consume information and our feelings and attitudes towards it all. They just updated their social media data for 2016.

Of All U.S Adults:

  • 79% use Facebook. Nearly 3/4 of these visit at least once per day!
  • 32% use Instagram
  • 31% use Pinterest
  • 29% use LinkedIn
  • 24% use Twitter
Whats even more surprising is that demographics don’t seem to matter. Rich or poor, educated or uneducated, no matter the ethnicity or gender or where someone lives, adults are using these platforms and many of them choosing to use more than one. 

We can safely assume that Social Media is a part of most people’s lives. So it makes sense that as educators we look to what social media can offer in terms of consumption and sharing so that we can learn and grow ourselves. 

And many have done that.

I have been an advocate for the use of Twitter for as long as I have had an account there. Many educators have sat in my sessions or watched my webinars or read my books where I talk all about the benefits of Twitter and being connected. There are loads of others who have put their own spin on that type of learning as well.

But I think I (and maybe others) have missed the point.

Sure. Twitter is a wonderful resource. There are countless hashtags, links and images shared every day. But if we want to be as data-driven outside the classroom as we are inside of it we are missing a large segment of the population to share with and grow from. There are many untapped resources that even I am guilty of ignoring or dismissing that we just can’t any longer.

1) Facebook-As we can see Facebook is still the most popular social network among Internet-using adults in the US. So it makes sense to start here as a potential untapped resource. I use Facebook everyday. But I use it in a more personal way, sharing photos and videos with friends and family. However, I’ve learned there are educational pages where folks are sharing and learning that far outpace anything Twitter is able to do. Take for example We Are Teachers. This is an incredible resource that I’ve followed on Twitter for a long time. Jump over to Facebook and they have almost a million followers there. And the resources are some you can’t find anywhere else. Or Edutopia, over 1 million followers on Facebook. Even my good friend Richard Byrne, author of the wildly popular FreeTech4Teachers Blog has nearly half a million followers on Facebook. And these are just a handful of pages worth checking out. A quick Google Search reveals many lists and suggestions for educational Facebook pages to follow.

All these pages are great for consuming information but can be great for sharing as well. You can share posts and resources that you create or find. (Different pages have different rules on that so make sure you check that out first.) Imaging something you are really excited to share now goes out to a network with over 1,000,000 people following it. You can also start you own page very easily as well and use it as an extension of your social and digital voice.

2) LinkedIn- Another social network at least having on your radar is LinkedIn. For a long time LinkedIn was seen as the place to have a presence just incase someone wanted to offer you a job or a place to have a profile it you were in the market for one. But as the Pew Internet Data shows us, almost 1/3 of all internet users are there. So take advantage of it! Set up notifications or visit your LinkedIn feed at least once a week. See what others are sharing there. I was flabbergasted to discover blog posts, articles and more that I hadn’t seen anywhere else. I spent over an hour reading and discovering new voices I might not have found anywhere else.

LinkedIn can also be a great place to share information that you might not be thinking about. Remember, LinkedIn is the first professional social network. It doesn’t have to be about looking for a job. It can be about simply sharing the awesome work you do. Set your blog up to auto-post there or join one of the great educational groups to share with. The International Society for Technology In Education (ISTE) has a large group there along with other subject or role specific groups.

3) Pinterest- I joke often about how I’ve eaten a lot of good things from Pinterest and found lots of projects to do with my daughters there as well. But as an educational resource its huge. Now, I know that but it’s one I haven’t used much and I’ve been missing out. As many of you will probably tell me it is huge in the education space. I’ve written about how to evaluate the resources found there but I need to take my own advice and use it more. Just the Education Category there shows tons and tons of resources to consume and explore. Kasey Bell has one of the best lists I’ve seen of some the most popular educational centric Pinterest boards to follow.

On the flip side leverage Pinterest to share as well. Creating boards is easy and there are a number of browser extensions and add-ons to make it easy to share there. Pinterest is very visual so any type of image you can use to grab someone’s attention works well. Create and organize boards for individual topics or ideas.

I admit, on many of these I am late to the party. I’ve spent a number of years evangelizing the benefits of Twitter. I still believe Twitter is the fastest and one of the best places to learn, grow and share. But we need to have multiple learning lenses and there is more than one place to learn. These are some of the most widely used social networks used across all internet using adults in the US. So let’s leverage the power of social and consume better and share better.

In my next post I’ll look at the same data for those under the age of 18 and provide some ideas for kids and students to leverage the social networks they are using the most to share, learn and grow. 

Download the graphic.

Monday, February 13, 2017

10 Characteristics Of An Authentic-Based Learning Classroom

Along with my good friend and literacy expert Shaelynn Farnsworth, we examine what authentic learning means and what these classrooms truly look like. 

Reimagining education is frequently sparked by advancement in technology. From the introduction of the No. 2 pencil to the streaming of video in to support learning and teaching, technology is typically the driver to change. Ubiquitous technology in learning environments has sparked a current redesign of the “classroom” and asks us, as educators, to once again create authentic classrooms for the students of today.

Before Steven left his position as a Director of Instructional Technology, his district was undergoing this shift (albeit a bit late, but they were headed in the right direction). They were going to allow students to bring their own device to the classroom to use in the course of their learning. But through a pilot program they discovered that the focus of their professional development around BYOD needed to not be on technology. Rather, they needed to focus their efforts on pedagogy and the change in instruction needed when students have access to all known knowledge at their fingertips.

When we combine the ubiquitous use of technology and the near constant access to all known knowledge the classroom environment must change. The traditional “stand and deliver” instruction model negates the fact that teachers are no longer the source for all information. Authentic-Based Learning Environments emphasize the need for a shift in curriculum to one of Project and Problem Based Learning where students are immersed in learning that has them identify and solve real-world problems. Students are at the center of Authentic-Based Classrooms and take ownership of the information they need to solve these problems and determine their own methods of demonstrating understanding.

What are the Characteristics of an Authentic-Based Learning Classroom?

  1. Real-World Learning and Tasks-In these classrooms learning and tasks are centered around real-world problems. Students are investigating issues that face their school or their community or themselves as individuals.
  2. Content Is Student Selected-In Authentic-Based Classrooms, student choice in content (full or in-part) heightens relevance and engagement. Students begin to understand their own ways of learning and what methods best meet their individual needs. 
  3. Interdisciplinary Learning-In these classrooms there will be a variety of content sources that naturally lend themselves to interdisciplinary study. Students may be working on math and music or science and art, all at the same time, which only serves to show them the natural connections between what we learn instead of the traditional silos many students experience. 
  4. Open-Ended Inquiry-In these classrooms students may all be working on the same learning but there are going to be varied approaches to the solutions. And through their discovery students may see that there are many paths they can take and they should be allowed to follow them. 
  5. Frequent Reflection-Learning happens throughout the process and not necessarily at the end of a unit. Portfolios and process journals, for example, provide a reflective space for students capture their learning. In Authentic-Based Classrooms regular reflection is a must. Students take time  to review, plan, and set new goals in their learning, while teacher reflection serves as a type of formative assessment which informs instruction.
  6. The Knowledge Of Others Is Valued-In these classrooms there is great value in the knowledge not just from traditional sources but also from subject matter experts and non-traditional sources like blogs and social media. Students can reach out through the use of their growing Personal Learning Network (PLN)  to collaborate and learn from others. Access to technology connects students with experts from across the globe. Global connections not only provide access to primary sources, but serve to teach our students about diversity, tolerance and empathy. Through connections, social media, and digital publications, students see how information is constantly changing and how they must adapt. 
  7. Creation is Valued Over Consumption-In these classrooms the emphasis isn’t on the acquisition of knowledge. The value is in what students create with the knowledge they acquire. Similarly to student choice in content, choice is creation and demonstration of understanding amplifies student voice and provides students multiple modes in which to elaborately communicate their learning. 
  8. Assessment Focuses on Mastery of Concepts-In these classrooms not only is the learning authentic but the demonstration of student understanding is as well. Simple regurgitation of information or traditional letter grades do not provide any type of meaningful feedback. Mastery of standards and evaluation of learning against teacher-student created rubrics are what is seen. Students’ understanding looks at more than knowledge gained and aims to have students do something more meaningful with that knowledge.
  9. Authentic Audience-In Authentic-Based Classrooms there is a shift in audience from the traditional lone teacher to one that is determined by the student or task. Student learning regularly reaches outside the classroom. Therefore the audience does too by having students sharing with the community and often times on a more global scale. 
  10. Flexible and Evolving Learning Spaces-In these classrooms the physical set up and the types of tools and technology students have access to is constantly changing and adapting to meet the needs of the learners. Furniture can be moved so that students can collaborate more easily. Classroom environment may also spill over into the community or to a virtual space. Student choice in device or other resources is possible, allowing them choose the best tool for the job. Educators understand that though it may look chaotic the classroom space is an extension of how students choose to learn. 

The Authentic-Based Learning Classroom is one of fluidity. There is constant change and adaptation to new methods of content discovery, different ways of demonstrating understanding and of course, new problems to solve. Technology enhances the ability of the student to do more but remember, technology isn’t the focus here. The focus is on the authenticity of the tasks, the authenticity of the learning, what new knowledge students can create and what problems they can solve.

Download the Post Image

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

3 Ways To Encourage Creativity In Your Classroom This Year

This post is in partnership with ACER. Over the next few months I will be writing and sharing many of the exciting classroom products they offer like tablets, desktops and more!

A while back I was having a conversation with a colleague about creativity in learning. We debated back and forth about what creativity looked like and could you really teach creativity. All this stemmed from a comment I made about me not being creative. Sure, I’ve written books, I talk in front of teachers a lot and create professional development to deliver. But does that mean I am creative?

As educators, when it comes to creativity in the classroom, we can take the path of least resistance and take creativity out of the learning process or we can create an environment that fosters creativity in learning and allow kids to explore their talents.

Fostering creativity in learning in the classroom doesn’t have to be complex or complicated. Here are 3 ways you can encourage creativity in your classroom this year.

Encourage Choice- Imagine being given a task and being told the product you are expected to produce. Everything related to that product is dictated to you. The colors, the font, the margins, the length, the steps you should take to get to that end result. Many of us would revolt. Yet this is what happens to students in classes each day. Projects are assigned and the expectations for the end product outlined. Instead of it being a project, it's more of a recipe.

The easiest way to encourage creativity in the classroom is through choice. Allowing students to discover their own paths to content and process and products helps invest them in their learning. While content may be set by standards or expected outcomes, students can get creative in how they learn that content, the methods by which they connect that content to already known knowledge and especially in how they demonstrate their understanding.

Choice can also come from the types of technologies student use. There are all sorts of ways from students using tablets (like the Switch Alpha 12) to create videos and audio podcasts, to building or replicating historical events in Minecraft, to using drawing and spreadsheet tools to create infographics. And because we are using a tablet we can do this kind of creation from anywhere.

There are all sorts of ways for students to show off their creativity by fostering choice both with process and product.

Encourage Mobility- I am constantly on the go. Whether I am in a hotel room in another city or flying across the country I am rarely in the same spot for more than a few days. So my office is where I am. And how I work has to adapt to where I am and what I am working on. I carry a laptop and a tablet along with notebook and each is needed for the work I’m doing.

Students need the same opportunities. It you look at historical pictures of classrooms and compare them to images from today, not much has changed in how they are set up. We can’t expect to produce our best work it we are uncomfortable. Allow students to move around, make their own spaces where they can learn. And since technology is in a place where we can be mobile students don’t have to be tied to a desk. Convertible laptops like the Switch Alpha 12 that allow students the full function of a laptop but the mobility of a tablet can encourage learning anywhere and help boost creativity of students.

Encourage Audience- One of the best ways to boost creativity in your classroom this year is to widen the audience of your students work. In the past much of the work students did lived between the teacher and the student. The student would write a paper and turn it in. The teacher would mark it up with the red pen and return it. And that’s where it ended. What if what students were creating, writing and making could have an impact on the lives of others. The only way we’ll know is by sharing.

We live in an age where sharing is as easy as creating a post, sending a tweet or making a video. You can boost the creativity on the projects and work you assign by tapping into our social side and get students sharing their work with peers, their community and the world. Posting videos to you YouTube, creating podcasts, writing a blog, and building a website are just a few examples of how students can share with the world what they know and help foster creativity. Having resources like the Switch Alpha 12 directly in the hands of students, not only allows helps foster creativity and mobility but now students have an easy to use way to publish to their own blog, a website or use something like Twitter or Facebook to share their ideas with the world.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Resources and Wrap Ups From #FETC 2017

I spent the last week in warm and sunny Orlando attending the 2017 FETC Conference. This is one my favorite conferences of the year because of the quality of the sessions, the people and, of course, the learning. While there I had the honor and pleasure of delivering several features sessions and workshops. All the resources can be found by clicking the link below. Here are brief descriptions of each.
Flipping Professional Learning Workshop-Flipping the classroom is gaining in popularity in the classroom, but are you ready to try to flip professional learning? Discover why flipped professional development has the potential to disrupt the way teachers learn and will accelerate innovation in education. We looked at the various ways you can apply the flipping methodology to meetings to provide more professional learning time in your school and district. We examined how to create a new model of professional development to make the greatest impact on improving teaching methods and implementation of curriculum and learning activities that are transformed by the integration of technology. We looked at how to apply the "flipped" methodology to professional learning and learn what technology tools can enhance the flipped professional learning model. Discover the components of flipped PD including personalization, collaborative projects, coaching, and utilizing the best practice of ongoing, embedded professional development. Download the session resources. 

Owning Your Professional Development with Shaelynn Farnsworth-Educators today can no longer rely on schools and districts to meet their professional learning needs. Just as student learning needs to be individualized and personalized, professional learning does also. We explored the various ways educators around the globe are owning their professional development. Going beyond Twitter chats and webinars, we explored non-traditional PD and had a frank conversation on how to get districts to recognize the time you spend learning outside the classroom. Download the session resources. 

Showing How Awesome You Are: Using Social Media To Connect-The digital age is making it easier for parents and the community to learn what happens inside the school building. Using social media, schools and districts can more deeply engage with those stakeholders, providing a more unified foundation for better relationships. It also makes it easier for professionals to tell their stories and take control of the message they want all to know about the great things happening in schools and districts. We examined the current social media landscape and described personal and school branding. We also showed how to accomplish it easily and simply with little or no funds but having maximum impact. Download the session resources.

Improving The Technology Walkthrough Process-School leaders regularly conduct walkthroughs in classrooms to collect observational data to determine areas of focus and improvement for their schools. These small opportunities can provide valuable insights into the teaching and learning process. When new technologies or instructional practices are introduced into classrooms, it can be a challenge for leaders to communicate how everything fits together to create a richer learning environment. We examined the walkthrough process, specifically addressing technology and how to make overall improvements. Download the session resources.

Also while at the conference I took over the @AcerEducation twitter account where I gave an inside look to the conference and some fun interviews with some pretty smart folks. Check out the archive for more.

If you couldn't be at the conference this year, don't worry #FETC is always available to look at all that was shared including session resources, thoughts and reflections. Take time to peruse and learn!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Following #FETC No Matter Where You Are

This week brings us another awesome gathering of educators from all over the U.S. and beyond. Descending on the Orange County Convention Center in sunny Orlando, Florida the FETC Conference kicks off with tons of opportunities for all of us to learn, share and grow. I am honored to be a Featured Presenter again this year and will be there all week sharing and presenting along with countless other wonderful educators.

Are you going to be there? Check out my Featured Sessions!

Wednesday Jan 25
Flipping For Professional Learning-What if we could take all the boring time we spend in meetings and in meaningless PD and flipped the script? We will talk about all the different ways to flip meetings and PD and what we can do with the time we get back. Hint, its deeper professional learning! Hyatt Bayhill Rm 22 | 11:00am-12:30pm

Taking Control Of Your Professional Development-Because of our access to smart people and endless resources it's time to take control of our own professional learning. Stop by this poster session and chat with the awesome Shaelynn Farnsworth as we talk about how we personalize our own PD and give you lots of resources to check out. FETC Exhibit Hall Booth 2305 | 3:30pm-4:00pm

Thursday Jan 25
Showing How Awesome You Are: Using Social Media To Connect-Using social media to reach our parents and communities is more than just Twitter and Facebook. And where to you start and what should you know? We will talk about all this and more! OCCC South 330FG | 10:00am-11:00am

Improving The Technology Walkthrough Process-What should administrators see in technology using classrooms. I've got the 5 things to look for along with how to improve the walkthrough process over all. OCCC South 331CD | 3:20-4:00pm

After all my sessions I will be posting all the resources to my website and sharing them on social media as well as the #FETC hashtag.

Can't make it to the conference? No worries! You can still follow along as if you were there. The #FETC hashtag will be going the entire week with folks sharing information from sessions, links to resources and thoughts they are having. Do a Twitter search or use your favorite client to set up a column so you don't miss any of the action.

There will be tons of great educators there too that you can follow:

These are just a few. You can see the list of all Featured Speakers and remember, you can find folks on the hashtag too.

I will be sharing on @web20classroom. You can also follow pictures on Instagram by searching for me (web20classroom) or #FETC. I will also have my Snapchat Spectacles. So if you want to follow along there you can add me on Snapchat. (web20classroom)

FETC is one of my favorite conferences of the year. And whether you can in person or from a far there's lot of learning to be had!

Monday, January 9, 2017

5 Resources To Make Your Next Presentation Pop

Perhaps you are like me and have to sit through presentations often. Sometimes they are great. You can tell the presenter put a lot of thought into what they want to talk about and it feels like they really know their stuff. The slides they use are engaging and help reinforce the story that’s being told.

But then there are those times that are the complete opposite...

The presentation seems disjointed and incomplete. The design of the slides leaves a lot to be desired. Maybe the spinning transition is just too much or the typewriter sound every time a new bullet appears is over board.

Or maybe the slides look like these...

A lot of the work I do has me creating presentations several times a week. I am far from perfect and actually spend a lot of time reflecting on each presentation I give trying to make sure I keep evolving what I do and to ensure the story I am trying to tell matches with the expectations of my audience.

There are some great resources to make your (or your students’) presentations really pop. Here are just a few of my favorites.

Presentation Zen-One of the first books I bought after I started doing presentations regularly was this one by Garr Reynolds. It is full of ideas for preparing, designing and delivering the best presentations ever. His site too has lots of suggestions like how to get to know your audience, the best way to outline a presentation, design ideas and tips for the perfect delivery. This is a resource I use all the time.

The TED Commandments-It you look at a previous post all about using TED Talks in the Classroom there are some common themes in the videos even though they are all different. Anyone that gives a TED Talk is strongly encouraged to follow the TED Commandments of giving a good talk. Mostly funny, they do encourage presenters to make sure they tell a story, focus on their curiosity and passion, and never read their talk among other things. These are great rules to follow for any presentation.

SlidesCarnival-One of my new favorite presentation tools isn’t really a tool at all. SlidesCarnival is a collection of some really awesome templates that you can use in Google Docs or PowerPoint. The template you choose for your presentation can really help to frame your conversation and make an impact. These templates are unlike anything you’ve probably seen. Very well designed, the templates come with lots of suggestions for design and even their own icons to use to callout elements in your talk. Best part they are all free!

The Noun Project-Speaking of icons, sometimes you need to find just the right one to fill out the design of your slides. The Noun Project has you covered. With 1000’s to choose from, pick the one you want to use and use it. Some come with a Creative Commons license (more on that in a minute) and many more are just free to use how you want. It the Noun Project doesn’t have it, it doesn’t exist!

Creative Commons License-One of the best things any presenter and educator can do is allow others to use their work freely and build upon it so others can share in the knowledge. The Creative Commons Licenses allow for just that. But answering a few easy questions you can license your work so others can use it. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

What's Your #OneWord2017?

As we begin a new year many folks have taken to Twitter to tell the world what their #OneWord2017 will be. The idea is you have this one word to use as your mantra to guide your work and focus to have a successful year. Many are also writing blog posts to explain why they picked that one word.

This post from Neil Gupta does a wonderful job of explaining the why and the how.

Here are just a few of my favorites.

Now, if you are like me, Shaelynn challenged your thinking by picking Eunoia. In case you were wondering it's the goodwill a speaker cultivates with their audience.

My #OneWord2017 is Reflection.

I always try to take time to think about my work. The time I spend with teachers working on making classrooms more innovative or to help them think differently about how learning can be done. Or after I work with administrators and leaders on implementing technology initiatives or better understanding the role of technology in learning. And while I try to reflect often I don't do it often enough.

As 2016 came to a close I looked at several of my keynotes and presentations I had been doing over the past year and decided I was unhappy. I wasn't motivated by the content any longer and it all seemed routine. I sat down and reviewed them one at time thinking about how I had presented them, the content and how I could improve. Many hours were spent redoing just one presentation but in the end it was worth it! I was excited about the content again and I had so much fun again presenting it.

Taking that time to reflect and realize I wasn't happy with what I was doing and I could do a better job made all the difference in the world. I want to bring that same mantra into other aspects of my work besides presentations and keynotes. So Reflection is my #OneWord2017

This would be a great exercise when kids head back to the classroom after a winter break. Get them to think about what drives them and what word do they want to be their focus and help them realize their potential.

What will drive you this year? What do you want to accomplish to make this the best year ever? What will your #OneWord2017 be?