Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Changing Our Views On Social Media For Learning






What do you think about when you hear those words?

Maybe you think about social media in general and how it’s continuing to grow. Or maybe you think about how those can be used as platforms to connect with others. Or maybe you think they are all a waste of time.

What do you think kids think about when they hear the names of those apps?

When it comes to social media and the use of these tools there is still a large disconnect between the platforms kids use and what we use in the classroom. Make any mention of using Snapchat as a tool for storytelling and your audience may look at you with dismay.

For many adults, especially educators, these tools don’t have a place in the classroom. They are seen as platforms to merely be social. And kids also don’t see them as a tools to incorporate into their everyday learning. Although I would bet if we asked them, they’d want to.

So that’s what I did.

My sister is 17. She’s getting ready to be a Senior in high school. She has profiles on all these social media services and more. She posts pictures of her friends, places she goes and stuff she sees. Most of it is pretty mundane. Some it though like the images and Vines she posts about her learning Latin are pretty awesome. So I asked her. What if these tools were used in your classrooms? What if you could create Snapchat stories or use Instagram to document your learning? What would you think?

“I’d definitely be more engaged! All the kids at my school use these. Then we go into boring classrooms and feel like we are disconnected from our lives. So if we had the chance to use these I’d be excited to go to school everyday.”

Well said Celia. Well said.

Many of the tools and apps I write about are still considered non-traditional. They are that way because they’ve yet to hit the mainstream of education. Just the mentioning of the name “Snapchat” conjures up images of students trading inappropriate images and text messages. Or say the word “Twitter” and instantly some believe it’s a waste of time with people writing about which celebrity crush they have or which sporting event they are at.

It’s these adult attitudes towards emerging technologies that perpetuate the myths around them.

Are there examples of the inappropriate use of any of these technologies? Sadly they are easy to find. But stop and think for a moment. What if we as educators looked at any of these apps and found ways to incorporate them into learning. We could redefine how they were being used by kids and, at the same time, have embedded conversations about how they should be used appropriately.

How can you do that? Where would you begin to even examine how any of these tools could be used in the course of learning? Here are just a few ways each of these services could be used in the classroom.

Note-The point here isn’t that you have to use all of them or one of them. The point is to think differently about these apps and social media in general to understand the realm of possibility.

Snapchat-I recently discovered Snapchat as a great way to tell stories. What most folks don’t know is that while Snapchat is most known for images and text that disappear there is a powerful feature called My Story where the images don’t disappear and you can post video too. This could be used, just like it is called, to tell a story. I travel frequently so I use My Story to document the town or city I am in. What I see and where I go. Then anyone can follow along. (You can follow me there if you’d like. Add me by the username Web20Classroom.) There are lots of other ways to use Snapchat too. This post from Edweek highlights not only how to get started with Snapchat for learning but also how it could be used for Professional Development as well.

Facebook-Of all the apps here Facebook is probably the most “mainstream.” Many schools and districts are using Facebook to promote news items, events and to celebrate all that is good. But there is more that Facebook can offer the classroom. Groups for projects, a space for conversation and more. This guide commissioned by an educational think tank in the UK has some really great ideas for introducing Facebook to your classroom.

Instagram-By using a simple camera app a series of images can be powerful. I train school and district leaders in the use of Instagram as a means to celebrate what is great in their schools. But Instagram can be powerful for kids too. Modeled after the Humans of New York series, the Stories of Waukee is completely student run and contains some very powerful stories. This article from We are Teachers has 10 easy ways to use Instagram in your classroom.

Vine-A lot can happen in 7 seconds. And video, like images, can be a great way to capture learning, describe a particular event or more. I like Vine for the classroom because it’s so dead simple to use and videos are super short. Highlighting what kids are reading, science in 6 seconds, there are so many ideas for the use of Vine in the classroom. This article from Edutopia not only lays out why Vine (and Instagram video too) can be used for learning but shows some really awesome examples too.

Twitter-As many of you know, I’ve been advocating for the use of Twitter for professional growth and learning for many years. It is the best platform for reaching those experts where they are to learn from. However, many dismiss Twitter from the classroom as just noise or not having  a place for student learning. Quite the opposite is true. For example kids can use Twitter to connect to experts in the fields they are interested in pursuing for careers or have a chat with an author of a book they are reading. This guide from MindshiftKQED is full of ideas for getting started and how kids can use Twitter to take conversations from the classroom to beyond.

Instead of looking at these apps through a lens of inappropriate use, let’s reshape the conversation by embracing these as tools for learning while having conversations about how digital tools can and should be used in the best ways possible.

photo credit: Social Media via photopin (license)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

10 Student-Centered Ways To Use Blab In The Classroom with @shfarnsworth

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This post is the result of a collaboration between myself and my good friend Shaelynn Farnsworth

I always enjoy learning about new tools and the place they possibly could have in the classroom. When my friend Shaelynn reached out to me to record a video with her for a project on Connected Educators I jumped at the chance because she was going to introduce me to a new platform. 

Blab is a live-broadcasting app that streams video to a “Public” or “Unlisted” stream (host’s choice). With 4 “Open-Seats” available in each Blab, topic-driven conversations are shared with a live audience. Interaction also occurs via text through live audience participation. While anyone can call-in (or ask) for an “Open-Seat”,  only the host can approve who receives the spot. Moderating participants came in useful when we were Blabbing; people from Australia to Korea all wanted to join in the live conversation.

Blab also allows users to record all or a portion of their live stream. Sharing is easy; the video can be embedded, tweeted, posted on Facebook, and even shared to the user's YouTube channel. Finally, like other social media platforms, “following” and “followers”, help you be part of the conversations that matter most to you!

Shaelynn and I agreed, Blab was fun, easy to use, and versatile which makes it great for classroom use. After our Connected Educators conversation, we starting chatting about the ways this could be used in the classroom. Here are the Top 10 Ways Students could use Blab in the classroom:

10 Ways Students Can Use Blab in the Classroom - by Steven Anderson and Shaelynn Farnsworth
  • Interviewing Experts and Primary Sources - Students are no longer limited by location to the information they have access to. Technology provides opportunity and means for learning to expand beyond the walls of the classroom. Blab provides an easy way for students to connect with and interview experts, gaining new information from primary sources. 
  • Live Demonstrations of Science Experiments - In science class we certainly want students to get hands on when it comes to experimenting. But there are cases where, for safety or other reasons, keeping them at a distance is best. Through Blab the teacher can be conducting the experiment remotely and have the rest of the class join, share and comment through a Blab. The best part? Experiments no longer have to be tied to the classroom? So if there are investigations where more expertise is needed the teacher can go to that location (like a local university with more resources) while students view from afar. 
  • Student Presentations To Authentic Audiences - Many times the work students do lives between themselves and their teacher. The hours of work they spend creating and crafting is sometimes seen by their classmates but rarely anyone else. With Blab, students have a live, authentic audience to present their findings or project to. Using the chat feature they could solicit feedback or opportunities for growth. An since Blab supports up to 4 video feeds a lively discussion could also take place, face-to-face, with reviewers from across the world. 
  • School or Community News Broadcast/Journalism - Live streaming of school events, sharing of news in the district or community, all provide students the option of reading, writing, and speaking in authentic and engaging ways. Pairing Blab with student journalism provides a multimedia avenue in which students hone life skills. The ability to embed the final video or upload to YouTube give students a way to share their work long after the Blab is over.  
  • Students Practicing Reading/Literacy Skills - Students, especially younger students need opportunities to read and practice their growing literacy skills. Blabs could be set up between an Elementary classroom and a Middle School or High School class where younger students practice reading to older students. The reverse could also happen too. As students are developing those critical literacy skills they need to hear them modeled. So the older students could read to the younger students as well. All of this recorded for feedback and reflection later. 
  • One on One Conferencing/Peer Feedback - With any type of feedback, be it from reviewing a paper or project or looking at overall learning objectives and goals, having a peer review process in place in the classroom can help students think more intrinsically about their own thinking. Using Blab, students can peer review each other and record that feedback for analysis or use later. And the peer doesn’t have to be a classmate. Since Blab is global, peers can be anyone, anywhere in the world. 
  • Cross Curricular Projects/Group Work - Group work is at the heart of a collaborative classroom. However, what do students do when the bell rings for the day? They still have work to do together but are going off to their different homes. Blab can bridge the gap between group members allow them to chat, share links and talk through their work. For the teacher, sessions could be recorded to review the thinking and dynamics of the groups later. 
  • Creating a Culture of Awesome - Video provides a powerful glimpse into the lives of our students. Using Blab as a way to spotlight students, or other educators in the district shines light on all of the good happening in the school. By allowing students to create the video, ownership in message which transfers to a positive climate and culture of a school heightens student voice and models a positive way social media can be used to make a an impact.
  • Field Trip Recaps - Video reflection through Blab can help kids sort through experiences and anchor their learning. After field trips, speakers, and other academic experiences; students can follow-up with a video response. Done with a small group of peers, Blab is a perfect app in which students can share their learning. Download the Blab app onto your phone, and students are now mobile videographers, sharing their learning along the way.   
  • To Create Shared screen or tutorials - Have students create tutorials using Blab. Whether demonstrating Minecraft in the classroom, or how to write a Shakespearean Sonnet, when students are doing the teaching, students are also the ones doing the learning.  
Have an idea to help make Blab better? Share here, I Blab, the uservoice forum to share your thoughts!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Taking Control Of Your Professional Development

Recently I was talking to a teacher friend of mine. He is what I would consider a very good teacher. He is engaging in the classroom, works very hard to meet the needs of all his students and regularly reflects on his teaching to understand his strengths and weaknesses. It's through that reflection that he is figuring out how to be better.

He told me about an email he got from his district. Over the summer teachers were going to go to some professional development in their content area. The district had looked over where the majority of teachers were weak and were going to provide them some learning in those areas. When he looked at what this PD was going to consist of he was dumbfounded. This wasn't at all the areas he was weak in. In fact he was one of the highest performing teachers in those areas.

And now he was being forced to sit through PD that was meaningless to him.

The fact is my friend is not alone.

This happens to educators more often that we can count. Many schools and districts are trying to do the right thing by meeting the needs of as many educators as possible when it comes to professional learning. But the reality is most schools and districts are not equipped to personalize the professional development of every educator.

Often we talk about the need for more personalized learning for students. There are countless books, webinars and other resources dedicated to the topic. Yet when it comes to the personalization of professional development there is a barely a slow moment by educational leaders to move in that direction. Time, money and personnel are just a few of barriers they face.

The fact of the matter is educators, no matter their position, can no longer rely on their schools and districts to provide the targeted professional development every educator needs and deserves. 

So, if we come to that realization, the next inevitable question is, what do we do about it?

Lucky for all of us we live in an age where all known knowledge is at our fingertips. The digital age has ushered in a new era where anyone can learning anything anytime anywhere. And the type of professional learning we need is readily available if we know where to find it.

Blogs-I've written many, many times about the benefits of blogging for both kids and educators. This open reflection of what we are doing, learning, sharing and thinking about can have very positive effects on our learning. Reading blogs as well can have a great impact on our learning. There are so many wonderful and thoughtful educators who are sharing various resources, ideas and thoughts for the classroom and beyond you'll easily find many to read and grow from. Start with the Teach 100 list. This is a ranked list that, while I think the rankings don't mean much, it's full of great educator blogs to explore. You can also visit the list of the Top 50  Must Read Edtech blogs and take a look at the Edublogs Awards Nominated blogs. Lots of great blogs in all these places.

Webinars-Virtual learning is nothing new. From correspondence courses to videotapes you could buy, watch and learn new skills, we now can learn virtually, in real time, anywhere in the world. There are so many places to take in a good webinar. Many of your favorite tools and products you use have thought-leadership programs that offer all sorts of webinar experiences. Edweb.net is one of my favorite places to catch a webinar because not only is it easy and free to join, the topics are endless and there are archives of everything. The folks over at ASCD regularly have the authors you read for webinars on their books and various other topics. #Edchat Interactive is redefining what a webinar means. The traditional webinar is passive; sit and get. The webinars at #Edchat Interactive allow you to be on video with the other participants and the presenter, like you are all in a physical place together.

Twitter Chats-Like blogging I've written about the benefits of hashtags and Twitter chats many times. Something simple like spending an hour engaging with other educators can open your mind to new ways of thinking or finding resources you didn't know existed. The Educational Twitter Chats calendar is a great place to start to find a specific chat for a topic you are interested in or even more simply a hashtag to follow to see what others are sharing.

In-Person Events-There are countless in-person events that take place year 'round so there's always somewhere to go. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Annual Conference for example is the largest education conference with nearly 20,000 attendees takes place the end of June every year. There are other smaller, regional conferences that take place throughout the year as well. Check with your local education agency or state department of education to learn more. The problem some (like myself) have with these conferences is they are expensive to attend and they don't exactly have sessions to meet your learning needs. Edcamps can help fill that void. These are free events, generally on a Saturday, put on for educators by educators. The sessions are decided in the morning and everyone is an expert. You can read more about Edcamps and check out the Edcamp calendar to learn when one is taking place near you.

Taking control of your own professional development doesn't have to cost any money or require you to invest a great deal of time or energy. It's a matter of using the resources you are already familiar with and combining those with non-traditional sources like Twitter chats and Edcamps and you can put together a very powerful personalized learning plan for yourself. 

photo credit: New Academic Year in the Renovated Atrium via photopin (license)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Fundamentals Of Learning All Students Deserve

I recently spent time visiting my friends at Anastasis Academy. This is a small, private school started by my friend Kelly Tenkely Several years ago she wanted to put into practice many of the ideal conditions that all learners need and deserve. During my day there talking to students and the staff there were several practices and beliefs around learning that any school, no matter the internal or external pressures could model and fundamentally change the learning environment for all kids.

From my time there I found there are 4 Beliefs Of Learning every school needs to have:

  • All Learning Is Interconnected
  • Personalization Is At The Core Of Learning
  • Inquiry Drives Learning
  • Learning Happens As Part Of A Larger Community

All Learning Is Interconnected-One aspect of learning that many educators believe in but have a hard time actually executing is the belief that what I teach in my classroom is connected to all the other learning that students are doing in their other classes.

Even I am guilty of this.

When I was a science teacher I found it easy to integrate math into my subject, history too. But I did a terrible job of bringing in language arts concepts. I didn’t feel comfortable doing so. And my colleagues felt the same about my subject. It's very easy to see the subject we teach isolation as the most important.

The reality is all learning is interconnected. This is something that is embraced by the students and staff of Anastasis every day. They don’t think in individual concepts. There isn’t a math class or a history class. The students learn in topics, most of which are chosen by them (more on that later).

When we learn ourselves that learning isn’t siloed. So why when students go to school are those subjects taught and learned in isolation? If we want to improve learning we have to come to the realization that all learning is interconnected.

This type of interconnected learning isn’t unique to Anastasis. And it could be replicated at any school with any subjects with any groups of students. Once students see the connections that what they’re learning makes they begin to see what which they learn in the greater context of all that they know.

Personalization Is At The Core Of Learning-With the advent and adoption of technology in the classroom it seems we couldn’t escape the word personalization. Online access to teaching resources, coupled with technology in the hands of students was supposed to make learning personal. While this has happened to some extent we are far from true personalization in the classroom.

The students at Anastasis are not.

When a student enrolls in the school they are asked a series of questions that help to understand exactly what type of learner they are. This not only helps the teachers understand, and the staff to group similar types of learners together but it aims to help the student understand how they learn best. Once those individual learning style traits are discovered by the student they can begin to understand the circumstances in which they learn best. And it's the use of these profiles that help the educators there best craft their environment for each kid. Once we know what specifically is driving and motivating a student it becomes easier and easier to help that student grow as a learner.

Again, this is something that could be done in any school anywhere. It could be a simple one-on-one conversation or the same questionnaire used at Anastasis. Either way, actually taking the first several days of school to learn about our students and help them understand what kinds of learners they are can go a long way.

Inquiry Drives Learning-As part of this commitment to personalization the students at Anastasis work around larger issues of knowledge rather than individual concepts. For example in one room I talked to a young lady who was building a webpage as part of a project related to gender inequality.

She is 9 years old.

Throughout the year the students choose issues they want to examine in greater detail. Many of them choose concepts that are hard even for adults to research and understand. The death penalty, economic instability in their community, politics, nuclear war, the lists go on and on. And this is not just happening in the older classrooms. Even the youngest students also have a say in what they learn.

And it's not just the issues that they want to learn but it's the methods in which they get to learn them that is important. In one room students were investigating some design principles related to physics and they choose to build a rollercoaster. We walked in a room where 4 boys were building. What was unique was there wasn't a teacher in sight. They were using saws, drills, all sorts of tools by themselves building a roller coaster. They weren’t off task. They were most solidly on task. They were using the tools, materials, and methods that they felt would get them closer to their goal.

Again, not something that couldn’t happen in any school anywhere. Admittingly it would be a difficult transition to full student autonomy for most but even just allowing students to choose their own paths of discovery could go a long way to reach inquiry driving learning.

Learning Happens As A Part Of A Larger Community-During my visit to Anastasis I heard about countless adventures and service visits and trips all the students take on an almost weekly basis. While I was there the youngest students (4-5 years old) went to visit their “Grand Friends” at a retirement home nearby. But I also heard of excursions to a rescue mission to feed the homeless, a visit to a community garden to see how it could be replicated in their own community and more. The students spend as much time in their classrooms working on individual learning objectives as they do in their community working to understand their place in it.

And that's important.

Kids need opportunities to serve and learn what it's like to be in a community outside of their classroom and school. Why couldn’t time be split between the school house and students completing service projects? Why couldn’t students adopt a cause or a charity they care about and work to raise awareness, volunteer or collect money to donate? Is it possible for most schools to send their students out on field trips once a week? Probably not. But the idea of learning in the greater context of the community is something that could be adopted by all.

I did talk to Kelly about push back. Some will read this or learn more about Anastasis and say “Yeah, but...” Sure they are private. Sure their students are somewhat affluent. Sure they have small class sizes. But Kelly and her school are committed to showing this can work with a little effort. That's why she spends the same amount per student as their public school counterparts. It's not about the money. It's about the culture. It's about what they value as educators. It’s about what learning means to them.

So why don't we work to redefine learning? By focusing on learning being interconnected, personalized, inquiry-based and vested in our communities we can help to foster a deeper understanding and help to create learners that will always love to learn.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Why Open Education Resources Matter #GoOpen

This post is sponsored by Samsung. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Imagine you need to run to the store to get the ingredients to make a cake.

You get the mix, eggs, oil, everything you need to make this most awesome cake.

When you get home you decide that cake isn't really what you want afterall. No, you want another dessert. And since you have these cake ingredients you might as well use them. You're not making the cake anymore, just using the stuff to go in a different direction.

Then a knock at the door.

It's representatives from the cake batter company. They tell you that what you did was wrong. You can't use the ingredients to make anything but cake and you violated their rules. You'll have to go with them to sort things out.


Might not be the best example but that's what happens to educators everyday. We rarely have anyone knocking on our doors but the fact is there is a lot of money in a closed system of education resources. Educators face, on a daily basis, the fact that many of the resources they use are expensive, can't be posted publically, can't be remixed and can't be shared.

This closed system of educational resources only hurts students. Using resources that require a specific piece of technology or can only be used in one particular way only serves to stifle an educator's ability to innovate in their classroom.

We are in a place where Open Education Resources (ORE) are poised to transform classrooms. The US Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology has placed heavy emphasis on the creation and use of OER resources in the classroom. When districts and educators #GoOpen they use copyright free materials, which usually come at no cost, and allow for educators and students to reuse, remix and share.

This short video does a great job of explaining why OER matters.

But you might be thinking these resources can't be all that great if they are free or can be changed around or reused over and over. Actually there are tons and tons of high quality OER resources out there, many can replace most of the paid resources educators are using the classroom right now.

Below are a few of my favorite OER sites and resources.

CK-12: I've been a fan of CK-12 Flexbooks for a really long time. These are OER digital textbooks that can be used in any classroom, for free. They are fully aligned to state and national standards. But beyond that they are completely editable. Educators can edit the text, examples, reorder chapters, completely make a textbook that is theirs, customized to their classroom. All open and all free.

OER Commons: This is a powerful OER search engine that will help you discover lessons and resources created and uploaded by teachers. It's not just lessons either. It's data sets, simulations, assessments, primary source materials and more.

PBS Learning Media: The folks over at PBS are constantly creating powerful shows and the PBS Learning Media site has all the resources to go along with those shows. Everything is sortable by grade or subject area. I can even look at specific standards to find just the right video, simulation or lesson.

MIT Open Courseware: Why stop with open textbooks and open resources. The folks over at MIT Open Courseware have created entire open courses for high school subjects. Biology, history, mathematics are all covered here and available for use and remixing.

These are just four of many. Edutopia has a deep list of OER Resources. I would also recommend spending time looking at the USDOE Open Education site. You can see what districts and states are participating along with some pretty interesting open sets of data. And coming soon, Amazon Education is releasing an OER registry too. So there are tons and tons of places to explore and find the best OER resources for your classroom.


photo credit: Come in, we're open via photopin (license)

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Monday, April 4, 2016

Some Videos of Our Favorite Things From #ASCD16

If I've said it once, I've said it 1000 times.

The ASCD Annual Conference is the must attend conference for any educator each year. The quality of the sessions is not something you find at too many conferences. The shear amount of educational leaders and growers that are so accessible is not something you find at many conferences.

I would save all my pennies each year to come to this conference.

This year I decided to do something a little fun. Rather than wrap up sessions or conversations I thought it would be great to find some emerging technologies on the show floor that are worth telling the world about.

Now this is daunting. The show floor is huge and if you've been to any conference similar to this, there are very few flowers in a sea of weeds. Many of the "tools," books, and other resources aren't worth very much time to talk about. But there are those hidden gems. Those new and exciting tools and resources that could have a great impact on the classroom and on learning.

So with the help of Nick Provenzano (@thenerdyteacher) and Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby) we hit the show floor to find our favorite things. We broadcasted them live via Periscope and then archived them with Katch.me to be able to embed here.

We started with Littlebits. Nick and I are both huge fans of these snap together circuits. I'll let Nick tell you more.

We are excited about what Littlebits can do for any classroom. You can learn more by visiting their website or checking them out on Twitter.

Next we visited something I was excited about and that was a virtual reality system where students could get inside a heart, take apart an engine or follow the metamorphosis and transition of butterflies.

You can learn more about what ViziTech can do for your classroom by visiting their website and checking them out on Facebook.

From ViziTech we visited another place all 3 of us were excited about. Robotics in the classroom has been traditionally out of reach. That landscape is changing with EZ-Robot.

Imagine being able to 3D Print your own replacement parts. Or just the fact the pieces snap together. And then with the technology behind coding the robots these could be in any classroom! Check out EZ-Robot at their website and on Twitter.

And lastly something for the little folks. We don't often see high-quality edtech tools for kids 3-8 years old. That is changing with Tiggly. These are manipulatives to use with the iPad that help reinforce concepts related to shapes, colors, numbers, and letters.

As a father with young girls, Tiggly is definitely coming to my house. I love how the apps are all different to help keep kids engaged. And they aren't just drill and practice. There is practical use with the digital storytelling and sharing. Visit Tiggly on the web to learn more and check them out on Twitter.

So there you have it! Our favorite things from #ASCD16. Be sure to check them all out!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Reflection Makes Us All Better

Back when I was in the classroom I spent very little time going back over my teaching.

I of course went back over test questions, quizzes, formative assessments and the like to see where students had gaps in their understanding or those content areas we needed to revisit.

But rarely did I sit down and just think about my teaching. What was I doing? Could it be better? Was it effective? What was working well in my lessons that I could perhaps replicate in other lessons?

I regret that. There were so many opportunities I missed to be better or change things in my classroom for my students for the better because I just didn't take the time to reflect.

Reflection is such an important part of the learning process. We ask kids to do it all the time. (Or at least we should be.) As educators the reflection process is just as important for our improvement as it is for students. Even now, in my role or working with schools and districts on communications and technology or presenting at a conference, reflecting on my processes, methods, what I say, what I did, all deserve some internal and external review.

Reflection is how we learn and how we get better.

Whether you spend a great deal of time reflecting and want to do it better or you want to start, there are some great resources out there and some great tools that you can use for the reflection process.

Reflection4Learning-This is a site I have used often to talk about reflection in learning. Geared mostly towards student reflection this site has some great resources like reflection models and how to fit reflection into the classroom. It's been around for a while so some of the tools are a bit outdated, it can, however serve as a jumping off point to more places to learn about reflection in learning.

Learning Through Reflection-In the book Learning and Leading With Habits of Mind from ASCD authors Costa and Kallick explore what habits all educators need to develop to improve. Thanks to them, the full chapter on Reflection is posted for you to check out. In it there are methods to reflection and most importantly why it helps us all improve.

High-Tech Reflection Strategies Help Learning Stick-This great piece from Edutopia not only lays out why students need opportunities to reflect but how technology can help make that process better in the classroom.

In addition to learning about reflection its important to understand there are many technology tools that both students and all educators can use to openly reflect on learning.

Blogs-As you read in the piece from Edutopia blogs can be a great way to openly reflect on our learning and invite the comments of others to help us see differently or think differently. I often use this blog as a place to reflect on my own learning. There are many different blogs and blogging platforms so the choice is really yours. Check out this post I wrote a while back about getting started with blogging and this post on using blogs in the classroom. 

Twitter-I am a huge fan of using Twitter for reflection. I will often tweet out quotes from speakers to reflect upon my own thinking. This give me a platform to engage with others out there on a myriad of issues. Sometimes I get push back from what I tweet and other times I am the one pushing back. The debate and discussion helps us be better and think smarter. Moreover, Twitter chats have proven a great way to discuss, debate and reflect on pressing issues in edu. Visit the Twitter Chat Calendar to find a chat and take part in the discussion. Don't know about Twitter chats? Here is a post about the most popular, #edchat, and how to get involved. 

Recap-Currently in beta this app has the potential to really change reflection in your classroom. When the app is launched students (or could be teachers after a professional development session) record their thoughts and feelings on what they've learned. Videos are uploaded to the site for review by the teacher. When recording the video students (or teachers) can self report their understanding and the platform breaks out those that are still having trouble so you can focus on the learning that matters. I had the chance to take a look at it and if I was still in the classroom this would be a must-have app for me. 

Technology certainly makes capturing and sharing reflection easier and we can do more with it. But there's nothing wrong with good ol' paper and pencil. I carry a journal with me to write down what I am thinking. Sometimes just writing to get words on a page helps me see another side I hadn't considered.

Whatever you use, always take the time to reflect on what you've been learning and teaching. And allow students to do the same!

photo credit: Red and blue via photopin (license)