Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Things That Have Me Thinking-Oct 30

A while back a friend of mine, Patrick Larkin, was a high school principal. (He has since moved up in the world to Asst. Superintendent ) He was regularly blogging for his staff and at the end of his weekly posts of updates, things to remember and such he had a list of things that had him thinking. It might have been a video,  blog post, article, something, that had piqued his interest and he wanted to share.

It was such a great idea, I decided to steal borrow the idea. I've been meaning to do it for a while now but today is the day I will start. My goal is to write about and share a few things each week that have me pondering, or are pushing the boundaries of my thinking. These items, hopefully, will come from a variety of places and people and cover a variety of topics.

So, week 1. Here we go!

Leadership Books-I was driving home yesterday thinking about Leadership. I have been in my current leadership role just a few months. It was a huge transition for me and I am still trying to piece together what leadership means and how I can be a better leader for my staff. I wanted to see what others were thinking and reading so naturally I took to Twitter and got a lot of great suggestions for books about leadership. I Storified the results which you can follow here.

20/20 Vision For Technology-This was a blog post that I just happen to come across while looking at some other things but what Nick has written here is so true. And he asks some tough questions we all must consider in this age of rapidly changing technology. What is our vision and how will we keep up? Definitely something we all need to think about.

The First Follower-Playing on the leadership theme still, this video below, is hands down, one of my favorite TED Talks. We have been doing a lot of PD for our Administrators in my district and getting them to think about being a lone nut leader. But what has me thinking is the First Follower. As leaders, how to we ensure we are followable? How can I be more followable and what are the qualities that makes someone want to follow?

Theories For The Digital Age: The Digital Natives Discourse-This post from one of my favorite bloggers, Steve Wheeler, caught my attention. You need to read Steve's post to get the full feeling for what he is saying. I have been in many a discussion about whether or not kids are Digital Natives. I know that I could hand my daughter at 18 months my iPad and she could unlock it, get to her letter game and play. No one taught her how to do that. (Video evidence) Had she watched me? Sure maybe a few times. But the fact that the more and more she interacts with technology she is able to do more and more things I didn't think she could, nor was she shown, is leading me down a path to believe that kids are wired differently now, and therefore, are learning different, but we are treating them all the same as we have for years.

So that's my list. What's got you thinking this week?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Leadership Is...Reflections On #ISTELF12

I just got back from a wonderful few days in Indianapolis. No, it wasn't to see a race or for the fabulous food. I went to engage with other thought-leaders from around the world (yes over 10 countries were represented) and talk, share, learn and grow.

The ISTE Leadership Forum (#ISTELF12) was a new event this year. The idea was to bring together district and school level leaders to talk about what issues we are facing with technology and to learn with each other. I had some wonderful conversations about technology integration, social media, BYOD and more.

But it was the opening keynote from Chris Lehman that was the big take away for me. I am always challenged when I listen to Chris speak and walk away with about a million ideas and this talk was no different. He touched on several different things but it was his points about what Leadership is and does and challenges to us that had the most impact. Below are a few and some of my thoughts...

Care: "Care For" means more than "Care About." This leadership quality is an important one. He made the statement about how a simple change in our language can have a huge impact. Saying "I teach math." and "I teach kids math." have 2 huge differences in meaning. And it so true. We have to care not about our jobs or what we do. We have to care about who we are doing it for and that is kids. No matter what we do we always have to keep our kids in mind and make sure we are doing what is best for their interests. But most of all, we have to care about kids.

Optimize Person To Person Time: Technology should never isolate us. Spending time together is how we learn. I will be the first person to tell you I use social media to make connections and learn with so many different people from around the world. But I will also tell you that nothing beats the face-to-face time I get to spend with people at conferences, meetings, or just over coffee. That face time is so valuable to my learning. So we have to get out from behind the screen often and learn together and from each other.

Talk and Listen: Turns out we learn that way. Goes back to the face-to-face time right? And really, it's more listening than it is talking. As a leader we have to be willing to listen to ideas, suggestions, or complaints and use them to grow ourselves, each other and our organizations.

Enable Collaboration: Ideas are made better when they are shared. This is another that doesn't happen enough in our schools. Share the good stuff. Let kids build, discover, and problem solve, together. (We should do that more as adults, too.) And share what happens. Let others take what you've done and build upon it and make it better so that can be shared with even more people. Just like before, we can learn better together.

Unlock Passion: School is real life. As Chris said, school should be preparation for real life. It should be real life. We've got to do better as leaders to help kids (and adults) unleash their passion. Kids will do incredible things, if we enable them and get out of their way. Schools should be safe and caring places for them to discover and peruse their passions.

There were so many more great points, I encourage you to head over to his slide share and check them out.

What say you? What are important leadership qualities for school leaders or just leaders in general? What do you look for in a leader? Leave some notes below.

photo credit: Wesley Fryer via photopin cc

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Twitter For Little Folks

Yep, another Twitter post.

This time, I want to focus on another popular question I get.

"If Twitter says you have to be 13 to use Twitter, how do I use it in my elementary classroom?" (See the Update below.)

Great question!

Twitter's Privacy Policy says each user has to be at least 13 in order to have a Twitter account. This is to comply with privacy laws and non-collection of data of children. So the age restriction eliminates the ability for just about every elementary student to have a Twitter account.

But there are ways you can bring the idea of Twitter into your classroom.

Recently I was traveling around to a few schools in my district looking at our 1:1 pilot. I walked into an elementary classroom and saw the image at the top of this post. Around the room I saw various sizes of pieces of paper with kids writing on them with @ symbols, what appear to be hashtags and other parts of the Twitter vernacular.

Paper Tweets.

The students posted what they were learning (in roughly 140 characters) as a way to summarize their learning after class each day. But they were also using good grammar, and learning about all the ways that Twitter works.

Each one was hashtaged so they could be organized in to different places around the room. After they were posted, kids could examine the "timeline" for other ideas on how to solve problems or to answer questions that were posted from say, the language arts lesson.

Students also have profiles around the room so they are learning about digital footprints, in that they are posting only what they are comfortable letting others know about them. And they learn about location technologies and other parts of being a good digital citizen.

Another way to use Twitter in the elementary classroom is the method I use with teachers all the time.

Twitter Search

Events are unfolding in real-time and being covered in real-time by the folks on the ground. So while students can't use Twitter accounts themselves to communicate they can follow along using Twitter search for event hashtags or key terms. Or they can display the classroom Twitter account to see what is happening in the world. History doesn't happen in books any more. So why learn about the world from something static?

What other ideas do you have to use Twitter in the Elementary classroom? Leave some comments below.

*Update-I had a few folks contact me about the Privacy Policy. Twitter does not ask for age. So it is possible to use Twitter under the age of 13 but with the consent of a parent. The ideas here could work great if you didn't want to go down that road or if it was blocked or for another reason.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Share The Knowledge With Claco

A while back I wrote about Class Connect. Founded by a pretty awesome guy, Eric (you remember, the kid who slept at AOL while coding in the middle of the night?), the goal was to provide a platform for teachers to share resources, easily, in an organized way.

Now, Eric has expanded Class Connect and changed the name to Claco. And he has created a service that could be very valuable to classroom teachers.

Teachers create free profiles and get 300mb of storage. Then they can create binders that they fill with websites, videos, files and more to organize and share.

Take a look at my friend Erin Klein as an example of what is possible.

So you can see in her Social Studies folder she has a video, a link to a website and a file she has uploaded. There is also a public link to share the items and you can post them to Twitter and Pintrest and like it on Facebook. Items can be tagged and there is even alignment to the Common Core which can be really helpful.

Also on the site you can follow other users and be notified of when they update and add new information which is really helpful if you are gathering resources on a particular topic.

The site is in beta but head over there and check it out and request an invite. Oh and check out their Twitter feed, @teamclaco for more info.