Tuesday, November 26, 2013

So...You Are Connected. Now What?

Remember October?

No, not Halloween. (Although if you are like me might still have some of your kid's candy still in the bucket on top of the refrigerator.)

Remember, it was Connected Educators Month.

It was the time to celebrate what it meant to be a connected educator and to help other educators get connected. There were some great events, book clubs, conversations and even a Twitter chat with U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.

All in all, it was a great success.


I truly enjoy the idea of a month dedicated to connected educators, especially when it has the weight of the White House behind it. But a month really isn't enough. These are conversations that need to to happen every month, every week, every day of the year.

So where do we go from here?

Maybe you are newly connected and don't really know where to go from here. Or maybe you've been connected for a while but aren't sure what to do.

Ask yourself these 3 questions...

Why Am I Connected? Being connected is one of the most important aspects of my professional being. Not a day goes by that I don't rely on someone or something from my connections.

Being connected challenges me, everyday.

Being connected pushes me, everyday.

Being connected helps me grow, everyday.

Being a connected educator is part of me, both professionally and personally and I could not imagine myself otherwise.

So ask yourself, why are you connected?

What Can I Do To Be More Connected?  There were lots of events in October that helped you get connected, or more connected. The twice-daily emails were a great way to keep in touch with all the learning that was happening. But now the emails have ended. So how can you continue the moment and keep growing those connections?
  • Check Out The Connected Educators Month Website. Yep. There are still tons of events on the calendar and you can get hooked up with the EdConnectr and continue conversations or start new ones. 
  • Twitter Chats. I've talked a lot about Twitter chats. But seriously. Check out the Edu Twitter Chat Calendar and take part. 
  • Lurk and Learn. There is power in just lurking. Lurk on Twitter. Lurk on other educational social networks. Listen to other conversations. See what others are talking about. I bet, in a short time, you will want to jump in and provide your two cents. 
How Can I Help Someone Else To Be Connected? To put it simply, once we are connected, we should help as many others get connected too. That can be a lot of pressure. So work one just one colleague. Send them some resources you found on Classroom 2.0. Tell them about a link you saw on a Twitter chat. Help them start a blog. Nurture someone elses connected learning by helping seed their development. Don't know where to start? The resource kits on the CEM website can help.

So while it may not be October any more, we can still celebrate the connected educator and grow ourselves and those educators around us. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The @ASCD Arias-The 5 Minute Teacher

Recently ASCD released several short books that are aimed at packing a big punch in a small package. Each are less that 100 pages but have loads of quality information. Over the next few posts we will look at each one to see what they are all about. Then we will give away 1 copy of each. Sound like fun? In the first post we took a look at Fostering Grit. Then we examined Teaching With Tablets and Grading and Group Work. This time we look at The 5-Minute Teacher. 

In my first few years of teaching I always felt stress on Sundays. That was the day I sat down with all my textbooks and plan books and decided on what I would teach for the week. My classes were divided into 60 min chunks. My stress came from trying to figure out how I would fill each one of those minutes. I had units and lessons I would plan I knew would take days but I didn't have days. On the flip side I had lessons I knew would take only minutes, then what would I do with the rest of the time? 

Later on I learned different methods and strategies along the way that would help alleviate some of the stress of planning (like my adoption of formative assessments among other things.) But it took me several years and trial and error to feel comfortable. 

Enter Mark Barnes and the ASCD Arias Book The 5-Minute Teacher. 

We have just a precious few moments to engage our students in learning. Mark argues that 5 minutes can make all the difference. 

Mark says it best:

"I've learned that the hard way. It's the structure of the student-centered classroom that creates a powerful, exciting learning environment that students actually enjoy. The so called five-minute teacher-who should be nearly invisible-is part of the fun...Five minutes can be the most important part of the students' day. When students are poised to learn something new, five-minutes can prepare them for experiences that open doors and open minds. The trick is making those five minutes count."

Mark goes on to offer suggestions on making those five minutes count. Like the use of video to serve as a springboard to conversation or opening class with guiding questions that get kids thinking. He also explains the concept of being a guide on the side, being a coach rather than a teacher. As Mark points out (and I agree) when you move from teacher to coach you allow for more student direction in learning. 

There is also a great section on helping teachers develop their own Toolkit of Student Driven activities. Mark offers several suggestions for technologies and platforms that can help promote student-centered learning and engage students during and after the five minutes. 

Like the other ASCD Arias books, this was a quick and easy read, full of great ideas and suggestions to turn it up a notch in the classroom. For $6.99 for the digital edition this is a great edition to any professional library. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Newly Posted Favorite Resources 11/05/2013

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.