Category Archives: PLN

Community Engagement Project – EDTC 6104

Growing your PLN through Twitter

PLN

This summer I made a huge life choice by leaving teaching and entering the educational technology industry to continue my work with SPU School of Ed and the Digital Educational Leadership program.  I moved from Seattle to San Francisco and started working for Edmodo as the Community Growth Manager.  I believe that a piece of that is due to my time on social media and growing my professional learning network. The way I used social media made me thrive and build my support base to believe in what I was doing in the classroom and for my career.  As George Siemens states “a central tenet of most learning theories is that learning occurs inside a person. Even social constructivist views, which hold that learning is a socially enacted process, promotes the principality of the individual (and her/his physical presence – i.e. brain-based) in learning” (2005). Educators need to figure out how to utilize the tools that we have available in place on the world wide web and by doing so we can harness the global collaborative power of teachers around the world.  Teachers can use Twitter to connect with new educators, communicate what really happens on the job, create a public professional persona to help students know what it means to have self-awareness and positive online self-management.  During April, 2017 I created and ran a Global Collaborative Project that used Twitter in the classroom.  I appreciated this video to help spur my students inspiration by Ted Ed – What makes a poem … a poem? – Melissa Kovacs

Workshop Title and Description

Presentation Session “Growing your PLN with Twitter” – Educators are using Twitter to grow their professional learning network, sharing resources, and building the global educational community. I am one of the PSESD Washington Teacher Leaders for Twitter this year, and I want to share how this program and the use of

Twitter has made me a better more informed teacher. Twitter can be a way to create a strong professional social media platform for yourself to help promote what you are doing in your classroom every day.  I think this topic is important because teachers spend so much of their time alone.  We have our classrooms and our students but when it comes to honest peer-to-peer contact it takes so much time and investment.  Some teachers don’t ever make those important connections with their colleagues in their building and Twitter or other Social Learning Networks are crucial for creating new conversations with people outside of your building.

In 2015, Denise Scavitto wrote an article Teachers: Embrace Twitter for Professional Development and I appreciate the way she explains the reason behind using Twitter to grow a PLN.  “For me, Twitter is a way of consuming information targeted to my interests. Using a hashtag like #sschat connects me to topics that will interest and intrigue Social Studies teachers – from all walks of life – and all because I know what to look for. Twitter isn’t overwhelming anymore – it’s incredible. I’ve connected myself to an extensive personal learning network of educators, entrepreneurs, and innovators through a little bird – and found it the best professional development I’ve never paid for” (Edudemic).  

Learning Objective Event

My objective is to create a presentation for my session on teachers using Twitter to grow their PLN. There are 600 educators are registered for the conference total.  I am not sure if anyone has signed up for my session yet, but I am hoping to talk to around 30 teachers specifically about my topic. The conference I am CCS Powerful Learning Conference in Issaquah, WA on August 16th, 2017. I already submitted a small proposal and got it accepted in November.  I have a handout but may need to complete a couple more. The venue is the CCS Powerful Learning Conference at Issaquah High School in my old district.  I was inspired to submit a request because I went to the conference last year and I wanted to show growth by speaking at the next year’s conference.

Length

My presentation should be one hour and fifteen minutes long. That is the required length. I think it would be essential to provide blended content. I could probably make it a lot longer but this will help me limit and edit my work.  I also submitted a proposal to NCCE for their 50-minute session.  I think I can cut a lot of my material out if I could accomplish a true flipped or blended learning environment. 

Workshop/Online Elements

Common Misconceptions & FAQ

  1. The first one is that 140 characters are not enough to have a productive conversations.  But my counter to that one is imagine you are in a meeting with 20 of your closest friends in your department or staff.  How much content do you add in that 45 to 60 minute meeting?  With the addition of pictures it opens a whole other place for content. The 140 characters also limits people from venting, blabbing, and allows for constraint when we know sometimes educational meetings can run long.
  2. If you don’t have a lot of followers then there isn’t any point.  But I disagree because it is more important about how you use the platform.  To gain followers you must use the platform on a consistent basis.  
  3. Hashtags are just trendy things for young people and are not professional enough to take serious. I think that if it is for “young people” then that in itself is a reason to give it a try.  It keeps you current and it also allows you to connect with your students.  If teachers are not constantly learning then they are taking steps backwards.
  4. Twitter for communication and collaboration come with the the idea that it is only for some politicians and weird bots who spam up your feed. But I think that is another way to show to students, parents, and admin that it does not always have to be ran that way.  It can be “boring” as my students said when they found and read my twitter feed.  I said it isn’t boring to me it is what I am interested in and what I like to talk about.  

Gates Foundation (Ed.). (2014). Teachers Know Best What Educators Want from Digital Instructional Tools. Retrieved August 13, 2017, from http://www.teachersknowbest.org/survey-results/1

Morris, K. (2017, May 11). Step 2: Using Twitter to Build Your PLN. Retrieved August 13, 2017, from https://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org/pln-challenge-3-using-twitter-to-build-your-pln/

Scavitto, D. (2015, April 17). Teachers: Embrace Twitter for Professional Development. Retrieved July 14, 2017, from http://www.edudemic.com/teachers-embrace-twitter-professional-development/

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved August 13, 2017, from http://www.itdl.org/journal/jan_05/article01.htm


Growing your Professional Learning Networking – EDTC 6103 – Module 5

How can I participate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning?

Educators must be more than info experts; we must be collaborators in learning, seeking new knowledge & constantly aquiring new skills alongside our students.(National Education Technology Plan 2010)

The word networking to me as a public school educator is such a foreign concept.  An idea meant for young entrepreneurs and marketers. Even more for those who are just graduating from college in a more mainstream industry like computer science or business administration to get their names out there and have their faces seen by the “right people” because it is all about who you know and creating connections.  But as I have learned through the Digital Educational Leadership Program at SPU teachers need to get into the mindset of networking for their own benefit. I used to ask myself why/what would I need to network for because I already have a job? Or why/how would networking help me or my classroom become a better place to learn?  Networking is not just for getting a job it is also about helping new teachers coup with challenges, finding allies outside your own school, and just having someone to talk to outside of your own business bubble.  The U.S. Department of Education stated a similar sentiment in the 2010 report “online communities of practice support teachers’ learning, enabling them to ‘collaborate with their peers and leverage world-class experts to improve student learning’ and ‘extend the reach of specialized and exceptional educators”’(p. 42 – 44).

 

As Getting Smart states in their post “20 Tips for Creating a Professional Learning Network,”  Networking is essential for all professionals and  “a prime form of 21st-century learning.”  Education is becoming one massive global collaborative project where our end goal is to help the student the best way we can.  As many start their first teaching job, I was given a class roster and told to “teach” with a textbook in hand.  This was at the beginning of the Common Core movement, and SBAC was in the looming future.  Of course, we had standardized tests to guide what the students should be able to accomplish by the end of their 9th and 11th-grade year but not many more expectations other than that.  I needed help, and although my mentor was incredible, it was difficult for me to comprehend filling up 55 minutes with materials all by myself.  TeacherspayTeachers became my first ally, but that got expensive and not sustainable.  Then after a couple of years and realizing I will never know it all in teaching, I reached out to other sources. Getting Smart explains it well “as educators, we aim to be connected to advance our craft.  On another level, we hope to teach students to use networks to prepare for them for a changing job market” (2013).

timthumbI have focused mostly on Twitter for growing my Professional Learning Network (PLN), specifically working with PSESD and Corelaborate organizing and participating in Twitter chats about education for the past couple years.  I also attended the recent EdCampPSWA “Unconference” at Annie Wright to help grow my PLN, and although I have not attended a large educational conference before I feel like it would be a useful adventure.  But the reality is that since I have started growing my own PLN I have certainly felt less alone, and I know that my feelings as an educator are actually validated across the country.  Teaching can be such an isolating job because we live in our classrooms and I see 150 middle school students daily but days can go by without me interacting adults on an authentic level.  

It is important to remember all public school teachers feel isolated at some point in their careers. In Rebecca Alber’s article, she explains, “Six Ways to Avoid Feeling Isolated in the Classroom” and she specifically says “Unlike our friends and family working in the private sector, we teachers spend 98 percent of our time, not with peers, but with children and in our classrooms. So it’s easy to forget to reach out and have adult conversations during our workdays” (2012).  Her six options are all about person-to-person suggestions and I am always thinking about more online/technology ways to connect with other educators but she does mention Daniel Gilbert’s research on happiness, a Harvard psychology professor. He puts it this way: “We are by far the most social species on Earth,” explains Gilbert. “If I wanted to predict your happiness, and I could know only one thing about you, I wouldn’t want to know your gender, religion, health, or income. I’d want to know about your social network — about your friends and family and the strength of the bonds with them” (Albers, 2012)  And as the U.S. Department of Education reiterates “collaboration is an effective approach for strengthening educators’ practices and improving the systemic capacity of districts and schools—and, ultimately, improving student learning” (2010).  Without the outside collaborating I do on a daily/weekly basis online and with my SPU cohort outside of my school, I would feel lost.  One small fish in a gigantic pond with a little foothold on how to bridge these gaps and inspire my students to do better and more.

 

Resources:

Alber, R. (2012, January 09). Six Ways to Avoid Feeling Isolated in the Classroom. Retrieved May 24, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/avoid-teacher-isolation-stay-connected-rebecca-alber

Clifford, M. (2013). 20 tips for creating a professional learning network. Retrieved May 28, 2017 from http://gettingsmart.com/2013/01/20-tips-for-creating-a-professional-learning-network/

U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology. Connect and inspire: online communities of practice in education. Retrieved May 30, 2017 from https://cdn.tc-library.org/Edlab/0143_OCOP-Main-report.pdf

 


EDTC 6103 Module 5 – Professional Growth and Leadership

Engaging in Professional Growth and Leadership

Being an ELL teacher can feel isolating at times. I can’t count the times I’ve been excited about PD days only to look through available workshops and feel none of them really apply to my needs or objectives. We are a minority group of educators.  Our students come from diverse backgrounds, with the majority in the United States attending urban high poverty schools. As specialists, it’s rare to have more than one ELL teacher per building.  So how can we collaborate?

For our final blogpost this quarter, we’ve been asked to reflect on ISTE Teaching Standard #5.  The timing for this seems in sync with end of year reflections at school as well as multiple articles that are advocating for schools to revamp their delivery of professional development.  Looking closely at ISTE Standard 5a, this prompted me to question “How can teachers actively participate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning?

With technology rapidly changing the way we teach, it’s no surprise that it’s also changing the way we communicate professionally. Take for example, Miriam Clifford’s post “20 Tips for Creating a Professional Learning Network”. Clifford highlights the advantages of joining PLNs (Professional Learning Networks).  The post written in 2013, shares great examples on how to join and use technology to our advantage as tool to connect and share with others.  Prior to starting this Masters Program at SPU, I would have felt lost in the jargon used in this article and simply moved on to other resources that seemed more relevant or consistent with what I experience in my district.

With these changes however, a PLN can now also refer to Personalized Learning Networks.  Moving beyond localized collaboration in my building and district, Personalized Learning Networks prompt me to expand globally.  Beginning to look more into PLNs, I began to question, how has my understanding of professional development and collaboration changed in the past 5 years?

Five years ago, I’d say 90% of the PD I attended took place in a library, possibly with a video to watch, and time for round table discussions. Lots of poster making, sharing out, but all contributors were physically present in the room.  Then 4 years ago I participated in my first MOOC.  I remember the excitement of connecting with ELL teachers in other states and countries.  We would email responses back and forth. Presently at the building level, we still remain primarily in the library. At the district level, it’s hard to get together in person due to the sheer size of our district, distance people have to commute, method of transportation, varying school hours, and personal lives. Our district has thousands of talented educators, yet I feel limited in my knowledge of how any of them successfully integrate technology in the classroom.

Personalizing Professional Development

This year has been transformational for me in numerous ways.  I cannot overlook the power of networking and global connections.  I had considered blogging before, but didn’t know where or how to start.  This program has helped to take a leap with blogging, using Google HangOut and Twitter.  Reading Mike Patterson’s post “Tips for Transforming Educational Technology through Professional Development and Training” , I realised the problem of inadequate training and understanding is preventing amazing collaboration from occurring in my district.  He sites that 60% of teachers surveyed feel inadequate about implementing technology in the classroom.  Reading this statistic reinforces my realization that my district needs to model how to use technology and this can begin with how they deliver professional development. We need to move beyond the library and offer basic training in how to implement so many of the great strategies in Clifford’s post: Meetups, practice using online communities, tools already available through the district as well as tools popular with experts in our district.

This led to me questioning, how much input do teachers have in the delivery and content of professional development in my district?  After posing this question to several other educators in my building, the general consensus is “not much”.  So how can we change this?  Desiree Alexander recommends surveying staff with a needs assessment, similar to how we evaluate the needs of our students.  In her post, “From Blah to Aha!  Your Guide for Personalizing Professional Development”, Alexander discusses how personalized PDs can showcase educators strengths and interests.

How can schools offer personalized PD? Through technology there are so many options now available for delivery.  For example, MOOCs, webinars, Google HangOuts, creating online videos that teachers can interact with at various times, using folders like Google Drive to store PD resources.  With free online tools, I’m hopeful that my district will begin to offer a range of PD formats in future.  The slides below are examples of how personalized PD can begin with a simple survey.

Finding Learning Communities

Local Communities are perhaps the easiest to define.  It’s the grade level team, content, extra-curricular, region, or even district.  Local communities traditionally met in-person.  So how do we move beyond local and expand our community network globally?  

As I reflect on my global community partners, I’ve used Edmodo, Twitter, Facebook, Schoology, Google+, Podcasts, and joined memberships for online publications. As the only ELL teacher in my region teaching a specific curriculum, it can be daunting at times.  However, with my expanded community of educators, I feel like part of a Tribe with common goals, one of which is support student learning with access to technology.  Every week I feel I have something to contribute to my colleagues, whether it’s something I’ve witnessed first hand in the classroom, or I’ve accessed through social media or video.  Learning online helps reduce my stress and previous notions that I don’t have time for professional development.

Personal Impact from Educational Technology

Now instead of only listening to music while walking my dog, I also listen to EdTech podcasts. When I couldn’t bring an expert to my classroom, we used Google HangOut to allow my students to meet with him virtually, motivated by my new found confidence gained from this year. I find myself scrolling through my Twitter feed in the evening looking for inspirational classroom ideas. I have a new found confidence in promoting alternatives to learning, even if they’re not acted upon at this time.  I know there are great things happening out there and feel like I’m beginning to tap into a new way to both educate and learn. Perhaps the best part of this journey is that I no longer feel alone.  

Resources:

Alexander, D. (2017, May 19). ​From Blah to Aha! Your Guide for Personalizing Professional Development – EdSurge News. Retrieved May 28, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2017-05-19-from-blah-to-aha-your-guide-for-personalizing-professional-development

Clifford, M. (2013). 20 tips for creating a professional learning network. Retrieved fromhttp://gettingsmart.com/2013/01/20-tips-for-creating-a-professional-learning-network/

Currie, B. (2015, September 24). What New Teachers Need to Know About PD. Retrieved May 28, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/new-teachers-need-to-know-pd-brad-currie

EdTech K-12 Magazine. (2016, April 26). Tips for Transforming Educational Technology through Professional Development and Training. Retrieved from http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2016/04/tips-transforming-educational-technology-through-professional-development-and

Zakhareuski, A. (2016, August 22). 10 Modern Ways to Use Technology in ESL Instruction. Retrieved May 28, 2017, from http://busyteacher.org/13732-using-technology-esl-instruction-10-modern-ways.html

EDTC 6106: ISTE Coaching Standard 4b: “Creating a Culture and Conditions for Innovation and Change” in Professional Learning

ISTE Coaching Standard 4 provides three benchmarks for technology coaches to conduct needs assessments, develop technology-related professional learning programs and evaluate the impact on instructional practice and student learning. My focus is on performance indicator b: Design, develop and implement technology-rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult

EDTC 6104: Conference Proposal – Integrating Digital Citizenship: It’s Common Sense!

This quarter, for my Seattle Pacific Digital Education Leadership Master's Degree coursework, I was asked to develop a proposal for a session or workshop at a professional learning event. I was given free choice for both topic and learning event. It did not take long for me to settle on a topic:

EDTC 6104: ISTE Coaching Standard 3 e & g – Digital Age Learning Environments

ISTE Coaching Standard 3 provides seven benchmarks for creating and supporting effective digital age learning environments to maximize the learning of all students. My focus is on benchmarks e & g:

e. Troubleshoot basic software, hardware, and connectivity problems common in digital learning environments

g. Use digital

ISTE Teacher Standard 5: Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environments (Moodles) as Personal Learning Networks (PLNs)

What I understand of Moodle’s and their technology infrastructure is minimal, I have interacted mainly as a user through my participation in the Microsoft IT Academy, now known as the Microsoft Imagine Academy. The support provided to the teachers has been through the EdTech Moodle, which consists of curriculum and forums. There are other links… Continue Reading ISTE Teacher Standard 5: Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environments (Moodles) as Personal Learning Networks (PLNs)