#EdcampFLX17 Top 10

Yesterday’s Edcampflx brought almost 100 educator’s from across the Western, New York area together for a morning of personalized professional development. Here are my top 10 moments from the morning:

10. New apps. Can’t wait to play more with Letrecap.com and Mentimeter.com. Both of these look like great feedback and formative assessment tools.

9. Even thought she wasn’t there in person, it was cool to know that Rachel Murat (@mrsmurat) was following us on Hootsuite, liking and retweeting our adventures.

8. A fantastic conversation with Ned Dale (@nedatthegrove) about Digital Citizenship and Leadership. I gained a lot of insight into how a school district goes about giving skills students need, and using non-traditional ways to do it.

DNzGWBzUMAASRFP

7. Coming early and doing some setup for Katie McFarland (@katiemc827). With coffee and a little tape, I got to see the goings on behind the scenes and learning about the effort it takes to get an Edcamp off the ground.

6. Conversation about Schoology. I had the chance to facilitate a session on Schoology, and I really tried to invite conversation. Many of the teachers in the room were self-described beginners, but as I listened to the work they’re doing, I wouldn’t use the word beginners. In our district, “beginners” are creating quizzes and assessments, delivering Nearpods and other online activities to students, and providing 24/7 access to their course materials. Awesome!

5. I also got to facilitate a talk on student blogging and discussions. It was a far ranging session from using Edublogs, Blogger, Schoology Discussions. But, at the heart, was a great conversation with teachers who want to give their students more choice, voice, and avenues for self-expression.

4. Working with the always positive, hard working model for technology integrators everywhere, Steve Holmes (@kylelaurie).

DNyIAzTVwAAZZmC

3. An empty session board. Oh, the possibilities…With Chromebook in hand (it would have been nice to have the new tablet model our students have in the district), I got lucky and helped to get the physical board into the digital version.

DNyHPh7UIAElPfa

2. Stepping up. As we built the session board, we had to approach a number of our teachers who came to Edcamp expecting to be a participant. Little did they know that they’d be called upon to facilitate a session. It was cool to see people move from hesitant to excited as they got the opportunity to lead a session on something that they had some knowledge about. Thanks to these folks from Canandaigua who stepped up.

1. A full session board. Oh, the possibilities.

DNyiFE8UQAIsnjO

It was my second year at EdcampFLX, and my third camp overall. Looking forward to more adventures in the future.

Advertisements

Reflection & Resources

With less than two weeks to go until my presentation on “Media Maker” at the New York State Second English Council conference (@nysec_tweets; #nysec), I’m in full revision and presentation making mode. This work has forced me back into the reading, research and inspiration that I drew on when first making the course two years ago.

This reflection and walking back through the history of my own thinking has been really powerful in reconnecting me to the core of what I hoped, and still hope, to accomplish. Mainly, student blogging provides a powerful tool for students to write to real-world audiences, and a student blog is a powerful tool for showcasing student-centered learning.

Since that time, Jennifer Casa-Todd’s (@JCasaToddSociaLeadia has made concrete for me the need to have students create positive digital identities.

As I’m rereading and surfing my digital, cyber ripcurl, several great resources have emerged:

The good folks at Edublogs, namely Ronnie Burt, Sue Waters and Kathleen Morris, put together a great post “100+ Ideas and Prompts for Student Blogging”. I’ve now got this bookmarked and will use it as a reference for when I’m looking for something fresh to throw to my students. It’s also got great tips for educators who are considering starting blogging in the classroom or creating their own blogs.

Another Edublog’s resource comes from Sue Waters, and it’s part of this year’s Student Blogging Challenge. Her post, “Let’s Learn to Comment,” helps students to have the knowledge of the form and the tools to make substantive comments on other’s writing. It got me thinking about the value in blogging for students as a means to teach how to participate in conversations, both on and off-line.

Through reexamining Troy Hick’s wikispace, I came across Bud Hunt’s “Teaching Blogging Not Blogs,” published on October 19, 2010 and found here. Go deep into his article and read the original post from 2005. Doing so will connect you with Will Richard’s comments on the value of blogs for both student and teacher.

Looking forward to sharing this thinking, and discussing these resources further at NYSEC.

Getting Smore from Your Schoology Pages

The other day I was working with a colleague who was getting Schoology courses setup for the start of the year. At Canandaigua, we’ve done away with teacher webpages, so all teachers are using the LMS as their web presence for students and parents.

In our old system, Schoolworld, my colleague had a notable website. Particularly because it was a clear reflection of her personality–lots of pictures to share  her passion for video games, like the Zelda franchise, classic rock and Harry Potter. Students and parents who went to the site not only knew the course, its materials, but also were instantly connected to this dynamic teacher.

As we were working to create a page in Schoology for parents, she lamented that the pages in Schoology were, well, boring, with little ability to liven them up with colored backgrounds, or other design features that students and parents might find visually appealing. Below you’ll see what I mean. It’s my “Parent Page” in each of my Schoology courses.


Screenshot 2017-08-30 at 8.26.08 AM
My Schoology Parent Page–Lots of Text and Not Much Else

There wasn’t much I could tell her.

Then, light blub!

At home later in the day, I started playing with Smore–a web-based flyer and newsletter designer–as part of a project to aggregate blog posts from our student and teacher bloggers into a weekly newsletter to help them build their audiences.

I happened to notice that one of the sharing tools was an embed link. I quickly copied it off the flyer I was working on, went into my Schoology resources, opened a practice page, and embedded the link.

It worked, and the Smore flyer was there on the page.

Screenshot 2017-08-30 at 11.52.16 AM
A Smore Embedded into a Schoology Page

There are some advantages to this approach as I see it.

First, there are a lot of design and layout features available in Smore that are eye-catching and visually appealing. Second, these modifications could be furthered to use Smore for personalized student playlists or assignments with lots of links. Already looking around Smore’s “Educator Hive” you can find example of teachers who have used this approach. While I’m fully committed to using Schoology as my content delivery system, I’m thinking of using Smore to help give me another option in my playbook.

While these advantages exist, there are some drawbacks. Smore is another tool to learn. Teachers who may already be overwhelmed with trying to learn a new LMS, coupled with a smattering of apps, could easily throw their hands-up at you.

Still, for tech-savy teachers looking to keep their parents and students in Schoology, and looking to spice up the look of their pages, embedding Smores into the pages provides an interesting option.

 

 

Combining Launch Cycle with the Writing Process

The writing process has always been one of the core elements of my classroom instruction. Whether teaching Regents-level classes or International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement or other college-level courses, using the ideas of Peter Elbow, Lucy Calkins and the writers the the Bard Institute of Writing and Thinking.

In the past year I’ve read A.J. Juliani’s Launch and Empower. Both books have pushed me to consider the connections between the design-thinking cycle and the writing process.

Both have much in common. They each begin in generating ideas, then developing drafts or prototypes, and moving through revision, before ultimately sharing that work with the public.

As contemporary composition research suggests that we should spend more time with students working with real-world audiences, the design thinking process puts an important focus into its process. It asks us to consider what problems we’ll attempt to solve, who we’re solving them for, and how what is being created will address the needs of that group. It’s for this reason that looking at ways we can bring this into the writing process can ultimately benefit students.

Every year, I start my English 101 class with an introductory lesson on the Writing Process. This lesson will get some tweaks by incorporating design-thinking vocabulary that my students and I will use throughout the year.

Below is my preliminary thinking about where the two processes overlap and what writing activities might be part of each part of these processes.

Power Quotations from Start. Right. Now.

After a vacation week hiatus, I returned to my 30 day sketchnote challenge. Fortunately, I did more that just sit in the sand while away, I read some really great books–both fiction and non-fiction, including a few education-related titles. One of these was Start. Right. Now. Teach and Lead for Excellence by Todd Whitaker, Jeffery Zoul and Jimmy Casas. I’ll have more to say about the book on the blog later this week, but I wanted to share a few of the many quotations that stopped me in my proverbial reading tracks.

File_000 (25)

Social Media & Digital Tools Inventory

Reaching for a sketchnote topic yesterday, I thought about the different digital tools I use, for what purposes, and how they help to connect me to other educators, their ideas and the conversations that are important to my learning:

File_001 (6)

It’s important to think about how each tool does a 1 part of the job. As educators we need a range of tools to help us accomplish our goals and enhance our own learning.

I’m interested to know what other tools teachers are using to enhance and to develop their practice.