Content, Collaboration and Curation… Part 2

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A Curation Epiphany

As I reflect upon the last week and the start of school in the district I am privileged to be a part of, it struck me how curating has become a method of improving not only my practice but supporting other educators in theirs.  In a day and time when there is more accessible knowledge, content and practices out there it makes me wonder. Can a teacher remain effective, relevant and current in his/her practice without being connected? Even more, can a community, organization, company, etc. remain current, relevant and plan for the future without being connected? I cannot answer for others, but I know for myself, my own children, the teachers I coach and the students on the campuses that I impact, being globally competent is paramount.

To that end I address the idea of content, collaboration and curation again.  I addressed this in an earlier post “Content, Collaboration and Curation.”

First, since I last posted I have realized that there are levels of curation.  Secondly, curating ultimately is meant to facilitate learning and collaboration. Finally, if you do it well, people in your circles of influence and PLNs will bring information to you to add to the curations you have created.

In regards to levels of curation it is much like Blooms. There is knowledge level curation- it is done for remembering and understanding (the “Learner Level”). Another level is applying and analyzing- it is curated for use or been used and is a proven tool for using whether it be your tool or a tool you have discovered from your global connections via Social Media, blogs or simple internet searches (the “Facilitator Level”).  Finally, there are curations that go to the level of evaluation and creation… these are the curations that become invaluable tools to others.  It takes the most work, but the result is most thorough and the resource it provides to others can be invaluable (the “Designer Level”).

The “Learner” Level:

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On the “Learner” level… remembering and understanding, curation would be in the way of Twitter.

It is how I and all those new to a concept learn.  When I first began curating this was the level at which I curated.  I “retweeted”, emailed links for continued contemplation or bookmarked sites.  It brought me knowledge and I shared the knowledge.  It is a great way to step into curating.  Honestly, its a great place to stay.  I still curate this way; especially when I am collaborating with those that are not yet fully involved in the connectedness of social media as a means for global competency.

If you are still not connected through Twitter and want to ignite and infuse your professional development with passion refer to the earlier post in my blog “From Creeping to Curating” where I include a link of a great step by step process to Twitter from @bcurrie5 ‘s blog “Connect Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself”.

The “Facilitator” Level:

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On the “Facilitator” level of curation.. the curator begins to analyze and apply the content they have curated.  This often is where a person will truly digest the content. Often many resources about a particular topic, idea or concept will be collected and organized.  Often this content comes from PLN (Professional Learning Network) chats.  I participate in multiple chats and follow a couple of dozen hashtags (#), participate in professional networks through LinkedIn, follow amazing educators on Pinterest, and keep my eyes open for great content. Also, by reputation for my curating many in my circle of influence share content with me that I then curate. Once I latch on to the content I go through a process with information I want to assimilate for myself and/or others.  In my position as an Instructional Technology Coach I take the coaching part very seriously.  For that reason I curate not just for my personal professional development, but for my teachers, students, administrators and parents.  I take the content and analyze where it should be curated and who it should be curated for. Then I determine the best place for the content so that I can access to share and/or those that follow me can note it and utilize it.  I also try, when appropriate, to learn how I can apply what I curate so I can share with others.

At first, this may seem tedious, but over time it becomes almost automatic.  Typically over the course of an hour chat I will end up curating half a dozen ideas, links, and/or blogs into either my Flipboard, Pinterest account or ScoopIt pages.  I will have also shared with that same PLN chat content from those curations that apply to that chat.  I haven’t done this long.. maybe six months, but it is so automatic now that I may be out getting groceries, waiting in line to check out, looking at my feed, and see a great link that has been tweeted. In a matter of seconds, after reviewing the content, I will curate the link and retweet with comments on how to apply so that others can add to their learning.

The “Designer” Level:

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The “designer” level of curation is probably the most involved form of curation.  It is where you take content that you understand, apply and analyze and then evaluate and create a method of sharing the content where it has become uniquely your own content.  There are multiple methods for this to be done.  It is where you truly digest the content, assimilate it, evaluate it and then create a way to deliver the content after it has been through your filters, experiences and processes.  In many ways you are the designer.

The “designer” level is probably the most satisfying because it reflects most deeply the designers philosophies and beliefs. It carries with it a certain kind of personal stamp of approval and is purposefully crafted to collaborate and help others.  The “designer” level of curation most reflects the tenets of the mindset of #geniushour and #passionbasedlearning .

At the “designer” level I use the method of blogging.  There are several different sites out there that offer free blog accounts.  I use WordPress my 8 year old son uses Blogger (http://minecraftcreeperlovers.blogspot.com/).  To create online experiences that curate content I also, for focused educational purposes such as webquest experiences or lesson experiences, use my district’s Moodle that allows limited guest access and password access for teachers and students.   Additionally, you can create/build a website.  My 10 year old daughter created a website through www.wix.com to curate kid friendly information about Greek Mythology (website: http://embug101.wix.com/myth).

Final Thoughts:

As I continue to collect content through curation and collaborate with others the depth with which I understand curating grows.  I urge those of you that read this to start at the “Learner” level with Twitter like I did. Then start curating at the “Facilitator” level.  The “Designer” level may never be your course… that is definitely ok.  However, I do encourage all who are growing and learning as connected educators and becoming globally competent to curate in some way.

Whatever level you choose to curate, Learner, Facilitator or Designer, the key is to continue a spirit of open Collaboration.  In this world of immediate access and available content make every effort to honor the source of your curation, inspiration and/or springboard for design.  Those that do curate at a “Designer” level and in many cases are the first in their field of expertise to find a new “method” put hours into the development and design.  What a gift to learn from their genius and be gifted the time we don’t have to spend figuring it out on our own.  Protect the integrity of open collaboration and of course, share your curations!

All comments welcome.  Please let me know your thoughts and how you are curating and collaborating!

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16+ Ways for Teachers to Be Sure to Start the School Year Off Great

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The new school year is almost here! It’s hard to believe.  As we get back into the routine there are a few ideas that may help. Beginning a new school year can be exciting.  When you have a plan to get started it helps make those first few days of adjustment better for both you and your students.

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Start browsing through your curated sites (i.e. Pinterest, FlipBoard or ScoopIt), think about your classroom and curriculum, make notes and jot out diagrams of modifications to you would like to make to your curriculum and/or classroom, update your website (nobody likes reading a biography from 2 years ago). Look into participating in some Twitter chats (Jerry Blumengarten has an inexhaustible list of PLNs based on the topic or content of your choosing complete with description and times when the group meets for a live chat on his website: http://edupln.ning.com/groups . Don’t forget to follow him @cybraryman1). Update your accounts (i.e. descriptions and pictures) and make sure you have the correct logins. Look for new ideas and share your successes with your PLN. 
  2.  Clean the house, stock the pantry, cook and freeze some meals (Pinterest has some great recipes or stock up on Sam’s or Costco meals), mow the yard and work in the garden, and make sure the laundry basket is empty. This way when you come home from school exhausted those first few days, you won’t be concerned with domestic chores.
  3. Have a ME day. Make an appointment at the spa, get your nails done, play a round of golf or shop until you drop. Just take some TLC time for yourself before the school year starts.
  4. Eliminate last year’s baggage. Last year is behind you so get over it and proceed on with the new school year. If you have legitimate concerns, make an appointment with your administrators and address it with solutions rather than complaints. 
  5. Return from your trips at least 2-3 days before the school year starts. This will give you a few days to relax and get ready for the adventures of a new year.
  6. Pull out your positive attitude and smile. If you have put the positive vibes and attitude away for the summer get them out and practice smiling and enjoying life a few weeks before school starts.
  7. Keep exercising. If you don’t exercise start a program. Take a walk, ride a bike, jog, join a Latin dance class or get involved with an activity that gets your heart rate up. Begin with a simple plan and incorporate it into your daily schedule.  If you have troubles sticking with an exercise regimen grab a partner to hold you accountable. Adding this component to your life will make you feel better, give you more energy, help decrease stress and encourage you with a sense of accomplishment
  8. Start getting up at your regular work time at least a week before school starts.  Practice timing how long it takes you to get ready so that you know exactly the time it takes and don’t feel rushed the first day back. Also, getting back into your routine won’t be such a shock to your body.
  9. Evaluate last year’s “try its” and delivered instruction.  Make changes where necessary; eliminate things that didn’t work, and enhance something to make it awesome.
  10. If you don’t already have a professional mentor set a goal to find one and quickly.  Rely on them for advice and or suggestions.  This will empower you as a teacher/leader to others outside your classroom walls allowing you to be a true facilitator of learning and helping ALL students in your path directly or indirectly. 
  11. Start planning for ways to continue a growth mindset. Look for some virtual PD opportunities and/or book study with other teachers on your campus or through Twitter or Google Hangouts.
  12. Step back and evaluate the atmosphere of your classroom, your team and your campus.  Come up with a plan to jazz up your classroom, your team’s PLC meeting spot and help to rejuvenate a “dead spot” in your hall or building.  Sometimes freshness in the environment may create freshness in ideas.
  13. Remember a happy healthy teacher is essential for positive productive students. (I take a daily vitamin and bump up my immune system during the flu season with Airborne.)  When flu shots come available get yours… I am fortunate to be in a district that provides the flu shot to all employees.
  14. Think proactive rather than reactive.  
  15. Try to meet all the new teachers to your campus. Especially welcome the new ones that are on your team or hall. I like to bring them a soda, homemade banana bread or offer to help for a couple of hours in their room to get things together.  I want them to know how awesome the place is they have come to work and embrace the culture/environment.  The sooner they feel like family the happier they are.  The happier they are the happier their students are.
  16. Stock up on some healthy snacks.  You may not have a relaxing lunch period for some days to come. I like to have dried fruit and nut trail mixes, popcorn, and protein bars nearby along with a decent sized stash of water bottles and drink enhancers like Mio.  This helps stave off the desire to hit the vending machines in the lounge and fill up on unhealthy snacks and sodas.

 

***This list was inspired and somewhat “pirated” from my friend and colleague Sue Fitzgerald who writes the blog “The Unpretentious Librarian” you can find her original post here: http://unpretentiouslibrarian.blogspot.com/2013/08/tips-to-start-new-school-year.html

Please add to the list below!

Why do you flip?

The last few weeks I have been sharpening my proverbial “technology” sword. Before I started my new role as an Instructional Technology Coach I had a long list of technology “try its.”

One thing about my style of teaching is that it is throrough, purposeful, targeted and intentional. That was also true about the way I approach technology integration. In every situation my filter for a quality learning experience considers the “eyes” of the student and the “ears” of the parent who hears about the learning either that day or in the passing days when the assessed learning makes its journey home… sometimes to the trash can and other times to the refrigerator door. And much like the work that is affixed to the refrigerator door, I want the learning to stick.

The big item on my list of “try its” were to begin flipping my classroom as an intentional, purposeful and regular part of the instruction and learning in my classroom. While my job has shifted that goal, I still think about the “anchor” lessons in the continuity of learning that students will come back to time and time again, and the parents and/or student support network that desires to support that learning. To that end I started thinking about those universal “anchor” lessons that a student would revisit time and time again and a parent would reference. After all, the concept of flipping by founder Salman Khan of the Khan Academy, began when he started remotely tutoring his cousin, Nadia, by sending short clips to help her with “unit conversion.”

So in this entry I am contribuiting a brief but essential lesson on how to select a “just right” book. The audience is intended for students grades 2-4 and parents who are helping any child select a book for their independent reading pleasure.

Picking a Just Right Book

I am not sure what my next anchor “flip” lesson will be, but I do know I will be looking through the lens of universal “anchor” points of learning, teacher need, student success and parent involvement.

Please comment below and if you have suggestions for other “anchor” lessons, please suggest!

On another note… I plan to revisit the discussion of “Content, Curation and Collaboration.” My head is FULL of ideas so stay tuned!