Restoration of my Blog…

blog about starting again prof blogSince moving from a Instructional Technology Specialist to a campus based instructional coach and now an Elementary Assistant Principal, I have struggled with writing blog posts. It isn’t so much about the content, but where the ideas come for the content.

In my current position, and the last position as a campus based instructional coach, building trust with the educators on my campus as well as parents and students is critical. It is in those very relationships and experiences that ideas and stories result that would inspire by blog posts. Hence my conflict. I am concerned that in my efforts to share the stories and experiences through blog posts I could compromise the trust that these relationships are built upon. So, the last few years I have often opted not to write.

However, writing is how I process and reflect. It’s where the greatest ideas happen and the fine tuning of my own practices benefit. Knowing this need and conflict, I become paralyzed. I am actively working to figure out how to move forward, write, reflect and restore my blog process.

For those of you that have followed me and been patient with me in the interim, I thank you. For those just now joining my blog journey, I am trying an approach that will keep me consistent. It will be simple, short and perhaps a little unrefined.

Our campus has been working as a group of educators to be transparent in our work as we move toward authentic collective efficacy, and I would not be living by the expectations of our campus if I did not demonstrate that same transparency in my own work.

Share your thoughts, reflections and ideas on how you transparently share stories and reflections in your experiences, while protecting the relationships/trust built in your community of educators.

 

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My Edublog Awards #eddies14 Nominations

edublog_awards_300x300_v2As this year comes to a close and I think about my growth as an educational and personal blogger (thanks to #blogamonth), it seems only appropriate to promote the Edublog Awards #eddies14 and post and promote those who I have nominated.

To nominate your own blog favorites go click here and fill out the form.  The deadline is November 24th.

After that the opportunity to vote for the #eddies14 will follow soon.

My nominations are as follows:

Best individual blog: http://thrasymakos.wordpress.com/

Best group blog: http://makinginstructionaltechnologyclick.blogspot.com/

Best new blog: http://robthornell.blogspot.com/

Best student blog: http://sarcasticsocrates.wordpress.com/

Best Ed Tech/ Research Sharing blog: http://toolsthatmakeitclick.blogspot.com/

Best Teacher blog: http://www.coolcatteacher.com/bio/

Best Library/ Librarian blog: http://unpretentiouslibrarian.blogspot.com/

Best Administrator blog: http://georgecouros.ca/blog/

Best Blog Post: The Vulnerability of the Web by George Couros

Best Tweeter: @JoyKirr (https://twitter.com/JoyKirr)

Best Hashtag/Twitter chat: #txeduchat

Best Free Web Tool: https://tackk.com/

Best Educational Wiki: http://blogamonth.weebly.com/

Best Unconference: https://sites.google.com/a/nisdtx.org/edcamp-nov8/

Best Educational Use of Social Media: @SkypeClassroom

Best Mobile App: Voxer

Lifetime Achievement Award: Mark Barnes @markbarnes19

There are so many that I could nominate for these areas.  Please consider nominating these individuals or other individuals for the #eddies14.  This award honors all of the hard work and global collaboration that continues to push education forward and support the idea of true professional learning.

Comments are not required but appreciated!

Anyone Can Do a Training, No One Can Tell Your Stories…

TechnoPalooza

 

In the last two days of July my district hosted an amazing Professional Learning Event called #TechnoPalooza 2014.  There were amazing presentations by myself and others both within my district and outside of my district.

As I moved on from those two days and reflected on the learning, connecting, and collaboration that took place, one thing rose to the surface.  In every situation where an individual’s learning was impacted, it was through a story or stories shared.

I heard feedback about my colleagues presentations as well as my own presentations, and each conversation started with… “I loved the story you told about….” or “I appreciated the story you told how you reached a student through… I related to that.”

Recently, Hayley Sample, a 4th grade English Language Arts Teacher that I work closely with as her Instructional Technology Coach, shared how she completely redefined storytelling and publishing  through the use of Google Forms, Showbie and the BookCreator app that was featured on my Instructional Team’s Blog “Making IT Click“.  Her story was so powerful that her story was re-blogged by the creators of the BookCreator app on their blog site.  As I write this, Showbie is discussing with Hayley the possibility of  re-blogging here story as well.  She was also a presenter on this topic at TechnoPalooza… what resonated with participants?  It was the power of her story, the learning experience and the impact it had on the  students in her classroom and beyond.

As I thought about the presentations and workshops I have led this summer, I have come to realize that the stories we tell of personal struggles, triumphs and transformation as we share the skills are what truly encourage others to try the techniques, tools and ideas we offer.  I am mid-way through the book “ROLE Reversal” by Mark Barnes and it’s the stories he shares through out, but especially in chapter 5 (Moving from Grades  to Feedback) and chapter 6 (Evaluating while Evolving), that fire me up to transform classrooms to a Results Only Learning Environment.

As I think about the transformation and growth in my own professional learning, it has never been because of a profoundly skill driven course I have taken that has pushed me forward, but rather, the stories of passion, heart (and heartache), and difference made.

I have included the presentations I gave at #TechnoPalooza below.  However, without the context of the stories I tell, they seem somewhat empty to me.  I share them without reservation, as I know, anyone can use my presentation, but no one can tell the same stories… those are  uniquely mine and those I share my learning journey with.

 

Presentation on “Curation for the 21st Century”

Curation Palooza

and “Genius Hour.”

image of GH site

I also had the privilege of co-presenting with Library Media Specialist, Sue Fitzgerald (Blog: The Unpretentious Librarian).

We shared with participants…

“Letting a Tech Club Find You”

Tech Club palooza presentation

“Blogging as a Reflective Educator”

Reflective educator palooza

and “Blogging by Choice”

Blogging by Choice palooza

No matter what  expertise you bring to the table in whatever environment, your stories are what make your wisdom and ideas palatable to others.  Anyone can present the tool or technique, but only you can share the stories.  Share your stories… the world is waiting for your unique perspective that may be just the story that pushes that person to transform their own  learning and the learning environment of their classroom, campus, district, etc.

 

Reshaping what we do…

I had plans this summer.

Plans to read the following professional books:

summer prof reading

Plans to catch up on my personal reading for enjoyment:

photo.PNG personal reads

 

 

I had plans to participate in all my usual Twitter chats.

I had plans to post multiple entries to my blog.

Then I had an amazing week.

I presented Genius Hour to four different audiences.  That, all by itself, was incredible.  On top of that, my #geniushour PLN noticed the extra follows and chatter for Genius Hour and in true PLN form tweeted out their support and encouragement.

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When I wasn’t presenting at both Texas ASCD #ignite14 and Coppell ISD’s #iDesign14 I attended other sessions including #twilebrity Jimmy Casas’ (@casas_jimmy) session on Twitter and Canadian #twilebrity George Couros’ (@gcouros) keynote address and session on blogging.

At first I was going to add to my original summer reading plans.  I wanted to add “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell and “Making Thinking Visible” by Ron Ritchart to my already big pile of summer professional reading.

In Jimmy’s session, I was inspired to work more on my “branding” and begin formulating a way to utilize social media with the campuses I support to build a dynamic interactive community that moves beyond the school.

To say the least, my head was starting to spin, and I was beginning to wonder, while all this is good, was my wanting to do so much going to turn out as an epic fail? Is this enthusiasm for more plans going to create an effective result where I had gone a mile wide and inch deep in my learning and not the other way around?

I think the hardest thing about loving learning and working with kids is the human need for sleep.  I have so much I want to do and yet I require a certain amount of sleep.  So as I contemplated this dilemma on my last day of the week’s professional learning events, I walked into George Couros’ (@gcouros) keynote.  I love his compelling argument for a connected world, and what I began to realize was what I valued most about this week were the connections that I made both face to face and through Twitter… not the original plans that I made. I also realized that this life of learning that I love, can take over your life if you let it, and yet there is nothing powerful to be shared if you don’t capture meaningful moments of life and share with others.

As the keynote wrapped up,  I was torn between trying to find a corner of solitude to reflect and joining George’s session on “Blogging as a Professional Portfolio.”  I reasoned that there would be time to reflect later and opted to attend George’s session.

He shared very clearly why a blog serves a very clear and real purpose to show who you are as an educator and, even more, connects you with the world in a very intimate and human way.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the lecture hall when George shared his most recent and very personal blog post about the loss of his dog.

In this moment his very professional and personal blog challenged everything I had thought a blog and portfolio should be.

Another plan added to the list.

Then I went back to the epiphany I had during the keynote.

I realized…

I am not going to be doing all I originally planned to do.

In a way I am doing what we, as instructional engineers, do every day with resources and planning for focused student learning.  We have tons of resources, but its important for us to use the ones that are just right for the learners, learning target and the desired outcome.

I have tons of learning opportunities and multiple directions I could go with the plans I had made and the added ideas I gathered this week.  However, would going full ahead without a reassessment of the situation be the best for me and for those that I would share with through this blog and through Twitter? Secondly, would this allow me to go into the depth this week revealed I desperately needed?

My first response was to start completely over with everything, reading lists, branding, blog, portfolio and family planned events.

I even tweeted about tossing this blog and starting over.

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3

This conversation led to the following…

1.  I will read books that support my passion for student driven learning that helps me to further the philosophy of Genius Hour in classrooms and develops a deeper understanding of Results Only Learning Environment (See ROLE Reversal Observed post).  I am giving myself permission to not get every professional book read on my list.

2.  I will be more intentional about capturing the moments around me in ways that let those around me know me on a more personal level and, in turn, I want to get to know those in my PLN and beyond on a more personal level.

3.  I will allow my blog to be a work in progress (organizing and categorizing for my audience) and begin to create a more dynamic platform that will provide a place for my continued reflections as an educator and person, but also showcase how my personal self and professional self intersect as a life-long learner and leader.

4.  I will be fully present for my family, friends and community.  I love my Twitter… but I must step back.

So I am in a state of “reshaping.” I am not throwing out the body of work that I began, but taking it and working it into something that better reflects me.  A “reshaping” that honestly and transparently connects with the world that has embraced me.

So pardon the mess and moving around that will occur on my blog as I work to “reshape” it.

Don’t hold me to the original list of books.  I do plan to read “Drive”by Daniel Pink and will do the “ROLE Reversal” by Mark Barnes Twitter Book Chat end of July.

Becoming more personal with  my professional learning community is probably my greatest challenge.  I am not naturally an open person, and sharing for the world intimidates me.  But I will do it.  I will JUMP!

My family will be only too happy to see my step back from Twitter… however Twitter may need to steady itself for the inundation of family related Tweets. You have been warned!

My First Loves...

Will you be “reshaping ” plans you made this summer for learning? How are you approaching your”reshaping?”

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:

ImageImage

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!