Why is Organizing Our Thinking Important?

john-f-kennedy-jfk-quotes-11

I am the main organizer of our district instructional technology Twitter chat #nisdNOV8.  This fall we made a purposeful move into a series approach to our chats.  In November we focused on #voiceNchoice for a 3 part series.

In December we focused on the concept of “Organizing Our Thinking” for 3 of our chats.

keep calm and curate

The first chat focused on curation. We discussed not just collecting online resources, but organizing them, sharing with others, reflecting and evaluating.  What I have realized in my learning and experience with curation is that it is necessary in the digital world we live.  So many times ideas come to us when we are not ready to act on them, yet they are important.  We have also learned when we try to retrieve those ideas when we are ready, we cannot always relocate them unless we curate them.  I had a very good conversation with an amazing and vibrant teacher.  She had been very active on Twitter, but lately had not been present.  As we talked I realized she was in information overload. She loved the ideas that were shared on Twitter and wanted to act on them immediately. However, it was causing her to spin around like a Tasmanian devil and not truly do things as well as she would like… in came the skill of curation. Now she participates in Twitter with the abandon she is used to, but with a plan. She favorites resources and ideas as the discussion occurs, then curates the resource links into a site like Scoop.it or Pinterest, and takes action on items that are relevant for her in this moment. (To learn more about this discussion on Curation go to the Archived Chat.)

THINKING_MAPS

The second chat focused on the way in which teachers and students organize their thinking and capture learning through Thinking Maps.  During this chat teachers and administrators shared how they use Thinking Maps for anchor charts, note-taking, planning professional development and organizing instruction. More importantly the discussion emphasized how at every level we need to be transparent in how we use Thinking Maps in every way for content, planning and student work so that we can learn through and with each other. (To learn more about this discussion on Thinking Maps go to the Archived Chat.)

Julie Adams book cover

Finally, in the last chat in the “Organizing Your Thinking” series we had the privilege of having Julie Adams, author and Professional Development consultant/presenter expertly lead a discussion on Note-taking. Her insight and questions pushed us to reflect on how note-taking is addressed.  It was apparent of how essential the skill of note-taking is (Marzano says it is the top 9 skills for a learner to master) for students. Many teachers remarked in the chat how it was a skill lost on them and needed when they went to college… having to learn for survival. The discussion inspired me to revisit my note-taking skills and become familiar with Cornell Note-taking. My hope is to learn this skill to the point of mastery and then integrate technology in such a way that I can support both teachers and students in a fundamental, yet trans-formative way. (To learn more about this discussion on Note-taking go to the Archived Chat.)

eye of the future

This series was exciting for me and my colleagues. The discussions and transparency was incredible. The urgency to take the ideas and practices palatable. Our Students take in more information in a day than our parents and grand parents filtered through in 10 years. They must be able to organize, prioritize, annotate, share and reflect. How are you purposefully teaching these skills that prepare our students for success in learning and with their future?

Content, Collaboration and Curation…

Social media has moved from truly a “social venue” to a way that educators, parents and professionals learn, collaborate, share and ultimately gather (curate) information.  Those who have made that “mindshift” from “social” to “learning” know that with a 140 character tweet, post or search for a “pin” on their topic they are a little closer to a personal level of expertise than before they engaged in social media.

So the next question, once you have the information you searched for or just came across in your “lurking,” is what do you do with this information once you have it so you can come back to it, share it, or even add to it?

That is where curation comes into play.  I have my favorites and a few tips. Here are the ones I am most familiar:
Pinterest logo

Pinterest is probably the best reflection of who I am in all areas of my life. I curate specifically for other purposes with other venues that I will mention below, but Pinterest is where I collect for all areas of my life. Pinterest is also a great place for a single image idea or curation by specific topic. Sharing with this is as open or closed as you choose. You can have secret boards (a friend of mine had one when she was planning her wedding) that you only invite a few people to share, or it can be open. The other great thing about Pinterest is that, like me, many people curate their life. While I may love a fellow curators boards on organization, I may not share their interest with water sports. I can choose to only follow certain boards to keep my follows focused to what interest me.
I am still learning how to share out with others and Pinterest has really updated this in the last few months, but I don’t like to post every Pin to Twitter or Facebook… that tends to annoy my Twitter followers and Facebook friends. I have noticed that a good “housecleaning” or “reorganizing” of your boards or reposting is a unobtrusive way to share/collaborate. I recently did this and the reposting of my posts I had reorganized/reposted was epic.

Scoopit Logo
Scoop.it was introduced to me through a PLN chat #nisdNOV8 moderated by our District’s Instructional Technology team. It was my answer on how to keep track of all the great information I was collecting/learning on Twitter but was struggling to absorb the vast amount of information I was coming into contact with and wanting to be able to digest with more depth. Not to mention, once I determined the information as beneficial to my learning, I needed a way to turn around and share. Scoop.it was that answer. I will warn you it is addictive and you can have up to 5 Scoop.it boards for free, but then you must pay for more. My need to be micro-organized could not be accomplished in 5, so I pay $6.99 a month for an education account to be able to have up to 20 boards. Currently I am utilizing it for scoops that are related to educational technology and the sub-topics that relate to the vastly growing and necessary componenet of technology in education. I have found that the ability to share the entire board, a single scoop and the suggestions for scoops it provides me helps enhance the content I am already curating from my PLNs on Twitter. I also like this method of curation as it has the opportunity for people to follow each individual board, make suggestions and respond to each individual scoop.

Flipboard logo

Flipboard is my most recent curation exploration. I am truly using this application for more lengthy text/online magazines and for educational topics such as leadership development, collaboration, curriculum design and classroom approaches from a practice and philosophy essential for effectiveness. I still struggle with “flipping” content I find outside of what Flipboard “hosts” but am finding ways to import.

Of course there are a ton of other options when curating. My former principal successfully utilizes
paperli logo

I have dabbled in the utilization of
Youtube pic

No matter the medium used, there are a few things I suggest you ask yourself:
1) Will your curation make sense to others with whom you share?
2) What is the purpose of your curation?
3) How will you orgainize it for ease of curation and those that will be hopefully benefitting from your curation?
4) How will you determine an item appropriate for curation? Will you read it all the way through? Do you consider the reliability of the original source?
5) How will your curations reflect you as a person and professional?

Above all, share your learning… Tweet it, email it, Pin it or Facebook it. You benefitted in some way enough you felt it worthy to curate. Of course, honor the author or the origin of the curation, but then “Pass it on!”

Please feel free to comment on this blog other ways to curate as well as comment if any of the ways mentioned are beneficial to you as well. Look for additional blog posts about other methods for curation in the future… guest bloggers are welcome!!!!

Learning “Twitter-ese”: Spreading the Twitter Message

Twitter 101
August 2012 I created my Twitter “handle” at a leadership academy for our district. I didn’t look at it for months other than to check up on my sports news (I am a closet sports fanatic… no one would know it with my blingy jewelry and fake nails and pedicure :)). Beyond that I really didn’t see a purpose until January of this year. I am not sure what it was, but I was sitting in a Starbucks waiting for my own child to get out of practice and I started lurking on Twitter. Somehow I came across some pretty amazing Twtter-ers like Brad Currie @bcurrie5 and Tom Murray @thomascmurray. Next thing I know I am actively participating in 5 to 7 PLNs a week and am part of a book club for the book “Teach LIke a Pirate” by Dave Burgess @burgessdave moderated by Chris Kessler @iamkesler.
I may need an intervention, but Twitter changed my professional life. I love teaching. Twitter was the fuel that reignited my passion…not that I wasn’t intense, but reminded me how to love everything I do despite the things I dislike.
Like any great thing I find… I had to share it. So I did with my Principal, and anyone else who would listen. I hooked my principal. She was so excited that within weeks she asked me to facilitate a “How to” on Twitter. I think this is humorous, as I would NOT call anyone who actively started Tweeting in January an expert, but I am beginning to learn that an expert is just someone who is accessing the information at a faster rate than anyone else in that current environment. Thus, I am now dubbed the “Twitter Queen” (I have the crown to prove it:)). Above is a VERY basic quick powerpoint I threw together in about 15 minutes to help my fellow colleagues on my campus get started. It has some suggestions who to follow and PLNs to either lurk/creep or participate.

Challenge: If you Tweet and love it, spread the message (you are free to use the powerpoint if you like).
If you don’t Tweet and consider yourself a learner, follow my powerpoint and get connected… you won’t regret it.

I am still learning. I truly am not all-knowing when it comes to Twitter, but I am glad I didn’t delay any longer. Speaking “Twitter-ese” has transformed my world, raised the depth of collaboration with my campus colleagues, connected me professionally with amazing educators all over the world and made my students environment richer and more exciting. What are you waiting for?

Follow me on Twitter @teachkiwi

Students Creating their own Fable through Toontastic

>Slide describing Writing Fable
If you followed my last post you know that my students have been studying theme through a variety of genres. The most explicit example of theme occurs in our traditional literature examples and especially in the area of fables as one specific example of traditional literature genre.
After utilizing Scholastic’s January 2013 publication of “Storyworks” biography “Bethany Hamilton is not Afraid of Sharks” and then discussing the similar themes between it and the intentionally paired fable “The Donkey and the Farmer” we identified the big idea… Challenges. Then after talking about the about Ben Affleck’s quote from his Oscar acceptance speech “When life knocks you down, which it will, get back up.” We determined as a class that would be a good theme to create our own fables.

Through class discussion and the guidance of a slide show I found on Pinterest on how to write a fable we broke down the different elements that comprise a fable.

How to Write a Fable pic

Click here: http://pinterest.com/pin/183732859770067392/

To help them plan I created a plan map for crafting their fables. It looks much like a plot map but this was not to break apart a story, but to create one which I could not locate. This is my creation, so please be an #ideabandit, but credit my originality… it doesn’t come around often! 🙂

Fable Writing Plan</a

After conferencing with each student over the course of two days as they completed their plans or mid-plan as needed, students drafted and met with response partners to get feedback and make revisions.

Finally it was time for publishing. We utilized the free version of the app “Toontastic.”
toontastic app pic
http://launchpadtoys.com/toontastic/

Students created their fables placing the elements of their fable in the appropriate places on the story arc provided with the app as well as selecting music appropriate to the mood of the story (available through the app).
Toontastic story arc example pic

I am also including a rubric that was used for this activity. This was our first experience using Toontastic and writing fables so the rubric is somewhat forgiving and may need “tweaking” for repeated lessons with this experience or grades beyond third grade. Students seemed to have the most challenges with integrating the moral/theme with the story. Their fables were well crafted but often the lesson they intended to teach was missing in the fable they crafted. Something that is not altogether surprising considering their age and ability to connect abstract ideas through a concrete representation.
toontastic fable rubric

It was a great experience for everyone. Students were so excited with their creation that when it was part of our Open House it was all the students and parents could talk about, I even had visitors from other classrooms to check out the excitement. It also created an atmosphere for sharing and learning about how technology is enhancing the learning of students in my classroom with my parents that was unprecedented. For the first time in my educational career parents were grabbing scrap paper from their wallets and purses. or taking notes on their own smart phone devices to record all the ways they could continue to support the technology that was impacting their own child’s learning in the classroom at home. Connected learning was on fire. The kids were experts, the parents were invested and hooked by the relevance, and this teacher was overjoyed to be along for the ride.