Category Archives: Mixed Content

Why I love PD

Retrieved from cobblehillclc.wordpress.com

Retrieved from cobblehillclc.wordpress.com

Teachers in our school board have several opportunities to attend professional development throughout the school year. Some sessions occur at the school, others at the Calgary Teacher’s Convention, Calgary Regional Consortium (CRC) and various off-site venues. Regardless of when or who is sponsoring the professional development, there is something to be gained from attending these sessions well-planned sessions. Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to attend a full day French Immersion Conference. Even though this event was held on a Saturday, I was still very excited to attend as there are very few opportunities to receive professional development in French on topics that are applicable to second language teaching.

There were three speakers at this conference; two classroom teachers and a professor from the University of Alberta – all passionate and experienced with French instruction. It was invigorating learning with this diverse group of educators. Not only did I walk out of the day with several strategies and resources for teaching in French, I also felt excited and more appreciative of French instruction and the new authentic resources I can use with my students (especially the movie titles from France). I enjoyed being able to share my own experiences of teaching with technology while speaking French with other Alberta teachers. I also was able to expand my professional learning network, where ideas can be continued to be discussed and shared in the near future.

This is why I love PD! So many great benefits to being a life long learner, especially being able to improve my teaching practice. I will also be sharing some of what I have learned in the next blog post. In the meantime, please feel free to check out the updated mobile app list I have posted.

A happy teacher is a more “balanced” teacher

balance_intro

Retrieved from makingthebandwagon.com

I believe this is an appropriate time to write about the topic of balance as half a school year has just passed and some may be wondering how to get through the rest of the school year with the same enthusiasm and energy they had at the beginning of the school year. Understanding a good work/life balance is helpful in ensuring good mental health, good morale and helps prevent teacher “burnout”. No one should overdo either identity (teacher vs parent/partner), as this can be mentally draining and unhealthy in my opinion. Focusing only on your family or partner, can led to neglecting your duties as a professional, in this case a teacher. Teachers need to continue to learn (life long learning) so they may improve their practice. This would include purposeful professional development such as school led pd, teacher’s convention and unconventional pd (Twitter/edcamp/etc). On the other hand, spending all your free time learning and improving your practice can led to neglecting your love ones and yourself. You are just as important as your job. Here are some tips that help me through a year of teaching that may be of benefit for you. You may also want to check out the article: 14 steps to achieving work-life balance (Dugan, 2014).

1. Plan for both work and life activities

With good planning, it is a little easier to balance work and life commitments. I like to designate a time of day where I will work on planning, reading and marking. These tend to average out to an hour a day and an evening during the weekend. When report cards come around, I will schedule out additional time for writing, but will ensure that my children can attend their extra curricular activities and will plan a special day out/in for them to do to ensure they have quality time with me during the hectic time. I always plan some “me” time when things get tough at work to ensure I can recharge and de-stress. Planning especially helped me manage both family and grad school commitments.

2. Knowing it’s okay to break plans

Sometimes it’s necessary to break plans every now and then. Even though setting up a routine or schedule for teaching duties is very helpful, it can make life a little monotonous. If I receive a last minute invite for coffee or a movie, I am more than happy to postpone my plans for learning that week and take it up again another week. The work will get done, it’s a matter of when it needs to get done and how often you can relax and enjoy life a little. Balance is always key!

3. Be passionate in what you do

Whether it’s a family activity or for work, you should be passionate about it and you’ll enjoy it more. Follow your heart when choosing professional development to focus on a way to improve teaching, but to also enjoy the process of improving and the materials being learned. Same with life commitments, choose an activity to fulfill your heart such as running, dancing, art, etc. This will help make your heart happy, but will also give you the break you need from your work. If you have kids, don’t over schedule activities as they too need downtime as you do. Choose an activity that is fun and does not become the only thing to occur during your free time.

4. Be social

Even if you only have a few good friends or see them once in awhile, it’s important to connect with others. This allows for time to discuss issues that cause stress or provide an opportunity to “forget about work” for that brief moment. It can also be of benefit for work as well. Twitter and Edcamp are great examples of ways teachers can become more social about their learning by learning with others. Choose one way to learn with others.

5. Know your limits*

This would be the most important piece of advice. If you take on too much, regardless of all the planning and all the commitments you will be unable to fulfill all the duties that are asked of you and you may not be able to find anything for yourself. A balance between work, family and yourself is key!

The next time you feel stressed, try determining which facet of life is causing the stress and try to find more balance.


Reference:

Dugan, D. (2014). 14 steps to achieving work-life balance. Retrieved from http://www.salary.com/14-steps-to-achieving-work-life-balance/.

My End of Year Reflection on my Edtech Journey

I have had an interesting week, and to say the least, I have come to the realization that not everyone will be as enthusiastic (as people have defined me) about educational technology as I am. I understand that everyone is driven by different goals and areas to work on and may have more pressing issues to address. This is reality and something I should try not to take to heart. I often wonder or ask myself…

What should I be doing with this knowledge I am attaining?

How do I encourage/motivate others to try at least 1 new thing in edtech without scaring them away?

How do you detach your emotions when attempting to convince others to try something new and it isn’t well received?

How do you take one step back and convince yourself you are not Superwoman and to not take on the world?

How do I change the way I approach others about technology so I don’t sound too enthusiastic about what I am learning in grad school?

How do I manage to find the time to support teachers who are interested in using the Web 2.0 tools I have shared?

Where do I go from here? How do I not overwhelm myself, but continue to learn about the many Web 2.0 tools available for use in the classroom?

These are just some of the many questions I ask myself through my edtech journey. This has not been an easy journey. I know there are many educators out there who go above and beyond in many different areas of study. I am so inspired by the many educators I follow on Twitter who are very knowledgeable (even more than me!) on a variety of tech tools and pedagogy. I appreciate the support and encouragement I receive from colleagues both at school and in my grad school course. Thanks a million!

Chelsea

To Twitter or Not to Twitter?

Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 10.54.29 PMYou may have heard about Twitter through friends who use it to stay connected by sharing funny antidotes, describing what they are doing or sharing pictures, but some of you may not be aware that Twitter can also be used for educational reasons. Before beginning it will be important to understand some of the terminology used with Twitter. The Twitter help center provides an informative glossary found at https://support.twitter.com/articles/166337-the-twitter-glossary#

Here is another quick reference guide you may wish to consult:

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 9.00.58 PM

Once you have set up your own Twitter account, it would be important to start following people you care about or want to learn more about. For my fellow educators interested in knowing more about edtech or education, I encourage you to add some of the following Tweeps (Twitter accounts):

@ATA38 @TechPudding @rmbyrnes
@albertateachers @TerryHoganson @stevewclark
@AlbertaCORE @gcourous @kpegler
@Educause @AmberMazur @Chelsea_OLeary

Once you start following people, you can read and respond to their tweets. The more Tweeps you follow, the more followers you could potentially acquire, as people will often consider adding those who are following them. The other way to build your followers is to start tweeting and posting about things that matter to you in education. I have recently posted about student engagement, digital citizenship, website evaluations, top mobile apps and blogging. I also have my WordPress account linked to my Twitter account, so every time I create a new blog post, my Twitter followers can also read what I have to say.

If you want to know which hashtags or trends to follow, please read my post on Twitter hashtags (#). It will give you some good ideas on what threads to start reading and participating in to further discuss educational topics. This would be a great way to participate in professional development (PD) at home as well as collaborating with others to improve your teaching practice.

For those of you who think that Twitter has nothing to offer, I urge you to create an account, follow my suggestions and if you are still convinced after a month it’s not for you, then that’s a fair decision to quit. However, if you have never given Twitter a chance, then you don’t know what you really are missing out on.

Elementary Webpage Evaluation Sheet

This past month, I have been working through activities and worksheets that address digital citizenship and the ITC outcomes mandated by Alberta Learning. One activity that went really well with my grade 3 students is the webpage evaluation sheet we completed. To conduct this activity you’ll need to select a few webpages that vary in accuracy and information. Once you have selected your webpages, start with the evaluation of a good or average webpage. This way students can see examples of good characteristics of a webpage. The example I used with my students is http://1st-ecofriendlyplanet.com/11/time-to-decompose-garbage/ . Screen Shot 2013-05-11 at 3.31.02 PM

For our first evaluation we read through the categories together and discussed why we would put a check mark in the yes or no column. The two categories we analyzed were the format/style of the webpage (how it looks) and the content of the webpage (what we learned). After completing the two categories we answered the following questions:

What did you learn from this webpage?

Was this Website helpful (or unhelpful) in finding the information you were looking for? Please explain why…

Is there something you want to learn more about? (I wonder…)

Through this first activity we discovered that the webpage was helpful in learning about garbage decomposition. We thought it was informative and taught us something new. The facts were easy to read and well explained. Some of the questions the students asked were:

I wonder why we use glass bottles if they take 500 years to decompose?

How long would it take to decompose 70 bottles?

I wonder why we use glass bottles?

I wonder how long it takes to decompose paper, bubble wrap and cotton?

How many recyclables go into the garbage each year?

Attached is the evaluation sheet I adapted from Kathleen Schrock (http://kathyschrock.net).

Website Evaluation

If you have suggestions for other webpages to evaluate, please write your suggestion in the comment box.

EdcampYYC

I am happy to say that I have had the privilege to attend the first ever edcampYYC (Calgary) at Elboya school. For those of you who couldn’t make this PD session, it was run through facilitated discussions. Participants could choose 3 sessions of their choice and participate in meaningful discussions. The session I facilitated was on student blogging. It was nice to be able to share some of the research I have conducted this year. If you missed my session, here is an overview of the associated benefits from blogging with your students:

  • Students develop reflective and critical thinking
  • Writing becomes social through student interaction and collaboration
  • Writing becomes purposeful as students are discussing with an authentic audience
  • Blogging allows for personalization of learning
  • Blogging allows for integration of technology
  • Students develop reading, writing and language skills

Blogging
Edcamp was an engaging format that would be enjoyed by many. It’s a place to start a discussion or spark an idea and carry it on in the classroom. I am hoping another school will take on the task of hosting an Edcamp next year. I’d love to be able to attend some of the sessions I missed today. Maybe some facilitators will consider presenting at teacher’s convention next year.

Twitter and Sir Ken Robinson

I have only just recently joined the Twitter world and already I am making some great connections to other colleagues or people in my field of interest (Ed Tech). Now that I have been posting articles about Mobile Learning and have been reading other Tweets about Ed Tech, I stumbled across a huge slew of Tweets about Sir Ken Robinson (http://sirkenrobinson.com/skr/). I’m not sure if you know of him, but he was one of our Key Note Speakers at the Teacher’s Convention this year. I must admit, I did not have time to really read his bio on the Convention Website, so I really had no intentions of seeing him, until I started reading all the Tweets about him Thursday night. At that point, I had really wished I was there listening to his session. Luckily a friend mentioned that I could see him the Friday and I was thrilled. Here are some of the Tweets that inspired me to go watch his session on Friday:

“We’re all good at very different things. Communities depend on this diversity.”

“To be born at all is a miracle. So what are you going to do with it?”

“There are countless examples of narrowly focused schooling not recognizing the true talents of students”

From his session, I have come to learn that Sir Ken Robinson believes in creativity in learning. He does not believe in standardize testing, nor do I. He notes that the No Child Left Behind policy is suppose to ensure all students meet a certain standard, but in reality it “leaves millions of children behind” (Sir Ken Robinson, 2013). It creates students who lack flexibility in their learning as they spend most of their time trying to figure out a response to a PAT than trying to understand and solve the question.

I think the point that most resonated with me was when he made the following analogy : Americans are rushing towards where the puck is, instead of where it will be. They are looking at how to fix the problem now and in one perspective instead of thinking ahead about the future and where our learning should be going. I will be thinking about this as I continue through my teaching.

Robinson, K. (2013, February). Creativity & innovation.  Keynote session presented at The Calgary Teacher’s Convention. Calgary, Canada.