Communicating and Commenting

September 25, 2011 at 7:00 am | Posted in 21st Century, Collaboration, Literacy, Shift | Leave a comment

By definition, comment can be defined as “A statement of fact or opinion, especially a remark that expresses a personal reaction or attitude.”

The ability to comment well, whether face to face or in writing is a basic, daily communication skill we can always reflect on and improve. During our literacy practice we work to communicate well through explicit lessons and modeling and in student-to-student reading and writing conferences. As in any classroom, there is a need for ongoing discussion to resolve hurt feelings and slights and to stop and talk about what led up to an incident and how each party contributed to events. In the words of Cool Hand Luke, the problem is usually “failure to communicate.”

During our upcoming global collaboration, Read Across the Globe, we will go outside our classroom and campus to strengthen our literacy and communication skills. Using Edmodo to communicate, students from the US, China, Canada and Prague will work in groups to discuss a self-selected topic and share what they learn about how our geography, climate, religion and customs shape our daily lives. I plan to open the discussion of online, collaborative commenting with an awesome video made by Linda Yollis’ students in California on how to compose quality comments. Actually, the tips in Mrs Yollis’ video are applicable to any written or oral communication.

In two weeks we will greet our new friends using Edmodo and students will be ready to do this based on their experiences in literacy, through interaction during the school day, and from commenting on each other’s writing on our class blog. As I’ve seen in past global class collaborations, sharing with others outside our classroom increases my students’ motivation and efforts to listen and comment more clearly. This experience is an important piece of our literacy and interpersonal daily practice as well as providing an added, relevant opportunity to explore topics related to content area study.

The power of an authentic, global audience

May 14, 2011 at 10:47 am | Posted in 21st Century, Collaboration, Global Collaboration, Shift, Tech Integration | 1 Comment
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I’ll start with my inspiration for this post, a comment about From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg from one of my grade 3 students:

“Hi Peter.it’s Cole.My favorite character is also Claudia but my favorite part is when they go to the Egyptian exhibit because James asks the tour guide how much did it cost to be a mummy.And after the tour guide tells him her answer Claudia scolds him for drawing attention to himself and she wants to go away but then she sees the next exhibit with all that golden jewelery that also had jewels.I liked the part when Jamie described his sister “as still as the statue of the cat that she was standing next to.”That made me laugh a tiny bit but I still did laugh.I also liked the part when Jamie was trying to make Claudia bored so they could go back to their house so he chose the Italian Renaissance because it sounded important and boring but going their just made his chances of going back home even worse by a lot because his sister saw a statue of such beauty that she wouldn’t leave without knowing who made it but that was something that even baffled the experts.It was something nobody knew but it was also something that lots and lots and lots and lots of people were trying to find out!Any way I think I’m like Claudia because I like mysteries and she likes mysteries.”

And another comment about Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle:

“What I really like is the boy is treating the mouse in a nice way and he lets the mouse out of the trash can and lets him ride the motor bike and he goes really fast as fast as I can ride my bike at full speed and the boy tells the mouse to hold his tale so it does not get stuck in the wheel because it got to hurt if your tale gets stuck in a wheel.”

There were many other comments that showed my students’ thinking and writing about the books they were reading at a higher level than I had seen all year. Here is the story behind one of my best Fridays ever in school- and it was Friday the 13th as well!

Matt McGuire, a teacher in Fredericton, NB, Canada, and I have been collaborating on and off this year. We talked on skype last month throwing around ideas for a simple, end of year collaborative activity and the idea of book group discussions came up. I had used Edmodo last fall for participation in the A Week in the Life elementary pilot Flat Classroom Project and we thought that would be a good place for our students to discuss books together. Edmodo is a closed environment for students to have discussions and submit assignments assigned by the teacher. It’s free, students can be placed in groups and students don’t need an email address to establish an account.

We then compared book titles we had multiple copies of and found a few matching titles and put students into groups based on the book they would be reading. During the first week I shared the idea with Heather in Beijing, a colleague from A Week in the Life and our current online Flat Classroom certified teacher course. She was ready to jump in and found a few copies of each book for her students. We now had “reading groups” of students in Beijing, Canada and Prague.

Starting a little before Matt and Heather, I tried out the assignment feature in Edmodo and gave my students reading assignments based on the first few chapters while also meeting face to face in groups in the classroom. But on Friday morning I announced that they had students from Mr McGuire’s class in Canada and Ms Davis’s class in Beijing and a new discussion prompt to respond to in their group in Edmodo. The room was silent as they read and responded to the prompt. A few students also added comments welcoming the other students to their Edmodo group. At the end of our reading time I started to read their comments and was grinning from ear to ear. Nearly every student wrote reflections from the heart that showed deeper thinking than I had previously seen.

Matt and Heather said they were seeing the same thing in their classrooms. I also shared with our Principal and she was impressed with their comments as well. When she asked one student about the experience later that day, asking how this experience is helping her learning, Nicole replied that she shares ideas with other kids not just in our class and that will give her more ideas. I also told my students after reading many posts how impressed I was with what they shared and asked why sharing in this environment promoted deeper reflection and more thoughtful writing. They said that they liked writing on the laptops more than on stickies and on paper and that having other kids read what they wrote made them more careful and want to share more. There was also an appreciation for Spellcheck expressed.

This is not a grand project or idea. The online sharing environment provides students with a larger audience and more opportunity to share- there is simply not enough time in the school day for everyone to share every day with their book group, and then they are limited to me and the other students in their group as an audience. I also love it because I’m building friendships with Matt and Heather- they inspire me and I can see our collaboration growing in the future as well. Matt and Heather have also added groups to the mix based on other books their students are interested in- books my students are already interested in. I can see this evolving to a more fluid, book-sharing environment that we can start on the first day of school next year based on what we are doing right now.

Reflections from Prague

February 23, 2011 at 11:47 am | Posted in 21st Century, Collaboration, Digital Citizenship, Global Collaboration, Learning is Messy, Project-based Learning | Leave a comment

I would like to reflect on my experience contributing to A Week in the Life, the Flat Classroom elementary pilot project. My students and I found the experience engaging and rewarding as seen in their comments on a previous post. My conclusions about our experience are mainly based on my students’ comments, but I have also reflected on my role as educator related to organization and implementation. Comments below in quotations are from my students.

We don’t often take time for self-reflection regarding the day-to-day aspects of our lives and there were many discussions that arose during guided reading and our Personal Cultures unit of inquiry in order to define and share the daily characteristics of our lives and school day. There was a good deal of brainstorming and organizing thoughts before sharing to prepare for the final project. “We had to choose what to share about what we have in Prague…”

The value of group work, within class and with global partners, was greater due to the need to communicate in order to collaborate on a final project. For example, students learned to attentively read and appropriately respond to team members’ comments and inquiries in the Edmodo chats. Learning that online communication is a productive means to work with others and share ideas, not just for daily chit-chat, was valuable as well.

Through Skype video chats with 2 classes in the US, students learned firsthand about our similarities and differences and time zones. It was also valuable to see the face of a team member who lives across the world. “That I can know how another country is like and I can picture it in my mind (is valuable).”

A relevant need to focus on the history of our host country arose, “We have different holidays, like in the USA you get a day off for Thanksgiving, not in Prague.” When discussing why this was true, students became aware of the differing histories of various countries and they then became more interested in the history of the Czech Republic.

Clearly, students learned valuable online tools to use to communicate by experience. “We could Skype, Edmodo, email, things like that. Oh yeah, and write of course, send pictures, videos.” Communicating in Edmodo was a great opportunity for my students to communicate with others through chat. Many are eager to engage in online social networking and it was a great chance for them to develop positive digital citizenship behaviors.

Personally, I enjoyed connecting with other educators as well as the strategies and tools I learned to use. One of the most valuable lessons was a reminder that learning is messy, particularly when trying new ways of learning for students and teachers alike. As one student wrote, “We are all still learning” and I can only conclude that she is including me in that comment. It was messy at times, but well worth rolling up my sleeves to participate in!

As a pilot project, we were very open-minded, shared ideas and experiences and adjusted the project as we proceeded. In following projects, a stricter adherence to and definition of steps in the process and final project would help me with planning and organization within my regular curriculum. I don’t mean that students should be restricted, but that each final project will contain certain characteristics in order to be successful. I realize it is restrictive to choose one tool for communication and one for presentation and one for file storage, but on the other hand it can become confusing and over-whelming when many tools are shared and examined and considered.

Keep it simple is always a good rule. Adopting tools that are allowed in all countries and perhaps holding a week of “sandbox” exploration for teachers and students to play with and learn how to use the tools before the project begins will be beneficial.

I will also, within groups, assign roles to team members with leadership jobs given to the most experienced students on the team. For example, assigning the roles of taskmaster, recorder, researcher and so on. Roles would be dependent on the nature of the final project and if there were a taskmaster, recorder and researcher from each school within the team it may allow students to bond better across the globe. The organizers would communicate regularly to keep their in-school team members on task and recorders would share and record events from each city/country.

In retrospect, I would have integrated and implemented more IT tool sandbox activities with my students before starting. This will be easier if the project is later in the year and if tools are selected early on in the project. Allowing students to plan and capture images from the start next time will provide more time at the end for creating the final project on their own. I also predict that collecting images earlier will give shape and deeper discussion of the message they hope to communicate throughout the process.

At the start of the project, providing a team get-to-know-you activity for students to participate in, such as a scavenger hunt or experience-sharing grid on a team wiki-page may allow students to connect sooner. Team discussions in Edmodo would also benefit from a clear purpose each week- perhaps set by the team member in the lead role.

If selected to participate the next project this spring, it will be easier to integrate as we will be engaged in our Prague unit of inquiry during that time. One unit focus question is, ‘How do you get to know a place and why bother doing this?’ As we learn about our city and country, participation in the A Week in the Life project will enhance this unit because students will have greater motivation to take note of and share the unique and similar characteristics of Prague. While on field trips, students would keep their team subject and essential questions in mind and capture images that relate to their topic. As well, the team topics would become embedded into unit thinking and reflection throughout the unit.

Student Reflections on our Elementary Flat Classroom Project

February 12, 2011 at 10:34 am | Posted in 21st Century, Collaboration, Global Collaboration | 1 Comment

Yesterday my third grade students and I reviewed our journey during the A Week in the Life project. I then asked them to answer a few questions in writing, and here are their responses:

What did you learn that surprised you?

  • I was surprised that there are different things in other countries
  • That we can Skype with people half-way around the world.
  • That working in groups you get more ideas.
  • That kids in the other countries call soccer, soccer.
  • Learning to use edmodo
  • That working in groups makes more thinking (ideas) than one person
  • I didn’t know that we could chat through a website (Edmodo)
  • That we actually made a movie and we really saw each other on Skype.
  • There are many kinds of clothes and languages
  • There are different and common things in each country
  • The different homes and transportation
  • That we have a lot of things in common
  • I was surprised how much brainstorming and using laptops
  • I did not know how to use Edmodo

What did you enjoy about the project?

  • That we Skyped with some other schools and communicated with each other
  • Communicating with partners in other countries
  • What I liked best was the brainstorming.
  • Skyping with kids in the USA and Edmodo.
  • I enjoyed making the video and picking the pictures.
  • I liked Skyping the other schools
  • Writing all our ideas down
  • I enjoyed working with my team and for the project and chatting through Edmodo
  • Edmodo
  • I enjoyed that nobody felt left out
  • I enjoyed doing Edmodo
  • That I can know how another country is like and I can picture it in my mind
  • Learning about different countries
  • I enjoyed everything like Edmodo and the videos
  • That we got to use laptops a lot
  • I enjoyed doing Edmodo.com
  • We learned about other kids and countries

What did you find challenging?

  • It was a little bit hard to work together with my team because it was hard to decide something.
  • Agreeing who gets to do what in my class group.
  • When we were finding pictures
  • Brainstorming
  • Typing long and short words
  • I found that when we had to make a video it had a lot of steps.
  • Typing
  • To get pictures and lots of ideas
  • We had to choose what to share about what we have in Prague and also we had to type a bunch of information.
  • Working with the team
  • It was hard to choose the pictures
  • I found challenging how we were all going to agree on stuff (within class group)
  • Putting similarities and differences in groups (on the wiki)

What do you have in common with students in other schools?

  • Most games are the same. The library is a little bit different.
  • We all go to schools where the language we speak at the school if English.
  • We all have recess and we all wear clothes that look alike.
  • We both celebrate birthdays and get presents.
  • We learn the same world languages as the school in Maine
  • We both have computers, art, music, library, reading, math, writing, and a lot of specials. Most of our specials are the same.
  • Computers, no pets in schools, boys and girls, like sports
  • We want to know each other and share about our countries with each other.
  • Sometimes cars, apartments, trains, buses and many more
  • The kids in China were in the Gathering performing like us (regular school assembly and Chinese New Year assembly performances)
  • We are all still learning

How is our day to day life different from students in other schools?

  • We have different holidays, like in the the USA you get a day off for Thanksgiving , not in Prague.
  • The climate is different, the clothes, the houses and the foods.
  • Prague doesn’t celebrate Halloween but the USA does.
  • Because the environment around us and the students in other schools are different.
  • The time zones because when we end, they start
  • In our schools, example in China, when we are finishing school they are just starting school. The same with the school in the US.
  • The seasons
  • We have International Day and special days like Jersey Day and Pajama Day
  • We have different times and we also have different schedules in school
  • We have different times and different weather
  • Kids in Maine and Illinois start school when we finish school
  • Well when we are leaving school they are entering school
  • We may have different things going on during the day

Do you have ideas for us to stay in touch with other kids in the project?

  • Skype, email, facebook, video chat
  • We can Skype, email, call, Edmodo, keep doing A Week in the Life, pictures, videos, and voicethread
  • We can Skype each other
  • We should Skype each other and use Edmodo
  • We could Skype each other once in a while
  • By chatting together on Edmodo. Call each other on Skype when they’re awake (in school.)
  • Edmodo, Skype
  • By Skype, Edmodo, gmail, Facebook
  • We can often Skype at school and we can email each other. Also, we can use Edmodo more.
  • Use Skype more often
  • Skype more, use Edmodo
  • We could Skype, Edmodo, email, things like that. Oh yeah, and write of course, send pictures, videos.
  • To communicate on Skype or Edmodo or school’s email

I was grinning as I read and compiled their responses, pleased to see the diverse learning and enjoyment during the project. Clearly Edmodo and Skype communications were highlights and there is a desire to continue communications. One of my favorite comments was, “We are all still learning.” in the category of commonalities. There was so much learned and accomplished both by students and teachers and within classes and between classes. I plan to write my reflections in the coming week. We will also record comments for the project reflection Voicethread on the project wiki next week.

Synchronicity

December 30, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Posted in Collaboration, Professional Development, Resources | Leave a comment

This happens to me so frequently that I want to write briefly about it. In our age of information overload and the ability to have a global network of friends and colleagues (many of whom I’ve never met) I find the glut of information and flattening world manageable due to my connections to friends and other individuals I follow.

For example, I recently read a friend’s listing of Nick Bilton’s book, I Live in the Future: & Here’s How It Works in GoodReads. Goodreads sends me an email when someone I’m connected to posts a new book listing. I downloaded the book to my iPad via Kindle and started reading (because I’m on vacation and have more time to read.) Mr. Bilton writes about managing information overload via his online network of friends who recommend books, articles, blog posts, etc via online networking and email. This hits home because the next day…

In Facebook, I checked in and found (again) several great blog posts recommended by my friend Silvia.  More and more, Facebook is becoming a resource for more than personal status updates from friends as I follow schools, organizations and individuals who recommend informational media. For example I “follow” my school’s IT Department (at IT Dept. @ International School of Prague) and Seth Godin.

Last, through daily checkins with Twitter I find on just the first page of posts many great links, blog posts, articles, videos, etc. Twitter can lead to information overload if you are following the right people. I also use an aggregator that feeds me current posts on my favorite blogs.

All I’m saying is that I frequently see a thread flowing through my personal information feed and this time it flowed from Chris’s recommendation (which he didn’t have to personally send to me) to the text in Bilton’s book reflecting my experience, and the following morning reading via Silvia that I found inspiring and thought-provoking. Left alone with random searches and actual print resources, I would miss out on so much more than what is delivered to me daily.

PS: One challenge I do face is reciprocating, and here is a good podcast from Dean Shareski, “Sharing: The Moral Imperative” on that topic.

Fully Initiated and Back in Business

December 18, 2010 at 10:35 am | Posted in Blogging, Collaboration, Conference, Global Collaboration, Learning is Messy, Planning, Professional Development, Scratch, Tech Integration, Voicethread | 2 Comments

I’ve only blogged once in the last 6 months due to location and occupation changes. I spent 6 weeks on vacation doing virtually nothing online and then began my new position and life in Prague as a grade 3 teacher at the International School of Prague. I’m still pretty much still in the honeymoon Cultural Shock phase due to my fantastic students, wonderful apartment and new friends and, I am in Prague.

But I am tired. After 3 years as a tech integration specialist, it feels great to be a classroom teacher again with my tribe of willing learners. However, classroom teaching can be exhausting even if you’ve been in the same school for years and I haven’t had the time or mental capacity to write or read blogs, completely missed the K12 Online Conference and the Global Education Conference as well as many Classroom2.0 sessions (thankfully all 3 are archived). I haven’t been tweeting or following tweets. I haven’t seen much of Prague either since the weather became too cold for long walks. But that’s about to change as I’ve been through the first trimester, report cards, parent conferences, portfolio collection and assembly, I think I have a grasp of the curriculum and have 3 weeks of vacation stretching before me.

In addition to the regular curriculum, my students have posted two written pieces and a word cloud on their individual pages on our class website and they regularly extend learning and skill practice (in school and at home) using various webgames and subscription sites. They individually recorded in Garageband, an oral reading of an originally written piece for a Voicethread related to an author visit. Most exciting is our participation in “A Week in the Life”, a pilot elementary-level Flat Classroom Project.

A Week in the Life team adding information to the project wiki

So, after catching my breath I am looking forward to reading, writing and listening to online conference presentations! In the five months of school remaining I am looking forward to integrating into my classroom:

They will all seamlessly integrate with and enrich our units of inquiry on Sound and our Host County/City as well as maths, reading and writing. I’m also looking forward to again reading (even after vacation) professional texts and favorite blogs. Why do I care about sharing with and learning from others? Dean Shareski sums it up for me in his K12Online Keynote. It’s so nice to have reached a point where I again feel a sense of familiarity combined with excitement about the possibilities ahead!

A Week in the Life

October 30, 2010 at 8:05 am | Posted in 21st Century, Collaboration, Digital Citizenship, Global Collaboration, Learning is Messy, Shift, Web2.0 | 2 Comments
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This post was first contributed to a collaborative blog for the pilot elementary Flat Classroom Project, A Week in the Life at http://elementaryflatclassroom.wordpress.com/

The first official week is finished and I’m beginning to feel that I can manage this project, and I am still excited about the possibilities and opportunities that are ahead. Granted, I have told myself that this is a pilot and I’m in my first year at my new school and I will do the best I can. But that’s not an excuse; it allows me stay focused on the project’s purpose, the present and not evaluate myself daily against the “big picture” or enormous possibilities in my mind. Reflection occurs, not judgment.

This week we established student user accounts and began writing and reading to share about ourselves and begin conversing with other students. Students learned how to use Edmodo, comment thoughtfully and many students began using proper punctuation and attempted correct spelling more than in daily classroom writing.

I also introduced the project and what they would be doing in groups with students around the world. I think some students grasped the idea, but most will have to understand what the project is about as we go along. (My students are 8 and 9 years old.) We also have a collaboration going with classes in Japan and Canada, and because it’s a year-long project we will also collaborate with them over the next 7 weeks to maintain and nurture that friendship. It is one more challenge for my students though, to sort out who we are working with and when- but I believe they will be able to manage that. I’m planning to set up bulletin boards for each collaboration this weekend to hopefully provide visual anchors.

This coming week I plan to introduce the students to the wiki, have them gain individual access to the wiki and establish the groups with discussion of each group’s focus. I decided to provide a group notebook for each group with essential questions, project timeline and empty pages for notes and diagrams during group work discussions. I realize this is low-tech, but I think it’s a scaffold that will allow them to focus on the group task and communication more. It may also provide a tangible bridge to a digital collaboration. Baby steps.

In reflecting on our first week, I’ve observed students eager to connect with other students in Edmodo by reading and commenting. In group reading, we had great discussions about similarities and differences between the book characters, settings and events and our lives. As mentioned above, I saw students beginning to attend more to the mechanics and message of their writing in comments. We also discussed and practiced digital citizenship.

One of the biggest benefits during these first weeks is connecting with other teachers in the project by sharing ideas and answering each other’s questions. I loved the GoogleEarth tour created by and shared from a teacher in India. It travels to all the schools in the project and being able to use it has saved me time creating my own.

I remain enthused about participating in this project and awed with the implications of what we are trying and all we can learn from this. If I can remain focused on the core and purpose of the project and stay patient with my skill-level and learning my students and I will benefit immensely!

Essential Physical Features in an Elementary Classroom

July 4, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Posted in Collaboration, culture, Literacy, Planning, Project-based Learning | 1 Comment

The last 2 months have been full of supporting teachers with end of the year projects and tasks, arranging a move from Madrid to Prague, and wrapping up my time as a tech integrator at my previous school.

As I write, I’ve been home in the US for 2 days and sinking into vacation mode as jet lag wears away. I’m also planning for my next position as a grade 3 teacher at the International School of Prague.

As an elementary classroom teacher in the past I always enjoyed (mostly) re-imagining what my classroom should contain and how it should be arranged.  For example, there needed to be a gathering area with a rug, some sort of collaboratively friendly arrangement of the desks, and classroom computers for communication, information and expression in a pod or dispersed through the room. Then after school started and we all got to know each other, more changes would be made.

After 3 years out of the classroom, I have new ideas for classroom features and I would love more ideas and input.  What are physical features or objects that you have or have seen in an elementary classroom that made the classroom special?

End of School Year Idea

May 30, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Posted in Collaboration, games, Global Collaboration, Planning | Leave a comment

I’m sure you are experiencing the same thing I’m hearing around our school, end of year stress and social conflicts, inability to focus… and the students are showing the same feelings and conflicts! 🙂

I thought I’d share an idea/email (shown below) I want to send to colleagues tonight to help us get through the last 3 1/2 weeks. If you have ideas to contribute, please do! Want to collaborate?

Hallo!

That’s not a typo in the greeting but is “hello” in Afrikaans, one of South Africa’s 11 official languages.  I know very little about either South Africa or soccer, but I do know that students are as restless and tired as we are at the end of the year. Four years ago, as a third grade teacher in New Hampshire, I had several rabid soccer fans and we embraced the World Cup as a class to stay afloat until the last day of school. We incorporated it into math, reading, writing, podcasting, geography, arts and sportsmanship and had one desktop dedicated to the FIFA site for news reports and updates. We all learned a great deal from each other and it was one of my best Junes as a teacher! I’ve been thinking about resurrecting that idea this year.

I’ve listed a few random ideas below, but I’d also like to propose after-school open meetings in the villa from 4-5 this week on Monday through Thursday to brainstorm ideas- they don’t have to involve use of technology. I’d love to do some research for websites and resources for you as well.

I searched Google, http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/ and Wikipedia and came up with some ideas:

  • Fine Arts- FIFA anthem, S African music and artists, team colors and jerseys, how does a nation’s flag represent that country?
  • Geography- FIFA altitude ban, 6 confederations
  • Language Arts: Write, revise and record podcasts sharing background information on the World Cup, teams, players, about South Africa … We can create a Moodle course where students can share what is created and learned with other classes.
  • History of World Cup, past outstanding events during World Cup events
  • Regulations and rules, how to play futbol, how rules vary between countries, how do teams qualify?
  • Math- bet on games/probability (just kidding), statistics
  • Learn about South Africa
  • Around the world with 80 Schools – Easy global collaboration we’ve participated in here at ASM. Involves brief, pre-arranged Skype video or audio conference with another class somewhere else in the world. Meghan’s class recently skyped with a class in S Africa.
  • World Cup for Kids website with suggested activities and game links
  • There are many many other World Cup events such as FIFA Women’s and FIFA Youth
  • Advertising- persuasive writing, images, evaluate advertising, make own advertisements
  • Sportsmanship- with our international community we would need to talk about this with students cheering for different teams. Great opportunity for tolerance discussions.
  • 2006 World Cup–  Reflect, compare, contrast
  • FIFA2010 World Cup main page–  As I write this there are 11 days 12 hours and 29 minutes until the first game according to the countdown on the home page.

Do you have ideas to share? Want to collaborate?

The Challenge of Information Overload

May 29, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Posted in Collaboration, Learning is Messy, Planning | Leave a comment

As a tech integration specialist the last three years, I have greatly benefited from the inspiration and support from my PLN. I went from focusing on a group of students to a focus on co-creating relevant tech-related classroom activities in all subject areas for students aged 3 to 11 and providing teacher professional development and support. Because of this broad focus, I have learned a great deal and discovered many educators and other professionals online who inspire me and who I learn from. However, now that I am returning to the classroom I need to focus again foremost on curriculum and learning that may or may not include technology. This has prompted me to review my Netvibes feed page and not drop feeds but revise my home page to those blogs that are written by teachers and from educators I collaborate with.

plousia/flickr

My problem is that I can get so side-tracked just by browsing and following tweets appearing among the 20 most recent tweets when I open Twitter. Then there are all the blogs I want to read regularly and podcasts to listen to. And books to read. I want to contribute as well so I need time to write. This summer I look forward to reading and learning more about writing and reading continuums and increasing my Mac application skills in preparation for August, as those are areas I have less experience with as a classroom teacher. I want to become more adept as a user of Myst and Scratch and other game-based learning tools to use in my classroom. I want to contribute to my personal blog again and reflect on life overseas. There are only 24 hours in a day and if I add areas to focus on, something has to take a back seat.

One idea I have is to integrate by reflecting on what I’m reading and learning by podcasting using Garageband (rather than the familiar Audacity) or creating a digital story sample in iMovie or Keynote for use as a classroom model/sample to use next year. I can reflect in a journal on my experiences in the Myst or Quest Atlantis worlds and create a Scratch animation reflecting on one of my summer reading books.

How do you handle the information overload? How do you focus but also stay in touch with the broad views and innovation in education and technology?

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