Moving the Blog

This blog as been moved to: www.bloomingedu.com 

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Tech Tool: Tackk

Tool: TackkTACKK

Cost: Free

What it does: Create digital “posters” or pages that are easy to create and navigate. A variety of media and web tools can be incorporated as well. Other users can use the commenting feature to add content, comments or questions.

Integration Ideas: 

  • Use it to gather resources for a lesson
  • Flipped Learning
  • Post a video or article, have students respond to a question asking them to provide evidence(web resource, image, video, etc) for their response.
  • Students can use Tackks to share information
  • Share classroom information with parents
  • Present information to students
  • Share students work and connect with others
  • Create Digital Portfolios

Accounts for Students?

  • You don’t technically need an account to publish a Tackk, although any that are created without an account expire after 7 days.
  • Students under 13 can publish anonymously through the use of a code, provided by their teacher. If they want to go back and edit, they must be using the same device they created it on. Learn more here.

Example: Here is a Tackk I created to share information about TPACK. I used it for a course that I teach online, before using the Tackk I had all of the information on a single page in the course space, I thought the Tackk made the content more visually engaging and allowed others to easily add resources or comments.

What I love about it…

  • Can easily be embedded in other webpages, blogs, or wikis
  • You can embed many other tools (find some options here)
  • Ease of creation and navigation

Resources

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Course Reflection: Powerful Learning Practice’s Teaching Online and Blended Learning eCourse

The past ten weeks, I’ve been participating in Powerful Learning Practice’s Teaching Online and Blended Learning eCoursesherylsclass. I had taken this same course a few years ago, but at that point in my life, I wasn’t able to really focus on it. I had just started teaching my first online course, was struggling with the transition from face-to-face 5th graders to online adults and I had a newborn at home, so I felt like I was just keeping my head above water that point. While I followed along and read the resources, I was not activity engaging with other participants or the content.

So when I had the chance to take it again I was really excited. My confidence as an online instructor has grown quite a bit since that first class and I was feeling that it was time to shake things up and make some changes to my courses, so this opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time.

Now that the class is coming to an end, we were asked to reflect on all that we earned and have changed so far because of this course.

My Ah-Ha’s! 

  • It’s ok to share about yourself. I was always worried about being professional, but I think I was too worried so I wasn’t sharing enough about myself to help build a community. While the participants who took multiple classes with me got to know me, if someone just took one class, I don’t think they got a clear picture of who I was. group-157841_1280
  • The importance of community. While I’ve always known this was important, I didn’t think it was possible to do with two week courses. My thinking has shifted to the idea that I’m going to build in more community building exercises, even if we don’t have the opportunity to build deep relationships, connections will be made.
  • Use a Variety of Media. While I tried to do this in my 5th grade classroom, I fell back on text heavy content with my courses. Even myself as a learner, I never read everything, so I need to keep this in mind when developing my classes.
  • Clarified my Philosophy of Learning. By focusing on how I believe people learn, I’m able to create courses and assignments that support that belief.

Changes I’ve made so far: 

  • I created a visual calendar that shows the whole course, allowing participants to get the “big” picture of assignments and timing of everything. Course Calendars
  • I developed a new syllabus that not only incorporated the assignments and important information, but my goals as a facilitator. I also tried to make it interactive by using Google Docs to include a table of contents to navigate the document and encourage the use of the commenting feature.
  • I added some community building activities to the asynchronous course space.
  • When I needed to address a question that came up after a live meeting, rather then type out a long explanation, I created a video to share my thinking and a new assignment.
  • I added a KWL chart to kick off my course, while this seems so simple, it gave me a clear picture of my participants goals and knowledge. I always asked them to share in a discussion space, but I got a lot more out of them by using the KWL chart. Since I created the chart in Google Docs participants were able to comment on each others which lead to more sharing and conversation.
  • I shared more about my background initially in meetings and was more open in general throughout live meetings and in our course spaces.

My Plans Moving Forward: 

  • Utilize all of the resources and ideas moving forward as I redesign my past courses and create new ones.
  • Focus on community, make an effort to contribute to the larger online educational community by sharing, commenting and reflecting.
  • I want to think about assessment, since I am in the situation where most of the time I do not provide a grade to participants, I want to develop a system of feedback that encourages growth and self-assessment and reflection.

I can’t recommend this class enough to all teachers. It energizes you, encourages you to think deeply about your practice and your goals as a teacher.

Thank you to Sheryl and all of the other participants that made this such a rich learning opportunity. I learned from everyone through the sharing of stories, experiences, resources and all of the questions asked that pushed my thinking a little further.  

 

 

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20/20/20 Morning in the Classroom

About two weeks ago I discovered the 20/20/20 morning through Robin Sharma. The idea behind this is that you wake up at 5:00 AM, do twenty minutes of exercise, twenty minutes of planning/writing, and then twenty minutes for your own learning. You start your day with a ritual, and I’m finding that over the past two weeks I have adjusted this ritual to meet my needs and situation.

I am blown away by the changes that it has lead to for me and it’s only been two weeks. I’m writing daily and the time for my own learning has been amazing. For example, I signed up for a MOOC-Ed for the second time, first time around I only participated in the first week, but this time, I’ve been an active participant and I’m getting a lot of the course. The main reason being, those 20 minutes gave me the time to get invested in the course, so now I’m checking in more often.

I’ve started thinking, what if schools started their days like this? (Except the 5 AM part!) What if students came into the class, did twenty minuets of some type of movement, twenty minutes of writing, and then twenty minuets on the topic of their choice? Maybe not even 20 minutes of each…but ten? I know that time is very precious in the classroom, but I wonder if it would lead to students being more productive and on task? Giving them a solid transition between home and school?

I think back to my own classroom where the first half-hour of the day was when students settled in, did morning work and had breakfast…I had that half hour to use and this would have fit in nicely during that time.

I’m really curious has to how this would play out in a classroom and the affect it would have on students, here are some of my wonderings:

  • Would students be more engaged throughout the day?
  • Will it help them focus on school, rather than what happened on the bus or at home that morning?
  • Is there really time for something like this in a classroom with all of the other demands?
  • Would it inspire students to write more?
  • Would it inspire students to find a passion?
  • How would it affect their learning?

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#28Daysofwriting Day 28…A few days late…

While the challenge finished up about two days ago, I’m just finally sitting down to write the last post.

Although I didn’t write every day of the challenge, I think it was a great step for me and I’m so glad that I participated.

I realized today that I’ve published more on this blog in the past month, than I had since I started it about three years ago. I struggled towards the end of month, to go from not writing at all, to writing everyday was definitely a challenge. I did give myself a little bit of space, feeling that this was already a big change for me and I didn’t want it to turn into something I dreaded everyday. So by giving myself that “permission” to take step back if I needed, it helped me stay positive throughout.

At day seven I wrote a post about all that I had learned so far, here is what it included:

  • I’m not the only one, as I read through other 28 day posts, I noticed a few people shared being nervous about putting things out that weren’t perfect and that it’s a challenge to write consistently.
  • There are many places to look for inspiration, I was over thinking things greatly!
  • Not every post is going to be perfect, and that is ok.
  • I think I was getting stuck on writing for other people because I want to be supportive and create a resource for others, but I’m learning that my blog can be a place for me to dig deeper into my interests and learning as well. Maybe it can be a mixture of both?
  • I’m on twitter more, and I feel like having a focus on twitter has helped me utilize it more effectively. While I enjoy scrolling through, sometimes it can be overwhelming so I don’t get too much out of it. But when I get on and specifically look at the #28daysofwriting content, I’m more likely to engage with people, and follow the links.

Another new thing I have learned or changed from this experience is that I’ve started using Tweetdeck to manage all of the hashtags that I want to follow. Before the #28daysofwriting, I would just explore my main feed, there was no need to separate things out, but since I was going on and searching for @28daysofwriting everyday…I decided I need to adjust how I use twitter. So far I’ve enjoyed it, and I’m starting to think I want to explore other tools as well.

At the end of that post I included some goals, which I hate to say I did not reach…but I don’t think it’s too late. I have signed up for the #28daysofcommenting, which I need to get started with!

Now that the blog has been kick started, I do want to keep the momentum…so I have a new set of goals for this month: 

  • Post at least once a week (I have two already planned after this one!)
  • Complete the @28daysofcommenting challenge
  • Set up my new blog/webpage

Thank you Tom Barrett for giving me the little push I need to get things moving forward, I’m looking forward to making even more connections through this next month as well.

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#28daysofwriting Day 25, My One Hour Learning Journey

Yesterday I was working towards my goal of being more organized and a simple Pinterest search for a specific goal template…lead to an hour of personal learning and growth. I’m not talking, reading things here and there, checking facebook and twitter…there is a big potential for major change from the hour of exploring.

I don’t quite remember the steps….but it was something like this….(bear with me…I promise there is an ah-ha at the end of this…feel free to skip to bottom if you want!) 

1. Start searching for the template I saw a few days ago on Pinterest, found it, only to see that it’s a link to nothing, just the image(I hate when that happens!)

2. Begin the search again, trying to find the printable I want…as I’m doing this, I come across a post about how someone personalized their daily planner and the tools that she used.

Sidenote: I have been using an Erin Condren planner for three years now, I love it! But..I have been thinking about creating my own to better meet my needs, so of course I got sucked into the post.

3. As I started exploring links in her post, I ended up going in two different directions…First, I noticed that she kept talking about an Evernote Journal and how much she relies on Evernote. I’ve played with Evernote before, but it never really clicked. I had never thought of scanning things in though….so there was the first large ah-ha.

Second Ah-Ha, she also mentioned something about a 20/20/20 morning that she learned from Robin Sharma…so I started exploring that a little bit and started thinking about how that could fit into my life.

The results? 

I’m trying the 20/20/20 morning, or at least I did this morning, and I’m planning on doing it again tomorrow. Sharma says that it takes 66 days to make something a habit….so we’ll see. First day was a success!

Because I got up so early, and knew I had at least 20 minutes to work on my own learning, I was able to participate in a Mooc-Ed that I signed up for. (This is the second time I’ve signed up…I didn’t make it through the first time.) So as I began going through the course, I realized I wanted some place to keep everything as organized as possible and all in one place….my mind went to Evernote. I’ve started my Mooc-Ed notebook and have been exploring as I go.

So from that one hour of exploring I’ve: 

  • Become invested in a MOOC-Ed, and feel confident about staying involved.
  • Began learning and using a new tool, which I’m sure will further support the goal of becoming more organized!
  • tried a new morning routine, hoping to find more time for myself and time to focus on work before the daily craziness get started.

….All in one day

My Point? 

I should have been doing specific things during that time, I had things to get done(which I eventually did), but to me this speaks to the importance of following our interest and things we’re curious about. Rather than stress about the fact that I wasn’t checking things off my to-do list, I followed my interest and gained a lot from that hour. I was fully engaged in everything I looked through, I wasn’t getting distracted by facebook, email or twitter(except for when I was following new people)…I was focused and in a flow. When I came back to my to-do list, I was energized and excited to move forward. I jumped right into my work and accomplished a lot….I’m wondering if I would have gotten as much done if I hadn’t given myself that time?

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#28daychallenge Day 24..Building an eCourse Community

I’ve missed the past few days of the challenge, for some reason my mind has just been completely blank for ideas. Each idea I have I struggle to really develop, which makes me wonder if it’s something I’m really interested in?

I figured for today, I would just try to write and see what comes…

and, there have been a least five different sentences in this spot that have been deleted….

Going back to read the top paragraph made me ask myself, what has been on my mind lately? I would have to stay it’s building community in online spaces.

In my post a few days ago, I talked about my experiences as an online learner and how much I have come to appreciate the building of communities in online eCourses. One thing that I’ve struggled with is trying to build a community in short two week courses. While some participants jump in and participate in the community, others do not. I know there are a variety of reasons for this, but I really want to make sure I’m doing everything possible to create a safe, welcoming space.

I’ve come to realize that when you have a community you are more likely to be invested in the course, the content and the other participants. We’re more likely to share and participate when we feel that others in the course value our input. This is something very important to me as an online facilitator

Last night, I had the opportunity to discuss this with other educators in the course I’m currently taking, and here are some ideas that came to mind:

  • Really utilizing the asynchronous course space to make connections.
  • Developing collaborative projects.
  • Sharing more about myself

As I think about revamping most of my current classes, here are some of my next steps:

  • Add a collaborative fun activity (something quick that encourages sharing)
  • create a video welcome message, encourage participants to do the same, if they are interested
  • add a recording webinar to introduce participants to many “how-to” aspects of our course
  • adjust the group projects in all of my courses, to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to contribute

I’m excited about moving things forward and making some changes. I’ve feel like I’ve changed quite a bit as an online facilitator and learner since I started these courses two years ago, and I really want my courses to reflect this.

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