Tag Archives: #28daysofwriting

#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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#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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My Online Learning Journey

I’m currently taking the Teaching Online and Blended Learning course at Powerful Learning Practice, I wanted to revamp some of my courses that I teach at PLP, so I thought it was a perfect opportunity to reflect and adjust some things.

Tonight, while I was trying to catch up with work I noticed a conversation about how most of us approach eCourses and even though I had lived it, I had never truly paid attention to my transformation as an online student.

It started in my Master’s program where a majority of my classes were online, I completed assignments, usually by myself, participated in discussion boards, where we were we had to respond to so many people…and my instructors were usually absent. There really wasn’t a lot of meaning behind the work, I wasn’t concerned about making connections with others, and I absolutely hated the discussion boards.

About four years ago, I took my first PLP eCourse, I went into it expecting to sit back and watch, just like I had always done and I was totally wrong. Who knew that one class would change everything….my approach didn’t change over night, I think I still tried to sit back and observe in that class…but as I took my second and third and I began teaching my own, there was a shift.

I didn’t notice it though until I took a course outside of PLP, it was definitely a wakeup call. There was no value on the relationships between participants, no trust building at all, but at the same time we were asked to share quite a bit in live meetings. I struggled with it, I missed the connection and community.

The conversation in the course space tonight brought this further to my attention and I’m wondering, is this how we’re conditioned to learn? That we go in expected to be passive learners? And many times we struggle or grumble when we have to participate and engage with others?

But through my experiences I’ve seen how valuable those connections are and how much growth can come out of the courses that develop a community.

As educators, how do we fix this? Can we fix it, if we don’t address it for ourselves?  I know many teachers and online facilitators already are, and are doing wonderful things to encourage their students/participants to be active participants in their learning…but there is still a long way to go…

Now I’m wondering what this looks like Professional Development? We have edcamps, but what if you’re brought into consult for a day, what kinds of things can you do? Somehow I’ve ended up back with the same question I had the other night, building trust quickly.

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#28daysofwriting Day 19

I don’t think there is going to be much to this post tonight…I spent most of the day organizing instead of doing “work”…but I think we all need days like that…where sometimes the focus just needs to be one something different.

Maybe because it’s the middle of February which means March is in sight….I’m feeling the need for an early spring cleaning? Or…since it’s been so cold here in the North Eastern United States and my kids have been sick on and off since November we’ve barely been able to get out of the house…I needed a change.

So that was the focus today…organizing and rearranging. In thinking about it though, I think it does help with my work(since I work from home), having some organization and space to do work, really helps me to focus.

I got really inspired today and have three different projects lined up, but I’m making myself take them one at a time, I figured each project will be motivation to get through the one before it.

I’m really excited about the second project…a frame so I can rotate out my son’s artwork. I already know where the frame is going to go. I just need to decide what I want to do(and get through my first project), here is what I’m thinking…(Click images for full posts on how-to.)

frame1

From Shannon Makes Stuff

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

From Less Than Perfect Life of Bliss

He’s been so proud of his artwork lately and I really want to encourage that, right now everything goes on the fridge and eventually rotates down the pile then put in a folder.

In thinking about this project, it makes me want to create a space for him where his materials are set up and available to him at all times. Looks like I’m now up to four projects!

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Supporting Self-Guided Learning for Educators

Last night I wrote about supporting others as they make change and how one thing I’ve noticed for myself was that I made changes or really dug deep into content when it was something that directly related to me and my goals.

I’m wondering how do we make this happen in training sessions? (I’ll clarify by saying I haven’t done this yet, this is me thinking it through…and envisioning what I want my training sessions to look like.)

  • Listen, really listen. Hear the teachers goals, hopes, dreams, concerns….try to discover what they are interested in. If this is a training session with a lot of people, this might not be realistic, but maybe leading an activity that guides participants to think about these things could encourage them to focus their goals? I feel like the first step in moving forward is to look at where you are and then think about where you want to be.
  • Time, build in time for participants to work and apply the concepts or tools in their own situation.
  • Encourage connections and sharing of ideas. Lead brainstorming protocols, have as many ideas or examples shared as possible and document all of them. Maybe a Google Doc? Something that people can come back to. Especially if someone is feeling overwhelmed, maybe it’s been along day and they reached their limit….but a month later, they think back to that one idea that was shared, image how helpful that resource would be? I also feel like if the ideas come from them and their colleagues, they’ll be more open to trying something new.
  • Give participants a voice, share the goals of the session or plan, ask for their input, what do they want to learn about this topic? Even if there isn’t time to address everything in a live session, is it possible to provide resources even after the session is over?
  • Give a template or guide to support them as they create their own path(have it available in a variety of formats, print vs digital), encouraging(and celebrating) small steps!

This all comes from a variety of different courses and experiences I’ve had as a learner…I’m trying to figure out where they all fit and how they can be used to best support educators in a meaningful way that allow them follow their own learning paths…in the context of a required training. Is this possible?

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Supporting Change

As I think about my next steps professionally, I know I want apart of it to include supporting teachers as they make changes. I’m always trying to think about the ideal situation for change to occur, how can educators best be supported as they implement new tools, try new strategies and work through new ideas.

What I’ve come to figure out, is that it’s just as it is with our students, everyone has their own ideal learning environment.

Thinking back my best professional development was when: 

  • I choose my path
  • my facilitator modeled the concepts they were teaching
  • I had freedom to apply what was presented in a way that best fit me
  • I had the opportunity to reflect
  • it was a safe and supportive environment

I think that last one is most important. If people don’t feel safe, how can they be expected to make a change? 

I’ve realized though, now that I know this, I find it hard to stay motivated in situations that don’t have these characteristics. I recently completed a training that hardly included any of the characteristics from my list. I found it hard to truly learn and think deeply about the content, even though the content itself was very interesting and was the knowledge that I needed to support teachers. I had to really force myself to stay on-top of of it.

I’m wondering, if you’re a coach or a consultant that is coming into a school only for a few days, here or there, how do you build that trust? How do you create this type of situation quickly? Is it possible?

Here are some thoughts on what this looks like: 

  • online presence, have a space that participants can go to before to get to know you
  • include your goals or beliefs as a facilitator
  • have a lot of examples that show a variety of change, to emphasize the idea that change is different to everyone
  • celebrate even the smallest successes
  • really listen, use body language to show you’re listening

I have a lot more to think through as I begin developing Google Trainings, but I feel like this post has got me going in a good direction. If anyone has any tips or ideas for developing trust in workshops or brief trainings, I would love to hear them! 

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Being kind to ourselves, create an inspirational image in Google Drawing

A few days ago, I read post that was directed to moms, A Mantra for the Most Overwhelming Days, from Creative with Kids.

It came at perfect timing, since I’ve been thinking about unplugging, trying to use time more wisely and really focus on what’s important. I shared it out to twitter, where most of my followers are educators, since I felt this could really apply to everyone.

As I thought about my post for Valentine’s Day, I wanted it to be about kindness, I started thinking about teaching students kindness, educators being supportive of one another, but nothing seemed to really flow. Then I thought back to the post from Creative with Kids, about being kind to ourselves.

I think most people can agree that images can be inspiring, and I feel like the image in the Mantra Post really adds to it. I began thinking about easy ways to create your own and immediately Google Draw came to mind. There are many photo editing tools out there, but I thought this would be a nice fit for teachers and students already using Google Drive.

Below you will find a brief tutorial for creating an inspirational image in Google Draw. First here are some ideas for this type of project in your classroom:

Ideas for classroom use: 

  • Create an inspirational bulletin board in the hallway or classroom.
  • Have students put it in their writers notebooks.
  • Put the image in a Google Doc, have students explain their thinking and reason for choosing the image and quote.
  • Create your own for your grade or plan book.
  • Create a full class one, vote on a quote that represents your class, include the image on your webpage, blog or wiki.
  • Use it as a writing prompt.
  • Have students create one from a famous person’s point of view.
  • Using the collaborative features students can co-create images and use the commenting feature to explain their work.

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