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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Module #4 - Connecting Through Your PLN

georgecouros.ca
georgecouros.ca
The networked teacher is a successful teacher.

This graphic depicts the myriad of resources our educators have at their fingertips.  These aren't just Wikipedia, Google, and Flickr. The networked teacher is connected to the world of education through a plethora of social media including Twitter, Blogger, and Pinterest.

It's not about the tools, it's about using tools to access the wisdom, creativity and experience of your worldwide colleagues to enrich your students' learning experiences and make your life easier.

PLN is an acronym that has many meanings and connotations. Primarily, it is a network of people and resources that we use in our everyday lives both personally and professionally.

Personal (Professional) Learning Network - This is the set of connections that you use in your personal or professional life.  With most educators, there is a drastic overlap between their personal and professional lives so making the distinction is not necessarily important. What is important is how we build our PLN and what we do to grow it as needed.  What is important is how we contribute to our PLN so that others can benefit from our experiences as much as we benefit from theirs.

Why are PLNs important?  Here are a couple of educators who share the true meaning of using PLNs in their personal and professional lives. The first video is an elementary school teacher explaining how integral his PLN is in his life.  The second is a technology coordinator who explains his strategy for growing his PLN over the year.


Almost makes you want to pop open your Tweetdeck to see what has appeared over the past hour, doesn't it?

Sure, your PLN can include a collection of Twitter pals, favorite Bloggers and interesting Flickr collections, but this is just the beginning.  Kathy Schrock, one of the leading educational technology specialists, has created a 25-minute webinar about how to use and build your PLN.



Students Use PLNs Too
Creating PLNs isn't just for teachers.  Students can find opportunity in organizing their resources. This next video was produced by a 7th grade science student who is taking you on a tour of her PLE (Personal Learning Environment).  She has used Symbaloo as a simple way to create a page of resources that she can use for her research all year long.  Notice that she is even connecting with scientists around to world as part of her research. Can you see how this tool could be useful for your students? (Notice that she has over 85,000 views - someone thinks this is important.)



There you have it, you have reviewed how PLNs can change your personal/professional life and what you can include in your own PLN. Let's return to our UNI elearning page and see what we can do with your own PLN.



Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Module 3: Social Networking


This RWLD for Social Networking covers Blogging and Tweeting.  Each section discusses how to read the social media tool and then how to write using the utility. 

Blogging

speedofcreativity.org
Blogging is today's newspaper, book, magazine, and thinking pad all rolled into one.  The beauty of a blog is that it provides the creator with a true freedom of expression.  It allows us to create freely and express ourselves in ways that weren't available 20 years ago.

This form of expression is ripe for the classroom:  
  • Many teachers at all levels use blogs to provide a painting easel for students to create. 
  • Some teachers use them to share information about what is happening in their classrooms (a much more direct form of communication than sending newsletters home each week. 
  • Many teachers use blogs to share their projects or ask advice of other educators.   The opportunities are endless.
I thought that I would share a few of the blogs that I like.  I have tried to break these into the three categories that I have just listed.  PLEASE share your favorites with us by inserting a link in one of the comments below. (It may say "no comments:" now, but click on it and add your thoughts.)

Student Creations

Sharing What's Happening in the Classroom

Sharing Ideas with Other Educators

Resources

The best way to learn about blogging is to read blogs. Select at least 3 blogs concerning your educational interests to follow throughout this class. You can select from the list above, or you could look for suggestions at 52 Education Blogs You Should Follow (TeacherThought.com) or you could Google it by entering the term, Blog, and then your area of interest, Universal Design for Learning.

Following Blogs


Once you have found the blogs you want to follow, you need to find a way to get to them easily.  Yes, you could bookmark them in your browser and then click on them daily.  BUT, there IS a simpler way. 

It is possible to use a Feed Reader to check your blogs daily and inform you when something new has been added.  There are many of these feed readers, but to make it simple, I am going to suggest using Feedly.  

Here is a short video on how to install Feedly as a Chrome Extension.*
 
* I am recommending using Chrome as a standard - for simplicity sake.

Once you have added Feedly, add at least the three blogs that you have decided to follow.

Getting Into the Blog-o-sphere

You have already entered the blog-o-sphere by beginning to follow some bloggers.  What did you learn?  What comments did you leave on the bloggers' postings?  Did you get any responses back from anyone? 

Now that you have reviewed the postings of accomplished bloggers, what do you think?  Was it useful? How could you make blogging useful to you?

It is time for you to create your own blog-o-sphere identity. You will begin by creating a blog and then begin to share your ideas, experiences and resources. In the past we have said that blogging involves Reading, Commenting, and Writing/Creating.  You have already had the opportunity to read and comment.  Let's hope that you continue with this enthusiasm as you embark on your blog writing/creating experience.

Writing/Creating 
Writing is the key to it all. This is where you can share your ideas with world. It is where you have to confront your thoughts. I once had a professor (Dr. David Moursund) who told me that he didn't know how he felt about a topic until he had written about it. Writing requires you to organize your ideas so that you can express them in a clear and cogent manner.

1. First thing you must do is create a blog. Do you already have a blog?  If so, review these steps and then move on. The easiest blog to create is in Blogger.  Some of you have created blogs using other tools like WordPress or Kidblog.

WordPress is a powerful blogging tool that is used by many of the leading bloggers.  I know of a number of them who have even moved their Blogger blogs over to WordPress because of the additional advantages.  If you are interested in continuing your blogging after this class, you may want to open a blog on WordPress.


If you haven't heard of Kidblog., you might consider it for your students.  It has many advantages
  • It is easy to use. 
  • Each student has his/her own blog.
  • All of the student posts can be directed to appear in the class blog. 
  • All postings and comments can be moderated by the teacher
There are probably many other pros and cons for KidBlog so if you have experience using it or like to explore new software, please inform all of us about what you find.

Here is a 5-minute video by Adam Bellow on how to use KidBlog.  They allow you to have one free active blog.  If you want more, it will cost you $5/month.


2. Your blog will be enhanced if you add a few gadgets to it. KidBlog has some interesting widgets that you can add to your individual blogs but I haven't figured them out yet.  Why don't you explore and Whack Out your blog.  It can be the basis of a posting for you to share with your classmates.

3) Now that you have the easel, it is time for you to share your ideas.  You have been reading blogs for a couple of weeks. What are the topics that you found interesting? Maybe you can compare and contrast what you have found.  Do some additional research to add to your postings.  How does/will this apply to your present/future teaching situation?
    REMEMBER!!!  This is NOT in an enclosed eLearning discussion group that ONLY Dr. Z will read.  It is in the public. All of your classmates will be reading it. People in the public may read it.  DON'T write it like you are answering writing prompts on a test.  Write it in a manner that will interest your colleagues.  


    What to write?  Sometimes it's tough to find what to write.  The MOST important part of blogging is to be PASSIONATE about what you write.  Here is a collaborative list of ideas for writing prompts.  Look there for inspiration but share your own ideas and sources for inspiration as well.


    Once you have an idea, here are some hints for making effective postings.  You may have found some other ideas about what makes a posting interesting.
    • Begin with an active title. (i.e., Making Your Blog Postings More Interesting; 5 Ways to Extend Your Summer Vacation; How Blogs Changed the Writing Process in my 10th Grade English Class; or ????)
    • Include an image or photo of some sort.  You can find a wealth of photos you can use (as long as you cite them as I have done below) at Flickr/CreativeCommons  (www.flickr.com/creativecommons)
    • Always include at least 2 links to something relevant on the web. This means that when you discuss the Dr. Z Reflects and Clif's Notes blogs, you must have links to those websites so that your reader can examine them.  It is similar to the APA citations you have to do in your research papers, only it is MUCH easier to include. Include links to your classmates' postings.  Build community.
    • Your postings must have depth and that is more than can be captured on the single page.  Writing a post can be a small research project that will provide readers a deeper understanding of the topic.  This depth is provided by the additional links you provide your readers.
    • End your postings with questions to elicit responses from your readers.
    Here are some blog postings on how/why to create good blog postings.

      So how do you see yourself using blogs in your future teaching/training careers?