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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Let's Hit the Trail-Reflection for Cyber PD


for hosting the collaborative learning opportunity.


I am fortunate to be able to find talented educators (like the ladies above) who are forging a digital path into the future.  These educators are trail blazers.  I am working hard to follow in their footsteps and have started down the trail after them...
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail--
Ralph Waldo Emerson

 I am involved with a book study this summer called Cyber PD where we are reading the book, "Who owns the Learning?  Preparing Students for Success in the Digital Age.

For this book study, I decided to get the book for my Kindle App on the ipad.  Since the book is about learning in the digital age, reading it in this manner seemed so appropriate.  I've learned some new tricks through reading this way-I am able to highlight, keep notes and have also linked it with my twitter account so I can tweet out interesting points as I read.

Now for the learning...I am so glad I am reading this book.  I feel like I've been getting my feet wet with the Digital Learning Farm approach for the last few years.  I was first inspired by learning about blogging with students.  You can read posts about this learning here and here.  I then moved on to experience Digi-Camp for teachers.  You can read about that here.  Digi-camp really got me stoked about using technology as a way to grow a learning community and I learned so much through the use of Twitter.  Twitter put me in touch with the trail blazers I mentioned above and as I read Who Owns the Learning I imagine each one of them as people who've walked the walk.  They are getting their students to interact globally, share work and connect 21st century learning through collaboration and publication for authentic purposes.

The book inspires thinking of how it can be done with examples.  Imagine the possibilities...it gives an overview of what sparked the beginning of the Digital Learning Farm concept.  Then, author Alan November shares classrooms where the Digital Learning Farm is happening.  Here's what I loved about reading it digitally, I could just click the hyperlinks and go directly to the sites that were in the book or scan the QR codes with my QR Reader and it would take me there as well.  The first blog the QR reader took me to was Kathy Cassidy's Classroom Blog!  I was so excited to know it was her blog I connected to because I could honestly say that I believe she is a leader in curating the Digital Learning Farm concept.  I exchanged tweets with her about this:
 
After reading the Introduction and Chapter 1, I was encouraged with the way the author suggests that transitioning to the Digital Learning Farm way of thinking and teaching is to imagine students being easily motivated when creating videos, podcasts and other digital media for a purpose.  He gives suggestions as to specific roles students could take on such as tutorial designers, scribes, researchers, and global communicators and collaborators.   He also identifies specific software to use. It's helpful that there are concrete examples that inspire ways to get the digital learning started.
 
The connection I'm making is that I'm inspired by seeing and knowing of educators who are doing just what the book recommends.  These educators are shining examples of where digital learning is happening in classrooms all over the globe.  There are many trail blazers who can inspire through things such as Twitter Chats, #1stchat, for example-check out the list of first chat teachers on the wiki here-and connect with them.  A few who I've connected with this past year are Leka DeGroot, Jenni VanRees, Kristen Wideen and Karen Lirenman.  I want to be like them!  Thanks Ladies!
 
My take aways here-I'm heading in the right direction.  I am hooked up with people who are inspiring me to do the right things and I've been experimenting by beginning blogging with my firsties and hosting a blogging club for students in grades 4, 5, and 6.   I want to work at having them create content and avoid giving them the "$1,000 pencil" when using technology.  I want to continue to experiment and play with screen caster software and other tools like Jing to learn more about ways to make videos.
 
I invite you to make this leap of learning with me.  Move from the old fashioned way of doing things and get on board with the modern way-Let's hit the trail-with a modern horse of course!
 
 



19 comments:

  1. Amy,

    What a nice reflection! I think the most important thing you mentioned is how important it is to connect with others who are trying to figure out the same things. It provides the needed moral support along with tons of new ideas to try. The great thing about this community is that you can slip in and out of it when it is convenient for you. Everyone else is doing the same thing and is very accepting of that. Thanks for joining us.

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    1. Jill,
      Thanks! I do like the idea of surrounding moral support when taking risks to learn something new...it reminds me of the importance of building community within the classroom...something that's a key component to starting the year off on the right foot!

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  2. Amy,
    It has been an interesting learning experience walking the digital path beside you. Like you, I felt like having spent a few years on the journey helped me to understand November's points and examples. What I am enjoying about November's book is it parallels the question I've been thinking about a lot lately (Ramsay and Warlick), "Am I integrating or innovating?" It really has me thinking about the learner and the thinking I'm asking them to do. I want the tasks to, as you reminded me again, be beyond a "1000 pencil" and more toward higher level thinking.

    It's funny. Since I've been using tech I've said I want it to be like a pencil in my classroom; meaning I want it to be as natural for students to go a computer, app, or program as it is for them to pick up a marker or a pencil. After November's example, I might want to rethink that. bahahaha

    I'm reading the book on my Kindle as well. I think there's a way to link our identities so we can view the notes and highlights of each other. Perhaps we should give that a try for the next chapters?

    I always enjoy learning with you, Amy. I'm glad you've joined the conversation.

    Cathy

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    1. Hey, love the idea of linking up notes via the kindle app on iPad! Not sure how to do that but it would be fun to try-if you know how, I'm in!

      Thanks for pushing my thinking!

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  3. Thanks for sharing your reflection, Amy! I contemplated reading the book on my Kindle as well... and then went ahead and bought the paper copy. For whatever reason, I have some aversion to reading professional books in the digital format. I guess it's time to get over that since it sounds like you can highlight, make notes, and share things rather easily. Thanks for the nudge!

    You are so right about the #1stchat community! What an inspiring group of educators. I'm so glad you are a part of it!

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    1. Thanks Laura!
      After trying the kindle version for this book and Teach Like a Pirate, I'm hooked...I actually wish all publishing companies would go digital-what I love is taking it anywhere-and when I have a free minute, I can read it on my phone or iPad-I love that! It updates depending on which device you're on!
      Anyway, thanks for being such an inspiration!

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  4. Amy~
    I enjoyed reading your post and like you and Cathy I feel like already having been on the journey has been helpful as I read November's thinking. Some of his points have me wondering what it would look like in my first grade classroom. I do see some potential in assigning roles/responsibilities to the kids on a regular rotating basis. My hope is this will balance the equitability and knowability on tech…
    This year I will go from 4 desktops with laptops accessible via building carts to 3 desktops, laptops and iPads on a cart & 8 iPods, I am sure this will spice up the journey!
    I will continue to lean on you and all the other trail blazers on twitter! Please continue to share your journey!

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    1. Deb,
      Thanks for stopping by to add to our conversation! It's so awesome that you are going to get modern technology tools to help students foster their learning opportunities! iPads, iPods and laptops will definitely spice up the journey? How will the carts be shared? Will you only have them a certain day or time? How many others will you have to share with?

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    2. Amy you're so smart to ask the question I DONT want to face! We will have 4 carts of 15 (?) iPads among 24-30 teachers… and 1 classroom iPad. We will make it work!

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    3. I almost wish everyone could just keep 2-3 in each room and store them to charge. We have carts in my building (mac laptops-old and windows based laptops new) you only get the cart on the assigned day-it kinda puts a damper on on-going learning/projects. The old mac laptops are ok for some internet stuff-no flash player-very frustrating.
      The primary had to use them and intermediate got the new laptop cart.
      We all got one classroom ipad that was to be the teacher's "productivity" tool. We need a grant to get more ipads.

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  5. Hi Amy, I'm back, and will try to answer some of the questions you left on my post. It may seem simplistic because I think a very long conversation would be more helpful to the explaining. The biggest explaining are with the youngest (the largest number entering our school) or any other student who enters into one of the older grades. We really don't use grades, but essentially they are k-8, but are mixed classrooms from early and older primary, younger and older intermediate, and advanced school (6, 7, 8 mix). Students are urged to choose topics they are highly interested in, have questions to being their queries, etc. With teacher conferences, they begin the research, even the non-readers, by looking at pictures, having books read to them, and teachers taking notes for them. We have a buddy program & sometimes older buddies help too. As appropriate, there are conversations about questions, how to, when to, what different ones look like, practice, etc. Students are urged to write their most important questions down, but add to the lists as they learn more, "questions grow out of learning and then more questions!". Emphasis is not just on the process but how to share the answers, what would work best, to communicate the learning, etc. I realize this is very briefly said, but really, the answer to that questions is "it depends". It always depends, on the research, the child's needs and ability and goals. We do not do grades at all. Students work until they have met the goals they set for some part of the learning. There are higher math classes that are in a pull out program so those older students can meet expectations for classes like algebra when they leave for a more structured high school. And those classes do have grades. I hope this answers some of what you want to know. As I said in my post, the next challenge for us is to use more tech as appropriate and they means both teachers and students need to broaden their expertise of what's available. I like that you are broadening your own learning through blogs and twitter. Me too-I am often so excited to read about what others are doing, and how they are doing it! Thanks!

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    1. Linda,
      Thanks for stopping by and answering my questions! Your school sounds like an amazing place to be! What tech tools do you already have in place?

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    2. We have plenty computers, some laptops to check out, a big tech room full and each classroom has 4-6. Older students bring their own laptops. Many are adept at making movies with a variety of apps, podcasts, prezis/powerpoints, etc. No one is blogging or tweeting with their classes-hard to convince it's worthy. Few are using Google Docs or Evernote. There's a new list I'm going to explore out of the recent ALA of best recent apps. If you have a list of favorites, I'd love it!

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    3. Hurray for productivity tools-now you just need to share your learning with the global community right?

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  6. Thank you for a thoughtful post, Amy. I love your positive thinking and the way you have connected it with all the things you are doing. What an inspiration!

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    1. Barbara,
      Thanks, there are amazing things going on everyday with building PLNs. I think we need to create the same kinds of opportunities for kids...not easy but we know it works-!

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  7. I agree Amy that the transition to the Digital Learning Farm model has its challenges. Certainly, in the upper grades students and their families who are accustomed to a more passive approach to learning will be hesitant, if not resistant to it. Like you, I am encouraged and fortified by my fellow educators who can offer their experiences and ideas, and importantly their support when the going gets rocky.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Julie

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    1. This reminds me of a quote I saw on Twitter about change, "Don't be afraid of change, you may end up losing something good but you will probably end up gaining something better." Life Advice.

      Support for those in need...support, support, support.

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  8. Hi Amy,
    I downloaded the book via Kindle as well and love the notes feature. It is my first Kindle read! I am an iBooks girl myself, but thought I would shake things up a bit. I loved the reference to the $1000 pencil! I get that on so many levels. As an instructional technologist, I am always fighting that battle. I think the vision of using the computer for something you could do with a pen is a great way to help my teachers understand how they should reconsider the use of their technology.

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Thanks for adding your comment!