My “netWORTH” is tied closely to my “netWORK”…

Often when we think about teacher mentors, we visualize older teachers with decades of experience behind them. Personally, I feel that there is a lost opportunity when we limit mentor relationships in that way. I have several mentors and interestingly enough, they are at different stages of their careers as well as working in various capacities within education. As a result, I have numerous perspectives and opportunities; this makes for a well-rounded network!

Included in this amazing array of strong teachers is a lateral mentor by the name of Dena Ayers. Our career paths have been similar and yet, her expertise in certain areas is undeniable. A distinguished educator of sixteen years, she is a current instructor in the Lower Merion School District and has learned to use her networking resources wisely. Dena is an impressive teacher but she’s more than that…she’s an administrator at heart that is always available to offer solid and unbiased advice. Every teacher needs at least one mentor who will do that! Just recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing her briefly and will spare you the run of the mill questions. The one question/response I feel the need to share is the one that is most apropos to this course: What do you do to re-energize your teaching practices?

Here is Dena’s response:

“My rejuvenation or re-energy comes from a few sources. When my students have those “ah ha” moments and I hear, “Oh, I get it.” Or, when I see the smiles of confidence and self-satisfaction that really re-energizes my teaching practices. I don’t tire or give up until I see the signs of acquisition. I adjust my teaching practices over and over again until I have achieved my instructional goal and when my student has achieved the learning goal.

The other motivator for me is summer break. Yup, I said it. Summertime is the time when I do a lot of reflecting on my teaching practices. I think about the successes that we, my students and me, had. I spend time reflecting on the lessons that didn’t work out so well. It’s also a time when I can plan without the every day pressures that I experience in the fall, winter and spring. Summer allows me to relax, refocus and create.

The thing that truly gets my wheels turning is learning. Learning new teaching trends and relearning trends that have circled back around. Professional development focused on curriculum and instruction invigorates me. Anytime I get to grow intellectually creates an energy within me to keep evolving as a teacher. Plainly put, loving and living my profession is what I do to re-energize my teaching practices.”


Online Networking?

Chapter 2 of Menoon Rami’s Thrive: 5 Ways to (Re) Invigorate Your Teaching highlights the importance of utilizing professional networks; I have to agree. As of late, my life has grown exponentially hectic (both professional and personal). With the assignment of each and every role and responsibility, it seems as though my “teacher island” becomes that much more isolated. It makes sense…when there’s more work, we have less time to connect, collaborate, and simply communicate. So keep from becoming frustrated, I choose to use online networks frequently. They fit into my schedule, I can tailor it to suit my needs, and there is always a wealth of information available. And although there is a seemingly unlimited number of resources, I have taken to Twitter believe it or not, as of late.

I will be the first to admit that when Twitter first made its appearance, I used it solely for social networking of the personal kind. It was fascinating for me to be able to “follow” the movers and shakers of pop-culture. But then something interesting happened; as I followed organizations like Discover Magazine, and people like Mayim Bialik, the Twitter platform began making suggestions of like-minded individuals. My follower list morphed into a scientific resource network; it just made sense for me to create a professional account to streamline my searching process. I haven’t looked back! In fact, as I open my account I was treated to information from:

Edutopia (@edutopia)

They are offering their favorite summertime reads for professional development

Edudemic (@Edudemic)

They are soliciting help to spread an infographic from @TigerMobiles on smartphone safety.

Open Badges (@OpenBadges)

Unveiling their 2-page layout for their latest app. This is I will have to try as students as well as teachers love earning badges as a way of validating their accomplishments!

Connect Learning (@Connect_Learn)

If you want to use technology as a tool in your classroom, it must be planned well; this article can help with that!

And just a quick search of #mathchat yielded:

  • An end of year math activity where you paint multiplication pebbles.
  • During the “dog days of summer” you can calculate a dog’s age (is it really as simple as multiplying by 7?).
  • Research into Singapore-style teaching practices.

Notice, I haven’t mentioned anything about posting “tweets;” that was done on purpose. If you aren’t ready for that type of network relationship, it’s fine! A monologic networking relationship works well as long as you are continuing to grow. I’ve only been using Twitter as a professional platform for about a year now yet, I’m thoroughly impressed with its capabilities! Give it a shot…I’ll bet you will be too!


How do we as Teachers Galvanize our Practices?

I swear she really does exist…

Have you heard the expression, “Her name rings bells?” When it comes to my mentor, Joanne Chiachetti, her name not only rang bells years ago when I began my teaching career, but it still rings bells…and she’s been retired for years now! She was the quintessential educator…strong content knowledge, flawless pedagogy, a solid grasp of child psychology, the diplomatic prowess of a government negotiator, tireless commitment, and above all, just an unwavering passion to helping students be the best they can be. “Do what’s best for kids,” she would say to me when I’d approach her with a dilemma. Yes, I have to say that I was one of the few fortunate blessed ones to have been honored to have her as a mentor, and this week’s readings have ushered in wonderful memories.

Weekly readings…

One of the required texts for ED 676 (Teacher Practice in a Connected World) is Thrive: 5 Ways to (Re)Invigorate Your Teaching by Meenoo Rami and chapter one is dedicated to using the expertise of mentors. In it, I was reminded of the fact that we teachers are expected to wear many hats during various times of the day; it is indeed a pressure-filled job. We all need a safe haven to head towards from time-to-time and connecting with mentors can be that safe haven. The chapter offered a few tips however, before entering into a situation that has the potential of adding stress. Most helpful for me was having one understand why they felt the need to have a mentor. This is key in grounding the expectations in reality…for both the mentor and mentee. When you know what your needs are, chances are you’ll be able to help your mentor focus in on the things that matter. You can also hash out details that seem minor but are anything but. In what manner will you communicate, how frequently, and even the time duration are all crucial when it comes effective mentoring!

With Great Power Comes…

…you know the rest. But it’s very true here. The mentor/mentee relationship is a sacred one that should be respected and certainly not taken for granted. Both parties involved can find mutual benefits if there is a decent fit. In fact, I believe I learned just as much from the teacher I mentored as she learned from me. We problem solved together on many occasions and I even found myself going to her for her thoughts on situations (and I still do)! I became more organized as we met regularly and had a set agenda to honor each other’s time. Another unintended benefit was the fact that I became very well versed with district policies and procedures. At the end of the school year, I can honestly say that we met our goal to become more reflective educators…but we also became great friends.

I’ve had great experiences as a mentee and as mentor…share your experiences here!


How do we as Teachers Galvanize our Practices?

I swear she really does exist…

Have you heard the expression, “Her name rings bells?” When it comes to my mentor, Joanne Chiachetti, her name not only rang bells years ago when I began my teaching career, but it still rings bells…and she’s been retired for years now! She was the quintessential educator…strong content knowledge, flawless pedagogy, a solid grasp of child psychology, the diplomatic prowess of a government negotiator, tireless commitment, and above all, just an unwavering passion to helping students be the best they can be. “Do what’s best for kids,” she would say to me when I’d approach her with a dilemma. Yes, I have to say that I was one of the few fortunate blessed ones to have been honored to have her as a mentor, and this week’s readings have ushered in wonderful memories.

Weekly readings…

One of the required texts for ED 676 (Teacher Practice in a Connected World) is Thrive: 5 Ways to (Re)Invigorate Your Teaching by Meenoo Rami and chapter one is dedicated to using the expertise of mentors. In it, I was reminded of the fact that we teachers are expected to wear many hats during various times of the day; it is indeed a pressure-filled job. We all need a safe haven to head towards from time-to-time and connecting with mentors can be that safe haven. The chapter offered a few tips however, before entering into a situation that has the potential of adding stress. Most helpful for me was having one understand why they felt the need to have a mentor. This is key in grounding the expectations in reality…for both the mentor and mentee. When you know what your needs are, chances are you’ll be able to help your mentor focus in on the things that matter. You can also hash out details that seem minor but are anything but. In what manner will you communicate, how frequently, and even the time duration are all crucial when it comes effective mentoring!

With Great Power Comes…

…you know the rest. But it’s very true here. The mentor/mentee relationship is a sacred one that should be respected and certainly not taken for granted. Both parties involved can find mutual benefits if there is a decent fit. In fact, I believe I learned just as much from the teacher I mentored as she learned from me. We problem solved together on many occasions and I even found myself going to her for her thoughts on situations (and I still do)! I became more organized as we met regularly and had a set agenda to honor each other’s time. Another unintended benefit was the fact that I became very well versed with district policies and procedures. At the end of the school year, I can honestly say that we met our goal to become more reflective educators…but we also became great friends.

I’ve had great experiences as a mentee and as mentor…share your experiences here!


Self Assessment!

As a part of the final assessment of the ED 677 Connected Learning course, we are expected to reflect upon our progress towards equitable, social, and participatory learning. This blog entry is designed for just that with the following expectations in mind:

  1. Exploring key ideas of connected learning (within weekly topics and cycles).
  2. Contribute to our classroom community in some way each week.
  3. Engage with another community outside of this course each week.
  4. Document your journey as you go in support of your own assessment and reflection, with specific attention to issues of equity.
  5. Design a framework for a project you will take forward past this class.
  6. Share/demonstrate/perform some aspect of this for community input/feedback.

Reflection questions #1 and 2:

How well do you feel you successfully met these expectations this semester?

Where do you think you could have improved?

Upon honest reflection, I feel as though I performed well in some areas, but could improve in others. My personal roadblocks proved to be a hindrance in terms of meeting on Wednesdays via Google Hangout. Unfortunately, I not only had another class on the same day, but directly afterwards I had a standing appointment that was non-negotiable and began in the September prior to taking the class. I truly appreciated Christina’s willingness to not only record both the digital class session, but the notes as well! This was helpful in giving me a foundational understanding of the week’s topics. But, I still wish I could have attended more sessions…I find dialogue with fellow teachers invaluable! So to that end, I certainly could have explored ideas further and helped to keep the conversations going in a timelier fashion.

One area I enjoyed was sharing my “hacks” and “makes” with the course community in addition to my cohort in the STEM program and even further, my school community. I find it rewarding when we as professionals can gather in a non-threatening way to collaborate and bare our thoughts. It can be very risky…but everyone was so supportive and seemingly genuinely interested in learning from each other. This openly networked environment made for an easy transition into my journey to Connected Learning.

Reflection question #3:

How do your successes and reflections on improvement inform your connected learning moving forward?

A major component of Connected Learning is to fostering active learning that supports student interest. I must say that I have created and hacked products I never thought I’d either be interested in or be able to! I am thrilled and actually proud of everything I’ve done, especially my blog and my plans to create an open badge system for teachers. My plans are to use a platform like Credly.com to build and maintain badges for various teacher accomplishments in (math) curriculum and instruction. I considered this for my final make, but needed to rethink that idea as there is much work to be done and have enlisted the help of a fellow math specialist in planning and organizing. I’m pleased to be fostering a peer culture in my district!

Reflection question #4:

What else should be considered when assessing your performance over the past semester?

There are many ideas about this course that were eye-opening, but one of the most important features for me has to be the awareness of being a learner myself. This became the backbone of the course for me as I realized much of what I was experiencing as a digital immigrant is what some of my own students experience on a daily basis. I have learned much about my own interests and that discovered that what may have once been unappealing as a topic to explore, suddenly has my curiosity peaked. Further, collaborating with colleagues whose interests are varied have helped me to see different perspectives! I have found another way to grow as an educator…you can’t put a grade on that. :-)

#CLC


My Final Make…

I’m excited to share my final make for my ED 677 Connected Learning course. I have learned so much and yet I know I’ve only scratched the surface…there’s so much more. This is a prezi that illustrates what I plan to create with a small group of students. I actually think that I’m may be more excited than they are just knowing where a project like this can lead.

I will say that I encountered more issues with the video editing than I expected. The videos were taken on my phone which made it difficult when I went to e-mail them to myself for further editing and uploading; they were just too long! Not one for giving up easily, I tried to circumvent the situation by using editing apps on my phone, but I wasn’t very successful with that either. So, I have embedded the videos I could and will continue to trouble shoot until I am able to get the others edited and loaded. As my instructor Christina has said, you can always go back and continue to “hack” or edit your make! That was great advice!

I still have one more entry to post regarding my thoughts and feelings on the course…but that certainly won’t be the end. Hopefully, emblazen will gain more substance and a little more traction to lead to more action! :-)

http://prezi.com/2c-zpnviwedo/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy

#CLC


emblazen 2015-04-15 01:06:59

During a routine cleaning of my computer bookmarks, I came across a number of videos and links that I’ve used to inspire or encourage students. They vary in subject matter…from social studies to science to just needing a laugh! Our standardized assessment period has begun and after today, I realized that I, too could use a little inspiring. So, here’s a curation of my favorite digital encouragement inspired by my students past and present!

Let’s begin with my all time favorite, Lower Merion School District’s version of Pharell’s “Happy.” At the beginning of this school year, teachers and students collaborated and choreographed to interpret their own wacky brand of “happy.” Although many school districts have done the same thing, it just brings a smile to my face to see people letting go of their inhibitions and just having fun! Hope it brings a smile to your face as well!

Lower Merion is Happy!

https://youtu.be/F8joYAIMjtI

I love seeing students light up when they realize just how clever they truly are. Whether it’s solving a challenging math problem or writing an impressive essay, the look says it all. It’s important for them to realize that deep inside of each of them are brilliant ideas just waiting to get out. The first time I showed this video years ago, my students made me replay it four times because they were so inspired…or maybe it was the fact that Justin Timberlake was in it? :-)

My Robot is Better Than Your Robot

https://youtu.be/bkOMd6HdpJ0

Ok, who can resist Kid President? He’s intelligent, funny, and has such an infectious smile! This is the perfect video to show before PSSA testing!

Kid President – A Pep Talk from Kid President to You

https://youtu.be/l-gQLqv9f4o

Talk about character education…I adore this commercial. My students were able to pick out themes like friendship, honesty, togetherness, support and collaboration. What a perfect way to remind us to honor differences, but let’s celebrate similarities as well!

Friends Furever

https://youtu.be/vnVuqfXohxc

This one was used as a movement break. When my kiddos were just spent after testing most of the day, I would say, “Push the desks back, it’s time for a movement break!” The funny thing is they never knew which video I was going to show, but the floor was packed with poorly coordinated kids…and one teacher laughing hysterically right in the middle of them all! Love it!

Sesame Street: Share it Maybe

https://youtu.be/-qTIGg3I5y8

Lately there’s been a lot of fuss about the word resiliency. All of sudden, “grit” matters. Catch up folks, it’s been around longer than we think.

Michael Jordan – Learn to fail

https://youtu.be/JA7G7AV-LT8

This one is amazing. I recently viewed this in a STEM class. Although I didn’t necessarily use it to inspire in the traditional sense, I utilized it to bring awareness to the world’s population and its dwindling resources. We easily brought in math, geography, and historic themes, but I believe the point was hit home. We have to take care of this planet. And they are not too young to help.

World Population (Population Education)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khFjdmp9sZk

I have tons more to share and will shortly. For now, I hope you can use these. May they inspire and “edutain!”


8 Things I Learned About Teaching with #OpenBadges

hporter2016:

This is a great way to enhance student-led conferences! Thanks, Kira!

Originally posted on Kira J Baker-Doyle, Ph.D.:

In September of 2014, I decided to embark on a a teaching odyssey of sorts. I went on a mission to learn about how to use (and teach about) open digital badges in the classroom. This post is the third and final in a series of my reports on my journey. The first two posts (#1 & #2) give a little background as to why I decided to try badges and the evolution of their use of my classroom. I promised a final post that would shed some light on what I learned, and here it is! I should caution the reader that I am still learning, and will likely develop a few new opinions or ideas in the future. However, I do think there are some worthwhile strategies and tips that have emerged through this process that interested educators might benefit from reading. I want to thank all of my…

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Pushouts & Dropouts in Philadelphia Schools. (response)

hporter2016:

…I’m speechless.

Originally posted on My Reading Room:

Today I was able to sit down and watch this video. To say I was surprised was an understatement. First off, I want to thank Lizzie for sharing this video with us. I feel like these young adults are right. We need to be the adults to help them. As someone studying to be a reading specialist I find that we are responsible for helping these young adults with whatever they need, we need to be the advocate for them.  There is no reason that a high school student should be reading on a 3rd grade level. These young adults want to turn their lives around and we should help them. This video opened my eyes to many problems, but also many solutions to things in the future when I have my own classroom.

Amy

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