ECOO Conference

Presented a seminar at the ECOO Conference yesterday on how to create an engaging game based project in Wikispaces. The resources and information are posted here. Participants in the seminar shared a common goal in wanting as much student centered learning as possible embedded in the wiki experience. This could mean that students create the wikispace themselves, determine the success criteria, the assignment options, the point system, and the design. Producing an appealing project for your students on a wikispace takes a bit of front end work, but then once it is set up, students take over.

The conference had lots of positive energy and the future looks technologically bright for our students.

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Collaboration

According to the HWDSB Strategic Plan, HWDSB will maintain and strengthen collaborative relationships with employee groups. Develop and implement an Employee Relations Plan, a Professional Learning Plan and a Leadership Development Plan, designed to create a culture of collective efficacy, trust and high expectations
(academic optimism) through networking and job-embedded learning.
HWDSB will maintain and strengthen collaborative relationships with community partners. Develop and implement a Community Engagement Plan to improve student achievement and well-being
We all collaborate on the courses that we teach and this is an essential part of doing business. But it is important to me to confer with other teachers as often as possible on everything and anything. Teaching can be an isolating experience – usually in large, institution-like buildings, especially in the secondary panel. My teaching practice is improved through talking to other teachers. I have had the privilege of talking to teachers from other schools who teach Media Arts. Sharing strategies and ideas refreshes enthusiasm and refines ideas.

Last month I was invited to join the 21st Century Fluencies committee – a committee struck to talk about technology and how to engage students and teachers with its potential. This has been the best of the best meetings that I could ever attend – and there isn’t even any food, not even coffee! It really does matter if your opinion counts and that you are doing something meaningful – see engagement does matter! Of course we are talking about technology, a subject near and dear to my heart, as I live and breath it daily. Being part of this committee is almost like taking a big drink of water – I can then go back to my students re-energized and empowered – isn’t this what we try and accomplish with our students – engage, empower?

Being able to connect with other teaching professionals online is also an amazing way to learn new strategies, find out about new technologies and what works and doesn’t work. It is like opening a window and letting the light pour in! Places like ISTE, Classroom 2.0 and Edutopia are full of resources, advice, standards of excellence and conversations amongst educators from around the world. All one needs to do is set a small amount of time each week to delve into the discussion and see what is out there. For those that are courageous, Twitter is also a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of what is new in education. I have recently found this way to keep in touch with educators is easy and quick. You only have to read 140 characters at a time!

The nice thing about connecting with platforms like RSS readers or iGoogle and twitter, it comes to you and you don’t have to spend time surfing and looking. It’s like having your own customized newspaper delivered right to your computer!

Following the educational dialogue

The first level of pull is access. According to book, The Power of Pull (John Hagel III, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison), “access involves the ability to find, learn about and connect with resources (people, products, and knowledge) on an as-needed basis to address unanticipated needs.”

It was the Flat Classroom project last fall that first introduced me to RSS readers as part of my professional learning network.  I promptly set up iGoogle as my homepage and followed many of the great educational sites/players – edutopia, Ted talks, Steve Hargadon and  David Warlick. Every time I took a look, there was something interesting or new happening and many new leads to follow.

I have since started following some fine educators on Twitter. Thomas Ro from our HWDSB 21st Century Fluencies committee gave me some tips on how to track tweets from these sources using Tweet Deck. This organizes all of your tweets according to your parameters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now the challenge is not to get too distracted with all of the interesting information coming at 140 characters! I also have the echofon plugin for my browser that keeps me informed immediately of any new tweets when Tweet Deck isn’t running. Then there is the “newspaper” (paper.li) that formats all the tweets I follow (and send) in a newspaper format – definitely easy to read. I have found some very useful links and tips from tweets and this takes far less time that reading blog posts.

PLNs and Google Home Page

You can organize the way that you view your online resources with platforms such as iGoogle and Netvibes

I use iGoogle for tracking my student’s blogs as you get a look at everyone’s blog at once and determine who has completed their work. I have a snapshot of the page here.

iGoogle is my home page and I use it to organize all of my favourite web sites plus there are gadgets that you can add to customize this page. Take a look here: