Here are some options for self-paced, learn-when-you-can professional development. Your district will not hand you these options, but I encourage you to seek them out.
iTunesU is an iPad-based repository of courses, lectures, and resources for teachers and students. The content can be accessed exclusively on the iPad, and the material is all vetted for accuracy and copyright. Courses can be accessed or created by individuals or teachers through iTunesU Course Manager. Course manager is only available on the Apple platform and when using the Safari browser.
Coursera is a free online course catalog that allows anyone in the world to take courses from some of the best instructors on the planet. Coursera does not offer accreditation for teachers yet, but they are advocating for this issue. Regardless, this site is chock full of courses that anyone can take at any time.
Google+ is emerging as a credible venue for professional development and anytime learning. It’s a free platform, and if you work in an organization that employs Google Apps for Education, you already have an account. Google+ offers Google “Hangouts” as the venue for presenting professional development sessions. The best part about this option is that Hangouts are archived on the YouTube account of the author or group.
Everyone in education loves Twitter. Twitter can be a great venue for learning if you organize it and filter it (I recommend TweetDeck). Jumping headfirst into something like #edchat will only confuse and overwhelm you. My recommendation is to use Twitter sparsely at first. Find a few educators to follow, and spend a good amount of time listening, reading and processing. Follow Steve Anderson, Kristen Swanson, Alec Couros, John Spencer, Lyn Hilt, Rich Kiker, Dean Shareski, Joyce Valenza, Kyle Pace and Edutopia — to start. But start simple and listen to what the aforementioned educators have to say.
EdCamps EdCamp is the standard professional development for education. I’ve attended and organized several EdCamps and find them to be the most rewarding experiences that I’ve had in education. I’ve made great connections and friends as a result of this format, and it is a professional development that allows everyone to participate and have a voice.
Flipping the classroom has become a large passion of mine. It is one of my ongoing professional goals to implement next year.
I have to agree with these four bullet points. Poor video lectures are worse than the live version of the same lecture. They need to be engaging.
Video lectures lead to less engaged students. — “This is actually the opposite of what I experienced as a teacher,” wrote Bergmann.
Classes will become too big to support engagement with students. — “I talk to every kid in every class every day.”
It’s just bad lecture on video. — “I see the flip as a stepping stone for teachers who have lectured for all of their career. For them the idea of moving to an inquiry, problem based learning model would be very difficult.”
Students with limited access to technology are hurt — “We simply took 4-6 videos and burned them onto a DVD and handed the DVDs out to students. Some students who had a computer at home but not high speed internet brought in flash drives and took home the videos that way.” Bergmann points to principal Greg Green’s success in Michigan.
Today I was reading the blog of Steven Anderson, District Instructional Technologist with Winston-Salem Schools in Winston-Salem NC, where he was discussing “Taking a Step Back and Thinking Critically About Technology“. Take a moment to read the article to understand my standpoint below.
So why is iPad King in Education? Apps! When you have a center store filled with over 500,000 apps, with 25 billion downloads, and countless developers always creating new things, then selecting the iPad for your classroom seems obvious. Now with the creation of the iBooks Author, Apple has just added another tid-bit to entice educators more than they already do.
I agree with Steven that there are a lot of schools and districts buying iPads just to say that they have them. (Points to myself.) While I did support the purchase of the iPads for our main curriculum tool now looking back I would go another way. I am one of those educators that believes that “I” am the curriculum in my room, everything else is just a tool that I use. So why would I go with something else rather than the just sticking with the iPad? Simple, Google. The collaboration that comes with Google Docs, Calendar, Blogger, and other various tools is ULTIMATE. In a profession where collaboration works, Google needs to be used in schools more often than it currently is. While the iPad does work with Google, it does not tap into Google’s collaborative features. This is why I personally would go with the Chromebook. I like those collaborative features and students need to learn to collaborate more than they currently are.
Here is some of what you’ll find in his post:100 Ways You Should Be Using Facebook in Your Classroom50 Useful Facebook Tips for Teachers8 Real Ways Facebook Enriched Ms. Schoening’s First Grade ClassUsing Facebook to Connect With Students & ParentsFacebook Apps for eLearningTeacher’s Guide to Using Facebook (Read Fullscreen)Facebook Top 20 Learning Applications–VideoThe (Very) Unofficial Facebook Privacy ManualFacebook in EducationFacebook in Education Diigo GroupDrive Belonging and Engagement in the Classroom Using Facebook [PDF]
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I think that this is fantastic! Reading the main story on the Houston Press, there are some teachers and librarians that are up in arms about this. Stating that students need to compete for the computers in order to access books. Why? Don’t most kids now days have smartphones? And for the most part does a library really purchase 35 copies of every single book? Ok maybe textbooks they do, but I doubt they purchase 35 copies of Twilight or Harry Potter. The only thing that I don’t really agree with is setting up the library to be a lot like Starbucks. While I do a lot of my focused work at Starbucks with my MacBook Pro just sitting listening to music and drinking coffee, I do not think that kids need to start down this path of viewing libraries as coffee shops.
To my library friends: Libraries are not like what they use to be. I visit the New York Public Library at least 3 times a month and I have never even been to New York. Libraries are starting to be located everywhere you are. Have a computer? Then you have ALL the libraries.
To my educator friends: This is the way of the future. Students should not be bound by paper. eBooks are the advancement of books. Much like the worksheets you use in class. Those are the advancement of the chalkboard and slates, but still we use them.
This principal should not have been awarded the “Rotten Apple in Education” award, unless this approach to changing the way student consume readings was truly for “designed to impress the new superintendent [Terry Grier] with the forward thinking nature of that particular principal at that particular school. ” In that case then, yes he should have been. Things in education should never be done to impress but rather for the right reasons and those are always the kids.
The twelve reasons below are reasons that more school should do this for the “right reasons”.
A Dozen or So Reasons I Applaud Lamar High School for Ditching School Library Books
Librarians, educators, and parents are up in arms after Principal James McSwain of Lamar High School in Houston, Texas ditched many of the books in his library and re-opened the facility as a high-tech Reading / Research Center & Coffee Shop this year. To Principal McSwain, I say kudos for your foresight and bravery, though I know many of my paper-trained librarian friends and colleagues give this principal a big thumbs down.
A class blog is always a good starting point if you want to blog with your students.
It gives you to time to increase your skills while gradually introducing your students to blogging and educating them on appropriate online behaviour.
Start initially with you being responsible for writing posts, and the students responding in comments. As students demonstrate both keenness and responsibility give them their ‘blogging license’ where they earn the right to write posts on the class blog and/or get their own student blog.
Ultimately even if each student has their own blog it is always a good idea to have a class blog.
Blogging isn’t just about writing posts; it’s about sharing your learning and reflecting on what you have learnt.
Important parts of the blogging process include encouraging students to:
Read each others posts
Interact and comment on each others posts by challenging each others thoughts and views
Write posts in response to each others posts
The class blog is the central hub that connects your student blogs together; making it easier to share their learning, interact with each other and a global audience.
I couldn’t agree with this more. If you do peer editing in class on research reports and such, then use a blog and students will get more input on their research from peers. Students want to create authentic material online which is why they are always posting on Facebook.
I started a blog this year with my class and so far it has been great and students are very receptive to online posts and assignments.
I couldn’t agree more with this post on using Wikipedia in the classroom. Many times I have run across teacher that tell their students to not use Wikipedia as a source because it can be inaccurate. Information on Wikipedia at time can be inaccurate but we should be teaching students to cite properly and to no rely completely on one single source.
“Wikipedia deserves the same place in most modern assignments that Britannica did in most of ours.”
Now this is a school! Amazing article by the NY Times on a new way to approach educating students. I have always believed that educating students is much more successful when you take this approach and eliminate the confines of the typical four walled classroom. I wish my middle school was like this when I was in school. I probably would have done a lot better.
The thing in the article that stood out most to me was “The model we are using throughout the United States in kindergarten-to-12th-grade education is fundamentally the same as it was 100 years ago,” Mr. Klein said.
“Take a surgeon from 100 years ago and place them in an operating room and they would be totally lost. Take a teacher from 100 years ago and place them in the classroom and they wouldn’t skip a beat.” This statement will always hold true unless more districts and schools take a huge leap like this and change the way things are done.
I never would have even thought of using WOW as a learning tool in schools until I saw this post and student responses given in the project. This is the kind of outstanding risk I like seeing teachers taking to incorporate technology in the classroom. While there should be caution when using games like this that have violence included, there is a great deal of learning involved, especially in communication with a game like this.
I too play WOW from time-to-time during breaks from school and when we are not busy with family stuff and I will say that there is always a lot to learn in this game each time I come back and play from taking long breaks in between.