Professional Development Menu


Last night edchat convened for another riveting discussion as it does every Tuesday at 12pm and 7pm EST. The topic last evening was, If we were to create a best practices PD program, what are the elements that we should see? The conversation was rich and chalk full of progressive ideas. One of my early suggestions was to take the Edcamp model and mimicking the same style in faculty PD sessions. PDs should be a conversation and allow everyone to lead and present ideas for best practices.

As the conversation progressed, I wanted to hear specifically what everyone was thinking for a PD session and what PD sessions others have already incorporated. I proposed that we extend the edchat topic to a Google Doc. I set up the document and within minutes my inbox was overflowing with requests and the Doc was filling up with excellent ideas for PD sessions. I want to share what the list we generated and I will list it at the end of this post. If you would like to be a part of this ongoing collaborative, please email me at ontheroad51@gmail.com

This is the true essence of edchat. Edchat allows us to rapidly generate ideas in an organized and focused manner. However, the true merit of edchat is what follows. Last week I left edchat writing a blog post on Reinventing Assessment in the 21st Century. And tonight we created a Google Doc that generated a useful list of professional development ideas that any administrator, teacher, or tech coach can use at any time next year.

Edchat is a collaborative community that generates stimulating, thought provoking discussion on a weekly basis. We should not limit edchat to 1 hour. Edchat should continue on and generate ideas and provoke thought within our classrooms and our schools.

Below is the list that was generated from our Google Doc. 1. My first PD will cover The brilliance of Google forms and the ability for teachers to track data and maintain a digital record of student work. I will use my wikispace as an example http://blenglish.wikispaces.com/ by @andycinek

2. Using Twitter to develop a Personal Learning network @davidwees

3. How to manage a 1 to 1 program in your classroom @davidwees

4. Teaching paperless @davidwees

5. using digital audio editing software to enhance storytelling. @eliza_peterson 6. Effective blogging for students @eliza_peterson 7. Making Google Sites your classroom’s 5th wall @21stcenturychem

8. Clickers and Formative Assessment in classrooms of all sizes @21stcenturychem 9. How to create online learning content with Moodle @Mr_Lister 10. Integrating technology in the classroom – examples for non-tech savvy educators @Mr_Lister

11. Student-centered learning in the science classroom @21stcenturychem

12. Responsible use of online resources in the secondary classroom @21stcenturychem

13. Beyond Powerpoint… ’nuff said @21stcenturychem

14. Bypassing MS Office: Using Google Docs to facilitate a paperless classroom. @21stcenturychem 15. Using Google Docs to collaborate with other teachers for lesson planning and committee work. @RjWassink 16. Using google docs for faculty collaboration JUST LIKE THIS! 🙂 @andycinek 17. using ustream (or equivilent) for live streaming exciting classroom / school events @RjWassink

18. Creating an Authentic Based Classroom through the use of PBL @daylynn

19. Using http://www.jingproject.com/ to help teachers provide better feedback on student work (verbal comments & screencast) @michelleleandra

20. Service Learning Online? Blogs as a way to connect classrooms globally (and locally) @21stcenturychem 21. Using students to help teach teachers how to use tech tools in their classrooms @missbartel
@jkokladas is doing this in her district next fall for more info 22. Developing reliability and validity in differentiated assessment @DrTimony

23. Creating Personal Learning Networks @actionhero
Outline/handout http://docs.google.com/View?id=ajb789gvf6sk_147gbn5s3gx

24. Be Social With Your Bookmarks @actionhero
Outline/handout http://tinyurl.com/socialbookmarkingclass

25. RSS: The Killer App @actionhero
Outline/handout http://tinyurl.com/rsskillerapp

26. Media literacy–critical reading and deconstructing of ads for our kids. Information, not prohibition! @DrTimony
http://medialit.org/
http://www.medialiteracy.com/
https://www.adbusters.org/
http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/teachers/media_literacy/what_is_media_literacy.cfm
http://www.medialiteracy.net/

27. Using student & teacher blogs as a means of achieving transparency in classroom instruction @arosey

28. Best ways to collaborate @cybraryman1
Collaboration Page

Where Do You Live?


Today I started my class with a prompt.

Would you rather have someone comment on your facebook status or give you a compliment in real life?

Before I get to the responses, let me take you back to how I came to this question.

I find myself ensconced in social networks. That’s right, I have completely draped myself in social networks. As the anti-hero George Constanza once uttered, “I would drape myself in velvet if it was socially acceptable”. And although it may not be socially acceptable to drape oneself in velvet (although it’d be a lot cooler if you did), surrounding yourself with tiny networks is perfectly fine.

The latest social networking forum to hit the web is Google Buzz. Yes, we are all now buzzing, however, we are also tweeting, blogging, skyping, ning-ing, and facebook-ing. Verbs are flying all around the Internet, but in reality, who can possibly keep up. Furthermore, who has time for reality when you have such a presence elsewhere?

In my end of decade post eloquently titled, My Decade, I predicted that one day, in the not so distant future, there would be one device that houses one, cohesive social network. It will simply be called Awesome. The Awesome…sorry, the developers at Google just locked down the patent for this name. I will now refer to my idea as “The Artist formerly known as Awesome” or TAFKA.

TAFKA will connect everything and everyone in one central forum. It will have a sleek interface and users will only need one username and password. This username will actually be affixed to all birth certificates after the year 2015. The filtering system on TAFKA will allow users to see all of their threaded conversations and happenings in real time. You will even have the ability to block content or users that constantly remind us in status updates that, “Today is a gift, that’s why it is a present”. I am not going to apologize if this happens to be your current status or a bumper sticker currently affixed (yes, the second time in one paragraph) to your Dodge Stratus, however, I will block you from my TAFKA feed.

Unfortunately, TAFKA is only a dream.

Last week, while I sat packed beneath mounds of snow, I began buzzing. I felt really guilty as I started to set up my new social networking tool. I felt like I was cheating on facebook. In fact, when I logged into facebook later that day, I received an error message followed by a hand reaching out from my screen and slapping me in the face (all are true, save for the Internet coming to life and slapping my face). Surely this was a sign of facebook’s disdain for my actions. But not to worry facebook, the buzz is slowly wearing off.

Throughout our daily lives, we are all connected in one form or another. Many of us subscribe to multiple forums that demand consistent attention. Some of us have encountered the awkward moment when you see a friend in real life, but have not yet replied to him or her in your virtual life. So how do we manage it all? And how do we find time to focus on real life when our social networking life is so demanding? Or, how do we find time to keep our network strong and vibrant and at the same time, manage the daily schedule of real life?

And this is how I arrived at my prompt.

I wanted to ask my students what they prefer when it comes to a simple compliment. Is it facebook compliment or verbal compliment?

Here are their results. Please leave a comment so they can see the world come filtering into their classroom.

In modern day life, I would rather have people in real life give me a compliment because it makes me feel like a better person having someone give me a compliment. On facebook there isn’t really any difference because of the fact that people are doing the same which is giving you compliments that can be posted on your facebook for a long period of time. But that person on facebook will just comment on your picture. What they see on your facebook can be different from what they see in person, which is why I would rather have people comment to me in person

Devaun

I would rather have someone give me a comment in real life than on facebook.

Reason being, is some people make some smart comments on facebook that can really upset someone. Sometimes these comments can start big fight or disagreement between two people. In real life you can talk to that person about the disagreement rather than try to make fun of someone on facebook. That’s why I would rather have someone make a verbal comment to me than on facebook.

Jarrett

I would rather have someone give a compliment in real life than from facebook

because it means much more than if it comes over the Internet. I think if it’s a compliment over the Internet then the person that said it could just be saying it just to say it. For example, you may like a girl because of her looks on the Internet and when you meet her in real life then she isn’t what you expected her to be. I think a compliment in real life means more because you can tell if the person really means it or not and how they act without finding out later.

Qu’ran


I would choose getting a compliment on Facebook. I would choose to get a comment on my status because more people notice. I would rather get a comment on my facebook, because more people can show their appreciation at one time. Someone can also comment and tell me what I need to do to do better than what I am doing. This is what makes a comment come first than a compliment in person.

Jaylen

I would want someone to give me a compliment in real life because it’s face to

face and you know they mean what they’re saying. Facebook comments are the same but you don’t know if friends mean what they are saying. I think compliments are better because they are more meaningful to you.

Erick

I would rather have someone give me a complement in person than on my Facebook

status. The reason why I prefer a complement in person is because when you comment a status everyone can see it and people may be all up in your business, and most people don’t like that. So Instead of people knowing what I talk about with my friends on Facebook I’d rather talk in person and have a good time with out spectators.

Omar

The Return of 1


In July of 2009, I launched The One Comment A Day Project. My mission was to promote new bloggers and bring comments to existing blogs. Initially, The One Comment A Day Project burst on to the scene with the celerity of a gazelle, however, it soon became another faded project. The members of the ning remained, however, the collaborative dialogue that made the project so amazing, faded.

This decline happened because the project took off so fast that I, as a moderator and organizer, could not keep up with the progress. Couple that with the start at a new school year and a flooded basement and you have the decline of The One Comment A Day Project. However, in my absence, the members of the project remained true and continued the project along with its collaborative heart.

Now is the time for a renaissance. The One Comment A Day Project will no longer be a project, but serve as a forum for promoting new bloggers and illuminating the voices of the education world. This project will continue to be collaborative, but open up an entirely new forum for discussion and educational dialogue. My vision is that every Thursday at noon and 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, The One Comment Project can come together and discuss two different blogs via twitter. These conversations will be filtered through the hash tag #onecom. After the conversation on twitter, members will then provide constructive feedback on each blog post for that day. The goal is to generate discussion from the content of a blog and continue the conversation through comments and feedback.

Each week, members of The One Comment Project will vote on which blogs to discuss that week. I will accept e-mail submissions for blog posts at ontheroad51@gmail.com. The submission deadline will be Sunday night at 9pm. Once the blogs are selected, we will read each post and begin our conversation on Thursday. Each twitter conversation will be archived so that bloggers can read through the tweets and dissect the conversation. The twitter conversations will allow for authors to participate in the dialogue and even lead the conversation. It is my hope that conversations will linger far beyond the hour time slot on twitter and provoke our thinking and generate new ideas for the classroom and beyond.

If you cannot make a Thursday conversation, there will be RSS feeds on The One Comment Project Ning. Members of the Ning will be able to see archives and also read the blogs that are discussed for that week. I have also set up a Diigo group for The One Comment Project that all members can join. This way, we can create an online resource library of blogs that are making progressive strides in education.

I hope that you join me in this venture and help make The One Comment Project a forum that promotes new and existing blogs, expands the educational dialogue, and provokes our thinking.

Please join The One Comment Project Ning at http://onecommentproject.ning.com/#

We will begin our first twitter conversation next Thursday, February 18, 2010 at noon and our second round will commence at 7 p.m. Please submit blog posts at ontheroad51@gmail.com by Sunday at 9 p.m.

Language 2.0


Today I was called out by one of my students.

I teach tenth grade Literature and Composition class back to back for first and second period. I am teaching them through various Web 2.0 and open source venues. Every now and then we tend to digress into a conversation about technology and its role in the 21st century classroom. I often tell them that technology is changing faster than ever and everyone else is playing catch-up. This is very evident in education and the way in which we use language and communicate. I like to feel that I am on the cutting edge and can see what is around the corner before anyone else, however, today I felt archaic.

During a random tangent in class, we began talking about text messaging and the length. One of my students said, “I bet Marcinek’s text messages are like this five paragragh essay we are writing. He probably uses punctuation as well. “

I paused. Reflected on how cool I thought I was and how quickly I became my father. Standing in front of the next generation of learners and realizing that I was behind. Or was I?

From a distance, I showed my students a text message thread I had going on my iPhone. They all began to laugh and couldn’t believe the length of each individual message.

One student interjected, “How do you spell ‘though’?”

I responded, “Though.”

“What! You mean you don’t spell it tho?”

“No, what’s the point?” I shot back.

“Yo, if I got a text that long I would never read it. I’d be like, delete!”

This conversation, this tangent provoked my thinking and led me to question the relevance of my entire career and what content I was teaching. If this is what kids are currently engaged in, they why am I teaching them to read a novel at length? Why am I teaching them to spell and use grammar if the majority of their day is spent not using it? What is the future of language and grammar and punctuation? Are we on the precipice of a major language shift? And if so, what will it all look like in five to ten years?

In a brief vision I could see the future of education. Students walk into class, sit down in complete silence. I give them a copy of Lord of the Flies which has been shortened to 140 characters. They tweet me their thoughts on the 140 character novel they just wrote. They hurl me shortened adjectives over their all in one, do everything but slice bread Smart Phone. This smart phone is ironically titled Brain 2.0.

That vision started to scare me. Kids spend the majority of their day reading and writing, however, none of it is correct. They read more facebook profiles through the week than content from a text book. They write more text messages, e-mails and wall posts than essays or critical analysis responses. And this, THIS is where we, teachers in the 21st century come in to save the way in which we learn.

*Standing on my soap box* we need to be responsible with the spelling, grammar and mechanics of the English language. Teachers must teach students that when they post on walls, or send emails that they cannot break down language and toss the rules aside. Students must take it upon themselves to know when to type ‘you’ and when it is ok to type ‘u’. When technology is brought into the classroom and students find themselves typing more than writing with a pencil, we, as teachers, as facilitators, must monitor the content to which they present. We cannot sit back and let this slide or we will be disrespecting everything that is good about our language.

However, I still think there is merit to twitter and facebook in the classroom. We should not take this trend and simply ignore its appeal. I have posted before on several lessons which I have built around these two social networking forums. I use concept of twitter to elicit key ideas and focus a student’s thoughts when reading a chapter in a novel. I use the concept of facebook for characterization and reflecting on character arcs throughout a novel. There are plenty more as well. The key factor is that we need to teach our students to not just use technology, but use it with purpose and responsibility. We need to create rubrics that catch students writing when it digresses into text message format on a blog response or a discussion thread. When we combine the two, the technology in the classroom can open up many learning opportunities for our students.

Finally, I asked my students what they thought about the idea of language digression in online and text forums. Here are the two questions I asked them along with some of their responses. NOTE: I did not edit their responses to make my point. This became a teaching moment and a lesson on the responsibility we have when writing online.

Yesterday I was called out by several of you for sending paragraph length texts and it prompted two questions;
1. What are the language requirements or responsibilities when we write online and in text messages?
2. What will become of language if we continue to shorten it in length?

Answer each question in a brief paragraph. I will post these responses on my blog and share the comments and reader responses. Proofread your response for spelling and grammar.

1. i tnink that u can use and make ur own language when we write in txt meassages and in e-mails but when we are doing something professional then we need to use the write way of spelling and talking.

2. i think that sometimes you may forget how to spell a word or two nbut i think we will be fine.

~ OMAR

When you’re online you try to talk proper and try to make sure you spell your words right. But when you text you spell words a different way. If we keep spelling words short i think that it will be hard to write a story..!

~Khalid

The language requirements for certain people when there writing online is just being thrown out the windows when they are online but at the same time it’s still there in ways too. I say this because when we write a text message we do still use things like acronyms in our text messages. If we continue to write like this our language will be way different because most people will want to write the word in a different way than it is properly spelled

~Jaylen

When many people in the world don’t always follow the rule of language while they text. They either use lol (laugh out loud ) idk (i don’t know ) and for the people who follow the rule of language don’t always know what it means. Many people throw out the rules of English because they figure that they don’t have to apply it to modern life. The same for online like myspace facebook etc . In other words people now days are too lazy to type a full sentence, and instead write a response to have less to type .the language rules we learn now could be no use if we continue if we don’t apply at all times.

~Devaun

My Decade


“Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need Roads”

Twenty years ago a movie came out that changed the way I looked at the future. This movie was Back to the Future II. Back to the Future II was different than any future movie my adolescent eyes had ever seen. My only comparable film was 2001: A Space Odyssey, but at the ripe age of nine, Stanley Kubrick was not really appealing to my audience. I remember watching the previews and hearing about some of the “future” scenes in the movie. It took place in 2015. At the time, that seemed so distant and I could not even imagine the calendar year starting with a 2 and a 0 instead of a 1and a 9. In the scenes where Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to the future, we get a brief glimpse of what is awaiting us down the road. It all seemed far-fetched, but you still watched, and you still held that thought in the back of your mind that said, “hmmm, maybe this could happen.”

In 1989 we imagined a future where cars fly, hover boards are the must have toy for kids, NIKE shoes glow and your jacket air-dries and talks to you. There are vintage shops that house relics of a time gone by and there is baseball in Miami. Who could have ever imagined all of this? Robert Zemeckis did. Did it all come true? (Baseball in Miami happened and the Marlins managed to win two World Series titles since Back to the Future made this bold prediction) we don’t know yet, we are only approaching 2010.

I see this vision of the future and think about what has come in the past ten years and look forward to what will be greeting us in the next ten. This image in the New York Times today really struck a cord with me as to how fast things have progressed over the last ten years. Since 2000 the way we communicate and collaborate has changed so fast that it is hard to keep up with it all. Think about this, ten years ago we did not tweet, check facebook or use an iPhone. The web was still lingering in 1.0 and we used lots of bullets on MS PowerPoint and thought flying text and toasters were progressing us forward.

Today, the average person wakes up, checks their phone, sends a few texts, checks e-mail, brushes his or her teeth, sends a tweet about it, updates facebook status (blah Monday morning), sends a reply to previous text, eats cereal, sends a tweet about an article you are reading via an RSS feed on your iPhone, check e-mail again, grab your iPod and update it with your favorite podcasts to listen on the way to work and finally, you are out the door. Think about what just happened…THINK ABOUT IT!!!!

So my question is, “What is next?” Where does all this lead? We can connect to copious amounts of information and communicate faster than ever before. We have even started condensing our language in order to express how we feel in 140 characters or simply to show laughter. Have you ever thought about what it means to write LOL? I once asked someone if they actually laugh when they reply back to a text or an IM conversation with LOL. This person said, “Well when I write LOL that means I really laughed out loud, when I write “haha” that means I’m not really laughing hard, but you received some funny points and when I type “hehe” that is just a giggle.” Yes, this is where we are! This is our future.

When Doc Brown said, “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads” he was sending a message to all of us here in 2010. We still need roads, however, maybe by 2015 we might not need them. While we might not need roads anymore we still have become reliant on so many tools that govern our daily lives. Imagine your day without your smart phone, e-mail, facebook, ATM card, Google, and your standard Internet connection. Imagine this world, because at one time this was reality and all the terms I just mentioned were not even invented yet. And someday my grandchildren will probably wonder how we lived without teleporters, “Wow Grandpa, you mean you actually had to drive places!? Weird.” Don’t laugh. It will happen.


And here are five things that I predict will happen in the next ten years.

1. Everything will merge and condense further

In a few years, we will all carry one device that can do everything. It will be an iPhone on steroids. One will be able to perform every daily function aside from eating and breathing on this device. It will control the lights in our house; it will start our cars, pay our bills, give us every bit of news, connect us with everyone and house every document we need. It will simply be called “Awesome”.

2. Print media will fade

I still like the smell of an old book and enjoy walking out on Sunday morning to get my newspaper, however, this medium of spreading news and information will soon fade into the past. With the advent of the kindle, the RSS feed, the podcast and the constant stream of news there will be no need for print media and the cost of producing it.

3. Google will prove George Orwell right

Google has grown and expanded faster than any company over the past ten years (save for Apple, so I may be wrong on this one). In the next few years Google will be releasing its own operating system along with its own smart phone. Google will think for us and take care of all our daily connectivity needs. Eventually Apple will revive its 1984 Super Bowl add and this time market it at Google, not IBM.

4. Text to Speech

As we continue to condense our language via twitter and text messaging, our speech and usage of words will continue to denigrate as well. People will communicate less through verbal means and more through cryptic texts and tweets. Eventually language will be obsolete as we condense every word into one character that has yet to be invented.

5. The Ubiquitous Classroom

School will change greatly over the next few years as technology becomes fully integrated and a necessary means for learning and teaching. Teachers will have to demonstrate the knowledge of content along with technology skills in order to get hired. This will go far beyond understanding MS Office Suite and blogging. Skype and the advancement of video conferencing will tear down the classroom walls and allow students to see the world and learn globally and locally. Standardized assessments will be taken out back and shot. Yes! The age of standardized tests will fade along with the failed No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Education will finally differentiate for all, students will learn in forums that suit their learning styles best and they will be assessed in a way that is authentic, rigorous and diverse.

My 50


For my 50th post I wanted to do something special, something big, however, if you know me, that’s not me. I prefer my fireworks on July Fourth, prefer to give a gift rather than receive, think that confetti could be put to better use and wonder why we still have ticker tape in the 21st century? Can’t we just drop ones and zeros on a parade? I would like to distance myself, for the time being, from these celebratory traditions and focus on the reason I began this blog.

For this minor anniversary, I decided to focus this post on the reason why I get up in the morning; The reason I spend my days browsing twitter for new ideas; the reason I scour blogs; the reason I linked up (and IN) with a PLN; the reason I decided to get this blog rolling in the first place: my students.

My students motivate me daily, just as I hope to motivate them. When I see one of my students disinterested or not engaged, I get motivated. That student becomes my challenge! I want to motivate that student and I want that student to enjoy my classroom. I want them to leave my classroom and continue talking about how much they liked my class or continuing to seek questions and answers about the literature we are reading. I want my students to give me a shout out at our weekly student summits, not because I want the attention, but because I want them to enjoy school and I want them to appreciate what a grand opportunity education is! Like a proud parent, I want them to have everything I have but I want their time to be better!

Therefore, I will stop talking and focus my attention on my students; especially the students in my first and second period English class.

To my class: This is your shout out! This is your voice being heard not only by me, but also by the masses. All who read and comment on this blog will know your thoughts, desires and your wants for technology integration in your classroom. This is my gift to you. This is your voice reverberating around the globe.

Today I gave my students a prompt at the beginning of class. I asked them this…

We have been using various forms of technology thus far in the classroom – wikispaces, google docs, RSS feeds – what have you liked thus far about the technology integration in the class? What do you dislike about the technology integration? Do you have any suggestions for further technology integration in this class?

My goal was to give them a say in where we go. I wanted them to take ownership of their education. I am merely the facilitator. They are creating their educational path and they should have a say in how it is fostered and presented. Here are some of their responses:

I like how we use the Internet and I like the idea of having our own website it’s all a very great idea. I don’t dislike anything; it’s all a great way to learn because the kids pay attention more. I think we should make a part to this where the kids can make their own blogs and we should categorize it…example: sports history holocaust and all the stuff we are learning.

~Omar

What I like about the technology thus far is that instead of writing on paper – half the time having a hard time looking and understanding the handwriting – typing it out can make your writing easier for the reader to understand your writing.

But for some, others prefer to use paper and a pencil to do their writing. What I can infer, is that people dislike technology because they don’t know how to use it, and is having a hard time to get to there destination on their new technology.

For those who don’t know how to use this new technology, you can use a set up guide for them to go back and forth to use for their assignments.

~Devaun

I like that we have more access to our computers and not just pen and paper. I like that we don’t just have our computers sitting in our bags and lying around. I think that we should connect with other schools that use technology.

~Anonymous

I think using technology is cool for this class because technology is the future.

~Isaiah

Well I like the idea of using technology in class, but we could use some other web sites like twitter, like maybe we could come up with a Boys’ Latin twitter address or something like that. However like I said I do like the idea of using technology in class.

~Anonymous

The things that I like is that we can get on the Internet in the classroom. What I dislike is that when we are on the Internet we have people on are backs.

~Khalid

I like that we are using computer for technology an do most of the work. There is nothing I dislike about working with technology.

~ Jaron

Well being that I have just been transferred to this class I don’t know about most of the technology integration into this class, yet. Although the technology integration into the school is probably the best thing about the school. There is really nothing I dislike about the integration of technology. I think that technology should be integrated even more so that the classes can flow much more smoothly and faster.

Nakola

I like many of the things we get to use in this class. For example, I like that we get to use laptops in this class. This is something that I like because most teachers don’t use laptops in class and I felt that having a laptop was a waste to have if they weren’t used in class. I don’t believe that there is anything that I don’t like about this class.

-Jaylen

These are just a few of the responses I received from my class today. I urge you to give them feedback and motivate them by sharing your thoughts about technology integration in the classroom.

Finally, I would like to thank a few that motivated me and helped me become a better educator.

I would like to thank Ms. Stellfox who was my inspiration and the best teacher I ever had. She challenged me daily to think critically and inspired me to read beyond the back cover of a novel. She made Shakespeare fun and told us about her world travels in class. We all benefited from her teachings.

I would like to thank Ken Rodoff and Joyce Valenza. Without them, I would simply be 1.0. With their help and guidance, I became a more dynamic teacher. Ken and Joyce introduced me to the world of 2.0 and power points without bullets. They are truly inspirational figures in my career.

I would like to thank Donelle O’Brien. Donelle challenged my thinking and provoked me to become a life long learner. She always commented on this blog and opened the doors of my PLN.

I would like to thank Steve Anderson. Steve is one of my most influential Tweeps! He is a integral part of my PLN and although I have never met him, I feel like we have collaborated on one hundred projects. He is one of the founders of #edchat and has truly created a forum in which we all can benefit.

I would like to thank Lori Vanaman. Lori is not on twitter,doesn’t blog, but she is a dynamic, dedicated teacher and most importantly, she was my first fan. She inspired and motivated me to be an author (almost there) and to write this blog. She provoked my thinking in a way that made me a better teacher and person. She challenged me to write a book someday and expects to be one of my first readers. She is a true friend and without her, I would have never written my first post.

The list could go on for days, but those listed above, helped me see my true potential. They helped me get started and they are the reason iTeach.

Thank you to all who read this blog and those who have shared my ideas. You are all motivators and inspirations to my writing. I cannot say thank you enough.

This is my 50. I look forward to 50 more.

Presenting Your PLN

In my last post, I talked about three easy steps to setting up and implementing a Personal Learning Network (PLN) in your school. In this post, I am catering to the visual learner and have created a Power Point that will surely engage your audience at your next PD. It involves four simple slides, four prominent words and four familiar images. There are no bullet points and no spiraling text. It is clean, crisp and allows you to vocalize your ideas on creating and implementing a PLN.

Use this Power Point! In fact, STEAL THIS POWERPOINT! Take it, impress your colleagues! Be the first to show what Power Point 2.0 looks like. Leave the bullets and spiraling text at home. Put it away and your colleagues will thank you. They will high-five you and smile in your general direction! You may even be carried out of the PD on the shoulders of your administrators.
Keep the presentation short and sweet. Show them how creating a PLN within your school will stimulate collaboration and enhance content. In the end, creating a PLN and accepting this is as simple as this Power Point. You will be resistance, but stay the course and don’t back down from an opportunity to enhance, stimulate and save your colleagues lots of time. All the while, helping students achieve 21st century learning skills.
If you use this simple presentation, please let me know the reaction you receive. Or if you have your own PD presentation created, I would love for you to share your ideas.

Creating A Grassroots PLN at your School

Recently I have been providing some of my colleagues with web 2.0 resources for their classrooms. They ask, “this is great, where did you find it?” I casually say, “well in my free time (meaning all day) I am quite the avid twit.” A light laugh ensues.

In a new charter school that is struggling with performance standards and catching up students who have been left behind by urban public school systems, it is hard to thread technology into the conversation. However, in the next few weeks I am going to propose several new initiatives to our administration. These new initiatives will include the following items…

1. Creating a learning network within our building


This learning network will include several key ingredients. First, I plan to inspire my colleagues to obtain a twitter account. I really feel like twitter has become the stepping stone for jumping off into a world of endless resources and collaboration. Since joining twitter two years ago, I have met so many great minds and educators. They have all helped to provoke and motivate my thinking in ways that make teaching an exciting venture. Now, I am sure I will encounter the questions


“what value will this have in my classroom?”


“we have enough to do, I cannot add anything more to my plate”


“this will just distract from teaching, no?”


These are some of the questions that I expect and I am sure there will be more. My answers will flow something like this. Twitter is what you make of it. It is not required to teach and is certainly not a distraction from my own teaching. Our kids are behind because most of them received a 20th century education that included copious amounts of “busy work”. Having a twitter account will allow you to find other teachers, principals and administrators who are encountering the same hurdles. You can begin by posing a question and segue into a discussion in which you are solving problems through twitter. At that’s it, twitter is simply a forum that allows us to engage in a rapid exchange of ideas. Twitter is what you make of it. It can be a distracter from lessons and work if you let it be, but for the most part, it is an integral part of my own teaching and has provided me with more insight into becoming a dynamic teacher than any other forum in my career.


There will always be those who are afraid of trying something new, however, if you want to start a PLN at your school, like I plan on, start with twitter. Show your colleagues the value of the rapid exchange of ideas and resources and they will never look back.


2. Wiki or Ning


Once you have your colleagues tweeting up a storm and delivering new teaching methods because of twitter, introduce them to a place where you can house all of your plans, units, ideas, calendars, meetings, etc. I am not partial to either of the aforementioned platforms, and have had great success with both in my experience.


I find a wiki space would work best for creating a forum to house lesson plans and school documents that parents, guardians and other teachers can access universally. I have used wikispaces with many of my classes and the kids find it easy and the parents adapt to the accessibility of information. The wikispace also allows everyone to be an active participant in taking ownership of the site.


However, if you simply want a forum to exchange ideas and resources links, then I feel a Ning would be best for you. A ning has less manipulability than a wiki and works best as a way for faculty, parents and administration to communicate and spread announcements rapidly in one place. In the Ning, you can also create groups for your departments. These groups can have remote PD’s through the chat forum and create and respond to discussion threads.


Again, both have their merits, but find out what you want your PLN forum to look like and choose which works best for you entire district.


3. Start organizing resources through Diigo


Diigo is the third part of the trifecta of creating a PLN within your school. I have really benefited from the Diigo groups that I have become a part of. I have found and promoted many blogs via Diigo and I cannot say enough about the ease of use. Diigo is a very easy to use site that allows users to bookmark a site, define the site and then categorically organize your sites. The web interface allows you to tag all of your websites you save and access them easily by each tag. You can also create groups and add friends to share in all of your bookmarks. When you add a colleague you both will be able to share and exchange bookmarks.


Creating a Diigo group is a great way to organize your department this fall. E-mail your department colleagues a link to a Diigo group. Tell them that you want to create an online resource library for links and blogs that fit your discipline. For those who say, “Now what? Something else to sign up for and receive junk mail” bribe them with candy. I usually go with Butterfinger, but also provide moist towelets, because no one wants a sticky keyboard!


Once you have them hooked, branch out and look into creating cross-curricular groups! Create a digital bridge with language arts and history; math and science. With Diigo, users have the ability to create wonderful learning communities and collaborate with each other. Building an online resource library should be on the “To Do” list of ever teacher this summer!


So that’s all. These three steps, along with standards and edu-tech curriculum examples, will serve as my platform for creating a PLN and a culture of education technology in my school.


I am tired of hearing my students complain that they do not get to use their laptops enough and I plan on changing that. Students need 21st century skills to compete globally. These skills are just as essential as reading, writing and math. If we keep pushing it off, it will only fade into wasted resources within our schools. We cannot let this happen. And we need to lead by example. Get your PLN started and give all of your colleagues a high-five for trying something completely different!

The One Comment A Day Project

After my last post on discovering your Personal Learner’s Network (PLN), I had a brief epiphany. This vision came in from simply adding a comment to a bloggers post that happens to reside in my PLN. I read the post, processed the information and responded constructively. Simple. Painless. Helpful.

At this point I thought, wouldn’t it be great if everyone in my PLN did this at least once a day. Yes, it would!

So here is my idea…

I’m calling it the “One Comment A Day Project”. This project will help promote educational collaboration throughout the blogosphere and promote and stimulate educational dialogue. All you have to do is pick one blog a day (you can obviously choose to read more) and leave a positive, insightful comment for the blogger. That’s it! One comment a day and you can change the blogging landscape and make a blogger smile.

Here is the process.

1. Read a blog

2. Post a comment that is insightful and constructive.

3. Tweet a link to the blog and your comment. Use the hash tag #OneComment

EXAMPLE: I just read a great piece on iTeach blog, check it out! #OneComment

4. Bookmark the blog and return to it another time.

It is just that easy! This Project will help create a positive forum for all who blog and comment. There are so many good educational blogs out there and I look forward to hearing your feedback and engaging in your comments!

The second phase of this project will be a featured blog a week project. This forum will review and promote one educational blog per week. It will also try and introduce new edu-blogs into the learning community. I will be setting up a Ning for this venture. The sole purpose of both ventures is to promote learning and create an engaging dialogue between so many great academic minds. The twitter hash tag for this will be #1Newblog

Please send me your thoughts, suggestions and feedback on both new ventures!I would also like to put together a small team to help with this venture due to the time consuming nature of the project. If you would like to help your fellow bloggers and be an integral part of this venture, please contact me at onecommentproject@gmail.com

I have also set up a separate twitter account for this second phase. It will be @1commentproject. Please follow it for blog updates and blog promotions. When we spread the word about great blogs, we all shine!

I would be looking for help with the following:

1. Finding new blogs

2. Posting Reviews of Blogs

3. Archiving a Blog roll on the Ning

4. Monitoring the Ning

I am very passionate about this project and am putting a lot of time and energy behind it. My belief is that we can all learn from each other and have endless technologies to help us collaborate! I really hope to see my PLN jump on board with me and help promote the edu-blogging community!

One Comment Project T-shirts, beach towels and pillow cases to follow!