In February, I had the opportunity in my new role as a Digital Literacy TOSA (Teacher on Special Assignment), to introduce Ozobots to third graders at a local elementary school! I didn't have much experience with Ozobots other than playing around with them at various vendor booths at conferences I attended. However, I found throughout my beginning lessons that these robots were a fantastic and engaging tool to teach students coding in a very creative and accessible way! Enjoy a little "trailer" video below created with Apple Clips!
Below you will find two slideshows that outline resources to get you started! The slideshows have introductory videos made with Apple's Clips App as well as some basic lessons and footage from my teaching of the third grade class. Make sure to check the presentation notes to find the teaching footage. Enjoy Ozobots and enjoy teaching kids to code using this awesome tool! Slide downloads for both Google Slides and Keynote are below.
This will not only be my final blog for my social media learning graduate class, but also my final blog post for my graduate program in general. This semester has truly been challenging as I juggled my final elective with the final graduate portfolio class, but the payoff has been great.
I was already an active social media participant in the world of educational technology. I regularly guest moderate and attend Twitter chats and am a member of many different educational technology Facebook groups. However, this class helped me dive a little bit deeper into the "why" and importance of social media learning. I am walking away from this class with a plethora of bookmarked and saved resources that I can share with teachers who are interested in engaging in social media learning themselves. I also have an example social media unit that I can share that highlights potential ways for social media tools to be integrated into elementary classroom curriculums.
As always, I truly enjoyed collaborating and creating assignments with peers. My tiny PLN with Betty turned out to be quite productive and great! I really enjoyed creating our content curation presentation together in Google Slides and really appreciated our teamwork in creating our social media mini-curriculum. We really worked well together and were able to easy delegate tasks to make the assignments easy to complete and share. I also appreciated the ease of using the Facebook group to share and observe my peer's work. It was the first class I have taken that utilized Facebook as the hub of learning and I really liked it! Since many of us are on Facebook regularly, it made keeping up with my peer's latest posts and feedback really simple and accessible.
I also liked engaging in Twitter chats and Webinars. I attended a couple Twitter chats that I engage with regularly, but I also attended a couple new ones that I really enjoyed. I LOVED my #BookCreator chat about Book Creator for Chrome and have since implemented it in a third grade class here in Portland. I also recently accepted a job as a Digital Literacy TOSA here in Portland so engaging in #TOSAChat chat was very helpful and connected me to some great resources. I learned something new from each webinar I attended and even walked away with some tools I am still using! I attended a webinar on the adaptive literacy software Velocity and have been using it with my boys at home with great success and engagement.
Overall, I walked away from this class with many new ideas and insights. I am a huge advocate for social media learning in the classroom and this class only fueled my desire to help other educators truly see the power these social media tools hold to transform learning environments in today's classrooms.
Self-Assessment of Blogging:
I put a lot of effort into my blogs this semester as well as many of the assignments. I created videos and images to highlight my learning and really tried my best to highlights those on my blog in effective and dynamic ways. I also tried my best to take my sharing one step further with either adding a MP3 audio recording of my blog posts or a video explanation to make my blog more accessible and engaging. I feel that my posts always met the requirements laid out by the instructor and were very well thought out and thorough. For the reasons written above, I would give myself 75 points for my blogging efforts this semester.
Last week I explored using Twitter in early elementary classrooms. I was inspired by some pretty amazing teachers who seamlessly integrated social media tools to share and extend their classroom learning. You will see that my policies are modified for a first grade classroom. The most effective way I have observed social media being used in the early elementary classroom is to have a classroom account. The social media apps would then be downloaded onto classroom devices for kids to access. There is extensive work in going over social media policies before students are allowed to use social media apps. The below policies are age appropriate and are centered around having young students working with one classroom account.
My classroom policies will sent home to be signed and returned so any questions and concerns can be answered and discussed. I will also encourage my parents to join the social media platforms we use so they can interact and follow our classroom activity. I also believe in engaging parents in hands-on workshops highlighting technology integration tools. I would set up a workshop where kids would teach their parents about how we are utilizing technology tools. I have used this in the past with other technology tools and it worked wonders.
Anderson, S. (2015). How to create social media guidelines for your school. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/pdfs/edutopia-anderson-social-media-guidelines.pdf.
Davis, V. (2015, February 27). A guidebook for social media learning. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/guidebook-social-media-in-classroom-vicki-davis.
Dunn, J. (2014, September 24). An editable social media policy for schools that works. Retrieved from http://dailygenius.com/editable-social-media-policy-for-schools/.
Here is a link to my curated resources on Pinterest.
This was yet another fun exploration this week. This week, I explored using social media tools in the elementary classroom. As I explored online (and from my own personal experience), I know that primary classroom frequently, and really successfully, use classroom blogs and Twitter quite often. I implemented blogging in my classroom and had a blast. Blogging with my first graders opened my eyes to not only the endless capabilities of our youngest learners but also the amazingly authentic, global audience social media tools connect our kids too. It was amazing to see how quickly my first graders could pick up the process of blogging. They were also so excited to learn more and started experimenting with not just adding text, but also images, audio clips, and even videos. Blogging and digital portfolios became a central tool for sharing and documenting our classroom learning adventures, but I used this week's assignment to focus on expanding and learning more about Twitter.
I am a true believer of the power of Twitter in the classroom. I have my personal Twitter account that I use regularly, but I was never able to effectively integrate Twitter in my classroom. Lucky for me, I am connected to some of the top early childhood educators, many of whom are considered Twitter pioneers in the early elementary classrooms. I turned to my friends Karen Lirenman, Kristin Wideen, and Kathy Cassidy to learn as much as I could about implementing Twitter in early education classrooms.
As you can see in my curation above, these teachers are able to seamlessly integrate Twitter into their classroom. They use Twitter in all content areas, utilizing hashtags (and sometimes even creating them) to interact with classrooms all over the world. My main takeaway and synthesis is that Twitter, much like educational technology in general, is best when it is not seen as something extra.
Karen used Twitter to extend a 3D shape lesson. Kristin's students extended their math learning about 3's patterns by asking Twitter friends to extend their patterns on Twitter. She also allowed her students to run with an inquiry project about a bird feeder. The student ended up getting bird seed donated by the school's principal and the school district's Director of Education. Kathy is amazing and used Twitter to have her first graders develop number sense by playing "guess my number" with students in Italy. The two classes created the hashtag #guessmynumber to play the game. Kathy also described the empathy her students developed when they heard of sever floods in Australia in an area of class they Tweet with regularly. The used Twitter to check in with them to make sure they were ok. They then used Google Maps to study the geography of Australia to see where the flooding happened and exactly where the class was located.
I loved my exploration this week because I witnessed yet again how powerful technology can be in the hands of our youngest learners. All the teachers above had Twitter downloaded on their classroom iPads. After many classroom lessons on digital responsibility, digital citizenship, and the basics of Twitter, students were trusted to use the app independently to extend and share their learning . Twitter isn't something "extra" but rather a seamless learning tool in their classrooms. I learned a lot and now have concrete examples for how to integrate Twitter into my future classrooms.
So for a graduate school class on on social network learning, we were asked to explore new online personal learning communities as well as dive deeper into our current personal learning networks and communities.
So, I loved exploring communities. I spent time exploring the Community for Apple Teachers as well as the Virtual and Augmented Reality in Education Community on Facebook. I also joined the G Suite for Education community on Google Plus. I am considering taking a TOSA job in a local district here in the Portland area, which is almost exclusively integrating Chromebooks and G Suite apps. I look forward to interacting with this community more as I prepare for this job. I still love iPads so I also joined the iPad Ed Google Plus group as well. In Edmodo, I joined a professional learning group on project-based learning as well as one on programming. I also joined a group for teachers of early learners. I also joined an edWeb group for digital learning and leadership.
I posted questions and shared resources in each community and have already had some great interactions and gathered some awesome new ideas and inspirations.
It was time for an update and refresh of my PLE so I have happy to explore and join some new communities.
For the second part of the assignment, we were asked to create a diagram highlighting our newly expanded PLE (professional learning environment). Here is my image.
When creating the image, I began by creating categories. I truly love to share and learn from my PLE. To share, I also have to be able to create content that can be shared with PLE members to gain insight and feedback. So I began by thinking of places where I gather inspiration. I listed conferences, communities, and online resources such as edWeb. I then thought about the tools I use to create content. Many of my interactions with my PLE are about the creation process where I am gathering ideas and viewing other educator's examples. Once I create, I love to share and communicate. You can see I have many different communities on many different platforms such as Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, and Edmodo.
The most powerful part of this exercise was once I started connecting all the boxes in the different categories. There were so many overlapping lines between inspiration gathering, creation tools, communication, and sharing! It all started to look the a big messy, web! So that is what I decided to complete the image and diagram as a spider-web. I added myself as a spider and made my legs the qualities and resources I hope to gather and share as I interact with my PLE.
I truly love reflective tasks rooted in creativity! There is a deep synthesis that happens when you have to visually create something! It is so invigorating and truly does spark a deep reflective process.
For the final part of this assignment, we were asked to compare our diagrams and PLE's to other classmates.
Susan Davies' PLE Diagram
Susan used a categorization system to show overlap of the different parts of her PLE. I like that she included personal connections which I didn't include. I loved reading about her creation process and truly appreciated how she talked about keeping her image easy and accessible. It is a very accessible image and easy to follow once you figure out the categories. I didn't see many creative tools, which I included but appreciated that she included publications, such as Edutopia, which I now think would have been a great addition.
Rob Blackston's PLE Diagram
I loved Rob's image! I know that he is in medical education and I LOVE that he made his diagram/image reflect a surgical table. It is like you can almost visualize a surgery happening. I also appreciated the simplicity of his. It makes mine feel like a big ol' mess! He seems to have some solid communities and a great foundation of social networks. He has very professional connections which I think reflects the area of education he is in. While elementary educators stay current on big topics as well, they also use PLE's to share lots of ideas while also using their PLEs as sounding boards. In Rob's educational areas, you can see that they have to stay current on big developments in the areas of medical research so they can pass that information on to future doctors. It was fascinating to see the very different worlds we both live in.
Tiffany Kannengieszer' PLE Diagram
My image was very similar to Tiffany's and we seem to have similar parts to our PLEs. We both utilize Twitter and Facebook, but I also like that she mentioned Voxer. I love Voxer and have found it an engaging way to interact with my PLN buddies who live far away. I like that she included learning management systems, which I should have included in mine as well. She also included conferences, which are a big part of my PLE. I also appreciated that she hand drew her diagram noting that she still brainstorms that way. I completely agree. When it comes to getting my thoughts down, I still reach for paper and pencil.
Kelly Spiese's PLE Diagram
I love to hike so I really enjoyed Kelly's diagram. We also utilize many of the same resources in our PLEs. We both noted Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. We both also use Google Docs as a means to share resources. She noted Google, libraries, and databases as research tools, while I gravitate more towards conferences and social interactions. I wish I was a better researcher, but I just love social learning environments. Her digram is very well thought out, organized, and creative. I also appreciated the symbolism of her arrows. For her sharing tools such as Canvas and Google Docs, she had her arrows point out. For her communication and and social network resources, she has the arrow point in towards the trial as if they are guiding her. That was a very cool touch!
Sarah Frances' PLE Diagram
Sarah and I have a very similar PLE and categorized the parts of our PLE very similarly. However, her's is a bit more creative and symbolic. I love the fishing metaphor. It made me think of "catch and release" which is exactly what teachers do with ideas. The gather and catch their ideas, build upon them, and release them back to their PLN's. Sarah and I both use similar communication and collaborative idea tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. We both also included creative tools, but I included a bunch of iPad apps and movie making tools since that is how I usually create and share. I like that she included organization tools such as Diigo and Pearltrees. It is important to organize resources and ideas and now I wish I would have included those in my PLE diagram, but I also need to work on that in general so it totally is art reflecting life ;)
Betty Well's PLE Diagram
I loved the metaphor of Betty's diagram. The diagram of the car and how she related that to both her PLE and PLN was pretty creative. I loved that she had the tools in the trunk! I completely agree that the engine that keeps the car going is professional development and that the wheels are what guide educators to sharing with others. The learners are the drivers who guide the car using all these resources. Pretty cool stuff!! I noticed that we used many of the same "tools". We both utilize Facebook and Twitter to share. She included Pinterest, which is certainly something I need to explore more. I usually find that most links now go to different Teachers Pay Teachers sites which kind of annoys me! But I will ask Betty what educators she follows closely. We also both utilize Google Drive to create and share, but she showcased Google Classroom which I am hoping to learn more about. Our diagram were very different in concept but had many of the same features and resources.
This turned out to be a fantastic experience. At first, I was a bit overwhelmed. Trying to find and schedule the online experienced seemed tricky, but the list provided coupled with a few of my favorite Twitter chats helped the whole process come together.
This type of professional development models the amazing possibilities for learning and teaching in the 21st Century. The ability to connect with educators from across the world in one online space for an hour at a time is pretty amazing. Webinars, Twitter, Facebook, and many other social media platforms now open professional development opportunities up to the world. I love logging in and seeing the roll call of teachers saying "hi" from around the world. Professional development has truly begun to shift from teacher's lounges, libraries, and school cafeterias to accessible online spaces that can be accessed from computers, tablets, and phones. Learning can literally happen whenever and wherever you want it to!
Below I will outline the Twitter chats and webinars I attended and some of my key takeaways from each experience.
I love #kinderchat! They are an energized group of early childhood educators who have a very organized and energetic weekly chat. When I attended this chat, we discussed Finland school's strongly held belief that students need ample amounts of unstructured free time. Finland truly believes that free time should be completely free and unstructured and we spent the hour chatting about ways to incorporate unstructured free time into the daily routine of early childhood classrooms. My takeaway from this chat was that we need to give students in our American education system time to explore and play throughout the day. By play and explore, I mean giving them complete freedom for short periods of time throughout the day. It was awesome to gather ideas from my peers on how to accomplish this in the future.
I am hoping to be a teacher on special assignment (TOSA) upon completion of this Master's program, so I was excited to attend this weekly Twitter chat. We were discussing digital citizenship and shared techniques, tools, and resources on this very important subject. There were so many great resources shared and lots of great insights for teaching digital citizenship on K-12 scale. My major takeaway is that digital citizenship should be a mandated subject beginning in early childhood. Our students are living in a digital and social media driven world so learning necessary and invaluable digital citizenship skills at an early age will help ensure more safety online for this generation of learners. Here a couple great resources...
9/28/2017 #BookCreator Collaborative Book Making Chat
This was one of my favorite Twitter chats ever! The chat was run by two Book Creator Ambassador teachers that wanted to highlight and share Book Creator's new Chrome app. Book Creator was my favorite iPad app in the classroom, so I was very excited to experience the new Chrome app they are just rolling out. It was awesome. I followed the Twitter chat to get my cues and ask any questions I might have and then created my pages of the collaborative book in their Chrome app. Book Creator for Chrome allows teachers to add students to a collaborative library to monitor their book creation process. They can also combine everyone's individual books into one large collaborative book. So for this chat, 40 educators from across the world created one Book Creator book. It was awesome. My big takeaway is that this new app is awesome. I am excited to see more creative apps developed for the Google Suite of Apps. I can truly see this being a powerful creative app for early childhood students in a Chromebook environment.
Link for Chrome app: https://app.bookcreator.com
10/15/2017 #1stChat Wantability
This was coming home and visiting family. #1stchat was my first online PLN and I have met many of these teachers in person at national conferences. The teachers at #1stchat are so innovative and collaborative that I was very excited to be back chatting with them. We discussed wantability and the need to build student's confidence in reading. We talked about the ways teachers can build excitement for classroom read alouds. Teachers wrapped books up and had kids guess what might in the wrapping. Teachers also wrapped large boxes with books inside and tried to have students guess what was in the box. Teachers would invite "mystery readers" to the class who would turn out to be former students, parents, and grandparents. The goal was to make children fall in love with reading while also beginning to view themselves as good readers. My take away is that regardless of technology early childhood classrooms still begin with the basics. Reading is still the foundation of early childhood classrooms and students need to see themselves as amazing readers.
9/19/2017 Webinar: Adaptive Reading Strategies
In this webinar, I learned about the software Velocity, which is an adaptive reading software that is easily used in technology environments. The program adapts to the students learning needs as they engage with the software and provides the teachers with valuable information that will guide their individualized instruction. The webinar featured teachers who are using the software and it was highly beneficial to hear their insights and tips. The webinar came with a free trial that I am currently using with my boy's at home.
9/20/2017 Webinar: Everyday Strategies for Kindness
This was a refreshing webinar focused on strategies to implement kindness into classroom curriculum. It was fun be an author with a book on the topic and she laid out many techniques to incorporate kindness routines into classrooms. There were many great ideas, including have daily check-ins. I shared an idea about using a Google Doc to have children check in on their technology devices. There were many great ideas shared along those line. My takeaway is that social emotional learning is still important and that purposefully teaching is necessary. It was refreshing to interact with educators who felt the same way.
10/12/2017 Webinar: Habits of Mind
I am fascinated by the Habits of Mind so I was excited to attend this online webinar. The beginning of the webinar provided a refresher on the Habits of Mind which is always awesome. The bulk of the webinar was highlighting an animated video series that teaches basics of Habits of Mind to our earliest learners. The series of videos looked very developmentally appropriate and high engaging for early childhood students. It was a tool I could see myself using and I look forward to continuing to find ways to integrate Habits of Mind into my future classrooms.
10/12/2017 Webinar: CLOSE Reading
CLOSE reading is thoughtful, critical analysis of a text that focuses on significant details or patterns in order to develop a deep, precise understanding of the text's form, craft, meanings, etc. It is a key requirement of the Common Core State Standards and directs the reader's attention to the text itself. I wasn't super familiar with CLOSE reading. I have been out of the public school system for the past 6 years so I have missed the large scale integration of the Common Core Standards. So, I was very interested to attend this webinar. It was a very nuts and bolts webinar that really laid out CLOSE reading strategies and techniques for teachers. The method teaches kids to read like writers and the webinar laid out many great ideas for how to implement this strategy. My brain was certainly full after this webinar and it left me wanting to investigate CLOSE reading further.
Below you will find my curated list of research, commentary, and resources for using technology in the early childhood classroom. I have included information from trusted sites as well as some trusted educators. I also shared some ideas from my own blog as a resource touch point for my readers.
Below you will find a presentation that a peer and I created in our graduate class on social network learning! Some of my favorite projects in my graduate program have been these types of collaborative projects. We decided to use Google apps to complete the collaboration because they make it so simple and easy. We began with a Google Docs where we collected sources and quotes, outlined our presentation, and collaborated on ideas. We established a great flow because I usually carve out time during the day to work and Betty, my classmate, works on graduate school work at night, so Betty would be able to complete a part of the work at night and then I would pick up where she left off the next day. We would communicate through FB messenger and leave each other notes about what we had done. We decided to present our final criteria in Google Slides which again made collaboration easy. We were just easily able to pick up were the other left off. With this flow, we are were able to finish pretty quickly and were very happy with the presentation we created.
Collaborative technology tools, such as Google apps, have become vital in creating and expanding PLNs online. I have used these tools to build presentations for conferences with friends and peers across the country. I have also been able to use them to complete large school assignments with classmates across the globe. It excites me that we now teach in a world where collaboration can happen between people separated by miles and oceans. Ideas are no longer exclusive to just single classrooms or schools. Ideas can be grown and shared with and by people across the globe.
So now enjoy an example of online collaboration as Betty Wells and I share 15 criteria for effective curation.
Briggs, S. (2016, July 27). Teaching Content Curation and 20 Resources to Help You Do It. Retrieved from http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/content-curation-20-resources/
Deshpande, P. (2016, September 14). The Definitive Guide to Content Curation Retrieved from http://www.curata.com/blog/the-definitive-guide-to-content-curation/
Doughtery, J. (2015, March 30). 8 Best Practices for Content Curation Retrieved from http://www.cision.com/us/2015/03/8-best-practices-for-content-curation/
Hudgens, R. (2016, April 15). The 3 Most Effective (And Overlooked) Content Curation Strategies. Retrieved from http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2016/04/content-curation-strategies/
Little, B. (2017, March 17). 10 Key Steps to Content Curation Success. Retrieved from https://www.mindtools.com/blog/corporate/10-key-steps-curation/
This week I re-engaged with Twitter. It felt good. Life has been crazy and my family has been transitioning across an ocean and I have been out of the classroom for the first time in 12 years. However, my kids are back in school, our life is settled into Oregon, and I can now spend some time reconnecting with "Jake The Educator". I opened up Tweetdeck, which in real life would have needed a good dusting off at this point, and I started to set up columns for Twitter chats and hashtags that I hope will continue my inspiration reboot!
I chose to follow the following hashtags:
I really love and connect with early childhood teachers and #kinderchat has some of the best in the nation.
In following #kinderchat this week, I learned that it was International Dot Day, recently! I love The Dot by Peter Reynolds. What was so cool about following International Dot Day on #kinderchat was seeing the variety of ways teachers engaged kids in Dot Day. Some drew dots. Some painted dots. Some created digital dots. I even found Augmented reality dots referenced. Twitter was a vehicle for teachers to share ideas about a common experience that educators were having across the world. My favorite part in The Dot is when it says "make your mark and see where it takes you.". Twitter certainly helps teachers and students "make their mark."
In following #1stchat, I learned and saw that my core belief that "it is not about what the technology can do but rather what you can do with the technology that matters" was on full display. I saw so many cool ideas as teacher were introducing beginning of the year routines and concepts. The core learning of reading, writing, and math were all present and technology was present to capture and document the process. Kids were creating actual face cutout "thought bubbles" and were taking picture of their peers and their wonders. Teachers referenced their kids sharing out their beginning of year goals and thoughts on SeeSaw! Seeing as I taught first grade for 10 years, #1stchat was like saying "hello" to an old friend again.
#2nd Chat & #3rd Chat
I had many of the same findings as I followed #2ndchat and #3rdchat! Teachers are starting their school years off with important classroom and thinking routines and Twitter is right there helping teachers share how things are going. #3rd chat was having a Twitter chat that focused on the book "Shift This: How gradual change can make big change in your classroom"! I found the book online and loved it! I cannot wait to read it and I would have never known about it without this Twitter chat.
I am so interested and excited by the Maker Education Movement. At my previous school in Hawaii, the MakerEd movement was such a focus as our school was building a learning commons with a maker space as the focal point of the space. This hashtag was totally chalk full of ideas for how teachers are starting the year and I found cool links to teachers doing their "tiny house" projects. I also found a reference to the "Kid's Make" channel on YouTube, which was awesome. I plan on doing one of the projects (the Plinko Game) with my boys at home very soon. Maker Education is such an awesomely integrated tool for learning. You can tell while browsing teacher's tweets just how many different learning skills and subject areas are present as student's work themselves through projects. I am very excited to follow the hashtag this semester.
I will always follow #ADEchat because many of the people on that chat are like family. ADE is the Apple Distinguished Educator Program's chat that they run monthly. Becoming an ADE in 2015 expanded my PLN greatly to include some of the most innovative teachers in the country and world. I have learned so much from them. While the chat, naturally, focuses on teachers in Apple technology environments, the topics focus on a wide range of ideas that will inspire all teachers. I have learned through catching up on #ADEchat tweets that the new Clips app is all the rage and that teachers are using it in a variety of amazing way to showcase student learning and understanding. I personally love the new app and am excited to see the innovative things teachers and students do with this super easy app!
Twitter is the best way to keep up on whats happening! The simplicity of sharing ideas right "in the moment" is what makes Twitter so powerful! Hashtags also make it super easy to catch up on your inspiration at your own time. I also feel that Twitter is where you can find the most teachers gathering to share ideas, questions, wonders, and struggles. Its an app and a website so it is very easy to access which is perfect for educators. Educators are planning, prepping, attending staff meetings, and going to professional development so Twitter makes it for teachers to "check in" with their PLN for a more individualized and interest based professional development experience right in the moments between all these activities. Twitter is the perfect place for teachers to grow professionally and I encourage teachers
Too tired to read? Click on the audio file to listen to by blog post.
In an article for Edutopia, Tom Whitby wrote about connected educators "Too often, connected educators are the worst advocates for becoming a connected educator. They tend to overwhelm the uninitiated with a huge list of collaborative accomplishments and a plethora of technological jargon" (Whitby, 2014). I completely agree. I have often tried to explain the amazing benefits I have seen to using educational technology as well as social network learning, but I get overexcited and totally use the "technological jargon" referenced by Mr. Whitby. Too often those factors lead my "audience" to either get completely overwhelmed or check out of our conversation with glazed over eyes.
That is why I appreciated this week's assignment in my social media learning graduate class to create a non-linguistic, creative product to explain the benefits of personal learning networks, communities of practice, and the principles of connectivisim. Had I done a normal blog, vlog, or explanation video, I feel as though I would have fallen into the same trap of over explaining. It was a very cool process to create something more focused and creative to express my learning from this week.
This week, I really dove into the principles of both the connectivist and communities of practice (COPs) theories to deepen my understanding of the importance of personal learning networks (PLNs). When reviewing the Learning Theories website, I read that one of the main researchers of COPs, Etienne Wenger, described COPs as "groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” (Communities, 2014). I learned that COPs, while often informal, still need a structure consisting of three components: Domain (shared interest/passion), Communities (places to share info and activities), and Practitioners (people not just interest, but actually engaged with the domain) (Communities, 2014). Furthermore, COPs are based off the belief that "that communities of practice are everywhere and that we are generally involved in a number of them – whether that is at work, school, home, or in our civic and leisure interests" (Smith, 2003, 2009). Wenger and Lave believed that in order to break the assumption that "learning has a beginning and an end; that it is best separated from the rest of our activities; and that it is the result of teaching" that we need COPs to created a more situated learning experience where "learning involved a process of engagement in a ‘community of practice"(Smith, 2003, 2009). With the evolution of technology thanks to the Internet, COPs tie closely with the Connectivism Theory which is "a learning theory that explains how Internet technologies have created new opportunities for people to learn and share information across the World Wide Web and among themselves" (Connectivism, 2015). The key feature of connectivism is that learning can happen across peer networks that happen online.
I created the above video to show my interpretation of my own PLN, which I think are direct products of both COPs and connectivism. As I researched and read more COPs and connectivism, I reflected about my own PLN ,which includes teachers I have taught with across the country as well as educators I connected with through Twitter, Facebook, technology conferences, and educational technology organizations. I realized as I reflected that what I appreciated most was the "reflection" I received from all the individuals in my PLN, which made me think of prisms and how they reflect light. I think of a prism as a theoretical tool to look at something differently with more perspective and "color". Whenever I am running with a new idea, I want to share it with my PLN to gain insight and perspective. So I truly feel like I am running it through a colorful prism of collaboration.
I have had so many beautiful interactions with my PLN and I am grateful for them everyday. I truly feel that all educators should continue to grow their PLNs. As Jordan Catapano wrote for TeachHub.com "There is an enormous difference between “connected” teachers who have established their own Personal Learning Networks and the instructors who subsist primarily on the antiquated, impersonalized modes of traditional development" (Catapano, 2015). I truly believe that educators should continue to challenge themselves to stay fresh and current in the educational landscape and "reflection" through their PLN prism is a colorful path they should consider taking.
Catapano, J. (2015). What is a PLN? Why do I need one? Retrieved from: http://www.teachhub.com/what-pln-why-do-i-need-one
(July 16, 2014). "Communities of Practice (Lave and Wenger)". Retrieved from: https://www.learning-theories.com/communities-of-practice-lave-and-wenger.html.
(June 1, 2015) "Connectivism (Siemens, Downes)," Retrieved from: https://www.learning-theories.com/connectivism-siemens-downes.html.
Smith, M. K. (2003, 2009) ‘Jean Lave, Etienne Wenger and communities of practice’, the encyclopedia of informal education, www.infed.org/biblio/communities_of_practice.htm.
Whitby, T. (October 6, 2014). "The Connected Educator: All About Connectedness". Retrieved from: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/connected-educator-all-about-connectedness-tom-whitby
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