Archive for the PLN Category

Twitter Explosion

Posted in classroom tools, Connectivism, PLN on April 13, 2012 by Mister A

I have been trying to get teachers involved in twitter for several years. I have held workshops, miniworkshops, brought it up at staff meetings, and tried to explain what a PLN is to teachers with very little success. My district has brought in big name speakers to try and get teachers on twitter although no administrator types who brought in those big names utilizes twitter at all. I mean no one in my district barely even has a clue how twitter works or maybe they just don’t see how valuable it might be. Hmmm…except for the kidz.

Recently in my hometown, there has been a twitter explosion of use among teens. I know this because a couple of my old students followed me and I can see their friends…and their friends friends. I have lived in this mid sized town of approximately 70,000 people most of my life and I was wondering if something like this might happen with the teachers or adults in my town. I have pretty much given up on the adults, but watching what has happened with the kids has been a real eye-opener for me.  I looked back at when most of the kids started getting into twitter and it was like in early January and there are hundreds, if not thousands of local teens utilizing the application now, totally exponential growth.  I must not be a cool kid to other teachers or something. I don’t think many of the new Great Fallsian Twitterers really have a clue what they are doing as they are posting things like nobody can hear what they are saying.   I think they will quickly realize twitter is far more open than the Facebook they are use to is. I think part of this twitter explosion is a move on the part of teens to get away from their parents and Facebook. I wonder if the kids will go through a phase of protecting their tweets when they realize that Mom, Dad, Principals and pretty much anyone who wants can read their tweets.  I really wish I could have helped some teachers catch on as quickly as the kids seem to have caught on.

I feel like a poor example of how to develop a PLN or how to show teachers how to develop a PLN as no one I have taught or tried to teach has utilized twitter at all to the extent I have to learn new things and connect with new people. I told them I could type a message into my phone and get advice from several incredibly intelligent australians but it was like nobody believed me or they didn’t care if I could message people half way around the world any time I wanted…and my intelligent aussie/tenesseen/newjersian/missoulian/virginian/greek/kansan/british/kiwi/alaskan friends could and can do the same with me. It has taken twitter a few short months to sweep through the local teens in my hometown.  It is how I thought twitter would take over the teaching world when I discovered it . I guess I would get into twitter/facebook/social media now if I were a teacher, simply because if you don’t, there will be no way for you to understand or connect with your kids in THIS NEW WORLD! For a second or two I wondered if this twitter explosion might just be a local fad or something, especially when our local teens realize that everyone can see everything they are tweeting.  Perhaps twitter and facebook are local fads, but I believe SOCIAL MEDIA is here to stay and will continue to change how we need to teach.  I think the industrial revolution might be over.

I look forward to the day I can say to my students…tweet me if u have a question on the project we are working on in class. I think that day is very fastly approaching, in fact, it might just be tomorrow.  I bet they go to PLURK next.


Quest Atlantis Teacher

Posted in Educational, PLN on June 22, 2010 by Mister A

Becoming a Quest Atlantis teacher is no easy task.  I recently began my work as a buoy, training new teachers in how to utilize Quest Atlantis (QA) in their classrooms. I created a dummy new teacher account, so I could review the things I went through two years ago when I first started the training and, man, is there some good resources in the initial professional development missions.  However, the initial tasks can be time-consuming, even for someone familiar with operating an avatar and navigating through virtual worlds.

Teacherville in QA

For fear of frightening new teachers away, I found myself minimizing the amount of preparation and work it takes to become a QA teacher for the participants at my recent workshop.  The first question many teachers seem to ask about learning new ways to teach is, “How much of my time is this going to take?”  Instead of answering, as I did, “Oh, not too much, we should get through the training pretty quickly,”  I should have responded, “It can be very time consuming and seem like a thankless task at times.  You will fight battles with tech people in your district.  Figuring out how to get QA loaded on computers and get them working is a job in itself.  Coordinating the permission slips across five states and understanding all the various features in the teacher toolkit can be daunting as well.  The learning curve is very steep for QA, but I hope you will stick with it because the benefits of being a QA Teacher far outweigh the drawbacks.”

I have been reflecting as I am preparing for my first group of teachers second meeting, and I have been asking myself, why have I invested the amount of time and energy in this new educational technology.  What exactly have been the “benefits” of using Quest Atlantis with my students?  For my students I believe there have been many.  I have heard many different questers say things like “This is SOOOOO cool!” on several occasions as they work their way through various tasks.  QA engages my students in a way that nothing else seems to be able to.  They learn self-direction and have fun when they are in Quest Atlantis.  They are learning to interact, communicate, and collaborate with others in an on-line, teacher-monitored, safe environment.  They are investigating Social Commitments and how to treat others respectfully.  All the while being invested in a standards based curriculum.  The more I see kids work with Quest Atlantis, and as I become increasingly efficient at teaching with it, the more I believe that MUVEs like it definitely hold a very strong place in the future of education.

QA Teachers at a Baseball game

Those are some benefits for my students, but what about me?  I have spent all this time in QA  and learned how to use it.  How have I benefited?  I believe in several different ways.  I have become adept at interacting with others GLOBALLY through the trainings that Quest Atlantis and Bronwyn Stuckey have offered.  Not only are my students learning how to interact with others in on-line environments, but I am as well.  My PLN has grown stronger through the connections I have made with teachers who also use Quest Atlantis.  I am on the cutting edge of new technologies, which is something I have always wanted to be, and I continue to learn how these new technologies can be utilized in my classroom.  And finally, I KNOW and have professional and social relationships with people ALL OVER THE WORLD, as a result of my work in QA.  Regardless of what happens in the future for Quest Atlantis, I believe those relationships have made my time working and learning there (in QA) worth way more than any of the time and energy I have spent learning how to use it.

More on Adobe Connect Conference #2

Posted in Educational, PLN on June 3, 2010 by Mister A

Recently, Dean Groom ran the second of two web conferences with my students at East Middle School in Great Falls, MT.  Several teachers who I consider to be in my PLN attended and provided feedback for my students.  I sent my students a wikimail asking what they thought of the web conference.  Here are some of their responses:

“I really enjoyed the opportunity that we had to be involved in the deangroom web conference. It was awesome to listen to other people present their creative story ideas. That and the fact that a whole bunch of people heard my voice and saw my computer! It was so cool.
I want to… no scratch that… I WILL be a famous author when I’m older. After I have written my stories, I will need to share them to hundreds of people. This was a great practice for me when I present. It was also great practice for me to get up and share my exciting mini saga. 🙂 Thank you for the opportunity Mr. A!” – Andi D. 7th Grade

“I thought that the web conference was really neat. I loved meeting a guy in Australia, and I don’t think I would have any other way. I love talking to people with accents, and it’s even cooler when the accents are real. It was interesting to have the pressure of “teachers all over the world” listening to us as we gave our presentations. This seemed like a very advanced program, and it was a great experience. I think the web conference has good potential to help people in the future.” – Amanda M. – 8th Grade

“I really liked presenting my story review to Dean Groom. I thought that it was helpful when he gave me feedback on my review and on how I presented. I also liked the sidebar where you could write and recieve comments from your classmates. I thought that was helpful because it was a quick and easy way for me to see what everyone else thought about my review. Those are a few reasons why I liked the Dean Groom web conference.” – Tara C. – 8th Grade

“I really liked how we got use new types of technology I didn’t know that computers could do that. Also I liked meeting dean groom and “getting” a free kangaroo.  Also I liked having the opportunity to see other people in ECS. Another way I liked was having a chance to hear other peoples stories. Some of the stories sound really interesting and I want to read them when I buy the book.” – Bailey B. – 7th Grade

“I really liked the webinar. I love how I was able to present to people all over the world. I thought that was pretty amazing. I thought it was cool how anyone else would ever care, especially. 😉 <333”                          – Kirsten W. – 8th Grade

“Last Friday, when we explained our stories at the web conference, I presented my paragraph. I thought that giving a presentation to someone not located in the same room as you was a good experience. Usually, students present to the class, or not at all but with the web conference, we could present to anyone around the world, and hear feedback about our presentation through the mikes provided.
If I had the opportunity to do this again, I would. It would be even better if more people were informed and could join in on the web conference. Another positive benefit of this is that it promoted our book, causing many people around the world to take part in reading it. I think that classrooms in America should do this more often.” – Anna L. – 8th Grade

“I thought that the web conference was very cool. It is pretty amazing that people from all over the world can listen to our web conference. I also thought that the fact that dean groom stayed up so long with us was pretty awesome, so I would love to be included in another one of these web conferences.” – Jared E. – 7th Grade

“I thought that the web conference was pretty cool because you can talk to people from all over the world. You also get to look at your story from other people’s point of view.” – Earl G. – 8th Grade

“I thought it was a lot funner then giving a speech in front of a class. I was kind of nervous but after it seemed fine. It was pretty cool though for talking about your story.”  Brandon B. –  7th Grade

“I liked a couple of things about the web conference. First, I enjoyed Mr. Groom’s feedback and his voice made me giggle. I liked how you could instantly receive feedback. I also liked how it helped me practice my presentation skills and I was instantly told I was talking too fast. Because of the real-time web conference, I was told to slow down and I could start my presentation over.” – Emma M. – 8th Grade

“I really really liked the web conference. I think it was amazingly cool that we could talk and a bunch of people who weren’t in our room could hear us and see what we were doing. It was a really fun way to share information. It made me think about how I presented my story because some of the people listening didn’t know me, or what my story was about, as is usually the case when we have class projects. It was cool for me as a writer to tell people about my book. I really liked the web conference. It was the most fun we’ve had in ecs all year.” – Zoie K. – 8th Grade

My classroom had no walls during that web conference.  I think the day is coming when classrooms as we know them will be much different.  They will be more like my classroom was on the day of the adobe connect conference.  I don’t know when, and I don’t know exactly how it will happen, but in order to teach and learn from others, you no longer need to be in the same PHYSICAL space.

Dean Groom is Real

Posted in Educational, PLN, Professional Reflection with tags , , , on June 1, 2010 by Mister A

My second group of students did their web conference with Dean Groom on Friday.  This time I invited several members of my twitter PLN and to listen in and also provide feedback for my students.  They included Gerald Aungst, Kim Harrison, Scott Merrick, Bronwyn Stuckey, Crista Anderson and Susan Wanke.  Although we experienced a few technical difficulties and it was a bit hectic having thirty students in my closet sized classroom, things went off very well.  The fact that I was able to increase my students’ audience to the extent that I did (with the help of what has become a very powerful PLN) may have been one of the coolest things I have ever done in my classroom.  I have tried to get teachers in my school district involved in Twitter and Second Life type virtual environments for this very reason.  It provides me with the opportunity to shrink the world for my students and show them that there are teachers in this world willing to truly go out of their way to help others.

In the first web conference Dean and I did, I didn’t ask a bunch of teachers to come, for fear that things would not go off well.  That was probably a mistake, but I am learning to take more risks with web learning tools as I see the benefits of sharing my students’ work with other teachers on a global level.  My students think it is so cool that not only did one Australian get to see their presentations and read their stories on our wiki, but other teachers around the world are looking at and evaluating their work.  If you would like to read their stories and comment in the discussion tab on our wiki, please click here.  Each chapter is linked at that page, and written on a google doc.

Agate – One Year Later

Posted in Educational, Humor, PLN on April 16, 2010 by Mister A

I came to this conference last year and wrote a post about my experience at it.  I am now going to quote myself from that blog post.

“Either I am an internet addict or everyone else at this conference in Missoula, MT is digitally illiterate.”

That might be the first time I have ever been quoted:)  Blogs are cool because you can look back and see what was happening and what you were thinking.  AGATE is our State’s Gifted and Talented conference and I think it stands for Association for Gifted and Talented Education.  I was among a scattering of teachers who were using a computer at that conference and it seems that there are even fewer at this conference.  I am definitely the only one on twitter here and who uses his computer to connect to a larger network of teachers.  It makes me long for NECC and being surrounded by people who understand the term PLN.  I believe there is a huge disconnect between teachers who utilize a PLN and teachers who do not.  One of the teachers I work with though brought his computer, and I think today, we are going to attempt to share a google doc with one another.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Last year, I spent some of my spare time at the conference discussing etherpad with Vyktorea while we slashed our way through Azeroth.  This year I was given a tour of the nervous and muscular system of a person suffering with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) by Colleen Champ.  She is an incredibly talented artist working on her doctorate in Massachusets.  I took a picture of the model from the body’s control center.

Colleen's ALS Sim

People sometimes don’t see how virtual worlds can and will be applied in education. I bet the ability to shrink down to microscopic size and tour the muscular/nervous system of a person afflicted with Lou Gehrig’s disease might be meaningful to someone.  The people my computer connects me to is what “twenty-first century skills” are all about.  The fact that I could be taken on a tour of something so cool from so far away is still astounding to me.  Last year, a tour through Azeroth and this year a tour through Lou Gehrig.  Thank you Colleen and Catherine.

On a personal note, reading through last year’s blog post reminded me that Henny Zimer will be two years old in about a week.  I am thinking I might get him another bicycle…or perhaps a hewlett packard desktop with 6 cores…3.3ghz each.

might be henny's new bike if he keeps gettin checks from Slammed

SWSR Principals – Blog Post #83

Posted in Educational, PLN, Prime Number Posts on March 16, 2010 by Mister A

Dean Groom recently asked me to respond to a form regarding one thing principals can do to close the the gap between how teachers encounter and use ICT in the classroom — and how their students encounter and use it outside the classroom.  CLICK ME TO ACCESS THE FORM.  My response was as follows:

One thing school principals can do to facilitate positive change is to gain an understanding of what a PLN (Professional Learning Network) is.  Once that understanding is gained I believe they should encourage teachers to utilize and develop their own PLN.  The use of a PLN should be promoted as the newest and best way to keep up with the incredibly rapid rate at which our world and education are changing.  A teacher, or anyone else for that matter, cannot possibly know everything…but he does need to understand and know how TO FIND ANYTHING OUT and a PLN is a resource that can do just that.  A powerful PLN will close the gap for an INDIVIDUAL TEACHER, and for his/her students as well, faster than anything else.

Dean Groom helped me win this award for classroom computers

Dean Groom is the greatest sword fighter in all the world and a hacker and a pizza delivery guy too.

Fifteen – Minute Work Shops

Posted in Educational, PLN with tags , on March 5, 2010 by Mister A

Teaching web 2.0 applications is hard.  In the grant that Dean Groom and Jo Kay helped me write, there was a component on providing staff development in the area of web applications.  We finally received the seven sweet computers from the grant money, so I was able to finally get started with this part of what I said I would do with the grant money.  I held my first small workshop with several teachers at the middle school where I teach yesterday and staying on track was difficult.  My goal was to get the teachers started on Google Docs and the first thing we had to do was set up a Google Account.  I wanted it to be as hands on as possible, so I had computers ready to go for everyone.  Some of the teachers didn’t want to sit at a computer and just wanted to soak in the presentation.  I think I made the mistake of thinking EVERYONE LEARNS LIKE ME when I assumed they would all want to be at a computer working along with me.

This guy helped me write the grant...the one that's not a dog

I was able to get several of the attendees to a place where they created and shared a Google Document and I think they enjoyed a couple of the examples I provided of how Google Docs are used in the classroom.  I don’t know if they will continue utilizing the application, but I hope they have a better understanding of the read/write web.  I also hope some of them come back to my session on wiki’s next week.  I plan to be more focused and have a better plan in the next 15-minute workshop I teach.  I actually found that I enjoyed teaching teachers…I hope some of them felt the same way.

I used a cool new application called Prezi I found at a workshop I attended a few weeks ago.  They offer free education accounts to teachers and I embedded my Prezi below if you wanted to take a look at it.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “15 Minute WS Google Docs“, posted with vodpod