Saturday, 12 December 2015

My Ideal Learning Space

One of the requirements for the application for the new Google Innovator Program is to create my ideal learning space. This was tough! I chose to use ThingLink to help me communicate my ideas. Whether or not I make it to Mountain View next February, I'm glad I had the chance to explore what my ideal learning space might be. I also have a feeling that this is just the first of many versions.

Please hover over the yellow and white circles in the image below to see my thinking.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Thanks Twitter

I'm sitting here at my desk on a P.A. day and I had an interesting reflection.

A year ago, if someone asked me how much professional / educational literature I read, my answer would have been (sadly) not as much as I should have. Reading for my job felt something on my to-do list I had to finish.

Today though, I had a chuckle when I realized that my "reward" for assessing a pile of essays was that I got to read the latest link to an article or a blog I saw posted on Twitter.  I have never read more educational literature (by choice) in my entire career...and I actually love it!

Thanks Twitter and my PLN!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

My EdTech Team GAFE Summit Ah Ha Moment!

I used to picture my learning journey as a race. I run to keep up, feeling the need to learn as much as I can to get closer and closer to my finish line. I know I’ll never reach it and that’s fine because I enjoy learning. My issue is that I always feel that the only way to move forward in my race is to have all the answers. That is the only way to get closer to the ribbon at the end.

This morning, I was reflecting on all the inspiring educators who shared their knowledge over the weekend at EdTech Team’s Ontario GAFE Summit and it hit me! I’m not racing to a finish line. My analogy is founded in isolation. This weekend was all about true and powerful collaboration.

My single-lane race transformed into a giant puzzle.  

I bring a piece, maybe more than one piece, but so does every educator I have the fortune to meet and learn from.  

I’m not yet an expert on how to use IFTTT but someone else is so they bring that piece to my puzzle.

I’m not yet an expert on how to sketchnote but someone else is so they bring that piece to my puzzle.

I’m not yet an expert on how to integrate a green screen or Google Maps or Twitter but others are and they will bring those pieces to my puzzle.

Together, a picture is formed and that is how I will become a better educator.

This isn't to say that I won't one day be able to contribute other pieces of my own but until then, I can feel supported by shared knowledge of my peers who are building my puzzle collaboratively.

For a long time, I was trying to help myself understand that I just had to be patient on my race and that one day, I'd know everything I needed to know.

Now I get it. I don't have to know everything! (I know this isn't a revolutionary concept and I'm sure I always knew this but there is a difference between knowing it and really believing it to the point where the belief gives you confidence.)

What I do have to know is that learning is a collaborative effort.

I will continue to bring pieces to my puzzle and seek out other inspiring educators for their pieces too.

Friday, 10 April 2015

The Importance of Researching a Hashtag: A Lesson Learned

Well, I certainly learned a lesson today! I made a series of mistakes and in the spirit of a growth mindset, I feel the need to share what I learned right away.  

Earlier today I completed a post for my other blog, Inquire and Inspire, that I'd been working on for just over a week.  I was proud of it and eager share it.  I've done this many times before and this wasn't going to be any different.

I tweeted it out and included my usual hashtags: #edchat and #edtech.

This time though, since my post explained how educators can use backchannels like TodaysMeet and Twitter for increased opportunities for student voice, I decided to include the hashtag "backchannel".  Why wouldn't I? As I typed it in, it appeared in the autofill drop down so naturally it was okay to include. I was even proud of myself for working it into the body of the tweet instead of tacking it on at the end.
Within about an hour, I received a tweet stating that I should research hashtags and avoid promoting my blog post with one (backchannel) that is already in use.

Gasp! I had been called out in public for a naive error. What thread had I tied my tweet to?!? Fortunately, it wasn't anything inappropriate but still, I made a silly error that was completely avoidable.

I replied to the gentleman and thanked him for pointing out my mistake and proceeded to delete my tweet. Then I decided to delete my thank you tweet because I thought that would call more attention to my error. Finally I contacted the one person who had retweeted my tweet and requested that she delete her retweet. (I apologize for the repetitive language but it seems to be unavoidable).

Now a few hours later, I am having trouble keeping track of all the mistakes I made today; the biggest being I should never have used a hashtag that I wasn't familiar with. I should always do my due diligence and research a hashtag before connecting a tweet to it. I've heard the horror stories of people who have tied their tweets to hashtags that are irrelevant or inappropriate for a larger audience.  Of course, that wasn't my intention but naivety is no excuse.

Here is what I'm still questioning.  

Did I do the right thing by deleting the original tweet? I think that was okay. It didn't belong in that thread and I was correcting an honest error.

Did I do the right thing by deleting my reply tweet to the man who pointed out my error? I don't think so. I made the mistake and I should not have been afraid that people would find out. I explain to my students all the time that making mistakes is part of the learning process and without them, we'd never grow. We need to appreciate our blunders and not be afraid to share them so others won't be afraid to take risks. What did I do? I tried to hide my mistake. That's taking a step backwards in my own journey to become a responsible digital citizen. 

Although one of my instincts was to forget this ever happened, I decided to fight that fear and write this post instead. I will share the story with my students next week and use it as a lesson to help them understand the power of social media. 

In the end, I'm relieved no one was hurt and no major damage was done but I realize what could happen if I'm not thinking. The funny thing is, I thought I knew what I was doing! I know the stories of people who make these mistakes and I thought I was digitally responsible.  I still have lots to learn.  Sharing this story is part of my learning.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Confessions of an EdTech Teacher: If my son shouldn't have every toy in the toy store, why should I have every app in the Chrome store?

I have a confession to make. 

Last week when I was talking to my son about why he just couldn’t have every single toy he sees the moment he sees it, I had an epiphany.

I watched the pure joy on my son’s face as he moved through the doors of a toy store. He walked up and down the aisles. He was exhilarated at the possibility of having all these new toys in his bedroom to play with. Then, the very moment I told him he could only have one, his pure joy was replaced with unmistakable frustration. How could I not give him every single toy at once? It was so difficult for him to understand when he could see them all right in front of his face! People were talking about these toys, explaining how amazing they all were and why his play time will be so much better with them than without them. Why couldn't he have them all at once? He felt defeated.

I am just like my 5 year old son.

Replace the toy with some example of an app or a script or an extension or an Add-on and I am my 5 year old son. I want it all. I want it now. I’m excited for the possibilities. I’m frustrated that I don’t know how to use it yet. I’m jealous of those who do. I’m overcome with defeat.

I’ve been feeling this EdTech cycle of emotion for quite some time now. I’m extremely proud my my journey in the last 18 months. I remember sitting in my first EdTech camp, not even knowing what this thing called “Google Drive” is.  I was inspired that day.

I joined G+ to learn more. I loved asking my questions, collaborating with a professional learning network in various communities and even sharing my own knowledge that was growing by the day. Thanks to leaders like +Eric Sheninger, +Sylvia Duckworth, +Andrew Stillman, +George Couros,  +Scott Monahan and +Jim Jamieson, I felt comfortable diving in to learn as much as possible.

And then it started…

I would read someone’s great post about an app that we should try. I’d put it on my to-learn list and get to it as soon as I could. Then someone else would post about another fantastic app. Again, I’d get excited thinking about all the great applications of that app and how my students could really benefit from it. My to-learn list was growing far faster than I could cross items off. My excitement felt like it was wrapped in frustration. I couldn’t do everything I wanted to do.  I needed to know how to use and Incredibox and Screencastify and Paper53 and the 15 other apps on my list. Don’t get me started on how confused I felt once I joined Twitter! 

I felt excited. I felt behind. 
I felt inspired. I felt defeated. 

I knew I was doing good things. I knew I was sharing my knowledge with my students, my colleagues and my PLN. Yet, each time I heard about something new, I felt like a kid staring up at towering shelves, filled with endless amounts of toys that were unreachable.
This is a problem. My current way of thinking isn't helping me. If I'm always beating myself up for what I don't know, what message am I send to my students? I have to value what I do know and not punish myself for what I don't, yet strive to continue growing. I have to consciously try to remember that it isn’t a race. The point is to value the process and learn at my own pace.

Just like my son doesn’t need every new toy the minute he sees it, I don’t need every app the minute I learn about it. I never let my son open up more than one birthday present every few days. He has to have time to appreciate each toy and learn how to play with it before moving on to the next. Technology, in my practice, must be the viewed the same way. I have to slow down. I have to appreciate each part of my journey for what it is.

If I’m being honest (and as scary as it is, I’m trying to be honest) I don’t entirely believe that this epiphany will stick. I think I’ll continue to feel frustrated that I don’t immediately know how to use the newest EdTech discovery the moment it appears in my G+ stream. That’s just who I am. However, I think I will stop feeling a sense of defeat. I understand now that not knowing is just part of the journey. If I knew everything, there would be nothing to learn and what fun would that be?

I will continue to grow my to-learn list and tackle each item in its own time. I will enjoy each new “toy” and appreciate it for how it can help my practice and my students educational experience.

I want to learn. I need to collaborate. I strive to lead.