Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Growing your PLN with Voxer.

Yesterday was one of those busy busy days at school! I ate on the run, as I worked with all kinds of teachers on everything from resetting passwords to great ways for students to show their learning in ELA.  As I walked out of school, I could hardly wait to get home to my cheeky monkeys. I knew we had soccer practice, diving and a cross country meet. It was going to be just crazy! 

Time was flying by when I realized that it was already time to get online to co-host my show on the EdReach Network, Learning RedesignED, with Amy Lamberti. I took a deep breath, then hopped into a Hangout.

There is something so powerful about connecting with other teachers who are passionate and excited about what they are doing in their classrooms. It just refills me after stressful days. Kelly was a fantastic guest, and showed all kinds of amazing pictures of her classroom as she has transformed to make it more student centered. What a pleasure to interview her. Be sure to check out our show.

Then, she mentioned Voxer. I just lit up at the mention of it! I love Voxer! I use it to talk asynchronously with my sister who lives in Sydney, or with my busy girl friends. I love that I can send off a voice message whenever I have a thought or free moment.
Kelly blew me away when she said that she has been using it to connect with her PLN. Apparently, there are Voxer Edu groups where you an connect with teachers in group chats on Voxer.  I dug around today, and found this Google Document via @Joe_Mazza with tons of teachers (#EduVoxers) all over the place connecting on all kinds of topics. Then, I went to Twitter and looked at the #Eduvoxers hashtag...another great way to find people to Vox with. Joe Mazza writes all about great ways to use Voxer for growing your PLN and PD and also for podcasting. 

The part I love best about this idea is being able to listen to people's excited voices, providing feedback to one another on all kinds of ideas. Imagine putting a question out to your PLN when you have a moment, then coming back later to hear everyone's thoughts! You could ask for feedback on ideas, rehash lessons that did not go well, ask for about a teaching strategy. It would be like listening to a podcast on my way home from school...which I love doing after a busy day. It is like a little shot of positive energy refilling me after being used up.

Have you been using Voxer for you own PD or growing your PLN? I would love to hear your take on #EduVoxers.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Who uses Twitter in their Classroom? Just curious.

Today, as I sat in our Building Leadership meeting, I heard a question I hear often. "Who uses Twitter in the Classroom? Just curious."

I have learned that this question is asked when a teacher has not seen the power that connecting teachers and parents together can bring to a school.

Twitter can be just one more way that teachers can share the amazing things they are doing in their classroom. As a parent myself, I crave to get a peak into my child's classroom. Each time there is a blog post or email shared with glimpses into my kids' day, I feel more confident in the education that they are getting. I feel more connected to my school. I love my kids' teachers more. Why not embrace administration using Twitter in school?

This teacher was asking because our new building principal was reassuring teachers that Twitter is used almost like a blog for schools now. This teacher was possibly pointing out that this idea was silly, as none of the teachers, on our Building Leadership Team were using this powerful tool to share student work, ideas, much less connect with others, in my school because not one raised their hand.

Our admin was sharing how important social media can be to allow parents and the community a glimpse into what is going on in their classrooms. A way to share a quick picture with our learning community.  A way to promote the great lessons or projects students are engaged in. A way to promote how competent and passionate our teachers are to the people who entrust us with their most precious beings.

Our teachers are nervous about the administration using any kind of social media to share what is going on in our school.  Last year they were surprised by a Facebook page that was developed by our last administration, and some felt like they should have been asked permission before a picture of their classroom or their lesson was posted.

"Surprise" + "Social Media" = Angry Teachers. 

I have learned from my dedicated and cautious to change staff, that to win reluctant teachers over to technology, a clear picture of why something is needed in school is best practice. But is the use of social media by administration really up to the teachers? Could an administrator's mandate to share good news from school be trumped by a reluctant staff?

I feel a Twitter Thursday Tech Three coming....Maybe by this time next year that teacher will asks, "Who uses Twitter in their classroom? Just curious..." more than half the teachers around our Building Leadership Team will be confidently raising their hand.
After all, aren't building leaders agents of change?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Rolling Out Google Classroom

It is already the third week of school! The days are flying by as I run around fixing tiny issues, resetting passwords, re-teaching how to set up grade   But, amongst the chaos, I have managed to get some teachers excited about Google Classroom!

Google Classroom is going to alleviate most of the trouble with document sharing, commenting and assigning grades to student work. It creates a folder in your drive for each assignment you give students. Their work gets turned into that folder, and not into your Incoming (or Shared with Me)drive. So, your Drive is neat and tidy! Plus, there is a stream where students can interact with each other and their teachers. Grades can be assigned through this stream too! It is almost like Edmodo meets Google Drive. A match made in Heaven?

I rolled out Google Classroom in a Thursday Tech Three email, which I have resurrected after a year’s break, but with a twist! Instead of throwing tools at the teachers each week,  I thought I would concentrate on promoting communication and collaboration between students and teachers that might reach beyond the classroom. The plans is to send out email each Thursday, with a screencast or quick tip to get teachers interested, then host mini sessions throughout our collaboration day (the one day my middle school doesn’t hold a formal team meeting during team time). It has worked out so well! Teachers come, after reading or listening to my Thursday Tech Three tip, then work together to figure out how the tool can improve communication or collaboration with students. This is the quick tip I shared with them. Google Classroom

We have been a #GAFE school for over 8 years, and still, some of the teachers are struggling to manage their documents inside Drive. I think it is because teachers like a clean surface, a clean desktop and everything sorted into their correct place. Up until now, some have been reluctant to share documents with students, and prefer to have them print them out and turn them old school style.

How do you, as a tech coach, roll out new initiatives? I would be interested to hear!