This is how we represented our new understandings of WebQuest.
Monday I leave for Columbia, MO to meet with my eMINTS colleagues where I will undoubtedly get bombarded with a whole new list of resources to look at and figure out how they fit into my professional and personal learning organizational scheme. Before I depart I really need to clean up some of these tabs and commit them to memory or at least share them so that their time spent open in my Firefox tab group taking up precious memory and processor speed is not in vain.
Instructional Strategies that can be sorted into different instructional purposes.
The Best 10 Google Docs Tips for Teachers
Student-centered Learning: in the form of a Genius hour, 20% Project, FedEx Day -
Mobile Learning - aka iPad Stuff:
The eMINTS Conference call for presenters has opened. We are now awaiting your innovative, creative, high-energy proposals for both 1-hour and/or 2-hour presentations. The 14th annual conference will be held in Columbia, MO February 26–28, 2014. This is your chance to share the ground-breaking, exciting, and imaginative things you and your district are doing! It's time for you to be a part of the eMINTS learning community at the eMINTS Conference!
eMINTS is hosting an event offering many hands-on, participant centered sessions that will focus on purposeful planning in a constructivist environment with a community of learners using technology as a tool for teaching and learning.
Are you ready for the challenge? We will accept individual and multi-presenter session proposals. When your session is accepted, one presenter per proposal will receive free registration for a day at the 2014 eMINTS Conference. Want to bring all your friends? Make a few session proposals so you can all attend a day for FREE! FYI - Certified eMINTS Instructional Specialists (PD4ETS) earn 2 re-certification units by presenting at the eMINTS Conference. Notification of acceptance will be mid-October 2013 so you will have plenty of time to prepare.
I can't wait to see you there and attend your session(s). So who's in? What questions might you have? How can I help you as you begin putting together your proposal? Sign up NOW!
For more information about the conference go to: http://www.emints.org/conference-2014/
This was my browser workflow before finding Firefox Tab Groups....
I would be working on, let's say, a blog post. I would have open multiple browser windows (2-3 usually), each with their own VERY IMPORTANT plethora of tabs, all in some sort of order that made sense in my delusional organization plan. I thought I was organized! With my tons of tabs, in order, in multiple windows, trying to figure out which to bring to the front, where a specific webpage was, and then deciding that they were grouped wrong and then dragging tabs from one window to another.
I would drive myself nuts trying to position the windows just right so that I could drag tabs to new windows. It was crushing when I would accidentally close a window FULL of sites to never see them again. Don't even get me started about the amount of prime property it took up in my dock when all these windows were all minimized. It really was going to be the death of me until....
How to Tame the BEAST: It's pretty simple to set up, but the directions from Firefox didn't work exactly as stated on the website under the "How do I create a tab group?" section. What I did was first add a couple of tabs, then right-clicked next to the last tab, selected "Customize", from there I selected the "Tab Groups" icon, and clicked "Done". *You can also get to the "Customize" toolbar from the View>Toolbars drop-down menu.
Now you are ready to role. Create new groups by double-clicking in the gray area to add a new tab in a new group. Name your groups by hovering over a group until the "Name this group" text field shows up and then type in the name you wish to have. Drag your existing widows around to the appropriate group. And resize your groups so that you can see a larger or smaller image of the tabs to help you identify them. I have 3 main groups, 2 for work and 1 personal group.
When you are ready to start browsing click on the tab you want front and center, notice all of the other tabs in that group are available in the same window. When you want to get back to view all the tab groups just click the "Group Your Tabs" button in the top right corner of the Firefox window. Practice going back and forth between tabs and groups but be careful because when it asks if you are sure you want to close the windows it means all of your Firefox windows.
There are a few additional features such as searching and saving resources for reviewing later using Pocket.
These instructions, and more, can be found on the Use Tab Groups Mozilla Support Page. All images captured by Brooke Higgins.
I have been collecting resources (tools, blog posts, lesson ideas, opinion pieces, etc.) all summer long to share with my eMINTS teachers. I copied and pasted their links in my facilitator agenda, on their participant agenda, I pinned them to my Pinterest Learn Board, bookmarked them in Xmarks, shared them through an Edmodo post, Tweeted and Retweeted them, etc, etc, etc. But what didn't occur to me as I was doing all of that was to post them here, for everyone (the 10 people that read this blog) to benefit from.
So here is what I have decided to do: every now-and-then, because I don't want to commit to a certain day or time, I will share the Random Resources I have gathered. I hope to present them in some sort of organized fashion, but what really will probably happen is that the post will be a quick list of links with a short description and/or explanation of why I included it in the list.
Here goes....let me know what you think and share more in a comment.
As you perused these resources, what might be some new ideas you had or inspiration you found that your students will benefit from?
Click for Source
It's back to school time again and teachers are in the rush of meetings, open houses, preparing classrooms and lesson plans. Talk about a time to feel stressed or overwhelmed, but what a perfect time for inspiration in the form of multimedia. I don't seem to be the only one having this thought. This week, I read two other posts from a couple of great bloggers, Krissy from Venspired and William of #WmChamberlain, who both seem to have the same thought. But you know when an eMINTS facilitator shares fun video links there's probably an ulterior motive.
Ideas and inspiration can be found in interesting places. Earlier this year, I was reading a favorite memory keepers blog and she linked to a couple of great videos in a post, her goal being to share something uplifting. This was my first introduction to SoulPancake (see below). In the same week, one of my wonderful colleagues, Debbie, sent a link to one of the same videos and instantly the classroom/PD session application ideas started flowing.
eMINTS facilitators and teachers are constantly thinking about how to continue building a better community of learners. As you think about starting this new school year, what ideas do you have for using videos to inspire and support your learners as you build community in your classrooms? And what videos will you, or do you use? Please share them in the comments.
Here is one idea shared by Debbie: "The ball pit video made me wonder about ways to bring out the kid/joy in our participants. While the ball pit itself may not be feasible, I like the idea of a barrel of balls with a different question or prompt written on each. The Barrel could be a large clear cheese puffs container. Depending on questions, this could be used as anything from a "getting to know you" community builder to an end of year reflection activity. Maybe THEY (learners) could compose questions and write them on balls so we could bounce (hehehehe) our ideas around."
Below are a few of my favorite inspirational, smile inducing, bring a tear to your eye, and/or motivational clips. Maybe they will provide some ideas for you. The first are from SoulPancake followed by a collection of other great videos.
A HUGE thank you goes out to the AWESOME people I work with who share so selflessly. Many of these clips were shared by them and often times included ideas on how we might use them with the teachers we have the opportunity to work with. Because of my colleagues, and they know who they are, I am a better person both professionally and personally! :)
*Many of the videos reside on YouTube. You may wish to share them through online tools such as TubeChop or similar site to filter out the related videos and other content such as comments. As always, please preview all videos before sharing with students.
Life lessons and aha moments come at some unexpected times. Yesterday, as I ate lunch, I watched the first episode in Jerry Seinfeld's newest project called Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. I loved Seinfeld and continue to try and see Jerry Seinfeld in action.
The gist of the show is that Jerry selects a car based on his "guest", picks them up, they travel around catching up, and eventually stop for coffee. In this episode, he was catching up with his Seinfeld show friend, Michael Richards. As I listened, they began talking about the success of the show and their craft. At that point in the conversation Michael started to cut himself down saying he studied too hard and should have been more relaxed about preparing. He implied that others had fun and he didn't because he felt that preparing took so much practice. Immediately, Jerry stopped him and said, "I don't accept the judging of process." He continued by stating, "we are all trying to get to the same island." He then finished with, "what matters is when the red light comes on" ... "our job is to make sure they enjoy it". Jerry and Michael go on to talk about how it's about working selflessly not selfishly and the importance in remembering that.
That is teaching in a nutshell...selfless not selfish. Our goal, as teachers, is to leave kids in a better place than when we get them. Each teacher has to prepare in the way that makes him or her feel ready to "perform", to put on the best show possible. As I have reflected back on what I heard them say, I have wondered...in what ways might we support our-self and others in doing just that? And more importantly, how can we build each other up and not tear each other down with judgment as we all work to achieve that same goal? How can we be a positive influence and not a negative influence?
What I choose to take from this conversation is this: we each have to do what we feel we have to do to prepare, we must respect that in ourselves and others, and we must presume positive intentions of others, because we all have the same audience and the same goal. That audience, those kids, deserve our very best. Parents, communities, and the world are depending on us. We are all here for the same reason doing what we can. As Maya Angelou said, "When we know better we do better." We are all doing best we know how.
So as many of you, my friends, go back to begin a new year with students, my hope is that you take care of yourself, you take care of each other, and give the kids the best experience possible. Make sure they enjoy the journey you get to share with them.
*Coincidentally, I heard about Comedians in Cars Having Coffee on NPR as I drove home from some class visits last spring, and yes, it took me this long to get back to it. I will be watching the rest of the episodes. Who knows what else I might learn.
A few weeks ago I was facilitating iPad trainings and had searched for resources to support the teachers in using the iPad as a production and collaboration tool. I found a lot of demonstration videos on YouTube to show how to use different apps that we were highlighting in the sessions and I linked those resources on the training site.
As we worked through the session there were certain iPad skills I suggested and demonstrated, but then after leaving the session I realized I didn't have any resources linked for those skills that participants could refer back to. That is where Screencast-O-Matic came in. Some colleagues introduced me to the computer web 2.0 tool, Screencast-O-Matic and I knew it was just the fix for my participants need. I signed up for a free account, followed the directions on the screen, quickly created a screencast, uploaded it to YouTube (also downloaded to my laptop as an MP4), and made a link to the "how-to" video on our Weebly training site. It took about 15 minutes from start to finish which I am sure will be even quicker the next time through.
As you can see in my video below, it includes a screencast of the iPad screen (created using Reflector to mirror my iPad image on my computer), my voice, and a video of me talking (not really necessary but I was playing with all the features). I felt like the tool was very easy to figure out once I click the "Start Recording" button with on-screen directions.
The free version allows for 15 minutes of recording time, recording the screen and webcam, publishing to YouTube or downloading as MP4. One challenge in the free version to be aware of is that you can't go back and re-record but have to start all over if you make a mistake. Not a big deal if you have a script to follow and have practiced what you are demonstrating before you begin recording. This seems to be everything I need for now, but some of the options and features of the pro version includes: no watermark, unlimited recording time, editing tools, webcam only recording, the ability to publish to Google Drive/Vimeo/Box/Dropbox, and more.
In those iPad sessions, other things we discussed was how to empower learners. One way the group talked about was giving students access to resources and allowing them to decide if and when they might need them. Creating screen-casts and posting them on a teacher website or WebQuest would be a great way to offer optional scaffolding for learners to support their thinking and self-directedness. Students could even create their own screen-casts and post them to a class/school YouTube or SchoolTube account so that everyone could benefit from their expertise and knowledge.
Screencast-O-Matic isn't the only screen-casting software available, but it is simple to use and the free account offers a lot of features and options. What's your favorite screen-casting tool? How have you and your students used screen-casting software to support thinking and learning?
How to Record Your iPad w/Screencast-O-Matic
Screencast-O-Matic Help Channel
"Genius Hour" and "20% Projects" have been showing up all over my PLN in the past months...Twitter, blog posts, Pinterest, Facebook and more. As I read more about this instructional practice I was reminded of a 60 Minutes show I watched a few years back when they were at Google's home office. The show focused on highlighting the environment and working policy Google developed designed to support staff to be as creative as possible. This policy allows staff to spend 20% of their work week on the "pet project" of their choice. They believe that giving that time will encourage creativity and breed innovative ideas. It has been claimed that half of Google's innovative "products" have come from this 20% of time.
Being intrigued by the idea of integrated time for creativity, I took a bit of R&D time (maybe we should call it my "Genius Hour" or "20% Project") to dig a little deeper and found that 3M has been doing this even longer than Google, and HP even longer; possibly as far back as 1939. They can all argue they were the first but what's more important is that we have benefited with products such as Gmail, Post-It notes, and HTML, all coming from that structured/unstructured time.
What's even better, this ideas has made it into the education world. "20% Projects" and "Genius Hour" are rooted in constructivism where authentic learning is intrinsically motivating to students. Teachers implementing this instructional practice have created structured unstructured learning time. No matter what they call this time, all have constructivist beliefs at the core. All require that learning is relevant to life. Projects require students to learn concepts at deeper levels. This type of open-ended, project-based learning requires student to question and explore, and the most effective projects end with a product and require students to present and reflect on new learning. Teachers that want students to get the most from this experience become the guide on the side and support students to find direction, develop action plans, research effectively, revisit what they are learning and what they still need to do to accomplish their goal, and efficaciously present their projects and new ideas.
Kevin Brookhouser from the I Teach, I Think blog has some great strategies, management tips, and classroom practices that could help you implement your own "20% Projects". In listening to his Radical Autonomy: Giving Your Students 20% Time Google Hangout, it is obvious he has it figured out. In this presentation, he shares best practices and has defined the steps that can help projects like his to be successful beginning with prepare parents, students, and administrators, to having the student make final presentation very similar to Ted Talks. Visit his site to learn more about his implementation steps for successful "20% Project" and check out his TedX Monterrey Talk Don't Call it a Classroom which can be found on his blog. His site also includes student examples and instructional support for implementing your own "20% Projects".
"Genius Hours" and "20% Projects" seem to align perfectly with my first educational experiences in Montessori school, my educational beliefs as a teacher, and eMINTS, my job and my love. It is intriguing enough to wish I was back in the classroom so that I could try and implement such a progressive idea. Exploring this innovative idea in learning where I can help learners find their own "genius", expertise, and passion has me thinking...could this work with professional development? My wheels are turning; what about yours?
To learn more about "Genius Hours" or "20% Projects" check out these great resources and experts on the topic.
As an eMINTS Instructional Specialist, it is my goal to support teachers through coaching, collaborating, and consulting.
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