A few months ago, I was approached by two fourth grade learners who wanted to create a digital school newsletter. They had carefully prepared their proposal and even gave me a sketch of what the newsletter could look like. I approached their request through questioning. How many learners will you need to help you? How will you select them? What are the characteristics needed for team members? What are your ideas for publishing? These two learners successfully created applications, advertised on the morning broadcast, evaluated applications, and selected their members with a criteria rubric they developed. I facilitated their work by asking questions and giving feedback.
Our first brainstorming meeting overflowed with their ideas and we selected final topic and assigned teams to work on different components. We made a knows and need to know chart to determine what workshops I would teach at the next meeting to get everyone started. I posted workshop resources online on the Google site we created for for the news team.
This group has worked so diligently. They have collaborated online, created share documents using Google apps, and even had meetings on the weekends at the local library. Here are some comments from conversations today:
Using Google apps is more efficient for us to finish typing this interview. We are both working at the same time on the same document.
Writing this article and knowing it is going to be published, makes me want to make it perfect!
Why did you type that in Word? How are you going to share it with the team?
It feels good to accomplish so much!
I really like interviewing teachers. I like knowing more about them.
I didn’t need all the workshops, but I watched all the online lessons anyway.
Some members are not contributing and need to be warned or suspended from the team.
I want to make sure I am always listening to my learners…their requests, their questions, their conversations. I learn so much from them. I am looking forward to the creation of the first publication!
Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I am organized, super organized…I love organizing. Organization is also imperative for me to successfully function day to day and I take it very seriously. While planning back to school professional development for my campus, I thought…How do I organize everything we need to accomplish? How can I make this easy and simple for teacher to access? How can I model something that teachers can use in the classroom?
Then…a faculty Google site was born! It is a work in progress, but it is up and running!
Our STEM Summer School is underway! I am so excited about how teachers and students have embraced robotics and the PBL model. Through the use of Google Apps, students and teachers are collaborating, problem-solving and creating. Students are engaged in learning and teachers are applying project-based learning in the classroom What more could one ask for?
New resources have been added to my Teaching Media Literacy Google Site!
This site was orginally created in 2010 as a part of a series of professional development sessions offered to familiarize teachers with the new Media Literacy Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. Model lessons for K-5 are now posted to the site as well as some new web-based resources.
Collaboration is working together to achieve a goal. It is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together to realize shared goals, (this is more than the intersection of common goals seen in co-operative ventures, but a deep, collective, determination to reach an identical objective— for example, an intriguing, endeavor that is creative in nature—by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus. (from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collaboration)
Today I had the opportunity to see the result of collaboration. The classroom teacher, Instructional Technology Specialist, and Librarian collaboratively planned a lesson that was engaging, relevant, and focused on student writing about personal experiences. Students created digital postcards using the Bill Atkinson PhotoCard app for the iPad to send to Jerry Jones. Their postcards were about their field trip experience to Cowboy Stadium. They also shared thoughts on how to make the field trip a better experience for future students. The ITS created and shared a Google Presentation with all students. Students reviewed field trip photos and and used the comment feature to simultaneously comment on their favorite photos. I asked students to analyze the comments on the photos and draw conclusions about the quality and quantity of comments. I enjoyed seeing the “Keyes” to collaboration in action today!
Every now and then I google my name to be proactive in managing my digital footprint. I also use the Google alert feature. I receive a weekly e-mail informing me of when and where my name has been mentioned online. Today, I found a couple of post that were very interesting.
1. A Student Voice site featured my entry from a PBL training – Bethan Morgan
2. GCTE (Georgia Council Teachers of English) featured my Balanced Literacy and Technology Integration Google site in a recent professional development training. This prompted me to check out my Google Analytics for this site…pretty remarkable!
Google Analytics for Balanced Literacy and Technology Integration (as of February 20, 2012)
I often get several questions from other educators, my Twitter community, and my LinkedIn groups about my decision to pursue my doctorate at Walden University. This blog post is my response. Here is why I chose Walden University…
When I decided to take the ultimate academic challenge and purse a doctoral degree, I knew there were several factors that there important to me. The first question was deciding between a traditional, brick and mortar university and an online university. I did my research on both types of universities, talked with people in my educational community, and decided that the following were non-negotiables for me:
1. I wanted to learn with an international student body. Working at the district level, I have the opportunity to learn a great deal about the educational issues and challenges in other Texas districts. I wanted (and needed) to expand my horizons and thinking. What are the challenges in Washington, D.C.? California? Minnesota? Alabama? Canada? What can we do collectively as a student body to bring about social change?
2. Flexibility was a necessity. My most important job is being a wife and mother. In addition, I have a wonderful, full time job that is challenging (which is a positive) and demanding. I needed a university that had a rigorous program and an online learning option. Some people equate online learning with “easier” than the traditional learning format. That is not the case. Online learning requires a tremendous amount of self-discipline on the part of the teacher and student. Tools like Skype, Dropbox, Google Docs help make online learning very collaborative and allow you to make more personal and meaningful connections with your online peers.
After a year of researching programs and attending several information sessions at universities, I decided to attend Walden University. I started in June of 2010 and the quality of this program continues to amaze. I have learned a great deal in the past year. The faculty are practicing experts in their field of study. The instructional resources (textbooks, lectures, research) are current and relevant. I have already applied many concepts to my work setting. The face-to-face residencies allow us to meet with faculty, students, as well as receive academic advising. We attend classes at the residencies on a variety of topics. The academic residencies are a valuable part of the program. The academic resources available to Walden students are incredible, the Library Center, Writing Center, Research Center are state-of-art staffed with experts to advise and educate via e-mail, webinars, online chat, or phone.
I know I am where I need to be and I am proud of my decision to choose Walden University.
Balanced Literacy it a huge initiative in my school district. I have been teaching Balanced Literacy and Technology Integration for several years now, and this year I decided to really dig deep in order for teachers to truly understand how to integrate technology into the balanced literacy framework. Back in January, I started developing a Google site that aligned the balanced literacy strategies with some specific ideas, activities, and projects. It took me six months to complete this project and it was well worth it! I presented two sessions (both full at 30 participants each) at our Summer Technology Staff Development, which consists of three full days of technology integration workshops on a variety of topics and content areas. The e-mails I have received from teachers, instructional specialists, instructional technology specialists, and content coordinators have been overwhelmingly positive.
Please visit my Balanced Literacy and Technology Integration Google site and share! Here are a few things you will notice:
- Classroom Organization: I dedicated an entire section on suggestions for organizing the balanced literacy classroom first. I am a strong believer in fundamentals first. It is important for teachers to have a classroom structure, organization and student expectations in place in order for balanced literacy to be successful.
- Strategies: This is where the alignment comes in! They are already familiar with these strategies, so we were all speaking the same language.
- Daily 5: Many of our campuses are using the Daily 5, so I incorporated some ideas here along with resources to support each area.
- Online Resources: This section includes website specific to our district as well as some teacher lesson plans with student examples.
Enjoy and give feedback!