Tuesday, April 29, 2014

My time management is lacking

I have noticed of late that my time management skills are really bad.  I have fallen behind on my goal of posting twice a week to my blog.  I have been so occupied with my job and with all of the expectations this year, that I am failing as a blogger.   It isn't my intent, really, but, I am finding that my focus has changed a little.  I am only really "teaching" one class and we aren't using a lot of new tools so finding things to talk about has shifted a little. I think as the year comes to an end, I am becoming more of an LMS, helping with research, interviewing candidates for positions and working with administration for our tech upgrade over the summer.  My role as coach is on the back burner.  I have decided to dedicate two days a week this summer to blogging.  I am sure we will have a few rainy days where I am stuck at home, in my PJs, looking for some PD.

I also decided that next year, I am going to offer my staff a much stronger PD focus.  They need to have videos, trainings and tutorials, so I am going to spend time this summer making simple videos to help them better use the technology we offer.   I can't take all the credit, I have seen a few tech coaches in my cohort to become a certified tech trainer using the outside of school, google hangout approach to PD.  I am so interested in this.  I want to try it.  My Cohort partner Amy pointed out tonight in a short twitter chat we had: #itonlytakes1 .  WOW!  It really does.  If I can get ONE person to try it, see success and then share, more will come.  It reminds me of the movie Field of Dreams.  I have always LOVED that movie.  Everytime I see it, I have a warm and happy feeling inside.  "If you build it, they will come".  It's the same with tech and coaching.  It has to be built, one has to do it and see success and then... IT WILL COME!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Google + as my ed platform

In January, my local educational cooperative posted a course to become a technology coach and I was on board fast.   I started the process last week and in the two days there, I learned so much.  The experience, I know is going to be a rewarding and life changing one and I am so excited to take part in the course.

There are about 18 of us in the cohort and we were all encouraged to use social media to share and expand our skills.   I learned quickly that Google + is my new professional social media platform.  I have been on it since it started, but I never got super involved with how it works and how much I can do with it.   I have been on Facebook for years, but I use it mostly to share things with family and friends, see what people I have known forever are up to and to post about my more social things.  I did create a Facebook page to communicate with students and parents, but I seldom visit.  

Google + is just different for me.   I am catching myself checking it on and off throughout the school day and I don't feel like I am doing something inappropriate since it is a self directed professional development.  I am finding myself asking people in the educational field questions about things and getting good answers.   I do the same with twitter, but the ability to post more information and not just 140 characters makes it easier to be more specific.

So, as I delve into the training to be a tech coach and as I expand my horizons professionally, I am going to rely on Google+ as my platform.  I suspect I will be very pleased with how it helps me grow as an educator.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How the eLearning day turned out

Well, it was a long weekend... As I wrote last week, the kids had an eLearning day over the weekend to count toward a makeup snow day. It was an experience, to say the least mostly because I was really unsure about what I needed to do with the kids. I would say, for the most part, it was a worthy experience, but I also learned a few things that I think could be applied to future days and to my school- maybe in the future we can dabble in an eLearning day.

There were a few things I would suggest for a future eLearning experience.  The number one thing that I felt I needed was more preparation.  I think if eLearning is going to be a part of the annual make-up day experience, parents need a training open house where we learn how to help, where to find things, and to teach me how much I do and I don't do.  I was really unsure about how much I was supposed to help my third grader and I felt she was over demanding.  If I knew limits, maybe I would feel more certain about my firmness in helping her versus doing it for her.

The second thing I noted, length of time.  The school only sent the devices home for a weekend.  If eLearning is coming, send them home longer.  I would have had less issue if she could have done one hour a night and only had two hours each weekend day than having 6 hours to split over two days.

Organize.  That would be the third.  The teacher was very organized, but, I would have liked to see my child better organized.   She has an iPad.  Make an eLearning folder with the apps they will use.  I noticed her trying to stray and play apps that didn't relate to the assignments.

Finally, content: Make sure eLearning content, especially for younger kids,  is merely a reinforcement of the weeks previous lessons.  With the exception of spelling, kids need to have direct instruction to learn things.  Using the eLearning day to reinforce and stress the content learned prior is key to success.

Overall, I am really glad my kids' district tried it.  I think in schools where tech is part of the program, it needs to be considered.  Keep in mind, not everyone has internet and not everyone has parents who will push them to complete things successfully. I hope it is considered again.

Friday, April 11, 2014

eLearning days

I am writing this post as a mom and not as my typical edtech self.   The reason?  My kids have their first eLearning day tomrrow and I am really intrigued by the entire idea.   You see, in NE Indiana, we missed an average of 16 days of school to snow.  Schools around had to resort to numerous approaches to make up the missed days.  My school added thirty minutes a day to the rest of the year and we made back a lot of days.  At my kids school, the option was to do an eLearning day.  What does that entail?  From what my reading has shown me and what the district has shared, the kids have to work on their computers or on projects, but do so over the course of a weekend.   The teachers will be offering "office hours" where kids can contact them for assistance.  The district, which is East Noble in Kendallville, has been very proactive about teaching families how this program will work.   There has been a lot of social media, emails, letters and newsletters.  The teachers have also done a lot of work to assure the day is a success.

I am really excited to see how this works.  I would love to encourage my staff to consider doing this as a way of making up time missed.  I heard of several districts in the area that actually had kids prepared for the eLearning day and they did it the day school was cancelled.  It worked well.  I can't wait to see what happens.

My daughter brought her paperwork home a day early so we could look it over and see what we had questions about. There was a lot of neat iPad activities and the corporation assured us nothing would require the Internet.  My son has a few projects to do that are more "science fair" like.   He also has a computer from his classroom that he will have to use to watch flipped videos that were downloaded before the school day ended.

I am super intrigued and excited to see this process at work.  I am sure it is the make-up day of the future, happening NOW!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Confessions of a bad blogger

It's been several weeks since I have actually posted something here on my blog.  I am not sure if anyone has noticed, but, I needed to justify my reasons.   Grant writing.  My school library is in a major need of a renovation to make it clean, fresh and safe.  The only way that is ever going to happen is if we receive funding from outside sources so, that is what has hogged all of my time.  Some grant apps need videos, some need documents, some need images.  It is taking a lot longer than I ever imagined to create applications.  Many of them don't ask for the same thing some of them ask for the obscure.  It has been a challenge to say the least, but, we are hopeful that something will come out of it.

The process has been a long one.  We started a few months back with the Follett Challenge.  We have no chance in winning, districts with thousands of kids will get the votes, not a district with only 245 kids who can access.  But, it got the bug into us and we decided if we could do that one, let's start looking for more.  We have found some leads that could pan out, some are just mere dreams, but, regardless, we are hopeful something will come our way.

In the meantime, I am getting ready to start a Technology Specialist Certification training and I am sure I will leave the program with some amazing tools and tips for the trade.  I should be back into full swing again soon.