My Digital Resume

This blog houses my digital resume.  When I started my program at Wilkes a year ago, I was apprehensive to start a blog.  I didn’t want to be a blogger who shared the most mundane things to the masses.  But I will fully admit that it has come in handy on more than one occasion for sharing professional development or as a common spot for information for my colleagues.

When I was adding links to all the sites that I have a presence on, I chose to only add those in which I have a professional presence on.  I chose not to add social media past Pinterest because I’m careful with what I share about my personal life online.  The people that I am “friends” with online are my friends or family in real life.  I don’t follow strangers; they don’t follow me.  I don’t feel the need to approve people I’ve known since I was 2 if I haven’t seen them in equally as long of a time.  I have Google Circles for this program, however I don’t use it socially.  It was important for me to have only my professional information on this site.  If I had a professional Facebook page, I would link to that, but I don’t.

You can find links to my digital presence on this page under “About Me” and, more recently, “FDK Resources.”  This is a page I added as a result of speaking at a state educational conference.  Overall, I’m ok having a digital presence, as long as I can keep my personal and professional lives separate.  I’d make a terrible celebrity!

You can find the links to the other pages below:

Digital Resume
FDK Resources

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Attending Live Webinars

This week I attended a live webinar from Classroom 2.0 titled Teachers Teaching Teachers.  It is a weekly installment webinar that you can find here every Wednesday.  Webinars are great ways to increase learning from the comfort of your home.  You can choose how involved you want to be.  Do you want to use your voice to share your opinion or do you want to observe and learn from others?  Unless you are doing it for credit, most webinars won’t require you to participate using your webcam or microphone.

As with anything, there are benefits and drawbacks of this sort of blended learning.  One strength of this particular webinar was that because it was through an established PD outlet, the content was of high value and the presenter was professional.  One drawback was that I didn’t realize I had to download special software (this may prove tricky if you are using a district computer and you aren’t allowed to download programs without special permission) so I was late to the show.  It didn’t matter to anyone else, but it mattered to me.  There were many participants (I lost count as they came and went) so there was good dialogue that was highly structured.  I’ve attended some webinars before where there was less structure and people were allowed to interject whenever they wanted to – which led to us not getting through all the content.  Due to the high structure and preparation of Classroom 2.0, though, I would definitely attend another one.

In older grades, this type of platform could be incorporated into learning if students created or attended webinars of buddy classes (especially if the buddy class was located somewhere other than their own city or school.)  It would be great for students to create a presentation around their knowledge or subject area and take turns presenting to other classes.  For kindergarten, we’d only be on the viewing end of this, as it is just too much for a little 5 year old to do.  We could, however, create pre-recorded presentations as opposed to live webinars and share those out.

It would be great to be used in upper grades, but I’d be sure to add an engagement component to it.  It is all to easy to log in to a webinar and show attendance, but then walk away from your computer or become engrossed with something else.  With older students, I’d be sure to have requirements for participation and perhaps a short write up afterward.

I’m more likely (and have in the past) to use Skype or video conferencing with professionals in my kindergarten classroom.  The two-way communication is a better fit for our age and we can adjust the time better for kids who have a shorter stamina for sitting still.  Many webinar platforms are pretty advanced for such young students when it comes to understanding how to turn on and off the microphone and video camera, when to interrupt with a question (or a story, as most likely the case in kinder), and how to stay engaged. This way it is more of a show and tell than a true webinar.  But, as for many things in kindergarten, this is a baby step towards full technology implementation that can be achieved in later grades.  It is better to attempt to start kids along this road than to wait until they’re older and further behind the technology curve.

Broadcast Yourself!

With so many best practices and exceptional teachers in our world, creating your own webinar is great way for you to share your strengths and talents with the teaching community in a less restrictive environment.  You can live broadcast yourself (as I attempted to do on Thursday) or pre-record yourself (as is demonstrated here.)  Both have their benefits and drawbacks, but both incorporate ways to teach and grow as an educator.

I mention that I attempted to do this presentation live on Thursday.  I was presenting at a state education conference and attempted to do a live stream of my presentations at 1pm and 2:15pm.  I promoted myself through tweets and facebook posts in educational circles.  However, the conference location we were in didn’t have the bandwidth ability to stream my presentation, allow for the 100+ participants to have all their technology open, and run a live broadcast all over wifi.  It was worth a shot.  I learned that it is very important to ensure that you have a backup method of broadcasting, such as hard writing your internet connection.  There was some great dialogue during this presentation that would have been excellent for everyone to see.  Live and learn.

Screenshot 2015-02-28 11.38.38

Pre-recorded presentations can still be interactive.  I created this one for you to view on VoiceThread, which allows the user to upload a presentation and add voice clips.  It is definitely not as dynamic as the live presentations, as I couldn’t switch between screens or allow for video use.  Instead, I had to encourage viewers to head to my website in order to watch the videos I was speaking of.  It can still be interactive, though.  If I encouraged viewers to be online at the same time, they could record comments, type questions, and interact with me in a less personal way.  Similarly, by subscribing to a thread, I can comment back to people at a later date.  From a creator standpoint, one benefit of pre-recorded presentations is that you have the opportunity to write down and read what you want to say.  This ensures that you say everything you want to say instead of getting interrupted or forgetting something important.  A benefit as a viewer is that you can watch the presentation and interact at your own speed at your own time.  Because this presentation will always be online, you don’t have to be available at the pre-set times.

Overall, I wish that I had been successful in my attempt to livestream my presentation, as I think it would have been more engaging, however, this will do for a first attempt.  You can view it below or see it here.  Broadcasting yourself allows you to share your educational talents with a large audience through various formats.  It can be intimidating, but in a world where we educators have so much to do, it is important to share the wealth and the knowledge that comes with it.

https://voicethread.com/app/player/?threadId=6587294

Integrating Social Networking

Sometimes, teaching kindergarten, we have to take ideas that are excellent for older students and tweak them to fit our needs.  Integrating social networking into teaching and learning is one of those ideas.  It’d be great if kids could post to Facebook using hashtags or send out live tweets to one another.  But we have a few problems.  First, these kids are too young to host social networking sites.  Second, as a teacher, we have to wrestle with our own, our district’s, and parents needs for child privacy and online presence.

There is a way around this in kindergarten, though.  A website called Lemme Tweet That For You allows users to create fake tweets and publish them to another site.  It even gives you fake followers and fake stats.  Even though kids aren’t stellar typers in Kindergarten, Twitter’s 140 character limit is more than enough for a kindergarten sentence.  I manipulated a lesson plan that I already have to incorporate Lemme Tweet That For You “tweets.”  Every week, kids learn a new high frequency word.  They read it, write it, find it in word searches, and use it in sentences.  Using the web based programs, and with the help of an adult or older buddy class, kids can create uniform (fake) Twitter Handles, use the word in a sentence, and add a hashtag of the word.   In the sample below (click on it to see a bigger version), I used the handle @B4Kinders (we are kindergarteners in room B4), wrote my sentence, and used the hashtag #too.  You can use uniform handles like @B4Jonny or @B4Sally to designate kids.  You have the option to add a photo or not.  Be careful, though:  This site pulls real twitter handles from Twitter if they exist.  Be sure to test each uniform handle before giving them to kids.

Screenshot 2015-02-22 17.19.02

It is easy enough to teach kids to take screen shots on an iPad.  By holding down the home button and the power button, a screen shot is taken.  (It is probably going to be easiest to manage this if I’m using a small group set of iPads instead of 1:1, so that I can pull more images off one device in a faster time.)  Left at that, I can then go back in to the iPads, pull the screenshots, and collect them in one place to later share and talk about with the kids.  How fun is it for them to see them all in once place!  Although I’m only in week one of doing this, I’m imagining that kids will be encouraged to write bigger and better sentences if they know they are going to be shared with the class!

Although it’s not traditional, there are ways to add (albeit fake) social networking into kindergarten life.  Give it a try!

Photo Challenge Wrap Up

The 365 Project is an online digital photo project that employs participants to take and upload a digital photo every day for an entire year.  There are no strict rules; simply upload one photo per day that you took and want to share.  This week, I did a mini photo challenge and shared a photo every day for a week.  You can find them all here.

Taking photos is nothing new to me.  Although I am by no means a professional photographer, I often have my camera on me and have taken a few photos over time that I am proud of.  For this challenge, I gave myself a few “rules” to make it more of a challenge than just taking photos.  Rule #1 was that I would upload a picture at the end of my day that best exemplified my day.  Rule #2 was that I had to be able to describe in it two words or less.  I didn’t want to ramble on about the importance of the photo.  I wanted the photo and the caption to speak for itself.

It was a fun process.  The extra rules I gave myself forced me to take many more pictures in a day than I normally would.  Reason being that because I wanted to share what most shaped my day, I had to take a picture of everything, lest nothing better came along!  It forced me to think about what I was taking a picture of as well.  What photo do I take that will tell the story I want to tell?  Will this photo look just like yesterday’s or will I take a different style of photo?

I can see using a challenge like this in upper grades where students may have their own cell phones. I can see a photo challenge being useful to document a vacation (Christmas Break, Spring Break) and provide the scaffolding for a narrative story.  Additionally, it could be used in science or social studies to curate a portfolio on life sciences or local culture.  In younger grades, you could accomplish the same with iPads, but you’d have to determine if you really want kids carrying them around everywhere they go.  One social studies standard of kindergarten is understanding your community.  A photo challenge such as this would be a great way for students to learn about their own unique community.  If you have good parent involvement, a challenge like this would work well.  If kids couldn’t do it at home (or wouldn’t have support) those students could be encouraged to document the school community.

Overall, it was a fun challenge and I see some good uses for it in an educational setting.