#2013 resolution: Blog consistently

Admittedly, I have always cast blogging aside, saying I have “no time” to blog on top of all of my other professional responsibilities.  But, that’s just it.  I didn’t consider blogging to be professional or my responsibility.  This blog even was setup for a class I was taking on social media‘s role in education (#udsnf12 @mathplourde).

Toward the end of the semester, I had the opportunity to write a “free choice” post.  To my surprise, it landed four times the number of visitors than any of my other posts.  (Yes, I had been monitoring my blog’s stats as a sort of pride thing)  That’s when it dawned on me.  Fellow educators do want to read about the goings on of their peers.  One resolution I made (in secret until now) was that I would continue to blog, and I would blog consistently (or at least that’s the plan now).

Stay tuned for upcoming posts

  • Twitter as a PD tool
  • Relationships mean more than any tool or pedagogy

 

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#edupunk

This week I learned a new term…Edupunk.  Apparently I am an edupunk (or so I think).  In its most vague terms, Jim Groom’s term Edupunk refers to “an approach to teaching and learning which results from a Do-It-Yourself attitude that avoids mainstream tools.” (Wikipedia)  In my book, that is what Ed. Tech. advocates do on a day-to-day basis.  I had called it being progressive.  Others call it bucking the trend or going against the establishment.

Before discussing my own feelings toward Edupunk, I want to distinguish how I am defining the term.  Teaching with progressive pedagogy refers to implementing new tools which advocate for best practices in teaching and learning.  For example, a progressive, technology-infused teacher would use Edmodo to allow students to post their thoughts (as a means of formative assessment).  Edupunks go a step further.  Not only do Edupunks consistently tweak their lessons, read articles and implement emerging technologies to enhance their teaching and learning like progressives.  They also advocate for their fellow educators to do the same.  For this reason, I would call myself a blossoming edupunk.

With the recent rise in popularity of MOOC’s, PLEs and using social media in education, nobody can deny there is a movement building which advocates for progressives to turn edupunk.  But it isn’t that easy…

Like any tradition, right or wrong, it’s hard to step away.  Personally, in my short career in education, I have gravitated toward progressive thinkers such as Will RichardsonSir Ken Robinson and Scott McLeod, each of whom are edupunks in their own right, consistently advocating for change in the interest of the learners.

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Before going edupunk, ask yourself:

Do you feel comfortable stepping away from institutionally-supported tools (like LMS)?

I struggle with this.  Though I see no point in using the archaic LMS tools like Blackboard and web portals which act as gated databases to store info, I have come to appreciate newer, hybrid models like Canvas which combines the necessary features of an LMS (grade storing, comments, document sharing) with more web 2.0 tools (wikis, blogs, etc).  Of course, in essence, it is still an LMS.

I have read many articles and case studies advocating the use of blogs or ePortfolios to track and manage learning.  This is exciting and I would love to try it!  However, in order to be successful implementing such a progressive shift, I feel the change needs to be advocated from the top and accepted by all constituencies.

What are the implications of going edupunk for learners?

I’ve been racking my brain for three days trying to come up with negative impacts on learning when teachers or schools go edupunk.  I have come up with very little.  I feel that in addition to students learning the content presented, in a much more learner-friendly way, they would also learn the soft skills needed to succeed “down the road.”  (Wherever the road takes them)  However, until colleges and universities, parents and communities are comfortable with the new normal, it will remain a fringe (punk) concept.

Like the adventurous punk bands of the 1970s, blossoming edupunks need to band together to create a new genre for teaching and learning.

Until then, meet with fellow edupunks but attending an Edcamp near you…

 

Lifelong Learning in the 21st Century

A lot of buzz surrounds the need for teachers to be lifelong learners, consistently seeking to better their craft.  Though, as we know, “there are only so many hours in the day.”  Or, so the excuse goes.  With the rise of the Maker Movement, MOOCs and the ever-increasing popularity of using social media for professional development, the excuses diminish and the need to stay up with best practices increases.  As a self-prescribed progressive educator, it is time to put my money where my social mouth is (here!)…

DIY Learning: The Flipped Classroom

Teaching in a world where students are inundated with technology forces my hand so-to-speak so that I am able to use current technology as a tool to boost student engagement, achievement and learning.  I decided that this year was going to be my year to implement “the Flipped Classroom” approach in my middle school social studies classes.  Just one problem, I have never attended a professional development geared specifically toward Flipping…

 

After reading about the use of social media for PD on Scott McLeoud’s blog, I decided that would be one venue with which to begin my quest to learn how to flip my classes.  Naturally, if given an unlimited amount of time, I would attend a few conferences and webinars to learn the latest and most effective flipping strategies.  However, I’m in education, the time is now.

 

 

If given one year to learn to flip…

  • attend the PAIS conference on the Flipped Classroom
  • Follow-up with the presenter(s) and fellow educ
  • ators attending to seek out continued conversations
  • attend EduCon to understand how its being implemented “just up the road” in Philadelphia
  • attend ISTE 2013 to specifically seek out workshops geared toward this approach.
  • Enroll in a MOOC geared toward Flipping
  • Begin now creating “flipped” videos and presentations in preparation for implementation in the 2013-14 school year.

If given one week to learn to flip…

  • Google Search “Flipping the Classroom”…read top 10 results to determine which agencies, people and blogs to connect with.
  • Search Twitter for the hashtag #flipclass and setup a Twitterfall to link in to the current conversation
  • After reading some articles, blogs andthe like, I would hope to have a decent understanding of who is flipping and advocating for this approach.  I would connect with these groups and people on both Twitter and Google+
  • Once connected, setup a Google Hangout (and record it!) with a few people who are currently flipping around the country
  • Watch several videos from the Youtube results
  • Toward the tail end of the week, I would choose the class and lesson which I’d like to flip and begin to design a lesson or a mini-unit (depending on comfort level)

If given ten minutes to learn to flip…

  • Google It!
  • #edtechchat, #edchat and #flipclass
  • Give it a try…documenting and refining as I go.

By implementing social media and MOOCs, I am confident I could learn almost anything necessary to continue my development as a technology-integrated educator.  What would you learn?

Extreme Makeover: Social Profile edition

Task this week:  Evaluate your own social presence to determine what, if any, changes need to be made to better market your skills and expertise.

You see, one of the possible pitfalls of maintaining a social presence through many sites (about.me, Google +,Twitter and the like) is you risk compromising a “follower’s” understanding of you.  I had two main goals when I set out to give a makeover to my social self.  First, I wanted to make everything uniform.  Much as a business wouldn’t want to market multiple slogans, I wanted followers to have one uniform understanding of me, as a brand, no matter the site they were viewing.  Second, I wanted to tie my many social presences together as efficiently as possible.  This task has already proved invaluable (doubling my daily and quadrupling my weekly viewers to this blog!).

How do I differentiate myself from other educators?

To answer this, I went old school.  On a post-it note, I jotted down everything that makes “Mr. Reichert” (my teaching persona) unique.  On the list I noted many things which help to shape my role in education.  I teach social studies to all boys in grades 6-8 using an iPad in a 1:1 environment.  I also coach many of the same boys in soccer and lacrosse.  I serve as the Middle Level Coordinator.  And, last but not least, I am currently in school for a doctorate in leadership and education technology.

–All of these items make me unique and contribute to my brand.  Also, each of these things were mentioned in at least one of my social profiles, but were not consistent across platforms.–

Next, what have I done which others haven’t had the opportunity to do.  Though a notably smaller list, it is growing by the keystroke.  In addition to maintaining social presences in a variety of sites, I have created an ePortfolio to house my educational philosophy and many tools and creations of mine, including two presentations I have made in the EdTech realm.

–Again, these were items which I had not initially listed in my social profiles.–

Makeover Time!

After reading of Klout.com, I decided (after an initial Klout Score of 16) that I was going to boost this as much as possible by linking my social profiles.  I also noted I needed to brag a bit more of my accomplishments.  As Seth Godin notes in his blog, “Great people shouldn’t have a resume’.”   If I want others to see me as great, I need to show my expertise not just to those directly connected but to my weak ties (of, but not limited to, Twitter and blog “followers”), as written by New York Times columnist and author, Malcolm Gladwell.  To truly harness the power of social media, I need my posts, tweets and updates to exude knowledge in my areas of interest and expertise.  I need to treat my social presence as my resume and build an online reputation which can precede me.

NEW!! About.Me profile:

About.Me housed my simple landing page.  By simple, I mean bare bones.  Going along with what I’ve been writing, I made several changes to the landing page, all of which are intended to enhance my brand and marketability.  In essence, this will serve as the one-stop-shopping description of me.  Changes include:

  • updated biography
  • link to this wordpress blog
  • link to Google Site and Professional presentations

In addition to making the three major updates, I explored how often visitors landed on my page.  Let’s just say I felt very lonely and minor.  To increase hits to my page, I attached a link to the page on my personal e-mail signature.  I would also do this to my professional e-mail, but the school is very particular (think branding!).  I also took the advice listed on the “Get more visitors” section of about.me.  I added the about.me link to my LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and WordPress profiles.

Blog:

Another step to take on my quest to solidify my brand, I updated the look of this very blog.  Since its creation, I have switched themes a number of times, trying to find one which I felt was readable and clean. Oddly enough, I settled on the theme entitled, “Fresh and Clean.” (Go figure).

One feeling I have had since the dawn of the blog was that it needed spicing up.  Looking through the blogs I follow, they all have two things in common.  Visually, they pop.  They lure readers through the use of pictures, infographics and other items.  Also, they promote user interaction.

For me, this meant rearranging my pages and adding a few widgets such as a live stream of my twitter feed, a tag cloud and a list of blogs I follow.  To grow this, I need to consciously stay true to my mantras.

From this quest, I take away a few major rules which I hope will govern my future social interactions.

  1. Keep the Personal and Professional posts separate.  Use certain sites and platforms for your personal life and others for your professional life.  Never intermingle!
  2. Solidify your UNIQUE message.  Determine your brand and stay true to it.  Discover (and publicize) what makes you “you.”  Offer something which nobody else can offer.
  3. Promote “You”.  Make it known how readers and followers can connect with you.  To begin this, I am going to arrange for HootSuite to shoot a tweet containing my About.Me profile along with a link to this blog using IFTTT.

Until next time, connect with me at my about.me landing page.