4ALL: Looking Back – Reflecting on the Year

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” – James Levin

As teachers, we know and value the reflection process.  That time when we can think about what worked and what didn’t.  It’s a time to look critically at aspects of our year and make them a learning experience for our personal and professional growth; a way to think about how we can continue and/or change practices to meet the needs of our students.  Reflection is that piece that allows us to refine our skills and identify areas that we want to improve.  A way to develop effective action.  A true goal setting opportunity.

Here is a series of questions that may help you as you look back over the past year and assess your personal growth.

  • How did your year go and what makes you feel that way?
  • How did it go compared to what you thought might happen?
  • What things did you do that influenced the outcome of your year?
  • What skills, talents, and resources did you draw on to shape your learners?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What are you learning about yourself?
  • When might you apply your new learning in the future?
  • In what ways has this reflection supported your thinking and learning?

Carmen Marty, Terri Brines, & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists and Cognitive Coaching/eMINTS Agency Trainers. For more information about Cognitive Coaching and related seminars visit the eMINTS National Center events page.

Tucker, L. (Photographer). (2010). Reflections!. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/photographygal123/4948968848/

Thursday’s Tip: NASA TweetUp – eMINTS Teacher @ Space Shuttle Launch

Veteran eMINTS teacher from Hillsboro, MO, Krissy Venosdale, GreatDayToLearn.com and TeachFactory.com, is blogging and tweeting from NASA’s launch site this week. She was invited to attend and be a part of the NASA TweetUp.

“What is a Tweetup? A Tweetup is an informal meeting of people who use the social messaging medium Twitter. This Tweetup is an opportunity to learn more about NASA, explore NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and experience a space shuttle launch.” Krissy, known as KTVee on Twitter, is one of a few applicants that will be allowed behind the curtain to share with the world what happens, moment by moment, at the launch of the Endeavor space shuttle.

T-Shirt Krissy made with her students names so they could "attend" with her.

She wants to bring this awesome event to her students and yours by sharing her experience. Her blog will provide a live countdown, videos, pictures, interesting facts, teaching ideas, and her latest tweets. You can even ask her a question that she will pass on to a real astronaut.

What a great way to get your kids excited all while learning about math, science, and more. Check out her event blog, Learning Endeavour: One Teachers Space Shuttle Launch Experience to learn more and be a part of the Friday launch.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog.

*NASA, . “Connect and Collaborate with NASA.” 04apr2011. Discussion Board.
*“Endeavor.” Flickr – Koocheekoo. Web. 27 Apr 2011. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/koocheekoo/2331555537/>.
*“NASA TweetUp T-Shirt.” Flickr – KTVee. Web. 27 Apr 2011. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/venosdale/5657841099/in/photostream/>.

HD_Links: Three Essential Infographic Resources

The infographic is changing the way we present information. The tool is so effective in large part due to its ability to appeal to visual and abstract learners at the same time as adding a bit of humor and perspective to otherwise bland collections of data. Everywhere one looks on the internet, you’re bound to find an infographic on a subject that interests you. They’re like pictographs on steroids.

Here are a few links to help you become acclimated with and find ways to use infographics in your classroom:

The Daily Inforgraphic does just what the title suggests. It’s a site that posts a new and rather timely inforgraphic each and every day. Subscribe to the site and receive a new infographic daily on the most important topics of the day.

For a closer, more theoretical look at infographics and how we view and create data in general, read the always thought-provoking blog Information Aesthetics. This blog takes a closer look as to how we view data in the 21st century with a keen eye for artistic expression through statistics. It’s not only a fascinating read for data junkies, but it also provides many different visuals for reading data.

If you think you and/or your students are ready to create your own infographics, EdTech Toolbox provides ten awesome tools for creating your own inforgraphics. Along with the tools, EdTech Toolbox also provides some ideas for how these tools can best be used in the classroom.

What are some infographics you have used with your students? How have you created your own infographics? What’s the best use for infographics?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Tuesday’s Tool: I Published My Own Newspaper

Ok, I am probably pushing it just a bit when I say “I published My Own Newspaper”. What I should say is that paper.li created a “newspaper” based on the people that I follow on Twitter and what they have recently tweeted. It took only a few minutes after I logged in using my Twitter account.

The HigginsB Daily

When I open my Paper.li newspaper, The HigginsB Daily, I can easily scan the front page and see headlines from the day. Each “article” is  based on the information my PLN is interested in that they have shared on Twitter. With one click, I can be reading the web content shared by the people I follow. Every article includes a small image and the username of the person that submitted that tweet so that I know who the information was shared by. The paper also includes a hashtag (#), photos, and multimedia sections and my running Twitter feed.

Paper.li is a web 2.0 tool that “organizes links shared on Twitter and Facebook into an easy to read newspaper-style format.” There is another website, The Tweeted Times, that creates a personalized newspaper in the same way but what makes Paper.li so nice is how it organizes and categorizes the content.

Cool features: users can read anyone’s Paper.li newspaper from anyone that has created one or they can create a paper based on other Twitter or Facebook users. Paper.li newspapers can be set to update daily or even more frequently depending on user preferences, and Paper.li sends an email each day letting users know that there is new news to read.

Some downsides: there is a bit of advertising. The people at Paper.li have to get paid somehow :) . Also, Paper.li can’t filter the content on the page since they are simply aggregating content based on who the user follows. Depending on what PLN members share, there may be some questionable content. Users should test the site before using it with students.

Teachers, classrooms or individual students could create their own newspapers daily, weekly, or whenever and stay up to date with current events based on the “news” from their PLN.

OwlDesk on YouTube has a video, Social Media Tool: PaperLi, that quickly overviews how the tool works.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog.

Monday’s Message: Supporting Thinking

eMINTS & Cognitive Coaching: A Professional Development Opportunity

Ever wish you could communicate more effectively with the people you supervise, work with or train? Do you find it challenging to help people solve complicated problems they are facing or to change how they are teaching or working with others?

The Cognitive Coaching Foundation Seminar® is an eight-day professional development opportunity for instructional coaches, administrators, teachers, mentors, professors, supervisors, eMINTS PD4ETS program participants, certified Educational Technology Specialists and anyone who wants to encourage self-directedness of others. Participants will learn strategies to increase others’ thinking potential and mediate thinking when working with someone who is planning, reflecting or struggling with a problem. Cognitive CoachingSM – a research-based model – encourages the process of decision-making to achieve goals through metacognition.

If you are interested in learning more about supporting people in becoming self directed please visit http://www.emints.org/programs/cognitivecoaching/index.shtml to learn more about our Fall 2011 Cognitive CoachingSM Foundations Seminar.

Carmen Marty, Terri Brines, & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists and are becoming Cognitive Coaching/eMINTS Agency Trainers.

4ALL: It’s Time to Think Outside the Budget

In these dire economic times, there are few resources with which we have to work. The lack of funding has a great impact on what we can and can do with our students. Field trips are cut. Teachers who might not have seen a raise in several years are being asked to dip into their pockets for materials, resources, and supplies…and those are the instances where they’re not being “down-sized.” Because of this reality, the student experience often suffers.

In my mind, we have two choices: give up and allow budget cuts to limit how and what we teach our students OR take advantage of the resources that are available to us. It’s time that we not only think outside of the box, but we need to think outside the budget. Luckily, this time in history – more than any other – offers an infinite amount of free resources for teachers and their students.

For example, just check out the tools and resources shared on this blog. Last week, we learned of an Eagle cam that’s free to anyone. What a great science resource that is. Yesterday, we suggested using a homemade visualization toolkit which can also be had for free or copied and created rather cheaply. Glogster was a fascinating and free online presentation tool we shared on Tuesday. Today’s Earth Day, but we provided free resources on Wednesday’s post. So, just on this one blog, a teacher can find many, many resources that won’t break the budget.

Of course, this isn’t the only online place that does this. One of the most vast lists of Web 2.0 tools for teachers on the internet can be found at EdTech Toolbox where daily posts provide a new tool and a comprehensive collection of tools is also made available. Plus, there are sites like TeachPaperless, Larry Ferlazzo’s site, Daily Infographic, and dy/dan. And those are just the few we go back to over and over for ideas and inspiration.

Where do you go for information and resources that help supplement your instructional materials? What’s something you’ve found recently online that helped you teach a lesson? Do you use any of these sites in your teaching?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Thursday’s Tip: Handmade Visualization Toolkit

Via collection of data visualizations.

Reading and creating visualizations of data is a key part of schooling. Graphic visualization is covered in the social studies, sciences, and mathematics.  Instead of looking at textbook graphics or creating aids on graph paper, why not use a Homemade Visualization Toolkit like the one created by “visual thinker” Jose Duarte and create three-dimensional, real-life models of data similar to the one above.

The kit includes all the pieces you see below. This is how Duarte describes his project:

I am exploring new and simple ways to represent information. That is why [I] made my own visualization kit-tool that [I] use to make any kind of graphics quickly.

With it you can make any kind of graphics including: abstracts maps and diagrams, area graphs and charts, arrow diagrams, bar graphs, venn diagrams, time line charts, bubble graphs, circle diagramas, proportional charts, organization charts, and really, whatever you want.

All rights reserved by jose.duarte

Duarte is making his kit available for free. All you have to do is email him and make a request. Of course, if you don’t want to take full advantage of his generosity, you could create your own kit(s) and send him some of your results.

All images are from Jose Duarte’s Flickr page. Hat-tip goes out to the incredible visualization blog Information Aesthetics.

Zac Early is a instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

HD_Links: Earth Day

Earth Day is Friday, April 22nd. As usual, Networked Teaching & Learning has some resources for such a day. Feel free to comment on this list and add any others you may use in the comments.

  • Pedal-Driven: Behind the Film – This preview of a upcoming documentary describes a typical environmental issue that isn’t not black and white. This issue surrounding mountain biking in public forests could be a great opening for a WebQuest or inquiry-based lesson.

Pedal-Driven: Behind the Film

What resources are you using with your students for Earth Day?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.

Tuesday’s Tool: Glogster EDU

What are your ideas about how students prefer to creatively express their learning? Through images? Text? Video? Audio? They can incorporate any or all of these when creating a Glog in Glogster. What’s a Glog? Some say it’s a graphical blog. True, but you might also think of it as an interactive, online poster. Watch this video tutorial to see how it works…

Some teachers recently requested troubleshooting help with saving their students’ Glogs. The problems they were having resulted from using a regular Glogster account in the classroom. You can avoid the issues they experienced by signing up for a Glogster EDU account. Here are a few of the advantages:

  • Student accounts are easy to create. Make sure you register for the EDU zone, and add desired number of student accounts from your dashboard (on bottom right). You can have up to 100 student accounts in the free EDU version.
  • You will receive an email with a unique nickname (username), password, and first login link for each student. *Student usernames and passwords are auto-generated. With the free version, you cannot change student usernames, but you can change their passwords. The first time a student logs in, he/she will be given option of entering a name for easier identification within your group, but this will not change his/her username.
  • Students cannot see content from the regular Glogster site when they are making Glogs in the EDU zone.
  • Students may save their Glogs by clicking “Save or Publish” at top right of workspace. They will have option to select “finished” or “unfinished” before saving. (The quickest way to get back to their Glogs to edit them from their dashboard is to click on username at top right. Glogs will come up; click on Glog name to edit.)
  • You can change visibility of student Glogs by marking them Unfinished Private, Finished Private, Public for All, or Deleted.
  • You and all of your students are connected; students can see each other’s Glogs and leave comments.
  • You can moderate comments and send/receive messages with students.

Do you still have questions? Check out Glogster’s FAQ’s. When you’re ready to get started, this video can help.

You’ll also want to download Glogster’s Teacher Resource Library. It includes sample Glogster activities that are aligned with state, national, and technology standards, sample lesson plans, and a library of multimedia resource links.

You won’t have to spend much time exploring Glogster before ideas for student and/or teacher use begin popping up in your mind.

Happy Glogging!

Debbie Perkins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.