Thursday, October 2, 2014

October Is Connected Educator Month: Connect For Yourself...Connect For Your Students!

These six Educational Competencies above have been identified as the core of the Next Generation of Edina Public Schools, the district I work in. When I look at each of these competencies, I believe that if we want our students to leave our district with these skills, we as educators have to have them as well. I believe that they are also the qualities of a "connected educator!"

October is Connected Educator Month, an opportunity for teachers to communicate, collaborate and share with other educators around the world in a variety of formats: chats, webinars, book studies, discussions and social media venues. Every day, the calendar is chock full of opportunities for learning and growing in all of the educational competencies above. This is the third year of Connected Educator Month. This year, it is being jointly sponsored by the National Writing Project's Educator Innovator.

Below are examples of how connected educators I know are demonstrating the educational competencies above. I encourage you to "get connected," and in turn, connect your students!

Effective Communicator & Collaborator
At South View Middle School, Dean Dahl and Meghan Haselbauer have collaborated on a Google+ Community and Hangouts on Air they call "Teachers2Teachers" where they focus on " the technology tools that support best practice, in our 21st century classrooms." These two connected educators have collaborated face to face with staff in their building as well, sharing what has worked for them in their classrooms. Here's a sample of their discussion on using YouTube in the classroom.

Responsible-Engaged Citizens
This past summer, several staff participated in an online course we offered, where staff could earn Digital Citizenship certification from Common Sense Media
For his projecct, High School Social Studies teacher, Nickie McKeever developed a series of lessons on Digital Citizenship for his World History and Geography course. He recognized that, "Since we do so much of our work online in this class, this will be an essential early-year activity to make sure we are setting appropriate expectations."
Ultimately, he has the students develop a "World History Digital Citizenship Bill of Rights." By taking advantage of online learning opportunities himself, McKeever is able to model responsible use when connecting with students. Here is his initial presentation and activities. McKeever noted that the lessons were successful, and he felt it didn't take that much time out of his regular instruction.

Innovative Thinker and Creator
Last year, Kindergarten teacher, Angela Gadtke was a member of our Teaching and Technology Cohort in Edina. During the Authentic Assessment course, Gadtke came up with a great way to flip her instructions for students on performance based math assessment. She took it one step further and had the students actually create digital artifacts of their math learning, both with pictures and video. Here is her reflection on the activity, and here is an example of what her students created:

Through her work, Gadke has connected with the developer of one of her favorite educational Apps, and now beta testing the app and is part of a consulting group for the company.

Globally Competent
Our district has defined "globally competent learners" as those who:
  • Possesses a diverse and informed world perspective,including understandings of world geography, history,economics, social issues, cultures, political structures, and environmental conditions
  • Communicates effectively in at least two world languages, one of which is English
  • Embrace individual and cultural diversity and actively seek multicultural interaction
To me, by communicating and collaborating with students in other countries, students can demonstrate effective communication in another world language and meet that component of "globally competent." As we move forward, we need to continue to provide experiences like this one, and this one, that allow students to collaborate with people around the world. The map below shows where viewers to this blog come from.
Based on statistics on the blog, I've been pretty big in Ukraine lately! I hope someone there is reading this and comments on the appeal!

Motivated Life-Long Learner
Helping our students become motivated, life-long learners is a lofty goal. One of the ways we can do that is by modeling that competency ourselves. You CAN be a "motivated, life-long learner" and never become a connected educator, but then in all likelihood, only you will benefit. By modeling for others, you can share your passion for learning and make it go viral! Here's an example of someone I think exemplifies this, our Superintendent, Ric Dressen. He is passionate about learning, and recognizing his role as lead-learner in our district, has worked to become connected and utilize those connections to encourage others.

Well Rounded Person
Balance is a very important thing in today's 24/7 bombardment of information and access. Taking time to put away devices, and get out to enjoy nature and those that matter to you is very important. It's also important as you become connected to have balance as well. Your Personal Learning Network should be just that, Personal! I started by following people only associated with Educational Technology I admired. That was good to a point, but then I started also following people with similar interests, and others related to hobbies or passions. Here is an example of individuals and organizations that showed up in my Twitter stream as I wrote this:

Many of these folks are in EdTech, but many aren't. I'm a Packer fan, former math teacher, science nut, news hound, and father. The people I follow reflect that, and provide balance to what I might connect with.

As I was writing this post today, another great example of connected learning popped up! Andy Richter, who is one of our band directors, is working with composer, Alex Shapiro on a specially commissioned work. Today, he and his students Skyped with the author to give/get input.
By becoming a connected educator, developing a Personal Learning Network, and connecting our students, we will be helping them meet core competencies they will need to be successful moving forward. I invite you to participate! Check out the calendar of events, and look for ways you can grow your Personal Learning Network to help improve your craft and connect your students to the world around them.

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