- TechEducator Podcast: High Tech Ways to Communicate with Students and Parents – This informative session focused on different technologies for mass communication with students and parents. The primary focus was on the use of Remind. It was cool to have my question posed by the host. I wanted to know if the messages used any cellular data. The answer is no. They are SMS messages only, which is great for where I live since data isn’t always available.
- Digital Storytelling – this webinar was strange as the portal was there and setup, but nothing happened. Other people came and went but the presentation never happened. I thought I was there at the wrong time but according to the screen, I joined the live session. Therefore, I am not counting this one…
- Digital Citizenship: New Roles and Responsibilities in the Digital Age hosted by OCLO WebJunction – This webinar focused on using Common Sense Media, a resource I was familiar with prior to the webinar. I did learn a lot as I didn’t know the extent of the materials available through this organization. The materials are free and easily downloadable. I did ask a question about the resources, but it was not answered. What I wanted to know was if the resources were available as a collection verses as individual downloads. On reflection, I think I should have posed my question a little differently to clarify what I was asking. Either way, I wish the moderator had answered my question. Another benefit of using this service was the certificate that they sent for my attendance and participation. A drawback of this webinar was the sound. I had a difficult time hearing the various speakers. Fortunately, the slides were helpful and I got the gist of what was said.
- Managing Google Apps Inside Your School District – This webinar was hosted by Tech Learning via New Bay Media. I had difficulty getting the Wi-Fi connection to work, so resorted to the audio option using my iPhone. This session used the same Webex portal as the Digital Citizenship session and again I had problems with the audio. I could not hear the speakers clearly and gave up halfway through the presentation. Since I couldn’t hear or participate, I am not counting this session even though they sent me an attendance certificate.
- I revisited the TechEducator weekly webinar for another session on Teaching Elementary Students to Code. This is a combination of a webinar and chat. I like that it is a free flow of information and sharing. I got more from others than I had to share – I was here mostly as a lurking learner. I teach middle school but felt I could still learn from this webinar, and I did. The Hour of Code and Kodable were the focus with mentions of scratch and hopscotch. One of the main points brought out was that coding is not only a programming skills, but it is applicable to academics and provides an opportunity for students to collaborate. Another thing that stood out was how the coding is building not only collaboration but also resilience. The presenters noted that the coding did not have to be done online; there are options for pencil and paper. This is great for those with limited connection. From the chat conversation, we discussed when to fit in an hour for coding. The answer was in bits and pieces. The misconception is that the coding must be done in one session, it does not. It is completed over the course of a week. That got me to thinking it would be a great activity for my homeroom, as we have 15-20 minutes daily that we could utilize for coding. The logic, critical thinking, and decision-making skills students develop would cross over into several areas. For this session, I was mobile, so I used my laptop to watch. The host pointed out that chatwing now had an app, so I downloaded it and used it to chat. I did have to refresh my chatwing connection midway through the presentation and reverted to my laptop. There was a lot of share of resources, so I figured I would pass them along.
- Discovery Education: Difficulty and Complexity in the Classroom – Doing Both and Saving Time. This presentation was informative and I learned a lot. I really could have used this more in previous years when I was a reading facilitator, but I can still use the premise in my classes. Since it will be available online in a few days, I will send the link on to the ELA teachers and reading facilitators. What I did get from this presentation is how to use a grade level excerpt with diverse learning abilities. The presenters gave suggestions on how to differentiate instruction so all learners can benefit. They also went over DOK and how it applied in various senarios. The meat of this webinar was in the presentation, even though some of the participants shared some resources. I liked that you had to take a quiz to get the attendance certificate. I took the quiz to get my certificate, and then just shook my head, because the certificate was for “What Should Students be Writing? Common Core Expectations for Writing and Best Practices for Meeting Writing Requirements.”
- Discovery Education: Leadership in the Age of Connectedness. This was a great webinar! One of the participants Rachel, started a shared Google Doc (this is a copy) that several of us contributed to. I think listening, chatting, and working on the document is what really stood out as a learning experience for me. The presenters were pretty awesome, and if you get a chance I would recommend their book The Relevant Educator. The conversation in the chat was good and I felt as I contributed. I was more tuned in to listening and then helping with the document. One thing that resonated with me is a closing comment by Tom Whitby and one we had heard before. He said start looking at the different streams for the organizations, and see who they are following, then check the people or groups out to see who you should add to your Personal Learning Network. The slides from this presentation will be available in a few days. I would strongly recommend that you look them over.
Overall, I enjoyed this structure. It was an efficient and effective use of my time. I could choose sessions that applied directly to my learning needs, instead of having to sit through a one-size-fits-all session. Sadly, the vast majority of the webinars I found were during the school day when I couldn’t participate. That was definitely a drawback. On the upside, most of them were recorded so I can see what I missed but you miss the collaborative aspect that way. I also learned that if you are going through a service such as Webex, be sure to join early as it can take a while to get through the sign in process and make sure your Wi-Fi connection is stable. I watched the end of the session on my iPhone and could still respond in the chat/twitter box.
- #EdChat – this was session was pretty fast paced, but I did get a great suggestion from one of the participants on some different apps to help get more out of assessments: Nearpod, TodaysMeet, GetKahoot, and Socrative. There was an interesting infographic from this session shared by Jeff Noonan as well.
- #StoryCraft – this is a group of writers that have a discussion using twitter. I was hoping to get some tips on how to get my students engaged in writing. Instead, I was surprised that I was able to provide some advice on how to add subtext by suggesting ways to incorporate body language and intonation into the narrative to help the reader with inference.
- #21stEdChat – this was an interesting chat. The primary focus for my part was a discussion on collaboration. Specifically, how to blend instruction with collaboration and reflection time. This was interesting but not as flowing as other chats I followed.
- #MSMathChat – this is for middle school math teachers. Tonight’s discussion was two pronged. The first question was on fostering intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The conversation drifted at times but the upshot is many of the participants use extrinsic rewards such as tickets or fake money or using applications like Class Dojo. The intent is to build confidence so students begin to internalize success and become self-motivated. One of the comments that stuck was do we want students to be divergent or convergent thinkers, and based on that what motivation do we foster. The second was on how to redirect students without burning the relationship bridge. There were a variety of answers, some rather tongue-in-cheek, but overall respectfully was the message and to let each day begin with a clean slate.
I watched a couple of other chats such as #EdTechChat, but it went so fast I didn’t really enjoy it. I did get a few tips from it but prefer the slower paced chats that I can follow and contribute. As I get the hang of it, I have learned that by using my tweet deck I can participate in multiple chats at once – if they aren’t going crazy. Tonight I had #diglit next to #msmathchat and was able to pick up some good resources and contribute a few tweets in the digital literacy stream while I focused primarily on the math chat.
I think some of the weekly webinars, and definitely some of the Twitter chats are going to become a regular part of my ongoing personal/professional development. I wasn’t so thrilled with Twitter at the beginning, but the more I use it the more I learn from it.