Monday, November 17, 2014

The Road to Success is Always Under Construction...

My mind has been spinning with ideas and thoughts for this blog post.  Several reflective conversations, sessions and experiences at the Miami Device Conference were all part of the pieces for this post.  However, upon returning to my school following this conference, it was this simple poster that sparked the title of this post: 

The Road to Success is Always Under Construction

My biggest takeaway from Miami Device was the whole idea of Making Thinking Visible.  This wasn't a new concept by any means, but it was nice to attend several sessions with this concept as a focus.  There is so much to be said about creating a broader audience for students and publishing their work.  That being said, this creates the environment for continuous publishing, revising, reflecting and publishing again.  Students' work is always under construction... The Road to Success is Always Under Construction.

In addition to making student thinking visible, there is value and importance to making teacher thinking visible.  We, too, need to be publishing, sharing, revising and reflecting on our experiences.  When students submit or publish work that needs revision or reflection, we "coach" them through the learning and reflecting process.  As teachers, we also need to learn and reflect on our lessons and experiences in the classroom.  Whether it means reflecting on a lesson integrating technology, trying a new Pinterest lesson, or implementing a new assessment, our Road to Success is Always Under Construction.

So as I reflect on my job, this conference, and my goals as a professional, I will continue to put on my hard hat, travel the road of reflection and visual thinking so that I can model this for others.  Here's to an adventurous trip on the Road to Success...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Individualized PD: My Failed Success

There have been several blog posts, tweets and references at conferences about the importance of individualized PD for Technology Integration.  This is something I thought a lot about last year and even more over the summer.  These thoughts prompted me to a summer offering of Tech On Demand.  Although I believed this was a great idea and felt I would have several take me up on this opportunity, I didn't.  This brought me back to the drawing board as far as expanding opportunities for more individualized PD.  I didn't have any new ideas, just thoughts, passion and a drive to provide learning opportunities for all.

So... weeks have passed since my Tech On Demand "defeat".  I decided to "own" this defeat and continue.  Thinking about some tips I gained from my own summer trainings I decided that I would continue to focus on the following:

1. Building relationships
2. Being available
3. Offering support

I knew these things were KEY as our school transitioned from  1:1 iPads to 1:1 Chromebooks. Another year began and like any other, it was busy. Trainings took place, I offered support, and tried to make a point to be available as much as possible. What I had realized was that scheduling individualized (open) PD opportunities wasn't a lot different than any other "planned" session. Many still didn't know what they didn't know.

This photo represents week TWO of school with Chromebooks and an "impromptu" personalized PD session after school this week.  At one point I had seven people in my office seeking help and suggestions.  It was not planned. It was on their own "need to know" schedule.  The best part... They were helping each other more than I was helping.  I was at the center of facilitating personalized PD.  The conversations, enthusiasm and excitement were awesome!  My professional goals to build relationships, be available, and offer support were coming together.

As educator, we all have those "favorite" days in education. It may have been a memorable event, lesson, student, or class. August 18th, 2014 is an "official" favorite day in my technology integration journey.

Here's to a year of conversations, sharing and enthusiasm for technology integration.

Monday, August 4, 2014

ISTE as a Newbie

ISTE as a Newbie

Tech Coaching

ISTE 2014 in Atlanta was a memorable and reflective experience for me.  As an “ISTE Newbie” I had mixed emotions as to what I should expect.  I was prepared to be overwhelmed and that was definitely my initial feeling upon arrival. This feeling did not change; however,  the networking, learning and enthusiasm that radiated throughout the conference trumped any overwhelming feelings that lingered.

Networking was a huge part of ISTE for me.  Attendees were constantly connecting via Twitter, PLN Lounges and the ISTE Network game.  These connections not only opened up learning opportunities during my time in Atlanta, but provided lasting opportunities for learning and collaborating from this point forward.  I felt that I gained a new idea or tool in every line I stood in.  Whether I was waiting for my morning Starbucks, for the rain to subside or just waiting in line for a session, I had engaging conversations with complete strangers that were always full of ideas, tools and things I couldn’t wait to share.

It took me some time to sort out my notes and all that I  “took away” from ISTE.  I felt like a sponge in an ocean.  I would absorb a bunch of new ideas or tools in a session, squeeze them out on Google Document and then soak up more greatness from sessions, playgrounds, poster sessions, vendors and attendees, all while continuing to squeeze the greatness onto my Google Document. My sponge was quickly filling up and curating the greatness seemed overwhelming at times.  In my recent read, “Teach Like a Pirate” by Dave Burgess, I was reminded the importance of curating my ideas.  My sponge was filling up with links, apps, extensions and ideas that I must sort and share.  As a technology integrationist/coach, I took away several Google, web, and app tools to use and share with teachers.  I love learning new tools that give that “ohhhhhhh” response.  

Beyond helpful tools, sites and apps, I felt drawn to sessions focused on tech coaching.  It was great to listen and gain ideas from other districts as Technology Integrationist/Coaching positions continue to grow and develop.  Relationship, Relevance and Reflection, or the Three R’s of tech coaching, really seemed to summarize the mission behind this growing position.  As technology advances and those in education are forced to stay on top of the technology trends, tech coaches are vital.  I truly feel that it is the Relationships, Relevance and Reflection that guide the success and validity to this position. As we work together to stay on top of the latest and greatest with technology and engaging children, we must work as an education team as well.  Building Relationships, finding Relevance to technology tools and ideas and truly Reflecting on the process is key.  As the summer comes to an end and I start “squeezing” my sponge of knowledge, I look forward to sharing and growing with others in the changing world of education.  

Until next ISTE…

Friday, March 21, 2014

Students as App "Super Users"

Recently, I began using the term "Super Users" in classrooms when working with students and iPads.  I love this term because it empowers students who have already used an app and most likely know more about its use than the teacher in the room.  At the start of any lesson or project I ask students to raise hands and show me who has used the app I am introducing for the project.  I have students acknowledge them as the"Super Users" and I tell them to be sure to consult those students with questions before asking teachers.

These "Super Users" tend to take that leadership role and assist, teach, and share as needed during particular projects. The classroom environment becomes  noisy, but conversations and learning are very apparent.  As a teacher, I see learning, collaborating and engagement.  One specific instance of  a true "Super User" must be shared and is the motive for this blog post.

Using Pic Collage and 30 Hands for a state report project was a recent project of mine in a classroom of fifth grade students.  The other day was no exception to the daily project work where students were creating collages, saving, inserting into 30 Hands and recording explanations to fit their images.  The exception came when a "Super User" was presented a dilemma with typing text for temperatures. Finding the degree symbol on the iPad keyboard was the "catch" of the day.  One "Super User's" problem solving approach to this dilemma was truly amazing.  He simply suggested to type the temperature in one text box in Pic Collage and then add another one and type the letter "o".  With that box he suggested shrinking it down and moving it up next to the temperature and just above to show as a degree symbol.  My thoughts: BRILLIANT!

This was just one more reason why, we as teachers, need to trust students as experts and let them be experts and share.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Tech Fail Turned Tech Success

Tech fails seem to bring us down AND constitute a little "dwelling" on the negative.  However, when a tech fail turns into a very positive experience it constitutes a blog post.  Yes, I needed to blog and this seems blog worthy today.

Plan "A" today involved a simple afternoon drive over to one of our feeder schools to continue our State Report projects on iPads. The "fail" part comes in when a little miscommunication occurred and the iPads weren't available for the afternoon.  The teacher I was working with asked if I wanted to cancel or if I had a Plan "B".  As I pondered our lesson objectives and the fact I was the only one with a device, I was determined to find a way to expand our study of states beyond textbooks and a Google search.  Twitter and my PLN came to mind immediately. 

My next step was to send out a "tweet" to my PLN asking for fun facts, pictures or quotes about their state.  Hoping to get some feedback and have opportunities for discussion, I was almost ready for Plan "B".  I was not only excited to turn this tech fail into success, but was excited to share this Twitter activity with these students.

Success.... Yes, I said success!  The Plan "B" was a success.  Following our short YouTube video, I opened Tweet Deck.  With the help of an amazing PLN:  (Thanks @mrbadura @mandery @mrszookeeper @mrbalcom @bethEilers @kimberlymeier @lmhere4apolo @prairieCA @Flemtech @ventura_omaha @micheleCMueller @lconley86) The tweets came in and we were able gather some great information using resources beyond the textbook and Google.  

(AND... talk a little about one of my favorite topics #digcit in this process)

Thank you Tech Fail for your time.  This time I conquered you. 

Just a teacher sharing her story :)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

STOPiT Class... Success

Have you ever had that moment when teaching where you just think a lesson didn't go as great as you had hoped? What about that moment when you felt a lesson exceeded your hopes for success.  Well, the motive behind this post relates to a recent success that I felt exceeded what I hoped.  The feeling of excitement and joy following the lesson (You know what I mean), prompted me to share...

On Wednesday, after much discussion and prep, Patty Wolfe (@wolfep) and I were ready for our January STOPiTclass. This class is the class we teach to students who have violated AUP or specific mobile device rules or policies in our schools.  Our theme this month was Self Image and Identity.  We always work to create an engaging, collaborative lesson that promotes a positive digital presence.  Today was no exception.  As I welcomed students and briefly gave an overview of the day's agenda, I felt a little nervous.  I wasn't sure I was going to be able to leave feeling that moment of success today.
After a quick "Kahoot" game over social media use, I decided to dig right in with this lesson.  Lots of great things were shared and discussed regarding what to post,what not to post, what others post and how these things make you feel and others feel.  The highlight of this lesson was the Twitter chat that +Patty Wolfe and I arranged.  We were able to hit our students right on their "turf".  We used the hashtag #stopitclass and had a list of six questions we posted asking for responses.  We invited other members of our Twitter PLN to participate by adding advice and suggestions when thinking of one's online image.  This is where the feelings of success and excitement hit me.  These students were excited to participate.  Not only did their enthusiasm show during the Kahoot challenge, but the Twitter chat was proving its success as well.   The connections, conversation and feedback were amazing.  

When this "short' hour was over, I knew I needed to call or text Patty.  Before I could even get the text sent, I received a message from her: "Thank you Thank You Thank You! My kids loved STOPiT Today.  My response: "DITTO!"

There is just something about ending the day with a feeling of success.  Here's to the rest of the semester. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Blogging... an attempt to keep at it...

As I reflect on my Blogging goal for 2013 and realize it was not where I wanted it, I am once again, at it for this year.  It may be slightly ironic to think that my last post was on Edmodo, and the motive behind this post comes from a recent Edmodo presentation as well.  Once again, I had an opportunity to share my love for this online social learning network to a group of enthusiastic educators.  I had the privilege to share this love and passion with the Shelby-Rising City staff.  As I hoped, things went well and everyone was engaged and intently working on setting up groups, adding to their library, connecting to Google Drive, exploring the planner and noting class codes.

It was the end of this presentation that was the "gentle" reminder to me of how blogging is important and people DO read it.  As @Mr_Bill_Curry was thanking me and making some concluding remarks, he made reference to my "Callihan's cache" blog.  My immediate thoughts were: "I haven't updated in forever. I didn't think people actually read my blog."  This was just a gentle reminder that things you say and post, whether you think so or not, DO matter to someone.

Whether you are considering blogging yourself or getting students on board with blogging, I highly recommend that you take the plunge.  Blogging has so much potential both educationally and professionally.  If you don't know where to start, here's some simple information.

So here's to 2014 and my attempt to blog myself and encourage others to do the same!

A special thanks to +Brent Catlett and +Craig Badura for being such great Blog models.