Connecting the World’s Classrooms Through Online Collaboration

One of the things that I love most about #Etmooc (yes, I know it’s been three months but I’m still singing its praises) was the way it encouraged all of us to become reflective practitioners and life long learners.

I try to think: What I’m currently doing in my classroom might already be working well- but we need to be constantly playing around to find ways to make it better and more relevant to my students http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/Journal/files/Letter_from_a_Hybrid_Student.html

In the spirit of lifelong learning and collaboration a number of us have come together to form a post #etmooc reading group which chooses monthly themes and topics to read, reflect and discuss. Over the past month we’ve been contemplating 21st century publishing at all grade levels. It sometimes amazes me how much educators from the wide of a range have in common, as well as some of the differences in openness and access each age group must account for when they plan their lessons and student learning assignments.

This morning I was fortunate to be able to participate in the post #etmooc group hangout (which I must thank Rhonda Jessen @rljessen for moderating).

I loved this meeting as it involved educators from elementary all the way up to post secondary- as well as a few members of the HYBRID PEDAGOGY digital journal team, Jesse Strommel and Sean Morris. If you are not familiar with the HYBRID PEDAGOGY digital journal, I would highly recommend checking out the link below. http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/Journal/files/CFP_K12_Dialogue.html

As well, if you have a topic you are passionate about related to educational pedagogy I would recommend you submit an article to the publication. This team is willing to review any article, whether from elementary, secondary or post -secondary, and work with the author until you have developed a publishable piece of work.

Next month I will be leaving for a one year contract in Japan. The purpose of my position is to liaise between the Calgary and Japanese school boards. I am hoping that one of the ways that I can facilitate this is through collaborative projects between my Japanese and Canadian students.
tarui2
One of the things that I appreciate most about my #etmooc pln is the safety I feel in being able to ask for help and suggestions. Since I had access to amazing minds spanning from many backgrounds and areas I decided to ask the group if they had any suggestions. I received the following ideas which I will try to explore over the next few months:

1) Using Google docs
http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/Journal/files/10_Tips_for_Google_Docs.html
Some of the benefits of google docs are that they allow for asynchronous collaboration from a variety of sites. As well, if given the link, students can contribute to the document without having to register as a google member.

2) Etherpad

http://etherpad.org/

This program is similar to a Google Doc. Etherpad allows you to edit documents collaboratively in real-time, much like a live multi-player editor that runs in your browser. Studnets can write articles with peers from around the world, all working on the same document at the same time.
3) Draft
https://draftin.com/
When using Google Doc, collaborators overwrite the master copy. However, when you share your document using Draft, any changes your collaborator makes are on their own copy of the document, and you get to accept or ignore each individual change they make.

4) Blogging
There are a variety of servers which can be used for blogging.
http://kidblog.org/home/
Kidblog provides teachers with the tools to help students safely navigate the digital – and increasingly social – online landscape. Kidblog allows students to exercise digital citizenship within a secure, private classroom blogging space. All blog are private only to the class by default, teachers can then choose which items can be shared publically.
http://edublogs.org/
Edublogs lets you easily create & manage student & teacher blogs, quickly customize designs and include videos, photos & podcasts. This account appears to be easier to use than word press.
Once you register for an edublog account teachers can create a class and monitor/moderate all content, forums and threaded discussions, Wikis, ePortfolios, and more
http://wordpress.com/

The blog site that I am currently using, it is not overly secure for classroom use, however I am planning to have my son blog about our experience in Japan to practice his English writing while we are away. He’ll be in grade 3 next year and would love to share his work with others. Check him out at http://erinluong21.wordpress.com/

5) Skype
https://login.skype.com/login
Skype; is a popular, easy to use and reliable (Voice over Internet Protocol) program, that allows you call and talk to other Skype users, video chat; and more for free over the internet. Skype supports conference calls up to 25 people at a time. Skype also supports video chat between two people for free. Screen sharing and group video calling is available for Premium subscribers between a maximum of 10 people. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skype

As I am open to collaboration and connecting with colleagues from around the worId I may also want to look into applying for a flat classroom, collaborative project for next year. http://flatclassroomproject.ning.com/

I am so excited about being able to experiment and play.

If you have any others suggestions or words of wisdom around student collaboration feel free to drop me a line and share.

Sayonara for now

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Reach Out- Social Media Helping to Relieve Tension in Times of Pressure

Yesterday I woke up to a surreal situation. Calgary, Alberta, Canada, my hometown, the place where I have lived since birth, was declared to be in a state of emergency due to flooding. I heard it on the news and then went straight to my twitter account to gain all the latest up to date information.

The first thing everyone I know did was touch base with each other and make sure that everyone was ok. – Thankfully everyone I knew was safe, even if they had to be evacuated. I had many conversations like the following:

Verena Roberts ‏‪@verenanz‬ 20 Jun 

‪@deirdrebailey Just checking in on you… ‪@ErinCouillard ‪@EHordyskiLuong ‪@SSpellmanCann ‪@Stephkrammer
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. Erin Luong ‏‪@EHordyskiLuong‬ 21 Jun 

‪@verenanz thanks for checking on… How about u?
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Susan Spellman Cann ‏‪@SSpellmanCann
21 Jun
‪@verenanz ‪@deirdrebailey ‪@ErinCouillard ‪@EHordyskiLuong ‪@Stephkrammer thx for checking hope all are safe

Thanks to the power of social media, my family from all over the world had heard about the flooding (even my father in Kuwait and uncle in New Zealand had heard the news), but I was also able to reassure everyone that my family was ok.

My mom and stepdad live on the opposite side of the city. Flooding made it impossible for us to physically reach each other, but texting and phones helped us feel connected.
sandy beach
An uncle from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, called to give our family advice around plumbing and keeping our drinking water safe. I was very touched that he took the time to reach out to us, and also awed by the power of social media.

Throughout the day I was constantly receiving updates via twitter, Youtube, Facebook, and email not only about the tragedy and loss of property and park space (here are a few pics from a few blocks from my house) …

mckenzie fish creek

mckenzie golf coures

mckenzie lake
But also of inspiration and hope as I learned about other citizens, as well as students from my own high school I teach at, who were coming together to support our community.

student

rescue

I had forgotten that the military does more than go over seas. I was so grateful to see the tanks driving in to help out.
army

Volunteers were helping out all over supporting our vulnerable citizens and animals around the area. The big cats from the Calgary Zoo were even moved into the court house for safe keeping as Princess Island is totally under water.
lions

Requests for volunteer support were both given and accepted on social media sites such as Twitter and Kijiji. An email from my church in the evening asking for sleeping bags and supplies was met with a quick response.

Now 24 hours later I can’t imagine how much more isolated and scared my family would have felt if we did not have all of these 21st century connections. Personally I am thankful that my family is both safe and plugged in this evening.

Sending love and prayers out over the net to all those affected by the Alberta floods.

Erin

A Day Unlike No Other

J has done a great job summing up my city today. Sending out prayers

tangoedtech

Image

Stampede Park – facing south – June 21 @ 7:30 PM

Today I was to be study day at school.  I was supposed wake up with my alarm, shower, and head to work.

Last night I started to watch the news and around 11:30PM the news caster announced that CBE and CCSD school were to be closed Friday.  I had to grab my remote and rewind my live TV……did I hear her correctly?  I quickly got a text from a colleague and very soon our emergency phone out tree was activated.

Every teacher hopes and prays for that ‘snow’ day…..the one where you get that call, and get to stay all nice and warm in your pyjamas  stay in bed and drink coffee.  Today was not that day.  Sure there was no school, but it wasn’t because of a huge snow fall, its because the City of Calgary declared a local state…

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Teaching the Tough Topics

The Fellowship of the Open Spokes are planning to tackle some “tough topics” this week. Please check out the following blog writen by my fellow openspoker Jeremy .One of the things I believe is that these themese need to be embedded in everyday life and not just a single lecture. The following are examples of cirricula I’ve found to support Social Emotional Intelligence as a whole school initiative, and not just the job of the counsellor or parents.
http://casel.org/why-it-matters/benefits-of-sel/
http://www.resiliencyinitiatives.ca

Inscho In School

In every age there are those topics that are the “tough” ones.  We know there are valuable lessons there, but the content isn’t directly in the curriculum.  Sometimes we skirt around them because they’re often controversial.  They deal with the important life lessons, and the content contained within them is not only controversial (at least to be talking openly about it) but sometimes graphic. Topics vary from sexual health, to aboriginal education, cybersafety, bullying and LGBT rights.  Of course this is not an exhaustive list, but each of these brings up so many questions:  Should we teach about (or through) these topics?  Should we leave it to parents to broach the subject?  Should we inform parents ahead of time if we choose to “go there”?  Should there be some sort of protocol for dealing with these types of topics and appropriately preparing students, and debriefing afterward?  There are no shortages…

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Following Social Media

You Can Do More!

twitterI don’t spend a lot of time on all of the social media apps available, but I do use most of them at least once a day.  I use my Twitter and LinkedIn accounts almost exclusively professionally –  I broadcast few personal “tweets”, and everything that I put out there I feel comfortable with anyone seeing.  While I keep my Facebook wall private, I do have a Facebook Page (You Can Do More!) that is open for anyone to “Like”

That being said, there are a handful of folks that I follow religiously on Twitter, LinkedIn, and various blog sites.  All of these professionals deliver consistently good information and are great resources.  Here are my “follow” recommendations:

Seth Godin – (Twitter  @ThisIsSethsBlog –  Blog – sethgodin.typepad.com ) Godin is a business and marketing guru.  I read his blog daily.  It is always interesting

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Am I looking for students to experience “Failure” or to realize that somethings are worth working for?

Today I read the following excellent blog post WHERE DOES FAILURE FIT http://somewherefromhere.edublogs.org/2013/05/28/finding-the-freedom-of-failure/#.Ua35T5GtC1g.twitter

After reading Kirsten’s thoughts I began to wonder? “Am I looking for students to experience “Failure” or to realize that somethings are worth working for?”

I decided that the next thing I need to do was reframe my perception of failure, and to do so I should look up a few synonyms.
DISAPPOINTMENT
LET DOWN

When I looked up the synonyms for failure the following statements popped up in my minds eye.
It’s not the end of the world?
Try going on another path?

How can we encourage students to find those other paths?

Tony Wagner suggests the following 7 survival skills http://www.tonywagner.com/7-survival-skills
• Critical thinking and problem-solving
• Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
• Agility and adaptability
• Initiative and entrepreneurialism
• Effective oral and written communication
• Accessing and analyzing information
• Curiosity and imagination

I would suggest promoting RESILIENCY