Keeping a professional blog
A professional blog is a great way to record your learning and exploration for your audience. Irony of irony, I am the worst professional blogger that ever lived, however, several of my colleagues keep amazing professional blogs: Jonathan Wylie's blog is full of useful app/program tutorials, pedagogy ideas, and tips and tricks for using technology in the classroom. The work of the professional blog is twofold: first, it serves as a vehicle for delivering new learning to an audience. Second, it serves as a tool for reflection for the author. Tools that can be used to keep a professional blog include Blogger or Wordpress.
The Power of Podcasts
At Grant Wood we are experimenting with podcasts as a medium to augment our traditional professional development offerings. The advantage of podcasts are the potential for anywhere, any time listening. You can learn while walking the dog, on your commute to work, or at the gym. The choice is yours. Our podcast, The EdTech Take Out is hosted by Mindy Cairney and Jonathan Wylie. It is aimed at giving educator's bite-sized technology tips that they can use in their classroom today. Check it out on iTunes or in all good podcast players. Learn more here.
In Gayle Allen's new book The New Pillars of Modern Teaching she describes the act of curation as one of the new essential skills for all teachers and learners. She argues that since we have moved from a world of knowledge scarcity to one of knowledge abundance our job to to teach students (and other teachers) how to curate resources around a topic by applying the 3 S's - scanning, sense making, and sharing. Scanning means to wade through the vast amount of information that is out there and select only those resources that are valuable to solving a particular problem. Sense making is arranging the found resources in a logical order or pattern and providing context for the resources, why did you select this particular resource? Finally, sharing refers to sharing your curated resources with the world. Tools that can be used to practice curation include Flipboard, Pinterest, Storify, and Symbaloo.
Expanding your PLN
Some of the most engaging an authentic learning can come from expanding your PLN and participating in Twitter chats around a specific topic that you are interested in. If you are new to the Twitter world here is the key difference between a hashtag and a twitter chat. A hashtag, denoted with the # sign is a way to tag a tweet so it can be organized and searched for. For example, I might use the hashtag #ELAchat to tag tweets that have to do with English/Language Arts. Then folks on Twitter interested in learning more about English/Language Arts will search that hashtag and find all the tweets out there with that hashtag. A twitter chat is a specific time/date during the week that a virtual discussion takes place on Twitter. The format for the discussion is Question/Answer and the discussion is moderated by someone who is active in this only community. Here is a comprehensive list of educational twitter hashtags and educational twitter chat times (in CST) developed by Jerry Blumengarten (@cybraryman1).