Leading Generations in Digital Citizenship

Our world is ever changing. It’s always on the move; sometimes for the good and unfortunately sometimes for the bad.

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Photo CC By Jason Howle

A major part of that ever changing world is technology. In my lifetime, it has become something no one ever knew it could be. It would seem that everyday it grows and becomes an even larger part of everyday life.

In my field of education, I am 100% confident I will continue to see more changes. I am confident I will witness many more improvements, setbacks, inventions, and hopefully more positive steps to a better education.

This week I have been looking into an important aspect of technology in education : digital citizenship. Going into this week, I had an idea of the definition but I have learned more and been reminded of the importance.

What exactly is digital citizenship? What does it mean to be a digital citizen? And what does it look like?

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Photo CC By Stefan Baudy

 

Having looked into several articles and conducted research, I have formulated my own definition.

Digital Citizenship : having the knowledge to act responsibly and safely while using technology tools effectively to be engaged and communicate online.

Back to my field of education, digital citizenship is one of the most important lessons we can teach in the schools. And this is my biggest takeaway from my research this week. Why, you ask?

Well, if you will remember, as educators we are leading and guiding the next generation. Teachers can play a major role in their students’ lives. We are role models who students look up to. Students notice our attitude, work ethic, and especially the way we interact with others-online and offline.

That being said, our students need us to be teaching them how to be a good digital citizen. Practically, from the moment children are born, they have already made an entrance into the digital world. (We all share pictures and stories about a new baby in our lives.) By the time they get into school, the majority have browsed, gamed, and hopefully learned online. Yes, most likely under the supervision of parents or guardians but still they are already somewhat familiar with what digital technology provides.

I recently read a couple of articles which really hammered the importance of being conscious of our online presence.  When Craig Badura talks about digital citizenship, he uses a survival kit as a visual tool. Included in his kit are objects such as a padlock, toothbrush, permanent marker, and toothpaste. Each object represents reminders such as strong and secure passwords, never share private info, everything is permanent, and you can’t take anything back. (Read Craig’s article here.)

George Couros is another great person who shares about digital citizenship. George spoke at Syracuse University and gave a speech titled “140 Characters of Kindness”. He shares about the impact social media, twitter in particular, can have on users. This is a great video to watch when talking about how something you share can be seen be others around the world. His story is one with a happy ending but it is also important to talk about those whose stories have a negative ending.

George also wrote a post about a school’s digital citizenship practice called “Is Your School’s ‘Digital Citizenship’ Practice a Pass or Fail.” It is an insightful read about the differences between teaching and exampling digital leadership and simply cutting out social media thinking it will avoid problems. If we cut out digital tools and social media, how will we effectively teach our students?

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Photo CC By George Couros

In his post, George also shares a “Digital Leadership Continuum.” I found it quite interesting and was able to place my schools at different levels. The more I read it and looked at it, the more it made sense. The best way for us to teach our students how to be safe and conscious online is to allow them to practice while also talking and demonstrating it for them. All schools should be at level 4. I think its the best for our students and school communities.

 

The bottom line of this post and my week of research is this:

Be conscious of and kind with what you post online. Know many more people than you think will and can see it. It is very hard to take anything back once posted online.

And for my fellow educators out there :

Be an example of digital leadership for your students. Know they are watching and will take notice. Talk about online safety and kindness with students. Teach them to practice good and healthy digital citizenship.

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Photo CC By SylviaDuckworth

 

Sincerely,

An Educator with Online Footprints Teaching Students to Watch Theirs

 

* *    For another great read about being kind online written by a teacher, check out “Read, Write, Reflect : Living Our Lives Online.”

For great videos to show kids about digital citizenship, check out Common Sense Education’s selection here.

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New Technique : ILP Update

Its been an interesting week in terms of my ILP.

This week I completed a watercolor, acrylic, and attempted alcohol ink painting.

First, I’ll talk about alcohol ink painting because, well, just because I want to get that out of the way.

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My favorite alcohol ink creations

So, I get all my supplies including new sharpies. Then, I looked up YouTube videos on how to complete an alcohol ink painting. In the several videos I watched, people took apart the sharpies and put the ink sponge into rubbing alcohol and let it sit. As it set, it sort of steeped and the intensity grew. They then used the colored alcohol ink to create a picture, often tilting the paper to get the neat runs in the painting.

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My not-so favorite alcohol ink creations

Well, I decided that I didn’t exactly want to completely take apart my new sharpies. So, I sort of improvised. I stuck to abstract painting. I grabbed a sharpie and colored on the paper and then immediately added rubbing alcohol. The effect was cool but not as cool as actual alcohol ink painting. I cut the paper into smaller chunks so I could experiment more. It didn’t turn out exactly like I was picturing but perhaps I will try again next week.

Now, on to my acrylic. I chose a country scene.

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(Please excuse my bad photography skills)                               “Red Barn Door”

I love old barns. I love red barns. So, this week I painted a red barn with white fence and a nice blue sky. I tried to concentrate on the small details more. I tried to think about the perspective; you know, the idea of objects getting smaller the farther away they are. I’m happy with my red barn and trees.

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“Sunset Ocean”

 

 

Probably my favorite painting this week is my watercolor. I steered away from my go-to western and country and went to beach. I painted a small beach along an ocean with a vibrant and colorful sunset. I just like to use pretty colors. I like being able to use three different shades of blue in the ocean and reds, oranges, yellows, and purples in the sunset. Combined they look so relaxing and beautiful.

I’d like to think I made some progress this week. I’m learning to include more detail and not be afraid to add personal touches. But at the same time, I’m learning not everything has definite lines.

I think I’ve also discovered that I prefer watercolor over acrylic. I feel like I have more freedom and can be more creative because I can always add water to change or dilute the color.

Next week, I’m thinking I’ll go in yet another direction.

In my watercolor, I enjoyed the freedom to use different shades and to layer the colors.

So, next week I’d like to try abstract. I plan to go into my paintings without an exact image in mind and see where my brush takes me.

Check back next week to see what art I get myself into!

 

Sincerely,

A Girl Potentially Becoming an Artist…

Podcasts & Digital Stories : All the Rage

Man, oh man!

Podcasts, where have you been all my life?

Confession : Recently, I have binged on podcasts.

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Photo CC – By Vanessa Bazzano

They just draw me in and I’m hooked. I can’t stop at just one!

Aside from my newfound love, I do think podcasts can serve major purposes and can help meet major goals in education. I think they bring something to the classroom table that has not previously been brought.

They seem to remind people of radios, you know, of the old days before tv. They channel a similar engaging quality.

Digital stories can be the same way. However, they have an added level including visuals and images.

Both can cover various topics. Both can also be specific and focus on one aspect of a broad topic. They are great ways to get and share information and entertainment.

Before I continue talking about the things I love about podcasts and digital stories, I do want to point out a couple things which I could see as downfalls. One of the things is the age level. Now, students can listen to a higher level and still retain and learn information however, the content and topic should be appropriate and students should be mature enough. Something teachers should screen for beforehand.

Also, the quantity of technology available. I have heard about teachers

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Photo CC – By MJZ Photography

having students listen to a podcast as a class which would mean needing only one tool like a computer or projector. However, students may find it fun to listen/watch different examples and then reconvene and discuss. Also, as talked about later in this post, students may enjoy creating their own podcasts and digital stories which warrants multiple devices.

With those potential downfalls out of the way, I really think they can be helpful in the classroom. After reading articles on the current use in classrooms, students seem to be really engaged by them. If most students are like me, I was hooked from the first couple I listened to and watched. There is just something so interesting about people talking about a topic while you form your own image in your head.

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Photo CC – By talblesalt

They both can be a great tool for English Language Learners. Students can listen to the conversations and be able to hear not only vocabulary but also how the English language sounds and flows. Digital stories are extra great because students get the benefits of the podcasts and also the visuals to reinforce the vocabulary.

I also think podcasts and digital stories are great ideas for student projects. Instead of writing a report, students could create a podcast or digital stories. I think it gives students more freedom and ability to be creative. They are not only limited to voice but can add presentation and illustration.

As mentioned in the article, What Teens are Learning from ‘Serial” and Other Podcasts, there are additional assignment ideas which can accompany having students listen to podcasts. There are tons of podcasts being produced about a variety of subjects. People are covering topics from learning a new language to car talk to analyzing a murder case. The same goes for digital stories; a wide variety is available.

In addition to accompanying assignments, podcasts and digital stories allow students to express themselves which is one my favorite parts about them. Meaningful Stories: How Teens Connect with StoryCorps and Podcasts is a great article which discusses the possibilities for students found in podcasts. They get to be themselves and show their creativity. In a society so lacking of creativity and creative thinking, podcasts and digital stories give students a refreshing opportunity to be expressive and encourage their creativity.

 

Side note: If you have not been motivated by my post to look into podcasts, consider this one last plea. Please, search them. Listen to one…or ten. I am confident there is a podcast for everyone’s interests.

One of my favorites is “Serial.” Each podcast analyzes case details of the murder and disappearance of a high school senior. Just trust me, listen to at least one episode.

 

Sincerely,

A Girl with a New Craze for Podcasts

The Daily Create Updates

Alrighty, people of the internet! This is the place to find the first half of my completed daily create assignments and challenges.

Each day for the next 10 days I will be completing a challenge. The Daily Create comes through ds106 in an effort to help me better my skills in using technology and challenge my creativity. New assignments are posted everyday and shared with online community. Categories for the assignments include writing, photography, drawing, audio, and video.

So, thanks for joining me!

 

Day 1:

#dctdc1626 : Writing Left of the Cutting Room Floor

Find a famous literary quote (idealy by a famous literary person) and create something that shows the first draft versions that did not make the cut. Like the notes the writer might have done on a sketch pad.

I choose to use a quote from The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

Here is mine:   Literary Quote

 

Day 2:

#tdc1634 : Print Out a YouTube Video

Ok. So printing out a YouTube video? Maybe not (yet?). But a nifty “bookmarklet” for your web browser can create a storyboard-ish collage-ey kind of thing which, we guess, you could print out. If you wanted.

But this is the Daily Create. So, why not just share it online and save a few trees.

First, read more about the bookmarklet (and drag the bookmarklet to your tool bar).

Second, find a video. Probably, the stranger, the better. But you already knew that.

Finally, use the bookmarklet to reverse engineer the video and share it out as an image file.

Bonus points for filtering and messing with the image

I chose to print out the introduction song from one of my favorite childhood shows – Cyberchase.

Here it is: Cyberchase.jpg

 

Day 3:

Some photos just seem to cry out for a wad of giant capitalized text messages. Make a meme image out of this chicken in a cart that expresses a deep philosophical message.

I chose to use a message that spoke of the chicken’s self-confidence and self-image.

Here it is: 16rzlj

Day 4:

SoMa? NoPa? NOBE? SoHo? SoFla? SoDoSoPa? What would be the “acroname” of your neighborhood?

Make a poster! Or do an audio bumper? You choose. Make it hip. Hipster.

My hometown is North Platte so I took the beginning of both words.

Here it is: IMG_2169.JPG

 

Day 5:

Use one of the many Cowboy / Cowgirl name generators that google knows of to find your Cowboy/Cowgirl name.

Record an audio or short video where you introduce your cowboy / cowgirl self to the world.

Okay, now be nice. I’m not all that experienced in making videos but here it is:

Cowgirl Name Introduction : click here to see the video!

Day 6:

What has made you happy recently? represent three of them in some kind of media form (photo collage, drawing, video, animated GIF), and tweet it specifically to one person (in addition to everyone else).

I chose to create a collage featuring my family during our recent family vacation in the mountains, a picture of my two cute, favorite dogs, and a cup of good coffee at a local favorite breakfast joint!

Enjoy my collage! :IMG_2191.JPG

Day 7:

So you had a plan. Things changed. What was your Defining Moment?

Write, cartoon, video or gif your way toward explaining that moment clearly.  Graduations, hospital stays, and weddings might be easier because of the iconic dress, but how will you show that universal experience uniquely YOUR Defining Moment. Don’t underestimate the power of a thoughtful blog post.

So, I thought I would write a blog post for this daily create since I haven’t completed any writing challenges.

What is my defining moment?

When I look back upon my journey to where I stand today, I am amazed. I am amazed that God has allowed me to discover a passion for doing something with my life.I mean, really doing something.

For me, I knew I wanted to have a career and family, in that order. However, I seemed to be having difficulty figuring out what that career was going to be.

And then I found myself sitting in Intro to Teaching class at MPCC.

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Here I am looking forward to my future at CSC and beyond after graduating MPCC!

And a few weeks later then I found myself volunteering in a preschool classroom to log a required 15 hours.And then I found myself in love with being in the classroom. So much so, that I stayed in that same classroom the entire semester, logging about 4x the required 15 hours.

It was then that I realized what I was going to devote my life to. It was then that I realized I had found a job I could love. It was then that I realized I was going to spend my life making a difference. I realized I was going to spend my life being somebody for children who so badly needed someone on their team. I was going to spend my life being a model, cheerleader, explorer, engineer, and creator. Most importantly, however, I realized I was going to spend my life being a teacher.

 

Day 8:

#tdc1640 : Do a @zefrank YoungMeNowMe Photograph

Recreate yourself in same pose, if possible, same setting, as a childhood photo, and show them side by side.

Here ya go : IMG_2217.JPG

 

Day 9:

#tdc1641 : Oh…Yeah…

How about an “Oh … Yeah …” audio create? Push “record” on your audio player, and give us your best and most dramatic “Oh … Yeah …” and then share it out.

Click here to hear mine!

 

 

Day 10:

#tsc1642 : Today is an international day of…invent a holiday

Everyday has a memorable theme- make yours into a new international holiday and make some art about that theme.

I chose my dogs’ and I’s favorite afternoon activity….napping!

July 7th is International Dog Nap Day!

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Please continue to The Daily Create Updates (part 2) for the second half of my updates.

The Lowdown on ds106

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Photo CC – By Chad Kalnz

So, I’ve been discovering a new resource, ds106. I thought I’d share with you what I’ve found out!

What is ds106 you ask?

Well, it’s actually pretty cool! It is a fantastic source for finding digital assignments which can help improve digital literacy and learning more skills. Originally, however, ds106 was an actual class offered at the University of Mary Washington. It was offered as a sort of open class which means that much of the class is student-lead.

The class walks through several different skills needed to successfully use technology. Skills taught include storytelling, networking, creativity, online sharing, communication, and narrating.

One of the great things about ds106 is that the instructors planned to allow the students to create and submit their own assignments. The response from the students was great. They seemed to appreciate being able to share their ideas.

Another cool thing about ds106 is that before the class actually started, the instructors were receiving overwhelming response from people who were not even in the class. People from different places were submitting assignment ideas and sharing completed examples. Now, ds106 is offered for anyone to enroll and take online. Its free and you can join and leave whenever works best for you. Its great that a resource like this is easily accessible for those who are looking to learn more about creating digital art.

Thus, the website for ds106 ( ds106.us) has compiled as assignment bank. This is where you can find over 800 assignments to try and share the product. There are 10 different types of categories to choose from. (You can look through assignments here.)

Another cool thing from ds106 is The Daily Create.

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Photo CC – By magicatwork

This is a program through ds106 which posts a new, creative assignment each day. They only take 15-20 minutes to complete and you share them on social media with the online community. There are various types of assignments including video, writing, audio, photography, and drawing.

(I actually will be embarking on a 20 day journey with daily create. You may see posts about my assignments show up on the blog.)

I really am kind of excited about completing The Daily Create. I think it will help me challenge myself to learn more and be more creative. I also think this is a great tool for the classroom. Depending upon the grade level of the students and time, a daily create could be completed daily or even once each week. They also could be a choice for students to complete during their extra or free time.

The assignment bank on the ds106 website could also be used in the classroom. The ideas could be used or adapted to be completed as assignments in other subjects. Students can improve their digital skills while also forming connections to classroom topics. For example, the assignment “Comparing the Past to the Present” could be used after talking about inheriting genes and biology of parents and children. The assignment “Family Friendly Billboard” could be changed to have students create a billboard about a major historical event. One last idea I had was using the “You in Collage Form” assignment as an introductory activity with a new class.

I can definitely foresee me using the ds106 website and The Daily Create in the future, for my own personal gain and in my classroom! It certainly is a useful and neat tool.

 

Sincerely,

A Girl Learning to Digitally Create Better!

 

 

New Adventures! : ILP Update

Week #2 : ILP — Painting

Well, this week contained some adventures!

  1. Tried a new technique with watercolor
  2. Completed my first acrylic painting
  3. Got the opportunity to view a Competitive Art Show
  4. Discovered a new art technique

 

1 — New Watercolor Technique: Salt

I actually learned about this technique in one of my previous classes and was              fascinated with the effect that salt has on watercolor. Now, mind you, mine did not turn out as cool as some of my classmates. So, I thought I’d like to give it another go!

Well, it worked and it didn’t. When I started the painting, I didn’t exactly have a direction in mind. I started with a nice, dark colored background, to which I sprinkled salt. I watched as the salt spread and distorted the color, if that makes sense. I love the texture and movement the salt gives the piece.  I got excited, a little too excited, because I proceeded to sprinkle more salt and got a little carried away….

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Anyway, the painting turned into a dark-ish night with a bright moon shining on a silhouette praying at a cross. I learned to not add too much salt and would like to try again, so you may see another watercolor with salt in the future.

 

 

2 — First Acrylic

Having been motivated and inspired by the rodeo which recently was in town, I painted the arena located in my hometown.

A little tidbit of history on the featured rodeo arena: The Wild West Arena is the home to the annual Buffalo Bill Rodeo. The rodeo is named for Col. William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody who started the first organized rodeo in 1882. The Wild West Arena is located just next to the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park, the original land Cody owned and built his house and ranch on which is now a state park. (For more info on Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show or “Old Glory Blowout”, click here and here. For more info on the state park, click here.)

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I had fun with this painting. I was inspired by the thrill of the rodeo and great history in my hometown. I’ve got to work on my details but it;s a good start!

 

 

 

 

3 —  Competitive Art Show

Located at a local art gallery in my hometown, many art pieces were on display. Most of the pieces revolved around The West and western culture. There were acrylics, watercolors, wood works, oils, pastels, sculptures, photography, and mixed medias. It was great to view the various pieces from local artists. And an inspiration to continue on my painting journey!

 

4 — New Art Technique

While at the Art Show, I noticed several pieces in which the artists used a technique they

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                                                            Examples of alcohol ink art                      Photo CC – By June Campbell

called “alcohol ink.” In these pieces, the artist used ink based markers, like sharpies, to draw an image or scene. Then, using rubbing alcohol and an eye dropper, they drop the alcohol on the ink and watch as the alcohol disperses the ink and color creating a really neat, marble-y effect. The pieces were awesome. My favorite was a sea turtle. The artist also used cool colors like blues and greens which gave the piece great aesthetics.

I was very inspired and thought I could give it a try. So, stay tuned for my attempt at alcohol ink!

 

Overall, quite an exciting week for my ILP! I am glad to have learned and have had this week’s opportunities.

Tune in next week for another update. Hopefully, more acrylic and watercolor pieces as well as an alcohol ink piece! I look forward to bringing you more joy and entertainment!

 

Sincerely,

A Girl Embarking on a Journey to Learn to Paint!

 

#diglitclass               #independentlearningproject

The Mission of Enrichment : My PLN

If there is one thing I have learned about Personal Learning Networks, PLNs, it is that they require effort.

I say this with mixed feelings.

Should you have read my previous post, you will recall I am part introvert. The thought of having to reach out and interact with people I don’t even know, is daunting for me. I suppose this would be partly because building a PLN is a new experience for me.

However, I know the benefits of an effective PLN. I realize that having a community of people to go to for ideas and who are consistently available to me would be excellent, especially as a new teacher. Thus, I call upon my extrovert part.

Anyway, back to the effort required. According to Chuck Frey and his article, “How to Cultivate a Personal Learning Network: Tips from Howard Rheingold,” in order to ensure your PLN is effective, you need to continually update and fine tune it. His article includes 8 tips on how to improve your PLN.

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Photo CC – By Scarlet Blue

One of the major tips given centers around feeding your PLN. This means making sure you are giving your followers valuable and relevant information and ideas worth their time and attention. Feeding your PLN is all about finding and then sharing resources your group will find relevant and useful.

Also, it is mentioned that the importance should not be on sheer numbers but quality. Your PLN will only be helpful if your people share your interests and care to share ideas which pertain to your field.

It takes time to sift through the other random posts and resources online to find relevant ones, just as it takes time to sift through people to find those who will contribute to your group. (Please enjoy the above image of a diamond in a pile of gummy bears as a visual analogy for finding the real winners in the midst of the real not winners). However, I do think it will be worth the effort later down the road.

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Photo CC – By Philip Wilson

Another main point I took from Frey’s article was the importance of connection. A few of the given points highlighted engaging with those in your PLN. Just as you filter the people in your group, they are doing the same. Thus, I go back to feeding your PLN because if you want to play an effective role in your PLN, you have to give your group good stuff to read and use.

I think it is important to note that new resources are a great way to go. The way I think about it, eventually most of the resources out there will be found and shared to the point that they are not new anymore. I think in order to keep things interesting, it is important to share the new ideas you have, even if they didn’t exactly work for you because they may work for someone else or they may have suggestions for how to adapt them for the better.

In my field of education, specifically early childhood, there is always a new way to teach a concept. Children learn in different ways because no child develops at the same rate or is the same. Thus, teachers are always getting creative and thinking of new activities and lessons. The great thing is, most of them are willing to share those ideas and this what helps contribute to building a cultivated PLN.

Finding those who will contribute valuable and relevant resources is key to ensuring you build a cultivated and effective PLN. But also making sure you are doing the same because PLNs are a two way road.

Leaving you with a tweet I found some motivation in, hope it does the same for you!

 

Sincerely,

A Teacher on a Mission to Enrich her PLN

 

#diglitclass

 

Building More than Just a Support Team

PLN….

Personal Learning Network….

I must be honest, up until this morning, I had not a clue to what a PLN was. I had assumptions, yes, but had never really even heard of them or looked into them.

However, after a morning of research, thanks to Google, I think I understand them now. Here’s what I’m thinking :

Personal Learning Networks, or PLNs, are communities build by and made up of teachers, educators, and experts on all things education. They are a group who connects, shares, inspires, supports, and collaborates to help each other. They share ideas, activities, thoughts, advice, and opinions. They can be a teacher’s saving grace when out of ideas or out of motivation. And I think I want one!

From my research I have found, PLNs have been around for some time.

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Photo CC – By Jurgen Appelo

At first, they were made of fellow teachers in your building or district, family, and friends. They were there to support you, most often face-to-face.

Fast forward to today and PLNs are mostly online. Educators and experts find each other online and build a community to offer the same things as before, just in a different form or medium. Twitter seems to be, resoundingly, the most popular means of connection. Blogs are also a major contributing tool.

After learning just what a PLN was, I began to look into how to create and build one. A major tip was finding other people on Twitter to follow. And let me just say, this takes time. I googled lists of top educators to follow and then sifted through names to find people who were teaching my desired grade level and/or sharing information about early childhood.

(I had to take a break because my eyes got tired from looking at my screen so long.) I also an in the process of finding people who are blogging about education, specifically early childhood.

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Photo CC – By Yoel Ben-Avraham

(By the way, if you have any people you think I should be following on Twitter or by blog, drop their names below!)

 

While I think PLNs sound awesome and wonderful, I hesitate. The introvert in me is screaming at the thought of talking and connecting with total strangers from around the country and sometimes, the world. This will be something that I will work to overcome. I am inspired by the success stories and positive from those engaged in their PLN. I have read up on the benefits and am sure good and positive things will come from my developing a PLN, I just need to continue to remind myself of that!

A PLN will be fantastic for me, as a new educator, but also for my students.

If I can have access to people who support my ideas, give me new ones, and challenge me to be better; my students will reap the benefits. And after all, my students are the reason I chose to become a teacher and want to be the best one I can!

I am excited by the potential, inspired by the hope, and motivated by the connection that my own Personal Learning Network will bring to my life and teaching career.

 

I leave you with a tweet that I think is a great representation of the benefits of a PLN for teachers!

 

Sincerely,

A Teacher on a Mission to Build a Community

 

#diglitclass

On the Journey to Create…with Paint!

So I’ve been asked to embark on an independent learning project. It took some time and thought about what I should tackle. I thought about several options, however, did not have the necessary supplies readily available. Alas, I finally decided on something….painting!

I have always had a great interest in painting. The way some artists could capture a sunset of a perfect night  or the majestic horse in the pasture was so breathtaking and inspiring for me. I actually have told myself that I would learn to paint the perfect sunset before but unfortunately never carried through. So, here I am, carrying through!

After deciding upon painting, I specifically decided on watercolor and acrylic. Thus, I ventured to Hobby Lobby to gather a few additional supplies. Has anyone ever made a complete trip to Hobby Lobby is under 15 minutes? I mean, really? That store just draws you in and you have to browse and dream and plan for your future house. Tell me I’m not the only one….

Anyway, I have my supplies and my game plan. Once I was ready, I spread all my supplies out to begin. It looked a little like this :

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Supplies complete with my iced tea and color changing straw….I’m a kid at heart!

Now I’m all ready to paint! I did spend some time researching technique and tips. The information was informative and sounded good, if I knew what it meant! Thus, I decided to learn by simply doing. I have made up my mind to try, experiment, and try again until I am able to create something beautiful!

As I made my first attempt to paint with watercolor, I was reminded of why I chose painting. It is peaceful and relaxing. It provided a great break from my busy week. I was inspired by the colors and brush movements. Painting allowed me to express myself and my interests.

I find myself constantly relating anything I can to my classroom. So it came as no surprise when I did the same with painting. It got me thinking about the freedom that painting, and also crafts and creativity in general, can give to people. How important it is to incorporate and teach students to express themselves through the arts. Art is something that can be complicated or simple. It is relaxing and freeing while also providing inspiration. Art truly is one of the most beautiful and aesthetically pleasing aspects of life.

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Photo CC – By Kate Ter Haar

I was a band geek in high school and I can say, some of my favorite memories from high school happened with my band family. So I already know of and have experienced the benefits that the arts provide. It has been proven that arts help students perform better in the core subjects.

I also think learning to paint will provide inspiration for me to incorporate as much of the arts as possible in my classroom. Learning to paint will show me both the innocence and impact of learning a trade of the arts.

Back to my learning progress, an important part of becoming an artist is my signature. I must sign my pieces so my fans will know my work. I needed something that said I was confident, capable, yet also humble. It took a few tries before I decided on one that encompassed all I wanted to say. The following is my practice sheet…it’s harder than you might be thinking!

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Once I picked my favorite signature, I decided to attempt my first painting in watercolor. I thought a colorful pond scene at sunset was a good place to start. I know, I could have picked something simpler like an umbrella or a chair. However, because the perfect sunset is the ultimate goal, I thought this worked. The following is my creation, signature and all! I’ve got a ways to go but I think its not too bad, if I do say so myself!

Should you be seeking a bit of entertainment in your life, follow my blog to stay in the loop of my painting progress. I am aiming to paint different pictures each week to practice and improve my technique.

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I think I’ll call this : “Sunset Pond”

 

Sincerely,

A Girl Embarking on a Journey to Learn to Paint!

 

#diglitclass                               #independentlearningproject

The Power of Passion-Based Learning

#diglitclass

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Photo CC – By pirate_renee

Passion. It’s something we all have. Something we all possess in one form or the other. Merriam-Webster defines passion as: “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.” (Definition found here). Synonyms for passion include : fervor, zeal, vigor, energy, and animation – just to name a few of my favorites.

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Photo CC – By Brian Talbot

What are your passions? What is something that you always get excited about doing? Something that you pour energy, time, and attention into? For one person, it may be photography; they can spend hours waiting and preparing for the perfect shot. For another, it may be studying weather patterns; pouring days into tracking a huge storm system to offer up accurate predictions. For yet another, it may be designing, creating, and riding the perfect skateboard. My point is, passions come in all different forms. Some are aesthetically pleasing while other are heavily involved with precise measurements and information. Passions can be discovered at any age. Some are born with an immediate fascination of a topic while others take prodding and exploring with patience to finally find something that clicks, really clicks.

Students have passions too and they can and probably will be, as diverse as the students themselves. Remember that definition and synonyms I gave earlier? Imagine a classroom full of students who are being allowed – no, encouraged – to explore, develop, and learn more about their passions. Can you imagine the products those students could produce? If students are interested, truly interested, in something, the amount of effort and time they put in will be exponentially more than something they were told to interested in.

Passion-Based Learning is a great, wonderful, and powerful way for students to learn.

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Photo CC – By Dale Chumbley

It doesn’t box them in, limit their abilities, control their creativity and freedom, or conform them to a specific mold shared by all others. Passion-Based Learning gets students “in-the-zone.” It challenges them to push themselves, encourage each other, create originals, be proud of their interest, and most of all – learn! Passion-Based Learning takes what students are vigorously interested in, then builds on it to show them genuine learning through a personal process of discovery.

Passion-Based Learning is something I would love to incorporate in my classroom. It offers many benefits for the students. It could take some work to adapt it to meet the needs of various age groups but I believe it will be worth it.

It will be worth it to see my students excited about learning. Worth it to see my students encourage each other in their passions. Worth it to see my students connect to the real-world and each other. It will worth it to see my students create and make something born out of their own mind and thoughts.

I want to be an effective teacher, yes, but I also want to be a passionate teacher. I want to show my students it is okay to express their passions. I want to show my students the joy of learning about something meaningful. I want to show my students hard work and effort. I want to show my students how to use their passion to help them grow. I want to show them because I am passionate about teaching and being a leader for my students. I’m a teacher and that’s what I do.

Now, Go out and find your passion!

 

Sincerely,

A Teacher Sharing her Passion of Teaching to Start a Fire in her Students

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Photo CC – By jenn.davis

 

*For more on Passion-Based Learning, click on the links below to read stories from teachers who have implemented this great style and given me the inspiration to use Passion-Based Learning.

“Passion-Based Learning” by Ainissa Ramirez

“21st Century Educating, Part 1 : Passion” by

“My Journey Teaching Through Passion-Based Learning” by Nigel Coutts

“25 Ways to Institute Passion-Based Learning in the Classroom” by Saga Briggs

**Also, here is a link to a great article about the differences between school and learning.

“School vs. Learning” by George Couros