Tuesday, September 15, 2020

My Goals for Professional Growth

Back in January, I attended a workshop while at Microsoft about marketing yourself. It was all about how to stand out. I originally signed up to attend the session for the headshots, but realized it was much more than that. While most professionals have a non-school portrait looking image, that's not the only thing that makes people stand out. So does content.

Cori Frede, Headshot
My headshot
This week at work, I learned they want to create a marketing campaign around the professional development/training department, also known as me. I'm learning a lot from the marketing team including how to grow my own brand, not just the company.

So now, I have some goals for 2020/2021 related to personal growth.

Goal 1: In the past, I wrote blog posts when something truly impacted my professional career. Now, I plan to write at least one blog post here per month, at least for now. Eventually trying to up that to a weekly post. These posts can be something meaningful related to teaching, or even just a favorite tool.

Goal 2: Grow my YouTube channel. This will also start as a monthly goal, but hopefully grow further. The videos on my YouTube channel are all "how to" tutorials for educational technology softwares. I tend to focus on softwares that are free for teachers so that they can easily incorporate what I am showing into their teaching.

Goal 3: Post weekly to Linkedin. Previously, I only posted to celebrate professional achievements. I learned this is the wrong way to do it. I need to be more active and engaging regularly if I want to have engagement for those big events. These weekly Linkedin posts will include sharing meaningful articles about pedagogy and educational technology. It also means that I will try to interact more with what other people post, not just reshare interesting posts.

Goal 4 (eventually): I want to try and co-author a book. I just can't decide right now what topic is meaningful that I can provide new insight to. I feel that most of the topics I consider myself to be an expert on already have tons of published books. Therefore, part of my networking goal is to find someone with similar interests and expertise to collaborate with on this effort. Two heads are better than one after all.

There you have it. My professional growth goals for 2020/2021. Some will be easier than others, but my hope is that I continue to grow since my transition from classroom teacher to educational trainer.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Virtually Back to School

2020 has turned into one of the craziest years. As teachers around the country are preparing to return to a modified version of school, the goal is the same. Continue to help students learn and grow. The goal has never changed, just the delivery.
Table comparing classrooms from Spring 2020 to Fall 2020.
Source: Educators Navigating COVID-19
Together Facebook group

Throughout the summer, I have worked with teachers in many school districts as they prepare to go from "Crisis Response" to "Virtual Learning" for the start of the school year. When schools first closed in March 2020 as COVID-19 started to spread, many teachers and students went into survival mode. When schools were unprepared to provide all students with the tools they would need at home, they couldn't continue expecting all students to complete the work in the same way. This is why many schools changed to a pass/fall system and didn't track things like attendance.

As we move into the new school year, schools had the summer to plan ahead and prepare. Many school districts used the funds from CARE Act to purchase 1:1 technology that could be sent home with students. There are still a ton of inequalities out there such as Internet access, parent involvement, IEP adaptations, and more. However, from what I've seen schools all over are striving to best serve their students in this time of uncertainty.

Many companies and organizations have stepped up to help schools. Companies such as Google, Microsoft, and more have been offering free webinars all summer. Organizations such as ISTE, CUE, PAECT, and more have also been running series of webinars to help teachers prepare.

I will leave you with this adorable video that the Reading School District made for their first day of in-service. Such a great message for everyone.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Turning a Tragedy into a Teachable Moment

Recently, Naya Rivera, an actress from television, went missing while boating with her four year old son. This tragedy ended with Naya Rivera being declared dead but her son being safe. The tragic results along with the way the situation was handled by the press can easily be turned into a teachable moment.

The child was discovered sleeping in a boat by himself and she was missing. According to the press conference following the tragedy, it's believed that the currents pushed the boat away from them and that Naya used her last energy to get her son back in the boat safely. Her last act was to save her son's life. So valuable lesson number one is about the love a mother has for her child.

The second valuable lesson revolves around how the news handled the story. The image attached to this post has three screenshots of Tweets. One from an entertainment site, one from a news site, and the last from the official police department's social media team. All three screenshots were taken within seconds of each other so we can say the retweets and likes are from the same time.

Seven minutes after the police announced they found a body and would be holding a press conference at 2, the entertainment site posted a claim that it was Naya Rivera's body that was found. A real news site posted 20 minutes that a body was found and a press conference would be held. While the real news site used an image of the late actress, they never claimed the body was her.

This tragedy can be turned into a positive by helping to teach about reliable sources and helping students learn how to determine truth vs click bait. Looking at the screenshots, it's interesting to point out to students that the entertainment site had more retweets than the legit news site or the police department combined. The entertainment site was also used as the source for many other entertainment sites such as radio stations.

This blog post was posted after the press conference. I have purposely waited a few weeks out of respect to everyone involved. While I believe this example can be used as a teachable moment, I also understand this is a difficult time for the family and friends of this talented actress. 

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Game-Based Learning Is Not Gamification

As my post's title suggests, game-based learning and gamification are not the same thing. They both serve purposes in the classroom, but the two terms are not interchangeable. So what's the difference? Game-based learning is when you use games in the classroom. Gamification is when you transform the entire class or lesson into a game. In its simplest form, gamification means you're adding game-type elements into the lesson. This can be through story telling, problem solving, competition, or scoring.

This 2014 Google Teacher Academy application video from Jeffrey King is a prime example of how to gamify a classroom. He's not just playing a game with his students, he's turned the class into a game. From "mission briefings" instead of instructions to they way he tracks progress and scores his chemistry class, he has transformed it into something different and exciting.

My favorite theory behind gamification is that students don't fail. Just like in a game where an avatar dies and returns to the last "save point", learning is a process as well. If the student doesn't reach the goal don't just give them a F and move on. This won't help the student and will make it harder to move forward. Let them go back and try again. They use the knowledge from that first attempt to improve.

When you use game-based learning in the classroom, you are using games to promote learning. Examples of this can be as simple as using Scrabble to practice spelling or more complex ideas such as a game show style review. Game-based learning can be really effective for student engagement.

If you would like to learn more about Gamification, I highly recommend looking into Karl Kapp, a professor at Bloomsburg University. I discovered him while surfing Lynda courses (free through my public library so check yours) during quarantine. He has a few videos on gamifying classrooms and a few on gamifying professional development for the business world. They were all extremely informative and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

To sum this up, I'm not saying that playing games in the classroom is bad. Students love games and they will help you engage the class in exciting ways to teach or review materials. Just when you are submitting proposals to EdTech conferences please make sure to specify in your description what you are discussing. I would love to become better at gamification, but I seem to always end up in sessions about game-based learning.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Loss of an Icon

 Rosie Parmigiani aka Mama Keystone

I barely knew you. Don't get me wrong, I knew of you, but I barely knew you. You were/are the icon. The heart and soul of Keystones and PAECT. I remember that first PETE&C I attended back before I really understood what type of community I had walked into. I was an outsider, but to you I was another young teacher looking to improve my craft.

I sat down at the banquet that year with other people from Southeast and immediately I heard stories about Mama. We met briefly and you introduced yourself and welcomed me to the family. Maybe at most we spent five minutes talking. The following day you said hi to me in passing with warm smile.

A year later, I came up to PETE&C the day early for the KTI pre-summit. When I walked past you, you not only said hi but you remembered my name. With so many "children", it really amazed me that Mama not only remembered me but she took a moment to ask how everything was including details from a single conversation the year before. This is how it continued. I only saw Mama annually at PETE&C, and once at ISTE, but each time she would take the time to make you feel welcomed and encouraged. Mama just had that way about her.

She spoke to everyone and took the time to make sure each person felt welcome and included. Whether you were a first year teacher or a retired veteran, you mattered. Mama never spoke about herself, it was always about her children and we are all her children.

The last time I saw Mama was in February at PETE&C in Pittsburgh. As always, she was riding around in her scooter and not letting anything slow her down. When we spoke about Pittsburgh, Mama said she came a few days early to spend time with her family that lived on the west side of the state.

Mama may be gone, but her legacy will live on through every student and teacher that she mentored. I know I am a better educator for knowing her, no matter how brief.

Mama will always be there for all of us. (@rosieparm)

Monday, June 15, 2020

Free Ebooks for Teachers and How to Get Them

I love reading for relaxation. However, lately the library's waiting list for digital books can pass two months. If you decide to purchase a book, they can cost $10 and up. So what's someone to do? Well, sign up with the publishers to get an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of upcoming books. The catch? They expect you to write reviews and publish those reviews on sites like Goodreads and Amazon. Any review would have a disclaimer such as "I received a free ACR from [publisher] in exchange for a honest review."

When I went to New York Comic Con this past fall, I met representatives from some of the major publishing companies. That's where I learned the trick to these free early copies. Make sure you mark in your profile that you are a teacher and/or librarian (if you are) because the publishers are more likely to approve your request if you have a good reach. Below are the three sites I have joined to request ARC.

I have been a member of NetGalley for a few years now. It was the first site I learned about back when I was blogging about how to save money. Many of the large publishers will use NetGalley but be aware that I've been declined as many requests as I've been approved for during the time. Some newer authors will be listed as "read now" and don't require a pre-approval.

I learned about Booksprout directly from an author's Twitter account. You can search through available ARCs but you can allow follow an author you like. I now get notified when that author I enjoy has new books available.

I learned about Reedsy from someone at NYCC. The site has an interesting variety of books but it appears that only one reviewer per book, so it's first come/first serve. You can also see the books that have already been reviewed. The one thing I found strange with Reedsy is that people can leave you tips for your reviews. If you receive a tip, you must connect a Stripe account to withdraw the funds.

If you're not interested in pre-release books or agreeing to review the books, you can also look into options like your public library and Amazon for free eBooks.

Public Libraries
Depending on where you live, it may be different. Here in Philadelphia, we have Overdrive and Hoopla. The library has a specific number of digital licenses for each book and if all those books are "out" you can add yourself to the waiting list. You can also search for books the library doesn't own or pre-release titles and recommend the library purchases them. When they do, you'll automatically be able to borrow the title or be added to the wait list if it is a popular pre-release.

Kindle Unlimited
Amazon has a subscription program where you can get unlimited books. The subscription costs $9.99 per month but if you read a lot, it may be worth it. They also offer a free trial month. I'm a little torn on Kindle Unlimited because they have a huge selection of books but often new releases and popular books are not included.

Prime Reading
If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can filter ebooks to find titles that are eligible for Prime Reading. These titles can be downloaded for free. The selection is more limited than Kindle Unlimited, but you can often find some decent titles.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The New Normal: Hopefully not for too long

This past month has been crazy. From schools closing to stay at home orders, the world has changed overnight. Hopefully these changes are working and we'll be able to get back to normal soon, but will it be normal?

Tweet from Shonda Rhimes
Teachers are being forced right now to basically become first year teachers again. With little to no experience, they are being thrown into a new environment and expecting to thrive. Parents and community members are starting to notice how hard teachers are working and that it's not just "teaching" that goes into the classroom.

This month, I have been hosting webinars on different ed tech products and concepts. I have also been holding daily virtual office hours to support teachers from across the state and region. I may not be in the classroom anymore, but I know the struggles going on.

I hope that I've been helpful to the teachers that have been attending the webinars and those that come into office hours have been asking great questions. I've even geared some of next week's webinars based off the repetitive questions I've been getting in office hours.

Good luck to all educators out there. We will get through this, and we will be stronger for it. So will our students. Stay safe and wash your hands.