Thursday, December 13, 2012

My Letter to Santa for Educators

Dear Santa,

This letter is written in hopes that you will provide all educators with the following gifts for Christmas:

·         Insatiable desire to learn new things.

·         Aspiration to make an impact beyond the walls of the classroom/office.

·         The willingness to take risks and accept the occasional failure (see my previous post on failure)

·         The ability to focus on what matters most and eliminate the clutter.

·         Time for reflection and consideration of alternative methods.

·         Collaborative spirit- together we all achieve more!

·         The ability to engage students.

Santa, these gifts would not only be advantageous for the educators that receive them, but the students they serve would also benefit greatly.

I hope preparations are going well at the North Pole and I hope to see you Christmas Eve.

I’ll have some cookies and milk waiting on you.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Best of What Tim Found 12/12/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Failure- Don't Fear It!

Anthony Halter made an interesting comment yesterday during the recognition breakfast for SPED, Health, and PE students.  His comment was basically about how failure is viewed by different societies.  In the west, we typically view failure or struggling as a negative rather than a natural, welcomed, or even celebrated part of the learning process.

His point was that the student he was recognizing was not detoured by struggles.  Rather, this student simply continued to work hard, study, and seek help until he mastered the concept.

I was reminded of a Arkansas Leadership Academy activity where achieving the goal (all members of our group had to work through a maze in a short amount of time) was not possible until we realized that through individual failure, we collectively identified the appropriate path.  Then everyone was able to navigate the maze well within the allotted time.

Whether you are trying a new instructional strategy, piloting a new common core based unit, or trying out a new tech tool, embrace and share both your successes and your failures.

If we’re afraid to share what goes wrong, we will continue repeating mistakes that can be avoided.

So, when you interact with other teachers, your PLC group, your digital PLN, the new Edmodo group started by David Welsher…share what goes well, what you’re proud of, but also what goes wrong.

Also, remember to play!  The most innovative teachers are the ones that aren’t afraid to challenge themselves, push new buttons, try new tools.  In short, they don’t fear failure.

Sometimes, there is much more to be learned from a failure than from a success.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Best of What Tim Found 11/21/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Best of What Tim Found 10/17/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Who Should I Follow (PLN Suggestions)?

BHS teachers, last week I suggested a couple of tips to help manage the stream of information in your PLN.

This week, I’d like to help answer the questions…Now that I’m connected, who should I follow?  Who should be included in my Twitter lists/must read RSS feeds?

Take a few minutes to evaluate the blogs that you are reading.  If there are a few that you are consistently drawn to, add them to a “must read” folder in your reader of choice (Google Reader for me).

I would also suggest that you review and possibly add the following blogs:

BHS e-Library
BHS South Library
Cool Cat Teacher
Free Technology for Teachers
Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day
My Island View
SmartBlog on Education
The Best of What Tim Found Today
Will Richardson

Do the same thing with your Twitter stream.  Add any “top notch” tweeters to a list so you can eliminate the noise and focus on the good stuff.

You could also simply follow a public list that others have already created.  Here are two that I’ve created that you may be interested in:

Tim’s “Top Notch” Twitter List - primarily geared to educational technology topics
Tim’s Ed Leadership List – Ed leadership and school reform resources with an eye toward technology

Being connected is only helpful if you have a purpose for being plugged in and you connect to quality information that you are able to manage and learn from.  Drinking from a fire hose is tough.  Narrow your focus, identify your top resources then use lists and “must read” folders to help you manage your PLN stream.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Managing the (PLN) Stream of Information

Those of you at BHS that have recently gotten “connected” and are growing your PLN have probably found that at times, it’s impossible to manage the constant stream of information that comes your way when you’re plugged in with Twitter, Google Reader, etc.

I wanted to share a few thoughts/tricks with you this week.

One, I don’t look at the professional growth that comes from my interaction with my PLN as another thing that I must check off of my to-do list.

When I’m ready to learn and I have time, I interact with my PLN.  I read a couple of blog posts; check the “Twitterverse” for professional material, etc.  If I find something that I think may help educators, I share it through one of my blogs, on Diigo, and/or on Twitter.

At this point of the year, the time that I spend on this is usually 5-10 minutes in the early morning before I get ready for work and/or 10 minutes in the evening after the kids have gone to bed.

There is no way that I can check out every link or post in that amount of time.

To solve that dilemma, I use two very specific techniques.  One, in Twitter, I utilize the “lists” feature.

Twitter lists allow you to group “top-notch” or content specific tweeters together.  Then, when you check your stream, you can quickly catch-up on the things that matter without scrolling through everything you follow.

I have lists for Educational Leadership, Ed Tech, family, news and weather, etc.

Classroom Tip:  As a teacher, you could create a list for your class and students could simply follow the list rather than having to individually follow each account.  The lists could change for each unit of study.

The second strategy I use is similar and for Google Reader.  I have a folder with the top RSS feeds that I follow.  If I don’t have time to check everything, I just check that folder then mark everything else as read.

I hope these strategies can make you more productive and help you “manage the stream.”

Best of What Tim Found 09/20/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Best of What Tim Found 09/19/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Best of What Tim Found 09/14/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Missing the (Flipped/Digital Textbook) Point

If you’re a connected educator, you’ve seen the online discussion going on about two topics- The Flipped Classroom and Digital Textbooks.

The more that I read about these two topics, the more I think that most people miss the point.

Rather than, simply making lectures available outside the classroom, the point of the flipped classroom (in my opinion) SHOULD be how to make the “flip” from teacher-centered, low-level thinking, fabricated exercises to student-centered, higher order thinking, authentic learning activities.

Rather than simply taking the profane sums of money that we spend on textbooks and other print materials and spending them on equally expensive (sometimes more) digital materials, the point (in my opinion) SHOULD be how to make the “flip” to student researched, student selected, and student created learning materials.

So, when you join the discussion about these two topics, help me turn the conversation to what SHOULD be the point (assuming you agree with my opinion).

Thursday, August 30, 2012

So, I'm a BHS teacher on Twitter. Now what?

More BHS faculty members are beginning to embrace the power of social media for both increased communication with students/parents and for professional learning.

Thanks to Ben Lewis (@benlewis86), we now have a “BHS Twitter Users” Google Form to help locate everyone at BHS that is using Twitter.  If you haven’t entered your data, please do so here.

Twitter is one of the most productive tools that I have used to develop my Professional Learning Network (PLN) over the past 5+ years.  If you’re not on the bandwagon yet, jump on!

To learn more about how to use Twitter for both professional growth and in the classroom, check out these links:

As always, feel free to follow me (@sparacino) for the latest “edtech” and other resources that I come across and tweet about. 
My Diigo library is also a treasure trove of educational resources.  Happy hunting!

Remember our challenge from Will Richardson.  What are you going to do differently this year to help move our school forward and model life-long learning with digital tools for our students?