An (aspiring) Educator’s Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘professional development

Coursekit: An essential tool for engaged Professional Learning Communities

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Whenever I meet educators at EdcampNYC or engage in Twitter chats (#scichat, #edchat, #edtech, and #kinderchat are my favorites), I shake my first at the sky and say “Man, I wish there was a way to engage in a structured and collaborative Professional Learning Community with these people!”. I have similar needs during in-house professional development, Professional Learning Communities, and grade level meetings. By the time we’re really digging into a topic, it’s time to leave. There isn’t a central place we keep notes, action calendars, or resources. Engagement needs a place to live. This week, I’ve been experimenting with Coursekit – an engagement manager that’s useful for a variety of digital and in-house professional learning communities.

Coursekit has features we’ve seen before – gradebooks, a place to submit work, and calendars. The innovation is the focus on peer to peer interaction. The case studies on Coursekit’s website feature professors teaching hands-on classes in a university setting. As a primary educator, I am drawn to Coursekit because I can use it to support my Professional Learning Communities whether participants are at my school or the other side of the world. I’ve created a mock Professional Learning Community coursekit called “Professional Learning Community: Integrating Social-Emotional Content into K-2 Lessons“. I’ve left the coursekit open so anyone can join. Have at it! Pretend you’re a part of this learning community – post questions, links, and media.

Coursekit is free. Create your own and comment with the link. Do use Coursekit? Are you as excited about it as I am?

Teacher Geek Site of the Week: Bonus Sick-Day Edition

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For the design geek: This week I’ve had more time than usual to read twitter and check out links due to consecutive sick days (The only thing keeping my school from being a sequel to Outbreak is Dustin Hoffman and B actors).

@ddmeyer intrigued me with a tweet about teachers and design theory:


This morning, @creattica lead me to an amazing design resource: 50 Totally Free Lessons in Graphic Design Theory.

Which ones should you read first? I would flip through the list and find ones that intrigue you. I hope to read a few this week:

1. #33: The Basics of Graphic Design

2. #34: Want to know how to design? Learn The Basics.

3. #22: Color Theory: Overview

4. #27: How Colors Impact Moods, Feelings, and Behaviors

5. #1: Typography, Part 1

6. #17: Grids: Order Out of Chaos

7. #43: A Few Lessons From Real World Usability

Have you used any design resources you think other teachers should use? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

(I’m in the middle of The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte)

Written by TeacherC

2 April 2009 at 7:13 am

Sometimes teachers use computers like badly written worksheets

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I’m intrigued by a debate sparked by this post on Dangerously Irrelevant:

Dangerous Debate

I agree with the principal who asks for advice – technology should not be treated as an “add on” to our curriculum. Teachers should weave technology throughout the curriculum and their practices – not only as a way to increase learning, but for networking, tracking professional development, and making life easier in the classroom (it’s possible!).

Schools that give equitable access to 21st century learning experiences value community building (home-school, teacher-student, student-student, neighborhood-school, etc), use informed and child-centered pedagogy, and help teachers connect to a wider professional community. Just having technology in a building does not ensure children learn how to use technology appropriately. Currently, our classrooms are filled with literacy, math, science, and social studies artifacts (textbooks, worksheets, libraries, posters, curriculum guides, art supplies, etc). The mere presence of these artifacts has not ensured equitable access to appropriate learning experiences.

Many professionals misuse technology (there are tons of websites about bad PowerPoint presentations). Teachers are prone to the same error. Sometimes teachers use computers like badly written worksheets. Instead of using technology to provide students with rigorous challenges, many teachers provide cookie cutter, linear experiences, where the emphasis is on product rather than process. In my professional development and classroom management plan, I say:

“students need experiences that build upon understandings they already have while challenging them to form new understandings. Vygotski used the term “Zone of Proximal Development”. Learning requires a delicate mix of challenge, conflict, safety, and familiarity. There is not a single linear progression that fits the learning trajectories of all students.”

I guess the question I would have asked, if I were the principal, is “How do you align technology use with what you believe are the best practices in education and the needs of your intellectual community? How can I create a technology plan that provides the equipment and professional development for teachers to use these technologies appropriately?”

How would you answer these questions?