Micro-Credentials – New Way to Passion Learn

Micro-Credentials – New Way to Passion Learn

It’s been heads down, tails up over at Eduro Learning as we put the finishing touches on our new Micro-Credential Pathways and launching it with some free PDF downloads for you!

So what are micro-credentials I hear you say? Our first PDF in the launch tells you all about them and why they are the future of Professional Development (you can still get the PDF free here too). But basically micro-credentials are a new professional development model where we take the best teaching practices we use with students and apply them to professional development opportunities for educators.

We have put together 3 Micro-credential Pathways so far (and we’re working on another 2!).  If you’re just starting out in a technology-rich classroom, or you’re going 1:1 or are close to a 1:1 environment then you may be interested in our The 1:1 Teacher micro-credential. If you’re like me and really passionate about connecting your classroom both locally (inside in the class) and globally, then take a closer look at The Connected Teacher micro-credential.  This micro-credential has all the things I wish I’d had at my fingertips when I was starting to create a window into our classroom and connecting my students with the outside world.  All of the courses in this micro-credential would have been so helpful! (ok, I may be a little biased about this particular micro-credential as I’m one of the mentors for the Premium Package and Lissa is the mentor for the Academy Package and she’s awesome sauce too!)   And if you’re a coach, or just starting out as a coach or even thinking seriously about taking on a coaching role then you absolutely must check out The Coach.  Available soon will be a Supporting Your Parents for Coaches/Admin/Teachers micro-credential – this will help anyone needing help and/or support to put together a programme in their school that helps support the parenting community in the technology-rich environment their children are living and learning in.

So there they are ….. a little introduction to the first of our Micro-credentials. We’re still launching and giving away freebies – so like our Facebook page so you can get a notification of when we go live (it’s usually around 9am Perth time on a Friday), or subscribe to our blog posts and get the freebie download links.  Be quick though – they aren’t going to be free for much longer! We do ask for your email each time, not to spam you but to see what people are interested in so that we keep making useful things for you!

 

Learning to LattéArt

Learning to LattéArt

I’ve been watching (studying) the amazing and generous barista Dritan Alsela and his equally helpful assistant Mariette (?) via their videos (originally FBLive Events) to learn how to latté art. It’s been fun (aka hilarious) posting my efforts on instagram to celebrate my failures but also track my learning progress over time. It’s turned into a bit of a game with my friends helping #guessmylattéart (that’s where the hilarious part comes in).

As I reflect on my learning so far, I wanted to share the advantages of learning in this way for me. Thanks to today’s technology access, this way of learning is becoming more and more popular and we’re finding that kids are spending a lot of their own time learning to do something they’re interested in and enjoying the sense of accomplishment when done.  As an educator, I love the idea of harnessing this in our classrooms through exploring Genius Hour, a take on Google’s 20% time or even just an afternoon (every 10 or so days) of elective learning! These are the advantages I’ve discovered for myself:

1. Just in time learning
Perfect to fit into my day when I can. Life gets incredibly busy but more and more I believe it’s important to dedicate time to one’s own learning whenever or however we can.

2. Interest and motivation
I chose to spend time learning lattéart because I wanted to learn it. I had an interest and thanks to YouTube, I was able to find some very good tutorials that helped keep me interested and motivated to learn more.

3. Customisable
Pause, play, repeat – the best features of video. I can do this as much as I need to. Learning needs to be customisable. What works for you might not work for me. What takes me a short amount of time, might take you longer. Video makes learning customisable in so many different ways – we need to harness this more in the classroom.

4. Visual and audial combination
I can see what to do. I can hear the instructions. Excellent combination plus I can also see, hear and DO at the same time.  I’m much more likely to enjoy success with all three.

5. Access to an expert
Rather than try to watch a barista at work down at my local coffee shop (and annoy them while they are busy) – I have access to a super-friendly and generous expert who is taking the time to share their skills with me.

6. Importance of sharing the learning
For accountability, motivation, and encouragement, I use my social media channels (instagram and facebook) to share my progress with friends. This makes me smile and reminds me just how creative and imaginative my friends are! It also motivates me to try harder and reminds me it’s ok, and part of the learning process, to fail. By sharing I show that I’m still learning and that I’m not afraid to try something new.

So what are you learning to do?  I’d love to hear/see what it is – please leave me a comment below.

Who knows, I may encourage someone else to give it a go too! If you are keen to learn LattéArt – here’s my LattéArt YouTube Playlist:

Today’s Key Learning from the Barista Tutorial I watched today

  • Clean my portafilter with a brush
  • Tamp once and turn
  • Extract the coffee before doing the milk
  • Perfect temp: 60-65° for the milk (Don’t need to swirl the milk pitcher to warm it) The milk must be right otherwise you can’t lattéart.
  • Use two jugs – tip off half the milk into another jug
  • Bang the jug to get out the bubbles
  • Hold cup on an angle
  • The angle of the pitcher is parallel to the angle of the cup
  • Pour high first in small tight circles – prepare the surface – never touch the sides of the cup, swirl in the centre – don’t break the surface
  • Then go down closer with the spout and draw on the surface

Last but not least, I have to share Dritan’s valuable advice (and take note for myself)

Don’t want too much too fast – start with and master the heart! Then progress to the rosetta, then try the tulip.

So it’s back to the heart I go …… but I’m feeling confident, armed with more knowledge and excited to try again! (Stay tuned to #guessmylattéart on instagram!)

Understanding the Connected Classroom

Understanding the Connected Classroom

What is a Connected Classroom?

A connected classroom is a learning environment that is open to the outside world. It’s where students are engaged in real-life authentic learning starting in their own classroom and extends to reach other global learners.

Why should our classrooms be connected?

When we think about redefining learning (especially if we’re using SAMR as a lens to ensure that the use of technology is not just for technology’s sake) then we must think about what can our students do that wasn’t possible before without the technology.  Connecting with others outside the wall of the classroom or providing a window into the classroom is something that’s not possible without technology.  The increased scope of learning, the harnessing of an authentic audience and the ability to share and get feedback on student work were the driving reasons behind my reasons for having a connected classroom.

In Grade 3, my students were studying Rocks & Minerals for Science. We were able to skype an expert (a student’s grandfather who just happened to be a Geologist).  I cannot describe the fascination, the attention and the learning that was facilitated by having a conversation with an actual geologist who showed us his tools, shared what it was like to be a geologist and also showed us some of his most memorable finds!

How can we connect our classrooms?

There are many ways we can connect our classrooms. Here’s three easy ways to create an environment that is open to the outside world and engages students in real-life authentic learning that can extend to reach other global learners.

Video Conferencing

Use skype, google hangouts or facetime to connect, share and learn from others outside the walls of the classroom. There’s a variety of different reasons or times of the year to connect with others globally.

Ideas to try

Sam the Kiwi (Class Mascot) Adventurer Extraordinaire!

  • Celebrations
    • Science Week
    • Coding Challenge
    • Christmas Tradition comparisons
  • Expert Encounters
    • Guest expert
    • Author Study
    • Mystery Skype for geography/cultural purposes
  • Shared Units of Study
    • Weather study/comparison
    • Seasons
    • Environmental studies
  • Authentic Collaboration Projects

Sometimes timezones can hamper global connections. Tools like VoiceThread can help. We were able to connect and share some Christmas Traditions with a class in Tasmania this way.

Blogging

Blogs can be a “window into your class” – an authentic, relevant way to connect to others beyond the four walls of the classroom. To help get started, check out 10 tips for Connecting Students Through Blogging.
Blogs can be used to

  • Share learning
  • Have an Authentic Audience
  • Get Peer Feedback
  • build ePortfolios
  • Communicate with Parents
Ideas to try
  • Start with a class blog and build content together
  • Use blogs as ePortfolios to show learning over time
  • Connect between school and home

Use Social Media

Social media tools can be used to

  • share learning
  • participate in global conversations
  • ask questions / get answers
  • connect with experts, authors, other cultures
  • back channel
  • expose students to different perspectives
Ideas to try
  • share learning visually with a class instagram account
  • create a class twitter account to globally connect with others
  • start a class facebook page to connect/share with parents

Tips for Success

  • It takes time to grow connections but it really is worth the effort
  • Be willing to take risks (be prepared to fail)
  • Be adaptable & flexible and have a sense of humour!
  • If you’re just starting out, start small – skype in an expert/guest speaker or your friend’s class from another school in your area, district or perhaps another country
  • Check out Getting Started with Mystery Skype or Authors who Skype with Classes for Free

Ways to Involve Students More

Use roles during video conferencing

  • photographer (responsible for taking photographs during the call)
  • documentor (responsible for writing down the memorable parts of the call)
  • videographer (responsible for video recording the event)
  • Skype Tips (including a list of potential roles for students)

Have a Class Blog

  • Student Writer of the Week (responsible for writing a summary post or a daily post for the class)
  • Blog Photographer (responsible for documenting learning each day)
  • Commenting on a class blog post could be a writing homework option
  • Blogger of the Week – use when each student has their own blog

Use a Class Social Media Account

  • The whole class helps write a summary of the day’s learning in 140 characters for twitter OR
  • A small group of writers during writing time collaborate for 10-15m on a class daily tweet
  • Social Media update – to help provide a window into the classroom, a student writes a morning and an afternoon twitter, instagram, facebook update each day
  • Instagram Photographer of the day – has to post 4-5 images of learning to the class instagram account
  • Facebook Post writer – writes a learning post/summary of the day’s learning am/pm (also uses the class photographer’s images)

Depending on how old your students are, you may wish to have the posts/updates have teacher approval before they are published. With younger students, updates could be orally told to an adult or written out on paper and approved by the teacher first.

Questions? Comments? What are your thoughts? Have I missed anything?  Would you like to share your ideas?  I’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment!

Over at Eduro Learning we’re excited about launching our brand new Micro-credentials range. To celebrate we have  a PDF freebie to give away.  This week’s PDF is a visual poster 3 Simple Ways to Create a Connected Classroom.  You will need to give us your email (even if you’ve given it to us before). Don’t worry we promise  won’t spam you crazy – it’s just so we know what products our audience is enjoying/finding useful so we can tailor future ones!

 

All images my own or purchased via Adobe Stock unless otherwise stated
3 Habits for Managing Digital Devices

3 Habits for Managing Digital Devices

Parenting in a technology-rich world is not easy! At Eduro Learning one of the new things we’re most excited about is our new series of online classes and resources designed specifically for parents. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be sharing some of those resources (for free!) to give you a taste of what our Parenting in the Digital Age online course is like, and we’re going to be doing a weekly Facebook Live session to share some of our thoughts, ideas, tips and strategies.

Kim kicked us off with our first FBLive “How is Learning Different Today?” last Friday.  You can watch the recorded version here and there’s still time to grab the freebie 7 Things Parents Need to Know About Kids and Tech. (You’ll need to give us your email address – even if you’ve given it to us before. Don’t worry, we won’t add you to the newsletter twice or spam you – we just want to know which resources are most useful for you so we can send you the right stuff!)

Teacher friends, you might find these resources and FBLive sessions helpful for those times when you’re having conversations with parents about these topics too. So go ahead and grab the freebies and watch the FBLive live or watch the recorded one later!  We’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas and strategies too!

Next week it’s my turn to host the FBLive session (Friday 9am GMT+8) and I’ll be chatting about Technology Never Sleeps: Managing our Many Digital Devices. I’m taking a leaf out of Kim’s book, and sharing some of my thinking here as a mini-preview to the FBLive on Friday morning. (Plus it’s about time I started blogging regularly again!)

Our free resource this week, or freebie as I like to call it, is Top 10 Tips for Managing Screen Time

We know that our kids spend a lot of time online and often from multiple devices. From homework and listening to music to instant messaging friends and checking out the latest on social media, the reality is they’re probably using a screen every day. Also, sometimes digital devices can also be an easy option to keep our younger ones occupied in our busy lives. Even more challenging is the 24/7 access, the amount of screen time and the balance (or lack of) between online and offline. I know we say this all the time – the best thing we can do to help our kids is to have regular conversations that help build good habits and careful decision making when it comes to realities of having access to so much technology today.

When I think about digital devices and good habits I think about three things; Balance; Screen Time and Being a role model.  Here’s why (and how) …

Balance

 

It’s important to help our children (and ourselves!) maintain a healthy balance between online and offline activities.  Some ways to do this:

Have a “no screen” day
We had no screen Tuesday. No special reason it was Tuesday, that’s just the day we all agreed to and that included no TV on Tuesdays too!

Provide alternatives to screens
Having fun crafts, games, books, puzzles, puppets, and art supplies available with easy access lets kids see that they really do have other options other than digital devices. Outdoor activities can become a regular feature of weekends and something that every family member can enjoy and benefit from.

Manage Screen Time

How much screen time is too much? Ah, the question we get asked the most! There is no “right” answer because this one is personal – personal to you and your family and values.  A few ideas that may help:

Time Trade
My 15 year old son earns screen time by practising his basketball skills. Every half hour of physical activity earns him an hour on his xBox. If I’d been on-to-it, I would have connected his screen time to the amount of vacuuming he did for me!

Choose the better kind of screen time
Look for educational content which develops a range of skills: cognitive skills, early maths skills, early reading and writing skills, fine motor skills, creativity, imagination, language even understand more about the world.
CommonSenseMedia makes it easy to find great media (age-appropriate apps, games, websites, movies etc) for kids.

Be a Role Model

Remember that saying, “Monkey see, monkey do?”  

No devices at the dinner table
This has to be the best rule we ever made. Even our visitors comply! This works when we’re out too! Try The Phone Stack! It’s hilarious!

Be present
When your child is trying to show you something, or have a conversation with you, put your device down and they will be more likely to as well.

Final Thoughts

These were just three things that immediately sprung to my mind when thinking about building good habits for managing the many digital devices in our lives and our children’s live today . What do you think? Is there something critical that I missed? If you’re a parent, what do you struggle with? What habits are you helping your children build?

If you’re interested in continuing this conversation (or you know someone who might be interested), please join me this Friday (9am GMT+8) for another Facebook Live session on our Eduro Learning FB page and don’t forget about the freebie Top 10 Tips for Managing Screen Time!

 

Part 2: Building Good Digital Habits

Part 2: Building Good Digital Habits

Inspired by Staying Safe Online: Helping Build Good Digital Habits & 3 Habits for Managing Digital Devices

If you haven’t already checked it out, over at Eduro Learning (sorry, shameless plug!) we’ve been putting together some quality content to help parents. There’s a range of resources and even some courses that you can take if you’re in need of some support, ideas and advice all around the challenges of this ever-changing, fast developing, 24/7 digital age we are living in.

Our current launch for the Parenting in the Digital Age courses  has had me thinking and reflecting over the last week or so about what are good digital habits.  I’ve shared a few blog posts already (see the bold links at the top) but I thought I’d share some more of what I’ve been thinking more about.

Encourage Single-Tasking
Teenagers love to multi-task but it’s a myth!  Research shows that it’s not really good for getting things done! It’s so easy to lose your train of thought when you have multiple windows, tabs or documents open! The risk of mishaps (like FBLive-ing on the wrong page) increase or sometimes too many tabs open can freeze your device! More importantly, the distractions of multi-tasking can make homework tasks take much longer than necessary. There are so great apps out there to help minimise distractions like

Foster Good Physical Habits with Devices
Help your kids develop good physical habits to protect their eyes, posture, hands, and overall physical well-being by taking breaks, walking around, stretching etc.   And if they have a very busy day, there may be no time to use technology for fun that day.    Shimmy and shake.  In the ad-breaks, have a competition to see who can do 20 star jumps the fastest!

Make Digital Detox-ing a Regular Thing
Whatever suits your family. It might be once a week, it might be every second week or even once a month – but make it a regular occurrence.  Unplug, disconnect, put down all devices for a given amount of time.

Make Bedrooms Technology-Free Zones
Try Overnight-Baskets for all Devices or Tech-Mats where all devices rest for the night. Create a charging station where everyone’s devices get charged overnight.
Research recommends switching off from screens at least 45 to 60 minutes before going to bed to ensure a healthy, restful sleep ensues. Even with night-time screen backing, it’s still over-stimulating to be connected to your device before enjoys those zzzzz’s.

Most health experts agree that switching off the screen a least an hour before bedtime encourages a better night’s sleep for everyone! Consider having a charging station for everyone’s device in the kitchen/lounge overnight. You might also want to consider switching off your router/modem for the night. Some routers/modems allow you to program certain times when they can’t access the internet. Check out this awesome infographic from the National Sleep Foundation: Electronics and Sleep in the Modern Family

Avoid Checking Phones Upon Waking
This one’s more for our older teenagers than our younger kiddos. I’m currently working on building this particular habit myself. Reaching for my phone as soon as I woke up wasn’t always setting the tone for my day in a positive way! I was answering emails, tweeting, and getting stressed out before I even got up!  Now, I’m resisting the urge to check my phone before I do an early morning yoga stretch, breathe combination to help set the tone for the day. And I have to say it’s working! It’s definitely a better way to start my day and I feel more relaxed and ready to manage whatever the universe throws at me!

So how about you? What good digital habits do you have?

 

 

Connecting Students Through Blogging – 10 Tips

Connecting Students Through Blogging – 10 Tips

Welcome to the first blog post in a new series called Teaching In A Connected Classroom (cross-posted for Eduro Learning)

 

A great way to start connecting your students to each other and to others outside the classroom at the start of a new year is to begin blogging. Not only can blogging give students a voice, but it also has the potential to change the way they write.Blog Action Day 2010

Over the years I’ve discovered through my own trials and those of teachers I’ve been fortunate to work closely with, ten tips that may help get blogging starting in your classroom and keep it sustainable throughout the year. Most apply to individual blogs with your students and/or blogging together with students on a Class Blog.

#1  Decide on your why (the purpose)

It’s important to know why you want a class blog or why you want students to have their own blogs.  When we know the why (to anything), it’s so much easier to make decisions about what and what not to do, and it will be much easier to get students excited about blogging with the goal of sustainability.  Don’t move onto the how, until you know the why! (It comes in handy for #3)

#2  Pick your platform

This one might end up being entirely up to you or you may not have much of a choice.  I’ve been fortunate enough to work at schools that hosted WordPress on their own servers.  When I first started out with a class blog, however, I used EduBlogs (free version), and then WordPress (free version) when my students began blogging individually.  There are other alternatives out there such as Kidblog or Weebly which many teachers use with great success.

#3  Obtain permissions

In order to receive support from all stakeholders, you need to check in with those around you. Principals, Tech Coach/Co-ordinators, and of course your parents.  It’s important to be ready to explain what you are doing and why (refer #1).  I shared a blogging/podcasting contract with my parents and also held a parents meeting so that any questions/concerns could be asked and answered.  To date, I’ve not had any parents say No to their child blogging and I’m sure it’s because of #1, knowing the why and because of the transparency of what we were trying to achieve with blogging.

#4  Teach Quality Blogging

This will always be one of my many favourite sessions with student bloggers and they go hand-in-hand with our Digital Literacy Unit for the start of the year. Our Guiding Question:   What makes a quality post? springboards us into blogging and helps students think about the similarities and differences between blogging and writing. We revisit this topic many times during the year and aim to deepen the quality of blog posts through a “writing reflectively” lens.

#5  Discuss Citizenship

Before we even begin blogging, we look at and discuss safety online and citizenship – what does it mean to be responsible and appropriate? This is part of a bigger discussion that covers not only online behaviour but offline behaviour.  It just so happens that it’s not just those that are specific to blogging – and it’s like quality blogging & commenting – an all-the-time discussion.Blogging

#6  Teach commenting

Teaching your students to properly comment is just as important, if not more important as teaching your students about writing quality blog posts.  As Pernille Ripp, from Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension, mentions

In order for blogging to be effective, comments are needed, but if students don’t know how to properly comment they will lose out on part of the experience. We discuss how to thank people, how to answer their questions, and most importantly, how to ask questions back. This is all part of common conversational knowledge that all kids should be taught any way.

#7  Start small

Everybody starts somewhere right? Whether you start out with a class blog first, or dive head first into students having their own blog.  Be realistic about how much you want to be posting.  We always started with an introduction post of some sort like this one or this one (which was fun and really encouraged comments).  At first, we posted to our blogs once a week.  It was regular and it was consistent – both of these things are important when you’re building an audience. (See #8)

#8  Connect with others

There is no doubt that the global connections made with students from all over the world are what inspired and encouraged my students to keep blogging.  Reach out to a colleague at another school and ask if their students can read and comment on your blogs – maybe they are blogging too and you can help motivate them too! Have a go at QuadBlogging or use twitter to help you and your students connect to others.  Keep a flag counter in your sidebar to help keep visitors to your blog (and your students’ blogs) visible and motivating!

#9  Allow personalisation (making it their own)

All students love to explore their blogs, playing with themes, colour and font!  This makes for a really great lesson on Design when they teach each other how to do anything fancy and also let each other know when font or colour choices were poor. It’s a perfect opportunity for students to start thinking about creating their online identity too. (Don’t forget to teach your students about Creative Commons and giving attribution for images they use in their blog posts! – see #5)

#10  Give it time

Rome wasn’t built in a day – neither will your blog content or your blog audience!  It’s an on-going process that can at times seem more trouble than it’s worth, but at the same time be so beneficial for students – especially those students who’s voices can be hard to hear above others.  Stick with it, even when the going gets tough and time pressures seem overwhelming against you.  It’s worth the effort, honest!

Helpful resources

Already blogging with your students?  What tips and/or recommendations do you have?  Please share!

Creative Commons Images used with special permission
Image 1: Blogging
Image 2: Commenting