Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Summer Reading (That Never Ends)

Summertime.  Empty classrooms.  Empty schools.  Empty brains?  Not a chance.

With the school year coming to a close we get some much needed time to relax, reflect, decompress, and re-energize.  On the other hand, it's never too early to begin thinking about next year and beyond.  Here are some ideas which may help you think about and potentially plan next year easily, seamlessly, anytime, and anywhere.

Social media is a 24/7/365 professional learning machine.  Between Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Facebook someone can learn and reflect morning (if you're a morning person), noon (30 minutes after you eat lunch, of course), and night (only if you can't sleep.)

If you haven't looked into Twitter as a professional learning tool I highly suggest it.  Absolutely anything you're looking to add depth to can be found on Twitter.  To see that in action search Twitter here.  Between having the ability to connect with experts, colleagues, peers, etc. as well as the ever-growing list of weekly educational Twitter chats learning and growth can be a virtual guarantee.  I take life, as well as a respectable amount of my professional learning, 140 characters at a time.  Twitter (and the people I have the chance to connect with there) have made me more effective and more passionate at what I do.  That's priceless.

Something as simple as following a hashtag on Twitter during the summer can have some serious value.  For example, here's #SchoologyChat.  (Schoology's live chat is the first Tuesday of every month, but the hashtag (as most are) is fairly active between chats.)

Google+ is Google's social media platform.  The key to Google+ is circles.  It's easy to create meaningful spaces so you can connect with smaller groups of friends, colleagues, peers, etc. on Google+.  I have circles (small Google+ groups) for my CCSD colleagues, out of district peers, people I've connected with as a result of our Chromebook implementation, and many more.  Another powerful Google+ feature is communities which allow for connecting and sharing with like-minded people from throughout the G+ world.

I no longer bookmark websites; I create pins and boards on Pinterest instead.  Over the past two school years I have collected 1,000+ resources that can be easily accessed by me and/or shared with colleagues.  Creating collaborative group boards (so two or more people can create collections of resources in Pinterest) is simple as well.  If I find a useful resource on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook it ends up as a pin on Pinterest.

Facebook for professional learning?  It can happen.  It, just like anything else on the social media landscape, all depends on who you choose to connect with.  Whether it's a well known expert, an author, or great organizations/pages like Edutopia, TED, or Educational Technology there is (although it may not feel like it at times) plenty more than pictures of the current weather conditions from your friend's backyards on Facebook.  By expanding the way you think about how you're using Facebook you may be surprised at what you're able to come across.

Summer.  It's a time for rest, but, once again, it can also be the perfect time to get excited about the possibilities that come with a brand new school year.  Social media provides the anytime/anywhere platform.  The rest is up to you.

Happy summer learning everyone!

By the way, our department will be available to to support you during the summer if you need anything.  Please fill out our Technology and Learning Coach Request Form (found here) and we will be in touch!

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