When Winning Isn’t Enough.

Posted by Geoff Belleau on December 31, 2014

It's not enough.As 2014 draws to an end, schools are reaching halftime in the Big Game of 2014-2015. Last Sunday, I watched the San Francisco 49ers win their last game of the year, and then bid farewell to a coach who has posted a winning record over the past four years. Twitter blew up with comments like “What are they thinking? Winning isn’t enough?!?” (And those are the nicer comments.) It made me stop to think, which led me to re-write this blog post.

What if winning isn’t enough? What if, over a span of four years, it’s not OK “just” to win and never fail? From what I read, the problem between 49ers management and the coach all boiled down to relationships; they just couldn’t get along.

Relationships matter

Relationships matter. Getting along is important. It is something we try to instill in students early on. “Learn to get along and play nice.” What does that look like today?

It seems to me that there are at least four things we can do as educators so we don’t end up in the same kind of situation the 49ers are experiencing: look for new ways to curate, create, communicate and collaborate.

Curate

First curate. There is so much out there today and so much content. As a school leader or leader anywhere, no one has time to read everything. Also, you don’t want a censored feed delivered. Two of my favorite curated content providers are Zite (now Flipboard) on my mobile/tablet and paper.li on the computer (emailed or tweeted). Only recently have I started tapping all that is available with my Amazon Prime with Amazon music and Amazon movies.

Create

Look for new ways to create and share content with those around you. With a camera (both still and video), recorder, and so many new apps/tools released every day, the possibilities are endless. Teachers are some of the most creative people I know. Who else would take a app designed to make comic books and use it to identify parts of a carburetor in an auto class or document a process using the storyboard feature?  Don’t forget augmented reality apps like Aurasma to create 4D. Or how about starting to asking questions that must be answered with video and students can work together and to record then post the video to your YouTube channel. Be sure to have them answer these three basic questions before diving into a new technology: 1. What training have you had? 2. How will this impact how students learn on a daily basis in your class? 3. How will you keep inventory control? This will help focus the creativity.

Communicate

It seems like we almost can communicate too much now, but it’s a glass half full or half empty view and how each of us views the way and amount of communication that goes on today . Start where we are and let’s see what else we can do! Use Cel.ly, Remind or Twitter to connect with others. Don’t forget classic channels. My family sent out a few printed Christmas cards and letters to those we care about but not in the digital world. There were some tablets, and other mobile devices that were under the tree. Find a way to communicate with those around you using them so that they are a asset and not a hindrance. If you wonder how many devices are in your school or in your district, go sit on a bench during passing period or at lunch on a campus near you and just be a “fly on the wall” watching what comes out of backpacks/pockets as students/teachers move around the campus. How can these assets be tapped instead of banned?

Collaborate

Finally Collaborate. How can this be fostered? What is the difference between collaborating and cheating? Let’s be honest; that is a question that many struggle with. It needs to be answered, though, and a way to do just that is to start. Start small with something like Google Slides and have everyone create a collaborative slideshow. What is your favorite tool/app for collaborating?

There are many things up in the air right now with school funding, changes in staff with retirements, and any number of other forces, but nonetheless halftime for the class of 2015 is right ahead of us. Before we know it, these kids will graduate and a whole new class of seniors will start in the fall—as well as a whole new class of kindergartners with backpacks larger than they are. The time to get busy is now.  It’s not good enough just to win, we also have to get along!

P.S. Share your favorite tools in the comments!

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Show You Mean Business—Become a Content Curator

Posted by Susan Brooks-Young on June 20, 2013

Sifting pepples in water.What does it take to be an effective school leader today? TICAL Cadre member Sandra Miller recently addressed this question here (see TBLOGICAL post Leaders of the 21st Century). In this post I’d like to piggyback on her discussion by describing one simple thing every school leader can do to demonstrate use of technology in professional practice.

My experience as a school administrator and professional development provider tells me one of the best ways administrators show they value technology is by modeling its use—practicing what they preach. This belief is underscored by Performance Indicator 3c in ISTE’s NETS for Administrators which states that effective school administrators, “Promote and model effective communication and collaboration among stakeholders using digital age tools.”

So what am I proposing? Select and use one of the free content curation tools now readily available to share digital resources with colleagues on a regular basis. What is content curation? It’s the practice of gathering, organizing, and sharing online resources. It’s no substitute for individuals doing their own research on a given topic, but curated lists of online resources can be very helpful when educators need a place to get started or want a quick overview of current resources related to a given topic. Curating content doesn’t have to be labor intensive—it takes just a few minutes to find and link resources to a resource collection that can be accessed by followers at any time.

A curated list of resources can be the work of one person or a collaborative effort, depending on the tool being used. Technically, content can be shared using tools like Twitter (micro-blogging) or paper.li (an article aggregator), but there are other free tools that make it easy to start and maintain online collections. Here are two I use regularly.

LiveBinders: Use this curation tool to create digital 3-ring binders on any topic. Organize resources using tabs (dividers) and sub-tabs. Share LiveBinders with the URL or by embedding them on a webpage. A LiveBinder It bookmarklet can be placed in a browser’s toolbar, making it possible to add resources while browsing the Internet. A LiveBinder can be curated by single or multiple authors and work well when a resource collection needs to be sustained over time. Here is an example of a collaboratively curated LiveBinder of BYOD resources for educators.

Bag the Web: I like Pinterest, but if a website doesn’t have an image, it cannot be added to a Pinterest board. Bag the Web is a reasonable alternative and a good choice when what’s needed is a short list of web-based resources related to a fairly narrow topic. Unlike Pinterest, Bag the Web allows the bag (list) creator to rearrange links once they’ve been added. A bookmarklet is available for quick posting and it’s possible to embed a bag in a webpage. Here’s an example of a bag of resources for teachers who are selecting Web 2.0 tools for classroom use.

So, the next time you’re working on a school plan, curriculum revision, or similar task, start a curated list of related digital resources to share with staff. Teachers will appreciate ready access to new assets and you will have seized an opportunity to model working collaboratively.

 

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