Tuesday, February 2, 2016

We've Passed The Midway Mark - BPS Blog Update (Volume 6)

Since the last update on January 3, we have cruised past the midway point of the year. In addition, the month of January was the busiest month of the year for the Burlington Blog with over 7,000 views.  It would be great to add some posts from sources that have not been highlighted yet this year.  Please drop me an e-mail with anything you would like have highlighted here. In addition, I would love to visit your classroom and share what you and your students are up to as I did with Mrs. Fitzpatrick's students at Pine Glen.

Also don't forget you can subscribe to the Burlington Blog Update on Flipboard by clicking here.

Anyway, here are the latest posts from the Burlington Blog:

Only 85 posts to go...

What Are You Doing About Infomania and FOMO?

As someone who spends a lot of time utilizing technological resources and trying to support educators who are trying to integrate them in a meaningful way with students, I also spend a lot of time wondering about what the perfect balance might be between using technology and not using technology. To be even more specific, I wonder if there is any way to know for sure how much time people waste online versus how much of their time is productive. I know that I have had times where I have suffered from fear of missing out (FOMO) and I wonder how much others suffer from this and how much it might be distracting them from the task at hand.

Living in a time where Digital Literacy is a critical component of our work in schools, we need to ensure that we are raising student awareness of their own behaviors. Of course to do this, we need have an awareness of our own propensity to be sidetracked by FOMO.  Do you get anxious if you are away from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, email, or some game-based app for a short period of time?  If so, you may be suffering from Infomania which is defined by the Oxford dictionary as "the compulsive desire to check or accumulate news and information, typically via mobile phone or computer."

It this is ringing a bell with you, I encourage you to jump on board with the Infomagical project from Manoush Zomorodi and the Note to Self podcast team.  Check out the statistics below that the Note to Self team collected and take 25 minutes to listen to the podcast below on the Infomagical movement.  A discussion surrounding Infomania needs to be a healthy part of our digital literacy curriculum so that our students can lead a more productive and satisfying existence. 
In a survey of nearly 2,000 Note to Self listeners:  
  • 60 percent said they feel like the amount of effort they must exert to stay up-to-date on a daily basis is "taxing." Another 15 percent said it's downright "impossible."
  • 4 out of 5 said information overload affects their ability to learn.
  • 1 out of 3 said information overload was affecting their close relationships. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

My Weekly Diigo Bookmarks (January 31, 2016)

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Don't Underestimate the Power of OER

This post originally appeared on my Edweek Blog

In my previous post, I discussed the importance of schools looking closely at Open Educational Resources (OER).  Recently, I have been reading with great interest some posts by Ryan Merkley, the CEO of Creative Commons,  which further highlight the significance of schools looking at OER.  Merkley's thoughts on the importance of the community collaborating to build something that can benefit all of us has important connections to the development of OER. There is a clear opportunity before us to work together for equity and access to high quality resources for all of our schools. In addition, Merkley's words echo some of the key expectations that we should have for students.
"Collaboration, sharing, and co-operation are in our nature -- building community, co-operating towards common goods, and creating shared benefits are at the heart of who we are."
The major stumbling block that I see for schools in achieving this has nothing to do with the technology that we will need to support educators who will choose to do this work. Instead, the major impediment is an outdated notion of what we as educators should be focusing on. In a system where standardized testing is king, educators and their students are left as consumers of standards and resources to support these standards which have been overly influenced by companies whose main focus is the mighty dollar and not building a shared community that puts learning and learners first.
The OER movement provides an opportunity to change this and put the power back in the hands of teachers and students.  We need schools who support staff members in becoming creators who not only collaborate with colleagues across classrooms but also across local, state, and national boundaries. By undertaking this work, we will also be supporting our students in modeling the skills and behaviors that they are going to need to be successful in "real life."
As I read Merkley's vision for Creative Commons below, I think it would be applied just as well as a focal point for what we would like to see in our schools.
"The Internet is real life. It's where we go to work. It's how we connect to the people we love. It's where we tell our stories. This is the society we're building together. If it is going to be fair, equal, diverse, vibrant, serendipitous, and safe for everyone, it will only be because we choose to make it that way. If it is going to be accessible, equitable, and full of innovation and opportunity, it will require our leadership to build the foundations that support these ideals."
I think the adoption of OER in our schools can be a big step on the way to help us achieve this important challenge.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Visit To A Francis Wyman Co-Taught Classroom

Recently, I received an invitation to visit a first grade class at Francis Wyman which was co-taught by first grade teacher Ms. Sosnowski and ELL teacher Ms. Lamprey.  It was very impressive to see the students in the class taking part in academic conversations and collaborating to discuss and share their thoughts in fiction and nonfiction texts. In addition, I was happy to see so many students step up in front of their classmates to help their teachers with the lesson.

Towards the end of the class, Jai's mom read us The Elephant Dance and then we were all treated to a live performance of The Elephant Dance by Jai.  It was so much fun seeing these students work so well together and then seeing Jai share his dancing talents with his teachers and classmates! Make sure you check out Jai's dance below and pictures from the lesson.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

My Weekly Diigo Bookmarks (January 24, 2016)

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

Saturday, January 23, 2016

OER Needs To Be On Your Radar

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Is this the year we will start to make some headway in the curation and creation of digital content and start to move away from our reliance on pre-packaged materials (aka textbooks)? While I have a lot more questions than answers when it comes to making this transition, there is one thing that I am sure of here.  We will make no progress without a detailed plan with clear benchmarks along the way. So, where do we start?
Here are three key issues we need to tackle in order to gain momentum with the move to Open Educational Resources (OER):
  1. Agree to a common understanding of OER -
When we talk about OER, I think we need to be clear what are intentions are. Are we looking to pay big dollars to have a third-party tool that helps us curate and create resources? Personally,  I like the definition of OER stated by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology as part of the #GoOpen Initiative is pretty clear - "Openly licensed educational resources are learning materials that can be used for teaching, learning, and assessment without cost. They can be modified and redistributed without violating copyright laws."
  1. Build capacity of educators (and school communities) -
We need to make sure that our teachers (and stakeholders in our communities) understand the purpose and scope of this initiative. Moving away from pre-packaged content is a significant change for many to grapple with. However, when we break down the reasons for this work in regards to relevance of materials, allowing our educators the flexibility to customize resources on a frequent basis, and economic savings our intentions will be clearer.
On another note, with so many schools pushing 1:1 initiatives, we have the tools in place to make this transition to OER a reality. If we really want to stress the importance of our students being creators and not just consumers of content, we need to create communities of educators who are also creators.
  1. Set clear goals and benchmarks -
Whether it is an entire course, a unit, or a lesson, we need to start this work with the understanding that this is a work in progress. We will not necessarily create perfect products on our first attempt, but the beauty of this process is that we have the ability to revise content in a way that is not currently possible. In a short time we will be in the year 2020. Where would you like to see yourself in 2020? In other words, what is your 2020 Vision? Every district in the country needs to ask themselves this question and work backwards from here.