Passing the Knowledge On

The first time I felt the need to be connected as a teacher was back in 2014. I was attending a Google Summit at an international school in Seoul, South Korea. I attended a session with Alice Keeler. I had no idea who she was, but I was interested in the topic she was presenting on. Immediately, I was in love with her passion for teaching and technology. Regardless of the topic, she was presenting on, I felt like I got so much useful information from the tidbits she would throw at us throughout the session. One piece of information that she gave all the attendees was to join Twitter, and I did that day.

The simple act of joining Twitter opened up a whole new world to me. I was now connected with educators from around the world. Educators, who I have seen present and aspired to be more like, were now right there at my fingertips. I could see what they were doing in their classrooms, what articles they were reading, and what professional development opportunities were out there. Without Twitter, I would have missed a lot of these learning opportunities. 

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

A book that reinforces the importance of building communities is Jeff Utetch’s Reach: Building Networks and Communities for Professional Development. He writes,

“By reaching out and joining online communities, creating learning networks, and growing those networks to be powerful professional learning environments, educators can take advantage of the wealth of knowledge on the web. They can use this new knowledge for their own professional growth and pass the knowledge and power of the network on to their students.”

The connections I made through Twitter transformed me from a consumer to a prosumer. There is so much useful and inspiring information in online communities.

I’ve seen the benefits of online communities during the past four weeks while we have had virtual learning because of COVID-19. Online learning platforms were new to me as it is to most educators. However, I was able to get online and do some research, look at my Twitter feed and see what teachers in Asia who are affected by this were doing in their schools. This was an excellent starting point for me. It is also one that will benefit my students. My students receive more engaging, authentic learning experiences because of my connections and research. Without the knowledge I received from my Twitter community, I would not have known the possibilities of virtual learning.

I have also noticed that the teachers who are very active on Twitter (the ones I lurk on their pages) are also the ones who have the best ideas and share current educational research and practices. However, they aren’t always the ones coming up with the ideas. They find the ideas and information by being active members of the community and building connections with other educators. Utecht mentions this in his book, “The more active you are within a community the more visible you become to other members. The more visible you become, the more potential connections are created.” I’ve noticed an increase in Twitter followers since joining COETAIL. Because I am being more active-following others, retweeting information, and sharing my blog posts, I am becoming more visible to others. You have to be an active participant!

And even though being an active participant/researcher is out of my comfort zone, I remind myself that ultimately this will directly impact my teaching. If I want my students to be researchers and risk-takers, I must lead by example. I want to inspire my students to connect, collaborate, and create. I can learn from experiences like the one I described with Alice Keeler and transform how my students learn. She gave me one bit of information-Join Twitter-and I was able to take that and learn. It seems so simple and this is why I sometimes feel like I am not making a big difference in the classroom, but this example proves that sharing ideas and information with people or my students can transform how they learn. 

I love this statement from Utetch, “Go create. Figure it out. Learning has to include an amount of failure because failure is instructional in the process.” 

Image by Yogesh More from Pixabay

Technology Resources

10 Research Tips for Finding Info Online

Common Sense Media

Fact Checking

Google Lit Trips

Google Search Tips

How to Search on Google

NGSS Interactive Read Alouds

NWEA Response to Intervention-easy to use site that helps you target the specific skills and standards students need to focus on to build their confidence in the general education classroom and perform on grade level.

Padlet is a fantastic multifaceted tool (not just for curation of research). You can create and share digital bulletin boards categorized in any way you choose. Pick between your favorite way of storing your research with mind-maps, shelves, or news-feed when organizing your content.

Pew Center Research (Nonpartisan Fact Tank)

Pocket is the perfect place to keep tabs on all your interesting articles in one place,for future reference. Read a blog that you like whilst on your phone, save it to pocket and know that you can find it again (this has saved me a lot of time!) You can easily group articles by tagging and built-in search functionality makes finding those articles easy.

Reading Plus

Sketchnoting Resources

Da Font-Downloadable Fonts

Skype in the Classroom

Social Justice Sites

Global Oneness Project

Super Teacher Tools-create games like Jeopardy

The Noun Project-over 2 million icons

Traveling Tales

Virtual Field Trips

Wakelet is a wonderful curation tool because it allows you to keep all of the media you find in one convenient news-feed. Like Padlet you can also collaborate and share your findings with others.

Wonderopolis-place for students to ask questions

Out of the Comfort Zone

I have always been more of a lurker. I am good at finding resources that are already out there. I am good at sharing those resources with the people I work with. I contribute by liking, sharing, or commenting on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. 

Even as a contributor, I get nervous about sharing comments or my personal opinions. This has always been my problem. I am an anxious person. I do not like putting myself out there. I worry about what other people will think or that I do not know as much as other people out there. 

I love looking at my Twitter feed and seeing all the posts from the people that I view as “superstar” teachers. You know, the ones who are super connected, ISTE certified, Apple Distinguished Educators and so on. I want to be like these people when I grow up. 

Social media is where I get ideas, get more connected with other educators, and find out about professional development opportunities. It is a place I lurk and occasionally contribute but rarely create.

I’ve never been comfortable being a maven, challenger, or facilitator as Lloyd, Skyring, and Fraser describe in Online Personas. It was however interesting to read that the authors found that the respondents of their survey generally have a positive attitude toward lurkers; especially for those who are just beginning. 

The survey found that for some people it takes time to get comfortable in a new group setting. However, I can see how being a lifelong lurker could be detrimental to my personal growth as an educator. I want my students to be connectors, creators, collaborators, and contributors so I should be leading by example. This is essentially the reason why I am now a COETAIL-er. I want to push myself outside of the box of lurking and into the world of connecting and creating. 

Having two weeks of Online Learning due to the Coronavirus and now going on a third week, I am seeing the benefits of being a creator more. Through my connections on Twitter, I have been able to find out what other teachers in Asia are doing while schools are shut down. As I was lurking through Twitter, I saw that one teacher had made video tutorials for her students using Screencastify. 

Immediately, I went and created one for my second grade students on how to log-in to their Seesaw accounts from home. Then I talked to another teacher I know through PubPD who also happens to be a COETAIL alumni. She shared that Screencastify is offering free subscriptions to teachers affected by the Coronavirus. Without these connections, I am not sure I would have created a video tutorial for my students today.

And as a sit here and right this blog post, I am already beginning to see a shift from a lurker to a connector and creator. For one, I am creating a blog post. I contributed by commenting on someone else’s post. I created a video using Screencastify for my students today. I am finally beginning to see that everyone has time to create! Kate Cofino’s post, Making Time to Create, is a great reminder that with a little practice and effort anyone can be creative!

CREATED by Andrea Goodrich

My Learning Goals

As I have grown my PLN through interactions at conferences, connecting with educators on Twitter or by staying in contact with teachers I have worked with at previous schools, I have found that there are so many opportunities out there to connect with teachers in other schools. In addition, there are just as many opportunities to connect students with classrooms and resources outside of my classroom. I have gone to professional development sessions with a focus of getting students and teachers to be more globally minded and connected. I have been introduced to learning tools such as Flip Grid or Mystery Skype and always get excited about using some of these tools in my classroom, but then I never do. For some reason, I always get a little intimidated to step outside of my comfort zone. This is the reason I want to choose “Global Collaborator” as my ISTE Standard for Students.

This ISTE Standard for Students directly aligns with my own ISTE Standard for Educators. By developing students who are Global Collaborators, I will need to be a collaborator myself. One place I could start looking for people to collaborate with is on Twitter or even within my COETAIL cohort. I have already seen that there is at least one other COETAIL student who teaches second grade like me. This could be a good starting point.

I know that by choosing this learning path, my students will greatly benefit. Even as second graders, I think that it is important to expose children to collaborative opportunities. By giving them opportunities to collaborate with others outside of the classroom, they will get an early appreciation for authentic, real-world learning experiences. Students will also recognize that learning can come from sharing ideas and listening to other peoples’ perspectives.

My Communities

When I think about my personal learning communities, many of them stem from the schools I have worked at or the professional development I have taken part in. One tool that has helped me grow my personal learning communities is Twitter. It is through my own learning communities that I know about COETAIL. Being connected to Twitter has allowed me to follow and stay informed about COETAIL throughout the years. I know I have room to grow and expand my learning communities. Knowing that COETAIL will help me grow in this area is another reason why I was motivated to join this community.

My Why

Hello COETAIL Online 12! My name is Andrea Goodrich. I am originally from a small town south of Chicago, Illinois. I have been working internationally for the past 12 years and currently work at Concordia International School Hanoi. I am a second-grade teacher and will be moving up to fourth grade next school year. You can find me on twitter @agoodrich28.

I was first introduced to COETAIL by my friends Tabitha Johnson and Akio Iida while working in South Korea. I thought the program sounded like something I would really enjoy and have been talking about doing it for years. At the beginning of the school year, each teacher comes up with 3 professional development goals with our principal. I decided to make joining COTAIL one of my goals so that I would actually commit to doing it. I love finding meaningful ways to engage students using technology and thought this program would really help me on this journey.

I look forward to getting to know all of you! I know this is going to be an exciting, learning experience!