Thursday, May 8, 2008

VPD - One virus for which I hope there is no cure!

After my last blog post, the thought of "viral" professional development has been at the forefront of my mind. Have I been approaching things all wrong? I think the answer to that is - maybe. Slowly, but surely I'm working to incorporate non-traditional method of professional development into my arsenal. Yes, arsenal. I am at war after all and plan to win it one small battle at a time. But what I have been doing thus far has seemed haphazard at best. My opportunity for some one-on-on time with a teacher last week just "happened". I have been flying so long without a sense of structure that I know I'm losing focus, and for me that can be dangerous.

I was on twitter when
@techchick94 tweeted about a blog post from @injenuity . So, I followed the link and found the following post:

In her post, Jennifer focuses on her strategy for Viral Professional Development or VPD - love the acronym! She succinctly outlines a bulleted list of characteristics of VPD and how to get started. I smiled to see a few that I have already begun to use.

But beyond those wonderful bullet points, two things really struck me. One was this quote I pulled from her post:
"...but I have found a strategy that is working well and keeping pace with my goals, expectations and work load"
This has been my main struggle. Trying to find that balance has been so difficult. I think I am my own worst enemy about biting off more than I can chew in my effort to try and do it all. However, the more balance I am able to find, the more effective I'll become. I know that. Now, I need to follow through on it.

After I read this, however, I honestly felt like I could breathe a bit better:
"You cannot spend time worrying about the instructors who refuse to adopt instructional technology. Just let it go."
Just let it go. Four simple words, but they meant a lot to me. Between letting go, creating a better structure for my professional development, and finding that much needed balance, I'm more hopeful about what I can accomplish! Here's to spreading viruses all over the place and watching them fester. Let's hope it's like the common cold - easily spreadable and without a cure!

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

I'm beaming!

We were supposed to have an orientation meeting today with various teachers who we expect to participate in the Direct to Discovery Internet 2 project. However, this is a really tough time of year to pull teachers out of the classroom. Out of the twenty-something I invited, only six actually RSVP'd, so we decided to postpone the even with the hopes of a better turn out later.

So why am I beaming?

Well, one of the teachers who did RSVP is a Healthcare Career Tech teacher in his second year of teaching. I had never met him before, but just in my brief correspondence via email he sounded very enthusiastic about using technology with his students. Right now while his high school is undergoing massive renovations, he's in a trailer with no technology access to speak of. Beginning in the fall, he'll go from none to twelve! Wanting to ensure the investment in his classroom is put to good use, he asked if he could go ahead and spend the day with me so I could show him some ways he could put those computers to use. Substitutes are hard to come by and he already had his sub plans written, so I said, "Sure." That and any chance I can get to show another person about the wonderful Web2.0 tools that are out there, I jump on it.

I started with something simple like Google Docs and his eyes lit up. Then I exposed him to social bookmarking. He sat up straight and the gears started turning, especially when I asked him where his favorites were. Not on one, two, but THREE different computers. Then I showed him wikispaces and the lightbulb went off. In a voice full of what I can only describe as awe, he said, and I'm paraphrasing him, "This could change the way we teach." (Cue the heavenly music).

While I was showing him each tool, we discussed how he could integrate it into his teaching practices. I know I probably overwhelmed him, but he's excited and energetic. He left with a brand new Google account and having created his classroom wiki. That and he's vowed to share what he's learned with his fellow teachers. Here's hoping this goes viral - if at least a little.

Technorati tags: professional development, web2.0

31 Day Comment Challenge - Day 1

Okay, so I'm a haphazzard blogger at best. Truthfully, I find it difficult to find time to blog, but when something "hits" me, I try to post it right away or it simply won't happen. However, what I have been worse at is commenting. So, when the 31 Day comment challenge was born, I decided to try and participate. I hold no illusions that I'll actually win anything, but if I can at least be more consciencious about commenting, then I'll feel as though I have accomplished something.

Day 1: Do a Commenting Self-Audit

1. How often do you comment on other blogs during a typical week?
A week, more like a month. I would say perhaps 2-3 times?

2. Do you track your blog comments? How? What do you do with your tracking?
No, I don't. I don't believe I saw the purpose of it.

3. Do you tend to comment at the same blogs or do you try to comment on at least one new blog per week?
I don't make a consciencious effort to comment, period. I also don't find myself commenting on the same blogs when I do leave my thoughts though. It all depends on the topic.

Part II: Okay, after reading Gina Trapani's Guide to Blog Comments, I decided to comment briefly on each of the areas.

Stay on topic. - Yep, I do that.

Contribute new information to the discussion. - I believe that I try to do that. Sometimes I find that I come late to a post and so many others have already commented and contributed so much that I find it difficult to say something that someone else hasn't already. Often times, it leads me to not comment at all because I don't want to feel as though I'm simply echoing another person.

Don't comment for the sake of commenting. - Like I said, I try not to do this. However, if a post is just one where they've brought a new site to my attention, there isn't a whole lot to say at times. So, in those situations, I try to at least comment on how I might use that site.

Know when to comment and when to e-mail. - I've caught myself in situations such as this and have backed out of commenting because of it. So, I guess when it comes to making these decisions I'm competent.

Remember that nobody likes a know-it-all. - LOL! That wouldn't be me! Everyone else is far smarter as far as I'm concerned. Although, I've had to deal with them. I know what it feels like to be subjected to this type of person/comment and I'm not the type to preach on someone else's blog!

Make the tone of your message clear. - Given that I'm an angsty type of person who tends to bite my nails before hitting publish. I hope that's not an issue that I have.

Own your own comment - I always do.

Be succint - I'm not the type to foam at the mouth, so no worries there. Although I have caught myself needing to trim things back in a comment if I get worked up :)

Be courteous - Always.

Don't post when you're angry, upset, drunk or emotional. - This made me laugh - drunk? I don't think so. I think I may have posted something on my own blog once when I was angry, but I toned it down before actually publishing it. Never commented like that though.

Do not feed or tease the trolls. - I'm allergic to them so I do my best to stear clear.

We'll see how well I do with this. Keeping my fingers crossed.

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