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Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Year End Thanks to My PLN

I've been on twitter for almost three years now and eventhough I haven't evolved to a full-on collaborator as illustrated in this The Learning Nation post by Cale Birk (@birklearns), I'm lucky to have these folks in my PLN.

Here they are. Here's why:

Resource Contributors and Inspirations

Richard Byrne, @rmbyrne: Richard is an educator in Maine (my choice of retirement locations someday) and is the sole reason my browser has crashed or caused my underpowered system to freeze several times over the years. His site is often a launching point for my day and I can never visit without having multiple tabs open or contributing several resources to my delicious bookmarks. His free ebooks offer invaluable help to educators who want to get started and advance their knowledge in specific areas such as Googledocs or serve as introductions to a wide variety of useful web tools. His new site , Android Apps 4 Schools puts the spotlight on apps that teachers and students can use in schools. The first educator I followed when I created my @handle and he is the first person I recommend to teachers who want to get better at integrating technology into their classrooms and expand their own technological talents. He has helped me become a better teacher and has helped my students learn. He also loves his dog and likes to spend time outdoors and he gets bonus points for those attributes in my book.

Kelly Tenkely, @ktenkely: I'm not sure when she sleeps, but I'm glad that she stays up. Her blog (one of many actually, including Dreams of Education ) iLearn Technology is a must read for any teacher who wants to learn about web tools and resources. The reason I think her blog offers more than some other sites that shares these types of resources, is that hers tells you the why and the how to use them in your classroom. She's not afraid to think big (Learning Genome Project) and her humor, enthusiasm, and genuineness come through in her writing while adding value to your reading. Her journey in starting her own school, Anastasis Academy, this year has been enjoyable journey for her Twitter followers and supporters. She's hands down the best #hashtag #SummonerCreatorWriter on Twitter. When she told me that she put my blog in her reader earlier this year it was one of the highest compliments I've received all year.

Nicholas Provenzano @thenerdyteacher A fellow Detroit sports fan who teaches High School English in the Detroit area. His enthusiasm, humor, and willingness to try new things to connect to his students is admirable. His journey in taking on a massive project (The Epic Romeo and Juliet Project) and the unsuccessful courting of Taylor Swift's permission this year was not only entertaining, but inspiring as well. His efforts in that undertaking taught me to not be afraid of trying things that seem to be too big, especially if they benefit your students. New father of the tweeting @babyprovenzano (in and of itself hilarious) and still the third most powerful blog in my bookmarks.

John T. Spencer @johntspencer His blog Education Rethink will not only make you think about your views on education and prescriptions for its health, but will also add to your own perspectives. His writing will make you smile as well. I connect with his priorities, although a slight re-order for me, Husband. Dad. Teacher. I love to read good writers. He is certainly in that category.

Larry Ferlazzo @larryferlazzo Whether with his tweets, his blog, his webinars, or direct messages of gratitude, few people have consistently aided my quest more than Mr Ferlazzo. An extraordinary resource for anyone who wants to get better at teaching.

#Chat Moderators
Greta Sandler @gret ( blog ) and Tania Ash (blog) @tcash are dedicated facilitators of #elemchat that occurs most Saturday evenings.  (updated 1/10/12 often helped by Edna Sackson @ehatedsaid, @CliveSir & Joan Young, @fourishingkids; & Louise Winsor, @louwinsr; The conversations and connections I have made during that hour each week has continued to inspire and renew my aspirations in becoming a better teacher for my kids. Highly valuable and relevant topics ensure that my time is well spent when I can make the slot. It will be worth your time as well. Visit the archives here to see what I mean http://elemchatarchive.wikispaces.com/

Lisa Dabbs @teachingwithsoul, The founder of #ntchat is helping education with her tremendous support of new teachers. Her chat offers support and insights that help a new teacher with information and resources ( http://flavors.me/lisamichelle ). If you are a new teacher and new to Twitter, Lisa should be one of your first follows. #Ntchat is also a great place for experienced teachers to offer support to Lisa's "newbies" Wednesday evenings at 8 EST.

People with Just the Right Resources at Just the Right Time

Jerry Blumengarten @cybraryman1 Another entrant in the "I don't know when they sleep category" Jerry is seemingly participating in every #chat that has to do with education on Twitter. AND he always has a relevant and useful page for the topic. An amazing resource.

Paula Naugle @plnaugle An innovative and imaginative teacher in New Orleans and frequent contributor to #elemchat who always seems to have JUST the right resource to share. Just a perfect follow for classroom teachers who want to reach their students in interesting and innovative ways. http://pnaugle.blogspot.com/

People that help me to become a better teacher

Lee Kolbert @TeachaKidd A self described hockey Mom who is not afraid to use the power of Twitter to guilt her children home for a visit. Educationally, she is a well of interesting thinking and commentary. She tells it like she sees it. Which is why I read her. A Geeky Momma's Blog

Catherine Douthard @mrsd5107 Any parent would be lucky to have Catherine as a teacher. I feel lucky to have her in my quiver of amazing teachers. She is caring and sharing defined. http://www.teachersclass.net/douthard/

Melissa Edwards @mwedwards A supportive, sharing educator who owns "The Cutest Blog on the Block". Consistently interesting, sometimes surprising, but always worthwhile. Her encouraging words of support were much appreciated this past year.

Lyn Hilt @l_hilt A principal that I would work for in a heartbeat. Read her very worthwhile blog here: The Princinpal's Post

Edna Sackson @WhatEdSaid Her advice and insights are not only spot-on and are offered without any hint of self promotion.

People that Make Me Smile

Anthony Purcell @MrP_8thsci Seemingly the only other educator that is up as early as I am, is as dedicated as he is inquisitive. He is crossing into "Veteran Teacher" status this year as he completes his sixth year of teaching. His openness and sharing of his uneasiness with his transition to 'first year science teacher' this year helped me realize that we all struggle with uncertainty at times. Thanks for being interested in what my class is going to do at 6 o'clock in the morning. 

Michelle Baldwin  @michellek107 She once told me to put me down the homework that needed to be graded and play with my puppy. She was right. Funny and passionate about education. Here is a sample of what she's about These Are My Kids 

Melanie Gray @sassysunflwr A Michiganian (it's a word) whose enthusiasm is catching. Wants to get better at what she does. I like that. 

Tracy Mercier @virtual_teach The holder of probably the best avatar on Twitter always has something useful and/or interesting to say. Click follow 

Amanda Dykes @amandadykes Her tweets from the beach are envious. Her tweets on all things education are worthwhile. 

People Who I Value - Thank You for Contributing to My learning
(I'd tell you how, but this post is getting long and I don't want to diminish what you have done for me by writing too short of a recap, thanks) If you want the full list, click on who I follow. Here are some highlights.

Corrie Kelly @corriekelly (How positive are you!)
Jennifer Felke @jenFelke (A former classmate who is making a big difference in a small district)
Linda Yollis @lindayollis (Quirky and fun)
Jamie Josephson @dontworryteach (Inventor of Holidays and passionate about teaching Social Studies)
Aaron Mueller @aaronmueller (another North of the Border resource)
Justin Stortz @newfirewithin (I hope you find the balance you hope for)
Shannon Miller @ShannonMiller (how awesome are you?! Congrats on all your Success and recognition this year)
Kristin Henry @kristinHenry1 (Someone that I'm sure I would like to work with)
Autumn Laidler @MsLaidler (Her replies and re-tweets are appreciated)
Maggie Cary @maggiecary (A terrific blogger Classroom Talk )
Carol McLaughlin @missmac100 (A fellow Elf lover and second grade teacher who experienced the loss of a former student with grace and compassion this year)

I hope that you follow someone on this list that will contribute to your learning as they have to mine.

Have a great 2012!

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I Demand That You Shoot Me Now!

There are a number of things that I love about teaching. High on the list is the freedom I have to teach in way that excites me and engages kids in the content matter. I absolutely love the fact that I have a high degree of autonomy to perform my job. I love teaching because it is something that I want to get better at and wake up at 5:30 each day so I can be at work by 6:30 (the earliest I can get into the building), and try. I love that I make a difference. Not every student, every day, but I try. I don't make a lot, but I make a difference. The 26 stories that bring students to our door each morning matter to me. They are my purpose. I didn't understand why I was so happy until Dan Pink and RSA explained it to me a while back.
Anyway, I was preparing for a lesson this week on understanding the narrator's point of view and their role in fiction, omniscient limited/objective etc. Included in the lesson was how the use of pronouns are a key to determining the narrator's role in the story. I thought I would reinforce the teaching point that improper use of pronouns can have disastrous results. Pronoun trouble indeed.
And with that short introduction, we were off on another learning adventure.