PLN “journey” doesn’t seem the right word for these seven amazing units of professional development! Let’s try “extreme adventure” or “discovery expedition”! I have been challenged in a big way but now that I have reached the summit I feel a real sense of achievement and have new vistas in sight! Before this course I wasn’t sure about what I should be evaluating, what I should be trying to understand and master or how to approach the digital jungle – let alone how, what and why of bringing it to students. Here is my animoto video
Here’s the Link to Screen cast It is a demonstration of how to use Evernote with Microsoft Outlook. Creating a screen cast is a real test of focus and concentration as you need to know what you are going to say and be very sure of all the steps before you start. I have already started thinking of all the ways I can use it in the Library. My next screen cast will show Middle School students how to add books to the Premiers’ Reading Challenge.
Thank you very much to the PLN team for a great course and all the encouragement along the way. Thanks also to those who have accompanied me to the summit! Looking forward to ongoing sharing with you all!
To evaluate the various search engines, I chose the topic, “First Contact”. It is a part of the History curriculum for Year 4. Overall, I have a preference for Google. I typed first contact Australia in the search box. In Google, there were no auto suggestions or knowledge graph but there were further suggestions at the bottom of the page. These could be used to help students develop an understanding of keywords. On the first page of results, there were three very reliable results including an Australian government website, an engaging, short, relevant utube video and a relevant educational website. Refining the search according to reading level was particularly useful for this search. Bing produced some very satisfying results. There was a list of related searches to the left. This list included: “first settlement of australia”, “discovery of australia” and “Australian history”. Exploring “first settlement of Australia” led to lots of relevant sites including http://gutenberg.net.au/earlysettle.html (primary sources). The Duck duck go search was very disappointing with the first eight results irrelevant. While looking at the suggested sites for lesson plans and curriculum to teach website evaluation I discovered Sweet Search a search engine for students. This site was recommended on the Common Sense Media website. Each search I conducted on a variety of topics from “first contact Australia” to “what does it mean to be human” produced some great results. I have added a link to my chrome tool bar and will be certainly using it in the future.
Commonsense media lesson plans look great and seem engaging. They are graded K-2, grades 3-5, grades 6-8 and grades 9-12. Google also offer lesson plans on conducting searches and I plan to spend more time having a closer look at these.
The dangers of bread is a great hoax website to introduce evaluating websites with students. Ken Orenic’s CRAP test is a useful acronym for students to learn. I used it when evaluating this Amnesty International article about indigenous rights in Australia. I chose this site because this organisation is recognised for the work it does to promote human rights internationally. CRAP test: Currency – the article was written June, 2012 – it is current. Reliability – the author’s point of view is made explicit and the author doesn’t try to create a balanced argument. The article refers to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the “Closing the Gap” policies of the Australian government. Authority – the website is created by a most reputable organisation. There is no advertising on the site. Purpose/Point of View – the purpose of the article was made very clear. It would be interesting to discuss this website with students given that it makes no apology for a biased view point. What might an opposing viewpoint be? How could you access that point of view? Where you could you find out the facts about how government money is distributed to Aboriginal people?
I have discovered the power of tags with evernote. When creating a note, I try to think of the possible reasons I would need it again. eg an incident involving a number of students, I create a tag with each student my House who was involved. I also name the incident eg throwing stones on courts. This is my first blog with tags!
I have to admit I am a bit addicted to Facebook! I have a non-school account under my name Carmel Byrne and my own page Tara Hill Suri Alpaca Stud. I use this account to optimise contact with family and friends (alpaca and non-alpaca) and we share links related to all things quirky and issues of interest such as refugees, sustainability. These posts are restricted to people who are “friends”. My Tara Hill Suri Alpaca Stud page is public and I only post here to promote my stud. Everything I post to my promotions page is automatically sent to my Tara Hill Alpacas twitter account. I get feedback from a Pages app on how many people have looked at my promotional posts and find this data very interesting. I am a member of a couple of Facebook groups relating to alpacas and find the posts really interesting and very informative.
I opened a separate Facebook account to use professionally and have joined a couple of groups but I only look at it about once a week; just skimming down looking for anything that catches my eye. It is a bit frustrating that I can’t have 2 Facebook accounts on my chrome toolbar. I was rapt when I discovered that I could have my second twitter account there, making it a lot easier to dip in. I find twitter much more interesting than Facebook for professional reading relating to learning and literature while Facebook is much more engaging, interesting and informative for reading related to my alpaca business and for personal use. Both Facebook and twitter are blocked on our school network but as most students have facebook and twitter accounts I am sure that it won’t be long before the school uses both these media to communicate more effectively with families even if it just sending out a tweet or making a post with links to the latest school news and blogs on the school website.
Completing the Research Toolkit (VicPLN short course) last year led to dramatic change (and a wonderful improvement) to my work flow organisation. My use of paper notes has decreased dramatically and when I need to find a document, email or website I can find it quickly and efficiently. Most of the change is due to using Chrome and Evernote.
I only bookmark those sites I access very regularly and use the Evernote webclipper to save interesting things I find on the web. My only difficulty with Chrome is that currently I need to access my library page on the College’s website through Internet Explorer if I want to make any changes. The same is true if you want to add data to PRC website (you can not come in through Chrome).
And now to the best discovery of all!! EVERNOTE!!!!! I upgraded to Premium (about $30 a year) after just a few weeks and it is the best $30 I have spent! Why do I love it so much?? Most importantly it is very easy to use – intuitive! I can use and access it whether on my school laptop, my home computer, my iphone and my ipad. I set up various folders to separate the various aspects of my life: School (with subfolders for my Library work, my Head of House work, PLN etc), Alpacas (for my alpaca farm, alpaca health, alpaca research reading etc) and personal/family. I also add tags as I need to eg a student’s name, a topic I am gathering resources on. Each time I add something to Evernote, I use appropriate tags and if I am using Windows, a folder. Unfortunately, apple devices don’t seem to allow you to nominate an Evernote folder when saving (although you can see the folders you create on your windows device). The tags though are very powerful and I no sooner type what I am searching for in the search tab and everything I have saved with that word in the tag appears. Saving an email is very easy from Outlook as the Evernote tab is there so I can click and save. When saving an email from my ipad, I simply forward the email to my evernote account. Emails (or anything I save to Evernote) can be saved with more than one tag. This is really useful because (unlike with paper sharing or saving to folders in My Documents) you only save once and can retrieve when you enter either tag in the search box. One big advantage of the Premium version of Evernote is that when saving emails, you can choose to save any attachments. Paper documents such as letters from parents, student statements etc, I scan and save to Evernote. At last count I had 1081 documents saved.
Hope all that makes some sense, but am always happy to help and answer any questions if I am able (I am sure I am not using Evernote to full capacity yet).
I do have a Diigo account but am not using this as efficiently as I might. It seems that I will improve my knowledge with this course.
Teaching students about appropriate workflow strategies is of huge importance and I believe it is often overlooked. All students from Year 5 to Year 12 at my school have their own ipad and many of them are very poorly organised. Although some subject teachers teach their students about creating folders many seem to assume that students are tech smart. I take every opportunity I can to assist students with ipad organisation but I don’t have sufficient time with many of them.
I am a full-time teacher librarian at Beaconhills College. In addition to my teaching job, I am the co-owner of Tara Hill Suri Alpaca at The Gurdies in South West Gippsland. I get a real buzz when I switch a non-reader on to books or ignite that spark of interest in learning something new! And then to come home to my beautiful farm and amazing animals! I am truly blessed!
I have been teaching (and learning) for many years and in a range of settings – from Year One classroom teacher to VCE English, to Middle School Maths, to careers teacher, special education teacher, parent educator, FPS teacher and coach and now I think my favourite role – teacher librarian! I now have the privilege of working with students from Prep to Year 12 across a range of disciplines and of course, working in teams with fellow teachers and with parents. My teaching career began in the state system in NSW and has included service in primary and secondary schools in Victoria. My current position is in an independent school.
My formal learning has included diplomas in primary teaching and counseling, special education and masters in ed degrees and a cert 4 in massage – what a mix! I won’t bore you with all the informal learning. From what I have read about my PLN colleagues, we have that passion for ongoing learning in common! I like to keep up with YA and children’s lit but also read about agriculture,especially natural farming, heritage plants, natural medicine and anything alpaca!
I am developing some aptitude with web 2.0 tools. I did the research toolkit course last year and am a devotee of evernote. I was using it so much, I needed to upgrade to premium. I save everything in there and it is always easy to find it! I also use diigo to save links to what I want to read later or things I think might be useful. Just downloaded Google Reader and I think it will be very useful. Chrome is great. It’s a pity that some websites, including PRC and my college don’t support it. I use facebook (I have 2 accounts – personal and professional). I also have a farm page. I am member of several facebook groups – education and alpaca – and learn a lot here. Also have 2 twitter accounts – education and alpaca but I prefer facebook. I learn a lot from my colleagues, I attend as much PD as I can and I have started attending local SLAV meetings.
This course will reinforce what I learnt in research skills last year and what I have learnt by playing. I am sure I will also learn heaps of new things! I just have to be patient when the computer or ipad doesn’t behave itself! I look forward also to all that I learn from this PLN community.