Archive for Conversations

We Go Round In Circles

Intrigued but still a bit distant — I am wandering in a bit to G+ just to see what is going on.

I tried to screen capture a Hangout — unsuccessfully and I admit, I feel that G+ is still twitter with just a new address and more space to talk.   But also admit, this is a learning curve and I can be a creature of habit.

But what I am LIKING are circles.

So, if you are not using G+ — here is a short explanation.

Circles equal conversation opportunities.
Meaning:  when you type a comment, you can then choose WHICH circle (or circles) you wish to share that comment with.  ALSO:  you can click on a circle and see the conversations happening just from those people within the circle.

Right now — I have 11 circles.   Some circles are conference based (current conferences with people in attendance — ie BLC and Microsoft right now).  This way, I can easily follow the conversations by people attending that conference.   I also have circles that are state specific….(IL/WI, Texas, CA) which I check often to see what friends are up to.

When you first start with G+ there is an ALL or EVERYONE circle — and at first, I was dropping everyone there.   But it became overwhelming and a constant stream of conversation — so I deleted the EVERYONE circle and started smaller circles so I could (in a way) control content.

I began by creating an EDUCATORS circle — but again, I placed way too many people in this circle — and needed to small down even more to be able to sift through content and not miss a lot because the stream was so busy.

So — I have 2 circles for educators.
One is my LIGHTHOUSE circle.  This consists of a small group of educators who “enlighten” me.  They are trusted individuals to me.  Most of them I have met F2F.  In a way, they are family to me.
The other is my PATHWAY group.  Each person in this group  is also on this journey we call education.  This is my biggest circle and is my default for most conversations.  People in my PATHWAY group also overlap into other circles (such as State, Conference, etc)   So when I wish to blast a conversation to all — I choose the PATHWAY group.

The ability to have open or selected conversations has been interesting to watch and learn from.

One other nice feature of Circles is the fact that when you open a HANGOUT (meaning a video/microphoned conversation) you can invite the circle (or circles) you wish to join in.

This is still a work in progress as I am learning slowly about G+.

One other “aha” idea was to have a whiteboard behind you in a hangout to use for instruction.

But to be honest right now — I am not looking at G+ in regards to students.  First of all, I have not even glanced at TOS yet and secondly I would turn to skype first before hangouts with students.

I am 100% trying to figure out G+ for myself and learning new things each day.

And finding circles to be both interesting and powerful.

Feel free to share more about G+ if you wish.



Not A Clique — But a Cluster

I have spent the last few days reading through several ISTE 11 reflection posts.

Lee Kolbert:
Dean Shareski:
Angela Watson:
Tony Baldsaro:
Jessica V Allen:
Tracy Watanabe:

Plus many many more —

and I wandered through the FLICKR ISTE11 feed: and

And two commonalities came clearly into view:

1.  Everyone learned a great deal in MANY different ways.  Attending sessions was not the only place of learning at this conference.  Conversations were happening all over the place — some planned, some spontaneous, some in small groups, some in large, some structured, and some chaotic…..but learning was going on.  A LOT of learning!

But the second commonality is what this blog post is mostly about —

There have been several blog posts written about the “CLIQUES” of our community.  Snobbery has been mentioned, rudeness, shyness, closed, invitation only, etc.

I have to admit that I do enjoy seeing my “friends” at conferences.  Catching the eye of someone I respect and appreciate and giving a special “hey, we are friends” grin.  Eating a meal with someone I know both online and off and not only discussing education but also families and more.  Sitting in the front row, hearing the same session for the 5th time (or more) but being the “rah rah” and later the “reviewer” is important as well.

Clique is a harsh word — because it symbolizes an acceptance and also a “you do not belong”…and I do not believe that is the case in the Personal Learning Network I see.

I see us as clustering.

We travel in swarms or clusters from session to session.  Hearing people we have heard before, chatting with people we have chatted with before, dining with those we have dined before….and not dismissing anyone from joining in…..but not venturing out to invite others in either.

Look at the pictures and look at the reflections……and you will see we cluster.

If we honestly look at the (the group I consider) my EdTech PLN — at this past conference — even if 1,800 people congregated at the Blogger’s Cafe or Newbie’s Lounge — and gave it the stamp of “this is my watering hole — my safe place – where I am comfy — where I fit, etc” — that is only 10% of the entire conference.

Because we cluster — I believe we limit not only our influence but also the opportunity to be influenced by others.

There is 90% we are unaware of — who also might be unaware of us — that probably have ideas we should listen to, stories we can learn from, and situations we need to see.

As we continue to cluster……we start believing ourselves in what we believe to be true and sound and “The Only Way” – the RIGHT WAY perhaps.  Yet, when we venture out — hear other opinions — we are able to test our own ideas, share our own ideas, and learn from each others viewpoints.

I honestly don’t believe we are a clique……but I do believe we find comfort in the cluster.


Addendum:  Jon B has reminded me, via twitter, that my EdTechPLN might be different than yours.  This post is a reflection of what I saw displayed by those who I consider part of my PLN…an ever growing list of educators who I follow on blogs, twitter, in email, and meet at conferences.


Kinderchat Reflection

I usually will not enter into discussions that feature a #chathashtag…..because of which I have shared here: — that is my choice, that is my preference.

But last night, while zipping through the chat stream….I saw a tweet about using twitter and facebook in elementary and I just had to add my two cents.   (from the stream)

I tweeted out:

I would take my K’s to voicethread and skype WAY
before I would take them to FB or Twitter. IMHO #kinderchat

and began waiting patiently for a response, because I knew there would be one.

What I did not expect was the avalanche of conversation that began to flood my twitter feed and my DM box.  Some quite heated and angry.

When questioned professionally about my thoughts I responded with

@cybraryman1 thank you. One reason is that in NO WAY
would I have to even answer any questions of violation of TOS. #kinderchat

And THAT 100% filters my decision of why I will NEVER use twitter or facebook in an elementary classroom.

Twitter says:  Our Services are not directed to people under 13.
For me, that is enough said.
Now you might feel comfortable in interpreting that as you wish to make it work within your classroom.  That is your prerogative and your options.  I, myself, choose never to have to get involved in that argument if ever challenged for using that tool.   Too many other battles to fight and other good options available.   So, for young children, I walk away from twitter.

Facebook says:  You will not use Facebook if you are under 13.
and again, you can justify this to work as you wish.
For me, and for my classroom — I choose to walk away from this option.

I was asked what method of communication I would use and my response was:

@Matt_Gomez with Kindergarten?? I would use a blog for my communication. For communication with others….VT or Skype. #kinderchat

I should have qualified that with ED.VoiceThread….btw.

I continued to think of this conversation throughout the night…..both of the graciousness of many who allowed a discussion of differing thoughts but also the realization that at times we do need to stand on a foundation of thoughts, beliefs, and — dare I say it — policy!!   (And not a personal policy but a school policy. )

What I would wish for in my kindergarten classroom would never include a social media presence.   They are still working on social skills within the classroom, playground, and with their peers.  There is time later to be introduced to social media…..I would concentrate much more on social interaction within the classroom and their cognitive development.

As for myself, the teacher — I would be blogging out to the parents daily.  Lots of pictures and also voice recordings of the students thoughts.    Reflections of daily events, links to help the parents with ideas, and upcoming news would be much of the content.

That is my stand, my foundation, and my thought-pattern.

You are always free to agree or disagree.  I invite your conversation.


Talking With Parents

In October, of this year, I journeyed down to St. John’s Lutheran in Orange County to talk with the teachers about Digital Footprints — you can visit the ideas we shared here:

At the end of the session, I was approached with the request to return and speak with Middle School Parents.   I said okay and then quickly DMed my pal, Sean Williams, to ask him to co-present.  And he said yes.   🙂

So, when a date was confirmed, Sean started a google doc which we built together and he also started the presentation and we were ready to go.   But sadly, due to an unexpected family issue — Sean called to say he could not come.

Augh — but OKAY — cuz I like to think I am flexible…… after my panic, I drove down to the school, enlisted Dennis to be the backup, and got ready to share with parents.

We had 2 major objectives.
#1   We wanted to not use SCARE TACTICS but to use AWARE TECHNIQUES
#2  And we wanted to have them walking away with a real positive plan for helping their child with their digital footprint

And we also wanted to be honest with them — so we would bring up COPPA and CIPA (since St John’s is a laptop school and the filter does follow the kids home.)

We created an acrostic to help the parents remember positive ways to work with their child.

and gave examples with each letter.   With good discussion with the parents.

After we shared, and they shared — we had about 30 minutes of questions which concluded with plans to have a part 2 of this session and to also make it mandatory for all new parents.   (so I think they felt the time spent was helpful)

Here is the presentation if you wish to view it:

and there is a delicious feed of links and also a survey of help from my twitter friends to share with the parents as well
and a poster I created: