Friday, August 16, 2013

Reflection of Personal Learning Environments

Review a plan to Create and Curate your Digital Identity from one of your peers in this class. What did you learn about yourself when looking at your PLE? How does your PLE compare to other peers in class? Compare the similarities and differences between yours and your classmate’s diagrams and plans.

As I read and compared my plan to create and curate my digital identity with that of my colleagues’, I noticed that based on our professional needs, we’ve curated and selected what we wanted to include in our learning environments. Our learning environments  centered on our individual learning needs and interests. There are similarities in the tools and practices related to our professional development.  I also see a difference in the scope of the plans and in the way they were organized. We have created our networks of learning and even though they differ they meet our needs.

One common node in all of the plans I reviewed is our participation in the IT&DML program.  Our IT&DML program is presently the most significant source of our professional development.  Through it, we are gaining the knowledge and skills we need to teach digital literacy.   We are:
  • learning about theories, models, and dispositions about online reading, writing, and  learning
  • exploring and experimenting with tools we hope to use with our students
  • collaborating and discussing how to effectively teach students using online tools
  • building professional development relationships that will keep us up to date on best practices to use technology with our students   

The second similarity between our posts is the inclusion of blogs.    Digital media literacies are new literacies brought about by the Internet. The practices and tools we use to help our students develop digital literacy skills are new.  Our blogs serve as journals in which we document and reflect on our practices and experiences related to teaching digital literacy.  By reading and commenting on each other’s blogs, we are learning. The inclusion of maintaining a blog as a professional development tool is a practice that will help us to improve our teaching.

One difference in my plan from the others that I viewed is in scope.  I included my digital learning hub as part of my plan.  This is where I will place my collection of tools and resources that I will offer my students and patrons.  My digital learning hub will host what I produce as a result of my personal learning and is a part of my online identity.

Another difference, is in the way the plans were organized.  One approach I believe will be very helpful is how Joan Robinson organized her plan. Her main nodes reflect her personal learning needs and she identifies the resources that can help meet those needs. I thought this approach to be reflective and representative of student centered connective learning.

I enjoyed looking at and reviewing the blogs.  It was a good learning activity.

Network Learning Project - Beginning Yoga

Network Learning Project - Beginning Yoga

I have met my network learning project objective. My learning objective was to introduce myself to Yoga.  I wanted to take the mystery out of Yoga before I formally attended class. I believe I have a much better understanding of Yoga practices.  I have shared my project with an avid Yogini and I will be attending a class with her soon. Through this lesson I curated resources for those interested in beginning Yoga. Click on the link to view a presentation on some of the information I found on the Internet about Yoga.

There are scores of free resources online for someone interested in starting Yoga.  For example, I used yoga forums, blogs, associations, and videos to learn about Yoga. I wanted to use different types of resources.  This led me to Pinterest. Within Pinterest, I spent several hours exploring various magazines and videos on Yoga. I also found Pinterest to be very robust and found information about my other interests in children’s books and teaching.  I did  make a Yoga board with resources aimed at the Yoga beginner. I haven’t fully explored Pinterest. It’s a resource I would like to play with. In terms of exercising, Youtube was by far the most useful resource for learning how to enter and perform Yoga poses. I went through several Youtube videos looking for videos that explained the pose in a clear and concise manner.  

Meditation was my favorite practice. Once I found music and focussed on my breathing, I found meditation to be very relaxing and calming. I started with 10 minutes a day and am now sitting quietly for 20 minutes every morning.  

This project was extremely helpful to me.  I feel more confident about attending Yoga class. I am looking forward to my formal class.  I believe Yoga practice will be beneficial to my health and well being.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mindmapping My Digital Identity

Using  I mapped how I plan to develop and enhance my digital identity.  I plan to start development by focusing on three areas,  my blog, my personal learning network, and my digital learning hub.  The mind map visually represents how I want to build up my digital identity.  The three areas are  represented in a different color and show subordinate details.   My blog is in blue. In my blog, I will write about my teaching practices and reflect on lessons and tools I have utilized in the classroom. I hope to develop and perfect practices based on comments and my personal reflection.  My audience are my colleagues and other interested professionals.  

The second area of my plan, represented in green, is my personal learning network. This area includes informational websites, networks, communities, and groups of professionals that share my similar interests and from which I can learn.  This area is representative of my professional development. I also expect to collaborate and work with my peers and participate in discussions about areas of learning that impact my students.

The third area of my plan, represented in red, is my my digital learning hub. Recently, I have been focusing and contemplating the development of this area.  This area of my online identity reflects the goals and learning objectives I have for my students. My digital learning hub will be a learning resource for my students to use. I plan to include video tutorials on how to use various tools and how to perform tasks such as searching for images that have a usage right “free to use or share”. Thus far, I have created one video tutorial on how to use Animoto software.  I am planning on targeting other tools such as the mind mapping tool,, that I used to create the above mindmap.   In addition, I plan to also include links to free websites that students can use in their research. These include such website as ICONN, CIA World Facts, and Nations Encyclopedia.  In my digital learning hub, I will also include online materials that students will use during assignments. For example, materials needed for a website evaluation lesson will be stored in my digital learning hub.  The learning hub will offer quick and easy access to these materials.  Student can review materials and concepts as needed.  I also plan to add to my digital learning hub a series of booktalks made by students. Throughout the years, I have collected several video booktalks of books from our school’s library collection. My digital learning hub will serve as an interface for booktalks. This will be helpful to students in search of that “just right” book. It will also be a motivator for student who are creating the booktalk because their booktalks will be available on the digital learning hub for others to view.

I am eager to begin the work of building up my digital identity.  I have already started the initial identity maintenance by changing my Google profile to display the information I want.   I believe by building up my digital identity I will be empowered and I will in turn empower my students.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Network Learning Project Update - Practicing Yoga

I have started practicing what I’ve learned from the online learning resources I have gathered.  Last week, I meditated every morning for 10 minutes and started practicing yoga poses. I found video resources for yoga beginners to help with yoga poses.  After every yoga session I reflected and recorded the reflections using Evernote. I’ve shared below my reflections and a sample of the video tutorial for the yoga poses.  I am very pleased with the resources I have found to  get started with yoga.

Yoga Reflections
Tuesday AM meditation - uncomfortable for back - distracted by environmental sound - find meditation music to listen to while meditating.
Focus on breathing properly - How do I empty my mind again? 10 mins go by fast!
Wednesday AM meditation-  Uncomfortable back must research - much better with music - work on breathing and emptying mind?
Thursday - Meditate. Turned timer off to keep going😌
It was most helpful to review meditation video.

Watched Warrior 1 pose video, it’s for beginners and promotes weight loss.
Moving into Warrior 1 Pose

Reflection on Warrior 1 pose - Tried it, is this for beginners? Awkward balance. Need to review.
Friday AM
Childs Pose
Meditation is relaxing!
Very helpful to review Warrior 1 pose. Correct balance by stretching legs in opposing direction. Next challenge is breathing.
Childs pose is relaxing and stretching feels great.


Using Animoto

Animoto Tutorial

After much consideration, I decided to create a video tutorial on Animoto.  Animoto is a free online video creator.  I was searching for a free tool that my students could use to create short videos on various topics.  I want them to have the ability to import video, images, and to include text.  I especially wanted the software to be easy to use.    I experimented and played with Mozilla Popcorn Maker. Popcorn maker meets all my requirements except for its ease of use.   What I liked about Popcorn maker was its ability to easily import videos from YouTube and other services.  I also liked the ability to link and include articles from Wikipedia.  These are all very nice features that Popcorn Maker has.  However,  after playing, I felt that it was not as easy to use. Popcorn Maker’s interface is a little complex. As you add events, or content, it creates layers that superimpose other content. Also, changing the background and color of text requires the hexadecimal html code. For these reasons I did not pursue usage.  I want to focus on the learning objective, not the tool.  I feel Animoto is a good choice for students because of its easy interface.  

With any video project, I recommend you have a clear purpose and know your audience. Always storyboard the project on paper.  Draw out the images and include the text.  Create a space, a folder, and put all the content you will be using in the folder.   Once your paper storyboard is complete, you can use your tool to begin building your video.  

There are many classroom applications for Animoto. In my classroom, one lesson I am planning is to have students use Animoto to create booktalks on a book of their choice. Their booktalks will be shared on our school’s daily television broadcast and also shared on the new book talk page of our library’s website. I like Animoto’s 30 second length limit. It gives students enough time to get their message across and makes student work in a thoughtful  and concise manner. In order to generate discussion on books, I would like to  a way for students to comment on each other’s videos.  I will also investigate any potential problems with student email addresses and account creations.  I believe it will be worth the effort in order to get students using Animoto in the classroom.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Network Learning Project Updates

Since my last blog. I have found great resources to further my introduction to yoga.  I have created a Pinterest Board called Yoga for Beginners. The board has six pins that include meditation videos and beginner yoga poses.

Using Animoto, I have documented why I selected to introduce myself to yoga as my network learning project. I used advanced Google search to find images with usage right that were free to use and share.

Using Coggle, I’ve organized my information and have mind mapped how I will present the information.  I started creating a slide presentation in Google Docs with the information that I've gathered.

In terms of applying what I have learned, I decided to start my yoga practice with simple mantra meditation.

My asana, is my bedroom and I am using Sukhasana, a very simple sit down pose, to perform mantra meditation. Mantra meditation is good for finding your stillness within, a state of mind of positiveness.  It requires deep breathing. As you inhale your abdomen extends out. Upon exhale, you pull your abdomen in. Mantra meditation requires chanting. The words you chant can be an expression, a prayer, a line from your favorite poem, any words that hold a special meaning to you are appropriate.  Om, is a mantra that is often used.  Om means relaxation, meditation, and harmony.  During meditation, the mantra is repeated while inhaling deeply and exhaling.  You should be aware of your breath and follow its flow.  You should continue to repeat your mantra and focus on your breath. Beginners can count their breath as they inhale to gain focus. Breathing should be deep and focused. Your thoughts will begin to shift to the noise of everyday life. As this happen refocus again on your breathing and continue to count. During meditation you should be aware of everything inside.   

By meditating, you are bringing the brain into a relaxed state, the body follows. Breathing is very important.

The benefits of meditation are many. They include better sleep, more creativity and intelligence, and lower blood pressure.  Sounds good to me!


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Connectivism - PLNs & COPs


Using Coggle I created a sample mind map of my basic understanding of Connectivism.  The theory of Connectivism, in very basic terms, is the theory that learning occurs through connections.  Personal Learning Networks (PLN) and Communities of Practice (COP)  are examples of how people are using the Internet to connect to networks and groups of individuals to learn. PLNs and COPs are examples of how connectivism works in the digital world.   

My mind map has examples of various PLNs and COPs that I found through Google.  The nodes represented in the diagram are resources that I might include in my learning network. Some of these resources I’ve used in the past, the others I have booked marked for future reference.  I added the Instructional Technology & Digital Media Literacy class IT&DML, of which I am currently enrolled, because of the learning connection I have made with my classmates.  Through google groups and our blogs, we’ve shared and we’ve learned from each other. To my mind map,  I could have also added chromebook Edu, Google Apps for Education, Online Research and Media Skills, and the other Google communities I am connected to because they too are part of my learning network.  

The advantage that a teacher has by joining a PLNs and COPs is the connection to other educators who share similar interests.  Teachers who want to use technology in the classroom would benefit greatly because of the ability to learn and share experiences.   Technology is evolving so rapidly that joining groups and communities that focus on classroom technology will help keep teachers informed and up to date. There are many COPs and PLNs in various fields. For example, I’ve found a YOGA group that I’m thinking of joining.
With regards to Coggle Mind Map , it was very easy to use. I think students could easily start to use it with little training. I can see Coggle as a helpful tool for organizing ideas.  I was, however,  exited from the program 3 times prior to saving this last mind map to a png file. I’m not sure why the program booted me out.  It could be caused by my Chromebook and its unstable ways.