Collaboration Tools

Collaboration

Every innovative educator knows the importance of communication and collaboration. Communication is needed when convincing administration that you are, in fact, not insane, your new project idea is backed up by research, and results will be reflected upon using data. It is also necessary when trying to convince your students to follow you on a new journey. We all know how much those kiddos need to know the “so what” of everything they are being asked to do.

Collaboration is needed before, during, and after the innovation. Educators should not have to be islands! I have worked in more than one school where I felt like innovation was shunned. Trying something new was treated as though it would be a detriment to students, the school, and the entire educational system alike. I had to get creative. If you are lucky enough to have a group of collaborators close by, enjoy every second and feel blessed. If you feel like a character on the Island of Misfit Toys, read on.

The Tools

There are many ways to collaborate online with colleagues from across the district, country, and world. I’m going to pick a handful of them here. I’ve had personal success using them, and I hope they get you started on the path to genuine collaboration with like-minded, innovative educators.

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I know! Stay with me. Twitter can be overwhelming. That said, it is hands down my favorite place to ask questions of fellow educators. The trick is to curate your feed by following educators you admire, and keeping the profile professional. Want to enjoy the silly on Twitter too? I have two Twitter accounts- one for work and one for play.

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Padlet acts as on online bulletin board. Invite fellow educators and everyone can collaborate on one page. It’s possible to house everything from pictures to articles, as well as personal notes. All participant are able to see everyone’s work. There are also templates in case you have particular projects that need specialized categories of information.

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Need to meet from across town or another state? Zoom is your friend. It allows you to have “face to face” meetings on your computer. Think FaceTime for business. The best part is the first 40 minutes are completely free! Zoom also allows for multiple meeting participants, so you can collaborate with as many people as you need to from the comfort of wherever.

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If you have a single question for a group, AnswerGarden is the tool you’re looking for. Ask the question, provide the page link, and watch the answers flow in. Use it for real time feedback and online brainstorming.

Book Review: The Choreography of Presenting

Choreography of Presenting

I attended the 2018 Learning Forward conference with the intent to learn more about PLCs and how I could help our district implement them more effectively. While I learned many valuable lessons regarding leadership and teamwork, I came away with an overall sense of how every presentation I sat through was excellent, and how it all came down to the presenter. Now, my background is in English Rhetoric so it should come as no surprise I value a good presenter. That said, the conference and it’s participants reminded me of how important presenting skills are, and they are skills. No one is born a wonderful presenter. Fast forward to the other fun part of conferences for an English teacher, buying books, and I was delighted to see The Choreography of Presenting by Kendall Zoller and Claudette Landry.

“Like a great dance partner, an excellent presenter leads others with ease and confidence. By showing how verbal and nonverbal communication shape every aspect of a successful presentation, this engaging book helps readers develop the underlying skills for polished, successful public speaking.”

This book uses the metaphor of dance to educate those who don’t know the first thing about presenting as well as remind those of us who could always stand to improve upon existing skills. Along with narratives of both positive and negative experiences from the authors’ presenting past, there are useful charts that provide step-by-step practice on certain elements. Have a presentation coming up? There are places in the book to reflect on your practice. The parts of the book I particularly enjoyed were those focused on movement- hand, eye, and even full body. The “dance” you do while presenting really does matter.

“A still hand gesture is the visual correlation to an auditory pause.”

While this book is meant for educators, I plan on utilizing it with my AP Capstone Seminar students next year. It’s applicable and understandable. New presenters and old alike, I encourage you to read the 124 pages. You won’t regret it, and you’ll come away a more effective presenter.

Tech. Tool #2 – Insert Learning

I too have played with this tech tool and think the options are fantastic. I can’t wait to try things out with students next year. Melissa has already been able to test the tool out with students, so she offers a great intro and review!

Melissa Blake ~ Education & Technology

In my quest for formative assessment tools that allow for more student involvement, I came across Insert Learning (https://insertlearning.com/).  As I am about to embark on a unit that focuses on reading informational texts in preparation for a persuasive research paper and extension project, I thought the timing was perfect to implement this tool in class.  Basically, Insert Learning allows a teacher to take any webpage and add sticky notes, discussion questions, quiz questions, and highlights. Additional resources can be added to help supplement comprehension or differentiate, such as videos or links to other websites.  For those who are a bit more technologically inclined, a list of 60+ tools to embed (Flipgrid, Quizizz, memes, and Quizlet, for example) is available on the website, some with tutorials and most with explanations of how the tools benefit students.

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