Teaching teachers about connected learning

This morning, we are in the middle of week two of our Chippewa River Writing Project summer institute, and the timing for writing this post couldn’t be better.

Yesterday, we went to the CMU library and our English reference librarian, Aparna Zambare, gave us an introduction to the library databases and Zotero. Minus a few technical glitches with getting Firefox installed, participants in the institute were immediately drawn in to Zotero, figuring out how to use it to cite materials from the library’s databases, link to books on Amazon, take snapshots of current web pages, and then tag and make notes on their items. As they begin to frame their teacher research projects, I felt that introducing Zotero as a bibliography management tool would provide them with a constant place to keep track of their sources and reflections on those sources. So far, it seems to have worked, with one participant commention about how he could see using this tool in his classroom next fall.

Then, this morning, we are being introdcued to the idea of creating a personal learning network by Sara Beauchamp, Technology Liaison from the Upper Peninsula Writing Project. She introduced us to the idea of the Networked Student, which led into a conversation amongst participants about how and why we might want to learn these tools for our own learning as well as for use in our classroom. She reminded us that using all of these tools can become overwhelming if we let them, and that they are messy when we begin using them. Yet, over time, you can learn to adapt some of the tools to make them useful to you.

She continued by sharing RSS in Plain English and Google Reader in Plain English. We then moved into the process of setting up their Google Readers. We are thinking about all of this in the context of teacher research projects, and Sara also framed the demo around some of the ideas in Christensen’s Disrupting Class. As the demo continued, participants set up their readers with feeds related to their personal interests and professional inquiry. We then had time to add feeds to our Reader and think about how to structure folders to that the information is organized.

Through both presentations, we came to think more about how information is accessed, shared, and integrated into our own research and learning. This is a good point for us to be at as we begin developing our teacher research projects and reach the mid point of our summer institute. More learning to come!


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