What I did on my summer vacation

Happy summer to all! While summer’s not over yet, I wanted to send out a quick update on what I’ve been working on this summer and some of the blog posts you might expect from me in the weeks ahead.

One of my biggest goals for this summer is to increase my capabilities with digital media. This is a pretty broad task, but here are the dimensions I’m hoping to address:

  • More work on the blog. I’ve been glad to have this blog as a way to share out ideas I’m pondering, events on the horizon, and new resources I’ve found. I want to keep that up.
  • Mediate social media. As many of you know, I’m a Facebook early adopter: I’ve been on Facebook since 2004, when most of you were in elementary school. However, a lot has changed on Facebook (fun fact: did you know it used to just be limited to college students with current college email addresses?), and I know there’s a lot more to be said for other social networking tools. Currently, I’m enamored of Twitter, and I’m eager to learn more about it and how I can use it for work. I’m also eager to tell you more here on the blog.
  • Manage my information flow in. I have a few pretty ingrained habits of mind when it comes to reading the news: I’ll hit the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, SF Chronicle, and Houston Chronicle daily for headlines and information on topics I enjoy. While this is a lot of fun, I definitely get stuck in a rut: I scan the headlines, read op-eds I tend to like, and gravitate toward the topics I like most (health, food, film, books). This is a predictable way to search for news, and it predictably offers me predictable news. That’s not much of a way to learn new things or be surprised or challenged in my reading, so I’m seeking out new and better ways to sift through the masses of information out there. I was trying RSS feeds, especially through Google Reader, but I’m getting really excited about Zite, too. More on this soon.
  • Manage my information flow out. I have to manage a lot of data: there’s my daily email, school information I need to keep, student records about testing and service, and my own notes from meetings and professional development opportunities. I’ve got a few apps I’m using for this regularly–Evernote and Bento are my current faves–and I’d like to spend some time reflecting on how I use these and how I might use them better.
  • Flip…something. I had the honor of joining an amazing event this summer here at school: 17 teachers from Schools of the Sacred Heart participated in a three-day workshop on Flip Teaching, which you can read more about here. One important element of flip teaching is the idea of leveraging technology in teaching by using it to help augment existing best practices about teaching. The idea isn’t that technology replaces good teaching; the idea is that we use technology as a unique opportunity to extend good teaching in new and meaningful ways. I had a terrific time creating content and learning about different tools along the way.
    The question, though, is this: I’m not a traditional classroom teacher, so how can I use these principles and tools to enhance my particular corner of the school? I’m eager to help mentor others, but I also want to figure out how to use this myself.
  • Build and strengthen my PLN. I first learned about Personal Learning Networks, or PLNs, at the ASCD national conference in Philadelphia back in March. A PLN is the way that people use the resources in their world to learn new things. These resources abound: they can be people we know in our real lives, people we know through social networking tools, digital media, traditional (maybe paper-based) media, and other reference sources. I like Barbara Bray’s diagram for this best (sourced from here). I’d like to construct a similarly elegant, clear sense of where I get my information and how I can share it back out to others.

    Happy summer to all!

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