Launching into the River of Information

We had a wonderful second session of the Virtual Book Club discussing Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis.  Our focus this time was Chapter Three and Four which discuss ways teachers and students can connect and communicate with a global audience. If you weren’t able to join us, listen to the recording here: Virtual Book Club Jan 22nd/23rd and please share your thoughts on this blog: Virtual Book Club.

We had fun exploring different social media tools that we each use to broaden our PLNs. Some of the tools that were highlighted were: Google Reader, Flipboard, Zite, Diigo, Twitter, LiveBinders, Scoop.It, Storify and two that were new to me: and Feedly. We all agreed that these tools helped us curate the web and share what we are learning with others. However, we also discussed the feeling that as we reach out to take a drink from these nourishing waters, we are sometimes met with a firehose blasting back at us with an overload of information!

Suggestions for dealing with this “River of Information”

  • from Michael in Australia – “Follow Quality, Get Quality, Quality Beats Quantity.” That might mean only following 4-5 blogs in your Google Reader or using hashtags to search in Twitter instead of following 1,000 people. (#globalclassroom, #flatclass, #sschat, #2ndchat were all mentioned)
  • from Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis – designate two times a week where you read through posts and links for 15 minutes. Think of it as a PLN workout.
  • many thought that starting with Diigo was a good plan. Here two groups to follow: Flat Class Educator’s Group and EdTechTalk.
  • from Sharon in Mumbai – don’t suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). You can’t read everything.  It is okay.
  • from Theresa in IL – sometimes you need to “Mark as Read” and move on. See above point about FOMO.

After sharing what the term “teacherpreneur” meant to us, we engaged in some thoughtful conversation about how to work with Standards, Administrators, Colleagues and Hardware limitations. There was definite collective agreement on the following:

  • “teacherpreneurs” can and should embrace state or national standards for their curriculum and expertly weave these in with innovative, collaborative projects.
  • reaching out to administration and colleagues is important and necessary for long-term sustainability of projects but it is hard and takes resilience
  • hardware might  not be exactly what you want, but make it what you need
  • connecting with other “teacherpreneurs” keeps you motivated and inspired. As Michael said:

when you are part of a community, you will surprise yourself. This is not something you need to do alone

Finally we talked about getting started with global projects. Here are some of the resources and projects mentioned. We will definitely talk more about these as the weeks go on. And remember to check out the numerous projects mentioned in the book!

Thank you to everyone who joined us or who has been posting on the blog. It is wonderful to hear and read the insights, doubts, mantras and beliefs of teachers who care about the work they do with students. Your students are lucky to have you!

Our next meeting will be Monday, February 4th at 7:30pm EST (that’s Tuesday, February 5th at 3:30am GMT). For your time zone, click here. We will be discussing Chapters Five and Six. Hope to “see” you there!

3 thoughts on “Launching into the River of Information

  1. While reading Chapter 3 I was so impressed with the third grade classroom in Maine who had the opportunity to visit with a third grade classroom in all 50 states! What a memorable learning experience for all the students involved. I love this idea!!! Another thing that struck me was the “digital divide” and how I can see this at my elementary school. So many of our students do not have access to the internet at home and it is up to us at school to provide the opportunity for these students to become digital citizens.

    • Those were two stand-out observations for me too! How amazing to have “taken” your students to 50 states! I also agree that we really need to give all our students the opportunity to use technology for communication and collaboration and not just consumption. Many of our students learn how to watch music videos, play videogames, and text their friends but few know how to find quality information on the Internet or how to manage digital files. Hopefully this book club will give you even more ideas about how you can get students using educational technology for learning!

  2. Confessions of a Reluctant Feeder (me): I had been avoiding the whole RSS feed thing for the longest time, figuring I was already dealing with enough information inundation from emails, newsletters, social/educational media sites, etc. My baby steps from surfing to feeding (which I now fully appreciate) began with building Symbaloo webmixes. I don’t really use browser bookmarking anymore because the web-based tile sheets work so much better for me. However, after catching up on chapters 3 and 4 of Flattening Classrooms I finally took the next step and started fiddling around with setting up my Google Reader. I am already so thankful this book club pushed me to try it out!!! The difference between passively getting information and customizing automatic feeds is amazing. I can definitely see the need for quality over quantity as there is certainly no shortage of items on my list! Very much looking forward to refining my own techniques and getting a regular system going to keep updated with the best of the best 🙂

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