Tag Archives: Connections

@PamelaRampley

To be completely honest, even the thought of creating AND keeping up with a Professional Learning Network (PLN) gives me cause for anxiety. I use my laptop mostly for work and COETAIL and not much else. When I am not at work or not working, I prefer to keep my laptop lid closed. Even when I am working, my 2-year old daughter reminds me of this by closing my laptop for me 😉  Sometimes, it’s even difficult for others to get a hold of me because I usually don’t have my phone with me. I am definitely NOT one of those people who just can’t seem to put down their device. And I do take a bit of pride in being this way, so needless to say, building an online PLN has been quite the challenge for me, to say the least.

Like all other COETAILers, I am involved in the COETAIL community through blog posts, comments, and discussions, but aside from that, I have also ventured out into the world of Twitter. As is evidenced in one of my previous blog posts from Course 1, before COETAIL, I tweeted all of two times. This is a true story, but now, I am starting to get it. Before COETAIL, I really had no idea what Twitter was and what you were supposed to do with it. Now, all of that has changed, or it is at least starting to!

Communication

Since that fourth COETAIL blog post where I tried “tweeting” again, I have tweeted many times for a variety of reasons – personal, COETAIL, AIS-R professional learning, etc. This NEVER would have happened if it wasn’t for COETAIL. I was inspired to give it a go once again as I was starting to realize how important online PLNs can be, especially for teachers.

Of course, I have engaged in one-sided interactions or have attempted to start conversations that didn’t really go anywhere with Twitter and other social media platforms. COETAIL blogs and commenting have been such a great way for me to start practicing HOW to actually include myself in such conversations. On the lookout to find a meaningful, more conversation-oriented online group, I found #nesachat. NESA stands for the Near East South Asia Council of Overseas Schools. This Twitter chat runs every other week on Tuesdays. I recently became involved and started participating in these chats, and I have found them to be fun, practical, and useful in my everyday teaching 🙂

Participating in these NESA chats has allowed me to have a conversation about a specified topic, connect with other educators in our region, and it’s become an excellent way for us to share ideas and resources on a regular basis. Although the educators that participate in these chats are not always the same people, many are from the same schools, and we are all from the same area of the world. Through this medium, I have been able to ask questions,

answer questions,

— Pamela Rampley (@PamelaRampley) March 7, 2017

connect,

and reflect about my practice, all of which was inspired by concepts and ideas shared within the COETAIL community.

As evidenced in the Storify slideshows that follow, I have been able to engage in back-and-forth conversations via Twitter. #nesachat has allowed me to actively build a PLN in an appropriate digital space beyond just commenting on COETAIL blogs.

Consistency

I have participated in the last three NESA chats. The first one I participated in was on February 7, 2017, and I have been engaging in these discussions each time they have occurred, which is every two weeks. The next NESA chat is scheduled for this Tuesday, April 4, and I plan to continue engaging in these discussions even after my COETAIL courses have finished.

February 7, 2017 #nesachat – Professional Development That Works

 March 7, 2017 #nesachat – Visualizing the “Ideal” High School Graduate
March 21, 2017 #nesachat – Crisscrossing Curriculums

Reflection

Like I said in the beginning of this blog post, I am not that person who is constantly tweeting or posting on Facebook and Instagram, but since the start of COETAIL, I have definitely upped my technological use for educational and professional purposes. Although I don’t consider myself a true techie (yet), I do see the benefits and importance of immersing myself (to some extent) into technology. I have found a new, exciting, and meaningful way to engage in continuous and sustainable conversations with colleagues from near and far thanks to COETAIL and Twitter! I warmly welcome your comments below 🙂

A Global Killer

Infographics are more than just a visual. They are interesting. Who doesn’t love a good infographic? They have cool pictures and neat statistics, and best of all, they make sense.

“Infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present information quickly and clearly. They can improve cognition by utilizing graphics to enhance the human visual system’s ability to see patterns and trends” (from Wikipedia).

Why not use infographics in our teaching? Well…we can…and maybe we should. But they are not as abundant and applicable as one might hope. For this blog post, we were asked to, “Find an infographic that you can use in your teaching, embed it into a blog post, and reflect on how you plan to use it.” Simple enough, right? Well…not really, at least that wasn’t the case for me!

I used the Creative Commons Search for Google Images and Flickr, and there were only a few infographics that were really relevant to what I am currently teaching. Don’t get me wrong. I think there are a TON of great inforgraphics out there, but they aren’t really entirely directed towards being used in the classroom, at least not yet. For example, when I Google Image search just “infographic,” the first images that come up are: “How we pay for things,” “The geosocial universe,” and “Ideal engines.” When I searched for “infographic science,” more of what I was looking for appeared, but it wasn’t directly related to my scientific discipline – “Aussie eyes on Mars,” The 10-B pork scam,” and “Soils.” After a good bit of searching, I did find this infographic:

Some rights reserved: DES Daughter

I REALLY like this infographic. One of the units in my grade 9 integrated science course is cells, so this visual can easily fit into that unit. I think it would best be used as a unit opener to get students thinking about something that has affected or could affect so many of us. A discussion about this infographic could easily make my unit on cells more “real.” I could ask the students questions like:

  • Which piece of information is the most surprising? Why?
  • Why is cancer the leading cause of death worldwide?
  • What do you think is the overall message of this infographic?

Infographics are informative and usually make me think, “Oh, wow! Really? I didn’t know that.” This can be both engaging and thought provoking. This particular infographic could help my students make connections about what their learning to the real world. Students oftentimes wonder, “Why do we have to learn this?” And for our cell unit, this infographic could be my answer.

I have also thought about the possibility of challenging my students to create their own infographic about what we are learning. It would allow them to make their own deeper connections between what we are learning and their world. How have you used infographics in your classroom or in your life? I warmly welcome your comments below 🙂

Constructing Meaning

Back at it in Course 3: Visual Literacy of COETAIL! I have always been interested in visual literacy, and I do pick up on such nuances as I visit and read through different websites, blogs, articles, etc on and off of the internet. I am not that creative of a person (much to my dismay), but I am very interested in creativity, nonetheless 🙂 In this YouTube video, Brian Kennedy explains why we need visual literacy at a TEDxDartmouth event. He defines visual literacy as: “the ability to construct meaning from images.”

YouTube Preview Image

“90% of what we take in in the world, we take in visually”

– Brian Kennedy

Right now, I have my COETAIL blog, and a personal blog. Recently, my personal blog has not been updated as often as I would like it to be, but I do try to update it once a month for family and friends back home that I don’t get to chat with as often as I’d like. It’s a way for me to keep them up on what is going on in my life on the other side of the world.

Ideally, I would like to redesign both of these blogs, but since I am barely able to keep up with my personal blog, I think I will stick to redesigning my COETAIL blog for now. I would like for my COETAIL blog to be more aesthetically appealing and easier to navigate. It quite bothers me that my blog does not look exactly the way I would like it to look. I am not even sure how I would like it to look, but I do know that I am not entirely pleased with how it looks at the moment.

Here is what it looks like right now, and to be honest, I didn’t even know that it looked this bad! I thought I had tidied it up the last time I posted. Obviously not! It looks like a complete and total mess 🙁

“Before” picture

Here are some things I plan to change soon:

  • Header image
    • Right now, I am using one of the default images for my blog, but I really think that header image should be one that reflects who I am and what I am all about. I am thinking that a picture of my classroom and/or lab would be a good choice. Now, I have to cleanup my classroom and take that picture!
  • Links under header
    • What happened? I thought I had 4 links: About Me, Course 1, Course 2, and Course 3. That is most definitely not the case as you can see in the above “Before” picture! It is a mess, but I plan to clean it up soon, so it reflects those 4 links. And under each course link, I will have the blog posts that are associated with those courses.
  • “About Me”
    • This deeply bothers me that there is nothing there when you click on this link on my blog! But I do plan on cleaning up this aspect of my blog as part of my Course 3 Final Project 😉 I have been inspired by Sonya Terborg, who has an absolutely beautiful About Me page. I am planning to do something along the same lines. Brainstorm is in process!
  • Widgets
    • I currently have NO widgets, but I am not so sure that this is a bad thing. When I look at websites that have a lot of widgets, they look so messy to me. So, if I find any relevant widgets, one or two tops, then I plan to add them to my site. Otherwise, I think I will stick with the clean layout look for now.

I think that is definitely enough to keep my busy for now. I do plan to keep many aspects of my blog the same. For example, when I first created my blog, I carefully went through each and every theme layout to find the one I liked the best. And I didn’t pick which layout just looked the best, I chose the one that I thought was the easiest to read. That is what you want someone to do with your blog posts, right? You want someone to read them, and if it makes it easier for them to read, hopefully that is what they will do. I noticed that many of the theme layouts had small and faint text. And I didn’t want to play around with the settings too much, so I tried to find the theme layout that already had a larger text size and a darker font color, making it automatically easier for my audience to read my work.

If you have ANY suggestions as to how I could incorporate a more catchy header image, how I could better organize the links under my header, what to include or how to go about doing that for my About Me page, or any relevant widgets for my blog, your advice would be greatly appreciated! I warmly welcome your comments below 🙂