TeacherTools

Personal Learning NetworksHiRes1

I like to consider myself a lifelong learner and consistently pursue professional and personal knowledge.  And I think it’s important to model that behavior for children so they understand that learning doesn’t just occur in school.  When I became a teacher, one of my first objectives was to locate and add professional connections to my Personal Learning Network (PLN). I have found these connections to be invaluable and recommend a robust PLN to both new, and more-seasoned, professionals.

My recommendations:

  • Subscribe to a website aggregator like Zite. Instead of searching individual websites, Zite will retrieve articles and online information specifically tailored to your interests. The more articles you open and “thumbs-up”, the more focused Zite’s searches for you become.
  • Find a blog that provides you with valuable information and subscribe to its RSS feed (like WPE’s Teacher Tools blog!).
  • Take advantage of all the great webinars on org.
  • Join a social learning network like the Knowledge Building Commons (KBC) of INFOhio.org.
  • Join an educational listserv specifically geared towards your interests.
  • Read! Or better yet, start a workplace book study. (I recommend the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck)
  • Set up a group in a Course Management System (CMS) like Schoology and invite like-minded professionals to collaborate and join online chats.
  • Become involved in community organizations that support the schools like Westerville Partners for Education (WPE), Westerville Education Foundation (WEF), your school’s Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA), or Westerville Parent Council (WPC).
  • In addition to attending district waiver days and individual building meetings, try out an educational conference like one listed in the following article: http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/09/26-great-conferences-for-teachers-to.html

Whether you decide to try out one new thing or several, the important thing is to keep learning! Not only will you benefit from the others’ knowledge, but others will also appreciate your contributions.

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Using INFOhio as a Resource Hub

There is so much information online that it’s difficult to not only locate useful resources, but to also keep up with the latest and greatest tools to support learning needs. As a school librarian, one resource I frequently use with parents, students, and teachers is INFOhio.

Since 1989, INFOhio has consistently improved to fit the needs of Ohio K-12 education. This summer, INFOhio overhauled its website and refined its navigation to make it easier to locate information and valuable resources. Students continually benefit from INFOhio’s research tools, online encyclopedias, digital video collection, ebooks, Learning Express Library, and multiple databases. Teachers find useful the online learning networks, webinars, iMatrix, lesson plans, College and Career Readiness resources, and curriculum toolkits. Parents benefit from the Adult Learning Center, Career Center, Job and Career Accelerator, and Computer Skills Center of Learning Express Library 3.0 as well as multiple other resources.

There are so many amazing tools and sources of information available on the INFOhio website and INFOhio offers trained professionals (ICoaches) in the Westerville City School District to teach teachers how to use INFOhio and effectively integrate its plethora of resources into their classrooms. The district’s first Professional Development day for the school year is tomorrow. Students will not have classes on this day while district teachers attend various learning sessions at Westerville Central High School. Throughout the day, District certified ICoaches will provide several learning opportunities for teaching professionals.

If you get a chance, check out INFOhio. Some resources require a username and password to access from home. This information can be obtained from any librarian or teacher in the district. Conveniently, login is automatic when students are accessing INFOhio from school. Regardless of the access point, you’ll be amazed at what’s available at your fingertips. And the best part is it’s all FREE!

For more information on resources for teachers and tools to support education right here in our district, check out Westerville Partners for Education on Twitter (@WVillePartners). You can also see a list of local and regional organizations interested in working with teachers and supporting classroom education through our STEAMHub program (westervillepartnersforeducation.org).

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-Jean Trimble

Westerville Partners for Education

Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@WVillePartners) to read Jeans blogs when they come out.

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