The summer is a great time for rest and relaxation. But it's also a great time for powering up and preparing for the new school year. So here is a challenge for your summer break... The Seven Day Power Up Challenge. Seven days, seven challenges, an hour each challenge. Doesn't sound so terrible in the long sunny stretch of summer, does it? So jump in and take charge of your learning...
(1) Go on a Blog Bender: Blogs are important sources of professional learning for teachers - read blogs, subscribe to them, go to them when you're stuck or in need of inspiration. For those of you who are already reading blogs, this challenge is partly about finding new ones - for those who have yet to enjoy a good edublog, start fresh. Here's a list of some of my favorites. However, that's only half of this challenge. The other half is to create your own blog - if you don't yet have one. This is a perfect way for both experts and newbies alike to share their journey... for others and for themselves. A blog can be a great reflective tool, allowing you to look back on your day, week or even month and think about what worked and what didn't... what you learned and what questions still remain. For some great blog hosting sites, check out...
(2) Commit to a Conference: Conferences are fun ways to connect with other passionate educators in person. Like summer camp for adults, these events offer inspirational messages, hands-on workshops and playtime in the form of socials and appy hours. This challenge is about exploring the different conferences that are coming up and signing up for one - or three!
After you've done this, blog about it! Share what conference you'll be attending, why you chose it and what you want to learn.
(3) Virtual Learning Marathon: To bone up on EdTech ideas before your conference, go on a virtual learning marathon. This challenge asks you to dig into YouTube playlists to find short tutorials, Google's Education Courses and iTunes University to explore new concepts or get geeky on some you already know. Want to do this one while cleaning the house, going for a run on the lake or driving your kids to camp? Check out the great podcasts on on EdReach - available for download to your mobile phone!
And then... blog! Write about what you learned from this marathon and what you want to learn next. Share the best videos you found and why they were so great... help others to get what you just got!
(4) Curate Digital Content: Not all digital content is about professional learning. A lot of great videos out there are aimed directly at students. Take some time to preview some content, and save the gems you find for the fall. Use the amazing EduClipper site (like Pinterest made just for Educators) to keep track of what you find, and to see what others are finding useful.
Guess what you should do now... blog! Share out your EduClipper, explain what you loved and what didn't work for you. Even describe some rough ideas for how you might use them in the fall.
(5) Take On a Twitter Chat: Speaking of others, get connected this summer. Meet new folks who are interested in similar topics, and face similar challenges... all without changing out of your pajamas! Twitter Chats allow folks from all over the world to discuss issues that matter to them. By using Twitter hashtags, chat moderators can host a roundtable session based around specific topics like #1stchat (first grade teachers), #mathchat (math teachers), etc. They happen on a certain day each week, at a certain time and usually are an hour in length. For a a great list of Twitter chats and the times they meet, take a look at this spreadsheet. And yes... you should definitely blog about this.
(6) Three Little Goals: Day 6 already! You've already completed 5 challenges at this point. You've gathered ideas, digital content, committed to continued learning at a conference and started your own blog. Now it's time to figure out how you're going to apply this learning in the fall. Create three goals for new things you'd like to try this school year. Start small - smaller goals are those that you'd be more likely to do. Make sure you know how you'd achieve this goal. And have a timeline. Set deadlines for your goals - create calendar appointments in whatever calendars you use to remind yourself of when to get started. Then... share it on a blog so the world can help you with tips and encouragement!
(7) First Day Warplan: Now that you've got some goals and learning in the chute, make a plan for that first day of school. How are you going to get your kids pumped up for this new super-innovative year of learning? Create a first day (or week) of school plan... be sure to include lots of:
Playtime: let kids tinker with ideas, tools, apps and share their feedback / learning / questions / fears
Fail Fest: teach your students to celebrate and embrace failure. Let them know when it hasn't worked out for you and what you did to learn from the experience. Help them understand that failure is a step in trying new and exciting things.
Student Leadership Team: consider creating a team of student leaders who can help guide their peers and be your "student teachers" as the year unfolds. Think about how you'd train them, support them and set up routines to make this group of student leaders successful.
Finally... share this plan on your blog!
I look forward to seeing how folks do with this challenge... and invite you to paste your blogs in the comments section of this post. I'll be sure to share your blog with others so your professional learning networks can grow! Learning with others is much more fun and fruitful than learning in a vacuum!