Learning, Sharing, & Participating – Online Communities

Tasked to join at least four communities during this module, our instructor tossed the gauntlet to not just lurk but extend ourselves by participating. Challenge accepted.

Initially, I lurked and tried to grasp if the community I chose fit my needs. Eventually, I offered thoughts, tips or ideas and freely shared my passions. I joined five total communities because I feared one was going to delay too long in accepting me and to be honest was afraid it was no longer current.

The English Companion

Image of Peer Question

Question posed by teachermom in a community dedicated to English/Language Arts teachers.

Post 1 – Teachermom posed a question about her school’s upcoming Student/Teacher/Parent Conferences. Evidently, someone in leadership (possibly her) made a decision to offer Student-led Conferences this year. It seems like an exciting evening for the 7th & 8th graders. Somehow, the teachers are not supporting the evening. The OP questions ways to help insure the evening planned for Nov 7th goes off without a hitch. Hard to accomplish her goals when the staff does not feel those goals belong to them. My reply is posted below.

Bernheim response to teachermom

I respond to teachermom with some clarification questions and an action plan.

Post 2 – I found another poster to whom I wanted to address. This poster was looking for plays that addressed questions of Social Injustice with regard to race, LGBT vantage points. His post follows.

Ethan Johnson's Question

Peer searches for plays addressing Social Injustice from race or LGBT vantage point.

Since I felt I could add to the conversation, I did.

Peer to Peer Reply

I reply to Johnson’s request and offer a few titles that have not been offered while affirming some that have.

Post 3 – The next post was still in the same community. However, this question dealt with teaching ELL. Alia Mohammed Rashid addresses three concerns: lack of learner motivation; insufficient time, resources and materials; and overcrowded English classes. I will attach the screenshot here.

Part 1 question

Part 1 of my peer’s questions. Not clear if this was a baited post or if his/her questions are real. I choose real.

Rashid Part 2

The rest of Rashid’s questions appear here.

My reply follows in two screenshots.

Bernheim Reply to Rashid

I reply to Rashid’s questions and break down my response.

Bernheim Reply to Rashid

I complete my reply to my peer, sharing my opinion in a professional manner.

Drama Net Online Community

Post 4

This particular community took time to validate my request to join. Perhaps it was due to the New Zealand location. I really wanted to explore connecting across the globe. Benjamin posted a question of how to manage play selection in a single-sex school. Having performed in a single-sex environment at my high school and selecting plays for single-sex in public school, I felt compelled to respond.

Response Single-Sex

Response to question regarding single-sex play choices.

Drama Teachers and Resources for them

Post 5

Alison Chaplin posted a question, “Are drama games worthwhile? What are their benefits?” Since I advocate the use of “drama” games, I felt compelled to reply.

Theater Games

I offered my response to the question of drama game use.

Post 6

Since this was a community of fellow Drama/Theater teachers, I felt it worthwhile to offer my Curated page of Drama teacher resources.

Bernheim Posts Resources

Offered the group my curated page of Drama resources.

Post 7

I also thought it worthwhile to share my plan for safeguarding digital identity.

Screenshot of Digital Identity

Shared Safeguarding My Digital Identity – Plan B to help grow my brand.

New Teacher Chat Online Community

Through Google + and our Twitter Chat professional development, Lisa Dable, the creator of #ntchat, and I hit it off. She invited me to continue participating and I noticed she ran an online community for new teachers as well. I joined the community and felt compelled to offer my digital curation. (Lisa had already shared Safeguarding My Digital Identity – Plan B.)

Post 8

Curation Screenshot

I offered my curated page of Drama resources to the ntchat online community.

Post 9

I felt compelled to offer my plan to safeguard digital identity. I felt it would be of value to both new and not-so-new teachers on this site.

Digital Identity Post

Shared Safeguarding My Digital Identity – Plan B with the group.

International Teacher Recruitment – Teaching Jobs Overseas (LinkedIn Online Community)

Since approval to the first Drama Community I joined was taking what felt like an eternity, I joined an online community through LinkedIn to help me meet my goal of returning to the Dean of Students office.

Post 10

Screenshot of Response

I joined an online community for International Teaching Jobs as a way to build traffic to my LinkedIn page.

This was a valuable assignment. Were it not for the post requirement, I might have taken a much longer road to posting and revealing myself. The experience challenged me to represent my brand and choose my words carefully. I am better for the experience.


Curious B’s PLE and Peer Analysis

Curious B's PLE
Tasked to create a visual representation of my Personal Learning Environment excited my creative juices. I explored the exemplars and tried to find what resonated with me. As classmates posted, I determined a plain background just would not work. I needed something to connect the whole.
Throughout my journey through the MET program, I feel like a cross between a Blue Man from Blue Man Group and a character from the storybooks of my childhood, Curious George. For those unfamiliar with any of the Blue Man shows, all things we take for granted in our environment fascinate the characters. They act as though they have never seen any of any of the objects they bring to stage. Their naïve, child-like discovery reactions are priceless and part of the charm of the show. Exploring all the new skills and tools, I often feel like a Blue Man in brand new-to-me territory. I identify with Curious George. Again, he explores his world with a naïveté that is part of his charm. His mistakes become teachable moments. I felt it crucial to my diagram that it contain a strong central connecting image representing my Connectivism influence developed through my MET journey and my long-standing student-centered Constructivist nature.
Both characters were neck and neck until it came to the background image needed. I sought an image that would show connections to all parts of my PLE whole. Blue Man offered no help here. However, a banyan tree just leapt into my head as I shifted to Curious George. I searched through Creative Commons until I found one that had the sun backlighting the tree. Rays of light burst through seeming to illuminate this journey, missing only the dramatic punctuation of the organ music from the B movies of my youth.
Moving to the execution phase began as a productive struggle. There were eighteen sample tools. As I moved through those familiar and unfamiliar, I hit a wall as to whether the tools would allow my own image use. Either it would not or would only allow it if I upgraded to a paid account. “Even a fool learns after the second time.” Those words from my grandmother rang in my head. After trying twice the fool criteria, I took my concerns to the class Facebook page and received the help I needed.
I hung the images throughout the tree quickly reaching the 20-image limit of piktochart. There were images left on the cutting room floor as I simply exhausted my choices. Thinking my banyan tree was showing the connections enough, I posted. Soon after, Matt Smeller posted comments that though he enjoyed the image, identified weaknesses in my visual communication. Questions of hierarchy and placement needed answers. Taking my cues from Matt’s notes, I made corrections and reposted. I made changes and added text that I feel added to the whole and made the placement and purpose clearer.
The entire process offered layered learning for me as I utilize the computer to represent the type of educator I have been in-person on the little screen. The following compare and contrast exercise afforded me the chance to analyze the assignment through the eyes of my classmates.

Jody Beesley-Lazarski – PLN Partner
We both used groupings. However, Jody does not delineate which is placed where and why. I do not see group headings, which would have made that clearer for me. Also, beyond the similarity of color bursts I do not see how they each connect to the whole. The image does remind me of a Venn Diagram and if that is the case, I do see where some overlap would naturally occur. The central connection of the banyan tree links all icons, and categories together for me and I looked for a similar connection with Jody’s. She made selections placing certain icons together on specific bursts of color. Her talent in the digital world is obvious and I am often jealous of her skills. This assignment is no exception; however, helping me to see the grouping choices would make this excellent image explode at a new altitude.

Alissa Blackburn – PLN Partner
I feel we used a lot of the same icons. Also, we each placed value on a background image to connect the whole. Her use of many hands layered on the screen in a circle certainly provides a strong connective image. She labeled categories, though for me it was hard to see where one ended and the other began. Though I don’t see where exactly she is in her PLE, and I do see where I am in mine, her image was still quite strong on the page. That is not a negative, just an obvious difference in how we viewed the task. The quote added a thought-provoking layer absent in my own.

Matt Smeller
Matt, like me, chose to use a strong background image to connect the whole image for the viewer. The use of a choir lends itself to a natural grouping of icons by voice: soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. As such, I looked for groupings that did not manifest. Part of me likes the image not being grouped, as mine had no groupings at the outset. We had some similar choices of icons and a few I did not use simply due to the platform I chose. I think Google Slides was a great vehicle and cannot believe I overlooked using Google Docs.

Andrew McCrae
Andrew, like me, chose to place his likeness in the middle. Like mine, his image showed a playful side. The overall whole was connected like a recipe. The concept was readily understood and how the pieces fit the whole just added to the quality of the overall image. We had a few common icons and some that were different. One choice, the hashtag icon, required me to research what they were. I always enjoy when my peers make me research their own choices as I deepen my own understanding. I often compare the modern teacher to an alchemist or chef as student-centered learning requires more of a shepard than the sage center stage. I enjoyed seeing what I feel is a similar view expressed in Andrew’s design.

Amanda Hatherly
Amanda chose an aloe plant as her background image. Mine used the icons as leaves on the banyan tree. I am not sure what each of the icons represents on an aloe plant. Amanda placed herself at the center, which I appreciate. All of her icon choices surround her and for that I certainly identify and appreciate. She used groupings, which were readily apparent and easily processed. The spiral image of an aloe plant certainly added a layer to her image and I am a fan of the impact of visual imagery. She chose icons that encouraged work on my part to discover what they were. I appreciate having to explore new areas to understand my peers. I enjoyed that quest. I think her image is effective and the purpose of the assignment met and done well.

Sarah Baughman
Sarah chose an image that I perceive meant to represent her. She also chose a central placement and that resonated with me for making a similar choice. She has categories or purpose of use delineated to the side, which certainly helped my processing. However, the icons are listed vertically and not grouped per se. This left me to question where each icon belongs, and what the hierarchy may be for the placement. Given the totem pole representation, I wanted to ask if one is more important to the other. I felt my own achieved that by using clear groupings. Containing all her images within her human frame connected the individual icons to her whole. Her creativity and image choice was not lost on me as that added a thought-provoking layer I hope I replicated with my banyan tree and Curious B imagery.

Online Professional Development

Online Professional Development

Image from Creative Commons.

Our professor challenged us to participate in four twitter chats and four webinar sessions for this module. We were provided a resource list to aid in our selections based on our own affinities and content areas. I chose to be an active participant, as I firmly believe there is a direct correlation between what I put into an assignment and what I gain. I selected a cross-section of chats and webinars to broaden both the experience and my interests as a professional. I detail each to offer my reflections on this project. Highlights from each of the twitter chats and webinars follow.

Twitter Chats
I had never experienced a Twitter Chat prior to this assignment. Initially, I experienced sensory overload as information streams from all directions. The moderator poses a series of questions, usually labeling with a Q and a number identifying the order ie – Q1, Q2, etc. Responders use A1, A2 respectively.
When I was a young man, I worked as a paramedic and firefighter. Chats remind me of water traveling from the hydrant to the pumper and then through a smaller hose increasing pressure. The orifice diameter is reduced and then projected through an even smaller tip at the nozzle. The combined results can blow an individual off his/her feet. With all the responders and my twitter feed moving at a lightning pace, an information stream struck me similar in force to that nozzle pressure.
In the beginning I was overwhelmed, paralyzed by the pressure of information. I found it challenging to keep up. However, the more I reflected on the experience, I discovered how much I learned, retained and bookmarked for future use. I felt valued as a participant watching my peers favorite my tweets and retweeting them. I gained numerous followers, which became a high for me. I felt validated as an educator and resource for peers and those I viewed as mentor-types. Honestly, that was a new experience for me and became my preferred vehicle over webinars.

Twitter 1 – October 4, 2014
#satchatwc Topic – Six Traits of Innovation
Moderated by Shelley Burgess
Led by Don Wettrick
Chat Log
The speed at which information flows during a Twitter chat still astounds me. If you know much about fire hoses, that metaphor still sticks in my head. You have hydrant pressure (the normal Twitter feed for SATCHATWC), the pressure increased by the engine (the given chat time), and nozzle or tip pressure (all the individuals spitting information that comes out during the chat time at my screen). It feels better now after the fact. In the moment, I felt blasted by the stream. It felt necessary, like the water when near a hot spot and yet, the initial force stunned me.
Due to the speed of information, I was unable to capture every single post I made. I learned an amazing amount of pearls in the discussion. Wettrick offered many eye-opening thoughts on innovation and what truly makes a daring educator.
Please view some highlights of my experience here.

Twitter 2 – 10/12/2014
Led by David Prindle @dprindle
Chat Log
Discussion centered on educators’ learning spaces. Again, information flowed rapidly. Even though the pace was quick, I enjoyed the constant interaction and side debates/discussions that resulted. Maybe I enjoyed it because I was better prepared for the massive flow. Did not seem to have as many participants as my first. Could be topic-driven, though I am not sure. I learned a great deal from my fellow participants. I want more, though.
I will try a different venue next and see it a different topic gets my juices flowing. I learned about a variety of learning spaces and that many administrators still harbor antiquated views as to what makes a great learning space.
I have captured a sampling of my participation here.

Third Twitter – 10/14/2014
Led by new tech network
Chat Log
Discussion centered on Maker Spaces. Boy did I learn a great deal. The pace was not as brisk as there were less folks involved than on my two previous Twitter chats. It was good to get a cross-section for comparison.
The biggest benefit was getting a nearly private lesson about Maker Spaces. I was able to contribute to the discussion in a more positive manner once I glanced at the supporting material and the resources I found as well.
I captured a sampling here.

Fourth Twitter – 10/15/2014
Led by Lisa Dabbs @teachingwithsoul
Chat Log – Not Archived
I joined this New Teacher chat because I am an experienced educator and felt I would have something to offer the conversation. I learned that I have the tools now to be an effective mentor should I get the opportunity to be an administrator again. That passion burns brightly still.
A sampling of my participation can be found here.

Fifth Twitter – 10/15/2014
Chat Log
Led by Tammy Neil
Discussion centered around bullying in schools. I am drawn to the subject and felt compelled to participate to explore how others viewed and dealt with bullying. This experience challenged me as I chose simultaneous engagement with #ntchat. I surprised myself keeping up with both conversations at the same time and gained insight in both topics in a relatively short amount of time.
Please see a sampling of my participation here.

Right off the bat, I did not enjoy this experience. I found it off-putting that presenters read slides. I felt death by Powerpoint. Instructors presented as talking heads and only a few offered live chats to facilitate real time discussion. Answers to questions were slow in coming if at all. Instructors used words like “great question” for some and not for others, invalidating the questions of those invested in the topic. So much of my MET program challenged me to rethink how we present lessons. It is shameful that presenters do not practice what they preach and use archaic methods to share their information. I found myself forced to find a few pearls of knowledge amidst a sea of shells to validate my invested time.

Webinar 1 – 10/7/2014
Title – Identifying Autism
Led by Dr. Christopher Smith
Dr. Smith just marched on with his presentation and the chat was on the side. Less real interaction with the participants as in the Twitter chat seemed to make things move slowly along. Q & A added to the discussion toward the end.
I learned about the DAVE Assessment and proved to be an asset as that is a recent development in early detection.
Screen captures of the webinar can be found here.

Webinar 2 – 10/9/2014
Title – Effective School Leaders
Led by Eric Hanushek, PhD
Webinar Recording
Webinar Powerpoint
The speaker (Eric Hanushek) presented his research and made sweeping generalizations based solely upon Texas public schools. Based upon what I read prior to the webinar, I thought a more “how to be” approach was going to take place. Dr. Hanushek looked at statistics as opposed to skill sets.
I felt the format limited participation. Questions were chosen again by the moderator and some where addressed and some were not. Many of the questions participants had were not addressed by the researchers. Also, independent schools were not included in the study and longevity assumptions were invalid for that community.
I felt I wasted a great deal of time on this webinar versus what was gained. I would have appreciated either more comprehensive research, or at the least, a greater clarity of the purpose of the webinar in advance.
Discovering a correlation to public school performances in impoverished schools and the relatively short retention of principals became my key takeaway.
Please see a sampling of my webinar screenshots here.

Webinar 3 – 10/15 /2014
Title – Digital Citizenship
Led by – Kelly Mendoza
Chat Log
Video Recording
I enjoyed this one a bit more. Audio had some real challenges as they did a sound check before the webinar started and things were fine. Then the moderator and presenter left. When they returned the audio sounded like they were underwater. Took over a quarter of the allotted hour to fix. I found it challenging to remain focused. I was at least pleased that slides were talking points developed further by audio presentation.
Lots of side-chats began happening. One man mentioned his school was starting toward issuing Digital Drivers’ Licenses for students. Upon questioning he admitted that only teachers were on the community that design the DLL. Also, the DDL did not permit anything. I suggested he go back to his group and use the DLL as a computer pass in the library. At least have the DDL mean something on campus so students will want to have it, rather than just issuing a completion card.
My key takeaway proved to be discovering a host of tools at the Common Sense media website that I can access and use in classrooms.
A sampling of screenshots are included here.

Webinar 4 – 10/15/2014
Title – Community Vocational Assessments And Why They Impact IEP
Webinar Recording
Moderater – Jerisa Maseko
Presenter – Matt Fideler
Mr. Fideler read his PowerPoint slides to us. The presenter also chose to highlight certain questions with comments like “Great question!” as opposed to others. I found this off-putting. We do not teach each other like we are supposed to treat students. Maybe this is because I have been taught better practices through this MET program and I have increased expectations of others. The point of this was to show Project Hire’s plan to help Special Education students get to a point where they can work outside the home and engage a productive life.
I would like to incorporate opportunities like those mentioned for future students. Having community business support seems critical and that was my greatest takeaway.
Some sample screenshots are included here.

Creating A PLN Curation Checklist

This week’s assignment tasked us (with partners – Jody Beesley-Lazarski, and Alissa Blackburn) to explore curation and then create a curation checklist with members of our assigned PLNs. “Content curation is the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme” (Kanter, 2011). Kanter suggested a three-tiered approach – Seek, Sense, and Share (2011).
Initially, I experienced resistance to this task. Left to my own devices, the task seemed suited for a librarian more than an educator. However, the Internet is broad and vast. The sheer amount of information can overwhelm. An experience in a Twitter chat created a turning point. I noticed all links shared during the chat were laser-focused on the topic. Reflecting on resources provided by professors, I noticed they-too were specific items necessary for a given lesson. “Leaving digitally based information to languish in personal electronic filing drawers amid a jumble of unrelated information and with no plans for its survival guarantees its disappearance” (Ogburn, 2010). And the a-ha moment became visible and clear.
Working collaboratively with my PLN partners was intriguing and stimulating. We chose to decide how we would use our checklist first. Our common thread was high school; but, we each came from different content areas. Once we decided on Digital Media in the ELA and Theater classrooms as our goal, the rest assembled quickly. We built our checklist using Google Docs enabling the chat and comments to share information. We also used Facebook messages to share and debate use of text, quotes and the way the information would appear on the page. Our rowboat followed a collective azimuth. Three oars were constantly in the water.
Our biggest challenges were working through three different time zones, our different vantage points and varied personal demands beyond this class. The greatest benefit was seeing this assignment through the eyes of my partners. At times, we each were coxswain, providing guidance and direction. We each allowed another to guide and rowed hard to validate their vision. The outcome would be different if any of us were removed and another classmate inserted. Exploring the projects of other groups did not make me feel our product is more or less viable. We arrived at our destination that works for those in this boat.
We learned from one another creating a combined whole. “To prepare the next generation of scholars, the knowledge and skills for managing data should become part of an education process that includes opportunities for students to contribute to the creation and the preservation of research in their fields” (Ogburn, 2010, p. 244). I have no doubt our implementation of this checklist will prove successful in the next phase of this project.


Kanter, B. (2011, Oct 4). Content curation primer. (Web log comment). Retrieved
October 4, 2014, from http://www.bethkanter.org/content-curation-101/

Ogburn, J. L. (2010). The imperative for data curation. Portal : Libraries and the Academy, 10(2), 241-246. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/216178815?accountid=9649