Twitter for Teachers: A Basic Guide

January 15, 2012

I’m teaching a workshop next week for educators on the basics of Twitter. I’ve put together a guide to help teachers learn the basics of how to set up and use a Twitter account.

The guide is still in draft format, but if you’d like a sneak preview, I’d love your feedback:

View this document on Scribd

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Today’s Webinar: How To Use Google Forms

December 7, 2011

Google Forms for Educators

How to Build, Design and Use Google Forms

Learn how to build, design and use Google forms for educational contexts such as:

  • registration forms for events
  • sign-up forms for volunteers
  • sign-up forms for intramurals
  • program evaluation
  • any other uses you can think of

This one-hour “how to” session goes step by step to show you everything you need to know. By the end of this session you should be ready to build your own forms with ease. In case you need a refresher, this program includes a take-home manual in .pdf format so you can easily remember the steps later on when you need them.

Here’s what past participants of this program have said:

“I learned so much in an hour. I very much appreciate the quality of the presenter.  Thanks!” – Susan Sanders, UMKC, Kansas City, USA

“This webinar is well-paced and gives an good grounding in the use of Google Forms. Sarah knows her subject and handles questions with grace and confidence.” Sue Goodrich, University of Southern Maine, East Boothay, Maine, USA

“Sarah possesses an invaluable combination of skills—a great mastery of content, the ability to make that knowledge understandable and useful to others, and an engaging, interactive and well-paced delivery.” – Barbara Lindsey, University of Connecticut, Connecticut, USA

Enrollees will receive a free e-Textbook.

Register here.

If you can’t make the live program, you can also check out the recording.

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


The Need For Increased Integration of Technology and Digital Skills in the Literacy Field in Canada

December 2, 2011

Need for Increased Tech in Literacy by Sarah Elaine Eaton, Calgary, CanadaIt’s here! The Need For Increased Integration of Technology and Digital Skills in the Literacy Field in Canada has just been released.

Technology does not need to be adopted because it is fashionable, but because the face of learning worldwide has changed dramatically over the past several decades at all levels, from early childhood education to workforce training. When literacy professionals integrate technology in meaningful ways, they ultimately help learners prepare for long-term success.

This report highlights the changing landscape of Canadian education and training (though the findings may relate to other regions, too). It offers recommendations for literacy organizations, managers, coordinators, staff, volunteer tutors and other practitioners to incorporate technology into professional practice in an easily accessible manner that focuses on building professional competencies.

Topics covered include:

  • The changing nature of education and training.
  • The current state of literacy instruction.
  • Emerging models of technology integration in the literacy field.
  • The need for continuing professional development.
  • Recommendations.

Bibliography contains 36 references. Get your copy here: http://www.onatepress.com/titles/the-need-for-technology-in-literacy/

This publication is also available through the ERIC database: http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED526087.pdf

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Free PD Resource: 3 Early Literacy Professional Development Webinar Recordings

September 28, 2011

Are you looking for some material for your next PD or staff meeting to get your early literacy practitioners thinking? Webinars are a great way to build knowledge and generate discussion in your team. You can ask participants to watch the webinar before the meeting and come prepared to talk about it, or you can watch the webinar as a group and then have a dialogue about it.

Get Ready to Read has posted three freely available webinars for early literacy on their site. You can watch the programs and download the slide presentations for each of these three topics:

Shared Book Reading

Reading with children provides valuable opportunities for enriching vocabulary and other important oral language skills as well as for extending basic knowledge about the world. Viewers will learn how to maximize language growth through shared book reading. They will also find out how to increase children’s understanding of concepts of print, how books work, and the wonders of letters and words on a page. Activities will be demonstrated to help prepare children to become motivated, equipped, and successful readers and writers.

Phonological (Sound) Awareness

Phonological awareness, or the insight that words are made up of discrete parts, is one of the strongest indicators of future reading success. Viewers will learn how to use books, songs and conversation to increase youngsters’ ability to learn important preliteracy concepts through play with sounds and syllables. Enjoyable activities will be described and modeled to help children rhyme as well as identify, separate, and blend sounds with words.

Speech to Print Connection

Children can be empowered to match what they know best – speech – with what they need to learn to read – print. Through children’s first exposure to the alphabet, the speech to print connection is built. Activities to strengthen letter naming and children’s own name recognition serve as the springboard for establishing sound-symbol relationships and word recognition. Enjoyable group activities demonstrate how early literacy can be promoted to prepare children for later reading success.

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


How to Get a Spectacular Speaker for Your Next Literacy or Language PD Event

April 26, 2011

Sarah Elaine Eaton - Ontario Literacy Conference speaker 2010I’ve had some conversations recently with colleagues looking for speakers for conferences, professional development (PD) events or workshops. They’ve said that they don’t really know where to start looking and find themselves in that classic quandary… “We need someone good… Really, really good… And we have a limited budget!” Where to start?

In 2010 I was inducted into the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS) and I realized that there’s a big gap, a chasm almost, between the world of corporate meeting planners and the non-profit volunteer conference organizing committees. I talk to dozens of professional speakers who are aching to speak at more non-profit and educational events… and volunteer organizers who just don’t know where to find great speakers. There must be a way to get both groups connected!

Here are some tips that may help…

Decide on your budget

Whether you’re working with an entire committee or you’re one person charged with the responsibility of finding an amazing speaker, you’ll want to figure out how much you have to spend. Your budget will generally include two parts:

  • Speaking fee
  • Travel and accommodation

Some speakers have an “all in” fee that includes travel, meals and accommodation. Keynote speeches for non-profit events start at about $500 and go up to $10,000. The fee is often a combination of what the organization can afford and the speaker’s rates. $5000 for a keynote speaking fee is about average, but there is a great deal of variance.

Prospective clients sometimes ask me if I will speak for free. The answer is yes, but there are some rules.

Have a clear idea of what kind of speaker you want

Every event wants someone “good”, but what does that mean to you? Do you want your speaker to entertain, educate or both? Usually, it’s a good idea to get someone who is knowledgeable or an advocate of your subject area. Don’t get in a mechanics expert for a group of literacy practitioners. Make sure your speaker has either worked in the field or is a champion of it.

Beware of the “I need to work” types who will claim to be a supporter of your cause just because they need a gig. A quick Google search can help you figure out who’s really in your corner.

Use your networks to find good speakers

Ask your colleagues, teachers and others for recommendations. Keynoters often get work due to referrals and word of mouth. Don’t be afraid to ask people around you who comes to mind when they think of an engaging presenter. Use professional listservs, Twitter and other social media to get recommendations, too.Auditorum seats

Put out a call for keynotes or plenary speakers

Conferences put out calls for presenters, but don’t often do the same for keynotes or plenaries because they fear that the quality of those who might apply would be lower than if they conducted the search themselves. That’s kind of like saying that a university only accepts students they seek out and they don’t accept applications. Putting out a call for keynotes is a great way to find high quality speakers who are building a reputation – particularly if your budget is very limited. Do an RFP (Request for Proposals) and be clear in your call what fee range you’re looking for, then speakers who are working in that range are likely to apply.

Check out your local professional speaking organization

Really, professional speakers are not as expensive as you may think! There is a stereotype about professional speakers that they have a certain approach (a la Tony Robbins, for example). While it’s true that there are many motivational or inspirational professional speakers, there are also hundreds who specialize in speaking to non-profit and educational audiences.

Professional speaking organizations are usually national organizations. Members must meet a strict set of professional criteria (such as a minimum number of paid speaking engagements per year, letters of reference, etc.) before being inducted into a major national organization. These big organizations are often divided further into state or provincial chapters.

Look for evidence of past success

Good speakers have a track record of success.

In the United States, it is pretty much de rigueur that speakers will have a demo video in the form of a CD, a DVD or a YouTube video. In Canada this may be true for corporate speakers, but has yet to fully catch on for non-profit and philanthropic speakers.

At the very least, a speaker should have testimonials and a list of past clients. Ask for recommendations. Check for a calendar of past or upcoming events. With or without a video, a good indicator of success is a full speaking schedule.

Travel and Accommodation

If there’s one thing that is non-negotiable, it’s travel and accommodation. Your speaker may have traveled all day to get to your event. A hot shower, a clean room and a good meal are a relief after a long day of travel.

Having a greeter at the airport is a nice touch that many non-profit conference organizers overlook.

If you’re trying to save on costs, here’s a tip: Hotel food is often high in calories and not very interesting. Many speakers will appreciate a home cooked meal at the home of a conference organizer. This gives your speaker a chance to get to know you and enjoy some social time.

Allow speaker product sales

I’m baffled by conferences that require speakers to rent a booth in order to sell their products. I suspect that thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars a year are lost at non-profit events because the conference has a policy against product sales. Unless the speaker travels with an assistant, they likely won’t have the time to set up a booth and sell product.

An experienced speaker will likely be busy reviewing their notes or doing other preparations before the presentation – as they should. Once a speaker factors in the cost of a booth, plus the cost of an assistant to set up that booth and sell the product, most, if not all of the revenue they would have made is gone. So, speakers abide by conference policies and leave their books, workbooks, CDs and DVDs at home.

A better option: Set up a table at the back of the room where the speaker is giving his or her presentation. Have a conference volunteer work at that table in exchange for a percentage of the gross sales (20% to 30% of total sales is common). If a speaker sells $500 in books and splits the revenue 70/30 with the conference, then the conference makes $150. The speaker takes away $350, from which he or she will need to pay the costs of production (book printing), packaging and shipping. In the end, it works out to a pretty fair split.

Develop a relationship with your speaker

Don’t think of this as one-time gig. This is your opportunity to develop an on-going relationship with someone. Your speaker may help to promote your event by posting about it on Twitter, Facebook or other social media. They may mention you on their blog or find other ways to drive traffic to your website and positive attention to your organization. Non-profit speakers usually have a deep emotional attachment to their field. They want to get to know you and those you serve. If you develop a relationship, that same person may join you again for future events. Figure out how you can help each other succeed and I guarantee you that you’ll get quality speakers that your audiences will love.

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


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