Many evenings I work on my classroom website, create new lessons, share my resources via Twitter, etc. Those are the producer days. I'm creating. I'm sharing. I've worked hard to become a producer, because creating 21st Century resources that work well for my students and are valuable to other educators doesn't happen overnight.
I've spent hundreds of days and nights learning about 21st Century teaching and learning from others. My Twitter PLN was my number one source of information at the beginning, and it continues to be my number one resource to go to when I am seeking inspiration and new knowledge. I also rely strongly on Edutopia for articles that really seem to connect with what I am trying to do with my students.
But today, I spent most of my "sitting in front of the TV watching sports" time reading about what's new in education. It was very enjoyable because it confirmed some of what I am doing in my classroom. Many of the articles I read related to teaching kids about the 2012 Presidential Election. I am currently doing that with my kids!
We are currently participating in a PBL unit that I designed where my students are running for president. They learned about the political issues of the day, took stances on them, completed an online survey to see which presidential candidate they most supported, and are now running as members of those same parties! Each candidate has recorded videos explaining their positions on four issues through our "Virtual Debate." Those positions had to be consistent with what their party actually believes. We are now having a primary election (and convention) and eliminating all but one candidate per party. All of these resources can be found above by hovering over "Present" then "2012 Presidential Election". The lessons are found by clicking on "The 2012 Presidential Election," but the students' products are on successive rollouts.
I use Diigo when having a "Consumer" night. I like to bookmark my websites for later use. I make sure to use tags that make sense so they can be found easily. I spend the time to highlight passages that are important so I don't have to re-read entire articles later on. Much of what I read, I just incorporate into my future lesson planning or teaching behaviors, but sometimes I need to come back to an article to access the finer details.
I believe that when becoming a 21st Century Educator, it's important to start out 90% Consumer, 10% Producer. Try to learn as much as possible from people you respect and/or agree with, and start creating a lesson here and there. Use what you learn immediately, because it will soon be forgotten! If you learn about a new tool, use it quickly! If you like it, it will become part of your toolbox. If you don't, it will soon be forgotten and you will use its failure to analyze future tools.
Slowly increase the time you spend "creating" as your lessons become more and more successful. Pretty soon you will be 90% Producer, 10% Consumer. Never stop learning, but also be sure to give back to the learning community to show your appreciation to those who gave you so much. Pay it forward. Although I am no expert, I am trying to give back by posting my materials online, tweeting about them, linking to them from other websites, etc. I want other educators to get excited about 21st Century Education, and start teaching with the passion and drive I feel that I have today.
Now, back to my Cubs. I'm gonna need a little help feeling passion and drive for them anytime soon. :(