Teachers are always looking for new ideas or places to share their own. Often these opportunities only present themselves a few times a year during professional development days or at faculty meetings. Technology and the internet allow for this to happen everyday, at any hour. By using Twitter, blogs, Google Communities and more, teachers are now able to connect instantly for real time feedback and professional development. In the past 3 weeks I have participated in 4 Twitter chats and 4 live webinars. I was able to learn, share, and collaborate on multiple different topics. I participated on topics I had never used in my classroom and ones that I use regularly. It was a bit intimidating at first, especially in the Twitter chats which move very quickly.
Twitter Chats –
#engsschat – This chat usually involves secondary english and social studies teachers. The conversation the night I joined, revolved around using genius hour in the classroom. I have always wanted to provide students time to share their interests and show their personality, but have not incorporated something like genius hour into my classroom yet. The educators involved in this chat provided great insights into what a genius hour project might look like, as well as, help people new to this idea problem solve. One participant mentioned how she uses a genius hour model every Friday with her students. Another educator explained how she has students share their genius hour projects in a talk show format. I have already began creating my next unit building off of her idea! I was able to participate myself by sharing ideas for how I could use genius hour in my curriculum, as well as sharing some of my reservations for this idea. I was happy to see I was not alone in wondering how to fit such a great idea into the curriculum and welcomed all of the suggestions from those who have used it. This was a great chat that helped further my interest in online PD and also helped me build my PLN. I am looking forward to participating again this week.
#gafechat – This chat is for Google Apps for Education and this particular week was on Blogging! I was excited to be a part of this chat because I have recently introduced my students to blogger. Since I am in the beginning stages with this integration, I was eager to hear ideas to use. A great question was about the kids who may not find writing as their best avenue for expressing ideas. Even though I allow choice for student projects, I hadn’t thought about “choice” in the format students were blogging. This was a great idea that helped spark some new ideas for my classroom. Overall, it was a great chat and I was able to connect with many educators who are also using blogs in their classroom. My hope is to find a class to “share” my kids blogs with! Great for authentic audience.
#edtechchat – This chat discussed digital citizenship. I was excited to be a part of this conversation since my school is trying to set up some standards for this. There was a great conversation about having digital citizenship as a its own class, or making it weave into our current curriculum. In addition, people wondered about how it could be assessed. There were great ideas about incorporating digital citizenship standards into already created rubrics. Since this chat, I was a part of a tech summit at my school. I was able to share some ideas from the chat and begin the discussion around how different classes incorporate technology. My hope is to help my school begin incorporating digital citizenship into our regular classroom routines.
#inquirychat – This chat was on innovation. It was a great chat with a lot of ideas. Teachers explained ideas on how they innovate in their class and provided specific examples. I was able to connect with a teacher about a new resources, Aurasma. She sent me an email with her latest presentation to help me learn more about the tool and how she uses it in history class. I left the chat with some great ideas that I have already incorporated into my current unit.
Primary Sources – This was put on by Ed Web. This webinar shared some great ways to have students “unpack” difficult primary sources, which is a something many of my 8th graders have a tough time doing. I was happy to walk away with some great strategies I could use right away. I got a great idea of using putting a primary source into a Wordle and seeing which words are used the most. This could help the students generate questions or come to conclusion prior to reading the difficult texts. It could also identify important vocab terms to look up before reading. I already used this strategy and my kids took a lot of great ideas away.
Refreshing your PLN – This was put on by PBS Learning and the hosts provided a lot of great information on ways to connect. One teacher suggested a Google Community where teachers across her district shared technology successes (and even failures). This allowed the teachers to learn from each other and gain valuable feedback. It helps keep teachers in different schools connected.
Build Some Content! Virtual Worlds – This webinar was provided by ISTE Mobile Learning Network. I have no real experience with virtual worlds, so this was my first exposure to the topic. Carolyn Lowe shared her personal virtual space and explained how she has set it up for teachers and students to use. You could essentially rent virtual classroom spaces. These classrooms were in space, in the forest, underwater, etc. Carolyn also explained how students could give their presentations in these spaces as well. She provided many resources and ideas for getting started.
The Mindset of a Maker Education – This webinar was also provided by ISTE Mobile Learning Network. Our professor, Jackie Gerstein led the webinar. This was the most interactive webinar I had participated in. It gave a chance to reflect on my current practices and really envision how I can incorporate a maker mindset in my classroom. The visuals and ThingLinks were helpful in gaining a better understanding of how students can be “makers.” The science teacher on my team and I work very closely and I was excited to share all of the resources with her. We have had several discussions on how we can give the students more time to create and lead their learning, as well as, make it relevant to both of our courses.
All of these chats and webinars were informative and have helped me grow as a teacher. I am in only my second year as a teacher and I am always looking for new ideas and ways to improve my classroom. Participants were very welcoming and supportive. I was encouraged to continue participating and asked clarifying questions. I was excited after each chat and webinar to see my PLN grow and even begin collaborating with them outside of chats. Currently, I am participating in the TEAM beginning teacher program in Connecticut. It requires me to set goals, attend pd, review resources, and implement changes in my classroom. I plan on finding webinars and Twitter chats to help me in this process.