Tag Archives: connecting

Perspective Change With A Tweet

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It was @thelkowski that got me into twitter – she is always on the cutting edge of technology and I, of course, wanted to jump in after. So, I signed up in 2009 and it felt like being on the edge of a conversation. I had read how to get involved but it felt strange to me and I just didn’t quite see it yet. It was when @thelkowski called in June of 2010 with her exciting news of attending #gtauk that I began to “get” the power of being able to be involved. In July, 2010, I added the hashtag #gtauk and began what would become my go to resource, PD, and support that my own school could not provide. That day provided the confidence I needed to be able to add to the conversation of #edchat shortly after. I remember with excited nervousness when I got my first retweet and someone asked me a question. Wow! It was absolutely a shift in perpective from that point. I had found a global community who shared my passion for education, reform, student learning, and allowed me to collaborate.

Collaboration for me is like breathing – necessary for growth. I honestly do not remember when I found #sschat but when I did, I was home! I get support, resources, challenge, and friendship with a group of fantastic educators I admire and respect. They are the best of the best. Fast forward just over a year and I was asked moderate #sschat. What? Me?  Just as Elle Woods would say – “I did it!” It has confirmed everything I believe in – global collaboration and student centered learning.

A quick recap for those new tweeters:

  • Find a hashtag to start with – #sschat, #edchat, – for a complete list see @cybraryman1 ‘s website.
  • Tweet to add to the conversation – find one or two ideas to tweet. For my first retweet, I shut my eyes and hit send, that’s how nervous I was. But it worked, someone noticed.  It gets easier with every tweet.
  • Tweeting is like anything else, I was trying to keep up with everyone, but I realized that those who tweet me back and add to my PLN are the ones I care about now.
  • Remember that you are an amazing educator and you will be an asset to twitter. Tweet away! Don’t forget the hashtags! It really does add to the experience as it gets to more people. Some of my best follows now are from retweets.
My perspective changed with one tweet and now twitter has become my best PLN I’ve had in my career – I am excited to meet some of my #sschat PLN in December at the NCSS conference. I look forward to talking all things student learning and Social Studies!
Happy tweeting and see you all Monday nights at 7 pm EST for #sschat – I promise great resources, conversation, and support.

One Step Forward, Two Back

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europe-va-tech-vga-2008-421Ok, I am feeling trapped in a 19th century system while trying to allow 21st century learning to happen. Is it because students don’t know how to “do” 21st century learning? Is it because they are so ingrained in a system that is outdated and they just go through the motions? I see glimpses of learning – like today when we were analyzing the European Union. Students had researched information about whether the candidate countries meet the criteria the EU has set and I had “researchers” ready for questions that would come up. Students were debating ideas like GDP, economic stability based on what they were reading, and as we needed more information the researcher would look up facts like literacy rate, etc. I really felt like students were informed, interested, and were able to enjoy the debate. Technology was not used just so students could use the internet but rather they were integrating the technology into their learning – as naturally as they text, IM, etc. It was a great day and I felt as if it was truly student learning taking place. I was the facilitator, they were learning from each other. It is not like this every day and I am continually asking why. And as the bell was ringing and students were grabbing their books and turning computers off, I wondered how to fit this type of learning into my 48 minute schedule? Why can’t the educational system focus on meeting student needs in the 21st century instead of focusing on standards of learning and testing? I know we need standards but do we need to teach to a test that a group of people who are not in classrooms have developed into a multiple choice test? When do we use multiple choice tests in life? I realize these are pretty random thoughts but I don’t think our system is working and as we look to work out the budget problems I hope we don’t lose focus on our progress. We must move forward – we cannot afford two steps back.

The Sky’s the Limit with Skype

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connecting classrooms

connecting classrooms

We’re willing to pay thousands for computers, interactive whiteboards, the latest software, document cameras, and digital video cameras. Yet, how much are we willing to pay to connect classroom to classroom, school to school, district to district, state to state, or even country to country?  What is the value of being able to interview content experts or authors, conduct discussions or debates, or collaborate in real-time?

We did it today.  Once my friend and I each bought a $50 web cam and installed Skype, we connected from school to school with ease.  I was thoroughly impressed by the clarity of the audio and video feed.  All you need is free Skype software, Internet access, a microphone and speaker (the web cam is optional to send video along with the audio).  I just used the speaker from the laptop and the microphone from the web cam.

Imagine the possibilities!  Connecting and collaborating are key 21st century skills.  It struck me as odd that this tool has not been marketed more often for education.  And I wondered where I’ve been.  How could I have missed this?  I really haven’t heard much more about Skype since I returned from the VSTE Conference in February.  Yet, as Alan November reminded us at the VASCD Conference, we need to teach students to connect with real people across the curriculum.

 So is $50 worth connecting classrooms of kids from around the world?  I’d say so!  In the 21st century, we can’t afford not to…