Category Archives: twitter
The days are starting to get shorter and stationary is starting to be bought which depending on your point of view is either the end of the holidays or the start of a new school year.
I’m going to go for a glass is half full interpretation and say it’s the start of 2013.
My holidays have been both equally manic and magic with 11 cities/towns, 8 border crossings and 3 cooking classes as I’m meandered around South East Asia in the space of five weeks. In my enthusiasm to dust off my passport, I left for the airport barely 12 hours after I waved goodbye to my students and will arrive just in time for the International Conference on Thinking.
Although most of my time has been spent marvelling at ancient and modern buildings in between eating copious amounts of street food, I did spend a couple of days in International Schools seeing the amazing teaching and learning going on there.
I know what you are thinking.
It takes a special kind of nerd to set aside time on holiday to do classroom observations but my time was PD on steroids. I have come back brimming with ideas to implement in the classroom and a love affair with the Primary Years Programme. As I look about my ideas around barcamps, impact projects and even the Daily 5 I can see how the programme gives some conceptual grunt to my ideas about effective teaching and learning. I would write more but I fear that such one-way gushing would be a bore to read.
These visits simply wouldn’t have been possible without twitter. Through twitter I had already virtually visited classrooms and met teachers. However while online is good face to face is so much better. You get to hear the conversations, the sights and yes even the smells of the classrooms. Nevertheless it is ever so surreal actually being in a classroom that you’ve been watching over the internet or putting a face to an avatar.
In other news I was pleased and humbled to have made it into the Apple Distinguished Educator programme. The calibre of the candidates who both made it into the programme and those who missed out is truly awe-inspiring. Alongside a digital community to join, I also have four days of learning and networking in Bali just before Easter.
2013 is looking to be an exciting year…
Hello my name is Stephanie and I’m an iphone addict.
I use my iphone in conferences, in meetings and *gasp* even in the classroom but I’m not using it to play angry birds.
Here’s 10 ways I use my iphone to make my teaching more effective:
1. Video – capturing learning as it happens
The main reason I got an iphone was for the video capabilities I’ll often walk around my classroom with my phone capturing student learning. Video can be used for students to check in on what they actually did versus what they really did. For instance, do students give each other time to talk or do they butt into conversations? I will frequently use interviews as an alternative for pencil and paper tests making assessment far less intrusive on the student. Moreover video is an effective way to put friends, family and sometimes even parliamentarians right into our classroom. Using an iphone means footage can be edited on the spot and then shared potentially with the whole world in a few minutes.
2. Posting pictures to the cloud
I’ve easily taken thousands of photos this year of my class. Some of them are the generic photos of kids at school events and on field trips but I also use the photo function as way to capture student learning and thinking. What makes the iphone awesome is that these photos can then be easily be shared even if I’m away on camp. I use flickr as my cloud storage of choice and will sometimes email stand-out pictures to students families.
3. Texting parents
You don’t need a fancy phone for sms and so this hardly seems worth mentioning. Nevertheless, I’ve found the best way to engage with my previously hard to reach parents, parents who don’t have email or might work odd hours, has been through text messaging. 160 characters keeps communication short and to the point. The asynchronous nature of text messaging also gives the parent time to think and then respond at a time that suits them.
4. Professional learning
I’ve got twitter, feedly, diggo, facebook, pinterest all on my phone. I often use my commute in the morning or my lunchtimes to scan my social network feeds for readings and ideas in the classroom. Professional learning for me isn’t a once a week meeting, it pretty much happens from the minute the alarm goes off on my phone.
5. Timers and reminders
The phone has a handy stopwatch and timer available. I’ve used my phone to time students speeches and also a countdown for tidying things up at the end of the day.If you are a bit like me and are so engrossed in teaching that you forget that your student needs to go over to the teacher aide room or need a prompt to photocopy something for class when you arrive at school, the iphone will send you reminder at a certain time or place.
Although I much prefer paperbooks to the electronic version. If I’m desperate for a book and New Zealand shops don’t stock it I’ll make a quick trip to Amazon and hey presto the book was there on my phone. Granted it’s a bit tough on the eyes and I wouldn’t recommend reading the entire of Moby Dick on your phone, but if a student is borrowing my ipad and I want to read a passage from a book, the iphone is great second option.
You are watching a news story with a reading group about kid’s school lunches. One of the students pipes up,” hey why don’t we see what things are like in our class?” The student takes photos of a quick survey, which is then posted to your blog and then let the journalist know via your class twitter account all from your iphone. No more mucking around waiting for the computer to load and finding the right cords for the camera, the sharing is seamless and the ability of my classroom to connect with the outside word is so much simpler.
8. Anecdotal note taker
If you are conferencing with a student or group of students, instead of writing down the conversation or taking a bulky laptop, you can use your phone to quickly record that conversation. I use Evernote which is an easy way to sort each child into folders and the app also has a nifty audio feature. When I’m talking about a child’s reading progress with another teacher, that teacher can hear the child read. The notes I make on Evernote are easily accessible from any device I’ve got the programme installed.
9. What the heck is that?
When I was out on duty when a group of kids spotted a rather interesting looking spider. I had no idea what the said spider was so I whipped out my phone a quick google confirmed the species of the spider and that it wasn’t dangerous to even if poisonous spiders aren’t exactly a huge problem in New Zealand. Point is we can access the information right then and there
10. Augmented reality
One of the most awesome features of the phone is augmented reality. Apps like wikitude, skyview etc. give kids a heads up display of what they are seeing in front of them. If you are on field trip you can learn point your phone in front of a building or a landmark and get a detailed history from wikipedia. Better yet, get the kids to start entering details for their area or make artwork come alive with aursama.
In reality there are hundreds of ways to use your iphone in teaching. What I love about my phone is that I mostly use it for a specific job and then *gasp* put it down again. It is the quick functionality of the phone, the unobtrusive nature of recording, the seamless sharing between channels and the fact it is small enough that I can put it back in my pocket when I am done which makes the iphone an indispensable teaching tool.
Moreover the ipod touch is the most common device students in my class own. Through using my phone, I better know how to help my kids learn effectively with the technology that in too many classrooms is at best sitting in a student’s pocket at worst outright banned from school.
So the next time you see a teacher hunched over their iphone in the staffroom, ask them how they are using it in their teaching and learning.
Whoops I better go, my phone is ringing.
How do you use your mobile device as a teaching tool?
Starting a blog can be exciting. You’re brimming with all these fantastic ideas for posts, you are publishing regularly and then you look down out your visitor counter and realize that nobody is reading your work.
It seems like all those hours you’ve spent writing your posts and designing your site has gone to waste. After all what’s the point of publishing to the world if the world isn’t interested in what you’ve got to say?
Before you give up on blogging, there are some things you can do to increase your readership. The first is called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
Most of my traffic comes from search engines directing people to my blog. If you want to know about say requirements for being a Professional Teacher in New Zealand I’m the top result after New Zealand Teachers Council (which is both terrifying and awesome at the same time). Teachers going by first name there I am again popping up in the first few hits.
There’s an entire industry that’s built up around SEO marketing and consulting that sell products which they say will get you to the top of the search engine. 90% of it is utter rubbish.
Google’s algorithms are smart, and they reward sites that consistently produce original content.
There are a couple of other small things you can do to increase your blogs attractiveness to search engine.
- Use WordPress
- Write your title thinking about what people might type into search engine to find it e.g tips for twitter newbies
- Give descriptions for any picture posts/video linkages
But really attracting visitors from search engines is simple. Produce original content people can’t find elsewhere.
Since I started my journey to be a teacher I keep hearing the same words of ‘advice’ given to student and beginning teachers about social media.
- Be careful what you do online, university officials are watching and you might get in trouble.
- Be careful what you do online, principals might be watching and you won’t get job.
- Be careful what you do online, ANYBODY might be watching and your teaching career could be over.
This fear-based social media advice is becoming old and as I’ve found out really, really wrong.
- Far from being a barrier to study, my social media presence has been a place to learn from educators around the planet.
- Far from hindering my job search, my PLN helped land me a teaching job.
- Far from my blog being something to be ashamed of people finding, I hope that my work on the Graduating Teacher Standards might be used as a model for someone somewhere.
We desperately need to change the conversation we’re having with students whether they be tertiary students through to primary about online activity.
Social media in and of itself isn’t bad, in fact when used effectively it is one of the most powerful forms of learning out there. Yet we spend so much time worrying about all the potential threats that we lose sight of all the awesome learning opportunities out there not just for would-be teachers but for kids around the planet.
Every day my twitter feed has a teacher asking for people to comment on their students blogs. I try to comment as much as I can but I could spend pretty much all day commenting on student blogs. I do so for two reasons. One as a pay it forward for my students so that when we start blogging there’s already an online community in place to support our efforts. But more importantly the kids already blogging need to know that their voices are heard and the way that can happen is through comments.
As a blogger I love getting comments. I know I have written more because there is an audience who reads this blog. If people weren’t commenting or retweeting my posts would I write as often, if at all? Probably not.
Now imagine you are a eight year old kid who might not have even left your own town getting a comment from someone half way around the world about something you’ve written. Those comments are going to have a far greater impact on their learning and motivation to write.
So why don’t we get an army of student teachers out there commenting on class blogs, individual blogs, finding out about the world outside our institution? It will help give the kids who need an audience for their writing a massive signal boost but more importantly it opens new teachers up to a world of ideas to implement in their classroom. A simple search of #comments4kids will immediately bring up a list of kids blogs looking for comments. It’s so easy to do yet the fear-driven ‘don’t do that’ limits our conceptions of what possibilities social media has for learning.
I realize I’m probably shouting into the wind on this. Every time a story about inappropriate online comment or picture gets a teacher in trouble it makes bureaucrats squirm and wish for a simpler day where the place for most youthful hijinks was in the archives of student magazines. These days doing silly things has the potential to be beamed around the world in a series of quick clicks. So our institutions respond through scaremongering students about the dangers of online activity and think they have done their job.
I don’t think they have.
Last week sat through a lecture where amongst other things hundreds of new teachers were given a talking to about the dangers of social media. What was amazing was in the next five minutes the speaker talked about the importance of collaboration and weekly journaling as a way for new teachers to develop professional competency. But there was no connection made between using social media inappropriately and using social media to enhance new teachers’ professional practice.
It was during the speaker’s spiel about the importance of backing up your professional evidence files that I had a sudden light bulb moment. This person probably doesn’t use social media for professional learning purposes. In fact this person probably doesn’t use social media at all. So how can they seek to give advice on a medium they don’t use?
Because if the speaker did use social media they’d know that blogs are great as a way to journal your thoughts. They’d know that twitter opens up a world of learning to teachers. And they’d know that cloud computing is a great way to avoid losing content if your device is stolen or destroyed.
No wonder all the speaker could see is the pitfalls of social media. If you don’t use it, then you don’t see all the potential for learning and collaboration when the medium is used wisely. You just see the pitfalls of bad decisions.
The problem with the powers that be who keep giving these dire warnings of an online life being the death knell of a teaching career is that they are driving new teachers, the very people who need a supportive community, behind digital gates where they can’t interact with a world of educators with ideas and support to help them with their learning.
But more importantly by failing to engage with the medium the powers that be in effect have relinquished their responsibility to model what effective online engagement for professional purposes might look. And then they wonder why students of all ages are getting into trouble for their online presence.
Because it isn’t just the kids who need to learn about cyber citizenship.
Since I’ve spent a few days hanging out at the school I will be teaching at, I thought it would be worthwhile checking in with what I felt an ideal school would be for me at the start of operation job search.
High expectations and high trust - Definitely feeling the weight of expectations, but also like that I am being given space to try out crazy ideas to see if/how they can work.
Connected – Principal blogs and is on twitter ‘nough said.
Collaborative – I can identify lots of people to learn from and with.
A culture of happiness – despite showing up just a few days before report comments were due in there was still lots of laughter in the staffroom and the kids were lovely too.
However the purpose of this post isn’t for me to affirm my decision to sign on with the school but rather to reflect on what I learned during the process of finding a teaching position. Because what I didn’t realize at the time was that the job search wasn’t just about finding employment, it was really about finding good leadership.
Now I’m not getting any delusions of grandeur but I do think that we need to rethink our traditional notions of leadership learning for teachers whereby you ‘do your time’ before being able to even think about what constitutes effective school leadership. We know those first few years in the profession will make or break a Beginning Teacher yet most of us will take a job, any job, without much thought about who we want to be as a teacher. This job first, professional development later is undoubtedly a reflection of the current job market as it is
When I was in the research stage of operation job search I ended up talking to a a couple of school leaders. Most of them said the same thing, be careful about which school you sign on with. At the time I was so worried about actually finding a job I almost missed an important lesson for any beginning/student teacher, think strategically about the people who you learn from.
The biggest thing I picked up hanging around the school for a couple of days not teaching was how the interactions the senior management team had a huge impact on classroom practice. The relationships between the school leaders and the teachers was a model for teachers to take back to the classrooms to interact with our students. Having a great model of relationship management will undoubtedly help me with my next learning step, creating a classroom environment where students can learn effectively.
The first few years in the profession undoubtedly has the steepest learning curve. There will be people who will contribute to your learning journey and people who will hinder it. Learning to identify and utilize the helpful people is a skill useful not just for teaching but for life. What’s been awesome about this particular journey is that I’ve met so many awesome people who inspire me and I hope to collaborate with next year even if we don’t happen to be in the same physical building or even time zone.
Is learning a bit like a twitter feed? The quality of your experience is first and foremost about finding great people to follow?
At the end of Educampakl I asked the question do geeks learn differently? I thought this would be an excellent topic to explore for the Virtual Learning Network’s November e-learning challenge to answer the question:
“What kinds of skills/knowledge/attitudes do teachers – and students – need if we are going to use technology effectively?
A geek will think nothing of sending you an instant message even if you happen to be sitting next to them. Non-geeks find it a bit weird or downright rude for someone to whip out their device in the middle of an important meeting or conversation and start checking their twitter feeds. However geeks think their conversations partners shouldn’t be limited to the people in the room.
Geeks have imaginary friends
Whether on facebook, bulletin boards, twitter or blogs geeks think nothing of spending the day interacting with people they’ve never met. In fact if you ask a geek who their best friends are they are more likely to give you twitter handles as names. The bonus of imaginary friends is that geeks always have people on hand to help them with their learning not to mention free tour guides sprinkled across the globe.
Geeks take risks
Geek might be chic but being early adopters of anything can also make you might unpopular. Gallielo had trouble getting invites to cocktail parties after declaring the world was round. Likewise geeks tend to engage in stuff like blogging which some people think is weird.
Geeks are curious
Geeks love to play with new gadgets and the internet is fill of all these clicky links that take you to different people and places. Because of this curiosity geeks don’t need large content-filled lectures just in time learning suits our needs far better.
Geeks love to share
Whether by blog, tweet or facebook update geeks love to tell the world what we are reading, writing and thinking about. Geeks are content creators rather than just consumers.
Geeks are superb information navigators
Contrary to popular opinion geeks don’t necessarily spend much more time on screen than non-geeks. But they work smarter when they are online. They’ll have RSS feeds, twitter PLNs which means that they don’t find relevant information, the information finds them.
Geeks come together for collaboration rather than content
Those big fancy conferences with important people are all fine and dandy but what geeks really come together for is the connection with others. Chances are a geek will have googled you and read your twitter feed before you’ve met. But this means the quality of our interaction is better when we do meet face to face.
So there you have it. Geeks aren’t that different from normal people. Think of them as a Facebook Friend you haven’t met.
For a variety of reasons it wasn’t feasible for me to attend #ulearn11. Fortunately hundreds of wannabe and bonafide edugeeks are on hand to help facilitate my learning. So from the comfort of my lounge I ambled into the #ulearn11 conversations. And what a feast of information there was out there.
Alongside the twitter stream which had brief lulls due to network problems there were Google docs of major keynotes from Jack Bacon, Graeme Aitken, Dr Jan Herrington as well as conference breakouts from @MrKempnz, Cheryl Doig and I really loved @mrwoodnz google apps site.
Was it the same as being there?
I don’t get to partake in the offline conversations, the fun, the frivolity and the buzz that comes from attending big conferences but I still got some quick learning bites and had a few twitter conversations along the way.
However this might not always be the case .
InternetNZ tweeted that the online attendance for their
#net11 debate was 20 times the physical audience. With ulearn11 I was definitely in the minority of virtual attendees but will there be a tipping point when more of us will be at home in our PJs browsing our twitter feeds for conference tidbits?
Our conferences no longer have walls but what about our classrooms?
Because the potential for this type of back channeling in education is huge. Even one of the Perth-based members of my Personal Learning Community tweeted that he was enjoyed the links being generated from #ulearn11. What I think is the true power of back channeling is a true democratisation of conferences. It means anybody, from the important person giving the keynote address through to the student teacher sitting in her PJs in Auckland, are contributing to the conference.
‘Isn’t twitter just people talking about what they had for breakfast?’
That’s the most common reaction I get when I mention my Twitter addiction. A lot of people don’t understand why I would want to virtually hang out with people I’ve met and have a conversation. What could you possibly say in 140 characters that could be of any meaning?
Outside of amazing ideas to implement in the classroom, there’s advice, support, professional contacts and something any student teacher would want, job leads.
Because Steven Johnson was right, chance does favour the connected mind, and my job search is over with a permanent position for 2012.
All up I applied for just 5 jobs in total, was short-listed to four schools (three of which I had Twitter contacts), had the difficult task of having to say ‘thanks but no thanks’ to two amazing schools and ultimately received an offer from one of the schools I applied for hours after being interviewed.
Part of the reason I was able to generate a job offer was that I had a presence on MyPortfolio which the school who hired me also uses. University on the Hill doesn’t use MyPortfolio (something I will save for another rant) which gave me an immediate leg up over every other student teacher in the city who applied for this particular gig. How did I get a MyPortfolio account? Through sweet talking a contact I met on, yup you guessed it, Twitter.
But the thing with Twitter is that is so much more than just having a digital presence and general schmoozing. Instead of having just 2 Associate Teachers from my Teaching Experiences I have a network of hundreds of global educators who were contributing to my learning in just 140 characters.
I can talk about pedagogy without sounding like I was regurgitating a Whitney Houston song because of conversations I had on Twitter. Point to web tools I had implemented in my teaching practice which I found via Twitter. Most importantly I had a real idea about what the school I was applying about was about because I had already visited the school virtually through the classroom blogs which I found because the Principal of the school is on Twitter.
Now in case you are wondering I can do other things apart from tweet. My e-portfolio has videos I’ve made of student learning, great reports from my Associate Teachers and Visiting Lecturers, this blog demonstrates a commitment to reflective practice and having an Asian language is a big selling point to many New Zealand schools. All this gives me an added dimension to my e-learning obsession and in fact supports it.
So if you are passionate about arts, there’s a community somewhere go find it on Twitter.
If you are passionate about sports education, there’s a community somewhere go find it on Twitter.
Ditto for maths, science, social studies and just about every curriculum area, find or build your community on Twitter.
My advice to student teachers is simple.
Don’t spend most online life hanging out with other student teachers on Facebook pages closed off to the teaching world. Ultimately that community is constrained by one world view, that of the student teacher, which is a narrow perspective dominated by lectures and assignments. Your time in the teaching profession started when you enrolled in the course so come out from behind the digital walls and start connecting with the awesome teachers and principals out there on Twitter. You’ll learn heaps and all this learning might help you find a teaching job.
Wondering who to follow? Here’s just a few of the people who have helped me on my journey to start you off.
@heugumperNZ I owe you big time.
Thanks to @fionagrant, your tweet back in June really kick-started the readership to my blog.
I could go on…
So I will just say thanks so much to the awesome tweachers up and down New Zealand and around the world who helped this Student Teacher become a Beginning Teacher in 140 characters or less.