Today I did something that I didn’t expect to do when I woke up this morning – I started a project on Twitter!!!! My baby boy decided to sleep for a little bit longer than usual but as I am now programmed to wake up at the crack of dawn I was sitting there waiting for him to rouse from his slumber (the madness that is parenthood!). I made myself a coffee and decided that checking Twitter was preferable to ironing or washing the kitchen floor (also I may be slightly addicted to my Twitterfeed as previously mentioned!)
Mr. @fboss was the inspiration for this little undertaking as he too was on Twitter at a ridiculous hour of the morning (I suspect he should be at Twitter anonymous too)! I read a tweet that he had Retweeted about a Teacher called Jimmy Sapia who had used a Mystery Skype project to help his fourth grade class learn about other states. Each class gave the other clues about where they were living and they each had to guess where the other class was from. The children found it enjoyable and much more interesting, or ‘funner’ as one child described it, than looking at a textbook. I thought it sounded brilliant as did a number of other teachers. We started to tweet about what a great idea it was and then we decided to replicate it! A google doc was born and has been circulated and it is starting to fill up – if anyone else would like to join our merry band then click on this link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AFcQuWni8SOguUraaEg7YLL3tplIt-hZoJDke_Fb-dE/edit and add your details.
Here’s a little synopsis of how it all began: http://storyful.com/dashboard/stories/33977?preview=true
@Evelynoconnor won Teacher of the Year and if you watch this speech you will know why
I don’t need to say anymore – such passion and integrity and she speaks the truth.
“All great changes are preceded by chaos.”
Teaching and learning has changed, is changing and will continue to change – but how many teachers are changing or adapting their teaching styles to meet the needs of their learners? Schools have been provided with interactive whiteboards, teaching laptops, digital projectors, visualisers, digital cameras and other types of technology in recent years and we have been encouraged to incorporate and integrate these tools into our teaching and into the culture of our daily school life (with minimal training or curricular links might I add) – but is this truly happening? Can it happen if teachers and principals are not comfortable with using these tools to enhance teaching and learning? We should be nurturing the development of 21st century skills in our students but can this happen without change?
We should however remain cognitive that it is not about the tools – it’s about the teaching. It’s about a paradigm shift. So how do we start to nurture 21st century skills? The skills that the students of today will need for the jobs of tomorrow. They are going to have to collaborate, problem solve, think critically and innovate. Students will have to be digitally literate (or fluent) and they will have to be flexible and creative, possess leadership skills and be capable of working off their own initiative. Providing students with opportunities to develop these skills means teachers have to adapt their teaching styles and to embrace tools that they may never have used before. Embarking on inquiry based learning with our students sometimes means embarking on inquiry based learning ourselves and this is a very positive thing. Teachers should always remain learners first and foremost.
What is the solution? Should more training be provided to help teachers up-skill in areas they are not fully comfortable with? Should schools be provided with an ICT adviser? Should jobs be created for ICT advisers whereby that person is given a cluster of schools to ‘look after’ and advise with regard to using the NCTE e-learning roadmap and developing an e-learning plan? An ICT adviser with an educational background is something that I believe would be welcomed by a lot of schools – the adviser could provide focus and perspective for the school in their planning. Goals could be set for teachers and principals to fulfill between visits to help the school move their e-learning plan along. Support could be provided for teachers who are not comfortable in using technology in the classroom. Mentors could be assigned from within the school staff to assist teachers in developing their ICT skills – small tasks could be set and best practice could be shared during a slot during staff meetings. It would not be a difficult system to set up and it could possibly benefit both teachers and learners. Baby steps will eventually lead to bigger leaps…
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
I’ve been microblogging on Twitter for over a year now and I am totally convinced of it’s usefulness from an educational perspective – I am a Twitter convert as I mentioned in my previous post and I check my Twitter feed an unmentionable number of times throughout the day! Blogging I am relatively new to but I am a believer that blogging is every bit as powerful as Twitter in supporting learning.
So what is a blog?
Blog/WebLog: a web page containing brief, chronologically arranged items of information. A blog can take the form of a diary, journal, what’s new page, or links to other web sites.
Peter Scott, Internet Librarian 2001
Blogging is a powerful tool in education – blogging tools have many features and are very user friendly so you do not have to be tech savvy to set one up. The beauty of blogging is the scope for interacting with others. As a teacher a classroom blog will allow students to interact with you and with their peers and lead to more in-depth discussions than perhaps would have taken place in the traditional classroom setting. Blogging gives everyone a voice – as a child at school I found it very difficult to speak up in class during discussions and I know that I blogging would have helped me to find my voice – I am sure this applies to many students today too.
Using a classroom blog allows a teacher to change the traditional manner in which homework is given. The teacher could use the classroom blog to post a statement about something the children are learning about and open that statement up for discussion. The children could collaborate on projects via the blog and could share ideas and problem solve outside of school time. The blog would also allow parents to get some insight into what their children are learning about and could open up discussions at home between the parent and the child.By using a kid orientated blogging tool such as kidblog
isn’t as much of an issue as it would be when using other blogging tools.
As an educator blogs allow me to read the thoughts and get inside the minds (sounds a bit creepy … but you know what I mean) of other teachers. I learn so much from reading what other people post and encourages me to try new things – like blogging 🙂
‘Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.‘
Since joining Twitter I have been privy to a wealth of information and knowledge sharing. I have connected with some wonderful minds and I’ve been challenged and motivated by the questions posed by other educators. I do however have a confession… I used to laugh at people with Twitter accounts. I thought Twitter was a waste of time and that people used it to share irrelevant information about their day to day activities: ‘I’m in a shop’, ‘I’ve got socks on’, ‘I’m going for a shower’, ‘are those my feet?’. I didn’t understand the power of Twitter until I undertook the iLearning modules of the course I’m currently doing. One of my tutors set us the task of setting up a Twitter account and finding people of interest to follow. I rolled my eyes but I complied and gradually I started to realise the true worth of Twitter.
I lurked a bit initially and read the tweets of others and was directed to huge volumes of information in a very short space of time. I was tentative about tweeting but once I started there was no stopping me. I have connected with other educators from around the world and joined in #edchatie and #edchat discussions. I feel a real sense of community with the people I’ve connected with and I still get a little quiver of excitement when my iphone pings to say I’ve had a mention or a retweet (sad I know!!).
Recently my nephew was offered a job in Canada. It was a heart-breaking time for my family as we got ready to say good bye to him knowing that he had been forced to emigrate because of the lack of work in his own country. We all tried to do something to help him to prepare for his move to Canada. My nephew asked me to try and find out about smartphones and networks in Canada – I went online and I read all of the information I could find but I still wasn’t sure what the best option would be for him. Then the proverbial light bulb pinged above my head – Twitter! I sent a DM to @peterskillen and asked him for his advice and within a matter of minutes he had replied and sent me some really useful links – proof again of the power of Twitter and the sense of community to be gained from joining.
Twitter is such a powerful tool and I hope more and more educators continue to tap into that power – there is so much knowledge just waiting to be accessed right at your fingertips.
Recently I sent a tweet out into cyberspace asking some of the people I follow what Twitter is to them and some of the responses I got have been collated on this storify. I think that says it all 🙂
“Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in.”
― Leonardo da Vinci
My name is Maggie Mulrine and I am an education addict. I keep signing up for course after course and it’s not an addiction that I am trying to or even want to address! Here’s a quick snapshot of my learning path so far… The first course I did was when I left school – I did a diploma in European Languages (Russian and German) and Business Studies. This was followed by a degree in Business and German which was followed by a post-grad diploma in Arts in Primary Education, followed by a post-grad diploma in SEN (ASDs) and now I am studying for a masters in Teaching and Learning… and I’ve already chosen the next two courses that I would like to pursue when I finish my current course. It’s not the worst addiction in the world and it’s not hurting anyone (unless I have an assignment due in that I’m stressed about and someone gets in my way!!) but my family would agree that it is definitely an addiction.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
Learning is to me what exercise is to an athlete. I enjoy it. I find it invigorating. I love reading and thinking and being challenged. Talking to like-minded people motivates me to push myself that little bit further and with each new course I undertake I gain more than qualifications – I gain confidence and friendships and a deeper interest in continuing professional development. As a teacher I am constantly reminding my students of the importance of education and life-long learning – it is something I feel passionate about and it’s a huge part of who I am.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
I am going to use this blog to talk about teaching, ICT, SEN, ASDs and whatever other areas in education that spark an interest. I welcome all comments and advice that readers have to offer and I’ll try to keep things interesting.
Thanks for reading