Sunday, January 10, 2010

Twitter for teacher professional development

Last Wednesday at our PLC (Professional Learning Cmmunity) meeting we were discussing how to integrate science into our reading curriculum. We shared the ways that we used notebooks with the science kits that we use. When the question was raised about what kind of resources we, as teachers, could use to increase our learning about how to to use notebooks, I offered to see what I could get from Twitter (at least one of my colleagues raised an eyebrow.) It took about 2 minutes when I got back to my room to locate the recent account that the folks at Lawerence Hall of Science have created for their great elementary FOSS program. I had to wait to look it up because we meet in the multi-purpose room with about 6 other PLCs - it's easier for the admins to observe and coach us that way. There's only about two AC outlets in the room and only a shaky wireless connection to the district intranet which still has Twitter blocked. In my classroom I put my laptop near the window by my desk and I can hitchhike to Twitter on one of the unsecured routers in the neighborhood.

One of the recent posts on the @FOSSScience Twitter time line was a link to their web page about, guess what, using notebooks in the science classroom. The FOSS web site also contains enough information to occupy our PLC for more than a few of our next meetings. Someone else actually suggested that we meet in my classroom for our next PLC so we can look at the web site on the overhead. I'll also let them peak at Twitter, Shh, don't tell anyone.

So, here's a couple of my wishes for the New Year. I would like to be able to access Twitter from anywhere in any of our school buildings. If we need to start by providing access only to teachers, fine, but let's start. One of the other things I'd like to see in the new year is that all of our professional development notes and communications be done on our staff Moodle site. That would be handy, for instance, for me to review the PLC notes if I wanted to do something like write about my professional development on the couch at home with my recently broken ankle wrapped in an ice pack while the Packers are trying to sneak by the Cardinals [edit: They didn't.] It would also be handy if I noticed a tweet from someone about teacher professional development relating to integrating science into a literacy program - I could just pop it into the Moodle notebook instead of sending myself an email to remember to bring it up the next time we gathered to drag out the 3-ring binder. I'd also like to change our PLC meeting times to at least include some asynchronous 'meeting' time on line.

My wishes for the new year are probably not what Shelly Blake-Plock was looking for when he put out a call for crazy stuff, but it's one of the little steps that Ira Socol (get that wheel rolling soon) was talking about in one of his recent posts. We need crazy little steps to do our work. (See what I did there, Kelly?)

Saturday, January 2, 2010


I didn't get anything posted here during the month of December. Getting ready for the Christmas break both at school and home was a necessary and obvious priority. I did write a guest post on Shelly Blake-Plock's TeachPaperless blog; it was sincere pleasure and honor to work with Shelly on the post. As Shelly points out on his blog and I alluded to in the post, this is the kind of sharing teachers need to be doing even more frequently.
It might be obvious, but blogging and even using Twitter ( I don't like the verbs, tweeting or micro-blogging) require writing skill and especially skill with some kind of electronic input tool (I'm still using mostly one of my two second-hand WindowsXP laptops.) Writing and 'typing' are skills that have essentially been worked around for years in education, justifiably or not. We can only hope that things like Dial2do or some of the other voice to text tools will make it easier for everyone to get their thoughts out to a place where they are more easily shared. 'Writing' in any of the many ways that word is defined is still one of the keys to teaching and learning.