Chatting the #ffcaedu Way

phonto

On Monday night, my district hosted our first ever twitter chat, run by our fabulous Director of Technology, Salima. For some, it was their first twitter chat to date, others were solely lurkers, more active twitters participants, and several new to chatting but participated. Overall, it was a great learning experience for everyone involved.

Our topic for the evening was technology integration in the 21st century. Here’s a brief summary of our discussion:

Question #1: What technology can you never live without (in the classroom)? Why? Examples?

Question #2: Do you think technology motivates students? Why/why not?

Question #3: How do students benefit when given the opportunity to use technology to create-when technology is in their hands?

Question #4: How do we help students become “ethical citizens” when using technology? Tips? Tricks? Suggestions?

Question #5: Why is twitter a powerful tool for educators? What are the benefits? How has twitter helped you professionally?

As you can see, there was lots of good discussion going on during this chat, and a few things that stood out for me:
1) As teachers highlight their favourite technology tool, the thing they couldn’t live without in the classroom, I always wonder how it’s used. For example, I have a document camera and use it several times a week, but it wouldn’t be a go-to-tool for me. How does another teacher feel that tool is essential for instruction? What am I missing?
Education is a field that is constantly evolving, and now with technology, things seem endless. But the great thing about it is learning is also continual. There’s never a time when teaching should be repetitive, or stagnant. We can always learn from one another, and always improve how we teach or the way we teach.

2) Technology must be used as a tool to enhance learning, support instruction, and allow students to create masterpieces. If it’s used solely to replace a pen and paper, then the motivation and engagement may not always be there. Students need to be excited about their learning. They live in a world where technology is always at their fingertips. We can’t ignore that, but instead need to support it, and teach children that they too can be creative geniuses.
Traveling hand-in-hand with the use of technology, comes digital citizenship. It is key that as teachers we model what it looks like, but also provide students with the knowledge to be responsible digital citizens. Equally as important, is the need to educate parents. Parents need to be on board with this, and speak that same language at home. Parents are just as important role models as teachers, and should be setting that example for their children as well. It’s our job to provide them with the tools necessary for this to happen.

3) Twitter continues to be an extremely powerful tool for educators. Time and time again, every tweeter you talk to will reinforce this. It’s an amazing tool to connect with others around the globe, access experts, be supported in learning, and build a powerful PLN. For those who are “anti-twitter” I would challenge you to try it again. Dedicating some time will prove to be more rewarding than one may think.

Here are a couple resources discussed during our chat:
Book – It’s Complicated
Storify Summary

Why Chat on Twitter?

Over the past school year, twitter has become a great friend of mine. Not only does it allow you to connect with others, but I have found that I have learned an immense amount, mainly through the source of participating in twitter chats. I try to participate in one weekly, sometimes up to three, and sometimes none, but I have found that the more I participate, the more I want to. It’s easy to become addicted. The learning capabilities are endless and it’s an incredible way to “meet” and connect with new educators all over the world.

I thought it would be valuable to highlight the advantages of participating in a twitter chat:

1) Free PD – Twitter chats are free! That’s right, you have the ability to learn from millions of people around the globe: experts and innovative thinkers who will offer you new ideas, things to try, advice, and much more!

2) Learning about new resources – There are always suggestions and resources shared during twitter chats. Whether it’s an app someone couldn’t live without, a website that makes someone’s life easier, or a motivating book someone read, you will always learn about some kind of new resource.

3) Share your ideas – Chats are a great platform for sharing your own knowledge. I know as a teacher, I love collaborating with others. Chats allow you to do this. You are able to bounce ideas off one another, gain suggestions from others, and share what you are an “expert” in. We all have strengths and things to contribute, so why not share them with the world?

4) Have your ideas challenged – Conversely, one is able to have their ideas challenged. It can be easy for teachers to get stuck in the same thoughts or the same way of teaching something. Twitter chats allow your current practice or ideas to be challenged by others. It’s a fabulous learning process!

5) Connect with other educators – The most valuable part of twitter chats is the ability to connect with other educators around the globe. You can be learning with someone that would have never been possible before. Your PLN becomes a resource for help, guidance, advice, and tips. It’s a great way to continue your personal learning journey.

If you’ve never tried out a chat before, I highly recommend that you do. Be a lurker initially, if you want to see how it all works, or take the leap and jump in and share your thoughts. You’ll be surprised about how easy it is. Don’t forget to use a platform like tweetdeck to make your life easier, and always use your hashtag. Once you try it out, I think you’ll be surprised by the ease, accessibility, learning, and fun that you’ll have. Happy tweeting!

Here is a comprehensive list of weekly educational twitter chats.

My district is hosting our first ever twitter chat on Monday. It would be a great first chat to participate in, or a wonderful way to share your own comments about integrating technology in your classroom.