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?)


  1. Yes!!! To it all.

    I'm so confused as to why MPS teachers and students have the same access to the internet. I understand not wanting students on You Tube or Twiter. However, they are valuable resources for teaching and learning.

    I also get a chuckle out of the fact that you PLCs meet in the multi-purpose room. Perhaps its the same reason as we, teachers, can't have access to Twitter.

    I'm not sold on Moodle, but I agree wiht your asynchronous idea. We used Edmodo for a few follow-up things at Cityivew when I was co-leading a few sessions on technology. Guess what? It worked.

  2. Oh man...I forget what a minority I am to have completely unrestricted access to Twitter in the building! We aren't using it during our PLC time (when I say "we" I mean the rest of the "we"...I use it constantly!) However, because I can use it...the rest of the room becomes recipients of my PLN knowledge base, often without realizing it. You all are constantly making me look like a genius! The asynchronous meeting idea is fantastic. I wish that more schools would explore how to "do" PLC differently. It looks like at the core, we have the same desires for our schools.
    P.S. Way to rock the alliance :)

  3. This is SO timely. I'm working up a presentation on PD with Twitter for next winter.

  4. I can totally picture you trying to snag a wireless connection by the window... your post made me chuckle... but it's really quite sad.

    I feel very fortunate to be in a district that is open minded about social technology. Tech support and administration really listen to the technology specialists when we come across a site that has been blocked and make a case for why we need it.

    I've even been able to get some classrooms to set up Twitter accounts for parents to follow. And this is at the 3rd & 5th grade level. The parents love it, and the teachers are writing fewer newsletters since there is a new class job: classroom tweeter. Sure, it takes training and supervision, but it's a great way to teach appropriate, safe social networking and summary skills at the same time.

    Good luck! :)

  5. Wow, thanks, Lisa, I hadn't thought of having a class Tweeter!

    Of course, parents would love it. They could have the tweets come to their cell phones with links to stuff on the class web page or Moodle site. I think you could call that authentic assessment and get real close to @davecormier 's Community as Curriculum-Vol.2 post which I think is what 21st Century Open School teaching and learning is all about.

  6. A great idea! Many schools could really benefit from ideas like yours if only Twitter was not blocked in so many if them (in Australia at least).