Looking for some lively discussion among passionate educators? Or professional development that applies to your personal goals? Or some inspiration for one of your current classroom challenges? Or even just to broaden your PLN? Then join in on one or all of these favorite Twitter Chats!
A Few Handy TwitterChat tips:
Introduce yourself when you join in.
Use the chat hashtag in every comment you make so others in the discussion can see it!
Download a platform like TweetDeck to more easily see all the incoming Tweets (they come fast during a lively discussion).
Questions are listed by the moderator as Q1, Q2, etc. Start your tweets with A1, A2, etc. to correspond with the question at hand, and try to stay on topic! If you get inspired to begin an offshoot discussion, you can always DM (direct message) an individual!
What: PYP stands for the Primary Years Programme for the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, but you don’t have to be a PYP teacher to join in! We’re all about inquiry, passionate learning, and honest reflection.
School is back into full-swing for many schools by now. Amid back-to-school supplies, carefully-designed units, and seating charts, remember to maintain a vision of those things that are most important. Here are a few of our favorite reminders.
#1: Brene Brown’s Leadership Manifesto
(and while you’re at it, perhaps her “Engaged Feedback Checklist,” too. Both of these come from her latest book, Daring Greatly, which is definitely a worthwhile read for any educator!)
#2: Bill Ferriter’s essential technology reminder
#3: Ann Lander’s wisdom on child autonomy
#4: Dr. Haim Ginott’s realization on a teacher’s daily influence
#5: And this.
Or maybe just a poster that says, “Serenity now!” Have a great 2014-2015 year!
Featured Image: (only visible on mobile devices with current layout) Nick Amoscato
If you’re pausing your teaching career during parental leave for a few years, we have some ideas to help you keep up with the education world!
#1: Watch for license renewal credits opportunities
When the time comes for you to resume your teaching career, you don’t want to be stuck with retroactively tracking down hours and paperwork! Develop a professional learning plan now, combing your state or country requirements. Contact your prior administration for documentation of any accumulated credits during your employment.
#2: Volunteer at your last school
Strap on that Baby Bjorn or occasionally drop off kids with a babysitter to maintain educational ties in your community. Gauge what’s realistic for your circumstances, though, whether it’s simply to read with students now and then, or to facilitate an extracurricular activity, such as a TED-Ed Club
#3: Volunteer online
Sign up to tutor online! Become a Granny in Sugata Mitra’s “School in the Cloud.” You can even combine #2 & #3 via interactive platforms like Skype. For instance, when I was housebound during our school’s annual PYP Exhibition process, I volunteered to mentor a few student groups through weekly Skype “meetings” instead. The students loved sharing their progress on the webcam, and I loved being involved despite my situation.
Classroom 2.0 LIVE hosts free online shows. PLP Network offers purchased E-courses (with options for graduate credit, too). And once you’ve established #4, Twitter Chats can be especially helpful–for me, one solid chat usually ends with with about 37 new open tabs of resources.
Was packing your classroom materials a whirlwind of items flying into unlabeled boxes? Then you need to fire up your scanner and read our post on getting organized. ASAP. Your sanity will thank you later when you resume teaching.
#7: Organize your new resources
After getting inspired by the 37+ tabs of resources discovered during a Tweet Chat, make sure you can find them again! Establish a bookmarking system that works for you, be it a Delicious account, or several categorized folders to sort your bookmarks on your browser (Chrome is a great option since it saves your bookmarks across your devices if you’re logged into your Google account).
#8: Develop a Skill
Brush up your old high school Spanish using the free Duolingo app. Fine-tune your piano playing. Explore PhotoShop or Prezi. Anything that you enjoy will enhance your classroom, even if it’s not directly related to your content–after all, your future students need models of adults pursuing passions!
#9: Revamp Your Class Blog!
Browse your favorite class blogs, and then find ways to incorporate your favorite user-friendly features on your own blog!
#10: Re-evaluate your WHY as a Teacher!
Reflect on your previous practices and honestly assess what can be improved or tossed altogether. Consider how you can return to the educational work-force with an even deeper commitment to authentic learning (on that subject, be sure to check out our tips on becoming a 21st Century teacher)!
And of course, remember to make the most of this precious and swiftly passing time with your little one(s)!
“There’s something powerful and exciting about the society-wide experiment the digital age has thrust upon us.” ~James Estrin, National Geographic¹
Whatever shape our personal digital involvement takes, the above statement has become irrefutable. With an exponential quantity of global interaction on our hands, we can already identify many ways our lives have changed. However, time has yet to fully reveal the long term and unintended impacts of technology, known as “drip effects” (Peter Skillen gives the example of cars, where their original purpose was to simply transport people places; the unexpected drip effect became the phenomenon of city sprawl and suburban life²). To us, the most thrilling aspect of this “society wide experiment” lies in education.
Sudden Educational Evolution
For many years, education remained fairly static. Professors of education could share similar concepts and resources for decades, with little deviation. Sure, the pendulum would, at times, swing between such matters as phonics vs. whole language, but nothing altered too radically.
Now, all that is changing thanks to technology. It’s not just social media platforms that create customized professional development for teachers. It’s not just cloud storage like Google Drive that foster global collaboration. It’s not even just Youtube videos that provide instant tutorials for every topic under the sun. It’s a revolutionizing and unexpected drip-effect: the manner in which teachers are pioneering new practices. Since even those who graduated college 5 years ago were unlikely to have possessed a textbook on the benefits of Twitter in the classroom, teachers are tinkering and experimenting with new resources themselves–learning and growing right alongside their students!
The Counterintuitive Effects of Vulnerability
This kind of pioneering requires teachers to share their personal, authentic, and vulnerable learning processes–the out-loud wondering, the messy brainstorming, the trial and error, the failed projects–all are brought front and center in the classroom. What is the result when students watch adults experience genuine learning? In the “Pencil Metaphor” below (as shared in other posts), the erasers, ferrules, and hangers-on may fear that exposing their limitations could result in a loss of respect, productivity, or control. The the rest are discovering the true results: strengthened relationships as students see their teachers as more human; heightened motivation as students are inspired by what lifelong learning looks like; and abundant empowerment for everyone in an atmosphere where it is safe to experiment, fail, discover, and grow.
During the most recent #5thchat (held Tuesday nights at 8 pm ET), Tyson Lane summarized this approach well:
@mary_teaching@ICTmagic definitely. It’s very much like life; develop and share values rather than force and instruct to get better outcome
Such common sharing and learning is also reinforced by the findings of vulnerability and shame researcher, Brene Brown, when she describes the necessary shift in education and business alike, “from controlling to engaging with vulnerability–taking risks and cultivating trust”³ (p. 209. See her terrific manifesto for leaders here).
Walking the Talk
I was always surprised at how much one phrase delighted my students: “I don’t know.” Giggles and slightly dropped jaws would consistently ensue, followed by profound discussions on whether I should find out myself (while modeling to them), or whether they could help me figure it out. My most carefully crafted inquiry questions rarely elicited as much engagement from my students as those three words. Similarly, I once attempted to create a DIY interactive whiteboard with a Wii remote–a venture that ultimately proved completely ineffective. Though one might expect that students would respond to such failure with scorn, my students were keenly supportive through every step–and in turn, showed increased willingness to try and share new ideas themselves.
Through blogs, Twitter, and more, I have learned from exceptional individuals who are boldly learning with their students. Listed below are a few:
Jon Bergmann: Within a couple years of Youtube’s debut, Jon wondered what would happen if he gave his lessons in video format as homework instead of teaching them in class. The result has been the Flipped Class Movement.
Numerous other educators in my PLN who daily share their triumphs, trials, and resources on Twitter.
Trying new technology to improve your classroom is risky. But even if the intended goal fails, the drip effect of being vulnerable with your students and allowing them to watch you authentically learn is priceless.
“Awareness is the greatest agent for change” (Eckhart Tolle). That’s why we’re contributing to the dialogue on gender differences in education.
#1: Challenges exist for both genders
Author and literacy advocate Pam Allyn has written several powerful articles that rally the public to recognize educational barriers to girls’ education across the globe, such as this one here, here, here, and here. She urges us to take action on terribly serious realities, including the fact that two-thirds of those who are illiterate are female. She has established “LitWorld’s girls’ LitClubs that meet around the world, sometimes in secret, to read together and write together” (“For These are All our Girls”). With all this action on behalf of girls, one might expect that Pam’s work is limited to that sex. But it’s not.
She has also written Best Books for Boys, in which she highlights several obstacles to boys’ reading, including the following: “the testing mania and the idea in our culture that learning is symbolized by children sitting quietly in their seats has been, in some cases, defeating for active boys” (p. 21). She regularly writes articles about all children, and the stories they have to share (such as this one, or this one). She even founded the Books for Boys literacy program.
There’s an important pattern here: one of recognition and action for all children. Those of us involved in children’s education must be willing to acknowledge that academic barriers exist for boys and girls alike.
#2: The challenges for each gender are different
Evidence of the unique educational challenges for both genders is mounting. We list a few points below.
Girls often receive cultural messages that undermine their self-images as learners, explorers, and thinkers. A recent commercial by Verizon illustrates this:
In the developing world in particular, girls are also faced with lower rates of enrollment due to a variety of cultural reasons. GirlEffect.org released a powerful video highlighting that cycle:
Boys often receive cultural messages in the classroom that passions and dispositions common to their gender do not belong. A recent video by Prager University summarizes the way this impacts boys’ education:
The rates for post-secondary degrees are consistently lower for males than females. Some of these numbers are shown in the infographic by National Student Clearinghouse below:
#3: 76% of teachers are female (source)–and that really matters!
Author Leonard Sax extensively researches gender differences, and has cited several ways female teachers might pay closer attention to the differing needs of their male students. One such difference lies in what’s more visually appealing to females than males. Says Sax:
“…boys are more likely to draw a scene of action, such as a monster attacking an alien; girls are more likely to draw people, pets, flowers, or trees, with lots of colors. The people in the girls’ pictures usually have faces, eyes, hair, and clothes; the people in the boys’ pictures (if there are any people) often are lacking hair, clothes, often the boys draw mere stick figures in one color. How come? The usual answer “Because that’s what we teach them to do” is unpersuasive, as I explain in Why Gender Matters. On the contrary, many of these boys insist on drawing these pictures not because teachers tell them to draw such pictures, but in spite of the teacher’s repeated pleas, “Why do you have to draw such violent pictures? Why can’t you draw something nice – like what Emily drew?” (source)
Another difference he discusses is hearing, even citing it as a possible contributing factor for the more frequent ADHD diagnoses for boys over girls. “…the average boy may need the teacher to speak more loudly–roughly 6 to 8 decibels more loudly–if the average boy is to hear the teacher as well as the average girl hears” (source). Teachers need to be aware of such differences to ensure they do not unintentionally favor their female students.
Awareness Point #4: Comparing which gender struggles more is unproductive to progress
As author William S. Wilson wrote:
“Comparisons deplete the actuality of the things compared.” (from “Conveyance: The Story I would Not Want Bill Wilson To Read”)
Articles like Bryce Covert’s “Enough Mansplaining the ‘Boy Crisis’ — Sexism Still Holds Back Women at Work,” offer criticism when concerns are raised for one gender, because they feel the other gender is more victimized. However, such comparisons undercut our collective efforts for children; we need “all hands on deck” in order to address the educational struggles facing all our youth. With objectivity and compassion, let us endeavor to understand and improve the state of education for children everywhere.
Whether you’re implementing a BYOD classroom, teaching students to develop PLN’s, or planning a Twitter debate in your class, these 5 tools may help you with some unexpected logistics.
The Importance of Keeping Up
Anyone involved with teaching today is familiar the swift and exponential nature of changes in 21st century education. This is true to the extent that even if you graduated with your teaching degree within the past few years, your pedagogical training probably did not leave you fully prepared. We hope that the following 5 resources will be valuable to you as you adapt to modern learning strategies.
If you are not already using Google Drive in your classroom, add it to your must-try-asap list! From elementary school on up, it enables effective digital collaboration. As an added bonus, it cuts down messy stacks of papers! Below, we’ve listed a few of our favorite time and sanity-saving tips to maximize your Google Drive usage in the classroom:
Teach students to use the “Comments” tool for peer editing and revising. That way, students can have actual conversations about the feedback they give one another without actually altering others’ work!
Self-grading function: If you are currently using or are interested in using Google Forms to quiz students (for free!), make sure you look up how to make it self-grading! (Check out one tutorial here!)
Revision history: Make sure that both you and your students are familiar with this tool in the “File” menu just in case one student accidentally alters or deletes another’s work.
Take Advantage of its share-ability: Long-gone are the days of needing to upload each student’s PowerPoint to a flash drive (see our article on Powerpoint alternatives), or even asking them to individually email you their digital project. Instead, have students create all projects that are compatible with Google Drive in one class Google account that you can easily access and manage.
Use Google Spreadsheets for a multi-purpose class roster: Keeping track of missing permission slips, student project groups, or anecdotal notes is a cinch with Google Spreadsheets. Google Drive’s app makes this especially appealing as you can whip out your phone or tablet to view your notes as you walk through the class!
#3: Digital Classroom Management Tips:
Establishing quality classroom management strategies is a critical skill for every educator. However, such techniques can quickly get complicated when BYOD is introduced–how do you manage a variety of phones, tablets, and laptops when such devices can already be distracting? Jennifer Carey, a director of educational technology, shared her top 5 tips for digital classroom management in an Edudemic article, from setting clear expectations, to recognizing that it’s OK to put the technology away at times!
What does it mean to become a 21st century educator? Effective technology integration certainly plays its role, but it’s also about accessibility and individual perspective shifts. Find inspiration in our 10 tips…
When we refer to becoming a 21st century teacher, we certainly recognize that technology plays an enormous role in how quality education has evolved. However, we feel it also reaches into simple attitudes that are shifting. It’s likely a reciprocal effect: the more technology use and global networking has grown, the more recognition has spread for best practices; the more the recognition for best practices has spread, the more technology has been examined to assist in this innovation. Still, as adept as many teachers are in adopting 21st century attitudes and strategies, we know many others feel overwhelmed by it all, from first year teachers to veterans nearing retirement. We feel that starting small, one attitude or strategy at a time, is the best method!
#1: Reject “Content is King!”
A quote from the above video that bears repeating:
“We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist . . . using technologies that haven’t been invented . . . in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.” ~Karl Fisch
If we allow our teaching to exist mostly as delivering information that students memorize, our job descriptions could be quickly outsourced to Google! Worse still, our students’ limited skills would also be highly replaceable by search engines and video databases like LearnZillion. 21st Century teachers and learners alike must realize that education is no longer about what we’ve memorized, but about how we learn to evaluate and utilize information!
#2: Recognize that Change is Essential!
Ken Robinson has been a tremendously influential voice when it comes to the need to change our thinking in education. Some of the primary changes he suggests include the way we think about “human capacity,” collaboration, and the “habits of institutions.” On a similar track, author and educator Shelly Blake-Plock outlined 21 Things that Will be Obsolete by 2020 (reflection post), including current systems of standardized testing for college admissions and organizing classes by age and grade.
A prominent example of current change is the Common Core (see our CCSS article). Some parents are frustrated that it does NOT involve a back-to-basics, “finding the answer” approach. (See one example of a parent who allegedly exclaimed on his child’s homework page that the “real world” would favor faster, simpler vertical subtraction over evaluating misconceptions using a visual number line. We would point out that a calculator is even faster and simpler, if speed is really the highest priority in “the real world”). In their fear of education looking different than it did when they were kids, these individuals seem to miss that the emphasis is now on critical thinking, a crucial shift when you think back to our tip #1 in particular. There is a difference between education and learning, and fortunately, the 21st century is moving more toward the latter.
#3: Develop a PLN
A PLN (Personal Learning Network) allows you to maximize your professional development as you use social media and other platforms to learn and collaborate with teachers around the world. If Shelly Blake-Plock is correct about the way school Professional Development is moving toward teachers taking the lead, PLN’s will prove increasingly important for every educator to have in place. Our article on PLN’s is a great resource for beginners!
#4: Encourage students to develop PLN’s
The above word cloud took shape when creator Caroline Bucky asked members her own PLN what their individual PLN’s meant to them. If students were enabled to create such meaningful networks, imagine the ramifications that would have on their ability to contribute to a global society (another major aspect of the 21st century)!
For many decades, ideas from student-centered pedagogy theorists like Jean Piaget have taught the importance of this attitude. In fact, a wonderful Piaget quote on the topic of student ownership reads:
“The principal goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done; men and women who are creative, inventive and discoverers, who can be critical and verify, and not accept, everything they are offered.” ~Jean Piaget
He said this in 1964. Think of the greater importance for students to “verify, and not accept, everything they are offered” now that the digital world provides them with a constant stream of information! This kind of ownership for learning does not happen when our expectations are limited to students “repeating what other generations have done”–in other words, limited to the content and understanding we bring to the table. Evidence that we can improve in this regard exists in examples such as the above screenshot we took today.
#7: Be Vulnerable with Students
A frequent 21st century dialogue in education involves asking, “How do we help our students become fully engaged in learning?” We feel that a large part of the answer to this question begins with our own levels of engagement and vulnerability as learners with our students. Brené Brown researches and writes on this very topic. She created a leadership manifesto that outlines patterns from her research on how we truly connect and engage. A powerful quote from it:
“When learning and working are dehumanized–when you no longer see us and no longer encourage our daring, or when you only see what we produce or how we perform–we disengage and turn away from the very things that the world needs from us: our talent, our ideas, and our passion. What we ask is that you engage with us, show up beside us, and learn from us.” ~Brené Brown
In short, to prevent disengagement, we absolutely must stop pretending that we know all the answers or that we do not make mistakes.
#8: Examine Your Why
In our post on Flipped Learning, we reference Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle of beginning with the Why. To succeed in the 21st century, becoming a life-long, self-motivated learner is not a nicety–it is a necessity. Cultivating our own Why as teachers and then keeping that at the forefront of our endeavors is an influential attitude simply because we are modeling it for our students. It helps them absorb the “point” of learning and to begin cultivating their own Why’s.
#9: Pursue Your Needs!
Have a low classroom budget? Is 1:1 technology nonexistent in your school? Are you in need of high quality mentor texts in your class library? Thanks to developments here in the 21st century, no longer are your frustrations limited to faculty lounge griping. Tools like DonorsChoose.org allow teacher empowerment as you shop for items you need and write a simple, mini-grant (or project), asking generous donors for help. Not only can you enlist your PLN to spread the word of your project through social media, but you can also look for help from programs in your area like Chevron’s Fuel Your School, which works to fund as many DonorsChoose teacher projects as possible during the month of October (be sure to wait to submit your project until October 1st to qualify)! Additionally, you can work with your administration to implement innovative school programs such as BYOD (see our article on 10 tips for Bring Your Own Device programs) if you’re looking for more technology accessibility in your classroom.
#10: Use Technology to Make Best Use of Time
This infographic by Anna Vital gives several examples of creative ways to save time, including using keyboard shortcuts! We would also suggest other simple strategies, such as keeping your email inbox cleaned up, turning off phone notifications for everything except the things you truly want to interrupt your life (some phones even allow you to turn off notifications or calls at certain times or locations), and utilizing apps to keep your priorities organized. Establishing such strategies that work for you can simplify your planning and classroom time, allowing you to focus on what matters most for you personally and professionally.