I celebrated my Twitter Birthday this week. I signed up for a Twitter account 2 years ago according to Bwitter Day and My Happy Twitter. Yes, I had to use two sources of information to verify my Twitter existence, since I really didn’t believe I signed up for Twitter that long ago. My blog entitled Twitter Buffet describes my Twitter journey. Now over 2,000 tweets, 570 followers and following 1,110 later I’m hooked. It is a vehicle that supports my passion for continuous, self-directed learning.
On Wednesday, October 6, my Twitter Birthday, I had the opportunity to attend a session entitled “Creating a New Culture of Teaching and Learning Through Emerging Technologies” presented by Alan November. The session was a joint effort between Northwest AEA and Prairie Lakes AEA in Iowa. To catch a glimpse of some of the learning from the day – check out #nwila on Twitter.
Alan November encouraged us to think about weaving a global perspective into our classrooms. By understanding multiple perspectives we gain what November feels is the number one skill our students (as well as ourselves) should develop: empathy.
There are many online collaboration and communication tools we can use to open our classrooms beyond the walls that surround us each day. While some ideas shared were not new to me (The Internet, Twitter, Google Docs, Poll Everywhere, Blogs, Wikis) I encountered many insights during the day. What a treat to be at a session where we were encouraged to share our thinking by using Twitter throughout the day in order to learn from multiple perspective within the room (and beyond).
As I reflect on the session a few thoughts come to mind:
- The content was fast and furious. I could keep up because I had some prior knowledge in what November was presenting. I thought a lot about the students in our classrooms. Those that have some prior knowledge or personal interest in a subject area may feel comfortable. What about those without prior knowledge/experience/interest or who struggle with the concepts? With technology the playing field can be leveled. Virtual field trips, skyping other classrooms or professionals in a field of study, etc… can provide students a global link to their learning and add experiences to build knowledge and interests. We can enhance experiences in school that may not be possible at home, thus erasing the digital divide!
- I admired Alan November’s presentation style and information shared. He pushed our thinking. As lead learners in our schools or classrooms, we need to feel what it is like to be a learner. Not just the one with all the answers. It is okay to feel uncomfortable or to have to process new learning. I know I’ll be spending time with the new ideas I learned in order to apply them in my own setting.
- I also appreciated that the content of the day was focused on helping us develop critical thinkers as well as self-directed learners in our classrooms. There are many Web 2.0 tools that can be used at a surface level in classrooms. My goal is to get beyond the “wow factor” and collaborate with students (and teachers) to enhance learning. Our focus should be on teaching students how to learn, not what to learn. Too often, teaching to standards becomes a rote check list of information to cover with students. By emerging our students into authentic learning experiences we guide them to become self-directed learners. They learn for themselves, not what we prescribe them to learn. They learn to become critical thinkers and explore the world around them.
Not only was I able to learn new information, I was able to meet some of my Twitter PLN face-to-face and hear of the great ways they are integrating technology with their students. Another highlight proved the power of life-long learning. As I walked into the room I was immediately drawn to a lady that appeared to be in her 70’s. Before the session started I was introduced to this intriguing lady. Come to find out she was a friend of mine’s mother. She was fulfilling a “Bucket List” item. She had happened to watch a rebroadcast presentation Alan November gave at the SAI (School Administrators of Iowa) Conference entitled: The Emerging Culture of Teaching and Learning. I had shared that I had wanted to find that same airing, but was unable to. She had shared her new learning with her daughter. Two weeks later came the announcement that Alan November was going to be in the area. This remarkable lady may not have graduated from high school, but she exemplified the power in self-directed learning. Through our conversations it was evident that she understood the need to motivate our young learners through real-world experiences and their interests, not ours! She was a prime example that learning should never stop!
I ended my week with another amazing experience! I attended a Virtual Round Table Conference session entitled “Bring the World in – Blogging with Your Students” presented by Greta Sandler. Greta is an ESL teacher. She teaches 5th graders Buenos Aires, Argentina. I have learned so much from having Greta as a part of my PLN on Twitter. I’ve loved hearing how she has incorporated blogging with her students. The results she talked about in her session proved the power of providing our students with a global perspective.
I feel I celebrated my Twitter Birthday in style this week. Learning never ends!“Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.” ~ John Holt
(Note to self – Need to start blogging more than once a week! Posts are getting lengthy!)