A Time to Celebrate with New Learning

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!)


  • Luciana Podschun @inglesinteract 10 Oct

    Hi Kathy,

    What a great way to celebrate your twitter anniversary! You took part in two greatest presentations. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend the one presented by Greta Sandler due to my classes, but I’m pretty sure that it was fabulous!

    I absolutely agree with your view, as teachers we need to teach our students to learn by themselves, like you wrote “Our focus should be on teaching students how to learn, not what to learn.” I think you summarize everything is this sentence, that is the point. Once the student knows the tools how to look for information, he/she will be eager to learn more and more. It’s such a great feeling when our student comes and says “You know teacher, this week I’ve learnt more about our last conversation topic”. It’s rewarding, having the students involved in the learning process.

    Luciana Podschun

    • kmp444 10 Oct

      Thank you, Luciana, for taking the plunge to comment first on my post. I’m sure the link to Greta’s presentation will be posted soon. You’ll enjoy it. Her smile never left her face! Her passion for teaching was very evident. The best part, in my opinion, is when she stated that her students felt their writing was getting better because of the blog! It’s powerful when students can self-reflect and pinpoint what is assisting them in the learning process. That and the fact that they now believe they are famous … And they are!

      Keep learning! Talk to you soon.

  • gret 10 Oct

    Great post Kathy! Loved the info on Alan November’s session. I hope I see him present one day! I totally agree we must focus on authentic learning experiences if we want to encourage the love for learning.
    Thanks for the mention! I’m honored! I’m so glad you enjoyed my presentation. Thank you for joining me, it really meant a lot!

    • kmp444 10 Oct

      Thank you for the kind words, Greta! Your session was certainly a highlight. I can’t wait to watch it again and share it with teacher that are contemplating blogging with their students.

      Alan November was great. I just picked up his other book “Web Literacy for Educators.” I love the quote you used at the beginning of your session!


  • Aviva @grade1 10 Oct

    Excellent post, Kathy! I love how you’re always so eager to continue learning. You really epitomize the “life long learner,” and I’m so glad that I get to learn from you!

    Happy Bwitter Day!

    • kmp444 10 Oct

      Thanks for the feedback, Aviva. It means a lot. I was just thinking today – some people my age start to count the years to retirement. I can’t even fathom that yet. I love learning myself and empowering others. I can’t think of anything better to do than to spend each day with kids and teachers.

  • Erin Olson 10 Oct

    I am not one yet…I do believe I will have a cake to celebrate my Twitter Day!
    There are numerous web tools that amaze us, dazzle us, but as we continue to integrate, the development of lessons should focus on learning and utilizing tools as an avenue of support, of collaboration, of creativity, of differentiation.
    I am looking forward to learning with you and from you!
    Great post!

    • kmp444 10 Oct

      Hope I’m not coming into my terrible twos – Would rather think of it as terrific twos! I just didn’t get Twitter for the longest time. Slow learner, I guess. You are so right! Technology should support collaboration, creativity and differentiation! Each of those make for a well-rounded learner!

      It was great to meet you in person! Keep up the amazing work. I’m so glad you shared your story at the session. It put a wonderful personal connection to the learning of the day. Great things are happening with technology integration in Iowa. Thanks for being on the cutting edge! Your students are the fortunate ones!


  • Jill Sundblad 12 Oct

    What a great idea! Happy Twitter Birthday! I have enjoyed learning with you! I had a hard time starting Twitter. I tried but just didn’t get it. It was when a friend shared TweetDeck with me that it all fell in place. Now, it ia arch a great way to learn and collaborate.

    • kmp444 12 Oct

      Thanks for letting me use your iPad on my Twitter Birthday. It was a real treat! Its interesting how we can be confused or skeptical of something and first and then find its utility. Its just like any school improvement effort. We don’t fully own it until we see the benefits. As for Twitter the benefits to both the teacher and the STUDENTS is a win-win situation. My Twitter experiences is helping me become a stronger educator!

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