Thursday, June 28, 2012

Twitter Reflections...Six Months In!

Hard to believe that it's been six months that my venture into the 'Twitterverse' took off.  Needless to say it has been one crazy trip.

After I re-entered the classroom following a position as tech coach, my new principal, re-awakened me to the benefits of being involved with Twitter.  Following his discipleship, below are some thoughts and reflections.

Not sure that I can break Twitter into separate categories, (ie - classroom, pln, personal) because it all seems to flow together so easily.  So, pardon the wanderings.

Flat out....Twitter has made me a better teacher.  By following so many talented, enthusiastic, creative educators, I can't help but want to make my classroom, lessons, culture a more student centered place.  For example, after participating in several chats, (#5thchat, #ptchat, #elemchat) I can talk with other educators about what fun and interesting activities they are planning in their classroom.  I learned about Mystery Skype and the various ways to play.  We even finished the year with a Mystery Skype with Sao Paulo, Brazil.  (Topic for a future blog)  I see TED Talk updates and share with my students those that are motivating and inspiring.  New web 2.0 tools are reported and evaluated that I can then use with my students. (ZooBurst, Sumdog, etc...)  One of my students was somewhat obsessed with 'Angry Birds' this year, so when I saw a Tweet that discussed a NASA video on 'Angry Birds - Space Edition', you can bet that I showed it to the class.  Was great watching that child beam as his classmates learned more about Angry Birds.  Power of Twitter!  I was also asked to participate in a Edmodo book study this summer via Twitter connections.  By following Twitter I can stay up to date on the latest in tech and other engaging lessons for my classroom.

Speaking of Twitter in the classroom I set up an account for my class.  We tweeted pictures from field trips, activities in class, and other events.  Students would scribe to me what learning took place so that they could share with their parents.

Twitter gives me a voice.  I can express my opinions to anyone that want to listen.  My ideas for the classroom are validated by participating in chats with other like-minded teachers as we discuss a variety of topics each week.  Kind of makes you feel that you are doing the right thing by your kids.  Lord knows you won't get that from the top admins!  Not sure why almost 400 people are following me, but guess I am saying something right.  Granted, that dimly pales in comparison with @cybraryman, but it does make one grateful that someone is listening.  Twitter levels the playing field in that I can express my thoughts to those that are considered national experts, and get timely responses.  Getting a #FF from a nationally recognized educator feels good.  From time to time, I throw out a question asking for help, and get many responses back with sage adv ice.

Finally, the personal side of Twitter, believe it or not, has helped in my classroom as well.  Believe it or not, I am kind of a closet foodie.  After following @mariobatali,  @anthonybourdain, and @thefoodnetwork I can share recipes and ideas with my wife.  Often we plan our cooking extravaganza via Twitter ideas.  Was fun this year to also share those interesting food tweets with one of my students whose father was a chef, and she loved to cook as well.  News updates via CNN, Fox News, and our local paper keep me updated to the latest happenings in the world.

So six months in, I am hooked.  I look forward to what Twitter will bring in the next six months.

Think about it, I am writing this blog about Twitter on a sunny summer day.  It must be doing something right!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Figure It Out For Yourself...Continues

Figure It Out For Yourself!  My classroom motto for the past umpteen years.  This year as I ventured out of the classroom into the short-lived world of Tech coach, I often wondered what would happen to the FIOFY award that our grade level would hand out each year.  Would it continue, would others look for this trait in children, would the motto live on?!

Happy to report that the legend continues.  But, before I get into the who and why, let's chat for a few minutes about the whole concept of Figure It Out For Yourself. 

As a classroom teacher, I am always impressed with those students that seem to have a slight edge over their peers.  Why?  What is that edge?  How did they acquire it?  How can I help those that are not figuring it out start to get that edge?  To me, the student who is able to FIOFY is one who really has just some of the basics down.  They have a pencil, and are not asking for a new one every hour.  They know where their books are.  No need to call Mom or Dad to bring in the proverbial forgotten instrument.  They seem to have figured out how to play the school game and are comfortable with the game and who they are in the world.  So, I felt, and still feel, that not being able to FIOFY is a skill, along with adding appositives to one's writing, that is a responsibility  I have as a classroom teacher. 

Granted, genetics probably are great part of the equation.  Parenting?  Certainly can't dismiss that one.  Intelligence, maybe, but I have seen some students that are identified as gifted that couldn't figure their way out of wet paper bag.  So how do I help?

This fall as I start another year, my students will be inundated with the phrase, concept, and modeling of FIOFY behaviors.  Taking the 30 seconds to sharpen one's pencil prior to class.  Preaching the 'Touch It Once' concept when it comes to being organized with paperwork.  Discussing how to 'Watch the Show' and face forward while others are talking.  Oh they WILL get the FIOFY concept!

So the award continued without me.  This years recipient, from what I hear, was a student whose home life was one for NBC Dateline, but he figured out how to get his work done, how to be prepared for class, and what it means to play the 'School Game'  Word on the street was that when he heard his name called, there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

FIOFY.  Not an award or concept that we can measure on a standardized test, but one concept that you can bet this classroom teacher will continue to preach this fall and all year long!