Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Summer Refresh

As we near the end of the school year (only one day left!), many realize it is a great way to sit back and reflect on the things you did in your classroom. You have the summer months ahead of you where you don't have to fulfill the everyday needs of your students and can focus on better ways to fulfill them in the coming school year. Plus, there are the summer inservice days that will provide you with new skills and insights to use with your students. But what are some ways that you can help yourself grow over the summer? Through reflection and communication with other professionals!

1. Twitter - You may have heard about twitter on any variety of news and entertainment outlets, and most mock the service, often wondering why anyone would care about what you had for breakfast or the latest shenanigans of the celebrity flavor of the week. While it is true that many users do post such banalities, twitter is a tool that you can use to do for you that which you need it to do. You choose whether to have a protected or unprotected account (in other words, you decide who gets to "follow" you). You choose who to "follow," which would be the users whose posts get fed into your twitter stream, and these users will become your Professional Learning Network (PLN).

Twitter is known as a micro-blogging site that allows you to share information 140 characters at a time. Many users share thoughts and ideas in these little posts, but is it also great for sharing links or having conversations with certain groups of users. One such conversation that happens every Tuesday at 12 PM and 7 PM Eastern is EdChat. Two different discussions are held, and each tweet includes a hashtag #edchat so that all edchatters can follow the full conversation. As you grow your PLN and use of twitter, you will find that it molds into a tool that fits your needs.

There are a great many educators on twitter who are more than willing to share ideas and resources, or even set up a classroom collaboration project between your classroom and theirs. If you do decide to use twitter as a way to build a PLN, let me know and I will help you connect with other educators around the world who are members of my PLN (my handle on twitter is misterlamb).

2. Blogging has become a great way to reflect, share, collaborate, and coordinate in today's connected world. While twitter allows you to share small thought 140 characters at a time, blogging gives you a much larger canvas to work with. There are many educators who use blogs to reflect for themselves or to allow their students to collaborate and reflect on classroom discussions. The service that is used for this blog is Blogger, but there are a multitude of other blogs available out there, including WordPress and Edublogs. Of course, this doesn't include all blogging services, and you'll want to find one that fits needs of you and your students.

If you want to use blogging in your classroom next year, set up an appointment so we can discuss various ways the tool could be utilized in your classroom. If you need help setting up either of these ways to help with reflection, also set up an appointment so I can help you out.

As with anything where you are posting online, always remember that you are a professional and put under more scrutiny than those in other fields. Information that you post online should not be derogatory in any manner, and definitely should not identify students, administrators, colleagues, or parents, especially in a negative manner.

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