This year, our K-6 staff began learning in a new virtual way using Twitter. After a couple staff in-service trainings and after school workshops, parents and teachers ventured into this new educational Twitterverse. As we enter the final week of school, I’d like to share it’s initial impact on teaching and learning from my principal’s lens.
Our staff’s “learning by Twitter” has occurred in multiple formats this school year:
- From each other
- From classroom to classroom
- From our school parents
- From their developing Personal Learning Networks (PLNs)
- From local & national conferences
- From our district hashtag (#nped)
- From weekly education chats like #ptchat, #5thchat, #edchat #ntchat & others
Below are five examples of collaborative and transparent learning compliments of @KnappElementary staff and parents. Without the efforts of teachers AND parents “trying” social media at school, something very new to most of us, none of these benefits would be possible.
- MAXIMIZING FIELD TRIPS – 5th grade field trip to @TheFranklin Institute, Philadelphia, PA and Kindergarten field trip to @ElmwoodZoo1, Norristown, PA When your field trip is “broadcasted” in real time using Twitter, parents at home, at work, as well as school personal unable to join the physical trip can experience the learning in a virtual way. For parents, these photo and text filled “tweets” help them stay engaged and allow for pinpoint follow-up opportunity on exactly what the child experienced on his or her trip. For other teachers in the building, including the principal, it allows for continued conversations and building upon that learning in other areas such as music, art, gym and library classes. For each field trip, we shared a “Twitterfall” of teacher and parent field trip tweets on the front lobby monitor (a recent gift from our Home & School Association). The students, staff and parents may have returned from the trip, but the learning continues and the dollars are spread further. The Twitterfeed also lives on a Family Engagement Wiki using a free tool called Timekiwi.
- SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS / CONFERENCES – International Speaker on Bullying & Teen Suicide John Halligan Spoke earlier this year at NPSD. We were able to share this tweeted transcript with parents and staff to enrich our classroom meetings across our building and district. An Edutopia article was drafted following this presentation, which included takeaways from a teacher and parent who took part in the discussion.
- DAY TO DAY COLLABORATION AMONGST STAFF – Teachers share plans, photographed project completion and lesson reflections across the school and district. For example, here’s a few tweets from a recent mystery Skype setup with some reflections made possible by one of our 5th grade teachers, Glenn Yetter (@coachyetter). After seeing his tweets, two more teachers plan to take part in a mystery Skype in their own classrooms next week!
- SIMULTANEOUS SHARING AT A NATIONAL EDUCATION CONFERENCE – During this year’s #ASCD12 conference, even though the budget didn’t allow for many staff members from our district to be physically present, with Twitter, we were able to gather notes and takeaways from over 30 sessions and develop a shared ASCD Evernote conference notebook . During Reed Timmer’s (@reedtimmertvn) Discovery Education keynote session on Stormchasing, we were able to tweet links back and forth with parents, who then played the same raw storm footage with their 5th grade student at home – powerful at-home learning of a tornado on a Saturday morning.
- STRENGTHENING PLC CONVERSATIONS – Several teachers and parents in our building have begun participating in weekly chats such as #PTchat (Parent-Teacher Chat), #EDchat (Education Chat) #5thchat (5th grade Chat) and even #NTchat (New Teacher Chat). Storified archives like this one on meaningful report card comments were brought into morning PLC discussions to serve as conversation starters in pushing our thinking. You can archive entire chats or just pick out the most valuable tweets for your setting using Storify.
Although we’ve only just completed our first full year in using this socal media tool, we’ve broken the ice on a variety of teaching and learning benefits for parents, teachers and students. Over the summer, we’re planning to engage a shared hashtag to “keep the learning going” – one of the best features that Twitter offers. If you’re committed to harnessing this tool in 12-13, start with the parent and teacher trainings that are vital to helping Twitter flourish in your own school setting. The addictive social learning that will ensue will steer itself once you’ve built in the time for the initial Twitter 101. For more “Learning Twitter” resources, click here.
Look for “Learning By Twitter – Examples 6-10” very soon…