I have started reading the book What Connected Educators Do Differently by Todd Whitaker, Jimmy Casas and Jeffrey Soul. I find myself shaking my head in agreement as they share how much twitter can change your professional and personal life as an educator. This quote stood out for me, "Twitter has rekindled a strong sense of renewal to our profession.....In short, you become encouraged and professionally challenged to strive for greatness!"
This is so absolutely true. I found myself learning so much, so quickly. Each educator I connected with giving me a little bit more and another challenge to try. As I opened each door, another followed. Everything was suddenly exciting and new again. It was like when I walked into school as that new teacher! I hadn't lost my love to teach, but I was losing the energy. I find myself with that renewed energy they spoke of in the book.
I am not going into depth about all the doors opened, but want to give a snapshot.
1. Skype in the Classroom: I had used Skype. I have grandchildren who live far away and that is a tool we use to stay connected. I had even used it in my classroom once to connect to one of the grandson's classes for a pen pal project. But, through my connections with other educators I learned about Skype in the Classroom and how to really use it. I suddenly had incredible resources at my fingertips to bring into my classroom and experiences for my students. Authors, scientists, explorers and it was amazing! I learned how to connect to other classrooms and take part in engaging learning experiences with map skills and number skills. So many incredible things you can do with Skype! I even used it to create my own lesson and we began connecting and doing Reader's Theater with classrooms using Skype!
2. Blogging: When I first heard about primary students blogging, I thought NO WAY! But I kept listening and decided to open the door. Sure enough, I tried it and was amazed as I watched my first graders blog. Then invited (again through twitter) to a blogging community and they became connected with their blogs and had an audience. They commented and read comments left on their blogs. The skills and excitement this brought was so rewarding!
3. Classroom Collaboration: It was amazing when I made a personal connection with a first grade teacher in Iowa. Leka Degroot (@lekadegroot) began to discuss ideas with me that she had for math. Her ideas were some I would never have thought of. We began to meet weekly and "play" math games with our classes on google hangout. (another introduction for me) This later became a math center in the classroom where small groups in each class would spend center time playing a game together while instruction carried on in our classrooms. Leka taught me so many things with technology and ways to use it with purpose and giving student's voice and choice. A twitter connection such as this is what makes it personal. This door not only opened to learning, but in gaining a friend.
4. Global Collaboration: Throughout the year you learn of so many incredible events to become involved in. We did things like Global Read Aloud, Dot Day, Global Play Day, A Day in the Life of a Student, A Day of Code, and Projects by Jen. We played Kahoot with classrooms in 7 different states at one time! Each of these were valuable, and served a purpose. Through each one the world can flatten a little more, the classroom walls come down. It is motivating, engaging...not just for the students, but for me!
These are just glimpses of the doors twitter opened. I couldn't begin to tell you them all. I couldn't begin to give you a real understanding of the impact. But I do encourage you to do it...get connected. Open those doors, walk through. Keep discovering and learning! Revitalize that energy!
Open that door...I dare you.