One of my ‘back to basics’ this year is harnessing the power of Twitter in both my and my students learning. This is something that has taken a back seat to the ‘busy list’ over the last year or so. Re-establishing this as a part of my routine has added immediate value to both my professional learning and learning in my classroom.
When we talk about ‘new basics’ in education, facilitating a connected classroom has to be one of these. Keeping a class Twitter account open in a browser tab on the screen in our class adds a layer of depth to the learning opportunities we create. A simple thing like our shared class novel becomes a whole different experience when we can have access to the author to interact with as we read. This term we are reading ‘Refugee’ from the ‘My Australian Story’ series, written by Alan Sunderland. One tweet from our class account connected us with Mr Sunderland who has offered to answer questions from students as we make our way through the novel.
@Room17Woodend That’s great to hear. Hope you enjoy it and feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.
Another common experience in Australian classrooms is ‘Behind the News‘. With a class Twitter account, this moves from a ‘viewing’ experience to an interactive learning experience where our students develop questions to ask of expert reporters on a weekly basis. This transforms the learning and allows students to see connections to their world.
For me professionally, being back in the Twittersphere keeps me on my toes. Feeling accountable to someone keeps me blogging regularly which I know helps to solidify my thinking. It keeps me in regular touch with creative thinking about education and it gives me a much broader learning network to bounce ideas around with.
This year it’s back to basics for me. Now a few years into my first leadership position, I still manage to get caught up in the juggle between the ‘business’ of a leadership role and the demands of the classroom. In amongst this, I’ve slowly and unintentionally ‘let go’ of a lot of things that were successful in my classroom. With that now clearly in mind, it’s time to rectify the problem.
I don’t think that it’s bad to ‘let go’ of things. We all should be doing this. Paul Clapton-Caputo talks about educators aiming to to have 20% of their practice in a school year be things that you haven’t done before. What I’m talking about is keeping an established base of NEW or CURRENT basics.
A few years ago, Edmodo was the platform for my students to organise themselves and collaborate online, now we use Google Classroom. Even though Edmodo is no longer the right tool for us, the underlying idea of a collaborative and creative, safe, online space for students to work in should be one of these new basics. Connecting globally is another. Instagram, Twitter, Blogs… there a MANY tools that let us do this. The ‘basic’ is that our students develop an understanding of global thinking and collaboration. Having developed a community of educators online over many years, this isn’t a difficult thing to do. It just needs to be brought back into focus.
We all should be having discussions in our schools about what ‘the basics’ are. What are the base line skills and resources to we need to be offering to our students?
Getting ‘back to basics’ doesn’t end in the classroom. What are the basics for me as a professional learner? My goal for this year is to re-engage with my online learning network. These are a group of people that push and challenge my thinking yet, when I get busy, I disengage. Writing on my own blog is another thing that I KNOW helps to clarify my thinking. Again, I struggle to maintain momentum when things get hectic. George Couros talks about not feeling guilty about isolating some work time to do this. I will give this a try.
Having a default mode is normal. It’s what we do. The challenge is to keep moving this ‘default’ forward so we keep improving.