Looking Back, Looking Forward

This will be my last week teaching before I begin maternity leave. I’m definitely looking forward to my new adventure as a mum but know there will be a lot I will miss about being in the classroom.

In packing up my classroom to make way for the new teacher, it has been interesting to think about what is worth storing for my future teaching career, and what is obsolete.

I have been at the same school for almost a decade. The world has certainly changed, education has changed and I have changed as a teacher.

At this stage, I don’t know whether I’ll be back teaching in a short while or a long while. What teaching resources will be important or useful in the future? I do not know. What I do know is that many items I previously valued now have no use in the classroom.

I’m not a hoarder. I find it liberating to get rid of things I no longer need and I subscribe to the notion that a cluttered environment leads to a cluttered mind.

I’m trying to be ruthless in condensing 9.5 years of resources into two or three plastic storage tubs.

One of the main things I’m disposing of is worksheets.

There was a time when I relished the challenge of making a “good” worksheet. I used to take pride in my folders, carefully organised into curriculum areas and topics.

It seems so obvious now but it took me years to realise that worksheets don’t feature heavily in an effective, modern classroom.

While there is always a place for recording of information etc. on paper, the “busy work” that I used to love to set now makes me cringe!

It is clear to me that hands-on, authentic, collaborative, open-ended tasks have a much bigger impact on students than a prescribed worksheet.

I wonder if this viewpoint will be more widespread when I return to the classroom. At the moment I still see photocopiers in high demand by many teachers.

Similarly, I have been asked countless times for “sheets” when a student is absent or going on holidays. Many parents seem to value worksheets as the key to education and see classroom education as easily replaced by paper work.

Other reflections on what is important now and in the future:

  • Ideas and resources are always available:  I can use Twitter, blogs and other online tools to brainstorm or source the ideas and resources I need in the future. I know my international professional learning network (PLN) will always be there. I don’t need to keep an artefact of an idea I had five years ago “just in case”.
  • Digital resources don’t take up space: A lot of what I’ve created for my classroom is housed on my computer or in the cloud.  My work programs used to take up a lot of shelf space. Now I work on them collaboratively with my team via Google Docs. This is just one example of saving physical space and working more effectively.
  • I don’t need to provide it all: The modern classroom is a lot less teacher-led than it was when I began teaching. I don’t need to create all the work, resources or projects. This is something students can do authentically and collaboratively.
  • Prioritising is powerful: I’ve always enjoyed creating a bright and attractive learning environment in my classroom. However, I have come to realise that spending hours on beautiful bulletin board displays isn’t a good use of my time. I’ve had to simplify things over the years to devote more time to avenues that can offer my students amazing outcomes, such as blogging and global projects. I no longer have as many “decorative items” to store and students can play a bigger role in working on their physical learning environment.

I’m excited about what lays ahead both personally and professionally. As for the future of my blog, I’m not signing off completely just yet. While I’m slowing down, I’m going to see what challenges my new life presents before determining whether I still have the inspiration and time to write about education.

But what of now? Tech no logic CC BY-NC-SA http://www.flickr.com/photos/50614315@N05/4970644551

What has become obsolete from your teaching career?

What resources do you think will be most valuable for teachers in the future?

 

Ten Tips for Teaching Students how to Research and Filter Information

I was recently involved in a conversation about how difficult it now is to filter what is on the internet and research effectively. In the past, students would primarily use books to research; being overloaded with possibly unreliable information wasn’t really an issue.

Teaching students research skills is becoming increasingly important. Some refer to the filtering and critical evaluation of information as ‘web literacy’.

Unfortunately, many teachers don’t feel confident with their own skills to be able to assist their students with this. Often this is due to the fact that teachers aren’t actively searching and using material from the internet themselves.

Some schools get around this issue by heavily blocking the sites children have access too. My philosophy is to educate rather than block, in most cases.

I’m no expert in this area but I have compiled a list of ten tips that I try to give my students to help them with internet research and filtering. I’d love you to add your tips in a comment!

  • Search: Start with some general key words. If your results aren’t what you want, alter the keywords to make a more specific search. I often encourage my students to put the word “kids” in to find child friendly websites and articles. The Google Search Education website provides detailed lesson plans on teaching search skills. This cheat sheet also summarises some of Google’s advanced search features.
  • Delve: Look beyond the first few results. Flick through a few pages if need be. Let students know that many websites use Search Engine Optimisation to improve the visibility of their pages in search results. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the most useful or relevant sites.
  • Source: Look at the actual URL address to see where you’re going before you click on a search engine result. Use some intuition to decide whether it seems reliable. Is it from a well known site? An educational or government institution? Is it a forum or opinion site?
  • Validity: Ensure students understand that you cannot believe everything you read. Encourage them to make their own judgement by checking more than one source if they’re not sure.
  • Purpose: Be wary of websites that are cluttered with advertisements or might be trying to sell you something.
  • Background: When reading articles, try to look for the author’s name and when the article was written. Is it recent or outdated?
  • Teach: Integrate the teaching of these skills into everything you do. Model your searches explicitly and talk out loud as you look things up. Researching skills don’t need to be covered in stand alone lessons.
  • Justify: When you’re modelling your research, go to some weak websites and ask students to justify whether they think the site would be useful and reliable.
  • Path: Students might like to start their search with some sites they know or have used before rather than randomly googling.
  • Cite: Give students lots of practice of writing information in their own words, and show them how to use quotation marks and cite sources. Remind students about the seriousness of plagiarism and copyright infringement. These are terms even my grade two students used. It’s never to early to learn about web literacy.

Image: 'not quite clear on the concept' http://www.flickr.com/photos/73645804@N00/1431384410

There are some useful lesson plans on the Common Sense Media website if you’d like to try some more structured lessons in your class. There are also some great links on the Education World website.


What tips can you add?

How do you teach ‘web literacy’?

Do you use custom search engines designed for children?

Students Learning From Their Blogging Buddies

I seem to be continually uncovering more and more benefits to educational blogging. Aside from the advantages that I’ve shared here and here, having your class involved in the educational blogging community allows students to learn from and with their peers from all around the world.

In my class we often use our blogging buddies’ posts as inspiration for classroom activities, and as role models for high standards of work.

One such example was the readers’ theatre activities that we were doing last week as part of our CAFE reading program.

Throughout the week, we read a range of readers’ theatre scripts and used the posts on Mr Salsich’s Classroom Blog and 4T’s Classroom Blog as inspiring models.

We published one of our own performances on our class blog here which hopefully continues the cycle of sharing.

There have been many other instances when my students have learnt from their blogging buddies. Just a few that spring to mind are:

When using ideas from other people’s blogs, we like to acknowledge where our idea came from. I believe this is good blogging etiquette to model to the students.

Being part of the blogging community not only enriches my students’ education but assists me to create authentic and interesting classroom activities. Everyone wins!

How have blog posts inspired your class activities?

Team Teaching

This post isn’t about technology but it is about something I am asked about often – team teaching.

This is the second year that Kelly Jordan and I have team taught and we find it to be hugely successful and rewarding. In this post I will explain how it works for us.

Physical Environment

We work in a large open classroom which is basically two classroom with folding doors that stay open. There are a small number of classrooms with this set up in our school.

2KM 2KJ classroom

We have a small withdrawal room which we use regularly for different groups and activities. We also have a number of special needs students who often require one-on-one support, so integration aides take advantage of this quiet space to work with these students.

DSC05871

Kelly and I are extremely lucky to have two interactive whiteboards (IWBs) – one in each classroom. We alternate which IWB we use for our introductions and usually have both in operation during small group work.

IWB

This year we were fortunate enough to acquire 20 netbooks and an iPad to add to our 10 desktop computers and four iPod Touches. It goes without saying, we use these tools constantly!

KJ iPad

Students

For administrative purposes, we have two separate classes (2KM and 2KJ) however we work together for every session except for two hours of the week when one class is at a specialist (eg. Art, Music, P.E. etc).

Like all classes, our students have a mixture of abilities, needs, interests and personalities.

There are 22 students in each class who are all aged seven or eight years old.

Planning

Kelly and I plan everything collaboratively. This usually (officially) begins early in the week when we sit down and discuss what we think our students need to work on and draft out a plan for the following week. During this planning time, we write down many of the things we have been discussing informally as we have been observing and working with our students.

From there, we often share out tasks and source different resources and activities separately. For example, I might look for some reading activities and Kelly might look for some maths resources. We then get together and discuss what we’ve found, tweak our ideas and finalise our planning.

We have three hours per week of specialist classes which also provides time release for teachers. 2KM and 2KJ has one of their specialist classes at the same time which allows Kelly and me one hour planning time. The rest of our planning is done before school, online at night, at lunchtimes etc.

The planning process never stops and we are continually teaching, assessing, reflecting, planning. It is an ongoing and efficient cycle.

Our Day

We begin each day by marking the roll separately with our classes. We then join together for blogging, then literacy and then the rest of our program. The first ten minutes of the day is the only time we work separately.

Kelly and I do all of our whole class teaching together. Our introductions and explanations bounce off each other and can almost seem scripted at times! Contrary to what some people have asked in the past, it is certainly not “tag-teaching” where one person teaches and the other person rests!

Following our whole class explanations, we teach small groups or individuals separately. This provides real advantages for meeting students’ needs as the children can be flexibly grouped together.

KM reading

Our Blog

Most readers will know that the 2KM and 2KJ blog is a huge part of our classroom. In 2010 we had two separate blogs however we find it much more efficient and effective to have one joint blog this year. This also has the advantage of cutting down the work load for Kelly and me.

Every day we start with 20 minutes of blogging and also work on the blog at other times during the day. A day without blogging would be unheard of. Read more about that here.

Our blog is a way for our students to improve their literacy skills, collaborate globally, connect with parents, learn about internet safety, work for an authentic audience and develop the classroom community, among other things.

In 2KM and 2KJ, we love blogging and it has opened up the world to our young students. Our students don’t just learn from their teachers and classmates, they have children and educators from all around the world who impact on their development daily.

Benefits

My opinion is that our team teaching is hugely successful. Kelly and I feel like our students’ learning outcomes are greater overall when compared to when we used to teach separately.

Most people would agree that in order to continually learn and improve, individuals need to engage in regular reflection. This includes teachers.

Team teaching allows for such rich reflection almost every hour of the day (and night!). When we’re not teaching, Kelly and I find ourselves talking non-stop about what our students need to work on, what ideas we could use and how our teaching is going. Our ideas just seem to bounce off each other proving that ‘two heads are better than one’!

I simply can’t compare how valuable team teaching is as opposed to teaching  individually and working in a grade level ‘team’. Discussing my students with someone who is never in my classroom rarely works for me – the inside knowledge and vested interest just isn’t there. Kelly and I are still part of a great team and it is fantastic for sharing general ideas and strategies etc, but for specific, individual professional dialogues, I prefer to talk to someone who is in my classroom.

Why it Works

I think the main reason our team teaching is so successful is our compatibility. I strongly believe that that two teachers cannot be just put together and told to team teach.

Kelly and I chose to embark on our collaborative teaching. We have almost identical views on discipline, organisation, work ethic, student expectations, teaching philosophies and even smaller things like noise tolerance and how we like our classroom to look. Our partnership is harmonious and productive.

Obviously we are not clones of each other and despite many similarities, our personal strengths in different areas also complement each other. I believe this helps to provide a rounded education for our students.

Student Response

Our students respond extremely well to our team teaching situation. 2KM and 2KJ has developed a great community atmosphere with students having the chance to work with a wide range of their peers. If Kelly or I are ever absent and the doors are closed, the students are very quick to complain!

At the end of 2010 we surveyed parents about having their student in a team teaching/open classroom. All parents responded positively and said that they felt it had benefited their child.

What Next?

Kelly and I would love to be able to teach the same cohort of students for two years and see where we can take them. As Chris Bradbeer said in his recent post

In setting up learning hubs where children stay with the teachers for certainly two years, there was a feeling that learners wouldn’t experience that ‘dip’ of lost learning that is always evidence post summer holidays, as teachers and children get to know one another.”

We just know we’d be able to help our students achieve even greater success if we had more time! We hope we are given the opportunity to try this at some stage.

KM, KJ and Leo

Have you been involved in a team teaching situation? How did you find it?

Do you have any other questions or thoughts on team teaching?

Looking Back 2004-2011

I finished university at the end of 2003 and started teaching in January 2004.

Like all graduate teachers, the beginning of my teaching career was a steep learning curve. Fortunately, I felt like I had a lot of role models around me on staff. As I embarked on my career, I remember thinking a lot about what makes a good teacher and what sort of teacher I’d like to be.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how much has changed in the past eight years. I know I’ve changed enormously since 2004 but have all teachers? Are those teachers who were role models for me in 2004 still roles models?

Sadly, in the majority of cases, the answer is no. The simple fact is, some teachers are teaching the same as they were in 2004 when the world was a different place.

There is no denying that technology has changed the way we live. So many of the tools I use now in my classroom, professional learning or administration have only come about in the last eight years.

Here are some examples:

  • Interactive whiteboards – I didn’t even see one until about 2007. Now most classrooms in our school are equipped with interactive whiteboards and I use mine for every lesson.
  • iPod Touch – Launched in 2007, I started using iPod Touches in 2008 and they’re regularly integrated into my curriculum.
  • iPad – Launched in 2010, I started using mine in the classroom this year.
  • Edublogs – Launched in 2005, I started blogging in 2008. Edublogs has now reached one million blogs.
  • YouTube – Launched 2005.
  • Twitter – Launched 2006.
  • Flickr – Launched 2004.
  • Facebook – Launched 2004.
  • Diigo – Launched 2006
  • Skype – Launched 2003.

The world had changed so much since I began. Who knows what the next eight years will bring. All I can say is I plan to ride the wave, embrace change, reflect and reinvent!

Image: 'The tube' http://www.flickr.com/photos/16932921@N08/2161046983

Image: 'The tube' http://www.flickr.com/photos/16932921@N08/2161046983

How has your teaching changed since you started in the profession?

Integrating Blogging into the Curriculum

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been speaking to many teachers about educational blogging. Sometimes I feel like I live, breathe and dream blogging, so talking on this topic isn’t hard!

Kelly Jordan and I were so pleased with the feedback from our DEECD Innovations Showcase and ICTEV Conference presentations. This has led to many follow up conversations and even a presentation via Skype to staff at Edna Sackson’s school.

A question we have been asked and addressed many times is:

“How do you integrate blogging into your curriculum?”

This is the fourth year I have been blogging with my students. For the first couple of years, I just fit blogging in wherever I could find time. This might have been a few minutes squeezed in during transition times or while the kids were eating their lunches.

I soon realised this was not the best way to unleash the full benefits of blogging.

Like all new ways of working, blogging needs to be prioritised and planned for. It then becomes a habit and the true benefits are realised.

Kelly Jordan and I team teach in an open classroom with 43 students and 10 computers. We don’t have the luxury of a 1:1 program or bank of laptops. We use whole class, small group and rotation structures to make blogging work for us.

This is what blogging looks like in our classroom.

Start the day with blogging

After marking the roll, we spend the first 20 minutes of each day on blogging. Our focus changes each day but we might

  • read our latest blog post together
  • have students read out the comments they left overnight (great way to motivate students to keep commenting at home!)
  • look at one of our blogging buddies’ blogs. We never know what we’re going to learn!
  • compose a “quality comment” together as a class
  • look at our ClustrMap and discuss place value and geography.

This is the lead in to our Literacy Block so we draw in elements of literacy. If we’re focussing on paragraphs, capital letters, full stops, adjectives or whatever, we’ll talk about this while looking at blog comments.

DSC07468

A student reads out the coment she wrote at home.

Blogging in the Literacy Block

Like all junior primary classes here in Victoria, we have a two hour Literacy Block each day. Read more about it here. Every week, one of the activities students complete is blogging on the computers. We call this “working on writing” as it is an authentic way for the students to be practicing their writing.

Blogging in the Computer Lab

We’re at a big school where, due to timetable restraints, our Grade Two students only have specialist ICT classes for the second half of the year. Luckily there are some hours in the computer lab free each week so Kelly and I take our students there once a week. With 43 students it is generally one computer between two but it is a great way to have a focussed blogging session and the students get a lot out of working with a friend.

We have a different focus each week but it often involves responding to a certain post on our blog or our blogging buddies’ blogs.

Whenever we get the chance…

Because blogging is so ingrained in the daily routine in our classroom, our students often ask us if they can blog when they finish their work.

One teacher recently asked us “how do you get to the point where your students are wanting to work on blogging?”. I think it is about creating that culture in your classroom where it is a regular way of working and not an add-on. Blogging for the sake of it or trying to blog on top of the regular classroom curriculum just isn’t going to work. We have a crowded curriculum! Find ways to embed it into what you are already doing. The first place to start is your Literacy Block as blogging is all about literacy. I’d love to hear how you do it!

Check out Henrietta Miller’s post here to find more advice on this topic!

How do you integrate blogging into your curriculum?

The Power of ClustrMaps

This post marks another milestone on this blog

50000 visitors

A huge thank you for all your support! More than two years later, I am still enjoying writing this blog more than ever due to the wonderful community of readers and supporters I am a part of.

I use ClustrMaps to keep track of visitors both on this blog and on my class blog. I also use Google Analytics which provides some excellent data but that is another blog post!

ClustrMaps is something we use as a powerful teaching tool in our classroom.

Kelly Jordan and I start every day by looking at our class blog together with our students on the interactive whiteboard. One of the first things we do is check out our ClustrMap. Our grade two students love seeing how our visitor total is progressing.

clustrmap check

Our ClustrMap check offers so many teachable moments.

We have seen our students’ understanding of place value increase by this daily authentic activity. We use a place value chart to keep track of our visitors and every day we talk about how many thousands, hundreds, tens and ones are in our visitor number.

The students are able to apply the strategies we’re learning in maths to make predictions and calculations about our visitor count. It is a great chance for students to be able to share their strategies about how they worked out a problem (eg. how many more visitors will we need to get to 8000?).

DSC07453

Maths isn’t the only focus when we visit our ClustrMap. The red dots on the map and current country totals provide an authentic avenue to teach and discuss geography. We talk about what countries and cities most of our visitors are coming from and theorise why this is the case.

Our seven and eight year old students are becoming familiar with the world map and are developing an understanding of our place in our global society.

How do you use ClustrMaps or other blogging tools to create authentic teachable moments?

How do you Reflect?

A few weeks ago, I was listening to Chris Betcher on the Virtual Staffroom podcast interviewing Helen Otway. Helen is an inspiring leader at a Victorian P-12 school. Many of the topics Chris and Helen talked about struck chords with me including the idea of developing a more thoughtful approach to teaching and learning through reflective practice.

There has been a plethora of research on reflective practice over the years. Most people would agree, in order to continually learn and improve, individuals need to engage in regular reflection.

The world has certainly changed since the term ‘reflective practice’ was first coined. This got me thinking, how do teachers and students engage in reflection in 2011?

Image: 'Savage walk: don't ask, just go' http://www.flickr.com/photos/61787893@N00/275371357

Image: 'Savage walk: don't ask, just go' http://www.flickr.com/photos/61787893@N00/275371357

Currently, my primary avenues for reflection include:

1. Blogging: This blog is an excellent metacognitive process and avenue for reflection for me. Through the process of creating blog posts, I often “think about what I think” and put those thoughts into words. Through delving into my thoughts on topics and writing about what has been happening in my classroom, I often come up with new ideas and strategies to utilise in my teaching.

Another huge benefit of blogging is the comments. When other educators offer thoughts and opinions on my blog posts, I am introduced to new perspectives that help me reflect further. I think my students are better off for having a teacher that blogs and I couldn’t recommend blogging enough as a reflective exercise!

2. Team teaching: 2011 is the second year that I have been team teaching with Kelly Jordan. Prior to this, my reflections on lessons, student progress and teaching strategies used to happen in an ad hoc manner in the staffroom/team meetings with teachers who were disconnected from my classroom.

Team teaching allows for such rich reflection almost every hour of the day (and night!). When we’re not teaching, Kelly and I find ourselves talking non-stop about what our students need to work on, what ideas we could use and how our teaching is going. Our ideas just seem to bounce off each other proving that “two heads are better than one”! Team teaching has been one of the most rewarding and powerful situations I’ve experienced as a professional and I know my students are benefiting from it.

The key to this scenario is that Kelly and I are extremely like minded with our philosophies, drive, work habits, priorities, discipline strategies etc. Our partnership is harmonious and productive. While I love team teaching, I could think of nothing worse than being told who I should team teach with!

3. Time out: I find I have the best ideas and reflective “aha moments” when I take time out from what I am doing.

I have come up with some of my most memorable ideas and breakthroughs when I am running, bushwalking, cooking or even just having a shower! Strangely enough, I have even come up with thoughtful perspectives while sleeping! Time to think is so important for me.

4. Being part of a PLN: I would certainly not be the teacher I am without my professional learning network (PLN). Effective teaching and learning doesn’t occur in a vacuum. A day doesn’t go by where I am not using Twitter, blogs, podcast, webinars etc to connect with other educators, learn, reflect and improve. When I am pondering an idea, I can use Twitter to get ideas and opinions from people all around the world.

I can hardly believe that the majority of teachers are still relying on the insights of their immediate team or school when there are billions of people out there who can broaden your horizons!

Half of my main sources for reflection wouldn’t be possible without technology!

Students need to be encouraged to reflect as well and introduced to mediums such as blogging, collaborative work, social media or time out as they progress throughout their schooling.

In this video, Dylan Wiliam talks about the importance of students being able to reflect on their learning and how teachers can utilise these insights.

In a similar way, this Stephen Heppell interview discusses how metacognition can help a young person to become a co-producer and explorer of their learning, rather than a consumer.

What avenues do you use to reflect?

How do you encourage your students to engage in reflection and metacognition?

Top 10 Twitter Tips!

Without a doubt, Twitter is my number one form of professional development and I am always recommending it to other educators.

I first joined Twitter in early 2009 although I didn’t start using it daily until early 2010.

I find Twitter to be a one stop shop to meet like-minded educators. It is a place where I can find advice, give advice, find great links, share my work and engage in general musings about education.

For me, Twitter has never been a place where I tell people what I am eating for breakfast or catch up on celebrity goss. While I use Facebook to keep up with friends, Twitter is purely a professional medium for me.

If you’re new to Twitter, this is a terrific video that explains how Twitter can be used as a professional development tool for teachers

(I came across this via Michael Graffin @mgraffin – thanks!).

As a regular Twitter user I thought I would offer some advice to new Tweeters.

1. Give it a chance! So many people who join Twitter have trouble getting their head around it or forming connections with others. I was using Twitter for months before I felt like I was a real part of the Twitter community and knew what I was doing. Make yourself check in to Twitter daily for a month before you make any decisions about whether it is for you.

2. Get a desktop application. The Twitter website is not overly user-friendly and most Tweeters use a desktop application to access and organise their tweets. I recommend TweetDeck. It is free, straightforward and available for Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone, Android etc. With TweetDeck, you can easily keep track of conversations, make lists and incorporate your other social networking sites (eg. Facebook).

3. Give and take. I have seen some people use Twitter simply to let others know about their new blog posts. While this is one great use of Twitter, why not strike up a conversation with someone or offer someone some advice? Like everything in life, you will find Twitter to be a more worthwhile and enjoyable experience if you give and take.

4. Tweet in less than 140 characters. Make your important tweets short enough so others can retweet them without having to shorten the tweet. If people have to go to too much effort to shorten your tweet (eg. after RT @username is added), they may decide not to retweet it.

5. Know where to put @username. I have seen so many people lately “retweet” a message by starting with @username. Don’t forget, with most Twitter applications, people will only see others’ replies if they are following both the sender and recipient of the update. Eg. you might think Mary has a great blog so you tweet “@mary has a great blog about teaching www.blog.com, check it out!” Only people following you and Mary will see the tweet. This really limits your audience.

6. To follow or not to follow. Some people only want to follow a certain number of people (eg. 100) so they can keep track of their tweets. If people follow me or retweet me and they are “quality Tweeters” (eg. teachers or involved in education), I will follow them back. I prefer not to follow businesses or commercial tweeters unless I’m particularly interested in them. Some people will disagree but I find this “following back” method polite. Over time, this can mean you could have 1000+ people you are following. Obviously that would be too many to keep track of but I create a list in Tweetdeck of people I’m particularly interested in. Currently there are about 150 people on this list. That may seem like a lot but some people don’t tweet all that often and I don’t feel compelled to see everyone’s tweets.

7. Let others know who you are! I do not follow back anyone who doesn’t have a bio. There are so many “spam” Tweeters out there, that I wouldn’t want to risk it! It takes minutes to make a bio that tells possible followers who you are. I much prefer people have a real photo of themself, rather than a cartoon avatar or other picture. People will feel much more of a connection with you if they can see who you are. Finally, when signing up for Twitter, it is best to use your real name (or close to) if possible. Being online and part of a PLN isn’t about hiding or pretending to be someone else. I don’t believe in having an online you and and offline you. Let us know who you are. Your digital footprint is valuable!

8. Use hashtags #. Hashtags mark key words or topics in tweets and help to categorise tweets. It is a way to get your tweet out to people who may not necessarily be following you. Hashtags can appear anywhere in the tweet. Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all other tweets in that category. Some hashtags you might like include #edtech #edchat #elemchat #comments4kids #vicpln. If you go to a conference you will generally find they have a hashtag so you can tweet before, during and after the event and connect with fellow delegates. Tip: don’t over hashtag your tweet – 3 is enough!

Here is a post I wrote all about Twitter hashtags if you want more information.

9. Drop in and drop out. One of the great things about Twitter is you don’t have to keep up with everything. I love Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach’s analogy of Twitter being like a river. The river keeps flowing but sometimes you might just walk past and have a quick look, sometimes you might hang around a dip your toes in, other times you might spend hours swimming around. You can use Twitter as your time and inclination permits!

10. Ask for advice. If you’re not sure how things work on Twitter just ask. I am @kathleen_morris and I’m always happy to help! Don’t know who to follow? Tweet me and I will give you some suggestions!

twitterfollow

Need more convincing on the power of Twitter? Chris Betcher has written a fantastic post. Find it here.

What are your thoughts on Twitter?

Share your Twitter tips!

Standards for Graduate Teachers in ICT

Today I was lucky enough to be part of a small group of innovative educators from around Australia at a focus group in Melbourne. We were reviewing the Graduate Teacher Standards of the National Professional Standards for Teachers and elaborating on these in regards to ICT integration.

These standards were developed as part of a project by Teaching Teachers for the Future (TTF) targeting systematic change in the ICT proficiency of graduate teachers across Australia.

The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) and The Australian Council for Computers in Education (ACCE), are developing and trialling explicit ICT specific dimensions (elaboration/exemplars/performance indicators) for approximately 60 % of the descriptors in the Graduate Teacher Standards.

This is an exciting project which will shape pre-service education and hopefully bring about an exceptional standard of graduate teachers across Australia.

Despite feeling a little overwhelmed by acronyms, it was great to meet some Twitter friends face-to-face and engage in some stimulating conversation with like minded professionals.

If you are interested in reading the standards, you can view the PDF here AITSL National Professional Standards for Teachers

This is a summary of the standards which broken down into further sub-sections. It was an interesting exercise to reflect on how ICT can be embedded into all of these standards.

Standards Grad teachers

What do you think the specific standards for graduate teachers should be in regards to ICT integration?

What do they need to know and do?