Sunday, August 24, 2014

You Have a Twitter Account...Now What

As I returned to school this year, it seemed that our district underwent a Twitter transformation. It seems every administrator now has a twitter account. They are posting quotes and are communicating the happenings in their buildings to the public. All of this is great...they are controlling the message and image for their buildings. Because these principals are now on Twitter, I am seeing a greater number of teachers getting Twitter accounts....and this is great! Teachers are now sharing what is happening in their classroom and controlling the message. Others are not defining their classrooms...they are taking the lead. But now what? Is that all a Twitter account can do? Absolutely not!

While all the above uses of Twitter are great, they only scratch the surface of what teachers and administrators can do with a Twitter account. Twitter gives you a key to a whole new world of professional learning and collaboration.

So if you are new to Twitter, I challenge you to do one or more of the following:

- Find educators and educational leaders outside of your district to follow on Twitter. An outsider's perspective can help us look at resources, problems, and issues in a different way. This different perspective can give us new ideas to try with our students and staff. This can provide a great growth opportunity! Not sure how to find people to follow on Twitter? See the video below.

- Use Twitter for more than a resource grab...converse with someone. Talking, arguing, and discussing ideas and topics only make us more knowledgeable. Collaborating with others makes our instruction and leadership more effective. Twitter is more than one way is a 24/7 discussion forum that is waiting for you. Don't be shy. Ask a question. Add a thought. Dare to disagree with someone. All of these interactions will lead to growth.

- Participate in a Twitter chat. There are chats happening everyday on every type of topic. Chats are organic and they rely on the participants to create a rich experience for all users. If you are not sure, just sit back and watch. Then when you are ready, jump into the discussion. Check out this schedule to see when these Twitter chats are happening. Not sure how to even participate in a Twitter chat...see the video below for one way to participate.

Twitter is your opportunity to make professional development your own. You choose who to follow. You choose when to read. You choose what you learn. Isn't that what professional learning should be? 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Google Teacher Academy - Atlanta 2014

Two days in June were ones I will never forget. I was fortunate enough to attend the Google Teacher Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. The chance to collaborate and work with other exemplary Google users was inspiring and sadly those two days seemed like they flew by. So for over a month I have been reflecting on the experience and trying to put the whole experience into words. But this one thought kept entering my mind....a reflection marks the end to something. Even though the Google Teacher Academy is over, the journey and the work to be done is just beginning.

The most profound part of the Google Teacher Academy happened in the first hour. Being introduced to the idea of "Moonshot Thinking" is something that has stuck with me day after day. 

This idea goes beyond working with Google products or even technology. Thinking differently and challenging what we feel to be impossible is the only way we will truly solve the problems in education that plague all of us. I do not know what my moonshot idea will be or whether it will be successful, but I will try, fail, and try again until I get it right. 

With that "Moonshot" mindset in place, we proceeded to learn more tips and trick about a variety of Google products. I remember finishing my first session with James Sanders about YouTube and thinking to myself...Am I in over my head? Our lead learners were challenging us to look at Google products differently and to see additional possibilities. Once I wrapped my head around this, I became much more comfortable and began to think of the possibilities.

Another highlight was seeing Google Classroom in action and learning more about the theory behind it, how it was tested, and its future. This product is creating a lot of buzz in my buildings and I look forward to seeing it blossom.

As a more quiet and reserved person, I probably did not mingle enough. However, the conversations and relationships I forged were excellent. It is good to have a group of people you can learn with beyond the Google Teacher Academy. I look forward to seeing their action plans and to continuing our conversations in the Google+ community.

But as I stated earlier, this reflection hasn't marked the end. My Google journey continues with my action plan. This week, I will put my action plan website out there for my teachers to use. I am creating a self directed, crowdsourced professional learning site. The first module will be on Google Classroom. When we launch this product, my teachers will be able to learn from this site and hopefully connect via a Google+ community. I know the first attempt at this will probably not be the best and the site needs to become much more eye-appealing but it is a start. Maybe it will take off but maybe not. No matter what, I will learn from it and improve.

The Google Teacher Academy was life changing but the journey is just beginning. I do not know what the future will bring, but I look forward to ride!