Sunday, July 22, 2012

Twitter and my Self Directed PD

As I reflect upon the completion of my 11th year as an educational professional, I can't think of a better or more powerful PD tool than Twitter. Yes, you read that accurately, Twitter. When I tell my friends and colleagues this fact, they look at me in a way that makes me feel as though all my professional credibility is being stripped away. Nevertheless, I am leveraging Twitter to facilitate professional development (mine and others) and I am really enjoying doing so.

This is a recent tweet about why I use Twitter.
I have established a professional learning network and I am connecting with educators around the world everyday. The educators I am following are passionate about their teaching and learning. Many of these people have their own blogs where I can read about their practice and engage them in discourse around what they do, how they do it, and why they do it.

Here is an example of a conversation where one of the educators I follow tweeted about her blog, I read her blog post and included another individual in my reply, and was then tweeted back:

This is an example of how Twitter allows me to connect with others and to self direct my PD.
Both of the above mentioned individuals (K. Lirenman and Aviva Dunsiger) are progressive and often share their work on Twitter. They, among many other educators, have directly and indirectly influenced my attitudes and practice in my classroom - ultimately influencing my students positively and preparing them for the society they will lead.

Aside from being informed/directed to professional reading material, I have also been tweeting about the work that I have been doing in my classroom and the work that out TLLP (Teacher Learning and Leadership Program) team is engaged in.

This tweet informs my followers of the work my students and I were doing around writing and technology integration and where they can further read about it on my blog.

This tweet directs my followers to my blog where they can read about out TLLP progress.
Twitter has provided me with a forum to learn about, improve, and share my practice. It also allows me an avenue to interact with who I want (I choose who to follow) when I want (any time of day), and where I want (via mobile devices).

If you are on Twitter please feel free to check out my tweets (@Rchids). If you are not on Twitter, sign up and follow me....I will follow back!

Monday, July 2, 2012

TLLP Progress - June 2012

Our Project: The use of Apple iPads and iPod Touches to enhance the learning of Autistic students.

During the month of June the three students chosen to be part of the project formally visited my classroom once. June was a busy month and I was fortunate to have them visit and use the technology. Informally, I made every attempt to maximize opportunities to talk to them - transition times in the hall and outside at recesses.

Part of this project involves learning about students with autism - their common characteristics and effevtive ways to teach them. I was fortunate enough to attend a seminar entitled "Challenging the Myths of Autism" which turned out to be great PD. I will be reading "Challenging the Myths of Autism" by Jonathan Alderson (@Alderson_J) to continue to aquire an in depth understanding of the myths of Autism. I am also putting Twitter to work by following individuals like Jeff Schneider (@AutismAtHome) and Andrea (@AutismTips) whose tweets refer me to articles and blogs providing a variety of information about people living with Autism. 

During the month of June I was informed that the Ministry of Education had provided funding to cover the cost of registration and materials for educators to participate in the Geneva Centre for Autism's 28th Annual Autism Training Institute this August. I was very excited to learn that I had an opportunity to possibly attend fundamental training entitled "Autism Spectrum in the Classroom: Charting a Path to Success". Unfortunately I was not chosen as one of my school board's representatives at this years institute. Nevertheless, I continue to keep my eyes and ears open for learning opportunities that will benefit our TLLP and my PD as a classroom teacher.

TLLP Progress - May 2012

Engaging Students in Writing using Technology (iPad/iPod Touch)

On June 22, I blogged about embarking on a new journey with my students using the iPad and iPod Touch to assist with their writing ("Using the iPad/iPod Touch to Assist Students in meeting Writing Expectations"). In that post I identified the Ministry of Education expectations that would be addressed, the Learning Goal & Success Criteria for this unit, a model for them to follow, an achor chart about postcards, and a draft version of a postcard that had been submitted for review.  

The students had a great time working on their task - to create a postcard that is related to our school and to write to someone in our school community.

Here are some examples of the postcards that were created:

The students learned how to use the device camera, where to save photos, how to delete them, and how to manipulate them into the app. The stickers and postmarks you see on the postcards were placed on the postcards by the students. The students chose their own templates from the app and decided what they wanted to create and how they would create it. My role was to guide them through the creation of success criteria and anchors and to support them throughout the process in a technical fashion. They were very engaged and focussed on this task and the last couple of weeks at school were exciting and seemed to fly by!

This task will stand as a memorable one for me. We were able to incorporate the 21st Century Fluencies (solution fluency, information fluency, collaboration fluency, creativity fluency, and media fluency) that we have been talking about for quite some time now while treating each other as valuable members of our classroom community. It was a rich learning experiences for them and for myself and it was a fantastic way to lead us to the end of our time together.