My Professional Learning Group on Twitter

I decided to get on Twitter to begin forming my Professional Learning Group. I was excited about doing this because I love the idea of a network of dedicated and progressive educators to access at one location. In order to begin creating this network, I simply googled “Top educational twitter accounts to follow.” The first 3 that came up were “33 Education Twitter Accounts You Should Be Following,” “100+ Education Twitter Accounts to Follow” and “Education World: Fifteen Innovative Twitter Accounts.” Under these options were categories like Administrators, researchers and teachers, Education bloggers, Policymakers, government and education organizations, Thought leaders, Cool schools, etc. I was especially interested in the “Cool schools” category, because seeing the ways that schools are reformatting the classroom to cater to more effective learning make me extremely excited about my future as a teacher: Will I toss giant bean bags onto the floor and say “Take your seats my lovely learners!” surrounded by the colorful and various works of the very students sitting before me? Categories like “Cool schools” give me hope!

After following 26 different accounts that dipped into each of the categories I named above, I went back and would visit my newly formed twitter feed. This was an overwhelming experience at the least. The literacy of educational twitter accounts definitely differs from the literacy of my personal twitter feed and takes some time to learn. As I scrolled through my educational leaders, teachers and bloggers, different links and resources immediately popped out to me: Specifically an article called “3D Printing in Education: An Opportunity to Engage and Inspire Kids in New Ways.” It talked about everything that we discuss in Tch 219, especially relevancy and connecting classroom content to the world outside of High School.

This was one of the coolest things I read in the article: “3D printing can play a central role in allowing abstract concepts to take on tangible forms. A child who struggles with differential equations or Newtonian calculus may find insight by 3D printing a model that generates electricity, demonstrating those principles. Lipton believes this is why engineering is the ‘best way to teach math and science.’”
–Michael Petch

The reason why this was most impactful is because the 3D printer brings relevancy and kinesics into the classroom. It is surely a machine-of-the-future that’s here in our grasp and could play an important role in learning in the classroom. It is resources like this that may transform the school experience for students. As I continue my browsing, I find a plethora of resources that have the potential to do the same thing. I also see posts such as this one:

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And this one:
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It makes me happy that so much progressive “teaching” has more to do with facilitating individual learning and discovery. At the same time, this makes me nervous: my entire upbringing in education was infused with power points and teachers delivering knowledge to me to regurgitate back to them. This is what I know, regardless of all the enlightened teachers that have been guiding me through my college education. I’m nervous about putting this enlightened means of teaching into action: taking the ideologies about students discovering knowledge for themselves, practicing critical thinking, stretching themselves creatively and doing it effectively.

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I know that giving a power point is not a student centered lesson, so what do I do instead to facilitate student learning of the given content? This short article gave me good ideas as to how to morph a power point lesson into a student centered one: They recommended giving students an “essential question” for students to research the answer to—before beginning the lesson on new content. I think this communicates to students that we, as teachers, trust in their abilities to discover and learn for themselves. This is an empowering thing for a student to feel from their teachers. This is a section from the article that particularly resonated with me:

“While some presentations can certainly be fun, usually this is not a highly engaging activity for students. Instead of telling students information, try asking interesting questions that require the students to research, validate the authority of the information and create something with the information.”
-Alice Keeler (http://alicekeeler.com/2015/02/27/giving-a-powerpoint-is-not-a-student-centered-lesson/)

It’s awesome that Keeler mentions validating the authority—which is so important during a resource-rich time such as now. Reminding students that not all sources are valid or credible will be beneficial as they approach the work world, or simply as they research answers to their own questions. Knowing who or what to put their trust in is not frequently talked about.

I’m so happy to have found Alice Keeler through Twitter. She has so many helpful posts that make me feel much less alone in my endeavors to become my ideal teacher-self. I’m thankful for this assignment, because I’m one of those people who have so many good ideas and I want to do productive things that will move me forward and keep me progressing as a person, but I need help! I need pushes and I need self-motivation. Assignments such as these are the pushes I need to start collecting more assurance that I will be okay as a teacher! There are people out there that I don’t even know who want to support me and my endeavors, such as Alice Keeler. This twitter account is something I will look to for guidance as my life as a teacher unfolds and I’m grateful for that.

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