How much do you share?

I wonder why some people feel the need to live their lives so publicly via social media. I don’t mean a simple tweet about what you had for breakfast (although no one cares) but rather the kind of Facebook update where someone declares their undying love in intimate detail. Love him? Tell him, not us.

Don’t get me wrong. I find social media invaluable for learning and sharing as well as for creating and maintaining both personal and professional connections.

There’s an interesting meme going around, where edu bloggers reveal a bit about themselves by responding to a series of questions set by fellow bloggers. The intention is to ‘give readers a look behind the digital masks that writers show outwardly to the world’. While I appreciate being tagged by several of them, I’ve elected not to respond.

I’m quite content behind my digital mask, blogging mostly about education, with an occasional personal post when there is a significant event in my life.

I find it satisfying gradually getting to know people via what and how they write…

Twitter in the classroom…

A group of Jina’s Year 4 students sit on the floor and I show them Twitter. She is fairly new to Twitter herself, so I love that she has set up a class account and is keen to get them started, especially as this is the first class Twitter account in our school.

For now, the account can only be accessed if the teacher logs in. She plans to keep it logged in in the classroom, so that students can share their learning and gather data via their questions. Several articles in the past few weeks have covered dozens of ways to use Twitter for learning and we need to start somewhere to see where this takes us.

I start with a brief explanation of how it works and its purpose, then show them some Twitter streams from classes at other schools to give them a better idea. I had planned to have them practice expressing their thoughts in 140 characters first, but it turns out to be unnecessary. I model a couple of tweets with their input and, within a few minutes, we have a volunteer up at the board, typing a tweet about their Skype experience the day before.

To my surprise, the rest of the group spontaneously supports the Tweeter, with spelling and punctuation corrections as well as suggestions for content. There is some discussion about what aspects of the Skype experience to include and a few questions, most of which they answer themselves simply by watching. They quickly head to their seats to compile some tweets of their own about other learning experiences in the past few days.

Frankly, I’m amazed at how many skills are being applied here! These 9 year-olds are quite spontaneously…

  • Writing for an authentic audience.
  • Communicating with purpose.
  • Reflecting on their learning.
  • Making choices about what to share.
  • Distilling the essence of each learning experience.
  • Expressing themselves concisely.
  • Applying their knowledge of spelling and punctuation.

I tweet from my own account for people to say hi from other countries and they receive responses from all over the world.

It’s the end of the day and they miss most of them as they rush off to pack up and go home. We have a few days off school, but I’m sure next week Jina will follow up and have them respond to the global tweets. It would be great if they spent some time looking up the places on the map.

It’s just the beginning…

Potential for learning…

Dear Heads and Co-ordinators,

Thanks for being such an appreciative audience at the PYP network meeting. I’m glad you enjoyed my presentation about what it means to be a connected educator.

It didn’t matter that it was the end of a long day and a long meeting or that we were all tired before I even started to speak.

It didn’t matter that Twitter is blocked at the host school and I couldn’t even show you a live Twitter interaction.

It didn’t matter that the internet stopped working and I had to talk my way round images of blogs and nings instead of showing them to you.

It didn’t matter that most people were taking pen and paper notes in a session about the use of technology.

It didn’t matter that some of you have yet to take the first step into this world of perpetual learning.

We are all educators and we care deeply about learning.

As soon as you saw what’s possible in terms of learning, both our own and our students’, I saw the light in your eyes.

I liked how you smiled when you saw I had borrowed some of my lines  from Steven Anderson’s video, which I showed at the end. It gave you a glimpse into the sharing and collaboration that is so much part of being a connected educator.

You seemed to enjoy being introduced to individual members of my PLN (most of whom I have yet to meet myself!) and hearing about how they have inspired me. I wish I’d had time to tell you what I have learned from each of them.

I was delighted by your enthusiastic response to our global plant inquiry and the way we use Skype to connect our students with the world. It was great to see you talking amongst yourselves about how you could apply some of the ideas I shared.

I liked the fact that you laughed at the image of the toe in the water because you could relate to it. Either because you’ve already put yours in and seen the result, or because you felt that making  just a small start isn’t too intimidating.

I loved that people came up to me afterwards to say that they were ready to put their toes in the water for the first time and begin their exploration. They were inspired, not by my presentation itself, but by their understanding of the enormous potential for learning.

Looking forward to welcoming you to my personal learning network….


Amazon Peru photos by Mazz Sackson.

Thanks @klbeasely for the inspiration.

A big idea…

We had a great learning session yesterday for our unit about coming of age in different cultures. We watched this beautiful video, created by Raj in India and his little pal Vignesh, about Upanayanam, the sacred thread ceremony in Hinduism. We Skyped with Raj simultaneously so that he could ‘watch us watch’ and answer our questions.

In the follow-up lesson today, we explored the big ideas. The students discussed in pairs and then shared their ideas with the class and justified why they had chosen the concepts they did. The lively discussion centred around the following big ideas: culture, religion, coming-of-age, responsibility, traditions, family, values, beliefs, ritual, change, maturity, celebration, symbolism, spirituality and learning. We’ll be looking at which of these are common across all coming-of-age commemorations!

Then one student said ‘social media’. Puzzled, I asked him to explain how he saw that as part of the Upanayanam ceremony. His response:

‘You asked what the big ideas were in yesterday’s session. We used Skype. Skype is an example of social media. Social media is a pretty big idea, don’t you think?’…!


Learning about cyber-safety…

It’s the last day of term. The bell’s gone and rowdy kids are spilling out of classrooms,  grabbing their bags and and making their way out. Everyone’s excited to be having 2 weeks holidays with no school!

But in Joc’s class, even after the bell, this is what I found:

She had said they could go home and continue to watch the cyber-safety video after the holidays, but they were so engrossed, they wouldn’t let her turn it off.  Powerful video, it seems…