Tag Archives: teachers

Our iPad Learning Community

iPads-header-1As mentioned in my previous post, teachers that were accepted into our iPad cadre group had to agree to become part of a learning community where they would share successes, challenges, and lessons learned. The format we chose to set up for them was a blog. All teachers have full access to the blog to post and/or comment as they choose. We chose this format because we felt that the tagging and categorizing ability a blog  provides would make it easy for teachers and other visitors to find the topics in which they were interested. Please take a few moments to see what our teachers have done thus far and even leave a comment. Thanks for taking the time…it means a great deal!

http://blog.wssd.k12.pa.us/ipads/

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Skype an Expert

Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

The last post I wrote discussed to the K12 Online Keynote shared by Dean Shareski called “Sharing: The Moral Imperative“. I believe in today’s world of the global economy that my own children should reap the benefit of a global education. Dean’s presentation inspired me to recruit some people in my school district to share what they’re doing in the classroom. I know, I know…who the heck am I to have guest bloggers; but they are doing some great things in the classrooms with kids, and I just can’t be everywhere at once to witness everything. It is my intention to make this a regular part of my blog, and I want to thank Mrs. Gallagher VERY MUCH for being my first guest blogger and for her willingness to share! It is my hope that other students around the globe will benefit from her sharing and willingness to contribute to a global education.

Mrs. Gallagher is an elementary technology integrator in the West Shore School District. She works with teachers and students every day in the classroom to assist them with technology lessons and ways to deliver content using technology. Here is her post:

Mrs. Deb Smith, 4th grade classroom teacher at Red Mill Elementary School in Etters, PA and a self professed science and nature nut, wants her students to have a deeper appreciation for that which is near and dear to her. That’s why she loves teaching science and taking her topics to the next level. When her students were recently studying wetlands she utilized a website
<< http://www.fergusonfoundation.org/hbf/lets_dip/takeadipintro1.shtml >> where her students could go on a virtual field trip and dip their nets into 4 different types of habitats in a watershed and record the different types of critters that were found. Even though her students didn’t physically visit a marsh, swamp, creek or river they were very interested in learning more.

She contacted her building Instructional Integration Advisor (aka Computer Teacher), to see if I could arrange for her class to have a video chat with a wetlands expert. I in turn contacted three different organizations (DCNR, SUNY-ESF, and CBF) to see if I could find someone interested in hosting our 4th graders in a questions and answer session. After a few emails, ultimately the Chesapeake Bay Foundation was the organization that was able to make this happen. Mr. Harry Campbell, Senior Scientist with the CBF Harrisburg Office, hosted an afternoon Q&A Session with 2 classes of 4th grade students. Prior to the video chat through SKYPE, the students wrote down a question or two to ask the “expert”.

When the big day came, and after the initial introductions and formalities, the students took turns coming to the front of the room, sitting in front of the webcam, and asking Mr. Campbell their questions. Great questions were asked, such as:

  • How do wetlands develop?
  • Why do we see so much algae in the Susquehanna River?
  • How did the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico affect the Chesapeake Bay?
  • What kind of education do you need to become a wetland expert?

The students were very polite and respectful to our “wetlands expert” and listened carefully to his responses. The summary writing that the students created the next day, it was very obvious that they got a lot out of the Skyping with the wetland expert! Student, Meredith W. wrote “The important thing about wetlands is we should keep them clean. If we do not keep them clean and use fertilizer, the fertilizer can wash down to the wetlands.”

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Twitter While You Work?

Should you Twitter at work? Should it be acceptable to your employer that you spend time during your work day on Twitter? I will only answer for myself, and my answer is yes. Although, I must add that I generally use my Twitter and Facebook networks differently. The majority of my Twitter network is a group of professionals. A group of knowledgeable, insightful, and helpful professionals. During the work day, I will scan my network’s tweets for relevant blog posts, articles, breaking news, classroom tools, project ideas, links, and they’re always good for a laugh or two. I also spend time tweeting any of those previously mentioned items, plus requests for help to solve technical issues, suggestions for classroom resources, input on philosophical discussions, and support. Sometimes I wonder how I knew about anything before Twitter! 😉

The drive behind this post is born out of comments and inquiries about whether or not Twitter and other social networking sites (Facebook) have a place during the school day. I believe they can be used appropriately during work hours. I believe the sites themselves are not inherently bad. I believe the general perspective on Twitter is that it is just another social networking site. This standpoint comes mainly from how the media has portrayed it in the news and on talk shows. To me, it is so much more than that. I personally use Facebook as more of a social outlet and Twitter as more of a professional network. Some of my network overlaps between the two sites, but as a general rule I use them quite differently.

So should teachers be discouraged or “get in trouble” for using a social networking site at school? I am of the opinion that these sites can be used appropriately during the work day. Generally, I don’t see a modest amount of posting to Facebook or Twitter much differently than I do talking in the hallway to another person in the hallway or faculty room during school. You’re merely communicating with people that you are not able to converse with face-to-face. Is there a potential for abuse of this? Sure, but as professional educators I believe the majority of us are prudent about what and how much we post. If there are educators who lack this good judgement, I’m confident they will be addressed much in the same manner they would if they made inappropriate verbal comments, or if they mistreated students.

I don’t view the use of these sites by teachers during the work day as tremendously problematic. As evidenced in the recent news articles, there are teachers that misuse them regarding how often they post and what they post. It is my belief that if we, as educators, want to be looked upon and treated like professionals by the rest of the world then we need to behave in such a manner. If my boss came to me and asked me to justify my use of Twitter at work, I could absolutely warrant the use of my network during the work day! If you have any ideas, examples, opinions, or general comments; please feel free to join me in this discussion and leave a comment.