Sunday, May 3, 2015

iEngage Through Twitter

This coming Saturday, I am going to present at our school district’s first  2-day conference, iEngage.  Our district, an Apple Distinguished Program, is at the end of the 3rd year of 1:1 tech integration. Every student has either an iPad or MacBook assigned to them, taking them home daily. Although the students only take one home, many of them have access to both devices at school and have learned how to demonstrate their learning and share beyond the school walls in many ways. So have their teachers and principals.

I remember being introduced to Twitter by Meg Ormiston. Like most educators, I didn’t get it. She encouraged us to stay with it and at least read her posts. She didn’t really send that many out that I was interested in so it was a while before I discovered the magic of  using Twitter. I've become a Twitter addict!

How do I love thee Twitter?

#1. I love to tell stories, especially about the great things that are going on in classrooms in my school. I used to write a newsletter and gave each classroom equal space. Now I tweet out great things that I see in classrooms as I see them. One of our reading specialist said, “if you can’t find Marilyn, look on Twitter and you’ll be able to figure out what room she’s in.” So true. Any good teacher wants to make her students’ learning visible to others. Twitter (and Instagram) are great platforms for this. While we are telling our stories, we often find others telling a similar story and can learn a lot from them.

#2.  Twitter is an easy way to promote as well as to educate your audience. Our school district is moving to Standards Based Learning. Promoting a growth mindset is critical for parents, students, and teachers to fully understand , embrace, and promote. I have learned so much just by joining a weekly #SBL chat. Those leaders across the country that have paved the path to SBL helped so many of us with resources and guidance. 

#3.  As a principal, it is critical to find ways to engage your greater community. Businesses are interested in ways they can help, but it was always difficult to find time to keep them informed. Our business community and city offices follow us on Twitter and have reached out many times to help us with projects and initiatives.

#4. I love  the Twitter platform for “shouting out” to our students. They use several licenses to practice skills and read. Every Sunday I gather the data on how the kids did the week before and congratulate them first through Twitter, then in-person on Monday. All of our classroom teachers have Twitter accounts and re-tweet as well as post their own recognition of students. Many of our students have developed their own following on Twitter and other social media through sharing their learning. It fills me with pride to share them with the world via Twitter.

#5.  Twitter allows us the ability to hear the daily musings of the leaders in education that we are interested in. We don’t have to wait for their next book to come out learn from them. Twitter chats are not the only way to connect people with similar interests. Christopher Lehman, co-author of Pathways to the Common Core and Falling in Love With Close Reading   hosted an entire conference day on Twitter last week complete with keynote speakers and break-out sessions.  Twitter, as a PLN, has endless possibilities. 

Here's the presentation  that I’ll be sharing on Saturday, May 9th.

Check out the how-to videos that I’ve put together to help educators get started learning and sharing on Twitter:

I hope to make many new connections next Saturday at iEngage!