I am a big fan of Twitter. I learn more from Twitter than I do from any other staff development or conference I have ever been to. Twitter also is a great place to make connections. I now feel I have a broad range of “Tweeps” out there that are able to help me out when I need it. Nobody has the ability to know everything. Twitter grants me access to people all over the world that each have an abundance of knowledge in specific fields. If I don’t know, all I have to do is ask.
Once you begin to feel comfortable with Twitter itself, you can spread your wings a little more involved and become involved in Twitter chats. For those that don’t know, this is a time set aside for anyone on Twitter to join in on conversations based on a foundation of questions set by a person or group. You use a hashtag to follow along and interact with the conversation. For instance, I am involved in the #TXed chat group. The chat is from 8:30 – 9:30 PM CST every Wednesday night. Questions are posted every few minutes. You post a comment, including the hashtag, and then start chatting with others that are posting comments as well. It is a great way to get new ideas and meet new friends along the way.
To learn more about how to follow along with a chat using Twitter.com, check out these Twitter Chat Tips. It will give you some tips and tricks to help you get started.
If you want to find out what chats are going on, visit this link by @cybraryman1. It lists a large number of chats that occur every week dealing with education.
As you become more and more involved in chatting and Twitter in general, you will realize that you want more from just what Twitter.com has to offer you. TweetDeck is a great alternative for you. TweetDeck allows you to create additional columns built specifically to do things like follow a certain person or hashtag. For instance, I have a column that posts only tweets that have the hashtag #TXed in it. Then when we chat I do not have to weed through all tweets or do a special search through Twitter.com. I simply need to focus my attention on that column. Two other cheat sheets have been created to help you get started and understand TweetDeck: TweetDeck Getting Started and TweeDeck Column Options will give you a taste of what TweetDeck can do and get you up and running in no time.
I hope to see you soon on Twitter. Make sure to give me a follow, @pwagnerlcisd, and ask any questions you think I can help you with. It is possible I will know, but more possible I will know somebody else that can help you even more!
A timeline is something that seems to present itself at every subject in every grade level. You are always sequencing something. This week I ran across a great site for creating timelines from ReadWriteThink.org. I have used their stuff in the past and this one lives up to the bill: easy to use and a nice product at the end.
Upon accessing the program, you will be prompted to enter your name and a title for your timeline.
A new window will open up. Here is where you can start adding the information to your timeline. Click on the dotted line to start adding your events. A wizard will open in a new window. Fill in what is pertinent to your project. You can add a label or title, short description, and full description. You can also add an image from your computer. The label and short description will appear with an image (optional) on the timeline itself. If you choose to add a full description, that is listed on an adjoining page upon completion. It does not appear on the visual timeline.
Once you add an event to the timeline you are able to drag it to the correct location. If your events need to change their sequence you are still able to do so later. You can drag the cards above or below the line and to any location. The marker on the line can also be dragged to a new location if need be.
You have the option to save your work as you go along and return to it. A file is saved to your computer. Upon returning to the site you can choose to open an existing file and continue working. Note that the program itself will NOT save your work. You must save it to your computer if you do not finish.
When you are completely done, choose to finish your work. You will have options to save, print, or email. The final format for the project will be a PDF. Click here to view an example timeline.
Do you have iPads in your classroom? There is a free app that follows the same format as the program online. You can access your camera roll to add images and your final project is saved as an image to the camera roll if you choose. Click here to visit the app in the app store.
I am fortunate that the district I work for has seen the need for technology integration in education. I believe we are front runners. We do not wait for others…when something is out there that will benefit our students we jump at the opportunity to give it a try. One big example of that are the iPads. All campuses have iPads. The number varies by available funds and, of course, some administrators jumped in feet first while others tip-toed in to test the water. This accounts for a varying student:iPad ratio. In any case, along with district checkout options, all teachers in the district have access to devices if/when they are needed.
What tends to draw teachers to the devices are all the apps available to them to serve as a “tutor”. We know it is impossible to get a 1:1 teacher:student feel. These devices can help with remediation and practice in a more engaging way. Let’s face it though…drill and kill is drill and kill whether it is being done on an iPad or a sheet of paper. I am not saying iPads cannot be used for this, but this should not be the ONLY reason they are being used.
Get your students creating! There are many wonderful, free apps out there that allow them to be creative while still showing you what they know. It gets them to dig deeper into a concept. It allows for an even better understanding of what you are teaching them. They can become the tutors as well.
I have had an opportunity over the last few years to go into rooms of varying ages and abilities to work on project creation. It never ceases to amaze me how engaged the students are when they are creating. It is also quite incredible to view some of their finished products. All you need to do is take a look at their finished pieces to see that they haven’t just memorized something that they will soon forget. They have truly learned it…grasped the understanding of a concept and taken it even further. Create…create…create!
If you are looking for some fun apps to get you started, Tellagami, Chatterpix for Kids, and 30 Hands are some great choices! Do a search for any of those on my blog to learn more about them.