Posted in Professional learning

Twitter has a new level

So, #scichatNZ has really taken off. Matt Nicoll did an excellent post on how he sees it, which has inspired me to do one too, but as more of a relfection of my journey to get here.

I got signed up to twitter at a school PD day – it was a novelty, I tweeted some questions, felt cool following some people I looked up to, and then promptly forgot about it.

Then when I joined the organising committee for ChemEd I thought I could use twitter to help advertise the conference. So I jumped back on, and made a ChemEd account, and it was really useful. Some of the speakers we had coming were on twitter, we picked up a couple of sponsors, and it helped get the website out (the website is a whole other IT journey, I learned a lot making it and even more about how to get search engines to find it!!)

After ChemEd I still dabbled, mostly enjoying the updates from New Scientist and the like, and slowly connecting with more teachers.

Then I set up the account for SciCon, and really started to see a bit more of what twitter has to offer, spending more time on it, and connecting with more and more people.

And then I shifted schools. Don’t get me wrong, I love my current school and think it will be great for my teaching long term, but moving from a integrated decile 10 BYOD environment with a big focus on e-learning to a state co-ed with no BYOD was a shock to my system. It made me think about why I taught certain ways and why. It made me go back and think about excellent tools I had forgotten about like picture dictation or barrier activities or a whole heap of others. Making differentiated lessons took on a whole other level of challenge (I don’t do this well) and utilising the laptops and other tech available to me well rather than to be flashy has taken some time and practice.

But this is where I have found twitter amazing. There are so many ideas, supportive people, resources and help. Dunedin has a relatively small Science teaching community, and being able to connect to people all over NZ has really broadened my horizons. @NZSciencelearn made pinboards of resources at the flick of a tweet. People had practical and kind suggestions for lessons and topics. I have learned more this year than any of the earlier 4 years in my teaching, and will be a much better teacher for it. That and boys love to set fire to things, and I can always count on them to be into a prac.

I was reflecting on this at a core PD day with Karen Melhuish Spencer as she was talking about twitter. I had been tweeting throughout the day and we had a lovely ‘oh, you’re @ibpossum/ you’re @virtuallykaren moment. I said I was really enjoying twitter, was getting an enormous amount out, but wished there was more science specific content. Rather than say, ‘oh, that is a shame’ Karen told me to make it happen. She would help, and we could target October for connected educators month

So I did. I was going to Scicon, thought about it a lot, checked out and disregarded VLN, and decide to do a presentation on twitter and introduce the #scichatNZ hashtag and get some people on board. NZ Science teacher kindly did a piece to advertise it was starting up. It was a success of sorts, a few more teachers got signed up, the #scicon14 hashtag was well used and provided lots of feedback and discussion, and people started using #scichatNZ. So I thought I’d sit on it, and wait till October for some events around connected educators.

I hadn’t counted on Matt Nicoll and Chhaya Nayaran. They weren’t prepared to wait till October, and they grabbed the bull by the horns and together (with help from Danielle MyBurgh, and also the #engchatNZ starting up) we got it up and running week 2 of term 3. Despite the fact I have never meet them (and some of the humour/sarcasm of my comments gets lost in typing) it just seemed to come together and we all did what we needed to. It didn’t seem like a chore, or even work.

And it was awesome. Just mind bogglingly awesome. As the most experience twitter tweep, Matt hosted, and was amazing. We had such a wide range of tweeps, and I was so stoked to see so many primary teachers got involved. I made heaps of new contacts, got some new resources, ranted about teacher education, and it was just amazing.

So twitter has a new level for me – self generated content, not just by me but by others almost specifically for me. And I feel like I am contributing rather than just participating. Although I have a lot to learn, and a long way to go.

Hopefully #scichatNZ will continue to grow, and I will continue to grow as a teacher with it.

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