Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Just When You Thought Twitter Couldn't Get Any Better!

Have you ever hosted or moderated a chat on twitter?  I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to host #tlap this past Monday night and it was an awesome experience!  In fact, it's Wednesday night and I'm still "flying high" from the thrill of the whole thing!

First of all before I go on and try to convince all of you to host a chat, I would like to give my most heartfelt thank you to Dave Burgess.  Dave is the author of "Teach Like a Pirate" and just an all around great guy.  He has skyped with my class, signed my book, and even gave me a big pirate hug!  So when Dave asked me if I would moderate #tlap of course I said, "Yes!" I remember chuckling to myself after blurting that out, realizing I had absolutely no clue what I was doing.  I had only been on chats before, not hosted them!  They say all of the magic happens outside of your comfort zone, though, so I figured I had nothing to lose. Also, I saw this as a way to "give back" to the twitter that I had gleaned so much from in all of my chats.  Dave also mentioned that I would have the help and support from two other amazing educators that I had met at the #ICE14 conference:  Julie Nilsson Smith and Mary Kienstra.   

I immediately voxed (that's a whole different blog!) my principal, Jay Posick, to tell him the great news.  He was just as excited as I was! Then he told me this, which made me feel so good, "I will be sure to be on that chat Monday night."  That put me at ease right away knowing that I would have a familiar face on the chat. 

After voxing with Julie about the topic of the chat, we finally whittled our thoughts down to one: "The First Day of School." With that, I went to town on questions.  I had seen in #complitchat that they posted their questions on visual slides and was inspired to do the same thing.  I enlisted my husband's help and soon we were looking for pirate fonts and images!  

Next, I "scheduled" my tweets which is an amazing feature on twitter especially when you are the moderator of a chat. It is incredibly easy, and allowed me to respond to other tweets without having to worry about my own.

Then I recalled that the chat needed to be archived and heck if I knew how to do that!  Enter Paul Solarz.  Another friend I met at #ICE14.  I've seen him archive other chats so I asked him if he would do the same for #tlap.  He said yes, and I was so thankful.

Next, time to vox with Rik Rowe, another twitter friend who gave me some tips on how to run the chat.  I look forward to the day when I can meet Rik face-to-face.  In fact, I look forward to the day when I can meet many of my twitter friends face-to-face!

It's now Sunday night and I'm pretty sure I have all of my ducks in a row. The excitement is building and I touch base, via voxer, with Julie and Mary. Monday comes and I'm just giddy with excitement.  But first I have to sit through an eight hour training on Reader's Workshop. 

Finally, it's time!  8:00 CST comes and I couldn't be more excited!  The chat starts, lasts 2 minutes, and it's all over!  Well, not literally two minutes, but that's how fast the hour seem to fly by.  As I reflected on the event I came up with my "a-ha moments" from the chat.

1.  There are brilliant teachers on #tlap who have incredible ideas that they're willing to share with the rest of us.  With every tweet I read I just wanted to teleport myself to their classroom!  We can rest easy knowing that #tlap teachers are creating experiences for students all across the globe.  

2.  Educators on twitter are SO kind, generous, and supportive.  I was blown away by how helpful and kind everyone was to each other and me.  I feel so fortunate to be part of a community that fosters such kindness and generosity among all of its members.

3.  Moderating this chat affirmed my passion for being a connected educator.  

Thanks for reading.  Perhaps one day you will consider hosting a chat and expanding your horizons. Try it!  You won't regret it!  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Everything is New in 2014!

Can you learn new things even after twenty-five years of teaching?  You bet'cha!  In fact...the new things I have learned so far in the year 2014 are pretty darn exciting!  

January 2014:  Started writing my first blog...okay, technically I started it on December 31st, 2013, but come on, close enough, right?  I was inspired by so many people on twitter who write their own blogs, so why not me?  Here I am on my fourth post and I am really enjoying the "experience."  I find myself looking forward to reading other people's blogs and seeing what they have to say.  I also like how "adult blogging" leads by example for our young learners.

February 2014:  I went to my first #ICE14 conference in St. Charles, Illinois. What an experience!  I got to meet my idol Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like a Pirate.  I also go to meet people in my PLN face-to-face.  This would have never happened had I not joined twitter in October of 2013.  I also learned a ton of stuff that I can take back to my class, one of my favorites being the work of Mr. Greg Tang.  He was an awesome presenter and had some great math work to share.  You can check him out at:

May 2014:  I just signed up to attend my very first edcamp in Milwaukee.  I've only heard about how awesome these ed-camps are so now I am excited to live it!

So, there you have it.  Learning in 2014 has already proven to be a great thing!  This has been one of my best years ever professionally and it has really re-energized my passion for teaching.  What new thing will you try in 2014?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

25th Anniversary

February 16th, 2014

In the words of the Pointer Sisters, "I'm so excited!"  This is my twenty-fifth year of teaching and I literally have a new found passion for teaching this year!  I'm like the Re-energizer bunny!  Why?  I asked my self the same question and here is what I came up with.

First, this year I have one of the best classes of all time.  They are just a great group of kids.  The twenty-five of us work together very well and we feel like a real family.  Their parents are awesome and supportive as well.  It's a dream class that any teacher would love to have.  This awesome group makes trying out all of my new tricks and ideas really easy.  Love it!

Second, I read the book, "Teach Like a Pirate" by Dave Burgess.  Our principal, Jay Posick; @posickj, started a staff book club which has ignited some pretty terrific discussion and sharing of ideas.  If you haven't read the book already, I highly recommend it.  The book will definitely get you thinking on new ways to present your lessons.

Last, and this is the one I keep coming back to...twitter!  I just can't say enough about it.  It still blows my mind that not every educator on the planet is checking out twitter at least once a day.  There are so many opportunities to learn from, share, and participate in on twitter.  Not to mention you get to know people and hopefully meet them one day at a conference.  That is one of my goals for the ICE conference at the end of February.  I am hoping to meet people face-to-face that I have forged a relationship with on twitter.  So since not every teacher at my school isn't on twitter yet,  I try to lead by example by sharing videos, quotes, and lessons all starting with the words, "I found this on twitter!"  I don't think it will ever get old to me that I can learn something from another educator who lives in Honduras...all in a matter of seconds!  Or the fact that we can hook up with other fourth-grade classes in Iowa, Maryland, and Georgia on World Read Aloud Day.  Absolutely mind blowing. If you're not on twitter, you can check out my video called, "Twitter Today" and hopefully you will be inspired to at least check it out and give it a try.  What do you have to lose?

In closing I would like to say, no matter if this is your first, fourteenth, or fortieth year of teaching I hope you are excited about your teaching.  If not, surround yourself with people who are.  After all, excitement is contagious! Have a great rest of the year.   

P.S.  Did you get a twitter account yet?  No?  What are you waiting for?  :)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

What? Already?

January 4th, 2014

When I set up my blog on December 31st, 2013 I had no idea that I would be inspired to write another blog 4 days later.  However, after participating in #satchat this morning I just HAD to blog!  I am in awe of all the educators that came together on a Saturday morning to share their craft.  It was such a positive experience that you couldn't feel anything but inspired.  The moderators: Scott Rocco (@scottrocco), Brad Currie (@bradcurrie5) and Dave Burgess (@burgessdave) took amazing to a whole new level.

I am so excited to be a part of this twitter community.  I "joined" on October 13, 2013 and have loved every moment since.  I've read great articles, got ideas from teachers around the country, and shared my excitement of twitter with my 4th grade class.  "Hey kids, check out this video I saw on twitter last night!"  "Boys and girls tell me what you think this quote means."  Their response now when I show them something new is, "Mrs. Jones, did you find that on twitter?"  This is me, smiling!  :)

The feeling I get from participating in a chat (#satchat, #tlap, #IAedchat) is unreal!  It still amazes me how fast and furious the information starts coming at you in a chat, but once you start becoming a player, and not a spectator, the feedback you get is awesome!  I love it!  And now I want other people to love it and feel the joy of the excitement of twitter!  This is my 25th year of teaching and this year, more than ever, I feel so re-energized and excited to try new things and it's all because of the power of twitter.  It would only be appropriate to give a shout-out here to Jay Posick (@posickj), my principal, who introduced me to twitter in the first place.  Jay also started our staff book club with Dave Burgess's book "Teach Like A Pirate" which also changed my life!  See what I mean?  This is all amazing stuff!  

My excitement for twitter is full throttle, of course, I want to share my enthusiasm for twitter with our staff.  Once a month we have a "PLAY-date" (PLAY = Professional Learning and You) where staff can choose to go to different "sessions" put on by fellow staff members (think edcamp).  Our TILT committee (Teachers Integrating Learning Today), which I am a part of, generates a list of topics and people sign up to teach them!  I'm excited to present twitter and we'll see how things go on January 22nd.  I want others to see the value of being a connected educator.  Sometimes I think, "How can you NOT be a connected educator?"  The hard part is dodging all of the negative Nellie's out there who question my passion. I try not to focus on them, but it's not easy.  I had one staff member tell me just this week (while I was laminating a quote I found on twitter) "Oh, Heidi, you went to the dark side."  Ugh!  So, I will just heed my principal's advice and "Keep on, keeping on!"   

Stay tuned for the results of my presentation...

Thank you for reading.