Here is a tweet I received from Jamie Sweeney on using Twitter to “enhance professional development”:
Thinking about ways I might use Twitter to enhance staff development…any ideas? @gcouros thank you for pushing me outside of comfort zone
— Jamie Sweeney (@MrsJSweeney) June 5, 2016
Connecting globally is really powerful, but how do we use this medium in a way to enhance professional learning and empower the voice of teachers in our own building. Sometimes seeing the impact of using Twitter on a global level brings ideas back into our classrooms, but perhaps using Twitter locally could push people to connect others globally.
Just remember that “Twitter” isn’t just for days that you are discussing technology. It can amplify and accelerate learning in any topic, whether it is on health initiatives, assessment practices, or deep understanding of any topic. It is easy to do, yet can share several mediums, which allows for different types of processing and understanding.
Here are a few ideas below.
- Hashtag for professional learning days (and beyond). This one sets the stage for the other suggestions, as it makes it easy to “pre-filter” information towards a hashtag. Check for a hashtag before you start using it, and ensure that it is not being used by another group. This gives an opportunity for the “room” to tap into one another, not just learn from any one person. If you are interested in doing this, I would suggest finding a hashtag that goes beyond any single day; you want to start a movement, not share a moment. (For the purpose of this post, I am going to use #InnovatorSchool as the hashtag.)
- 20 Minute Summary. Little ideas like this can help further deeper learning. Stopping every 20 minutes and asking participants to share a 140 character reflection (minus the hashtag), and encourage them to limit it to only one tweet. Having to summarize and be succinct in a tweet, provides a bit of a challenge, but it is also encouraging “mini-reflection”. It is also a nice assessment of where learners are at during that moment.
- Image Sharing. The beautiful thing about Twitter is the opportunity to capture different mediums. Groups may have to draw some type of summary of learning, but share it to this group. Here was one suggestion from Bethany Ligon in a book study she was doing with a group on “The Innovator’s Mindset“:
Using Play Doh, pipe cleaners, and multi-colors of Post It papers, create models to represent a fixed mindset, a growth mindset, and an innovator’s mindset. Take a picture(s) of your structures and insert them into a single Google Drawings. Also insert a text box and write a brief blurb describing your thinking…if any.
This is a great way to capture the visible learning that happens in these days, but also gives people a reference long after the fact.
- Group Hashtag Modification. Sometimes I will ask for groups to share a “big idea” together in some type of reflection. I have seen things such as 140 character tweets, captured images of writing, videos, etc., which provides lots of opportunities for learning. The problem is finding this information the more any hashtag is used. To do this in a simple way, I always suggest making slight modifications to hashtags for different questions. So if the original hashtag is #InnovationSchool, then for the first question, I would simply change it to #InnovationSchoolQ1, and so on. This way, again, you are pre-filtering to find information from any particular question in a simple and succint way.
- 30 Second Video Reflections. Twitter has an awesome video function (only on phones that I know of at this point), that allows you to take 30 seconds of video. What I love about this is the unedited, raw learning that can be shared. As people are finishing off the day, I think encouraging them to share a 30 second video reflection is a great way for them to process their thinking and can literally be done on a walk out of the building. If someone does not feel comfortable taking a “video selfie” (#Velfies), I have seen some people turn their camera on an object or screen and discuss what they have learned. This promotes the importance of “open reflection”, which is beneficial to not only the person doing the reflecting, but the community, as we can learn from one another.
- Collect Ideas in a Storify. Storify is one of my favourite sites as it makes it simple to not only capture tweets, but put them into context. Random tweets might not make much sense to someone outside of the process, but using this site to give further explanation and share media (it is not limited to tweets, but has a wide range of social media services you can pull from), encourages people to share professional learning days from a wide-range of views, not just from what one person said.
Here are some of the benefits from this process.
- Assessment of professional learning days. What do the tweets tell you about the takeaways from the day?
- Sharing your learning with your community. Shouldn’t parents know what educators are learning on professional learning days and doesn’t this help dispel the myth that many have about professional learning days that they are just a “day off”?
- Positive development of school and personal digital footprint. We can’t teach something we have never learned.
- Modelling things that you are able to do in the classroom. Asking at the end of the day how we would use these things in classrooms (because it will differ through K-12) helps create the connection between what was just experienced, and how it applies to learning in the classroom.
As I write this, I think how simple these ideas could be, yet how much of an impact they could have to make great learning go viral. We have tons of experts in our own buildings, so we need to create these opportunities to shine a light on them and their thinking, for the benefit of each other, as well as our communities, both local and global.