Monday, 6 June 2016

What to Tweet and When?

I joined Twitter back in 2008 after attending a workshop where it was promoted as a tool for connecting with other educators. But I wasn't hooked.  I used it for a few weeks and mostly connected with a few other teachers in our board who were using it.  After a month or two, I had drifted away from twitter and didn't use it at all.

Fast forward to 2016, and I'm giving Twitter another try.  Several colleagues had mentioned that they were finding it a useful tool for professional learning and networking.  I began to follow more educators, groups and organizations that were addressing issues that resonated with me.  And, after following others for awhile, I began posting interesting literacy and mathematics learning that I observed when I was in classrooms.

My big 'aha' moment came when I was live tweeting from the ETFO Learning Math in the Early Years conference in May 2016.  Educators from all over began retweeting and commenting on my posts.  I found myself thinking about which were the most salient 'nuggets' from each presentation to tweet?  What was a tidbit worth sharing that would spark conversation or inspire someone to try something new in their classroom?   It was a different way for me to process my learning at each session.

One tweet that really took off was this slide from a presentation by Dr. Juanita Copely:

People were intrigued by the student thinking - is it procedural understanding or conceptual understanding or is a combination of both?  Teachers used this as a prompt with their own students while others shared links to related articles about the children's developing understanding of the concept of equal.  Days after the conference had ended discussion linked to this tweet continued. It allowed me to engage in extended conversations and thoughtful reflection on this one slide, but it also lead me to think about the impact that one tweet had on so many educators.

While this tweet reignited my interest in using Twitter, I want to ensure that I don't become one of those people who are so busy taking pictures of an event that they aren't really present.  You know - you see people who are so busy recording a concert on their cell phone that they experience the whole concert through their phone and miss out on the bigger picture.  When I was at the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina I was walking down a trail, and there were constant sounds coming from the glacier that sounded like shotgun blasts in the distance.  I turned to look at the glacier and there was a crack that was so loud it sounded like a jet plane taking off as two huge sections of the glacier separated and crashed into the water.  The visible part of the glacier is about the height of a 23 story building, and the pieces that fell off were about 10 stories tall so watching them crash into the water was breathtaking.  However, I have no photos of this event.  I could have tried to grab the camera from around my neck and take a photo but it was happening so quickly that I decided to just 'be in the moment.'  I'm trying to approach Twitter in the same way - I want to capture and share ideas that I think will inspire other educators as well as celebrate the great learning happening in our schools, but I don't want to let it stop me from being in the moment whether I'm with students or with adults.   

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