This type of professional development models the amazing possibilities for learning and teaching in the 21st Century. The ability to connect with educators from across the world in one online space for an hour at a time is pretty amazing. Webinars, Twitter, Facebook, and many other social media platforms now open professional development opportunities up to the world. I love logging in and seeing the roll call of teachers saying "hi" from around the world. Professional development has truly begun to shift from teacher's lounges, libraries, and school cafeterias to accessible online spaces that can be accessed from computers, tablets, and phones. Learning can literally happen whenever and wherever you want it to!
Below I will outline the Twitter chats and webinars I attended and some of my key takeaways from each experience.
I love #kinderchat! They are an energized group of early childhood educators who have a very organized and energetic weekly chat. When I attended this chat, we discussed Finland school's strongly held belief that students need ample amounts of unstructured free time. Finland truly believes that free time should be completely free and unstructured and we spent the hour chatting about ways to incorporate unstructured free time into the daily routine of early childhood classrooms. My takeaway from this chat was that we need to give students in our American education system time to explore and play throughout the day. By play and explore, I mean giving them complete freedom for short periods of time throughout the day. It was awesome to gather ideas from my peers on how to accomplish this in the future.
I am hoping to be a teacher on special assignment (TOSA) upon completion of this Master's program, so I was excited to attend this weekly Twitter chat. We were discussing digital citizenship and shared techniques, tools, and resources on this very important subject. There were so many great resources shared and lots of great insights for teaching digital citizenship on K-12 scale. My major takeaway is that digital citizenship should be a mandated subject beginning in early childhood. Our students are living in a digital and social media driven world so learning necessary and invaluable digital citizenship skills at an early age will help ensure more safety online for this generation of learners. Here a couple great resources...
9/28/2017 #BookCreator Collaborative Book Making Chat
This was one of my favorite Twitter chats ever! The chat was run by two Book Creator Ambassador teachers that wanted to highlight and share Book Creator's new Chrome app. Book Creator was my favorite iPad app in the classroom, so I was very excited to experience the new Chrome app they are just rolling out. It was awesome. I followed the Twitter chat to get my cues and ask any questions I might have and then created my pages of the collaborative book in their Chrome app. Book Creator for Chrome allows teachers to add students to a collaborative library to monitor their book creation process. They can also combine everyone's individual books into one large collaborative book. So for this chat, 40 educators from across the world created one Book Creator book. It was awesome. My big takeaway is that this new app is awesome. I am excited to see more creative apps developed for the Google Suite of Apps. I can truly see this being a powerful creative app for early childhood students in a Chromebook environment.
Link for Chrome app: https://app.bookcreator.com
10/15/2017 #1stChat Wantability
This was coming home and visiting family. #1stchat was my first online PLN and I have met many of these teachers in person at national conferences. The teachers at #1stchat are so innovative and collaborative that I was very excited to be back chatting with them. We discussed wantability and the need to build student's confidence in reading. We talked about the ways teachers can build excitement for classroom read alouds. Teachers wrapped books up and had kids guess what might in the wrapping. Teachers also wrapped large boxes with books inside and tried to have students guess what was in the box. Teachers would invite "mystery readers" to the class who would turn out to be former students, parents, and grandparents. The goal was to make children fall in love with reading while also beginning to view themselves as good readers. My take away is that regardless of technology early childhood classrooms still begin with the basics. Reading is still the foundation of early childhood classrooms and students need to see themselves as amazing readers.
9/19/2017 Webinar: Adaptive Reading Strategies
In this webinar, I learned about the software Velocity, which is an adaptive reading software that is easily used in technology environments. The program adapts to the students learning needs as they engage with the software and provides the teachers with valuable information that will guide their individualized instruction. The webinar featured teachers who are using the software and it was highly beneficial to hear their insights and tips. The webinar came with a free trial that I am currently using with my boy's at home.
9/20/2017 Webinar: Everyday Strategies for Kindness
This was a refreshing webinar focused on strategies to implement kindness into classroom curriculum. It was fun be an author with a book on the topic and she laid out many techniques to incorporate kindness routines into classrooms. There were many great ideas, including have daily check-ins. I shared an idea about using a Google Doc to have children check in on their technology devices. There were many great ideas shared along those line. My takeaway is that social emotional learning is still important and that purposefully teaching is necessary. It was refreshing to interact with educators who felt the same way.
10/12/2017 Webinar: Habits of Mind
I am fascinated by the Habits of Mind so I was excited to attend this online webinar. The beginning of the webinar provided a refresher on the Habits of Mind which is always awesome. The bulk of the webinar was highlighting an animated video series that teaches basics of Habits of Mind to our earliest learners. The series of videos looked very developmentally appropriate and high engaging for early childhood students. It was a tool I could see myself using and I look forward to continuing to find ways to integrate Habits of Mind into my future classrooms.
10/12/2017 Webinar: CLOSE Reading
CLOSE reading is thoughtful, critical analysis of a text that focuses on significant details or patterns in order to develop a deep, precise understanding of the text's form, craft, meanings, etc. It is a key requirement of the Common Core State Standards and directs the reader's attention to the text itself. I wasn't super familiar with CLOSE reading. I have been out of the public school system for the past 6 years so I have missed the large scale integration of the Common Core Standards. So, I was very interested to attend this webinar. It was a very nuts and bolts webinar that really laid out CLOSE reading strategies and techniques for teachers. The method teaches kids to read like writers and the webinar laid out many great ideas for how to implement this strategy. My brain was certainly full after this webinar and it left me wanting to investigate CLOSE reading further.