Tweet The Author

I recently wrote for the CUE Blog on how to own a premade curriculum. I spoke about taking it and tweaking it so that we, as teachers, feel the ownership instead of feeling like we have no say. Part of the way I take ownership in my math class is to use Andrew Stadel‘s Estimation 180 site. It’s a nice warm-up for the students and a great way to practice several of the 8 Mathematical Practices found in CCSS.

Most recently, we have been going through a series that has us estimate the value of coins in a container. It started with pennies, then progressed through until the day we estimated the value of dimes. We went through our normal routine – three minutes to discuss and find an estimate that is too low, too high, the actual estimate, and how they arrived at that estimate. Then, as normal, we viewed the video answer. Upon finding the answer, the RSP co-teacher got a discussion started. She disagreed with the answer. We left it at that so that the students could either agree or disagree. After they reviewed the previous two days’ answers and compared the answer to the dimes, the class determined that they too disagreed. Following the Mathematical Practices, they had to justify their reasoning, which they did. They reasoned that the pennies and nickels were mounding up to the point of almost spilling over, whereas the dimes didn’t quite reach the top of the container – same container.

Fortunately, with modern technology, we didn’t have to let the discussion die there. So, I got on my phone, hooked it up to the screen so the students could be active participants, jumped on Twitter, and sent Mr. Stadel a private message. This is what they wrote, well, told me to type:

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After they got over the initial shock that one could actually do this, they got excited. Now, I have only been a participant in a few of Mr. Stadel’s sessions at conferences but was fairly certain that he would be open to what we had to say and would most likely respond. And he didn’t disappoint! The kids were VERY excited that he did respond. Okay, I was pretty excited too. This was such a real and relevant experience.

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We then talked about how many more dimes we thought could fit. They determined that 1/2 roll more – 25 dimes – would be needed.

THIS is why we, as educators, need to be connected. THIS is why we continuously grow our PLN.

I would like to thank Mr. Stadel and Ms. Luke (RSP teacher) for making this all possible.

Mad Love For My PLN

Before I delve right into the reasons why I have mad love for my PLN, let me explain who exactly is in my PLN. When I first started teaching in the mid 90’s (that was just a few years ago, right?), my PLN was limited to those whom I directly worked with; those teachers in my building. Now my PLN stretches across the nation and across boarders. While I still enjoy, and learn much from, collaborating with those at my site/district, I often turn to Twitter for help, collaboration, and/or ideas. I also belong to several communities on Google+, thus widening my network. So when I say that I have ‘Mad Love For My PLN’, I’m talking about hundreds of people.

Now getting back to my story. Recently I have started video taping the school announcements. I have 5th graders read, record, and upload the ‘Morning News’. This was the brainchild of a Kinder teacher, Ellen Lynch. One of the biggest issues I was having were the actual announcements. The old way of doing things required teachers, and students in some cases, filling out a form in the office. I wanted to make it more streamlined and efficient. So what did I do? Well, I turned to a small portion on my PLN – Manhattan Beach CUERockStar Teachers. Yeah, mad love for these folks.

My PLN

                                             Mad Love for these folks

I reached out to this amazing group of educators. I explained the problem and was given a few great solutions. In the end, I chose to use a Google Spreadsheet Add-On, AutoCrat. I know what you’re thinking, “That’s great, but really, did you need to blog about that?” Yes, yes I did. I needed to blog about this for a few reasons A) My issue was solved within 24 hours. Not only did they provide their thoughts, but Reuben Hoffman also provided me with resources. B) I had a Google Hangout (GHO) with Alice Chen, Karl Lindgren-Streicher, and John Miller. What started out as just sharing thoughts and ideas, and me realizing I solved the problem already, quickly turned into a 45 minute talk about Minecraft. When you have a Minecraft Guru/Master/Ninja/all around awesome guy like John in your midst, you take advantage of his wisdom. C) EVERYONE has access to this type of support. D) It’s this support and collaboration that gets me excited, inspired, and and ready to try new things.

So yes, I did need to share my ‘Mad Love’ for these amazing people. I am blessed to have them in my PLN. And if you don’t already have these people in your PLN, you need to jump on Twitter and Google+ now and start learning from them now!

Twitter

02_Twitter_64I was like many of you in thinking that I cannot handle one more social network. I don’t even use the ones I have. I now see it completely differently! Twitter has been such a huge change/help/benefit to me and my students. It has become one of my most valuable assets. I know, it sounds dorky, but it’s true.

Yes, you can follow Celebs, but why when there are so many fabulous educating rockstars out there!? Many of educators use Pinterest, and chances are you do too. This is the next step. Instead of just pinning what you like, why not talk to the creator? Make connections. Instead of only collaborating with teachers at your site, imagine what a powerful teacher you become when you can collaborate globally! Your PLN (Personal Learning Network) no longer has to be limited by those you work with. The power of Twitter is that you create that global PLN!

Not sure where to begin? Well, after you sign up for an account (remember to post a profile pic. You will get taken more seriously without the default egg) find some educators to follow. Feel free to check me out, and see who I’m following.

Twitter uses # (hashtags). They are sort of like the main idea or topic of your comment (or question). Many hashtags meet and have scheduled discussions. I personally attend #caedchat, they meet Sunday evenings from 8-9 PST. This is a group of educators from CA, and we discuss relevant issues in CA. The hour literally flies by.  Not sure how to find it, just type in #caedchat in the search. Check out what’s going on. They have hashtags for each grade level, disciplines, states, etc. To help you find # and chats that you might like check out this link: http://goo.gl/WS7Zo

By now I’m sure that I have piqued your interest. So here’s what you need to do:

  1. Go to twitter.com and sign up.
  2. Follow at least one person (I’m @NowaTechie). Many of your favorite bloggers are on Twitter, follow them.
  3. Post a pic. Most people will not follow you back unless you have a pic. The egg just doesn’t cut it.
  4. It will keep asking you to follow people, once you follow one, you can skip ahead.
  5. Search for hashtags and find more people to follow that way. Example: in the search box type: #3rdchat This will lead you to all ‘tweets’ related to 3rd grade. Most of the tweeters will be 3rd grade teachers.
  6. Not ready to post yet? That’s fine. Just sit back and observe. You’ll learn a lot and get links to many great sites.
  7. Post a tweet when you’re ready. It can be as simple as “Hi, I’m new to this. I teach…”
  8. Any questions? just ask. Everyone on Twitter is eager to help and share our knowledge.