Design Challenge: Landforms

Last week we tried a challenge in Science where kiddos had to create a representation of a body of water.  Since then, I’ve heard multiple times “When are we doing this again?”  Then, when my friend, Mona, asked me if I was planning on doing the same thing with landforms I knew we just had to!

I didn’t want to make the situation exactly the same, however, so I thought of ways I could change the parameters to up the level of the challenge.  Last time, students chose their own group, as well as the materials they used to build.  It was great that somehow everyone chose something different and there was no arguing about who used what.  That doesn’t happen a lot in our room, but I was super glad it didn’t come up here.  So this time I again let them choose who they worked with (which because of numbers was groups or 2 or 3), but there as more chance in both their landform AND their building material.  I wrote the choices on index cards (very high tech, I know) and put them in two cans.  Each group chose one from each container.

I was impressed with how easily kiddos accepted both of the cards without complaining.  Again, not much of that happens with Rm. 202 friends, but I was pleased with how quickly they got to work planning their next moves.  After about 3-4 minutes, most were ready.  There was only one pair who did fuss a teeny bit about how they’d be done really fast and how their cards were not a challenge.  We talked about how that meant that they needed to figure a way to challenge themselves, ask themselves “What could we do differently than we had originally planned?”

Much like last time, they had 25 minutes to work on their representations and then we’d do a gallery walk to see if we could guess what everyone had created.  They were to work for the entire time and had to use their assigned medium, but other than that there weren’t too many rules.

Ok, here’s your chance to see if you can figure out our landform creations, and then I’ll give you the answers.

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What do you think? Did you guess them?  Here are the answers:

  1. plains
  2. hills
  3. valley
  4. barrier islands
  5. canyon
  6. plateau
  7. mountains

We love how building challenges work for learners in Rm. 202, and we want to know how they work for you.  Any stories to tell us?  What suggestions do you have for future design challenges we could try?

 

 

What’s in Your TBR Pile?

Many, many years ago I was a presenter for Project Construct.  I had a super responsibility of teaching Missouri teachers about how to incorporate Readers’, Writers’ and Math Workshop into their classroom routine.  It was during this time that I learned about “nightstand books” and TBR piles.  Oh, you know, that 12-inch stack of books that sit next to your bed so you have them ready to go when you have a few minutes to read before bed?

Well, often my pile sits elsewhere than my nightstand, but for sure it’s always there.  And sometimes it’s taller than 12-inches.  Like in the summer when it’s about as tall as my 5-YO (she’s 40 inches right now, by the way. 🙂 ).  My current TBR pile looks like this:

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Anyhow, after we had learned about recipes and how they help guide us with book choices, we talked about something else readers do–make plans.  I started our conversation by asking a simple question: Why do people make plans?  I didn’t specifically say readers at this point because I wanted them to think broader and try not to guess my specific plan for the day just yet. Kids turned and talked to their partners and came up with SUPER ideas.  They connected this to how builders use blueprints and how important those are to making the building look “right” in the end.  They mentioned how writers make plans so they know what their stories are supposed to be (can you tell what we’ve been doing in Writers’ Workshop lately?).  They talked about how plans keep your organized and help you know what to do.

After that great start, it was easy to then expand the idea to how readers make plans for what they will read next.  This allows them to move smoothly from one book to another, without wasting reading time wandering around the library.  It helps readers think critically about what they want to read and why (I explained to my kiddos why each of those books is in my pile), and to be more purposeful in their choices.  This becomes especially easy if you choose books that are in a series, or if you “trust an author” and read all the books that they’ve written. I can TOTALLY do this with Ralph Fletcher, Sharon Creech, Jerry Spinelli, Joan Bauer and Liane Moriarty.

Kiddos had a great time trying out this strategy, and then send me their lists when they were finished.  We’re going to use them now and I plan to hold kids accountable to try out the books they put on their list.  While they can change, these piles (which are saved as pictures/notes on their iPads) help them think ahead and more purposefully use their time both in the classroom and at home.  I’m excited to see how they continue to help us grow as readers through this year and even beyond!

 

Recipe For a Good Book

I remember vividly the first time I ever taught about recipes in my classroom.  It was towards the end of the year, when I was teaching 4th grade (ok, I don’t remember the exact year–maybe 2006?–but I do remember the kiddo!), and during a reading conference a kiddo was struggling with finding a book that was a good fit for her.  For some reason I was thinking about how what she really needed was a plan–a recipe–for how to find a good book for her.  And since that first conference so many years ago, I’ve found that this lesson is one that almost every kiddo (and probably some adults, too!) could find helpful.  I went back to look at when I had written about it here, and I found this post from about 4 years ago.  Rather than try to explain the whole thing again, I ask you to take a few minutes and read about it from back then.  Really, I’ll wait. It won’t take long.  Just come back when you’re finished and I’ll tell you about how it worked in 2nd grade the other day (See? Told you all kinds of kids could benefit from it!  I think I’ve used it in every grade level I’ve taught over the years, and even for myself!) 🙂

Are you back?  Well, like I said before, this issue seems to come up every year and now that I think about it, maybe that speaks to the lessons I teach at the beginning of the year on how to choose books.  I wonder why they aren’t “sticking” and why kiddos eventually need this secondary explanation of “good book” recipes.  I wonder if it has to do with the fact that they change so much as readers over a given school year (especially if they are younger readers, or struggling readers making big gains) and so the books that were just-right or “good” for them in August are certainly not the same for them in March.  I guess like anything else, as well, just telling them once probably isn’t enough.  Perhaps I should find a way to incorporate book choice lessons into every unit that I teach.  In many ways choosing a just-right fiction book is very different from choosing a just-right non-fiction book anyway.  Oh, and I feel like I should mention that my definition of “just-right” book doesn’t have so much to do with a level as it does with student interest, motivation and desire.  All of that other stuff can be worked on once you help them find THE book for them.  Many times the kiddos who first need my recipe lesson are ones who don’t really see themselves as readers yet.  They don’t really know what to do when they’re standing in the aisles of the school library or looking at the buckets in our classroom library and need a hook to get them started.  That’s really what I’m thinking about when I help guide them here.

Ok, well, just like it happened in that example from 5th grade many years ago, I had a conference with a kiddo the other day who needed some guidance to find his version of a good book.  We talked about books he has read that he really liked and what it was about them specifically that he liked.  We used those things as our “recipe” and wrote them down:

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This now becomes a shopping list when he’s in our classroom, the school library, the bookstore, the book fair, the county library, etc.  The big idea is that if he knows what he likes he knows when he’s found it.  This is a HUGE idea that kids often miss.  They so often just wander through the shelves not really knowing what they’re looking for, expecting that they will just know what it is when they find it.  It’s like traveling to a new place without a map AND without really knowing your destination.  You will NEVER get there.

Well, after this first conference, I ran into two other friends in the same day that needed the same lesson and so it quickly got moved to my “everybody-needs-this-as-a-mini-lesson” list.  I then showed everyone in Rm. 202 the plan the next day by sharing my own example:

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Not everyone is necessarily ready for this right now, but everyone had a go at trying their own list and we will tweak over the coming days as they practice using it for book shopping.  The great part is that it is customizable, personal, and specific to each reader.  And it can be easily changed as they change as readers.  LOVE!

Mindfulness in the Classroom

Over the past weeks, one of our counselors, Ms. Howe, has been walking Rm. 202 kiddos through several lessons in being mindful learners.

The first step in the process was to help my students understand what in the world “mindfulness” was. She showed them this video, about a book called Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda.

In the weeks that followed, she led the class through how the brain works (and she tied this to Star Wars!), then how each sense can help you be more mindful, present and in the moment to help your brain do its best work.  We talked about how stress affects learning, and she showed us two apps that we can use to help us when we need to be calmed down.

Another thing she introduced was using coloring activities to help us calm down and we’ve begun to use them both in transition and in listening situations.  The images she gave us are very detailed and required us to really focus in.   A couple of times a day (like when we’re coming back from lunch or specials) we color for a few minutes to get us ready for quieter learning in our room.  Many kiddos also get them out during Read Aloud now, too, and color while we enjoy a story together.  The challenge is to get as many colors as we can in as many tiny spaces as possible.  And when someone finishes it’s a big deal.  So celebrate with us. 🙂

I am not entirely sure yet how these lessons will work for us.  There are definitely parts that help us transition and I have already been able to remind them to be present, to think about what we’re doing at that moment–not about something that happened (that maybe made them upset), or something that will happen (that may be distracting them).  There are many upper grade levels doing this same work, as well, and it will be interesting to see how this knowledge helps as they grow as people and as learners.

How do you use mindfulness in your life? How does it help you to be calm, present and focused? What can you teach us? Please leave a comment and tell us your story or advice!

 

What Does Listening Really Look Like?

The other day I came across an interesting tweet that made me think in a new way.  That’s kind of an everyday occurrence, so it didn’t really surprise me, but this one was one that really made me think about both my students and myself.

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I have never officially taught the idea of “whole body listening,” nor do I have a poster like this in my room, but I probably encourage this general idea in my students.  It would probably be said that in our room (and perhaps in our school?) quiet and still = listening.  I know that I expect students to be looking at the speaker, having quiet ….oh wait–I just remembered something hanging on our wall.  It’s a little blurry but you’ll get the idea:

IMG_5531Guess I do have that poster on my wall.  Well, on my door….

Ok, so here’s where my thinking went after I read that tweet.  I think I have always encouraged students to be still, quiet, sitting up straight (no slouching or laying down on my rug!), watching closely.  In theory, this is not a bad thing.  It’s worked for so many years.  But after reading Dr. Rosenberg’s thoughts, I thought of myself and how I certainly don’t listen like that.  I am pretty sure that I am quiet (I don’t interrupt the speaker without raising my hand!), but I am probably not still.  My hands are not in my lap and I am not just sitting there.  Often I am writing, many times I am tweeting (depending on where I am listening), sometimes I am doodling–I might even be doing a puzzle on an app on my iPad.  If I were to just be sitting still in one spot, I would be SUPER distracted by how uncomfortable I felt that I would quickly STOP listening to the speaker and start thinking about how I needed out.  My next thought was then How many students have been in that same predicament as me in all these years I’ve been teaching?  How many behavior problems on our whole group rug were really just kiddos telling me they needed to listen in a different way? Man…

This tweet, along with some learning I have been doing with a counselor at our school about mindfulness and focus has caused me to rethink (and then reorganize) how my students should look and sound when they are listening.  During Read Aloud, for instance, kiddos are invited to bring along paper, a notebook or their iPad so they can draw or write while they’re listening.  Usually I encourage them to visualize and sketch what the movie they are making in their heads, but often kiddos just doodle other things while they listen to me read.  At first I was not so sure this was working, but I can usually tell by the way they still react to events in the story as well as by talking about the text that they really are focused in with me even if they don’t look just like that “whole body listening” poster.

While I do think there is a need to teach kiddos to listen, to be respectful to others and to focus in on their learning, I’m thinking differently about telling them how this looks.  I think it is ore important to get to know each kiddo personally and help them figure out what their body looks and feels like when they are listening well.  It would be interesting to make another version of that poster with my class.  I wonder what it would look like…

 

 

I Saw Pacifique! Pacifique is HERE!

Remember last fall when we were able to host some amazing Rwandans in our school? Well, since he is now forever connected to our Robinson family (and some teachers in our school, too), he comes back now and then to visit.  When he was here at the beginning of March, we joined Mrs. Appelbaum’s class next door to learn more about his Rwandan culture (since were in a culture study of our own at that time!).

He answered our questions, and even sang and danced a little for us.  What a great visit with an old friend!  He really is a celebrity around our school now. 🙂

Second Grade Math Warm-Ups: Week of April 4-8, 2016

We started a new unit this week on geometry, but aren’t all quite solid with adding and subtracting within 1000 yet, so we came back to that as well.

Monday

Somehow I got home today (it’s Friday, when I usually post these while I am eating pizza and watching our family movie) without a picture of Monday’s MWU.  Oh well, I’ll just tell you.  The chart simply asked the question “What is a polygon?”  Well, I thought it asked it simply, but I was surprised that many kiddos answered it very differently than I expected.  What I thought I was asking them to tell me was the definition of a polygon.  What most of them game me was a picture of a hexagon.  Those that didn’t draw a hexagon pretty much described one in a few words.  I was puzzled by their responses, but as has happened more than once with these problems, it was a great lesson in asking better questions.  Had I asked “What is the definition of a polygon?” or even “Use words to tell what you know about polygons,” it would have made more sense to them.  I guess I did get information that they knew that a hexagon was a polygon, and that they didn’t understand the word itself, too, so it wasn’t a total wash. LOL

Tuesday

This one was another attempt at a vocabulary question, and was based on responses to the pretest from our geometry unit.  We had a great conversation about the difference between these two things, and how one is for 2D shapes and the other is for 3D.  We got out the rectangular prism and a Power Polygon that was a square and looked at the differences.  Oh, and notice how they connected the word “difference” with comparison, and so many of them drew a Venn Diagram.  Nice work, Rm. 202 kiddos!

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Thursday

This was a great day, because Ja’Mia and Ava volunteered to create our Math Warm-Up (like has happened with lots of things in our room lately!), so I told them to have a go.  They had to solve their problem, too, so that they would know if we got it right.  Unfortunately I changed the numbers just a teeny bit when I wrote it, but I do know I got the -18 part correct from their original problem.  Check it out:

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Want to explain a couple of things on the chart, based on our conversation.  The 900 at the top is because we talked about how estimating the answer before we solve the problem is a way of helping us know if we’re right.  We knew that the 300 and 500 would be at least 800, but then since both of the numbers were so big, it would be closer to 900 than 800.  We decided that the 69 in 369 was screaming at us (do you hear it??) that we should compensate and make the problem easier so we moved 1 from the 532 and made 370+531.  Then we moved 30 over to the 370 to make 400 and added together the resulting numbers.  Once we got to 901 – 18, we remembered what we had learned about constant difference and knew that if we added the same thing to both numbers we could get the same answer with an easier problem–thus we did 903-20, which is super easier than subtracting 18.  I was impressed with their hard work and glad to see that so many of them could apply the strategies we’ve been practicing.

Friday

Today is a busy morning usually, because we do a Week-in-Review sheet that takes the place of the math warm-up.  Often we don’t even get to it, but I decided to try it as our right-back-from-recess activity and it worked pretty well.  We tried another one like yesterday’s but I changed the numbers a bit.

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This one has many annotations, too.  Let me explain:

We had to have a quick explanation of the directions, as many of them thought I meant that they should use their calculator.   I just meant I wanted them to figure it out. 🙂  The 800 is our estimate, which we figured out by thinking about 500 + 400, but then realizing that 73 is about 100 so we subtracted that next.  The red words were a request for a reminder of the strategies we have learned (as well as a reminder that I still owe them an anchor chart!): Circle, Split, Add; Circle, Split, Add with a number line; splitting; a chart that we’d used during our investigation into the T-Shirt Factory (that is really a visual form of regrouping 10s/1s); and compensation (making an easier problem).  As we were deciding upon a strategy to try together, I reminded them that good mathematicians choose one based on what the numbers tell them, not based on their favorite or the one they know the best.  Kiddos decided that the numbers were telling them to subtract first, because they noticed that the 75 in 475 could help us subtract the 73.  Once we rearranged the numbers, we realized our problem was a SUPER easy addition problem.

On a side note, at our class meeting today, the topic of math came up and many kiddos marked it as their “trouble spot” with a red dot.

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Again I was puzzled by this (probably because I define trouble spots as places where our class has something to figure out together or areas/activity where our choices could use some reworking and they instead mark them as things that were hard for them to figure out), so I had them explain.  Many said that the warm-ups were hard this week because they had to both add and subtract in the same problem.  We came to the conclusion that it was probably “hard” because we still needed practice.  We also discussed that labeling something as “hard” can sometimes lead us to believe we can’t do it.  If our self-talk is always negative instead of saying “I just don’t get it YET”, that ends up being our reality because we’ve quit trying.  We agreed that I could give them just one operation in a problem and that they would work on positive self-talk as they tackled these tricky problems next week. Win/win. 🙂

 

Mystery Skype–For Real!

You might remember that last year we prepared for a Mystery Skype by Skyping with Ms. Turken’s class INSIDE of our school.  We were ready and had a plan, but then our Skype that we had scheduled fell through.  Somehow we didn’t get another on the books until this year.  So a week or so ago we did a Mystery NUMBER Skype with Ms. Bartin’s class at Keysor–the next step above someone in our school is in our school district. hee hee

Then, when I tweeted about how much fun we’d had, I asked for any takers on another Mystery Skype.  We quickly got a bite from Mrs. LaRose’s 2nd graders!  We quickly put a day and time on the schedule and I got busy getting my class ready for the big time.

Since a few years ago when I did this with 5th graders, I have made some new “friends” on Twitter and knew that they would be the right ones to go to for help.  Paul Solarz, 5th grade teacher extraordinaire and author of Learn Like a Pirate has some GREAT Mystery Skype resources, and I used many of them to get us prepared for our conversation.

It started with determining our jobs.  While Mr. Solarz has 5th graders and does most of his Mystery Skype work online, we were still able to use many of their listed jobs, modified a little to fit our needs.

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While I think that Mr. Solarz assigns jobs, we had a meeting before we got started and I explained each job, then we decided who should do each one.  If more than the allotted number wanted a specific job, kiddos had to find a way to decide who should do it (many of them played rock-paper-scissors to get to a decision).  In the end, we agreed that the right people were in the right jobs, based on their strengths and personalities.

I was excited (as were they) and even though I had done this many times before, I really didn’t know what to expect because I hadn’t done it with this format in any other session previously.  Because we were ready a little early (ok, I did that on purpose), we were able to practice.  We were able to run through the whole deal twice, with me pretending to be the other class and them trying out their assigned jobs (thanks, Mr. Solarz for that idea–it was SUPER helpful!).  First I was in Illinois (Chicago, actually) and then I was in Florida (ok, fine–Orlando).  If you know me at all, you could probably guess those would have been my choices.  Ok, fine, they probably had a little head start on that, too.  Anyway…

While we were working, I was surprised with how busy everyone was, how well they worked together and how quiet but bustling the room was!  We were even able to host a few teachers who wanted to see what this whole Mystery Skype thing was about without any real trouble.  Thanks for Ja’Mia and Landen for submitting the pictures for this post, and for Khalani for taking the video.

Check out our archives from our first-ever REAL Mystery Skype!

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After we were finished, we sat down to debrief and it was great how excited they all still were–I had them turn and talk so everyone could get all their thoughts out, then they shared some with me.  Here is a little of what kiddos said, some positive and some things we might change:

I liked holding up the “Good job” sign, it made me feel great to see everyone focusing, learning and doing the right thing! -Sara

I thought it was fun and I really wanted to do a good job to help out our class! -Thomas

I liked that I helped find Vermont! -Amber

I didn’t like walking around the whole time. -Landen

I liked my job because I got to remind people. -Ella Marie

I thought it was tricky trying to find a question.  -Emily

I liked it when Nate and Charlie asked about the time zone. -Lawrence

I like that my behavior was good.  I got a “good job” card and I really wanted to do my very best for our class! -Jacob

I liked being a greeter.  I was good at that job because I am friendly. -Joshua

I liked learning things that I didn’t know about our state. -Ava

I liked learning about maps. -Evan

We also debriefed on jobs.  The consensus was that there were too many researchers, and that we needed to add a couple of new ones: Tweeters and Closers.  Mrs. Sisul, our principal, texted me during our session and asked that I make sure to Tweet since she couldn’t make it and I could not believe that I hadn’t even thought about it!  We will definitely find some friends to do that next time, as well as choose two friendly kiddos to close the call and say thanks and good bye.  🙂

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One more thing…it’s very long and it’s kind of shaky–it’s our first time, after all–but I think it gives a great example of all the hustle, bustle and hard work that was happening during our Mystery Skype.  We’d love to hear what you think, especially if you notice anything or have any questions.

Mystery NUMBER Skype

This year we finally did a Mystery Skype with someone that wasn’t inside our school.  Remember that from last year?  It really was pretty cool anyway.

I have a friend, Jen Bartin, who teaches 2nd grade at another school in our district, who was looking to do her first Mystery Skype as well, and we decided a good first try would be with a mystery number rather than location.  Nope, that wouldn’t be very hard to figure out.

Unlike a typical Mystery Skype, we needed a hundreds chart instead of a map.  We got ourselves into pairs and brainstormed what kinds of questions we could ask to narrow down the number.  We had done this kind of thing before as our Math Warm-Up, as well as a game we play during Math Workshop.  The part that we hadn’t done was talk to another class over our computer while also answering questions about our own mystery number.  But we were excited and prepared.

While we chatted, kids took turns at the computer asking and answering a question.  Ja’Mia and Ella Marie were in charge of writing down the questions each class asked, and Landen and Amelia had the important task of marking the 100s chart to narrow down the choices as we got information from our answers.

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It didn’t take us long, but it took them even less time to figure out our number was 62.  We did a great job of asking broad enough questions that we crossed of lots of numbers, but specific enough ones that we finally got it right.  This was fun and we were ready to do another one!!

 

Top 5 Reasons Why Twitter Makes Me a Better Teacher

I have been on Twitter for almost 5 years now (started in July 2011), and I can honestly say that it has been a great decision since day one.  Probably there are lots of people who haven’t evaluated their Twitter decision, but I wonder if the reason I did is because I use it solely for my professional life (where I am often evaluating the effectiveness of decisions I make).  Nope, no celebrities or sports figures on my “following” list; I follow other educators (of all levels, not just the one I teach), authors, librarians, principals, consultants, instructional coaches and other related to education.  I do also have a few family members (although they don’t really tweet), and also news organizations because even thought they are not teachers, they inform my teaching and keep me informed as a person.  I decided that meant they fit the criteria.

I went back to look at if I had already written this post (sometimes I have the same thoughts over and over LOL), and realized I haven’t really ever done that.  I did write about the fact that I use Twitter in a reflection I wrote for grad school a few years ago, and I wrote a post called Why I Blog, inspired by educator and author David Warlick (@dwarlick).  I realized I mentioned Twitter in that post, but only the fact that I’m on it–not why.

So I guess in some ways this post is five years in the making–hopefully that doesn’t mean it will be five-years long!  Here we go!

  • Personalized Professional Learning–in my pjs!:  Because I have been particular with who I follow, I am pretty certain that every time I log on to Twitter I will read a tweet that includes something I didn’t know.  Whether it’s someone who’s tweeting from a conference they’re attending, someone tweeting an article they’re reading (or have written!), a blogger publicizing their latest post, someone tweet a meanginful quote, a chat in which I’m participating about a specific topic or just a statement about the day, I feel smarter for having spent that time there reading.  Sometimes I am able to read the whole thing right then, but often I will retweet or save the tweet for later so I can find it when I have more time.  Either way, I am able to cater the learning I am doing to my needs, on my time, and like I mentioned before, to where I am (and what I’m wearing!).
  • Publicizing: While it’s certainly not the only thing, having someone to read the blog you’re writing is kind of an essential thing to keeping a blog going and having a conversation.  I use Twitter as a place to publicize my blogs, as well as the ones that my students write.   I use hashtags to add to the readership, and cater them to the topic of the post I wrote.  For my students’ writing there is always #comments4kids, and some typical hashtags I add are #2ndchat (2nd grade teachers), #1stchat (because I taught 1st grade last year and many things I write about could apply to that grade as well), #moedchat (MO educators), #ksdpd (my school district), #803learns (my school’s new hashtag), #tlap (Teaching Like a Pirate), #LearnLap (Learn Like a Pirate), #elemmathchat (elementary math educators) and #miched (Michigan educators–just met many of them in a chat last week!).  Often I add in ones specific to ELA (#rwworkshop, #tcrwp, #kidlitchat), science (#elemscichat) or social studies #elemsschat).  I could really go on forever with hashtags because they are kind of endless, but adding them can maximize the number of people who see my posts as they far outreach the number of followers I have.
  • Quick Sharing: Sometimes I do have time to write a blog (at least not at that moment), so I use my Twitter feed (@jenbearden) or our class Twitter feed (@jbeardensclass) to share what we’re doing through out the day.
  • Collaboration: One of the BEST things about Twitter (maybe I should have put these in order!) is that it has allowed me the opportunity to connect and collaborate with classes and teachers from all over the world–something I would not have been able to do otherwise.  I forged a relationship with a fabulous educator in Australia early on (Hi, Tam!) and even 5 years and a couple of grade-level changes later, we’re still working together because of our connection on Twitter. I have found many connections on Twitter that allow me to bounce ideas off of others (even if I don’t really know them I know that they’ll respond).  One of the best layers of collaboration that I’ve found lately is the ability to reach out to authors.  It really is mind-blowing to 2nd graders (ok, sometimes to me, too!) that the REAL author of the book they just read would take time to talk to them and answer their questions.  We’ve been able to connect with many fabulous writers this year and I LOVE LOVE LOVE that my kiddos are now the ones who suggest that we tweet at them our thoughts.  Some of our favorites are Ralph Fletcher (he might be our bestie by now; we LOVE his books and he has become a mentor to my students as he has been to me for years and years; Betty Birney (she came to our school so we reached out to her before she came and told her how excited we were); Mary Casanova (also visited our school and we shared our favorite parts of her books); Kate Klise (we had a super author visit with her and have since asked her some writing questions), Marla Frazee and Maribeth Boelts (used their books for a craft study last year and still tweet to them when we find new books by them this year), and Charles R. Smith, Jr. who wrote an important text we used in Social Studies recently.  Lastly, my kiddos have been able to connect with other classes from around the world simply via tweets on our class feed or even better with Mystery Skype–which are set up through teachers on Twitter.
  • Validation:  Sometimes you just need to hear someone else say you’re doing a good job, you know?  While I by no means do what I do for a pat on the back, or to toot my horn, but it does feel really nice when someone else agrees that what you’re doing is a good idea.  Having someone retweet your idea or respond to you and tell you they agree with your thought feels good.  Often it doesn’t even take anything on the other end, but just for me to see that someone is doing something similar based on their tweets or retweets.  This often happens during chats (which could fit into the collaboration section, too), as you can talk to other educators about a common topic, learning and growing together, as you share ideas.

I’m not even sure that this covers all the bases (I’m sure that as soon as I hit PUBLISH I’ll think of something else I’ll want to go back and add), and in some ways it’s hard to even put it into words how much I feel like Twitter is an important resource for me.   I’m hoping that this list at least gives some small idea of it’s great possibilities for helping both me and my students explore and connect with the world!

Why do you use Twitter?  What would you add to my list?  Leave a comment and tell us what you think!!  🙂