Two: The Power of Educators on Social Networks

Plymouth Keynote
By foto_mania, Flickr

On April 8th I celebrated my two year Twitter birthday. 100s of members of my Personal/ Passionate Learning Network (PLN) joined me in the celebration online and face-to-face as I gave my Keynote, Wings & Webs: Education Transformation and Social Media, which I’ve included a shortened version below. This was one of 14 presentations I gave in the last 30 days while traveling throughout Turkey, Germany, and the UK meeting 100s of members of my PLN. This will explain my 4 week absence on this blog.

Plymouth was an incredible experience for me. This was the first conference I had presented at in which the majority of the audience were tekkies, had smart phones and netbooks or iPads, had Twitter accounts, and the venue itself had a strong wifi connection. The backchannel was roaring as I gave my keynote livestreamed to my friends on Twitter. And yes, I do refer to several members of my Personal/ Passionate Learning Network as friends even though I have over 12,000 I connect and often collaborate with. I am one of those people who preaches about Twitter and the way it has changed my life so profoundly in just 2 years.

It’s About the Tool

How odd that so many of us will preach, “It’s about the tool,” when we preach that schools and teachers should integrate technology. In the next moment many who say this also speak/blog vehemently against social networks like Twitter and Facebook. I have read many of these posts in the last year and have also heard speakers at the conferences I’ve attended speak against these tools. In some cases they try to encourage other educators to believe these networks are evil and that their feelings of warmth for their PLN are something to be ashamed of or that it is a superficial feeling. I want to clarify now that social media has profoundly improved my experience as an educator. I am a better educator because my PLN has supported, challenged, and collaborated with and shared with me. They have infected me with their passion to be better at my profession. Thank you, friends!

How Do You Use These Tools?

Twitter, Facebook, and blogs are tools and I know that I have used these tools effectively to collaborate and connect with teachers worldwide. That is my choice. Perhaps, those who scream against these tools are really not that social? Perhaps, they haven’t figured out how to use social media tools effectively? Okay, I understand we are individuals and make choices but why do they have to blame the tool? I use social media tools to share a human experience of reaching out to others and make meaningful connections. I have been able in the last two years to do amazing things I would have never been able to do as effectively without these tools, which include:

  • Provide free professional development and resources to 10,000s of educators worldwide in over 150 countries
  • Provide a free curriculum to an educator in Nepal who I also Skype with
  • Travel to 16 countries spending quality time with friends from all over the globe including Turkey, Greece, the UK, Germany, Italy, Croatia, Poland, France, the US, Brussels, Brazil, Japan, and so forth
  • Eat fish and chips with friends I met online on the beach
  • Take roadtrips with friends I met online throughout Poland, Belgium, France, and Amsterdam
  • Provide free weekly webinars to teachers in Iran, Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Peru, and other countries where resources and professional development are scarce

I have an overwhelming amount of stories I could share. Everyday I wake up I feel blessed to be part of such an amazing field where we make a profound difference in the world. I guess the reason I feel so passionate about social media is that I come from humble Mexican American beginnings. I am part of the first generation in my family to graduate from college and I have been blessed to travel more than anyone else in my family for generations. I explain more about this in my keynote below.

Social Media Transforms Our Conference Experiences

Social media has transformed my conference experience. I now attend more conferences because I want to hang out with members of my PLN. Before social media, most of the educators that attended conferences weren’t connected to many people attending the conference. This was my reality and I remember experiencing this “alone” feeling. I would get lost among the crowd and feel even more alone. I stopped going to conferences a decade ago because I was sick and tired of the protocols of shaking people’s hands and giving them a mini interview stating why they should want to know me. That’s a conference, though, for educators not on social media. Social media has revolutionized the conference experience. I meet people at conferences and I feel I know them and they know me. They know about my pug, my preference for Coke 0, and much more. We hug at first glance and we spend quality time enjoying the talks and events. We “experience” the conference. I attend way more conferences worldwide as a result of my online connections and I leave feeling I have grown because of the conference and the people I learned from and connected with on a real level. How do you approach that first meet and greet and get to the point where you can just be comfortable enjoying each other’s company? When does a conference become an experience versus an uncomfortable way to just network? Simply, social media. It takes away the leg work.

Power through Social Networks

Sometimes, the connections I make on social networks are to parents, learners, politicians, authors, other teachers, or administrators. We more than connect. We have conversations of what education transformation should be. I have the ability to show these various stakeholders what effective learning looks like. I have the ability to disprove their notions that what matters most is a learner’s test scores or grades. I have the ability to persuade them that mobile learning is a way for students to get outside the walls of their classroom and be active, interacting in a meaningful way with their environments. I believe educator messages about education transformation should go viral in order to transform the way most education systems are worldwide. I shared this in my keynote. Social media is a powerful way to spread these messages. So to the naysayers I say sorry I’m not quitting. I have a world that needs changing and educators collaborating on social media are on a mission to positively impact their learning environments. Social networks may transform decades from now but the worldwide collaboration and human connection educators participate in daily on these networks won’t ever die.

My Plymouth Keynote

Challenge:

Share your story why you believe educators should be active on social networks.

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Considering the Curriculm: TeachMeet Newcastle Keynote

I had the incredible privilege of being the keynote at the TeachMeet in Newcastle/Gateshead yesterday. I have to thank Steve Bunce (@SteveBunce) and Simon Finch (@SimFin) for their incredible hospitality and invitation. This was my first TeachMeet and I was blown away by the incredible way that educators are working with their students. For example, I saw a presentation by Alasdair Douglas (@hairysporran) about Literacy and Skateboarding through game-based learning and various other technologies! I believe that Newcastle is definitely a mecca for innovative teaching, especially with technology. It was Gateshead that helped Dr. Sugata Mitra with his Hole in the Wall experiments. Simon Finch was really great in getting me to see the way mobile learning and elearning is improving education in Newcastle.

Useful Links

Challenge:
Share your story. Choose to be Disraeli and empower your students!

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Reflections on the Chris Lehmann Live Chat

This past Monday, December 20th, members of the EDU PLN Ning and participants of #Edchat joined Chris Lehmann, @ChrisLehmann, founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy, in a live conversation about education transformation. Tom Whitby, Kyle Pace, and me moderated the 1 hour Elluminate session.

In Case You Missed the Discussion:

Watch the edited video: Coming Soon!

Listen to the podcast and subscribe to iTunes:

Watch the entire live recording.

Read the Chat transcript.

Some nuggets from Chris during the conversation

Sad when 1st graders say they hope they don’t have to go to school the next day.
Sad when items are on the test we don’t use and never tell kids why they need to know it.
We need to be okay with the question why are we teaching stuff.
The Why is powerful and where kids learn things.
Schools should teach kids not only how to learn but how to live.
Schools serve a social purpose and are about teaching citizenship.
A good citizen is defined as being active in your world.
I want more kids to be able to have access to the learning we do at SLA.
Students need the opportunity to own the curriculum.
We can’t bully teachers into believing in kids or wanting to teach them.
Classes shouldn’t be silos but lenses.

More about Chris Lehmann

Bio: Chris is the founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy, a progressive science and technology high school in Philadelphia, PA. Chris has returned to his native Philadelphia after nine years as an English Teacher, Technology Coordinator, Girls Basketball Coach and Ultimate Frisbee coach at the Beacon School in New York City, one of the leading urban public schools for technology integration. In 2006, the National School Board Association named Chris one of “20 to Watch” among American administrators. In 2001, Chris was honored by MOUSE as a Champion of Technology and Education for his work on building the portal at the Beacon School. Chris has spoken at educational conferences all over the world, including the Building Learning Communities conference, the National Educational Computing Conference, the Philadedelphia Area Educational Technology Conference, The Council of Educational Facilities Planners Regional Conference, the K12-Online Conference, the International Conference on Technology and Education and at LinuxWorld, and he has worked with many schools and districts in the U.S. and England as a consultant.

Challenge
Watch the video or listen to the podcast and reflect.

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Just Some Good Ol’ ELT Pedagogy & Practice #TESOLFr Highlights

Part 2 of 3 TESOL France Highlights

The TESOL France conference was one of the best conferences I have attended and so full of information that it’s taking 3 posts! A great thanks to TESOL France president, Bethany Cagnol (@bethcagnol) and the other conference organizers for planning such an amazing line-up of speakers! In this post, I focus on pedagogy and classroom activities that don’t involve hi-tech tools. Many of these presentations were given by our  ELT Twitter PLN.

Poster Presentations

Multiple Intelligences in ELT by Vladimira Michalkova- Check out this colorful poster created by Vladka (@vladkaslniecko), a teacher from Slovakia! She was such a joy to talk to on my journey to the airport and she has very interesting ideas on how to engage learners!
Complexity Theory and ELT by Willy C. Cardoso- Check out this amazing document with links and the accompanying handout that really causes deep reflection. Willy is a deep thinker so if you want to discuss this further feel free to tweet him, @willycard.

Presentations

At Evas Workshop!
At Eva's Workshop!

Warmers, Fillers and improvisations in EFL Classrooms by Eva Büyüksimkeşyan- I really enjoyed Eva’s(@evab2001) hands-on approach to showing us some innovative lessons to get students using English in a creative way. The lessons she shared inspire students to reflect, write, and discuss. In one of her lessons we listened to a jingle. We closed our eyes and imagined what movie scene this would be, the setting, and the characters. We then shared our responses with each other! In another lesson we listened to parts of the Four Seasons and tried to guess which season was playing. We had to provide reasons. Visit her post for the hand-outs and slide show that describe each lesson in detail.

Animating Your Coursebook by Marisa Constantinides- I caught this presentation at ISTEK. Marisa (@Marisa_C) provides great research and ideas for bringing the coursebook to life. Some ideas include improvisation activities, digital storytelling resources, and adding creative captions! She provides so many ideas that really you will have to read the post about it.

Drama: It’s Never Too Much of a Good Thing by Anna Musielak- Although I missed Anna’s (@AnnaMusielak) presentation I heard it was really fun and creative! Thankfully she blogged about some ideas on Ken Wilson’s blog!

10 Things I Think I Know About Teaching, Learning, and Writing by Ken Wilson- Ken’s (@KenWilsonLondon) presentation was filled with many fantastic ideas that transform traditional teaching methods to animated lessons. His ideas were highly motivating for learners of various ages, especially teens. You can read about Ken’s ideas in these posts:

Motivation, Fun, & Building Confidence with Pronunciation by Dede Wilson- Making pronunciation engaging and fun is one of my weakest points as an ELT teacher which is why I attended this great workshop! Dede showed us how to make pronunciation engaging by having us learn Hungarian and do several activities. You can read about most of these activities in these links:

Using Documentaries in the Classroom by Anita Kwiatkowska- Although I missed Anita’s (@l_missbossy) presentation I heard it was really thought-provoking! Thankfully she blogged about some ideas in her blog!

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Technology, Gaming Research, & More #TESOLFr Highlights

Part 3 of 3 TESOL France Highlights

Recently, I saw some amazing technology presentations at the TESOL France conference. Thanks to TESOL France president, Bethany Cagnol (@bethcagnol) and the other conference organizers for selecting great presenters! These presentations were given by our ELT Twitter PLN.

Presentation Highlights

Unlocking Learner Motivation For Digital Natives by Paul Maglione- I really enjoyed this presentation by @paulmaglione, which provided insights to the teenage brain and learning! My favorite slides are #40 and #43 where Paul shares what we can adopt from videos games into our teaching and tweets from adolescents in Italian that give a glimpse into what they feel about learning English. I recommend you check out the English Attack website which integrates language learning and gaming principles.

Teaching English to Scientists is Fun by Elizabeth Anne- I enjoyed how @eannegrenoble helped her scientists learn specific English vocabulary. She taught me about a new exciting tool, E-Lang, which allows you to enter any vocabulary list you have created and check how it is used in context in any online article. You will see the frequency of the words used. Also, this website has listening exercises and makes text corrections. Click tabs 3 and 4 to use.

Check this! by Valentina Dodge- Sorry to miss @vale360‘s presentation but heard it was recorded. Rumor has it I missed a fantastic presentation which showcased various techniques for handling learner accuracy and dealing with corrections or feedback when delivering blended learning courses. The presentation highlighted English 360, an innovative way to create materials. I saw a previous presentation about this website and highly recommend you check it out because really there are so many cool features to create interactive online materials. Here is Valentina’s presentation, Biodiversity & ELT.

English360 – Cambridge University Press from Atelier Transfert on Vimeo.

Captured on Video by Lindsay Clandfield- Sorry I missed Lindsay’s (@lclandfield) presentation that highlighted ways of using new kinds of videos and creating and subtitling videos. One tool he’s a master at is Overstream. Watch his film, Harrator, which was shown during the presentation!

Gems on the Web by Russell Stannard- Russell (@russell1955) is always a joy to watch. He’s really enthusiastic about web 2.0 tools and demonstrates them live in his presentations. Check out the video tutorials of the various websites he shared including Storybird, Writing Fun, and Mailvu on his website, Teacher Training Videos.

Using Podcasts in Foreign Language Teaching by Marianne Raynaud- Sorry to miss this! Marianne demonstrated how to make effective use of podcasts for standard listening comprehension, lab work, and homework assignments.

AVALON Language Learning in Second Life by Heike Philps- Sorry to miss this! Heike (@heikephilp presented about the AVALON EU project which aims to explore language learning in Second Life with 26 partners in 8 EU countries. Watch Heike’s Ignite presentation below:

Performance-based Business English: Boosting ROI for both students and HR by Cleve Miller- Sorry I missed @cleve360‘s presentation but was excited to see 3 Youtube videos of his presentation. Watch Part 1,  Part 2, and Part 3.

My Presentation! Global Class Projects: Extending learning beyond the classrooms- Watch the live webinar and find all the resources in this Global Projects wiki.

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