Thursday, December 19, 2013

Social Media Enhances Professional Development

Attending the annual National Council of Teachers of English Convention (NCTE) in Boston, I was thrilled to see the increased use of social media. During the Convention. Twitter was in full force, keeping those in attendance in person or virtually up to date minute-by-minute.

Principal Eric Sheninghan, New Milford High School, NJ, keynoted for the Council on English Education Opening Session. His focus was on how he uses social media extensively to connect globally and to communicate with the local community about school-related matters. Not surprisingly, Eric has over a half million Twitter followers.

Numerous sessions focused on blogging as a professional development tool and a means for students to reach beyond the classroom walls. One of my own presentations addressed training teachers to use blogging. Its accompanying slide presentation is embedded below.

Critical Inquiry and Collaboration: Training Teachers to Join the Blogosphere from Judy Arzt

I was entranced with Calgary, Canada high school teacher Pamela Hunnisett presentation on her use of blogging in the classroom. Check her blog for links to her presentation: NCTE13. Here, I recap what she had to say in her post "Why Blogging":

Over the past three years I have been piloting blog writing with my English classes to improve student writing and to introduce students to a 21st century collaborative web tool for learning. The blog offers a forum where students are motivated to write because their writing has an authentic audience, and it offers students opportunities to learn, research, and discuss their learning in a student-engaging forum. Students are taught how to communicate appropriately and respectfully in this forum.
Blogging has definitely surpassed all my expectations! First of all, students are crafting their “personal best” writing since it will be available to their peers for feedback. Secondly, students develop stronger academic habits of self-discipline, integrity, and responsibility. Finally, the most surprising benefit is that the blog has developed a trusting, compassionate, and respectful community virtually that has transferred into the classroom itself. Blogging has allowed our walls to literally and figuratively disappear as the students work together to inspire, encourage, and validate each other.
First grade Chicago teacher Kristen Ziemeke delivered another excellent presentation, focusing on how she uses social media and digital tools with her students. Her presentation was delivered in a slide presentation in which she featured how her students use iPads. Find out more about Kristen by visiting her website.