Sunday, March 27, 2016

Good is hard and Teacher’s Aides Make Classrooms Better

Good is hard and Teacher’s Aides Make Classrooms Better

I've been try to contribute to my blog every week. It has not been working, which is to say I missed a couple entries and have actually fallen off to every other week. This is not to say I don't write a lot. I do write quite a bit.

The trouble I'm having right now is the depth of my writing. To write something that matters, has a bite to it or offers some kind of insight is difficult. Blogs have evolved from online diaries to respected journalism resources. Scholarly writing takes cognitive work. I feel I am creative but sometimes I find it difficult for me to say original stuff. I'm sure others feel this way.

Thoughts about the worthiness of technology integration and there multiple matrices fictitiously categorizing a teacher’s use of digital resources has me ruminating. I'm working on conjuring up a blog post focusing on these thoughts. I'm not there yet.

Today I worked in a friend's school. Katie MacFarland, the Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Canandaigua schools, cross contracted to have me provide professional development. The training was very low level and the paraprofessionals who work in the school rarely have professional development focused on their learning. I also think it is safe to say that there were many hesitant technology users in both groups I worked with.

I was hesitant as well. It is Good Friday and in Canandaigua's case the last day of work before vacation. These educators were not attending my workshop voluntarily but they were getting paid. These situations, although not ideal, happen and I know my colleagues throughout experience similar situations.

This was a great day. There were ups and downs. One of the downs occurred when I said "is it possible that you accidentally deleted your Google Doc." Instantaneously, a sheepish look came across this young ladies face while simultaneously pointing the finger at her friend who was helping her." I defused with zen-like comments about togetherness uttered in dulcet tones. The ups for today were all the smiling faces who thanked me and said they learned a lot.

I had a teacher's aide in my alternative education classroom. Darla Havens made my class better and I'm not sure I could have done it without her. I probably appreciate her more than she knows. Many teacher's aides have the same kind-hearted, compassion, and eager to please attitude as Darla Havens. Never forget about your teacher's aides or paraprofessionals. And if you are a teacher's aide or paraprofessional we appreciate you. You make our good classrooms better. Thank you.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

What is Twitter?

I'm still shocked at the amount of educators who do not use Twitter to learn. It seems like some teachers actively avoid Twitter because, I think, they are afraid that it will suck up their time, which we all know is already extremely limited. Twitter has helped me learn, helped promote what I do and has helped to inspire me to keep learning. If you don't know what Twitter is there is a part of me that wants to say "that's ok." There is another part of me that wants to recommend that you find a real estate agent to help you move from under the rock that you live.
Twitter is a micro-blogging site that allows users to converse with large or small audiences with a text message-type blurb in a 140 characters or fewer.  Messages or “tweets” can be sent via text message, from a regular computer or a mobile device, any mobile phone.  There are also a bunch of third-party Twitter applications that allow users to create time-delayed tweets, organize tweets into search-able columns by topic or rank tweets by popularity worldwide. People can also discover what is trending, or popular on Twitter, by checking out "moments."
The experience on Twitter really depends on how many people “follow” you and your tweets and who you follow.  Some people find that the people that they follow have nothing but negative things to say.  Others say that they find out information from Twitter that either mainstream media has not cover yet or will not cover because mainstream outlets do not find it important.  
Still others use Twitter as a tool for social justice and helping to cause positive change in the world by communicating ideas and beliefs that benefit people.  During the massive and destructive earthquake in Haiti, a plane from the program Doctors without Borders was attempting to land in Port-au-Prince.  The plane, filled with critical life-saving supplies, was unable to land due to the U.S. Air Force having taken over the airport.  People from all over the world started tweeting to the U.S. Air Force’s Twitter feed and an hour later the plane was able to land.  At one point the U.S. Air Force tweeted back and said they were working on it.
What can Twitter do for students?  Like any type of communication tool, Twitter can be used for negative as well as positive.  One negative use was reported by KNWA, which is a Television Channel from North Western Arkansas.  Three teenage girls were “picked up” for bullying a fellow teen on Twitter. The student who was bullied did not return to school for 3 days because her self-esteem had been so damaged.  
Other students had their self-esteem affected in a positive way.  Oscar Lozoria, a shy 14-year-old student from East Los Angeles, said that after tweeting in his high school social studies class, his fellow students no longer made fun of him.  Oscar goes on to say that he is respected by his peers for his thoughts that his classmates see in the form of tweets.  Oscar said that, “They see me as somebody now, like an equal.”
No matter how you view Twitter, it is important to know about.  Whether you are sending out tweets about how many pancakes you ate for breakfast or are receiving tweets from authors who have written books you are reading in class, this type of communication is something to be aware of and is not going away anytime soon.