For me one of the highlights of being a connected educator is participating in Twitterchats. These “virtual staff meetings” enable like-minded educators to “meet” and have discussions about a huge range of educational topics. I will never forget the thrill of my first ever twitterchat. (Yes, my husband does tell me I need to get out more!)
My first chat was the inspiring #titletalk which is run by the Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller. I couldn’t believe that I was actually chatting with one of my "eduheroes"- I learned so much in that one hour and subsequently spent a fortune at my local Children’s Bookshop! I was hooked.
Soon after my first #titletalk, the #edchatnz community was born thanks to the amazing Danielle Myburgh. This community has gone from strength to strength and in August I was lucky enough to attend the first ever #edchatnz conference in Auckland. The friends I have made and the learning I have received from this free, teacher-led professional development has been invaluable; my students are the ones who have benefitted most from my involvement in this professional learning.
I was excited when I first heard about educators using twitterchats with their students. It seemed a natural progression; surely this type of learning from our peers would be just as powerful for students as it is for their teachers. The #kidsedchatnz community is hugely successful thanks to seven amazing New Zealand teachers. Sadly, my class can’t take part in this due to timetabling but I have often looked over the chats later and been inspired by the depth of the children’s reflections and the supportive nature of their conversations. This chat is attracting worldwide attention; you can read more about it here.
My class have had a twitter account for a long time and we haven’t always taken advantage of the access to an authentic audience that this tool enables. So when one of my students suggested we turn to twitter to ask for book recommendations for our 40 Book Challenge, #kidsbookchat was born. Initially this started out as a slowchat, meaning we’d post a question and people could respond at any stage but the girls were keen to host a half hour twitter chat where classes or reading groups met synchronously to discuss books and share recommendations.
Our first chat was a general chat about reading habits, favourite books and favourite authors. It was a huge success and was the first time that our class twitter account had ever hit its limit for tweets sent in one day! The result was lots of new classes from Dunedin to Auckland for us to connect with and lots of new books to add to our “To Be Read” lists. The second chat was focused on dystopia, a genre that is enormously popular with many of my learners. This chat was optional in 8C as there are some students in my class that aren’t fans of this genre, however the vast majority chose to participate and many were swept along by the enthusiasm of other students and chose to give dystopian literature a second chance. We hold the chats in our library and there is always a flurry of book borrowing activity at the end of the session as the learners borrow titles that have been recommended.
Tomorrow is our third #kidsbookchat. We will be meeting at the #kidsbookchat hashtag at 11am to discuss Realistic Fiction. We hope that your class or a reading group can join us. Here is the link to the questions we will be asking.
We hope to "meet" you there!