Inaugural Social Sciences Chat

Last night was the first #socscichatnz where we discussed Social Sciences teaching and learning in NZ. The first session was pretty much a general chat, moderated by Mary Robinson we answered these questions:

  1. What do you love about teaching Social Sciences? (With a 1. What topics do you like to cover?)
  2. What frustrations are there with teaching Social Sciences? How do we overcome these?
  3. What’s the value in teaching Social Sciences in schools?
  4. What skills and content are key to teaching Social Sciences?
  5. Share a great Social Sciences lesson you have taught this year

Here’s a storify of highlights from the chat.

These chats are running Monthly 8.30pm on the 3rd Sunday of the month. This means the next chat will be on November 16th at 8.30pm. Some ideas were gathered at the end of last night’s chat for the next topic so a poll will probably come out before then through @socscichatnz.

What are we doing to provide for learners born in 100 years?

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I am a big fan of twitter chats and regularly take part in many chats based in various countries. Recently, however, I have found that they are becoming ego chambers filled with back patting and lacking critical thought. Still doing great things to connect educators, share ideas and support each other but not really allowing time or space for critical discussion to occur.

That is until the 2nd Birthday of #edchatnz last night. It was a doozy! The topic was “How can we meet students’ needs when the world changes so fast” and Rachel Bolstad (@shiftingthinkng) gave a masterclass in developing critical discussion within the fast-paced environment of a twitter chat.
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Why do we find it so hard to switch off?

I have noticed recently (in myself and in many others) that we as teachers seem to find it extremely difficult to switch off from our jobs.

It’s the weekend at the end of our first week back and many of my PLN are currently at Edu Camp Auckland. Others who aren’t there are sending tweets that pretty much apologise for not being there but promising to check in on the hashtag throughout the day. The recent holidays saw lots of conferences occurring where similar situations happened each time.

Twitter chats bring on the same type of comments. Those heavily involved sharing their ideas throughout the hour, supplemented by those apologising for not being able to make it or for only being able to pop into the chat briefly.

 

Other teachers in the last break were going on overseas holidays excited at the chance to catch up on educational readings – those books that look like they will help us improve but there was just no time during term. Do other professions take their professional development reading with them on break???

I know my connections online are all extremely committed professionals who not only want to improve their practice but want to help others do the same. I’m also certain that there are thousands of other educators around New Zealand (and possibly millions around the world) who are doing the same things we are.

I am currently looking at taking up some more opportunities to get involved further in the education system and talked last night with my partner about the implications of this for our family. Her response: “it’s what you do.”

Why is it that as educators we find it so hard to switch off from learning, discussing, reflecting etc.?

 

This post is Day 26 of My Questioning Quest. It was prompted by observations of myself and my PLN plus this awesome post by Brie Jessen-Vaughan on switching off from twitter for 6 weeks and is feeling so refreshed because of it.

How Might We create the learning experience of a conference more regularly?

Since my post on overcoming the conference to classroom chasm I have been wondering about maintaining the intense learning atmosphere of a conference when we are no longer all together.

Now, twitter is great for continually accessing information, ideas and resources but there is something all together different about the learning and networking that occurs at a conference. The Network for Learning Pond may be aiming to provide this for New Zealand teachers but at the moment is just a search engine, I look forward to seeing what the Communities function looks like when it is released.

Last year as we designed how Hobsonville Point Secondary School would operate we often talked about how it was exhausting even though we had no students. We realised it was because we were effectively living in a conference 24/7. We were given time to rethink education and were encouraged to read as much as possible (see here for readings that influenced us in our first term).

I still am privileged to work at HPSS and get access to amazing PD and rich learning conversations daily. We have, however, stopped sharing our reading as much as we used to and I miss those amazing conversations that developed as we shared and critiqued things we had read.

Then today, a great conversation erupted on twitter with @AKeenReader @chasingalyx @beechEdesignz @mattynicoll @shiftingthinkng @MissDtheTeacher and @mrs_hyde about sharing some of our edu-nerd reading we are doing. End outcome is that we are meeting/holding a workshop at the #EdChatNZ conference to organise a book chat to happen once a term where we read the same Edu book then meet up online (twitter or GHO) to discuss how we found it.

So now, I have my daily conversations, regular school PD, twitter chats, the odd Google Hangout (with long term critical friend Michael Harcourt or with new US critical friends Grant Lichtman, Bo Adams and Thomas Steele-Maley)  a new Edu-Nerd book club plus 2 conferences in this next term. Think I’m good for maintaining that conference feel, how are you going to keep the learning going?

 

This post is Day 19 of My Questioning Quest.

Advice for Twitter Chats

From a small start at the end of 2012, the NZ twitter education chat #edchatnz has grown exponentially. The last chat had around 1000 tweets in the 60 minutes that the chat ran for. It was moving so fast that some very experienced Edchatters were struggling to keep up with what was happening, let alone those new to taking part. There are lots of posts out there offering advice for teachers new to twitter (such as this great one by @lisa_madden) but not much advice on venturing into the often fast moving world of a twitter chat. Hence, this post: How to take part in the awesome learning of a twitter chat when you are new to them.
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