Posts Tagged PLN
This is my ninth year of blogging and I have just reached my 200th subscriber.
When I began blogging in June 2008 I managed to post nine posts in the first month. That’s heaps! I went back to browse them and was surprised – that I had written so much, but also that they were so short. These days I feel like everything I have to say needs so much explaining, so much backstory. It’s an occupational hazard. Writing lectures and research papers is wordy work, and that has truly seeped into all the other genres in my life.
Last weekend I was in Melbourne for VidCon, the first ever in Australia. It was amazing! More on that another time. And I met an excellent crowd of YouTube creators who are into education, and we had long and interesting talks. Getting to know each other, it was only when someone mentioned they have been blogging for a long time that I caught myself having not mentioned my blog. And I paused for thought. Then realised I hadn’t really, truly grasped the similarities between blogging (in which I am an old hand) and vlogging (in which I am a noob), until that moment.
(You mean I can transfer all this knowledge there? That is so darn handy right now.)
So, to articulate it for myself and others, here are the three big reasons why I still blog:
- I use the blog as a professional journal to reflect on my practice.
- I like to make a lot of my ideas and resources visible to others, because I trust the network and believe we are better when we share.
- The blog is like a pensieve. Or a portable hard drive for my mind.
ICYMI – in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Albus Dumbledore describes the penseive like this:
“I use the Pensieve. One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one’s leisure. It becomes easier to spot patterns and links, you understand, when they are in this form.”
It was very satisfying this week to get a notification from WordPress reminding me of my blogiversary.
Six years of blogging!
The time sure has flown. And although I still have much to learn about online writing, I can say with confidence that nothing beats the professional development and reflection that public writing has afforded me.
As if one milestone wasn’t enough, this was also the week that I clicked over the 10,000 tweet mark (!)
Sadly I missed the exact moment and didn’t get a screenshot, but here’s how it’s looking today:
2008 – what was happening?
A quick look at my profile stats shows that I joined Twitter in May 2008, and created my blog not long after in June 2008.
Around this time I was:
- 27 years old
- living in Southwest Sydney
- halfway into my second year of full time teaching
- part time enrolled in my PhD
- newly married
- on the ‘Web & Technology’ and ‘Curriculum and Assessment’ Committees of the NSW ETA
Whew! When that’s all written down in a list we can see it was big year! And that’s just the ‘big stuff’.
The ETA bit is important, because it’s through ETA work that I met one of my most influential and constant mentors, Darcy Moore – it was his persistent encouragement that persuaded me to start tweeting and blogging. His advice at the time, which has always stuck with me, was that I shouldn’t be afraid to put my views in the public domain, as long as they are views I am prepared to defend and stand by. In fact, the test of whether you are prepared to say something in public can be an excellent method for testing your convictions.
I’ve used the metaphor before, but real True Blood fans can stand to hear it twice: Darcy you’re the best ‘maker’ ever!
My other big digi-hat tips go to Bianca Hewes for being such an incredible force of energy and inspiration, and to Mary-Helen Ward who got me writing my first ever blog posts back at university on the internal network. You gals have left footprints all over my professional (and personal) life and I’m so grateful for it.
Milestones IRL – Work
The end of this semester also marks a non-virtual, real life work milestone: four years in one job.
Four. Years. In. One. Job.
It’s not for lack of stamina that I haven’t stayed anywhere else for longer than three years. I worked part time for awhile when I started my PhD. Then I taught for three years in one place before moving interstate and reseting the meter. So it’s not like I’m some kind of education sector Runaway Bride! Although I am also no Baby Boomer, and I confess the idea of staying in one job for a lifetime is simply unfathomable to me. I won’t bother linking to any of the plethora of ridiculous articles about how Gen Y make bad employees – as a Gen X/Gen Y ‘cusper’ I never see myself in those stories (I’m too young to relate to Winona Ryder in Reality Bites, and too old to pull off skinny jeans). But suffice to say that after four years in one job, I’m feeling a sense of stability that I’ve never known before. It’s nice. I’m finally standing still for long enough to start sharpening the saw.
Well, it turns out that this is my 299th blog post, so post number 300 is just around the corner 🙂
Other than that, I’m going to keep on keeping on with my online writing and continue to integrate digital communication/curation into my teaching practice. I’m working on a few scholarly journal articles for publication early next year, so my post-PhD academic writing funk looks like it may have finally run it’s course.
I’m trying to take a more active role in promoting our local English Teacher chat on Twitter (#ozengchat).
I’m slowly collecting my poetry teaching materials on the web for other teachers to access with ease.
Aside from that, time will tell.
But for now let me just say: thanks for reading, and happy blogging everyone!
Last week I was walking a colleague through Twitter and thought now may be a good time to pen a post with some tips for new users. In particular I want to encourage new users in the education sector to build their profile on Twitter and explore its potential as a personal learning network.
- I can check in any time and browse items that have been tweeted by people I have decided to follow
- It’s not full of banal updates about people’s personal life, as on Facebook
- If I don’t check it for ages I don’t get in trouble and there is no obligation to ‘catch up’ (unlike email)
- I have found the most amazing connections from around the world that I otherwise would not have – it is a real networking platform
In just a couple of weeks from now our Queensland English and literacy teaching associations are co-hosting our annual national conference. We have set up a Twitter handle (@EngLit2013) and declared a hashtag (#BNW13) for the event. With luck this medium will take off during the event and lots of teachers will experiment with using Twitter, perhaps for the first time.
This post, therefore, is written with school teachers and English/literacy educators in mind, as well as my colleagues at university.
If you have joined Twitter but still don’t really know what to do with it, this post is for you!
1. Hatch your egg
Many people I talk to feel nervous about writing their first tweet and following lots of people. So let’s not start there!
The first thing I like to get people doing with Twitter is making their profile page inviting to potential followers.
When you first create a profile on Twitter you will be given the default egg image as your picture. But you are not an egg! You aren’t even a chicken! You are a person!
It’s very important to update your profile picture, or ‘hatch you egg’, to show others that you are active online. By adding an avatar that better represents you, the service will also start to seem more interesting to you.
2. Add a bio
I rarely follow anyone who doesn’t have a bio, and many others have the same rule. Why? Not because I’m a Twitter-snob, but because without a bio it’s hard to tell who you freakin are!
Some people are reluctant to add a bio, worried that it will reveal too much about them, breach their privacy, or make them identifiable to their employer.
My tips for educators that are worried about such things are:
- Don’t feel pressured to name your workplace. Terms like ‘maths teacher’ or ‘science educator’ give us enough information to go on.
- Avoid declaring your religious or political affiliations, unless you are very comfortable doing so.
- Get in the habit of only saying things online that you would proudly stand by if your employer saw it.
- Don’t include your location if you have concerns about privacy or safety. You can always add this in later, once you are comfortable.
If in doubt, just browse a few other profiles until you get a feel for the kind of things people write. Many people are happy sharing that they are a husband, wife, parent of three, dog-lover etc. Writing such things is OK and entirely within the genre of a ‘professional’ bio. It’s all up to you and what you want to signal about yourself and your passions/priorities to others.
3. Follow about 15 people
I’ve heard a lot of recommendations about the ideal number of people to follow to get connections happening on Twitter. I suggest you will need to follow at least 50 people to see real ‘action’ on your feed…but following that many people is very overwhelming to most new users!
If you don’t follow enough people though, it will be difficult to see the point of Twitter.
So if you are a teacher trying to get the hang of microblogging I advise following about 15 other profiles straight away. This will give you enough material to read when you check Twitter that you are bound to find interesting things and start to see ‘the point’.
Here is a selection of profiles that I often recommend to English teachers new to Twitter:
- @edutopia (kick-ass education resources)
- @heyjudeonline (teacher-librarian)
- @BiancaH80 (English teacher)
- @Darcy1968 (Deputy Principal)
- @englishteachers (AATE – professional association)
If you are happy to follow celebrities there is also @MargaretAtwood, @stephenfry and @rickygervais. Sometimes they tweet A LOT though, so if that gets too intense, always feel free to UNFOLLOW people – we don’t take it personally on Twitter!
4. Write a tweet!
This is actually the easiest part.
You can choose to say something, ask a question, or share a link with others.
What you must keep in mind though is that Twitter is NOT Facebook. There are no ‘likes’ (though tweets can be re-tweeted or added to a favourites list) and many times you will say things that get no reply or comment. Not single one. Don’t be sad about this!
Be confident in the knowledge that people may be reading your tweets, but not replying. You will do this to them too – it’s OK.
Also be confident that even if no-one notices your tweet, that what you wrote was still worth saying. You might even come back to your own tweets every now and then to rediscover links or information you have shared. Your Twitter feed is as much for you as it is for others.
If you want lots of people to see your tweet you can include what is called a hashtag in your post – popular ones include #edchat and #edtech. There are also subject-specific hashtags, such as the #ozengchat tag for Australian English teachers to use for chatting.
5. That’s enough for now…go and get a coffee 🙂
Once you’ve added a profile picture and a bio, followed some people and posted a tweet, you are well on your way to being an effective microblogger.
Tweeting directly to people by including their handle (e.g. @kmcg2375) in your post and including hashtags can increase the number of replies you get, but you will find this out as you go.
One final thought for those of you who are wary of joining ‘yet another’ social media service…not all social networks are the same.
Give Twitter a decent try, checking in at least once a week for a month, you’ll see what I mean 🙂
Are you a teacher? An English teacher, perhaps? Trying to find where the good chats are on Twitter? Look no further! Start by searching for these three English-curriculum-related hashtags and you’ll be on your way to finding and conversing with other teachers just like you!
If you search for this hashtag on Tuesday nights, you’ll find Australian English teachers talking about their craft, ideas and resources.
The #ozengchat group also has a page on Edmodo, which is where voting for the weekly topic takes place (a group code for Edmodo can be obtained by tweeting @vivimat78). Vivian, who convenes the chat, also collects our chat tweets in a weekly online storyline using ‘Storify’.
#ozengchat officially takes place on Tuesday from 8.30pm – 9.30pm, Australian EDST (i.e. GMT +11)
As well as a special hashtag for Australian folk, there is also a more general #engchat hashtag that is coordinated for a more global chat.
Currently the #engchat tag seems to be heavily used by teachers in the US – as a result you can see some interesting discussion taking place there now about the implementation of ‘Common Core Standards’ across their states. And of course also a lot of resources being shared that we otherwise might not stumble across through our own local networks!
#engchat takes place at 7pm in the States (EST) every Monday, which is 10am – 12pm on Tuesdays in Australia (Eastern time).
You can follow the #literacies hashtag on the 1st and 3rd Thursday every month. The convenors are based in the US, so the chat happens on Thursday night for them, which is Friday lunch-time in Australia.
This chat is supported by a very up-to-date and informative blog, where a record is kept of the chats and upcoming topics.
The #literacies tag can be added to your tweets at any time, but Friday 12pm – 1pm (Eastern time) is when you’ll see it live in Australia (i.e. Thursday night 8-9pm in the US).
A tip for non-tweeters:
If you want to check out these tags, but don’t really want to get involved in Twitter or create your own account, never fear!
You can search for these tags any time by going to the Twitter homepage and typing the hashtag (complete with its ‘#’ at the start) into the search bubble. You will need to make your own account to reply with your own tweets, but until then there’s no harm in lurking and learning from afar 😉
Hi folks – it’s been a bit quiet here on the blog, I know.
All I can say is … omg MARKING!
I have always had an interest in assessment, but this semester has made really clear to me how dire the situation is with our current practices.
I don’t want to ‘buy out’ my marking (i.e.pay someone else to do it for me) but I feel like I am wasting so much of my time at the grindstone, like a machine, writing the same lines over and over in delightful pink pen in the margins of my students’ work.
“Check the APA style guide for rules about how to format this”
“Formal essays require shorter paragraphs than this”
“Avoid rhetorical questions – make strong statements instead”
“Use your introduction to tell me what your main points will actually be, not to explain the structure of your work”
“Don’t use a quote as a sentence on it’s own – introduce it i.e. ‘Sawyer (year) explains that…'”
“You have not included reference to any unit readings in this rationale”
I worry about RSI. I worry about carpal tunnel! Marking more tasks electronically next semester will hopefully fix the hand ache, but what about the mind ache??
I’m not alone – every teacher reading this knows what I mean.
What are we going to do about it?
This semester I have been leading a group of future Teacher Librarians through the Masters of Ed. unit ‘Youth, popular culture and texts‘.
For their second assignment they have to contribute to a group learning blog.
Here are links to blog posts from each of the SIX student blog groups that I will be charged with assessing at the end of October:
- Group M: http://jeanetteki.edublogs.org/2012/10/01/tv-shows-i-loved-growing-up-by-gina-mcpherson/
- Group C: http://cln647groupc.edublogs.org/sample-page/
- Group G: http://shellnye.edublogs.org/2012/09/16/successfully-logged-in-to-blog/
- Group R: http://whatishotandwhatisnot.edublogs.org/2012/10/10/gaming-as-learning/
- Group A: http://kpak.edublogs.org/2012/10/03/putting-the-social-into-reading/
- Group W: http://walwoowar.edublogs.org/2012/09/13/is-this-popular-culture-text/
I would be really grateful if folks could click through to any of these and drop a comment!
For many students in this unit it is their first attempt at adding to a blog like this – an extra comment here and there will make a big difference to their experience.
Thanks in advance 🙂
English teachers who blog
I’ve just come home from the AATE 2012 national conference in Sydney. It was exceptionally energising to spend two whole days and nights talking face-to-face with people in my PLN, as well as getting to know my colleagues better and meet new people.
One of the sessions that I spoke in was a panel discussion on being a teacher that blogs. Here is a piccie of me with the other panellists @Darcy1968 and @BiancaH80 with our chair @melanne_k:
Why we need more voices online
There are so many things I would love to write a blog post about, based on ideas I heard or conversations I had at the AATE conference. BUT – I know I won’t get a chance to write about them all! So, the first reason that more teachers need to blog is to literally get more of these ideas recorded:
- Andrew Burn outlined a ‘3Cs’ model of media literacy – Cultural, Critical, Creative. How does this differ to other models of literacy (e.g. Green’s 3D model, Luke & Freebody’s 4 Resources model)?
- Bianca’s presentation on Project Based Learning emphasised the role of assessment. I have also found this to be very important, have others?
- Gillian Whitlock from UQ presented some really interesting ideas about humanitarian perspectives on literature and children’s writing. She showed refugee writing from Australia and artwork that had been created to memorialise the refugee journey. Definitely someone in Queensland to talk to or hear from again!
- The hashtag #5bells was used pretty successfully as a conference backchannel, I thought! What can we learn from this and how can we improve the experience for 2013 in Brisbane?
- Vivian (@vivimat78) did us all a big favour by collecting many of the #5bells tweets via storify…this is super helpful and valued, as hashtags are no longer searchable, after a time period, and we don’t want to lose all that great sharing!
- Vivian also coordinates the #ozengchat twitter chat and edmodo group. What relationship might exist in the future between AATE and #ozengchat? How can/do they support each other?
- We got to say so much to each other in real life (IRL)! Talking uses up soooo many characters! Face-to-face conversations are fun 🙂
- Hip Hop – OMG Adam Bradley was convincing. All the copies of his ‘anthology’ book sold out, and so many people left the keynote ready to exchange their cardigans for hoodies… In response I’ve started a Twitter list: trust-me-i-m-cool for teachers looking for Aussie Hip Hop links. One love!
- I found the closing keynote by Bill Green and Jane Mills to be quite problematic. I understand their point to be that linguistic frameworks have taken over the analysis of ‘the visual’, and that ‘cinephiles’ understand film in a much more ‘visceral’ way. I don’t agree. I think this contrast is weird, given the way I cry like a baby when reading some books, and (I believe) can successfully understand the moving image, thank-you-very-much. I usually love Bill’s stuff, but would rather have heard about his theories on ‘spatial literacy’ than be told English teachers are inadequate at teaching film…wrong crowd for that idea bill and jane, wrong crowd indeed.
I’m sure there is more, but these are the big ideas that I would ideally tackle in the next couple of months. Who will help me? (Will it be you?)
Don’t do it for me, do it for you!
In the panel that we did, quite a few people wanted to talk about how to get more people commenting on their posts. This is a good question, and our suggestions included:
- Comment on other people’s posts so that they come and visit your blog
- Let people know you have written a post by putting the URL up on Twitter (you’ll need an account)
- Use categories and tags wisely to help search engines find your post
However, I really do believe in the power of reflective writing for learning, and I encourage any new blogger to write posts for themselves as much as for an imaginary audience. It’s OK to talk to yourself here!
Think about it – how many times have you tried to convince a student to do a piece of reflective writing for homework, because you know the benefits it will have for their learning? Writing up your experiences on a blog can have the same benefit for you! The mere process of deciding “what will I publish information about this time?” will put you more in touch with the successes and obstacles in your practice, I really do believe this.
So that’s the second big reason. Start a blog for yourself, because if you haven’t yet, then I think you need to.
If you think you “can’t find time to write anything, ever”, then making time to do this will hopefully help you see ways to make time for other things too. And don’t worry – the blogging police aren’t going to arrest you if you don’t add anything for 3 months!
And because all good things come in threes…
The third reason why more English teachers should start a blog is because teachers who blog and share their resources are usually friendly, generous and just plain fun to hang out with.
And the more we share our work and resources, hopefully the more time we can put back in to spending quality time with our students, friends and families x
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