Friday, 6 December 2013

Being a connected Educator

Being a connected educator started for me one year ago.  It all started with a colleague of mine trying twitter for homework purposes.  I always wanted to try this and needed a push to do it.  This was my push and I am thankful for it.  Of course when I started out i just creeped a little, retweeted a couple of things and then started posting ideas and thoughts.  I finally found some great chats and learned a lot of that has changed many of my views on education.  However, it wasn't until this year and two experiences in particular that i would say I became a connected educator.

The first experience is meeting an amazing teacher.  Now when I say meet I mean online and through her posts.  I haven't actually met her in person, though I can't wait for that to happen (if it ever does).  The person I am referring to is Aviva Dunsinger @avivaloca.  By connecting to her blog and talking to her on twitter, emails and storify she has changed many of my views and thinking on teaching.  Because of her I have been more connected to my parents, learned more about inquiry and have struggled a little less in my transition to grade two from grade four.  Now some of you may say, how is this different from meeting great educators in person.  I would saying nothing; however, without twitter I would never have met Aviva.  We may never have talked and our paths may never have crossed.  This story is the same for many of the amazing people I have met on Twitter,who without it I never would have talked too.

My second experience is something that I am really proud about and has just recently happened.  It all started with a post from Angela Moses @Motechchef, another great educator.  She posted that she was having her kids rewrite the story of How the Grinch Stole Christmas from the Grinch's point of view.  I thought this was an amazing idea and so did another educator Carol McLaughlin.  Somehow after talking to the two of them we decided to collaborate together and have our three classes write the book together.  So even though we were separated by many kilometers (or miles) and time zones our classes were connected.  This would never have been possible without twitter. 

For this project Angela created a google doc to record our thinking.  You can also read her blog post here: You can also see our discussion here:  Carol created a great graphic organizer to help the students understand the Grinch's feelings and I created a dropbox account for us to share pics and other things.

However, our learning hasn't stopped at making a story.  We have been posting pictures between classes.  Carol and my class have been blogging and I will be skyping  with Angela's class later next week.  The kids through twitter have been sharing their amazing ideas and have pushed each others thinking beyond the twenty or so in the classroom.  Not only this but they have been so engaged because of this collaboration.

So I ask you how have you been a connected educator?  Who do you think has helped you on your way?  Anyone that is great person to talk to, collaborate with or follow?


  1. Wow! Thank you so much for including me in this post, Jonathan! I just LOVE that we've met through Twitter, and I talk about you all the time at school. In fact, Jo-Ann Corbin-Harper - @6chotline - (a Grade 8 teacher at my school) and I were discussing you at our Staff Meeting the other day. We both want to come and visit your class, and we have a plan to make this work. I'm hoping that you'll be up for visitors! :)

    Please know that I feel the same way about you too! You've really pushed my thinking, especially when it comes to learning in math, and I appreciate all of the rich dialogue both through Twitter and through my blog. Thank you for everything! You're a fantastic teacher that I feel privileged to "know" (even if I've never "met" you before)!


  2. Thanks Aviva for the comment. It means a lot that you think the same way. Great minds think a like. I remember Jo-Ann, we have had some great discussions too. I would so be up for a visit and meeting in person. We are on break soon (only one week left) but will be back when you return too. Let me know what your idea is. Thanks again for the comment.

  3. Thanks for including me in your post. Isn't twitter amazing for expanding our resources? And not only do we benefit but our students benefit even more. I think it's so funny when one tweet becomes an event. I am so excited to work on the Grinch project with my students and then being able to share with the other classes. Educators are better together. We all have ideas that make learning deeper and more engaging. I wish I could see your classroom in person but technology helps me see all the amazing things you are doing. So honored to be a part of this project and to be learning with you!

  4. Carol I am honoured to be a part of the project with the two of you. You are all amazing people and I can't wait to see the amazing final product. Wish we could be teaching together too.

  5. I concur, joining twitter for PLN (last Sept) was the best risk I ever took. Adding a class account this September has also been rewarding in ways I didn't see possible. My "Aviva" (though really, I adore Aviva) is Nancy, @World_of_K, also in Aviva's board to the west of us Peel folks. Since finding and following her, and by her example starting a class twitter too, many more tremendously inspiring people have made this the best PD and most enjoyable learning space.
    I have also delighted in sharing what you do, as my school becomes more interested in inquiry across all grades, and some teams run with it while others are taking their early, cautious steps. I keep coming back to the sharing and problem-solving between you and Aviva as the best example of reflective educators sharing their successes and "failures" alike. Though I'm reluctant to say failures, because the rich learning that comes can't be called failure!
    I really enjoy this collaboration and am glad to have found you. Next time we're at a #TLDW meetup, I'll have about 100 questions for you!

  6. Thanks laurel for the comment. It's been a lot of fun watching your class in k. Ever time you post I run down to the k classes and then tell them what you just did. It's been an amazing journey, inquiry takes time for some people. It's hard to let go of "the familiar" and give control. Also as teachers we innately want to make a kid succeed it's hard to hold back when they are in disequilibrium but it's so rewarding when they get it.

    Always happy to talk about education. Also excited to try vine but may start it after the break. Too many things on the go. The next Peel meet will defiantly find eachother.