November 23, 2016
Twitter is powerful.
Tweets can evoke responses, start movements, and create communities. Who can forget when George Couros rocked the Twitterverse with this teacher invitation? I share this same passion for Twitter in education, however, my journey was unique…
I love science. I love creating opportunities for students to love science.
Early on, I perceived that few really knew the science curriculum thoroughly. After all, science wasn’t math or reading. Students were required to learn about weather. But did that include clouds, the water cycle, tornadoes, and hurricanes? What about air pressure and convection? Will students research weather instruments, or was that covered in another grade’s curriculum? Misunderstanding these curriculum-specific objectives would be like ordering an “entrée, a side, and a drink,” and leaving it up to food service employees to answer their own essential questions.
In hopes of enhancing science instruction, I created science curriculum posters, and gave a set to each fifth grade teacher at my school. This particular set of posters features our current NC Science Essential Standards. Now, teachers can hold the science curriculum in their hands, referring to specific objectives during teaching, planning, and parent-teacher conferences.
But how you learn is even more important than what you learn. Students needed to be doing science. I created several models and hands-on learning opportunities for students to experience science. Instead of just talking, watching a video, going on the Internet, reading, or note-booking about science topics, students could now put their hands on actual models and manipulate features. Students could: demonstrate landform-changing processes by moving sediments through the Grand Canyon; label the stages of the water cycle; select which animals live in the rain forest; plant producers on the windward side and “dessert” the leeward side; and not only draw a sea breeze, but they could manipulate it based on time of day. These hands-on activities enriched student engagement by bringing curriculum to life!
In addition, I often took pictures, cut out articles, and recorded videos of real-world topics connected to our curriculum. As I felt the sand between my toes, and the tide carrying the sand away again, I couldn’t help but think of gravity, weathering, erosion, deposition, sea breezes, the water cycle, and even the changing seasons. I also captured hands-on learning in the classroom during my vacations, and personal experiences on the weekends. Students even brought in their own pictures! Then, students created posters featuring pictures, conversation bubbles, and specific curriculum objectives. In so doing, students were able to personalize, evaluate, and strengthen real world-curriculum connections.
And then Twitter happened…
Educators could have a wealth of integrated, efficiently-organized resources on their cell phones. Teachers should maximize Twitter’s potential to create a community around their curriculum. Use the power of the hashtag to: build objective-specific resources; share best practices; and bring the curriculum to life. Unleash the hashtag’s power by connecting pictures, videos, blogs, links, articles, and other resources to specific learning experiences. For example, I use #sci5E11 to feature topics relating to this fifth grade science weather unit objective. Any teacher may wish to introduce or review air pressure with this tweet.
What if every fifth grade science teacher in my town, county, or state tweeted and hashtagged to this objective? How might teaching and learning be enhanced then?
Educators have the opportunity to supplement their own curriculum resources through the power of the hashtag. One week, two months, or three years from now, educators may quickly reference exact content by searching curriculum hashtags. Furthermore, teachers in the same school, city, county, state – and beyond – benefit when they realize intentionally-designed vertical alignment. Over time, learning objectives will change, and teachers may create new hashtags matching new curricula.
Most importantly, students benefit when teachers can search a curriculum-specific library of educator-hashtagged resources. Educators must connect with each other, continuously improving, sharing and honing our ideas, skills, and resources for our students. Upon walking into the classroom, the principal’s not going to ask the teacher what’s being taught; the principal’s not going to look at curriculum posters, models, or pictures to find out the daily lesson; the principal’s going straight to the students to ask what they’re learning.