From cataloging with the Dewey Decimal System in 1876 to exploring wide open topics on digital search engines today… Oh, how the times have changed–Or have they? While some educators argue how the Dewey Decimal System was too linear and inflexible with changing times and genres, others race to throw their digital citizenship blankets over the next student’s [potentially] unfiltered Google Search or exploring on “unapproved” (or unbeknownst to adults) technologies. So, the question remains:

How can educators access and share learning resources efficiently? 

Teaching can be hard. Educators should be sharing resources to help each other become better for students. It’s frustrating to see educators overly-dependent on books, kits, technologies, and even curriculum guides. Those are some tools to appropriately address student learning needs and wonderment. But why aren’t we first utilizing our own experiences in our learning spaces, environments, homes, and communities as resources? The truth is that learning opportunities are all around us.

At the North Carolina Technology in Education Society (NCTIES) Conference, I presented on the power of the hashtag for teaching and learning as one part of #MeetMyPLN, coordinated by Melanie Farrell. My favorite part was our interactive breakout sessions, where I heard fellow educators voice the same challenges and needs for their teaching and learning journeys.

I did NOT know that my professional learning network would eventually change my life. My #connectededucator journey was late to bloom in 2013. I joined twitter just so I could create, publish, archive, and access fifth grade science objectives that were happening in the world all around us every day. There was a need to supplement curriculum to make student learning experiences better. Unparalleled in elementary school, it’s hard to teach and learn about specific, abstract weather concepts with fifth graders. But what if ALL North Carolina fifth grade science teachers shared how they were learning this 5E11 weather objective, by hashtagging their tweets with #sci5E11?

With a little creativity, we can genuinely enhance student learning experiences. With a little teamwork, we can facilitate our own personalized catalog of resources. Here’s How:

STEP 1: Download learning objectives to your phone or mobile device.

In today’s world, mobility is imperative!

  1. As an elementary science teacher, I have K-2 , 3-5, and even 6-8 North Carolina Science Essential Standards, as well as the common core app on my phone. When tweeting real world examples of STEM, I frequently refer to my phone to ensure I’m hashtagging the corresponding objective(s). Do you have the FREE common core app for Apple or Android? What if all fifth grade teachers hashtagged common core math like #math5NBT7, #math5MD1, or #math5G1?
  2. After doing this daily, I now have the entire K-5 science and most of the math curriculum memorized.
  3. In addition, this wonderful routine has helped me realize opportunities for vertical alignment between grades and among inherently broader topics.

STEP 2: Decide how you will hashtag your learning objectives.

Curriculum standards and objectives may be several characters long.

  1. Create hashtags that are concise and meaningful. Usually, the closer you tag to your actual standard or objective, the better learning goals may be communicated.
  2. Create hashtags that make sense to you and your learning community.
  3. Be sure to search your created hashtags before using in case they’re already in use. For example, I use #sci5E11 for fifth grade science weather objective 5E11: “Compare daily and seasonal changes in weather conditions (including wind speed and direction, precipitation, and temperature) and patterns.”

STEP 3: Make time to share tweetable learning objectives every day!

At school? At home? On a field trip? On summer vacation? In your backyard?

  1. Be open to seeing learning opportunities everywhere. The more you become familiar with your learning objectives, the more learning opportunities will become apparent to you.
  2. I DON’T HAVE TIME TO TWEET! Take a picture in the moment during the day. Then tweet the picture with some text and learning objective hashtag that night. Start with 1-2 a week. Then, challenge yourself to tweet one a day.

STEP 4: Spread the word!

Leverage learning potential with the power of your professional learning network.

  1. Most don’t have opportunities to see how fellow educators are uniquely teaching the same content. The professional learning network that hashtags together, stays together… And also meets face-to-face periodically. 
  2. Several educators are turning to Pinterest, Teachers-Pay-Teachers, and wide open Google searches to find exactly what they need, and yet they still have to edit content to make it best-fit their needs. I believe specific hashtagging is more efficient and valuable, because educators just like you share examples and resources of very specific learning objectives. Why backwards plan with broad, flashy ideas on the internet? With specific hashtagging, begin planning with the student learning objective in mind. 
  3. I LOVE seeing other educators beginning to hashtag their experiences with curriculum standards and objectives. This makes my heart smile.

Three What-Ifs and One Challenge

  1. What if students shared their learning in the same or similar manner?
  2. What if educators hashtagged examples to demonstrate the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTEISTE Teaching Standards and ISTE Student Standards?

3. This is my personal spin-off of George Couros‘ original tweet:

what-if-teachers-tweeted

I challenge YOU to take the #hashtag180 Challenge! I challenge you to tweet one experience on each of the 180 school days of the year, and hashtag it with your learning objective and #hashtag180. Are you up for the challenge?