TPD – The Twittersphere and the world of Twitter Professional Development

As school budgets are increasingly over-stretched, with the challenge of the ever changing curriculum and the looming new exam specs (for some of us both GCSE and A Level in Sept 2016), surely TPD (Twitter Professional Development) is more important ever.
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With time and budget restraints external CPD opportunities beyond school, courses etc.  are far less than they ever have been for many of us. Many of us get flyers for courses on a weekly basis but how many just get binned without a second look? I suspect this is more the acceptance that there just aren’t the resources to even consider them not that they wouldn’t be welcome as  fresh updates. With the pressures of the new GCSEs and A Levels fast approaching, any funding and time there is will inevitably need to be targeted at days out run by exam boards and supporting organisations to prepare for these. With TPD, ‘continuing’ professional development’ really does take place, on a ‘continual’ basis! Rather than going on one specific course, the twittersphere exposes educators to a plethora of resources and knowledge which can enrich your professional development far more (and for free!) on a daily basis.

twitterSo why engage with twitter – what actually are the benefits? One of the best justifications is given here “Why twitter matters in education” Supporting collaboration between departments, facilitating the sharing of resources and ideas and engaging in professional dialogue not just on subject specialist areas but wider pedagogical development and education policy changes are but a few reasons ! I am very lucky to have a large department, but if you are in a small department then twitter can lead to world of possibilities and ideas that would have been difficult as a small department ploughing a lonely furrow. With TPD you can ‘pay it forward’ and collaborate – learn every day, share every day.

TPD doesn’t have to just be ‘virtual CPD’, for me it has lead to many contacts that have been followed up with emails, visits and collaborative projects and most importantly dialogue. Dialogue with other professionals with a diverse range of experience to share and from countries across the globe! Sharing ideas and discussing pedagogy with teachers from Australia, America, Indonesia, to name but a few is now part of my daily professional development.

So how do you get started with twitter? How do you really start to engage with it and for some of us, how do you convince sceptics to also give it a go! For a number of years I was that sceptic – I didn’t see how sharing my every movement in a 140 character tweet would be at all beneficial and was indeed just a waste of my time! Thankfully I listened. I realised it wasn’t about that at all. I listened and gave it a go. I realised that, like most things, it all comes down to how you use it. Social media can be used for a variety of purposes and as a professional you choose the tool which best first the purpose you wish to use it for. I use Facebook for my ‘social connections’ and twitter is my professional development outlet.

Yes you can easily spend hours on twitter but “why would I? I have a life” is often used as just an excuse not to try it. Time is undoubtedly the biggest barrier for all of us, with so many pressures, but you don’t have to be the person that tweets frequently or is always sharing resources. You can be someone that checks once a week when you might have 5 minutes. If you choose start by simply following a few people with similar interests / subject focuses it can have quite an immediate impact in terms of practical ideas that you can try out in the classroom. If it doesn’t work after having given it a proper go (investing just a little time to use it properly) then you haven’t lost a lot and you can go back to what works for you but I firmly believe that TPD has a lot to offer and shouldn’t be dismissed (or worse mocked) without at least giving it a go!

There are so many excellent starting points for teachers wishing to engage with twitter – here are few of the best ones…

10 steps to creating the perfect educational twitter account

10 Tips for Tweeting Teachers

Beginners Guide to Twitter

A longer list of useful links to support the use of twitter in education can be found here supporting both beginners and the more advanced.

Don’t forget that twitter can also be used in the classroom – not just for professional development. Many educators across the globe now utilise twitter in and out of the classroom (remember to check your own school policy with regard to twitter use). This site provides links to 100 ways to teach with twitter.

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Beginners Guide to Blogging

Start BlogBlogging is a fantastic tool for supporting teaching and learning as well as for personal professional development and reflection on areas of particular interest. With many online blogging sites available such as wordpress.com you don’t need to be a computer expert or understand .html to set up your own blog. If you are interested in keeping a blog or using blogging in the classroom check out http://startbloggingonline.com/ an excellent beginners guide on how to set up a blog by Mike Wallagher – very user friendly and everything you need to know! With the new academic year not far off maybe a blog is part of your new years education resolution!

iPad Bulletin – issue 9 (Apps Focus – Geography)

iPad Bulletin 9

You may have noticed that at the moment this has become a fortnightly bulletin rather than weekly – mainly due to time pressures! Hopefully it will give people more time to digest and try things out! Click here to download this week’s bulletin.

ICT Support on Teachers TV

Teachers TV is an excellent source of inspiration for ideas for using ICT in the classroom and has many excellent programmes which can be watched online. There is useful search function on the website. The videos can be played directly from the website (see screenshot) or downloaded. Below are just a few examples of some of the fantastic videos available:

General Videos linked to use of ICT

TOP 10 ON THE WEB SERIES – For subject specific areas – a series of programmes based on secondary subjects and websites that can be used to support teaching and learning in these subjects:

Hard to Teach:

Using Audio-visual resources in classroom (1) – Creating resources using Moviemaker

Audio_Visual

Last weeks Teaching and Learning group meeting was focused on looking at the use of audio-visual resources in the classroom.

Audio-visual resources can greatly enrich the everyday classroom bringing to life teaching and learning opportunities and giving the potential to bring the outside world into the classroom broadening and enhancing our students experience. There are many ways in which audio-visual resources can be utilised and this is an area we will keep returning to.

The aim of our last session however was to look specifically at the use of combining audio, video and images to create short educational presentations in video format which can be played using programmes such as Windows Media Player or Real Player, or converted to a .flv file (using zamzar) and inserted into a Smart notebook file and then annotated etc.

Using video presentations in the classroom:

Examples of how Audio-Visual Resources might be used in the context of short video presentations:

  • Creating an atmosphere and setting the scene for a task
  • Providing a stimulus for students to help them empathise with others as well as develop their understanding of the subject
  • Introduce a new topic
  • For the creation of quizzes and revision opportunities
  • Explain and demonstrate a concept
  • Celebrating achievement, recording experiences such as fieldtrips etc. (although child protection issues must be considered carefully with relation to storage and use of images)
  • To widen the experience for students and present things in other ways

At the meeting I showed example presentations for each of the above – if you were not able to be there and would like to see them to get an idea of how moviemaker can be put to use give me a shout!

There are many programmes which can be used to create video presentations and they vary in their degree of sophistication and thus what is achievable. A great starting point, is Windows Moviemaker, which is a free application which is available on all computers which run Windows.

Using Windows Moviemaker

1. Instructions for creating a simple movie – I have created a simple set of instructions which can be downloaded here on how to create a simple movie using Windows Moviemaker – including the addition of images, video, text, audio etc.

The important thing to remember is that there are TWO stages that you must go through when you actually save your movie. (i) Save Project as (this saves the actual file so that you can come back and edit it) (ii) Save Movie File (you must do this so that you can play back your movie in the classroom! – remember it is the .wmv file you will need to save and take in!). Please read the full explanation of this in the instructions leaflet.

2. Getting used to the interface – the Windows movie maker interface is very user friendly – this downloadable outline may help you identify the main parts of the interface that you will be using frequently.

Interface

There are lots of resources and ideas for using Windows Moviemaker – including some great templates for giving a really professional look to your videos. Try out the following two links for some further ideas (thanks to Adam Lawson for suggesting these):

  • Windows Movie Makers forum – lots of great ideas as well as a forum where you can seek help!
  • Hit the Bongo – some great extra titles and transitions here which you can download and make use of (including the James Bond example shown in the meeting!)

Copyright Issues

Please make sure that you bear in mind copyright issues when making audio-visual resources  – particularly if you are sharing resources with students on line. There are many photographs, music etc. which are shared under creative commons licenses which enables them to be used in creation of resources as long as the owner of the copyright is credited (e.g. in a credit list at the end).

Here are some examples of sources of audio-visual materials:

Photographs:

(most just require credit to owner of photograph (could include credits list at end!) – see the terms and conditions on individual sites from more details)

Video:

Some video clips – such as those in YouTube can be downloaded using zamzar (www.zamzar.com) into a format which can then be used in video editing software.

Music / Soundtracks / Spoken Word

Lesson Activity Toolkit Version 2.0! The Update is here!

Those of you with an IWB who have found the templates, quizzes etc. in the Lesson Activity Toolkit (1.0) useful will be glad to hear that the new 2.0 version has now been released by SMART (thanks to Whiteboard blog for the heads up on this). You can download an introduction to the 2.0 toolkit here which gives an overview of the type of content. As well as all the favourites from 1.0 there are some new tools and templates in this version and I will aim to highlight some of these over the next few weeks.

To update your version of the toolkit, either in your classroom or on your home PC, simply download and follow these simple instructions: Instructions-for-updating-lesson-activity-toolkit-1 . Any problems please let me know. venndiagram1

Enhancing teaching and learning with ICT

This morning I was at Homerton in Cambridge working with the Faculty of Education PGCE Geography students, looking at the way ICT can be used to enhance the teaching and learning of geography. We talked about department websites, VLEs, blogs, wikis, podcasts and the Interactive Whiteboard. Obviously many ideas are generic and can easily be applied to other subject areas. So in case anyone would like to find out more, the presentation I gave is below and the follow up materials and links are available here. Give me a shout if you have any questions.