Archive for the ‘Education’ Category


Tweets from the Library

May 28, 2012

As Linda shares below, I discovered her while doing my research to write a Literary Review about using Web 2.0 to build your PLN. At the time, Linda’s article was the only one I could find that mentioned Twitter for Educators. Many teachers were talking about Twitter on blogs but there was hardly anything to be found in University data bases. I decided to follow Linda and last week end she wrote back. She also agreed to write about her experience here. Thank you Linda. 

I first experienced the world of web 2.0 and the power of social networking for professional development when I participated in the PLN 2008, a 12 week online course run by the School Library Association of Victoria I moved from Melbourne to Singapore in 2009, and was inspired to share the PLN with a group of colleagues there when it was run again in 2010. That course is a supported step into the unknown for the uninitiated, but as I undertook this for the second time myself , with the new tools that had come online since the first time, I gained greater confidence in establishing an online network of peers whom I could connect with for professional growth. I wrote about that experience in the FYI journal of SLAV, and that’s how Clare found me!

My professional  journey with colleagues at AIS and my PLN continues. This year we have our third PLN group at AIS, undertaking the PLN 2012. It is a small group, one of about 15 Teacher Inquiry Groups introduced in our school  this year. I am blogging about it here.  Leading this group compelled me to dust off a blog with a single post I started last December! One requirement of the group is that they start a blog, so of course I must too!

I have seen my own confidence and that of my library and teaching colleagues flourish as a result of  exposure to  the Vic PLN course; a lack of confidence, some degree of cynicism become replaced with  a willingness to take risks, try new things and greater trust of social media; a sensitising to the power of Personal Learning Networks.

My own network continues to grow. I took another look at Twitter after a colleague at AIS told me how valuable she finds it for professional learning. I have found groups I like to follow – #tlchat; #vicpln; #ozteachers; #edchat; #edtech,  to name a few.  As my Twitter use grew, I was compelled to set up Tweetdeck on my ipad. One of the teachers I follow here in Singapore – @robinthailand established a new social group here and we met for the first time on Friday – #profsocial. I met several people I had only previously known online!

New networks and tools have emerged since I wrote Staying connected.  Or at least my awareness of them is new. LinkedIn has really taken off as a professional network. I connect with groups like ALIA, and with library professional like Karen Bonnano whose posts I like to read. Library 2.0 is another great network and my library colleague and I participated in a number of sessions in their online conference last year. Through my subscription I get regular alerts to new webinars. has emerged as a great curation tool to follow. My favourites are School Library Advocacy curated by Karen Bonnano, and Social Networking For Information Professionals curated by Judy O’Connell.

Social networking for teachers is a powerful professional development tool that allows us to connect with inspirational and like-minded colleagues anywhere anytime. It’s the way I keep up to date and importantly, the way I stay motivated to learn and inspired to try new things.

Linda Twitchett. Head of Library and Information Services. Australian International School Singapore.



Learning Communities

May 13, 2012

Learning Communities

I first met Jonathon Pugh when he taught my daughter Year 7 Science in 2000. In 2012, we find ourselves teaching at the same school and though I teach in Primary and Jonathon in Secondary we regularly engage in dialogue as we make our lunch in the staff room. I shared with Jonathon that I was back at university and researching the value of web 2.0 to build your PLN. I discovered that Jonathon also had an interest in the topic of professional development and he ‘Twittered’ me this post. He asks some great questions! I’d love to know what you think.


Online Professional Learning- Virtually There?

May 12, 2012

I first met Peita late last year at a North/West Sydney REsearch Group Cocktail Party. It was an inspiring night listening to Alma Fleet as she reflected on her visit to the Preschools and Centres of Reggio Emilia, and the way this experience impacted her teaching. We had the opportunity to look at the incredible K-2 Learning Space in the school that hosted the event and to meet other like-minded educators. I stayed in touch with Peita, sharing my reflections and feedback from the night via email. I love to engage in dialogue with other professionals about the things that inspire our teaching and our philosophies around learning. This year I have been able to meet with Peita face to face, over email and now that we have established out Twitter hashtag  #nwsreggio we frequently share ideas through links on Twitter as well. I asked her if she would mind reflecting on that experience here. I also recommend the blog

Co- convening a professional learning network has its rewards and challenges. Developing opportunities for educators to learn together inspires dialogue and collaboration, sharing ideas across educational settings, ages and demographics. It is always rewarding to hear of experiences in the classroom that have been inspired by a conversation, speaker or question from one of our network meetings.

As a network we face several dilemmas. We are geographically large and our membership numbers have grown significantly over the past few years. Of course, the value we place on collaboration allows for a diverse range of views across the network; however we have found that the more the network grew, the more difficult it became for individual questions, projects and conversations to be shared.  The date and time of the meetings were also difficult to organise as the more members we had, the more commitments we need to schedule around, resulting in interested members being unable to attend.

Over several months the other convenor and I met to discuss how we can possibly meet the needs of the network as a whole, as well as individual members?   We decided to explore the possibility of online participation, allowing members to pose setting specific questions, reaching out to other network members for answers and ideas.

We began with a Twitter account, incorporating the hash tag #nwsreggio into our tweets to share readings, provocations and inspiring stories. We were able to share member responses to the recent Reggio Emilia Study Tour, and Karin Eskesen’s visit from Denmark.

We have also created a blog, hoping to share stories from teaching and the classroom with other like-minded educators. At this stage we are the only contributors, however it is being mentioned in Tweets by others. We are hoping that after our next face to face meeting more members will feel comfortable contributing, and sharing their own stories and responses to provocations.

Our first blog post was entitled “From little things, big things grow” and we hope that we have planted the seed for meaningful collaboration across and beyond our network without the restriction of time and distance.

Peita van Bussel


May 6, 2012

I don’t know Ashley, but I think this is a very inspiring post!

A Primary School Teacher

I had the privilege of attending and presenting at the TeachMeet held at Australian Catholic University last night. Not only were the presentations incredibly inspiring, but the energy and enthusiasm felt in the entire room was unbelievably motivational.

Take a look at #tmsydney for some inspiring people to follow and to read about some interesting points made in the presentations.

Below is a brief overview of my presentation about the benefits of Twitter and Blogging.

We are teaching in the 21st century, which means we need to teach in a way that suits our 21st century students. We need to ensure our students are learning the skills they need. After all, the top ten jobs in 2010, didn’t even exist in 2004. We need to prepare our students for jobs that don’t yet exist, to use technologies hat haven’t been invented yet in order to solve problems we don’t even…

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How do you learn?

May 3, 2012

I woke early in Paris, still getting over jetlag. My daughter slept. She is comfortable in her tiny apartment where she has spent the last four months whilst studying at The Sorbonne. As I lay there, I checked Twitter and linked my way through to some blogs. This habit is strangely refreshing even at the start of the day, even while I am on holidays and taking a break from my class. I guess when you are a teacher; you have an innate love of learning. You look for learning everywhere.

The first post I read for the day was from What Ed Said. She asked, “What are your beliefs about learning?” I pondered this question all day. I thought about it as my daughter pulled out the map and showed me where we would go. I thought about it as she translated the information about hiring a ‘Vélib’ bicycle. I thought about it as she rode along the Canal Saint Martin in front of me, so that I wouldn’t get lost in the busy traffic to Place des Vosges. I thought about it when she ordered our coffees in French and as we made our way up the stairs of Victor Hugo’s house. I thought about it as she purchased groceries to make me dinner on her one pot stove.

I remembered how lost she used to get when she first got her drivers’ license and didn’t even know her way to familiar places. I remembered the 6 year old she once was, who had no interest in taking the ‘trainer wheels’ off her two-wheeler bike. I remembered her grappling with concepts in high school novels. I remembered her not knowing how to make tomato soup, even out of a tin.

Yet, she has had an interest in France and its language for as long as I can remember.

“How do you learn?” I asked her at the end of the day. “How do you know how to read such complicated maps now? How did you master riding a bike? How do you manage always speaking in a foreign language? How did you learn to cook? How did you read ‘Les Miserables’ in French”

We discussed the possibilities of how she mastered so many things for the duration of my stay.

There are so many ways we learn.

Yesterday I posed the question to my class on Edmodo. I love their answers. I am probing them with more and more questions as to why they think they learn that way.

What about you? How do you learn? Do you learn from your PLN?


Using the power of connection to transform education.

April 28, 2012

I was sitting at Singapore airport waiting 10 hours for a connecting flight, making the best use possible of the free wifi when a tweet came from my friend, Row. She knows I am doing research for university about how educators can use Web 2.0 to build PLN. Here’s the tweet below.

The link Row sent enabled me to find a book, “Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connection to transform education.” By Will Richardson and Rob Mancabelli. I downloaded it to my Kindle. After the first couple of chapters I was inspired to think about what I am doing in my classroom to build the PLN of my Year 6 students.

Richardson and Mancabelli (2011) write, “Our schools need to harness each student’s natural propensity for participating in online spaces and funnel that energy into building powerful networks for learning that are used in every class almost every day” (p.7). This quote reminded me of an exciting initiative I took part in last year with my Kindergarten class. As a Kindergarten teacher I was a regular visitor to #kinderchat last year. I made a connection with Heidi Echternacht and Amy Murray who had the aim of connecting Kindergarten classes and their teachers around the globe. It was phenomenal! Heidi introduced me to Patty Johnson and for the last month of the Australian school year my class and Patty’s class exchanged Tweets.

I sent a message to Patty, (who you can follow on twitter @tori1074) asking if she would reflect on this experience.

This is what she wrote:

We started the Kindergarten Around the World Project back in November 2011.  This project came from a founding member of Kinderchat, a PLN formed by two K teachers wanting to reach out to other K teachers.   I remember signing up and waiting to see who my global partner In crime would be.   When the matchups were made, my K partner was Clare Froggatt who at that time was teaching in a K class in Australia.  I remember being super excited and pulling up a Google Map for my Kinders to see where our friends would be.   We discussed questions to ask and came up with things such as what kind of things they learned, what their favorite toys were, how old were they, etc.   When we started tweeting, my class and I were super excited to learn more about Australia and our friends.   We learned that when we were at school, it was night time for them.  We learned that our friends were all girls and went to an all girl school.  We also learned that they called their grades things like Year 1, Year 2, etc. which differed from our terms of First Grade, Second Grade, etc.  Our class learned that we had similar things in common such as a love of certain activities such as playing with dolls, riding bikes, and Recess time.

We enjoyed learning about our friends and really loved looking at a map.  We discussed how our friends wore uniforms like we did.  How our friends attended a private school as we did.  The Kinders figured out that if we wanted to visit our Twitter friends, they would have to go in a plane that would take a long time.  When we learned that our friends’ school year was ending in December, the Kinders were sad.  This led to conversations about the differences in seasons between Rochester, NY and Sydney, Australia.  It took some time, but they accepted that not all things were the same for all kids in our global world.  We said goodbye.

As I look back on this experience, I am amazed at how much we learned about our friends in Australia as well as how much I learned about Clare.  I learned that she has some amazing children who have been through a lot.  I learned more about Leukemia and about bone marrow (its importance).  I learned that she is a dedicated mother who is willing to do anything for her children.  I learned that Clare loves teaching and facilitates learning for her students.   I learned that we tend to have similar views on how children should learn (basically step back, and let them lead you).   I also learned about Audioboo and how to use it thanks to Clare.  It along with Twitter was a great way to write and “hear” our friends and also provided great conversations about the differences in how people talk/sound.

I enjoyed seeing how my Kinders would discuss what questions they wanted to ask their Twitter friends, as well as how much learning took place with just a simple tweet.  I think this experience showed me how not only adults should have a PLN or some sort of global pen-pal, but how it helps kids as well.  It’s important for them to connect with other children their age in different parts of the world so they can learn more about the world around them.  But, it should be done in a concrete way that they can understand and Twitter was an easy, meaningful way to do this.

Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R., (2011). Personal learning networks: Using the power of connection to transform education. United States: Solution Tree Press.


It’s all about relationships

April 25, 2012

This is a guest post written by Henrietta Miller. Henrietta is a stage three teacher at a K-12 girl’s school in Sydney. She blogs about teaching and learning at Classroom Chronicles and with her class at year 6rc.

I discovered Henrietta when a friend of mine Steve Collis retweeted an article about her in the Sydney Morning Herald. Henrietta sounded like an incredible teacher to know, so I followed her on Twitter. Later that term I was offered some casual teaching days, followed by a one term block of work at Henrietta’s school. Standing alone in the playground, I recognised Henrietta from her profile picture, making her way up to her classroom with her early morning pot of tea. By recess I plucked up the courage to introduce myself. I informed Henrietta that while she didn’t know me I had infact been following her on Twitter for quite some time. It was a fabulous icebreaker and before the end of the day we had booked ourselves into a conference in the city and arranged to travel together. It was a wonderful night meeting other Twitter ‘associates’ and sharing a meal together in a nearby restaurant. 


We stayed in touch after that, through Twitter, through attending an Interactive SMARTboard conference with Henrietta’s colleagues as well as a digital literacy conference where Henrietta was presenter. By the time I was due to start my block I felt very connected to my new colleague and the team she worked with. Although I teach elsewhere now the connections continue to deepen especially with the teachers who tweet.

Reflecting on one of the conferences we attended Henrietta said:

The best part about these two days was that we were not alone. We were lucky enough to go to this conference with five other staff members from our school. That represented nearly half our junior school staff. At least two others were following along the day’s tweet stream. Others would have been there but for holidays, wedding planning and sickness. We had never been to an event with so many other teachers from our school before and it certainly made for powerful learning and powerful connections. The opportunity to also meet with other teachers we only knew through twitter was great too.

To my mind joining together, whether at a local or interstate TeachMeet, at a conference, or at home via twitter, is all about building relationships. We need to be busy building relationships that will help to connect and bind us as teams. Whether they are school based teams, district based teams or twitter based teams. A team that works together, learns and shares together has to be a powerful force for change. And that again is at the core. For the sake of the future and all the students in our schools, teachers have to grow, teachers have to learn, teachers have to change, to develop and become 21st century educators.

Teachers who do this while in teams will not only be powerful forces for change. Together they will have much more fun doing it, than if they tried to run solo.