I have been out of my classroom for almost a year (ack!), but that doesn’t mean my learning or professional development ceased along with my physical absence.  In fact, quite the opposite, I began taking online course through UBC to keep a pulse on the job I love, and I’ve maintained my usual blog, twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook group followings.  Similarly to when I was working I find time each day to check in with at least one, sometimes all of those avenues to see what was trending, and to get inspiration for future lessons.

Another way I stay connected is through relationships with coworkers whom I love and respect.  I find having collegial partners who you can share, steal and bounce ideas off of is key in successful teaching.  I love finding ways to work with those special people who inspire me, an easy way of accomplishing this is through use of professional development days for team sharing and learning, as well as lunch time inquiry groups, and groups that have nothing to do with learning and teaching like run clubs!  These avenues have all  provided  me with quality and pertinent opportunities to discuss, and share professionally.  I can’t tell you how many amazing lessons have come out of afterschool runs!  I tell ya some of the greatest thinking happens when you have distracted your mind with something else (showers, driving, run club and that last 30 seconds before I fall asleep all illicit some of my best ideas).

I’d love to share with you some of my favourite resources and personal learning networks that I personally tap into on a regular basis:

Twitter: Edudemic

They are constantly tweeting great ideas and outlining how-to implement different forms of technology into your classroom easily.

Like this tweet:

In a recent post I mentioned their website as a great resource for teaching critical thinking, you can read that post here.

Pinterest:  I follow lots of teachers, and teaching groups.  I can’t even say there is one that is my favourite, because of the nature of the site it is easy to follow one link to another and one photo inspiration to another and before you know it you’re exploring the ideas that stand out more in depth on individual’s blogs or websites.   I find I don’t Pin as much because once I get excited about an idea I forget about organizing and keeping it for later in the efforts to implement it ASAP.  However, for those times I have pinned about education here is one of my  boards, which is simply a collection of things that interested me.

Facebook:  I follow Waiting for Superman (like the famous  and fabulous documentary), and Scholastic.

Being a part of the Scholastic group really saved me last year when I was trying to organize different literature circles following a theme of finding a sense of belonging.  Every day they post a 10 o’clock question of the day from a teacher and other educators from all over the world respond and share their ideas, so I contacted Scholastic in a private message and just like that my question was up and quickly answered. How cool is it that I was able to tap into a world wide collegial network of educators with literally the click of a few buttons?!  And I tell you what, out of the many (and I’m talking MANY) responses I found several new titles to choose from that tied in perfectly with the theme!  It felt like I had discovered some kind of cheat being about to find meaningful and useful information so quickly and easily.

Try as I might, my question is way too far back to track down even using the oh so powerful Google.  Here is an example of what one looks like:

Whether you’re connecting with teachers down the hall or across the globe I think staying in touch, having conversations and pushing our own thinking and learning beyond traditional boundaries is important to stay current.  If you really love your job, like I do, I find it actually leaves you feeling invigorated rather than exhausted!

I’d love to hear your feedback, what forums do you use to stay connected, extend your learning and better yourself professionally?

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9 thoughts on “Utilizing Social Media for Teaching Resources

  1. Like you I have looked to Pinterest for ideas. I like to see what is on Facebook, but have found it to be a time suck. i am avoiding it these days, and am instead using my time to sit in the lunch room and chat with my colleagues (so simple, so great).

    A daily walk through the neighbourhood with a colleague during lunch is a great way to bring fresh ideas and energy into my afternoon. I have actually begun to feel that the afternoon is a really productive time in my classroom!

    What I struggle with most is too many ideas. I have found that Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) has taken me on too many tangents with my planning. My grade partner teacher and I have mapped out the big themes in our year (for a recent Ministry review), which has been so helpful in making weekly decisions about units of inquiry, areas to build, etc. If only I could stay focused on what we have laid out and didn’t add at least two new activities from TpT!

    I find myself searching for more ideas on the topics agreed upon, ways to build deeper understanding, interesting tools or “hooks”, ideas that bring us to the same end but in a different way – and then feel that our days are too busy, too full!

    So, in an effort to focus, I have decided to pair down the online resources and to focus on the essential features of each area of study. For example, right now we are exploring 3D geometry, Valentine’s and mapping. I have focused my energy and efforts on ways to weave the key features of all of these into each other. And so, we played a math problem solving game using a map of Canada (Aggression by Gord from Math Pickle http://www.mathpickle.com/K-12/Videos.html), we are making a Heart Map (based on the book “My Map Book” by Sara Fanelli), and creating 3D shapes with toothpicks and clay. What a focused and successful week!

    1. Oh, that sounds like a fabulous resource! I am going to check it out. I love that you integrate and weave all your subjects together, it makes more sense that way! You have more time to really delve in deep, as opposed to just skimming the surface of many!

      I try and do that with Social Studies and Language Arts, and for the most part the two go hand in hand perfectly.

    2. I too struggle with too many ideas! I’m my own worst enemy. My gameplan is to narrow my focus and sustain my attention on that focus…easier said than done!

  2. I am in awe of your synthesis of multiple social media for a coherent focus. I’m struggling with this myself. However, as I’ll be on mat leave next year, maybe I’ll make it a goal to attempt this myself. I agree wholeheartedly regarding collaborating with colleagues!

  3. Great post Leah! You’ve masterfully embedded many different social media widgets and it looks great! Your ideas and brainstorming for collecting, collaborating and sharing back out again are wonderful. Good integration of many different subjects, ideas and concepts as well. Finally, excellent tagging, organization and multimedia post to capture your readers, and obviously, inspire a lot of good comments!

    1. Thank you so much Aaron, I appreciate the feedback! I also appreciate your posting using your VLNBUZZ profile as it introduced me to another of your great contributions!

  4. Hi Leah!

    Great practical list of links and groups. It took me a long time to read through your post because I kept getting sidetracked by all your intriguing links. So we know less than we did in the 80s, great… sigh. Oh well. We certainly can’t be spelling any better. I know I’m not (despite the last name — obtained by marriage, not birth).

    As for pro-d, I have some links on my blog, but as I think about it, the primary pro-d that has engaged my time and engergy over the past few years, has been courses like this on. Some have been better (for me) than others, but if I look back, I’ve certainly developed new understandings, skills, and perspectives in the process.

    1. I agree, courses like this are the best form of pro-d! I also find that our opportunities to work collaboratively were great too! Hearing perspectives from other enthusiastic and creative teachers is always engaging and fun.

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