The online collaboration tools that I believe impact educators professionally are Pinterest, Instragram, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Wikispaces.com, teachertube.com, Spellingcity.com, wordpress.com, Edutopia.org, ProTeacher.com, and Edublogs.org.
- Pinterest is a great online tool that allows virtually anyone to replicate ideas already created so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Users on Pinterest can “pin” what they believe is interesting to them and the “pin” can be saved in an organized category that the user has created. Educatorstechnology noted that “Pinterest has some educational potential that we need to capitalize on in our teaching” and that Pinterest can be used in several ways for educational purposes such as getting inspiration through other Pinterest users on classroom décor ideas, lesson plan ideas, and most importantly, creating an online professional community amongst other teachers on pinterest through personal interaction. Pinterest should not be used as an online platform to kill time, rather a platform that can help one develop as a teacher. “You might not have thought about using Pinterest as a personal development tool, but it works for that as well. There are ideas that can help you push your teaching to the next level” (Educatorstechnology, 2013).
- Instagram can be a very useful online collaboration tool. Instagram users can follow people of interest and examine photos that represent the user. For me, I use instagram as a means to find inspirational quotes that I can present to the class as an entry task.
- Twitter is another great online collaboration tool for educators to grow professionally. National Education Association (Nea) believes that “by following other educators’ tweets, teachers can keep up with the latest trends, news, and happenings in education, as well as communicate with fellow educators” (Nea, 2014). Twitter can impact educators greatly by having dialogue exchange with other educators to see what’s working and what’s not. Beyond educational leaders, twitter users can follow people of interest and the options are endless.
- Facebook is the most popular social network on the web. Facebook is very similar to Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest in that Facebook allows users to follow people of interest and receive “feeds” from those followed. Teachers can join professional communities and use these Facebook communities to interact and exchange ideas. Teachers can also create Facebook Groups that can allow teachers to communicate with parents. Clara Pek of Ed Week speaks highly of Facebook and explains that, “educators can share information such as upcoming school trips or provide contact details” (Pek, 2013).
- Google+ is much like Facebook, but is geared more towards young professionals. Google+ is a newer online platform than Facebook, but has many features that attract educators as these features play an important role for educators. Educators on Google+ can “hangout” a “free service offered by Google+ that allows educators to deliver virtual lessons to their students and give remedial work those in need of it” (Ed Week, 2012).
- Wikispaces.com is an excellent tool for teachers and students to create “wikispace classrooms”. By definition, a Wiki is a platform that allows collaborative editing of its content and structure by its users. Because of this freedom, everyone has a say and creates instant collaboration without emailing. The con of using a Wiki is that the content tends to get messy since it is being edited by multiple users. Nonetheless, wikis can impact educators greatly. An example is Wikispace.com. Wikispace.com users can create classrooms that promote active student engagement and can be used to formatively assess student’s content knowledge. Educators can then make informed decisions on their teaching based on students’ input within the wiki content.
- Teachertube is an online tool that I use frequently. Much like youtube, teachertube was created just for teachers to stream educational videos as well as blog and join different groups within teachertube. There are many beneficial videos that can enhance a lesson for a teacher. What I find helpful is that videos are categorized by topics and can make searching a video for a lesson much quicker!
- Spellingcity.com is a great tool to use when you want to reinforce practice of spelling words to students. This online tool can impact educators as it allows the educator to quickly gauge at students’ spelling records without collecting and checking papers. The spelling scores of students are done by Spellingcity’s automated record-keeping feature. This is a big time-saver for teachers, and going green is never a bad thing.
- I frequently use wordpress.com to blog and follow educational users. I also use wordpress.com to leave comments on blogs that I feel are insightful. Edutopia.org, Edublog.org and proteacher.com are great online collaboration tool as well as they provide articles on the most relevant topics in education as well as allowing users to become part of professional online community topics. By definition, a blog is a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group that is written in an informal or conversational style. Blogs such as edutopia.org, edublog.org and proteacher.com serves as a portal for teachers to interact and collaborate professionally on blogs of interest. These blogs are loaded with articles that relay important information to education and to some educators, certain articles that talk about tips and tricks can enhance best teaching practices to educators. Proteacher.com is one of my favorite online collaboration tools. There is a wide range of topics to join. Those that join range from new teachers to veteran teachers. I love the idea of threads. Everyone who is a part of the online community has a voice. New teachers can bounce ideas off of veteran teachers and use the ideas to enhance best practices.
The online collaboration tools that I believe are important to use to impact myself and other educators professionally are Pinterest, Twitter, and Edutopia.org.
To get the most out of Pinterest, I have created a pinterest world filled with ideas that interest me which I have organized by category. There are many ways that I support learning using Pinterest. I follow teacher users that have already pinned great resources in their profiles and follow certain boards from these users. By following specific boards, I will receive updates whenever something has been posted and I will immediately see it on my feed. Within the boards that I follow, there are classroom décor ideas, anchor chart ideas for math or ELA, project ideas, craft ideas and management ideas. The endless ideas available on Pinterest (especially classroom management ideas) can impact educators professionally as educators pick and choose which technique best fits them. For my own grade level purpose, I mainly follow users that have resources pinned for 5th grade teachers. This in turn impacts other 5th grade professional users that follow me and my boards as they can also receive updates on the 5th grade materials that I pin. There is a system and cycle that connects all the users together and receive updates from one another instantly as resources are pinned. Recently in our study of informational text, I recreated an anchor chart through a user that I follow on “evidence based terms”. This anchor chart became the core of my lesson as students are taught how to use evidence based terms when they are citing directly from the text or making inferences based on the support around the text. This became a meaningful and successful lesson due to the visual of the anchor chart. Though my lesson covered the basics of citing from a text, the complexity of this skill will be taught in greater depth as 5th grade students move to middle school and prepare them for high school and beyond. This anchor chart will help 5th grade students with the move towards college and career readiness (CCR) as pushed by the CCSS.
Twitter and edutopia.org are just as beneficial for educators to grow professionally. As an educator, I use Twitter to stay informed with education and anything new that might be taking place by reading and reflecting on articles that arise on my feed. The articles that I look into the most are articles relating to the Common Core State Standards as these standards are mandated for all public school teachers and it is always beneficial to stay informed, especially with the new standards in regards to best practices. Many professional users that I follow post student engagement articles filled with tips and tricks that I am not shy to use in my own classroom. The Danielson Framework as adopted by my school district that assesses teachers comprehensively, targets student engagement as one of their criterions. Through implementing ideas from the article on student engagement, my building administrators have seen growth in the area of student engagement during my pre-observation. Of course, there are seven other criterions that are assessed and I will continue to use Twitter to read articles that focus on the seven other criterions to help me grow professionally. I use edutopia.org to mainly participate in high collaborative communities and their discussions on articles as well as read related articles on comprehensive assessments. Curriculum night was recently held at my school and I had the luxury of hosting it in my classroom. Parents and grandparents attended and I had a high count of attendance in comparison to my 5th grade team. I came well prepared to answer any tough questions thrown at me by parents, and sure enough, a concerned parent asked me about the CCSS which was the toughest question that night. The topic discussions in edutopia.org prepared me for that question as I pulled from my bank of knowledge of the article on the CCSS. Rest assured, the parent walked away feeling more informed of the new standards and felt confident that I can help her child be successful and meet the new standards.
Edutopia.org, twitter and Pinterest are the three great online tools that support learning as well as have an impact on educators professionally.
Edutopia.org is a powerful online tool that I believe anyone in the education field can benefit from. This online tool has a format design that’s easy to navigate for both educators and parents. What’s nice is that Edutopia.org features the latest and greatest articles that appeals to educators that are written by reliable sources. To read up on the author of an article, you simply click on the name of the author and you are given a complete, professional profile of the author. The articles are written using research based information so that you know what you are reading is reliable. Another powerful aspect of each article is that they are recent. Many articles that are relevant to educators and offer many ideas teachers can try out on their own in their own classroom. Many articles also provide tips and tricks from experienced teachers which is a great tool for new teachers. As an educator, I want to read the latest and greatest from reliable sources whom I can trust and with edutopia.org, I trust each author with their expertise and experience of this field of work. The topics of each article can have a great impact on educators professionally as it provides great insight into the topic at hand. Collaborating in professional communities is also another aspect of edutopia that is powerful for educators. Outside from their own PLC group, educators can be a part of other PLC groups through edutopia. This provides learning opportunities for educators beyond the PLC group they are already with at work.
Twitter is another powerful online collaboration tool that educators should explore and use to have a great impact professionally as there is abundance of resources for educators to stay informed. William Ferriter of ASCD explains that Twitter can be a way to “share resources and lend quick support to peers with similar interest. For educators who use this tool to build a network of people whose Twitter messages connect to their work, Twitter becomes a constant source of new ideas to explore” (Ferriter, 2010). In twitter, you could “look inside the minds of motivated peers to learn about the new projects they were undertaking, the research reports they were studying, and Web sites they were exploring” (Ferriter, 2010). Twitter makes this possible. The hashtags used on Twitter is also a powerful feature. It allows users to view other related articles or thoughts associated to the hashtag. The abundance of great reads and exploring new ideas makes Twitter a tool that all educators should use.
Pinterest is a collaborative online tool that is growing by the day and if educators aren’t already on it, they should be. Pinterest offers many creative and innovative ideas from teaching to landscaping to beauty and health. The list of topics is endless. Besides the many great topics to pin, for educators, pinning teaching materials can change one’s world greatly. Pinterest offeres free printables that many other sites charge. Kelly Walsh of EmergingEdTech states “Pinterest has an overabundance of lesson plans and printable games that teachers can incorporate into their curriculum” (Walsh, 2013). “As teachers discover the power of using Pinterest as a teaching tool, we are seeing an increase of this site being used in the classroom and for homework assignments” (Walsh, 2013). Finding free teaching materials that align with the state standards is hard, but it is easy with Pinterest!
ANALYSIS & REFLECTION:
There are many online tools out on the web, but not all of them are resourceful as we would like. When you find the right ones as a means for teaching and growing professionally, use it to enhance instruction and work towards becoming a more proficient teacher. Throughout this course, I’ve searched many online tools that appear helpful, but the ones that I use personally would be Twitter, Pinterest and Edutopia.org to both find tools for teaching as well as help me develop a better framework for teaching. Online platforms such as Twitter, Pinterest and Edutopia.org all provide helpful and insightful information/tips that can be applied in the classroom. I’ve already utilized many of the tips and tricks offered on Twitter in my pre-observation and have seen growth in my teaching practices. Online collaboration tools also offer a domain for teachers to have discussions and get feedback from other teachers/professionals. These technological tools not only offer online collaboration, but “technology also changes the way teachers teach, offering educators effective ways to reach different types of learners and assess student understanding through multiple means” (Edutopia, 2014). This course provided me with extensive knowledge on choosing great online tools to enhance my profession and help my students in return with the knowledge that I’ve acquired through these tools.
- A future goal that I have for myself is to provide my colleagues with the most relevant, collaborative web tool that will benefit them within the next month during our PLC meeting.
- Another future goal that I have for myself is to compile relevant articles that share tips/tricks in education for my colleagues within the next month in our PLC.
30 ways teachers can use pinterest. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/05/30-ways-teachers-can-use-pinterest.html
Can tweeting help your teaching?. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/home/32641.htm
Pek, C. (2013, August 16). New how-to guide for using facebook in the classroom. Retrieved from http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teaching_now/2013/08/a_how-to_guide_for_teachers_using_facebook_in_the_classroom.html
Walsh, K. (2013, January 16). Three ways pinterest is getting used by teachers. Retrieved from http://www.emergingedtech.com/2013/01/three-ways-pinterest-is-getting-used-by-teachers/
Why integrate technology into the curriculum?: The reasons are many. (2014, April 13). Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-introduction
William, F. (2010, February). Digitally speaking / why teachers should try twitter. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb10/vol67/num05/Why-Teachers-Should-Try-Twitter.aspx