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Category: Twitter

STEM Connections – Building a Professional Learning Network (#primarySTEMchat)

This article was originally written in collaboration with Rachael Lehr (@rachaellehr ) for the 2019 STEM X Academy cohort, on behalf of the Australian Science Teachers’ Association. I’m republishing it here with Rachael’s permission.

For more information about STEM X, please visit https://asta.edu.au/programs/stemx

For many of us arriving at STEM X, we are one of the few, if not the only, educators in our schools with a passion and interest in STEM. We are the ‘lone wolves’; and at times this can be a lonely and frustrating experience. It doesn’t have to be this way.

The concept of a Professional Learning Network, or PLN, has been around for some years. It is founded on the idea that “We are better together”; that in order to help us be the best teacher we can be, we want to continually improve our practice and be lifelong learners. Creating an online PLN of passionate educators interested in STEM is a great way of doing this. 

In a constantly changing technological world, the STEM learning landscape is always shifting, and through a connected online world, we can keep abreast of these new developments. It is rare for a teacher to ever have a unique teaching idea that hasn’t been based on something already done; and through an online PLN we can share and improve on others’ ideas that will enhance our practice, giving credit where it is due. 

When we share our teaching ideas and our students’ learning through various online platforms, we provide our students with an opportunity to showcase their learning, and connect with real world experts beyond the classroom walls. This helps us as teachers to be focused on creating truly engaging and authentic lessons that we would be proud to share. With the focus on STEM learning being about ‘real-world’ problem solving, belonging to various social media platforms often provides inspiration for these real world problems that students can address.

As connected educators, our online personal learning networks have empowered us to reflect on and improve our practice over the years. We use different social media platforms and online events to access specific and targeted professional learning. We use our networks to ask questions, seek inspiration, and find new ideas – anywhere, any time. There have been times where we’ve participated in online events in our PJs – in one memorable case, at 3AM in the morning.

Engaging in online networks has enabled us to form connections and friendships with educators around Australia and around the world. These connections have allowed us to meet, work, and present alongside our online colleagues face-to-face. We like to focus on our students developing 21st Century Skills such as collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and communication and through being involved in online PLNs we can build and model these skills for our students.

 

Where to begin?

By just being selected for the STEM X Academy, you have become a member of one of the most vibrant and influential STEM professional learning networks in Australia. Use your time together to connect, swap stories, and follow each-other on social media. These connections can make a real difference in years to come.

The following social media platforms and resources might be helpful as you start out on your connected educator journey. As connected educators, we use a range of platforms for different purposes. In order to avoid being overwhelmed, we would recommend you start out with just one or two, ideally Twitter.

Twitter

You can use Twitter to connect with Australian and international STEM experts and scientists in the field, and to keep up to date with ongoing science exploration missions – from the Amazon rainforest, to Antartica, or beyond Pluto with the New Horizons team.

You can also follow conference events, and join online chats using hashtags like #STEM #STEAM #STEMed #STEAMedu #DESTEM and chat hashtags like #aussieED #21cEDChat #PrimarySTEMChat and then connect with educators who participate. Look for passionate STEM educators and follow people they are following.

STEM Educators Twitter List – https://twitter.com/rachaellehr/lists/primarystemchat

 

Twitter Chats

  • #21cEDChat Tuesdays 9:30 AEDT hosted by @ScitechPL and guest hosts
  • #PrimarySTEMChat Thursdays 8:30pm AEDT hosted by @rachaellehr and @aidancornelius
  • #aussieED Sundays 8:30pm AEDT hosted by @aussieEDchat @MRsalakas @ZeinaChalich @hollis_k_ @madgiemgEDU

Join in live or contribute your ideas after. These chats generally follow to process of a question being posted every 10 minutes and participants respond with their answers at the time. Chats can get quite busy so using an app like Tweetdeck is incredibly helpful. This allows you to follow the host and the hashtag in columns and assists in keeping up with the conversation.

#PrimarySTEMChat creates a story of the chat after and @rachaellehr posts this to her Twitter feed and this is great way to review everything that is shared during the chat in your own time. These are also available via Wakelet https://wakelet.com/@RachaelLehr1293

 

Instagram

Instagram hashtags work similarly to Twitter. You can choose to follow hashtags, or search for, and follow STEM teachers in your areas of interest -e.g. robotics.

 

Facebook Groups & Communities

STEM Teachers Australia – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1466726270300197/

 

Blogs

Top 100 STEM Blogs & Websites 2018 https://blog.feedspot.com/stem_blogs/

 

Pondering Dan @ponderingDan

http://www.ponderingdan.com/

 

Teaching with Game @claireseldon_ed

https://goo.gl/aBWjch

 

STEM in Primary @steminprimary

https://steminprimary.blogspot.com/

 

Global Education STEM @STEMigo

https://globaledstem.wordpress.com/

 

Podcasts

STEAM Up the Classroom – Tori Cameron

https://www.steamuptheclassroom.com/

 

MOOCs

Joining MOOCs can open connections with participants from around the globe.

STEM is everywhere https://www.class-central.com/course/independent-stem-is-everywhere-12074

CSER University of Adelaide Digital Technologies MOOC

https://csermoocs.adelaide.edu.au

 

Connect with Us

 

Michael @mgraffin

Michael Graffin is a STEM and Robotics specialist working in Mosman Park, WA. He is an International Society for Technology Education Emerging Leader and STEM X 2018 Alumni. Michael works with classroom teachers to design, teach, and assess integrated STEM projects. He specializes in LEGO robotics, with a particular emphasis on FIRST LEGO League and FIRST LEGO League Junior. He has presented on PLNs, global connections, STEM, and robotics at conferences in Australia, Qatar, and the USA. He blogs at http://blog.mgraffin.com.

 

Rachael @rachaellehr

Rachael Lehr is a science specialist and digital technologies lead teacher in Perth, WA, where she teaches science with a strong hands-on inquiry and STEM focus. She embeds digital technologies into her science program, as well as assisting class teachers with using digital technologies authentically in their classrooms through coaching and in class demonstration lessons. Rachael also teach students coding, runs a Minecraft club and is passionate about engaging girls in STEM fields and hosts an after school STEM club for the senior girls. Rachael is a co-host and founder of #PrimarySTEMChat – a weekly Twitter chat focused on various topics surrounding STEM.

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Global Classroom 2013-14 Launch Webinars – Nov 22 and 23/24

2013-14 LAUNCH PRESENTATION

It is hard to believe, but Global Classroom 2013-14 is upon us. When I co-founded our first project in March 2011 with Deb Frazier, I never dreamt that I’d be here, two and half years later, announcing the launch of our fourth instalment … building on some amazing years of global connections, conversations, and collaborations.

But, here we are. 

Our project launch webinars will be happening on Friday Nov 22, and Saturday Nov 23/ Sunday Nov 24 (morning), marking the beginning of the next chapter in our #globalclassroom journey. If you come along, or watch the recordings, you’ll have the opportunity to meet some of inspirational leaders, engage in global conversations, and start to explore the amazing possibilities presented by breaking down your classroom walls.

This year, we’ve set up a Google Plus invitation to enable people to check when the sessions run in their time-zone, and to add a reminder to their calendars by RSVP’ing their attendance. If you have any questions, please get in touch 🙂

As usual, these webinars will be held on online using BlackBoard Collaborate. We recommend checking you have the latest version of Java installed on your computer (or download the Blackboard Collaborate app for iOS), and log in at least 10 minutes prior to the start of the session. Thanks!

 

Session 1 –  Friday, November 22(#GlobalEd13)

 

Session 2 – Saturday Nov 23 / Sunday November 24

Please note, the repeat webinar on Saturday takes place in a different BlackBoard Collaborate room, courtesy of Warwick University. Please make sure you use the correct room link!

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“Building the Western Australian Twitter PLN” #ECAWA13

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On Friday October 11, I was lucky enough to co-present the #WApln Twitter workshop with @KerryMuste at our State ICT Conference – ECAWA13. We had a great turnout for the session, and the chocolate bribe offered for the Friday afternoon slot went down a treat 🙂 (Thanks Kerry!)

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Returning to #RSCON4 – A Journey Continues

RSCON4 map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Saturday night, I returned to where it all began, presenting at the fourth Reform Symposium eConference. Considering my global journey started with attending #RSCON11, and presenting for the very first time at #RSCON3, this was a very special occasion, and I was truly taken aback by the response and interest in my session.

With 35 attendees from 6 continents, this is a presentation I will remember for some time to come 🙂 Thankyou to everyone who attended, and thank you to all those wonderful people who’ve sent me feedback on the session. It is greatly appreciated.

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#iEARN13 Workshop & Presentations

 

I am still coming to terms with the fact that I travelled halfway around the world to share my social media journey and experiences with The Global Classroom Project at #iEARN13.

Qatar was the venue for my first (three!) international presentations, including my first Global Classroom Workshop, and the launch of my first iEARN project.

Here they are, with links to explore further if you wish.

Connecting Globally via Twitter and the #globalclassroom Chats (Workshop)

I still can’t believe that nearly 50 people attended this workshop, which was live translated from English into Arabic. It seemed to make quite an impact, judging by the frequent informal sessions I held with new iEARN twitter teachers over the days which followed!

It was a pleasure to present in front of the @iEARNAustralia management team, who now have a much better understanding of what I’ve been trying to do with our organisation’s Twitter account.

This workshop was also the first time I experimented with a bilingual “Find Someone Who” activity as a brief 5 minute introduction to the ‘essence’ of Twitter – short, rapid fire conversations with global partners around a range of issues.

A huge thank you goes to @rawyashatila in Lebanon, who generously translated the document into Arabic! 🙂

Workshop Notes

Workshop Handout & (Crowd Sourced) Twitter Tips

@mgraffin Twitter Workshop
Via @FrisoDoornhof

 

Social Media Panel Contribution

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One of the unexpected surprises of the iEARN Conference was the invitation to contribute to the Social Media Panel Keynote, created by Khitham Al-Utaibi (@khitamah) and Rebecca Hodges (@ProfHodges).

Presenting alongside 3 academics, and one of the most globally aware high school students I’ve ever met (@AndrewNasser), was quite an experience. We had around 450 people in the audience, and I received some very positive feedback on my contribution. I suspect I went over my time allocation slightly, but I think this tweet sums it up nicely:

 

Building the Global Classroom: A Substitute Teacher’s Twitter Journey from Michael

iEARN Travelling Scrapbook Project Launch

This turned out to be one of the more productive sessions of the conference, where I took the opportunity to share the story of the #globalclassroom travelling scrapbook project, and discuss plans for an iEARN version.

I took away some hastily scribbled notes / suggestions, and a list of potential partners. I’m hoping to get this project running by September 2013, and will have to try and sort out the planning / organisation approach over the next week or so.

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The Power of Connections & Conversation

It is hard to believe that #ACEC2012 has been and gone. Yet, I will carry its legacy for many years to come.

For me the conference was not about the presentations or the keynotes, although they had their place. It was about the connections, the conversations, … and the food … (only partly kidding!)

Photo by @anouk_ratna, Student Photographer @ #ACEC2012

During the conference, I had the opportunity to meet many wonderful, inspiring educators – some of whom I have known and worked with online for years. Some highlights included meeting @rgesthuizen, @ackygirl, @brettelockyer, @HenriettaMi, @losiath, @murcha, @tasteach, @alupton, @smadsenau, @melcashen, and frankly, the list goes on …

 

I took a great deal of confidence and affirmation away from #ACEC2012. 

Making my presentation debut at Australia’s national ICT conference was a personal milestone, one which I will remember for many years to come. The fact that I had a full house, and received such wonderful feedback on the ‘passion’ of my presentation, was a welcome recognition that my work is valued beyond the emotional roller-coaster of my day-to-day teaching practice.

I knew that my work in global education was respected by educators around the world, but I really appreciated the opportunity to sit down and talk to people whose teaching practice and educational outlook are being transformed through their engagement in the #globalclassroom community.

I’m a teacher. I may not have my own class, but I’m making an impact.

And I’m already looking forward to attending #ACEC2014 in Adelaide!

 

Skyping with @SAVSchool at #ACEC2012
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Presenting at #ACEC2012

Cross Posted at The Global Classroom Project

On Wednesday October 1, 2012, I had the wonderful opportunity to present with Nigel Mitchell (@1nbm) on the topic: “Working in the Global Classroom” at theAustralian Computers in Education Conference

 

 

Despite some initial technical hurdles, including the fact that Skype was blocked at the school, the presentation was a great success.

We managed to Skype with Julie Lindsay, the co-founder of Flat Classroom Projects; and shared our global collaboration stories with a large local audience, and a small group of teachers in Taiwan, India, and the United States via UStream,

I hope you will take some time to explore our slides, and watch our UStream recording.

You can access, and contribute to our presentation notes here.

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“It is time to be the voice of change” – (#flatclass Book Club – Part 1)

 

Global collaboration is a journey which tends to take you in unexpected directions!

 

A year ago, I would never have dreamt that I’d be reading and reviewing Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds, nor would I have believed I would have the chance to connect and learn with the authors, Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis.

Rather than writing an ‘official book review’, I’ve decided to record my musings on the #flatclass book as I try to engage in the online book club over the coming weeks.

So, here are my musings on Chapters 1 and 2.

 

“21st century skills harness not only the power of technology, but the power of people” (p. 3)

Reading the introductory chapters, I was taken aback by the parallels between my recent (unpublished) writings about #globalclassroom, and the #flatclass authors’ thoughts on effective global collaboration.

Having written almost exactly the same words a few days previously, this statement reinforced one of the key lessons I’ve learned leading Global Classroom – that while our work was made possible by technology, it is our people who have made it a reality.

Our work has been successful because our teachers, all over the world, are actively supporting each-other’s professional learning, and sharing responsibility for the management (and success) of our #globalclassroom projects.

 

“The aim of global collaboration is to improve learning, flatten classroom walls, and develop authentic audiences” (p. 4)

As I wrote some time ago, we are creating “the online spaces for teachers and students to connect, share, learn, and collaborate on a global stage”. And we’ve succeeded in building community; providing the space and support network for teachers to connect and collaborate, where they can experience the powerful impact of global collaboration and learning first-hand.

Built by teachers, for teachers, The Global Classroom Project is enabling our students to share their learning with the world; and helping our teachers explore innovative, transformational teaching and learning practices. We’ve opened up a window to the world, and we can’t go back.

 

“Connect one person at a time, build trust, and move forward together.” (p. 20)

I was struck by Suzie Nestico’s comment in the first #flatclass book club session relating the success of global collaboration to “building trust in the online environment”, going beyond the intitial connections to engaging in meaningful collaborations.

We are starting to make this happen, particularly in our Skype group, where teachers, who came to us with little confidence and collaborative experience, are building online connections and friendships through IM conversations and skype calls.

With a little support and encouragement, these teachers are starting out on their learning journeys, beginning to engage in their very first, more meaningful global collaborations. Yes, these are small steps, but these teachers’ stories are inspiring their colleagues – locally, and around the world.

 

“It is time to be the voice of change.” (p.20)

“Learning globally includes making a difference to the world.” (p.7)

I never expected to lead the creation of a global learning community. I was ‘just’ a second year relief (substitute) teacher, who has never had a class of his own. Yet, my social networking presence enabled me to make that initial connection with Deb Frazier in Ohio, USA; and later, it provided the connections which underpinned the collaborative development of the Global Classroom community.

As Deb and I look forward to celebrating the first anniversary of our ‘Twitter connection’ in April 2012, we can’t believe how our #globalclassroom spaces have become vibrant, community-minded forums where our teachers and students are connecting, making friends, and beginning to collaborate globally.

We are making a difference in the world, and helping teachers become the “voices of change”.

 

So, I conclude with a simple “thank you”

Julie and Vicki, it is hard to believe that an exploration of the #flatclassroom website and project wikis would kindle a teacher’s dream, and ultimately lead to the collaborative creation of a new global community.

But it did.

My work has changed the way I see and interact with the world. I now have friends across 6 continents, and find myself in the extraordinary position of leading a global education community in my third year of teaching.

I have a lot to learn, yet I suspect I am becoming “a voice of change”. I’m helping to make a difference in the world; and as our grassroots community continues to grow and evolve, I’m not alone.

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Be Careful What You Wish For

This is the third in my series of posts detailing the origins & development of the Global Classroom Project: 2011-12.

Shortly after the successful completion of Global Classroom 2011 in July, I was rather surprised to hear that Deb Frazier (@frazierde) wanted to do it all over again! She wanted the second project to run for the duration of the American school year (9 months), and hopefully involve classes across 6 continents.

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Deb created a Google Doc entitled “Ideas to Grow ~ Global Classroom”, which I shared via Twitter – inviting interested teachers to register their details, and brainstorm ideas for projects at different age levels. In a testament to the power of Twitter, we had over 30 K-12 teachers signed up within 3 weeks … and two stunned project leaders.

The first #globalclassroom project saw 8 primary (elementary) teachers collaborating on a single project. In light of the overwhelming response to our initial planning document, it was clear that this wasn’t going to happen the second time around. 

Having brought so many interesting teachers into Global Classroom 2011-12 through my global connections,  I was pretty happy with the response. As reality set in; however, I resolved to take responsibility for my actions. For someone whose family motto is “Never Volunteer”, the decision to lead the development of the #globalclassroom project proved to have unintended, but incredibly rewarding consequences.

As the old saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for” …

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How One Tweet Initiated A Global Partnership

I’d like you to meet Deb Frazier, a Grade 1 teacher from Ohio, USA.

You’ll find Deb on Twitter as @frazierde, and she blogs at Primary Perspective.

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Deb and I have yet to meet face-to-face, yet over the past few months, we have become global partners, and good friends, through our close collaboration in building The Global Classroom Project.

I first met Deb in May 2011, through Twitter; and looking back, it seems it was meant to be. Deb was relatively new to Twitter, and was interested in extending her students’ learning beyond her classroom walls.

I was a second year teacher, and relatively established user of social media, about to embark on a 4 week relief placement in a Grade 6 class – the first class I’ve ever been able to call my “own”. Following the success of my first global project in March 2011, when I ran the World Water Day International LinoIt Project, I was keen to further experiment with web 2.0 tools in education.

And then, late one night, I came across a tweet and a blog post which would change the course of my career:

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The Global Classroom Project (2011) was born …

 

Deb Frazier, from Ohio, USA was looking to connect her Grade 1 class with children around the world via VoiceThread. As Deb blogged here, the idea was born in the minds of her students; yet it was Deb’s vision, and use of social media to connect with fellow global teachers which made it a successful global reality.

As I prepare to explore the development of the Global Classroom Project over the past months, and my role within it, over this upcoming series of posts, I am still struck by the simple fact that Deb and I met, and collaborated via social media and Web 2.0 tools.

We hear so much negativity about social media in education, yet this global collaboration, this global partnership bears testament to how connections made through social media can change our
worldviews, our teaching, and our students’ lives.

And to think that it all started with One Tweet, and One Blog Post …

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