Sunday, October 22, 2017

How to turn PD into a Party!

The fall is one of my favorite seasons. In Alabama, it means football Saturdays, cooler mornings, beautiful landscapes, sweaters and scarves, and a TWITTER PARTY at school!

We recently held our FIFTH annual Twitter Party at our school. It's a fun event where teachers get to learn about connecting and celebrating our school on social media, without the traditional "sit and get" learning!

When teachers came to the party, I told them about the different activities in the room and let them loose! 

One activity that teachers could complete was a twitter challenge

Each completed challenge went into a drawing for a $10 gift card from Target. There was a lot of great feedback from this activity, because it "forced" teachers to interact with the app and other twitter users.

We had a station where teachers could take selfies and post live with props! What fun we had with that one!

We have two large screens in our library's Community Room where the party was held. I used to highlight the tweets that our teachers were posting with our school hashtag, #hooverpride

If you've never used before, it's VERY easy and a terrific display for events. I used the free version, and all I had to do was enter our hashtag and the website did the rest! (If you've used it before, I would love to hear about the events you used it for.)

In another area, teachers could practice tweeting if they were nervous or newbies. (I created this in Powerpoint and downloaded it as a .pdf)

In another area of the room, teachers posted their twitter handles so that we could all follow each other. Looking for some new educators to follow? There are some good ones on that wall!

New for this year's party were Twitter Exit Slips. I used the Free Printable Letters from Shanty 2 Chic to create the banner (that I simply taped to the wall). Teachers recorded what they had learned on sticky notes and posted them on the wall below the banners. 

Notice the personalized sticky notes? They're easy to do. I've been a fan of Jen Hadfield and her website, Tatertots and Jello, for a long time. I used her instructions to create these DIY post-it notes.

At the table with the Exit Slips (DIY Post-it Notes), I also provided stickers that read, "I tweeted!" along with our school hashtag. 

No Twitter Party would be complete without cookies! A little Halloween candy never hurts either. 

Once teachers finished the Twitter Challenge, they could get started on their Twitter Bingo card. Twitter Bingo is a fun way to find a purpose for twitter, get in the habit of tweeting, and celebrate the awesome things happening in your school. 

I love this quote from one of our teachers. She said it while she was at the twitter party. Do you ever feel this way?

All in all it was a fun day of learning and celebrating each other!

Do you host a social media event/celebration at your school? I would love to hear about it! tweet me @jennifer_hogan or share in the comments below!

Previous years' parties:

Want to save these resources for later? 
Pin the image below for future reference.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A New Twist on Think-Pair-Share


One simple way for teachers to increase engagement in a classroom is to increase the number of students involved in discussion. To make this increase, the teacher has to realize that he or she cannot be a common factor in the discussion. 

Here's a description of a common "class discussion" 
     1.) The teacher provides ideas and insights about a topic.
     2.) The teacher calls on students to answer questions throughout the lecture, or asks the class for someone to answer the questions.
     3.) In a typical class discussion, the teacher is involved in every conversation, and there are only a few students involved in the "discussion."

Think-Pair-Share is a strategy that is easy to implement throughout a class period. To implement think-pair-share, the teacher asks a question to the class, gives the students a few minutes to think about their answer, then the teacher asks the students to turn to a neighboring student and share their answers with each other. The teacher can walk around and listen in on conversations, and after a few minutes the teacher can ask someone to share their conversation with the group. 

Using think-pair-share is one way to increase participation in the group. All students have to participate, it's "safer" to share ideas to one other person than in front of the entire class, and it's a low-prep activity that doesn't take up time to too much time to implement. If several questions are posed throughout the class period, the teacher can ask the students to talk to a new neighbor each time. This gives opportunity for students to get to know students that they otherwise may not get to know. 

The twist on Think-Pair-Share is adding in a written response. Write-Pair-Share does a few things. 
     -It allows students an opportunity to practice writing. Full sentences with correct grammar and punctuation is an option that may or may not be exercised, depending on the teacher's objective.
     -The teacher can ask that the partner give a written response to their neighbor's answer. These can be "Yes, and..." prompts or other prompts that help students dive deeper into the content. 
     -It can give the teacher insight into ALL conversations that occur in the room. By having students to turn in their written statements, it becomes a formative assessment that the teacher can use to gauge understanding.
How to implement Write-Pair-Share:
     -The teacher asks the students to have a piece of paper and a writing utensil on their desks, or an open Google Doc on a device.
     -The teacher asks the class a question, and asks students to take a few minutes to write or type their responses. 
     -The teacher then asks students to turn to a neighbor and share their responses with each other. The teacher asks students to also comment back to their neighbor on the response that was shared.
     -Depending on time allowed for questions and responses, the teacher could ask for a few students to share responses with the class as a whole. 
     -The teacher has the option to collect written responses at the end of class, or have students to share their Google Docs with the teacher. (Can also be done through Google Classroom).

What other low-prep ways can a classroom discussion be tweaked to include more students in the discussion? I would love to hear from you in the comments or on twitter. Let's talk!

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Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Importance of What If Questions

I love asking "What if.." questions. They help me to think big... to think the impossible... to have hope. When I reflect on my blog posts, tweets, and comments, I tend to ask "What if" questions a lot. I also use them when I'm coaching or mentoring another person. Asking "What if" allows others to thinking beyond their current realities and barriers.

Over the summer, I shared the question below on twitter, and it resonated with many people. 
Here are a few other of my "What if" questions. 

(I led a book study via Voxer for teachers on The Golden Rules by Bob Bowman, coach for Michael Phelps.)

(blog post)


(blog post)

(blog post)

I shared on twitter how our school rewards positive behavior with Praise Referrals, and got asked the AWESOME "What if" question below...

By asking questions that push the boundaries, it can create a change in mindset and approach to a problem. "What if" also implies the hypothetical and sets no demands, which reduces anxiety about change. It does open doors for creativity and opportunity, and it sometimes exposes the root of the problem.  

When asking someone else these types of questions, it helps others to develop a vision for what could be. We also must remember that it can be overwhelming to some, especially in situations where the other person(s) is not used to generating ideas to solve a problem. 

Have you asked or been asked a "What if" question that you found impactful? I would love to continue the conversation. You can tweet me or share in the comments below. 


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