Being snowed in today gives a opportunity to reflect on an amazing half term. Before October I thought Twitter was a place for Stephen Fry to fall ever deeper into self analysis, or for Britney's agent to send out anodyne press releases.
Now I know different! I would go so far as to say that Twitter has revolutionised the way I think about my job. It has rekindled my enthusiasm, and I have seen the results in the classroom. I have discovered an amazing community of enthusiastic teachers willing to share their excellence. There are so many brilliant teachers out there, some of whom can be found on the blogroll to the right of this page.
When I came into education, I wanted to be the kind of teacher who shared his resources freely. I hope that I am. But the culture of sharing freely among professionals online has rekindled my faith in the profession. This is what it's supposed to be all about! After all, we are all discovering new things daily in the world of Web 2.0, so there is really no point about being precious with acquired knowledge. Establishing a delicious account for my departmental colleagues is an exciting step along this path - old news to some maybe, but if I can just get them contributing and using the links on there...
We all know the truism that in teaching, you get what you give. Rarely has this been more clear to me. The response from students to the new things have tried with them over the past half term has been amazing, and not just because they have had fun. Technology used effectively takes them to another level. I can't think of a better way to develop the creative writing needed for iGCSE than using Storybird, for example. The FLIP camera brought a new urgency and focus to German Restaurant roleplays (I hope to post on this in the new year). Wordle got my sixth formers thinking about register and vocabulary. Wallwisher captured the imagination of my digital natives in Year 7 - mind you, so did the Bing Bong Song! A thoroughly-planned Google Maps project helped turn things around with my Year 10s.
Personally it has been a revelation too. I have taken part in online meetings. I have contributed to others' blogs. Twitter and the wonderful MFL twitterati have helped me become a more reflective practitioner. I present less. I let the pupils do more. I try to have the courage to run longer projects and let the students get into things in depth. Using language for practical purposes seems to make things stick for them. This process of reflection has been helped by blogging about it regularly. I would never have got my pen out and written a diary of lesson outcomes though...
So, in the spirit of collaboration, where should I go from here? What tools should I look to use next? I have been thinking of trialling Edmodo in the summer, for example. Our school's Moodle site is slowly gathering momentum , so there is much to look at there. I will certainly be looking to consolidate the work done last term and to continue to use web based tools and technology with a clear purpose. I would be delighted to hear your thoughts and suggestions!
Happy New Year!