Share My Lesson Blog

When I was
a graduate student at the University of New Hampshire in 1997, I
remember my boyfriend, who was a bit of a computer “enthusiast,”
telling me he made me an email address. I knew what email was, but I
didn’t see any reason why I needed access to it. In fact, after he
explained to me that I could use it to send him messages, my response
was, “Why would I need to send you a message? I see you every day.” I
like to tell this story to my students, who are the most connected
people I know, texting each other during bathroom breaks even though
they will see each other right after class. I’m sure all this anecdote
does is make them think I am a dinosaur, but since I now email them at
least a few times a week, they think I’ve evolved. And I think so too.

October is Connected Educator Month, a time to focus on
reaching and encouraging educators to explore both national and global
online learning opportunities. I’ve been deluged with the benefits of a
“no walls” classroom, BYOD (bring your own device) days, and the simple
fact that students can’t be “college or career ready” if they can’t
navigate the complexities of a continually connected world. For the
last six months or so, I’ve used Twitter to grow my own personal
learning network, and I can say that the first people I like to send my
blogs or float ideas to are educators who come from such diverse
backgrounds that it is actually kind of comical. There’s an Australian
teacher who oozes enthusiasm, a no-nonsense urban principal who will
tell me exactly how it is, a Christian teacher whose “Good Calls Home”
have taken on a life of their own, an intellectual professor who
doesn’t know who I am but I admire anyway, and a former student who
reminds me how far I’ve come. These people remind me that, regardless
of time and space, all educators are connected.

What I am learning is that the complexities of a continually connected
world are complicated by the vast number of platforms for
communications. I am not exaggerating when I say that before I can get
comfortable—or at least not embarrassingly bad—with one vehicle,
another pops up. What I’ve come to learn is this: Find what works for
you, but don’t become stagnate. Try new things and feel out
possibilities. I’ve been a regular blogger for less than a year, and I
am going to try something different very soon: A video blog. And, much
like many new things, it scares the daylights out of me. The educator
behind my push to branch out? His name is Paul Anderson, who is a
complete stranger to me, but his post “Video
on Share My Lesson opened my eyes to some great
possibilities. And, as a bonus, I learned about aposematic coloration
from his video on the topic, which was pretty cool and demonstrates the
heart of connection—I did not know what I would learn, but walked away
with more than I expected.

Even before I became a “connected educator,” Share My Lesson
provided a network of lessons that I could trust because of the
educators who were behind them. A few years ago, I was desperate to
help my students learn to summarize and ran across the “Twitter
Tweet Chapter Summary”
by the ELA team. Anyone who tweets
knows that the 140-character limit is a challenge, but it is actually
one of my favorite characteristics of the platform. When you are down
to 140 characters, you say what you need to, drilling down to the
essence of your comment. This activity turned out to be a fabulous way
to engage my students while also laying the foundation for summarizing
and brevity.

Share My Lesson’s social studies team also has a great activity to
capture the imagination of our youngest students. “Getting
Started—ICT Activities”
is designed to help elementary
students navigate their way through the Picture My World website, an
interactive project that uses photographs of students around the world
to facilitate exploration and communication. The touchstone for our
students of “collaboration and communication” is not so much a goal,
but a reality that teachers have the responsibility to shape and
capitalize on. If a student is not able to do both, with accuracy and
proficiency, his or her potential will be thoroughly limited. However,
this aspect of education should be a no-brainer for teachers. Students
want to collaborate and communicate. The world doesn’t seem
overwhelmingly big to our youngest students, and to reach those who are
our future, we must embrace that worldview as well.