For my second twitter chat, I participated in #4thchat, a twitter chat geared towards early and elementary education teachers. I chose this chat in particular because I am a secondary education major and I thought it would be interesting to see the different perspectives of teachers of the other end of the spectrum. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and see how a typical early education classroom functions. There was not a general theme to the chat, but rather several different topics were discussed. There was a lot of talk about how different events going on in the world could be integrated into classroom activities and curriculum. For example, one of the questions was “what are some of the ways we can help students celebrate National Women’s History Month?” Another was “The Iditarod Dog Sled Race begins on March 3rd. What are some pup related lessons you could incorporate as you follow the race?” Some responses included following the race and making a diagram or drawing pictures about what was seen, or students could write a persuasive essay asking their folks to let them have a pup. It was interesting to see how different the material being discussed on this chat was compared to other chats I had stumbled across or the previous chat I blogged about. The content of this chat was very different because it had a much more basic and elementary feel, which is appropriate because the material is intended for young children.
The biggest topic talked about was the specific events that the teachers were planning to celebrate during the month of March. The two biggest events that several teachers recommended were March Book Madness and Read Across America. The March Book Madness is just a locally started program in which students and teachers within the school compete to see who can read the most books throughout the month of March. Much like the basketball March Madness, this event creates healthy competition for the students and motivates them to read more often. The students are put into teams with a teacher representative, and every individual on the team is expected to read and log as many books as they can. When the event is over, the teams will have totaled their number of books read collectively and the winners are recognized at a school board meeting. I thought that this was a good event because it prompted students to read more and it encouraged them to embrace the importance of reading as well. Jennifer, an elementary teacher emphasized her appreciation for the event: “They will likely get excited and work together- what a great project! Parents love projects they understand and can help with- especially if their child is into it! Well done.” Likewise, I learned about an interesting event that will be embraced my many different schools across the country called Read Across America. Nancy, the monitor of the chat, posted a helpful link to describe the importance of the event (https://t.co/m8nPOzjrAi). Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of the children’s author Dr. Seuss. Many of the teachers in the chat are creating events much like the March Book Madness to encourage students to embrace reading across America. Nancy states that her entire school is doing Read Across America on Friday, and they plan to have about 70 readers from all local TV, sports teams, Sheriff dept, school board etc. come and read with the children. This is an important event that many of the students are looking forward to. It is essential that these prominent figures in society come and read with the kids because it helps the children to develop a greater love for reading because they look up to such people. The kids will likely learn many things along the way when building such relationships. As a teacher, one wouldn’t be able to teach that. This project builds confidence within the children that I believe can lead to greater academic success.
From the participants in the chat, I chose to follow Nancy Carroll, a former 4th grade teacher, digital learning coach, and co-moderator of the chat. Nancy helped the conversations to flow effectively as she was responsible for creating the questions. She would post a question and her response to it to guide the chat, and after some time and responses had passed, she would introduce a new question. I found this technique to be extremely helpful because it enabled me to follow the chat without becoming overwhelmed with all of the information. I also followed Paula Naugle, the other moderator of the 4thchat, current 4th grade teacher, and Ambassador for Seesaw and Edmodo. I enjoyed her commentary on how she was going to use the dog race to help her students with persuasive writing. Jennifer Regruth, co-moderator of the 4thchat and Seesaw ambassador, provided great information on how programs such as the Book March Madness can influence student learning and development. I followed Mark Stafford mainly because he had both and interesting personality and interesting comments. To me, he was the epitome of an elementary school teacher. When I think of an elementary school teacher, something like his bio comes to mind: “I live in my own world, teach 4th grade, play the uke, like fairy tales, flipflops, and fish.” He had several creative ideas regarding kahoot and ozbots in the classroom. The last person I followed was Peg Volak, a second-grade teacher, Seesaw ambassador, and Flipgrid Ambassador. She talked mainly about bringing technology to the classroom in an effective way without interrupting or distracting students. Overall, I enjoyed this twitter chat because it was different from the normal criteria I would’ve chosen because it applied to an area of which I did not have any experience. I did, however, enjoy learning about how the different levels of education use different teaching styles and activities within the classroom.