Treading into the land of Twitter

I’ve been avoiding it for years.

I’ve smirked at the words “tweet” and “hashtag”.

I’ve been resentful of the rolling Twitter feeds which have crept on to the screens of some of my favourite t.v. shows.

And then I found myself sitting at my District Learning Mentors meeting and going through the motions of creating my own Twitter account!

With a “gentle nudge” our District leaders encouraged us to create accounts where we will begin collaborating, communicating and supporting our roles as school learning mentors.

There I was building a profile, sitting side by side fellow mentors as we learned about hashtags and posting my initial tweet.

Years of looking down my nose at Twitter flew out the window. How could have I have been missing out on this social media goldmine!

It was this tweet which helped me turn the corner.

As I began following more colleagues I was discovering a treasure trove of critical conversation prompts, educational resources and inspiring ideas. Waking up to tweets from some of my favourite educational researchers and writers including Harvey Daniels, Cris Tovani and Kylene Beers is like teacher Christmas morning to me.

This isn’t a digital learning tool that I would consider using with my students and parents (yet) as I know many of them are not Twitter users, but this is absolutely a tool that I will use for my own professional development and growth.

Feel free to follow me @vickidroberts


Using Learnist as a Learning Board

I have been using Learnist as a general interest site for a few months and recently began to think about how I could use it in my class.

Learnist is a similar platform to the very popular Pintrest but has features which I feel are more useful as digital learning tool.

My class has been exploring a whole group inquiry with the guiding question – how are creation myths relevant today?

Based on my students’ emerging ideas I decided to create a learning board of my own on Learnist to continue the conversation and gather digital resources they can use as they continue their inquiry.

I began by watching the following how-to video to learn about creating a learning board:

From there I considered my students’ key ideas and started searching for websites, blogs, images and videos which would support their learning.

Once again Youtube pulled through and I found an excellent TedTalks video on eastern vs. western myths. Next I discovered a website which explored the influence of creation myths on video games and finally I used Creative Commons to search for an image which could represent the Big Bang theory. With these three learning pages created I was left with two remaining key ideas to address. I couldn’t find any resources which I felt were valuable for my students so I decided to create my own images.

First I used  Wordle to create a word cloud based on the words and ideas that emerged from our class discussions on how learning about creation myths leads us to understanding and accepting other cultures. Next challenge? How was I to get that wordle on my learning board?

Screenshot. Photo edit. Insert.

To create my final board I used the Pic Collage app
to create a photo collage of children’s books based on creation myths or legends.

One of the features I like about Learnist is that you can add notes or descriptions to your learnings (the “pages” on your learning board). This gave me an opportunity to summarize, question or expand on class discussion ideas with each digital resource.

After creating the learning pages I reorganized them in a sequence which developed or built upon the previous page’s topics or themes.

Another feature I found helpful in Learnist was that I could send my learning board to my Edmodo account where my students will be able to access it at home and school.

In the end, and with two emails to the helpdesk, I ended up with my own learning board which is truly a multimodal resource including websites, videos, images and notes.

Unfortunately, WordPress does not accept the coding Learnist uses to embed. However, you can click on the image below to go to the creation myth learning board:


If you are interested in reading more about how Learnist supports digital learning check this out:

Two Voices

The following is a two voice poem with the voices of my students on the left and my voice on the right. Our voices combine to share our thoughts on how we see ourselves as writers.
(sorry mobile users – the formatting gets messy. check it out on your pc)
We need to Write?                                                                                            
I feel irritated
I find writing really hard
What’s that?
It’s really hard
I can relate – writing scares me
I don’t like being forced
Writing for an audience is scarier than
writing for myself
When I’m in the mood I write for myself
I love writing in my journal
It’s something I’m excited about
I have most of my life down on paper
I don’t see myself as a REAL author
Does writing emails make me a writer?
One day I could be an author
An author of emails?
Writing is annoying and boring and I don’t
like it.

It’s Moody                                                                                                                          

I like to write when I’m upset or bored
It helps me clear my head
It seems to help me up when I am down
I write more when I’m sad or angry
I just love to write – but only when I’m happy
Seldom when I’m feeling good
I can express my feelings
It pulls it all together.

                                                                                                                Time to start

I hop on my computer
and start typing out ideas
It takes forever to get going
My stories aren’t planned – I just write
My ideas are maps
Staying on topic is hard
Walk away, come back, walk away
I take short walks or look out my window
Come back again
My imagination is huge.
There’s Purpose                                                                                                
To be a writer is to think about
the things you like
Thinking about learning
At school but not at home
I write to learn
I can create a different world
It’s for an audience
Poetry for friends and family
Better for me than others
Writing music to help escape the real world
A journey to build confidence
It’s a supply and demand kind of thing.