(I'm writing this post to work in conjunction with a talk I am giving to a group of iNote English teachers but hopefully the insights discussed will still be helpful to teachers outside of that context.)
I began Blogging in February 2012. I had been teaching, at that stage, for 8 years and felt comfortable in how to deliver the English syllabus. I'd seen more than a full cycle go through the school and was no longer the 'new' teacher. I had, like most teachers, been dabbling with online resources and software and started to think a Blog would be an efficient way to tie everything together. The last 14 months have been so productive.
When you search online, particularly through Twitter, you see teachers that are full of passion and creativity. Trust me, creating a digital identity is the best CPD decision you will ever make. It can be overwhelming. But in a time when we are being asked to do more for less it's just the online water cooler you need. There are so many teachers that have tried so many initiatives and created so many resources. Already tried and succeeded or failed. I advise creating a digital identity for work purposes as it allows for a healthy life balance. It's flexible. If you want to shut off and leave work at work you can. If you want to bring work home with you or collaborate/explore you can. It's at your fingertips.
The, slightly presumptuous, video above gives a good brief overview on the concept of the Flipped Classroom Model. There are so many more resources easily available online. Listed below are six sites that will help you to dip your toe into the digital ether. With J.C. English changes immanent and Leaving Certificate English changes presumably to follow, now might just be the time to try and deliver/create your content in a slightly different way.
The teacher-pupil paradigm is undoubtedly changing. The world is changing. Pupils have more direct access to knowledge than ever before. Plagiarism, copy and paste and that wonderful project that has just been lifted in its entirety from Wikipedia are already very real problems. The knowledge dam is burst: now it's about directing and controlling the flow of water. A popular theory in understanding this change in dynamic is the 'Flipped Teaching Model' outlined above. In my opinion, teachers through academic and life learning are still the central resource of a pupil's learning in the classroom environment. It's just that now the learning environment can be extended beyond just the classroom and just the teacher.
- G-Mail - The first step in creating a digital identity is to create an e-mail account. You'll be joining sites and downloading apps a plenty. My advice is to have a new G-Mail account from Day 1 for work purposes.
- Twitter - Amazing. I know your first reaction might be 'I don't care what celebrity xyz is having for breakfast' but in an educational sense it is so so much more. Demystify the phrase 'hash tag'!
- Edmodo - If you are planning on flipping your classroom you'll need a safe forum to communicate and share with your pupils. Edmodo is your answer.
- TES - If you don't have digital resources to extend learning outside the classroom don't worry, TES has you covered.
- Skitch - On iPad, Android or Desktop. Start creating digital content that won't take forever to create but can be an amazing visual aide.(Poetry Analysis)
- Quizlet - Collaborative peer learning outside the classroom at its best. (6th Year Gatsby)