Connection: How Twitter Can Support Adult Learning

Sent as a letter to parents on January 10, 2014

I have enjoyed seeing so many of you at our iPad information sessions.  As we’ve talked about how technology can support student learning, I am reminded of how much it has already changed the learning environment for educators. According to a 2013 Pew study, 92% of teachers say the internet has a “major impact” on their ability to access content, resources, and materials for their teaching and 69% say the internet has a “major impact” on their ability to share ideas with other teachers. I’ve seen first-hand how technology helps connect like-minded educators across the globe as they share ideas, articles, dilemmas, and successes. 

One resource that many educators use for this purpose is Twitter.  For example, if you search a hashtag such as #edchat, you will find thousands of dedicated teachers posting links to articles that have piqued their interest or ideas that have enriched their classrooms.  I regularly peruse my Twitter feed to stay up-to-date on the trending educational articles and new research, and in turn I post links that I think others might find valuable.

Here are a few articles that have made their way onto my Twitter feed in the last couple of months that I thought you might enjoy.  If one of them sparks your interest, just click on the link to read more!

Three Lessons from My Unorthodox 10th Grade Year: Sophia Pink left school for a year to pursue a mixture of online and experiential learning before returning for her junior year at Washington International School.  She shares three lessons she gleaned from her experience, including this one: “The only way to succeed is to fail. In my year away from tests, quizzes, and grade-point averages, I failed all the time. For example, I spent months researching, designing, and poring over Excel spreadsheets for a science project only to get my results back and find they were inconclusive. Failing is hard to deal with. But it’s one of the reasons I learned so much even while not going to school.”

The Neuroscience Behind How Sleep Cleans Your Brain: It turns out that the “cleansing” effects of sleep are more than metaphorical.  One of the reasons we feel refreshed after a good night’s sleep is because during sleep “cerebral spinal fluid is pumped around the brain, and flushes out waste products like a biological dishwasher.”

Is Attention the Secret to Emotional Intelligence?: In a November Notes from the Middle, I highlighted Daniel Goleman’s most recent work on cognitive control. This interview with Goleman goes into more depth, describing how the ability to focus is key to our emotional intelligence. As Goleman says, “Helping kids develop the ability to focus on their feelings, to focus on the task at hand, to strengthen that muscle of attention—that turns out to speed up their ability to develop all the other emotional intelligence skills. It makes them better learners and more alert and more calm—which is exactly how the teacher wants them to be.”

Good Parenting Skills: 7 Research-Backed Ways to Raise Kids Right: Blogger Eric Barker gleans seven lessons from the bestselling book NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children. These include, “Praise kids for efforts, not smarts,” “Make sure they get their sleep,” and “A gratitude journal works magic.” If you like this article, don’t forget that you can hear from one of the book’s authors, Ashley Merryman, during the February 5th Parent Speaker Forum.

I love coming across great new material, so feel free to send me article links as you stumble across them. Just don’t be surprised if they then find their way onto my Twitter feed for others to enjoy!

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