Many people are writing about the power of Twitter and the how it has changed the way they learn. I agree. Twitter has not only changed the way I learn, but also the way I think. Having the constraints of 140 characters, forces me align my thoughts and boil my words to the essence of what I am trying to say. There are times that I struggle with choosing the less criminal grammatical error to commit to stay within the Twitter constraints. It has been well worth the struggle.
I have written about my experience in Nashville, Tennessee with Discovery Education, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and singer/songwriters. Through my connecting with educators through #chats, this has opened a new world of experiences for the musicians in my classrooms. I was tweeting about a Makerspace I am starting at the Middle School where I teach, through which I was connected to Jenna Shaw (@teachbaltshaw) a Middle school language arts teacher @BaltCitySchools
. 2012 EdTech Fellow @DHFBaltimore. Lover of beautiful, creative, and innovative ideas. We connected in Google Hangouts to talk about innovative learning environments and how a maker mindset permeates all content areas. This great conversation shifted to learner’s experiences and how we can foster collaborative environment in our classrooms. She is a language arts teacher and I am a music teacher. In Nashville, I learned about a project called “Words & Music” where writers send their words to Nashville musicians who then set those words to music. When the Nashville musician is ready to present the music, they Skype into the classroom and perform the song for the writers.
I presented the ideas of our students working together similarly to the Words to Music Project. Jenna’s creative writers will compose lyrics to a song (or poem) and the musicians in my classroom will set their words to music. I thought we could take the connectedness one step further and use Google Hangouts through the composition process so the lyricists could be a part of the music taking shape. They could share musical ideas between schools and possibly have distance performing groups. The writers in Maryland could be singers on tracks in Michigan.
We will have to figure out the logistics of the Hangouts. I am thinking about connecting to Jenna’s class at the beginning of the class period and rotating each group, allowing 10 min. to discuss their song and lyrics, while other groups are creating music.
We still have to navigate our way through the flow, but learning is messy and that is okay. It is important to model that adults have the same processes and engage in the same kind of learning as the students. The focus for me is that we create these opportunities for the learners in our classrooms. Being a connected educator provides opportunities for the musicians in my classroom to be connected to other learners as well. Without Twitter and Google Hangouts, this project would not have come together. Are you providing these kind of collaborative opportunities for learners in your classrooms? Please share your stories and projects in the comments.