Houston, We Have a Problem...

I have, over the past year or two, become a huge advocate for including technology in the classroom. Twitter has opened doors for me that have, without any hyperbole, completely changed the way that I teach and look at education.

Please excuse a quick Twitter soapbox moment.

If you feel like you are stuck with how you teach, you need to be on Twitter. It is beautiful for two huge reasons. The first reason is personal. I am refreshed about education each minute that I spend on Twitter. There is so much negativity in education and in the world in general. To be fair, much of the negativity about standardized testing and such is justified, but it can nonetheless be incredibly draining. On Twitter, rarely is negativity to be found. The teachers that you find on Twitter are excited and curious about this profession. That is fantastically refreshing to be a part of. Secondly, it is absolutely, without doubt, the best investment in Professional Development that I have ever been a part of. This is because of how easy it is to come and go without missing anything. Jump on Twitter for 10 minutes. Leave. Come back a week later. Anything that is truly worthwhile and special will appear and reappear in the Twitter-verse.

If you are just starting, look at the list of hashtags below as a starter. If you already know the lay of the land, jump into this website that does a great job of cataloguing twitter hashtags and chats.

If you are brand new to Twitter, spend 20 minutes one night searching through these hashtags. Until you build up a good network of people you follow, you'll need to rely on searching for hashtags like these to find new resources:

#edchat is an overall chat on education that is ongoing each day. Many chats take place at a certain time once a week. Click this google doc for a large list of chats.
#edtechchat are educators interested in having technology play a large role in their classrooms or schools.
#digcit and #digcitchat discuss some of the more theoretical, moral and logistical issues of teachers and students using technology in the classroom. I'm new to this one, but I've found it to be very educational for me.
#edcampkc is an unconference in KC. It was held at the Nelson-Atkins in the fall and will be again next fall. This is a good group of local educators to latch onto. Shout out to Colleen McLain (@colleenmclain) who ran a successful unconference at Center Middle School this week!
What is an unconference? What the video!

#sschat or #engchat or #mathchat or...you get the picture. Pick your subject area and start following educators who teach your subject area. Does that sound too easy to be true? It's not.

Thank you for listening/reading my Twitter soapbox. You may now return to your regularly scheduled blog post!

This is a post about the network outage that occurred at Center this weekend. I love using technology in my classroom. I have advocated for just about every avenue that could lead to more resources or more time with said resources for staff and students alike. To be quite honest, I've been really proud of being on the front-line of these efforts with people like Colleen McLain, Steve Parker and Joe Nastasi.

Then the blackout happened. This has been a really fascinating week to be a teacher at Center.

No internet.

No student or teacher drives.

No Sharepoint (the cloud where many of us keep our curriculum and lesson plans).

No Google Drive.

Nothing.*

*We've been told it could be days, rather than a day of blackout. It all started on Monday. We had internet back by the end of the day Tuesday. As of this writing, there is no e-mail, network, student or teacher drives or online gradebook. Not to mention that our confidence that the network or fill-in-the-blank technology resource will be working the next day is rather low right now - which should take nothing away from the incredible work our technology department is doing this and every other week. From everything I have heard, this network failure was something of a freak occurrence that left us with nothing to do but recover from it.

It was a fascinating experience. I decided day one would be a great day for some discussions in my classes. For the 9th graders, we talked about what life might have been like before the industrial revolution, which was quite fitting. That was an eye-opening exercise. For the Government class, we talked about the Executive branch using the unfolding drama in Ukraine as a touching point. Both were very productive activities. Both served as reminders that learning will always occur in the student-to-student and student-to-teacher conversations. Technology can peak curiosity and inform arguments, but technology cannot create the discussion itself. That's important for me to remember as I try to push new things like Twitter, moodle (use chambers as the username and password if you want to poke around my classes), padlet (click to look at the first padlet my class ever made), iPads, Chromebooks and other forms of technology into my classroom.

I'm not sure when we'll get our network back. I'm not sure I'm in a hurry for that moment. Tuesday in class felt a bit like playing games with my family during a blackout in the middle of a snowstorm. I don't think I want to live there with no electricity forever, but it is kind of fun while it's happening.

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E-mail: alectchambers@gmail.com            Facebook                        Twitter: @chambersalec