Monday, March 12, 2012

Twitter for English Teaching

It's easy for teachers to get caught up in the stream of resources, ideas and responses on Twitter, so it's worth every now and then stepping back a little and thinking about these.

Here are some ways Twitter has given me ideas, resources, and intellectual stimulation recently. Coming soon, a post on the nature of the technical expertise that training and new English teachers should have: Twitter as the centre of a Personal Learning Network will feature prominently.

Dipping into the stream-
  • was advised to try out SugarSync: and it's a brilliant service, as good as Dropbox (in a slightly different way). Synced entire English documents from the laptop and now am able to access these anywhere, including the classroom (and display there). The slight difference is that SugarSync synchronises your current folders, so you don't have to make new ones (Dropbox).
  • discovered the ShowMe app, a form of screencasting for the iPad: which has prompted a series of close analyses of moments in The Great Gatsby (more to come, on Hamlet and poetry).
  • an excellent resource for genre in story-telling via @tombarrett - Seth Worley's film Plot Device.
  • another neat quick film from @mediaguardian - 'Three Little Pigs' as covered in the Twitter/social media age.
  • would probably have read it eventually, but prompted to start on Matthew Hollis's excellent Now All Roads Lead to France, the last years of Edward Thomas by John Self's review on his Asylum blog- @john_self. Two poets for the price of one, since Robert Frost is also at the core of this biography. And the biographer's video tour of Hampshire via @guardianbooks.
  • discovered  the excellent (newish) blog RAMS English by @kenc18 , which has lots of intelligent reflective posts on our profession. Check out this one on 'Books for English teachers'.
  • prompted to think about an 'Article of the Week' for Leaving Cert pupils after tweets about Kelly Gallagher's work - @KellyGToGo.
  • from @mediaguardian this short video about how the Three Little Pigs story might be covered nowadays.
  • a great list of 'Great Read-Alouds' from the New York Times Learning Network @NYTimeslearning via @caroljago.
  • from @nybooks an interesting case by the novelist Tim Parks in the New York Review of Books, favouring e-books over paper: The e-book, by eliminating all variations in the appearance and weight of the material object we hold in our hand and by discouraging anything but our focus on where we are in the sequence of words (the page once read disappears, the page to come has yet to appear) would seem to bring us closer than the paper book to the essence of the literary experience.
  • Conversations with English teachers in Ireland, the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia and more... 
  • some ideas about using @edmodo.
  • discovered these books - Margaret Edson's Wit, her play about cancer, and John Donne; Thomas Newkirk's fascinating and essential The Art of Slow Reading (particularly valuable if you spend time on Twitter); Kelly Gallagher's Readicide: how schools are killing reading and what you can do about it; Old Friend from Far Away: the practice of memoir by Natalie Goldberg - lots of ideas for encouraging writing.
  • after reading Teju Cole's fine 'Sebaldian' novel Open City, came across his 'Small Fates' Twitter project - an interesting use of the medium by @tejucole.
  • interesting articles such as Confessions of a 'Bad' Teacher.
  • a fine story by Yiyun Li, 'Sweeping Past', for discussion with pupils, via @caroljago.
  • fun: make your own silent movie with 'The Artistifier'. 
  • and an unimportant failure - asked PLN for an iPad app that would mask and gradually reveal what's on the screen but haven't yet come across one (would be very helpful in class). So if anyone reads this, please send suggestions to @sccenglish.
  • and this is just the English subject-related tweets, but check out Irish hashtags #cesi12 and #edchatie too...


Here's our English teaching Twitter list.

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