#kinderchat is my home on the internet. My friends and colleagues “live” there. I take pride in ownership of my little part of that hashtag. When Heidi Echternacht (@hechternacht) and Amy Murray (@happycampergirl) asked for volunteers to help with #kinderchat last year, I didn’t hesitate too long before I offered my services. So, every eight weeks, I, along with Kelly Scott (@Fr_Immersion98) lead the discussion.
Each Monday at 6pm PST educators from all over the globe gather to chat about important topics in Early Childhood Education. Heidi and Amy have organized the chat into “colours” of the rainbow and we rotate through the general topics with each moderator choosing an area of focus within that general topic to chat about. The general topics of discussion are:
Red: Documentation & Assessment
Orange: Curriculum Areas
Yellow: Child Development
Green: Nature & Experiential Learning
Blue: Research & Readings
Indigo: Policy, Issues, and Current Events in Early Childhood Education
Violet: Toys and Tools (including, but not limited to, tech)
Some weeks the chat moves very quickly and other weeks it moves at a more leisurely pace. My best advice for anyone new to #kinderchat (or really any twitter chat, for that matter) is to lurk for a while, then jump on in and add your voice to the conversation.
I really enjoy twitter as Professional Development. I appreciate the many opinions and view-points and love gleaning ideas from others. Twitter is particularly suited to my schedule, as I can pop in and out as my time allows, and can also plan on being online on Mondays at 6pm to meet my online PLN for our weekly chat. During a chat, there are usually a number of “aha” moments, and I feel it is worthwhile if I can come away with a new idea or two to try out in my classroom the next day, or plan a big project in the larger scope of my professional learning.
Tonight was the night for Kelly and I to lead #kinderchat. Our general topic is Documentation and Assessment, and we decided that we would like to chat specifically about using blogs as a form of student documentation. Electronic portfolios are something I have experimented with in the past two years and I know that many of the tweets I read are about how to go about setting up an e-portfolio. Some of the #kinderchat members use classroom blogs (some public, some private…mine is here made with WordPress), some have student blogs (though not many…mine are here made with Kidblog) and some compared their use of Evernote to my use of student blogs (great connection!). There was a good flow of conversation, lots of great questions asked and even though I was leading the discussion, I still learned something new.
When designing the format for tonight’s chat, I preset tweets to be sent out at specific times. This allowed me to concentrate more on the conversations happening and allowed me to reply and retweet important points. Hootsuite is a great website/app that allows you to schedule tweets and really does help make the moderator’s job much easier.
As an example, here are the tweets I scheduled tonight that freed up my time to follow the stream of the chat without having to type out the questions one by one:
Each week there is an archive made of the chat for those who cannot meet with us synchronously so they can still keep up with the discussions.
Since becoming involved in #kinderchat, my professional learning has grown exponentially. Daily there are people who challenge me and encourage me. With taking on this leadership role in #kinderchat, I hope that I am showing that I am a worthy member of such a vibrant online community of professionals.