Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Building a PLN around Science Experiments on Twitter

Twitter has become an amazing platform for teachers to share and connect with other educators around the world.  When I first joined just over a year ago, I was apprehensive about what to tweet about.  However, with a year under my belt, I am starting to find a niche in regards to what to share.

As a science teacher, it is essential to offer an interactive hands-on experience.  Allowing students to inquire and solve problems is fundamental to a strong science education.  This year, as students embark on a science experiment or tackle a science problem, I have my iPhone handy to capture a picture (without student faces) of what they are doing and post it on twitter to share and solicit ideas from other science teachers around the world.  Here is a sample of some of those tweets:

Sharing my Tweets with others about science experiments we are doing has provided me with many benefits.

1.  Fostering Communication Beyond 140 Characters -  I have often received comments, words of encouragement, questions and ideas from other science teachers regarding how the experiment was conducted, what we used for materials, alternate ways to conduct the experiment  and what we collected for results.  This has opened the door for rich meaningful communication.  In the next few months, I am hoping to connect with another class in USA to do a joint experiment, Skype about our results, discuss conclusions and debate suggestions for improvement to the experimental design. 

2.  Soliciting Global Feedback Lab Reports-  On occasion, I have tweeted a scanned copy of a student lab report (with the name removed) and asked for advice and feedback on how the hypothesis or conclusion might be assessed or improved.  This has been powerful feedback for to align my assessment skills.

3. Expanding my Idea Bank of Experiments- Many of the experiments and labs that I do in class come from ideas in the teacher resource manual and textbook I have used for many years.  However, since I have been tweeting about some of the experiments I do, I have had other science teachers reciprocate ideas of other labs they do, which has helped me quickly build my repertoire of possible labs.

So, what are my next steps from here?  I know twitter uses hashtags (#) to allow users to post tweets on certain topics.  For example, #edchat and #edtech are very popular twitter hashtags for educators.  I wonder if one could be started for posting anything related to science experiments?  The next time I post a photo about what we are doing for a science experiment or a student lab report I will use this hashtag #sciexperiments in hopes to start a growing trend for science teachers to collaborate on the scientific method.

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