Facebook for professional development

Social media is great for professional development. For me you can’t go past Twitter but my other two favourites are You Tube and more recently Facebook. With some time and effort, you can create a large network of educational professionals from around the world that constantly feed you information that can inspire you to try new things or challenge/reinforce your beliefs about teaching.

Social media is 24/7 so if you already use or are planning to use it then try not to read everything that comes your way, mainly because you can’t! View your professional social media stream when it suits you. If you find something you like and don’t have time to read or view it then favourite or like it so you can come back to it at another time.

Most recently I have discovered Facebook as a way to access information about teaching and learning. I have a Facebook account for school and follow a number of Groups and Pages:

  1. Share network for the Australian Curriculum, SA – SNAC SA
  2. TfEL Teachers Companion
  3. Digital Technologies and Computational Thinking
  4. Edutopia
  5. TED-Ed
  6. Mindshift

The TfEL Teachers Companion Group has been set up by the Learning to Learn team from DECD to support those who are using the TfEL Companion Diary. The diary sets a focus linked to TfEL each fortnight and the Facebook Group supports this by posting relevant information linked to the focus. It also promotes PD opportunities as well as providing the opportunity to pose questions around teaching and learning. The Group provides great information regardless of whether you have the diary or not.

So if you have a Facebook account why not add some of these Groups or Pages to your feed?

Professional Reading from Twitter Part 8

Reading number 1

Blog: Educate1-to-1

Blog post: Should learning be evermore digital?

Posted on Twitter by @josepicardoSHS

Reading number 2


Blog post: Carol Dweck says is not ‘a tool to make children feel good’

Posted on Twitter by @ImpiriEducator

Reading number 3

Blog: The AGE National

Blog post: Smaller class sizes, performance pay and school choice keep parents happy

Posted on Twitter by @dzyngier

Professional Reading from Twitter Part 5

Click on the blog post titles to be taken to the article.

Reading number 1

Blog: Wayfaring Path

Blog post: Kill the report card

Posted on Twitter by @whatedsaid


Reading Viewing number 2

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 1.59.03 pm Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 1.59.23 pmPosted on Twitter by @mraspinall


Professional reading number 3


Blog post: How do your expectations influence learning?

Posted on Twitter by @whatedsaid

#910DA Health Class

My Year 9/10 health class are continuing to use Twitter to share and discuss their term 4 topic drugs and alcohol. We have been focusing on the legalisation of medical marijuana over the last few weeks.

For those interested in reading what my students have been tweeting I have embedded the #910DA Twitter feed into the blog (scroll down its on the left hand side).

Students are on a steep learning curve about how to tweet effectively and not all tweets have been accurate! One student account misread an article and their tweet reflected this. They had also not supplied the link to the study they were quoting. When asked they did provide the link and I was able to help them understand what the article actually said. I’ve inserted the conversation below.

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It is this type of conversation that has led to face to face conversations in the classroom about being accurate with what we post. For example some of the statements in the image below are flat out lies that falsely promoted a positive view of marijuana i.e. marijuana cures cancer. As a class we were able to view the graphic and talk about what we thought was accurate and what we thought was inaccurate and why. We also discussed how posting something in this way says we agree with the content and if the content is inaccurate it reflects on us.

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A benefit to using this method of communication was realised when I was absent from school and missed my weekly 9/10 health class. The lesson I set for the relief teacher involved students responding to links I had sent them via Twitter. I was able to sit at home and see who was engaging in the activity and respond to student tweets, all in real time. I was there without physically being there. Below are some examples of my interactions during this lesson.

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Using Twitter with my 9/10 Health Class

I have been using Twitter professionally for 3 years and acknowledge it as a major cornerstone of my professional development and a source for the majority of information shared on this blog.

So having seen its benefits professionally I wondered how it would transfer into my 9/10 health class which is doing a drugs and alcohol unit this term. I am always conscious of not using technology because it’s all the rage or it’s what everyone else is doing until I have convinced myself of how it will improve student learning. Having said this sometimes it is hard to tell if the benefits will be realised without trialling it first. This is were I am at with using Twitter in my classroom.

My goals for Twitter in this class are:

  1. It will expose students to a broader range of opinion on the topic of drugs and alcohol.
  2. It will allow students to share quality information about the responsible use of drugs and alcohol including personal opinion and the latest data and facts.
  3. It will expose students to a new way of viewing social media. As a tool that can be used to develop professional and educational networks.
  4. It will be an opportunity to discuss responsible use of social media and how what you post represents you as a person. How do you want to be viewed?

Rather than discuss all aspects of how this task will work I have linked the following for you to view if interested:

1. Drugs and alcohol program (overview) linked to the Australian Curriculum

2. Twitter task explanation

3. Twitter task – parent letter

As part of setting up their accounts students had to follow each other and follow 16 organisations (selected by me) whose sole purpose was focused on the topic of drugs and alcohol, for example @DrinkWiseAust @ActiononAlcohol. We also created a class hashtag to allow us a way of seeing all of our tweets in one place, #910DA.

It will be interesting at the end of this unit to see if Twitter met my expectations in the classroom and what the students thought of it as a way of learning.

Below are screen shots from student accounts from our first lesson using Twitter.

The first image shows 6 student accounts. Most students created their accounts in pairs using the first name of one student and the last name of the other. All accounts required a “bio” explaining the purpose of their account.

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I retweeted all student tweets to my followers asking if they could follow, retweet or favourite some of my students tweets to help show them how Twitter works. I also thought it would give the students a buzz knowing that others were instantly viewing and sharing what they posted. The tweet below was from Brandon and contained a graphic which can be seen a bit further down. Brandon’s tweet was retweeted by myself and two others sending it out to over 1500 people.

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One of our focuses is medical marijuana and its legalisation in Australia. Both Connor and Maddy found that our Prime Minister Tony Abbot is in favour of legalising medical marijuana! It will be interesting to see what the students think after viewing the SBS program INSIGHT around this topic.

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Professional Reading from Twitter Part 3

Twitter app

Reading number 1

Blog: Mind Shift: How we learn

Blog post: Are We Taking Our Students’ Work Seriously Enough? How genuine are we involving our students and seriously listening to what they say?

Posted on Twitter by @MindShiftQED

Reading number 2

Blog: SmartBlog on Education

Blog post: De-grade your classroom and instead use narrative feedback. A post to challenge what some teachers, parents and students see as the very reason students attend school. Our system relies on them, we use them to report to parents and Universities use them to decide on entry to courses. Could you remove grading from your classroom? The comments under the post are also a very interesting read.

Posted on Twitter by @kwhobbes

Professional Reading from Twitter Part 2

Twitter app

Twitter continues to provide me with a range of thought provoking articles about education. Below are a couple that I would like to share with you.

Reading number 1

Blog: te@chthought

Blog post: 10 Ways To Be A More Reflective Teacher – The title says it all. if you are someone who already reflects strongly on their teaching or would like to read how others reflect then have a read of this article.

Posted on Twitter by @gcouros

Reading number 2

Blog: Connected Principals

Blog postKeeping The Heart Of An Educator “What are some ways you stay motivated to treat others with dignity even when they don’t necessarily “deserve” it?”

Posted on Twitter by @neilringrose

Communicating with parents

Communicating with parents is an important part of teaching. When students don’t complete homework, miss due dates or are not using class time effectively we will usually approach parents to inform them and discuss solutions. Often we do this after the problem has occurred. Implementing effective regular communication processes with parents may help avoid or minimise these problems.

The benefits of communicating regularly with parents are:

  • It allows for parents, students and teachers to be on the same page. Students will struggle with the, “I have no homework” statement when parents know what has been set for homework or when the next due date is coming up. Making expectations clear to parents is a way of avoiding potential future conflict between students, parents and teachers.
  • Parents want to know what is happening in their child’s classroom and appreciate the time and effort made to keep them informed.
  • Increased communication is more likely to see the teacher receive support from the parent if an issue arises with their child.

It is up to teachers to implement communication processes that are workable for both the teacher and the parents over the long term. Processes need to be sustainable and work simply and easily once in place.

Examples of traditional methods for communicating with parents include:

  • Notes home in diaries/communication books.
  • Formal letters
  • Phone calls
  • Face to face meetings

Examples of less common methods for communicating with parents include:

  • Emails (email groups)
  • Messaging (create parent group contacts on your phone)
  • Edmodo (teacher creates a class group and invites parents using a code)
  • Twitter (create a class hashtag)
  • Facebook (create a Group and invite parents to join)
  • Blog (use Edublogs to create a class blog)

My belief is that there is a place for all of the above forms of communication and depends entirely on the situation faced by the teacher. Having said that I cannot go past the second list for ease of of use to regularly (daily/weekly) communicate with parents (and students). Most teachers have used the methods on the first list to communicate with parents but these are time consuming and not as efficient for daily or weekly communication.

The four that I think are the most effective for constant regular communication are group emails, group txt messaging, Facebook and blogs.

1. Group email – Collecting everyones email may take some time and effort but once set up is an easy way to communicate important information quickly and easily. Attach images, documents and links.

2. Group txt messaging – Like emails, collecting phone numbers may take a little time and effort (although the school should have almost all parent mobile numbers). Set up a group contact for use at any time (our phones are always with us). This is a bonus as we often think of things we should have reminded students/parents when we are away from our work spaces or a computer.

3. Facebook – Setting up a Facebook Group that is open to all students/parents in your class or maybe a separate group for parents and students is an effective way to communicate. The benefit of Facebook is that most parents use it. Post information regularly about upcoming due dates, events, images, links and documents.

Below is a post and parent reply to my Facebook Group “PBAS HPE 7-10 Course Information”. This group is open to students and parents and currently has 28 members.

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4. Blogs – Set up a blog if you want to give parents a window into your classroom. This is a little more time consuming than Facebook/emails/messaging but can have a big impact on parents perception of you and what you do with their children at school.

Click on the image below to visit my Junior PE blog.

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With any form of communication that allows you to post information about children (blogs) or could considered intrusive by parents (sending txt messages, emails or Facebook Groups) it is important to send an explanation letter allowing parents to consider the pros and cons of the proposed system. They can then give their permission (or not) to be a part of the process. I still see great value in a Facebook or email group even without 100% participation by parents. Those that opt in will reap the benefits as will the teacher.

Professional reading from Twitter

Twitter provides a great range of articles for teachers to read allowing for reflection on their own practice. Here are three that I have recently found. Click on the blog post name to view the article.

Reading number 1

Blog: Pinnacle – Trustworthy Advice On How to Excel In Education

Blog post: Principles of effective teaching. Teachers have the largest impact on their students’ results. This blog post is supported by the work of John Hattie, the author Shaun Killian outlines 10 key principles of effective teaching.

Posted on Twitter by @EmpiriEducator

Reading number 2

Blog: Life of an Educator by Dr. Justin Tarte

Blog post: 5 things to consider when designing a rubric. “The best intended rubric can become a limiting and disastrous tool when not used properly, and unfortunately I find more often than not they aren’t used effectively and properly.” This article may challenge your thinking about rubrics.

Posted on Twitter by @KleinErin

Reading number 3

Blog: Centre for Teaching Quality

Blog post: It’s Us Not Them: How Student Failure may Reflect On You. She was crying in the bathroom because she received another failing grade on a test. Melissa’s story is so important because it is the story of many of our students.” This post has a long introduction but the core of the post raises some great points for reflection about our own teaching. A thought provoking read.

Posted on Twitter by @MarzanoResearch


PBAS 14 Day Twitter Challenge

Twitter app

Before starting this post I must thank Jarrod Robinson (@mrrobbo) who posted a PE teacher 14 Day Twitter Challenge on his website thepegeek.com. A perfect example of how Twitter directed me to something that then resulted in an idea that could be used to encourage staff at PBAS to learn a new skill that potentially could change the way they view professional development and teaching.

Thanks to all the staff willing to have a go a the 14 Day Twitter Challenge. I hope that everyone finds it worth while. Below are copies of the 14 Day Challenge graphic. I have also added a follow up video to the first session where we created our Twitter accounts in case anyone wanted to get a refresher on some of the things we talked about on Day 1 of the challenge.


Links to TfEL and The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

TfEL 1.3 Participate in professional learning communities and networks.

TfEL 1.5 Discuss educational purpose and policy.

Australian Teacher Standards 6.2 Engage in professional learning and improve practice.

Australian Teacher Standards 6.3 Engage with colleagues and improve practice.


The 14 Day Twitter Challenge instructions

14 Day Twitter Challenge









PBAS Twitter Basics