Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Twitter Chats for the Ag Educator!

This past Friday, I conducted my first ever "Twitter" Chat for my AEE 412 Methods of Teaching Class. I truly believe that Twitter can be a wonderful professional development tool that helps connect innovative educators in improving their professional practice, sharing resources & ideas, and providing inspiration.

It was interesting to say the least. Unexpected circumstances had made my physical presence in Happy Valley and/or a substitute instructor impossible and as they say, "Necessity is the mother of innovation".

The chat was designed to be conducted for 50 minutes to replicate a class session with 17 AEE Seniors preparing to student teach in the spring with the content being a review of learning objectives. It was recommended that students utilize TWEET CHAT. Here is a video that the students were asked to watch to orientate themselves:

Here are some observations from myself as the instructor and from my students after we reflected on Monday:

  1. As the instructor, I felt like it was just flying at me way fast! The students had similar reactions. In hindsight, I should have requested the assistance of a moderator.
  2. As the instructor, I was so glad it was a REVIEW of information already engaged in the class session prior. I do not think that I would want to teach new material via twitter.
  3. I way overestimated the number of questions we would have time to engage in. I planned 8  and I believe we got to 4.
  4. Students enjoyed having non-class participants, particular an active secondary agriculture educator join our session. I believe it underscores a need to have our teacher candidates interact with the active members in our profession as much as possible.
  5. Some students felt it was an inefficient use of time, pointing out 4 questions in 50 minutes. Others felt that it allowed for more students (not just who are vocal) to engage and share in the class session. I would hypothesize that some of these feelings are a reflection of learning style/orientation of the leaders.
  6. I do feel that this was a good platform/experience to role model for students:
    1. Courage to try something new
    2. Utilizing a different technology platform. Students who did not have twitter prior had a reason to get an account and participate.
I would hope that more school-based agricultural educators would utilize Twitter to accomplish two things:
1) Grow their own Professional Learning Network (PLN)
2) Share the story of School-Based Agricultural Education

10 Great Twitter Chats that Every School Based Agricultural Educator Should Check Out 
(Borrowed heavily from Susan Bearden and her post: 13 Great Twitter Chats Every Educator Should Check Out)
  1. #CTEChat, Wednesday's 8pm EST, Conversations around Career & Technical Education. http://twubs.com/ctechat
  2. #AgChat, Tuesday's 8pm-10pm EST, A weekly conversation for folks involved in business of growing food, fuel, feed and fiber. https://twitter.com/agchat
  3. #edchat: Considerd the "grandfather" of educational chats, #edchat is one of the most popular chats and is held on Tuesdays from 12 to 1 and 7 to 8 pm Eastern Time. This fast moving chat attracts participants from all over the world to discuss a variety of topics related to education. You'll also find interesting discussions and resources shared by searching for this hashtag during the week. Learn more at edchat.pbworks.com
  4. #edtechchat: is dedicated to all things related to Education Technology and takes place Mondays from 8 to 9 pm Eastern Time. If you are interested in education technology, you'll find inspiring discussions and valuable resources here. Archives are found at edtechchat.wikispaces.com and podcast discussions of each week's chat can be found here on the Bam Radio network.
  5. #tlap: Looking for inspiration?  #tlap was inspired by the fabulous book "Teach Like a Pirate" by Dave Burgess (@burgessdave) and attracts passionate, creative educators seeking to improve their professional practice. Set sail with yer fellow pirates on Mondays 9 pm ET. Ahoy, matey!
  6. #satchat: Fascinating discussions about education and leadership are held on Saturday mornings from 7:30 to 8:30 am Eastern Time. This chat attracts a great combination of teachers and administrators, with inspired results!
  7. If you aren't up that early on weekends, you can catch #satchatwc (Satchat West Coast) at 10:30 am ET. For a uniquely global discussion, #satchatoc attracts a lot of international participants and is held Friday nights at 8:00 pm ET. Learn more at the satchat website
  8. #flipclass: Interested in flipping your classroom? Join the #flipclass chat on Monday nights from 8 to 9 pm. Exchange ideas, resources, and best practices with enthusiastic educators participating in the flipped classroom movement. Archives and more information at flippedlearning.org/domain/26
  9. #ptchat: The goal behind #ptchat is to encourage a transparent & collaborative dialogue between parents & educators. You'll find these fascinating and thought provoking discussions on Wednesday nights at 9 pm ET. Learn more at efacetoday.blogspot.com/p/parent-teacher-chats.html
  10. #digcit: This chat discusses best practices in teaching Digital Citizenship and Literacy on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month from 7 to 8 pm ET. Find out more information at gonevirtual.org/digcit.html

Interested in giving Twitter chats a try? Here are a FIVE tips to get you started:
1. Use a tool like TweetdeckTweetchat, or Twubs to follow that chat. On a mobile device, you may find an app like Hootsuite to be helpful.
2. It's okay to lurk (which means to follow the discussion, but not participate) at first. Lurking is learning! At the same time, don't be afraid to jump into the conversation. If it's your first chat, say so! You'll likely find a very supportive group.
3. When participating in a chat, don't forget to include the chat hashtag, prefaced by the # sign, or else chat participants will miss your Tweets! Some tools, like Tweetchat, will append the hashtag automatically. It's easy to forget when you are deep in a discussion, so get in the habit of double checking your tweets before hitting "send."  
4. Some chats move very quickly and it can be difficult to keep with all the chatter. Don't be intimidated or feel that you have to read everything! Just catch what you can. Many chats are archived afterwards and can be a gold mine of valuable information and resources. Often, a link to the archive will be shared at the end of the chat. Or, just do a Google search for the chat hashtag and the word "archives." For example, a search for "edchat archives" brings you quickly to the #edchat archive at edchat.pbworks.com
5. Participating in Twitter chats is a great way to build your Personal Learning Network. Twitter chats attract passionate educators who are dedicated to lifelong learning, improving their professional practice, and sharing resources with others. Follow people with whom you interact, or who tweet helpful resources and/or comments that resonate with you. Chats provide terrific opportunities for relationship building!

Please leave a comment for your additional thoughts, ideas and suggestions for using Twitter in School-Based Agricultural Education! #Teachag!

Friday, July 19, 2013

What is US School-Based Agricultural Education's role in Global Food Security?

Melanie Berndtson, an Agriscience Educator at Wellsboro High School in Pennsylvania is currently attending the National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Academy in Maryland sponsored and supported by DuPont. She recently shared the following video in the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) Community of Practice on Global Agriculture: http://communities.naae.org/community/instruction/global-agriculture

As I was watching this video, I keep thinking about what is the role that US School-based agricultural education can actively take to help address the issue?

Very interesting...are we empowering our amazing students to view themselves as having the capacity to truly help make the world (and thus our local communities) a better place?

What are you thoughts? What can/should we do?

A worthwhile issue to keep applying purposeful deep thought to.

Keep doing great things,


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Expanding our Capacity

The most precious resource for most agricultural educators is...TIME!

How can we continue to evolve as catalysts for positive change, fulfill our roles as program directors of our secondary agricultural education programs and provide more quality one-on-one instruction for our students? I believe there is opportunity in engaging more volunteers and/or stakeholders in our program.

The recent issue of Time Magazine focused on "How Service can Save Us!" I was reading it on my return trip from the amazing Iowa Association of Agricultural Educators Conference. The article listed four websites that I thought might have potential for secondary agricultural educators to utilize to expand their human resources for their programing. 

The community-service search engine offers a mobile app to link volunteers to local nonprofits and grassroots organizations.

Dedicated to promoting service among children and teens, the site grants $1 million each year to youth-led projects

More than 93,000 nonprofits recruit millions of volunteers through this outfit.

Catchafire matches professionals' skills with what volunteer organizations need most.

Of course, there is great responsibility to successfully implement volunteers. One must be able to articulate the clear vision of what is to be accomplished and the specific educational outcomes that are targeted.

If you decide to try to utilize any of these services and increasing the number of volunteers in your program (both help your students and potentially expanding the agricultural literacy of your volunteers), please email me at foster@psu.edu and let me know how it goes!

Welcome! Time to Walk the Talk!

Hello all,

My name is Daniel Foster and I am an agricultural teacher educator at Pennsylvania State University. Prior to Penn State, I received my graduate degrees at The Ohio State University and taught secondary agriculture in Willcox, Arizona.

Recently, I have been a vocal advocate of my teacher candidates of agricultural education at Penn State and other teachers of agriculture to develop a professional blog. I believe that this will go a long way in helping us tell the story of school-based agricultural education to strategic partners.

The blog is entitled Exponential Impact. I truly believe that each of us has the capacity as agricultural educators to make an IMPACT not an impression. To exponentially change the world around us for the better.  I appreciate you reading and passing on those nuggets of knowledge that you think are worthwhile.

As we talk about truly being catalysts for positive change, we have to ask: WHO is going to do the Job? Who is going to embrace the role of being the torch bearer? I wanted the first blog entry of Exponential Impact to include the poem below:

Everybody, Anybody, Somebody, Nobody and Someone Else

Let me tell you the story
Of  four young lads by the name
Of Tom, Dick, Harry and Joe.
Their full names in fact were as such;

Tom Somebody,
Dick Everybody,
Harry Anybody,
and Joe Nobody.
Together they were the best of friends,
But I must confess
when to came to a task they weren't very good.

You see when ever they were given a job,
They all began to fight.
Because this is how it always went;

Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it,
And Anyone could have done it
But in the end Nobody always ended up with the task.

When Nobody did it,
Somebody was angry because it was Everybody's job.
But Everybody thought that Somebody would do it instead.
Now Nobody realized that Nobody would do it.
So consequently Everybody blamed Somebody
When Nobody did what Anybody could have done 
In the first place.

Now don't start arguing yet
because I have another story 
of these friends to tell;

Now as you may have guessed
these four were fun, active, busy people
But what they accomplished was a shame and Everyone knew it.
You see Everybody had a good idea,
But Everybody thought Somebody would follow it through,
However Somebody  thought Anybody would work on it.
And Anybody thought Everybody should do it.
So Nobody ended up working on it...AGAIN!
Now one day a contest was announced,
All the boys were sent to enter.
Now Everybody thought Anybody could win the prize.
Anybody thought Somebody would win.
And Somebody thought Everybody would get a prize.
Nobody was the smartest of the four.
And Nobody was very faithful.
Nobody worked very hard.
Thus Nobody won the prize!

No I have one more tale to tell you
of another friend of the four
this is a sad sad tale of the death of
a man called Someone Else;

You see all the boys work at a firm
and at this firm worked Someone Else.
Now the four were greatly saddened
to learn of the death of one of the most
valuable member - Someone Else.

Someone's passing created a vacancy
that will be difficult to fill.
He had been around for years and for
everyone of those years,
Someone did far more that a normal person's
share of work.
Whenever Anybody mentioned leadership,
Somebody  always looked to this wonderful
person for inspiration and results;
"Someone Else can do that job!"

When there was a job to do, a need to be filled
or a place of leadership, one name was always given....
....Someone Else.
Everyone knew Someone else was the largest giver
of time and money.
Whenever there was a financial need,
Everybody, Anybody and Somebody always
assumed that Someone Else would make up the difference.
Now Someone Else is gone.
And the boys all wonder what they will do,
No longer can they utter the words;
"Let Someone Else do it"
If it is going to be done, one of them
will have to do it....And I guess most of the time
it will be Nobody.