Thursday, 6 June 2013

Twitter for Teachers

(Image courtesy of Creative Commons)

I love learning! My primary source of professional development over the past ten years has come from university courses. With the going rate for an international student being around 2000 dollars per unit, quality learning can be quite expensive.

Recently at the Vietnam Technology Conference, I was introduced to Twitter. Now, up to this point, I was extremely skeptical about social media. I had noticed how people were wasting hours on Facebook and was determined not to do the same.

At the technology conference, I saw for the first time how Twitter can be used for educational purposes. The key to it all is to create an account strictly for professional use. Identify quality educators to follow and learn from them. It is also important to share your successful lessons too, thus creating a professional learning network.

The same applies to other professions. If you are a manufacturing engineer, follow people in the same field. If you are a doctor, look for other doctors to learn from. For more information on how to set up a Twitter account, check out this guide from Edudemic which includes a video by Erin Klien. They have done a much better job of explaining Twitter than I ever could.

Follow me @brianlalor.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Building Community in Hanoi

My mother was a teacher for forty-two years. Most of that time she taught at a local primary school near my home. Teaching for that length of time at the same school is extremely beneficial for building relationships within the community. As a child, many older boys in my neighborhood looked out for me because I was "Mrs. Lalor's son". The desire to be a part of the community I live in and to help develop it is something I got from my mother, so thank you, Mam!

The Friday night youth group I teach at Hanoi International Fellowship has become involved in building community in Hanoi. They have teamed up with another organisation I volunteer for called the Australian Charity for the Children of Vietnam

ACCV works to help young blind people in Hanoi have a better life through English language programs and building social networks. There is a lot more information about ACCV here where Alison has created a beautiful blog post of the same event. We met at the new HIF Center and began with a time of eating and getting to know each other better.

After lunch, we played Connect Four, Dominoes and cards. It was a real learning experience for us to see how well the blind students could play these games. I thought you needed to be able to see to play such games. After this, some of the HIF youth brought a couple of the ACCV students into the auditorium to play musical instruments.

The highlight of the day for me was all the different organisations present. There were not only members of HIF and ACCV, but also of another organisation that works with the blind called Lift You Up. Members of the Young Adults group at HIF also attended, as did other blind friends from Hanoi. Various international schools were represented including Singapore International School, UNIS and Concordia. I believe this was a very successful day of learning and building community. 

Our next project together will be to expand our game playing into the physical realm. One of the HIF members has sourced a football for blind people and we are working on creating the game pictured above, which is called Swish. It is a version of table tennis that blind people can play. Thanks to everyone who came on to this awesome event!