My notebooks are an important part of my process as a teacher, and as a writer. They are places that allow me to collect my ideas, and to work them through. I keep one on the go constantly, in my satchel. It comes to every PD opportunity with me, and is often open on my desk as I work.
I began the notebook process for the purposes of curating ideas. They joy of our work as teachers is that there is so much out there. Never mind the ideas flying around at a PD session, sometimes we’re lucky enough to work with people where every it seems like every single conversation results in the sharing of another great idea. My mind could never keep track of everything, and, well, the collection of scraps of paper, note cards and napkins with killer ideas on the, got unwieldy and inefficient pretty quickly.
The notebook fixed this. I kept pages of notes on sessions. I started pages that would collect all the disparate ideas from different sessions and conversations that dealt with a single topic or strategy. I flagged things, and tucked sheets inside. I glued those random scraps right into the notebook. I dragged it to every meeting, and if I was reading a teaching text, it was open beside me as I read.
Then, the notebook evolved. I started using it to plan. I sketched out units and lessons. I’d write my goals, and then flip back through the pages, looking for the things that would help me meet them.
Every notebook I’ve filled since I committed to that process lives in a drawer in my classroom.
But then there was another evolution. I got pulled into the wonderful, overwhelming world that is EduTwitter. What a fantastic resource. The notebook got a workout as I noted the multitude of ideas.
Like many of us, I essentially carry Twitter with me on my phone. Waiting in line, sitting in the car, wherever I was, I could be on Twitter. And I didn’t always have my notebook with me. So, I did what we all do, and used the FavStar, and later the FavHeart to keep track of things.
My PLN on Twitter is awesome, and I found myself involved in a handful of edchats each week. Etiquette in chats means liking other participants’ tweets. In a really engaging chat, the likes add up. I discovered that when I wanted to find the great ideas I had flagged to add to the notebook, they were getting lost in the flood of likes.
One day, I facetiously retweeted an idea that I wanted to make sure I remembered with #nowherenearmynotebook, mostly because I wanted to remember it, and I physically was nowhere near my notebook.
Then, I realized that I had stumbled onto a really useful strategy. As a TweetDeck user, I could create a column dedicated to that hashtag. All the gold I’d mined in each Twitter session lived there.
So, #nowherenearmynotebook became an important tool in my professional Twittering. All the awesome stuff that rolled into my feed, potential lessons, articles, images, quotes and all other manner of inspiration get tagged with that hashtag. Essentially, it’s become my online notebook. I’ve literally, perhaps ironically, tweeted #nowherenearmynotebook while resting my elbow on my notebook.
it seems like such an obvious, simple strategy, but as I’ve explained it to people, it’s become clear that maybe it isn’t. I’m not saying I’ve created something groundbreaking in EduConnectedness, but it’s been a valuable strategy in my work. It allows me to archive material, just like I would in my notebooks, but I’ve also found a way to make what I’m looking at and thinking about transparent. If you dig what I’m doing, then check out my hashtag. If you’re doing the same thing, then you cans hare your thinking through a hashtag of your own.
What strategies do you use to keep track of all the gold you find online? How do you share it? What’s your hashtag?