By Lisa Dabbs, Educational Consultant & Author
I was introduced to Voxer in 2012, and began to use it on occasion with a family member. This was a few years before it became this amazing resource that I now have come to rely on to connect and collaborate with educators all around the world!
Connected to What Matters
I’m a connected educator. Okay, there I’ve said it and I’m not embarrassed to say that I wear that title proudly. I’ve had the pleasure of building many local and international relationships via social media and have grown in my practice as a result. I’m also thoroughly convinced that using Voxer has deepened those connections. Having said that, I’m also keenly aware that not everyone is as connected as I am. When it comes to the topic of why we should connect as an educational community, there are a variety of thoughts on the subject, and some say that they just don’t have the time. My response would be that we make the time for what matters so why not see connecting to grow our practice as a valuable action.
Voxer Chats Deepen Discussions
As Voxer began to pick up steam a few years ago, I was tagged to join a new phenomenon, a “Voxer chat” by one of my friends on Twitter. It was curious but more importantly, I was excited to see how the use of chats in the app might begin to lead to deeper discussions beyond Twitter. I began to see that more and more of my social media contacts were being added to the chat. The conversations around the topic of teaching and social media networking took off and I was able to see that a number of pressing issues, that had previously been discussed in Twitter chats were now turning into vibrant convos on Voxer.
5 Ways to Encourage Math Talk Through Chats
Discussions on Voxer can support educators in many areas, and it’s clear that Voxer is being used as a Professional Development tool. For example, as state and national conferences are held year round, you can typically find a Voxer chat to connect to while you’re attending the conference. If you aren’t able to travel to a conference, you can join a conference chat to gain the virtual experience. Conference participants share feedback and images on Voxer as it happens. If you missed a session, you can catch a glimpse of it, shared by someone who was there. Most educators are happy to share their learnings with those not in attendance.
Using this virtual conference model, so too can we develop ways to grow in Math pedagogy on Voxer.
Let’s explore 5 ways that might be useful to get teachers talking about Math, deepening discussions on our mindset with math, sharing resources and growing professionally using Voxer:
1. Math Chats while at Conferences
If you’re planning on attending a math conference, whether it be local or across the country, start a chat for it. Invite those at your school, in your district and even those not attending to join the chat. Share it in your social media communities and let others know how being a part of this chat will help them to feel as though they are really there. Make sure you let chat participants know what sessions you are attending, share some images of the session, and resource links. Give some feedback about content that was presented. Add some questions for discussion that even those not in attendance might be willing to participate in. Make sure everyone knows what the criteria is for sharing in the chat, while at the conference so that they can get the most out of it.
2. Math Chats with Grade Level Colleagues
This is a great opportunity to connect with colleagues at your school to support one another in the area of mathematics instruction. Consider starting a Google Doc and share the link in the beginning of the chat. Have others add to the Google Doc for lesson planning and instructional strategies and discussions with students around math content. See it as a virtual group lesson plan, where participants in the chat can bring ideas to a number of topics ranging from algebra to geometry to number sense and data analysis. Use it, to challenge each other in the way that you are approaching your particular math topic.
3. Math Chats with Online Colleagues
There are many education chats on Twitter, one used to be #mathchat. However that chat is no longer active. So why not start a math chat on Voxer? Invite local and online math colleagues to join you. Use this as a way to curate ideas, strategies, and discussions that you might not have thought of before with online colleagues from around the globe. Start every week by posting a “Math Talk” question that is a springboard for discussion all week. Take the lead and guide the discussion. Wrap up the week by recapping discussions and inviting different members of the chat to guide the discussion on a weekly basis. You may want to include educators from different grade level backgrounds. Post questions weekly that cover the approach to math challenges as seen from the elementary school through high school teaching lens.
4. Math Mindset Twitter Chats
#MathMindset is a great chat that’s being held weekly on Twitter on Thursdays from 4:30PM – 5:00PM PT. As with most Twitter chats once the chat is over the discussion may shut down. Join the Voxer mathmindset group chat (or other education Voxer groups) to continue the conversation! Invite those who are interested to join you and continue the discussion on the same topic that was posted in the Twitter chat every week. This is just one way to take a Twitter chat to a deeper level.
5. TenMarks Math Tips
There are amazing resources, on the internet that we can use to teach math at any level be it preschool through high school. Amazon TenMarks is one of those sites! TenMarks partners with teachers, schools and districts to drive an integrated model of curriculum and instruction, supported by technology and 1:1 personalization. They do this by creating a content-driven technology strategy, focusing on 3 core areas. If you are one of the 100’s of teachers using TenMarks, you might want to consider sharing your lessons and ideas in a Voxer chat group. Sharing how you use this great resource at your school and in your work, would provide a layer of collaboration that would reach outside of your school community. By providing an extended opportunity to others to learn with you, you benefit from their perspective and support your own professional growth and development.
Be a Model for Learning
As we look for ways to connect with one another to grow in our practice, it’s great to see that using an app like Voxer can be a fantastic support! Partnering with others in your educational community, whether at your school site or beyond the classroom walls, gives us perspective into the educational mindsets of those around us. As we empower ourselves to seek out new learning, whether it be in math or other curriculum areas, we model the very behavior we hope to inspire in our students.
What can you do today to take one idea shared to grow your #MathMindset this week?
Lisa Michelle Dabbs is an Educational Consultant, Author, Speaker, Blogger and Adjunct Professor in Southern California. She is the author of Standing in the Gap: Empowering New Teachers Through Connected Resources part of the popular Corwin Connected Educators series. Previously, Lisa was an Elementary School Principal in public schools in the Los Angeles area for 14 years. She is active on social media and is known internationally as the founder of New Teacher Chat #ntchat. Lisa writes often for online publications like Huffington Post and SmartBlogs and is a resident blogger at Edutopia.org. You can find her website at LisaDabbs.com and connect with her on Twitter @teachwithsoul and on Voxer at lisadabbs.