#NGSSchat at #NSTA16 | Building PLNs 140 Characters at a Time

#NGSSchat at NSTA header

#NGSSchat is coming to Nashville, as part of the NSTA National Conference on Science Education! Join us Thursday, March 31, at the Omni Nashville in the Legends C room at 8 Central Time, or virtually via Twitter. It’s going to be a vibrant, collaborative night. I’m so thrilled to be one of the people spearheading this event, and can’t believe how my experience with this community has grown in just 2 short years. It speaks volumes to what science teachers can do when they put their heads together.

Where It All Started

When I attended #NSTA14 Boston, I first discovered the power of Twitter and Professional Learning Networks (PLNs). I started exploring the world of Twitter chats and quickly realized how sharing my work and exchanging ideas with others would help me grow professionally. I stumbled on #NGSSchat, where I found my tweeps—people who share similar struggles and triumphs from around the country on the adoption and implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). A few weeks before #NSTA15 in Chicago, I started thinking to myself: I can’t wait to finally meet some of these great people I have been exchanging ideas with online! But how? I exchanged messages with Fred Ende and Trish Shelton (the brains behind #NGSSchat) and we brainstormed around gathering a group live for #NGSSchat the Thursday we were at #NSTA15. Mind you, this all happened a month before the conference where rooms are booked years in advance and there was no space to be found. We managed to persuade a hotel to give us a space for free (we are teachers after all) with WiFi so we could make it happen. The invitation was issued during the chat prior to the conference and then waited wondering will anyone show up?

participants at #NGSSchat at #NSTA15 Chicago

As the organizers, Adam Taylor and Trisha Shelton, set up laptops and piped in Fred Ende via a Google hangout, they all started to arrive. The room was humble, with only a few tables and a projected image of the chat on the wall. There was an audible buzz and energy that comes when you gather science educators together. There were pockets of learning groups around the room; some teachers wanted help and support in how to engage in a chat, others were introducing themselves to each other and sharing their excitement over sessions they had attended that day. When the chat began we all broke out devices and it was wonderful to see people jumping in to help those new to chats be successful as they tested the waters. Ted Willard, Phillip Bell, Joe Kracijk, and Stephen Pruitt showed up and the group was excited that people from NSTA, higher education, and Achieve were joining our conversation. It is validating for us as educators when those at a higher altitude see the work we do as inspiring and important. After the chat ended the group stayed for a while to mingle, discuss, and connect.

The connections made on that day have continued to grow the #NGSSchat community and have spawned new efforts like the #Sci4AllSs book study, the leveled chats (#elNGSSchat, #msNGSSchat, #hsNGSSchat) as well as @NGSStweeps to continue the learning throughout the year in a variety of ways. I learn something new and have new questions to explore each time I am able to join #NGSSchat or meet up with my “NGSStweeps” when they are nearby. As educators, we strive to leave students with powerful questions to answer and find meaning collaboratively and independently. Shouldn’t you do the same for yourself as an educator?

participants at #NGSSchat at #NSTA15 Chicago

Where We’re Headed

If you are attending #NSTA16 in Nashville I encourage you to join us on Thursday, March 31, at the Omni Nashville in the Legends C room at 8 Central Time to meet and exchange ideas. Introduce yourself to another educator and connect, each of us has something to share. For those who are not coming to conference, join us online by following #NGSSchat on Twitter at 8CT (9ET). I promise you will leave with new colleagues in your PLN, new questions to ponder, and an excitement to continue the work you do each day.

And yes… there is some truth to the rumors that FLAT FRED will be making an appearance. Follow me @Jaclyn Austin to find out what else we have in store for Nashville’s #NGSSchat!

JAImageJaclyn Austin is a resource teacher for secondary science with Howard County Public Schools, Maryland, and a board member of the Maryland Association of Science Teachers.

Register to attend #NSTA16 Nashville here—and don’t forget, NSTA members get a substantial discount!

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

Future NSTA Conferences

2016 National Conference

2016 STEM Forum & Expo

2016 Area Conferences

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