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There's an App for PD in Your PJs

by Jen Jones
 | Feb 02, 2016

FullSizeRenderTeachers, by nature, are social networkers, connectors, and collaborators of ideas, knowledge, and best practices. Periscope is the latest in teacher professional development in the form of a hot, free app. Teachers using Periscope to share their ideas with the world are the same types of teachers who are also blogging; however, Periscope is an easier, faster, and more efficient platform for sharing ideas because you speak and express your ideas through a camera instead of writing and composing your ideas through a blog. Followership is growing rapidly because teachers would rather listen to someone speak their ideas, watch his or her facial expressions, and interact by commenting and asking questions right alongside that person. “This new form of professional development is personal, intentional, and informational” says Sarah Cooper, fifth-grade teacher in Tennessee (@rockytopteacher).

Periscope is a live streaming video platform similar to YouTube in that the user, who I will refer to as the scoper, as we call ourselves, is creating a video, but different from YouTube because the scoper is live, meaning the video is being created and uploaded to the Internet simultaneously—there are no second takes. However, once the scope is done, the scoper has the option to keep or delete the Periscope (Scope). When your scope is over, it is saved for 24 hours in the app, unless you make it available for replays using another app called Katch, which you need prior to making a scope. The video is also saved to your camera roll if you opt for it. As viewers listen and watch a video, they can write comments in a text box, ask questions, or tap the screen. Whenever a viewer adds a comment, everyone else watching the scope can see the comment. Viewers can also tap each other’s comment box and reply directly to one another.

There are two ways to add content to Periscope: by being a scoper or a viewer. When you are the scoper, anyone can watch you live and people can find you in several ways, most commonly by following you, similar to Facebook and Instagram. Followers usually enable notifications so they know when you are live. People can also find you through the map icon if you have enabled your location setting. I do not recommend enabling the location setting if you are scoping from home, but I do recommend turning it on if you are scoping from somewhere interesting like a museum, Central Park, an active volcano or, say, the Eiffel Tower.

Teachers have turned to Periscope to share and connect with a broader geographic community, delivering content in a real-time, raw, unpolished, and unscripted format. Because of the interaction between scoper and viewer, the scoper is able to tailor the content to the needs and questions of the live viewers.

“As a second-grade teacher, I enjoy using Periscope to watch other educators share perks of the classrooms and best practices for kids. There are so many fantastic educators on Periscope, and I can get quality professional development in my PJs on any given day,” said Kayla Delzer, Periscoper in North Dakota (@mrsdelz). Some districts are turning to Periscope as a PD requirement—not requiring that teachers make videos, but watch them. Sheila Jane, educator and founder of the iTeachTVNetwork, has gathered the best educator experts in the United States to do weekly scopes in their respective areas of expertise. On using Periscope for PD credit, Jane says “Periscope is really moving in the right direction as a powerhouse platform to get teachers connected with other teachers who are doing amazing things in the classroom.”
There are many possibilities for Periscope in education. Teachers at a conference can Periscope during a presentation (with permission, of course) for teachers who were unable to attend. Teachers are sharing classroom arrangement and design from inside their classroom walls after the students go home. Periscope also could be used for peer coaching of classroom lessons. Because I do staff development around the United States, I often turn on Periscope while I’m delivering a workshop or presentation to give my followers a peek at my ELA staff development. For the most part, teacher scopers try to keep their scopes between 15–30 minutes, as teacher minutes are precious.

Teachers such as Kami Butterfield, a third-grade teacher in Baxter Springs, KS, who teaches in a 1:1 iPad classroom, stops instruction when I start scoping because the students like learning from me, too. She shows my scopes to her students during class, when I scoped about and encouraged students to make a Winter Break Reading Plan. Students loved my “18 Ways to Keep Kids Reading Over Winter Break,” accepted the challenge, and shared their winter break reading on social media using the hashtag #merryreader. 

Periscope is available in the both the App Store and the Google Play store, for both iPhone and iPad, and both front-facing and back-facing cameras can be used to film. Periscope is an offshoot of Twitter, so you must have a Twitter account in order to create a Periscope account.

So how are you going to use Periscope to get your teacher voice heard? Do you have ideas worth sharing in videos? Share them now!

jen jones headshotJen Jones is a K–12 reading specialist, Common Core Trainer, blogger, teacher-author, Periscoper and cofounder of a monthly teaching Blab called #chalktalkedu. She travels the United States to speak, present, and facilitate workshops to schools and districts about 21st-century literacy. Read her blog, Hello Literacy. Follow her on Periscope, Twitter, and Instagram at @hellojenjones.

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