Tech Salad

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Tag: Twitter

Let’s Give Them Something To Write About

I don’t have much time to comb through Twitter to find good stuff these days, but a tweet by @intrepidteacher caught my eye while I stood by the microwave at lunch.

 

@mywriteabout is a twitter account full of really fun ideas for writing assignments. For example, look at this book review idea.

Or look at this idea for using descriptive language in a persuasive piece.
Or meet the kids where they are. This would prompt them to write a BuzzFeed-like post.
These are just three examples. If you have a Twitter account, this is a great feed to follow.

Need a Twitter Widget?

Now that so many of our teachers are tweeting, we get questions about displaying Twitter feeds on blogs often. The widget we had in WordPress no longer works, so here is a tutorial showing how to create a new widget that does work.

 

Civil, Polite, Informed

Should we teach our students to tweet? Is tweeting more important than cursive writing? I don’t know. Depends on who asks and when the question is asked. This was my response yesterday.

As I was typing that response to my friend Larry, I was getting ready for a virtual visit by Congressman Eric Cantor. His office contacted our schoola few weeks ago, and we welcomed the chance to offer our students this opportunity to engage in face-to-face conversation with the people they read about as part of their Government curriculum. I took care of the technology and Mrs. Yearout-Patton took care of the students’ participation. We had visitors from Central Office and the event went on without a hitch.

It is part of the Goochland County Public Schools culture that we highlight special events using our well-established online presence. We posted about the event on our GHS page. Dr. Gretz blogged about it. Mrs. Yearout-Patton, Dr. Lane, Dr. Gretz, and I tweeted about it.

We had many positive responses. Then, late last night, there was a tweet from @JoeBobLee about Congressman Cantor’s visit that denigrated our learning activity and insulted our school community. I thought I would just ignore it, but it is not in my nature.

As educators, we expose students to the full breadth of the political spectrum. It is our obligation regardless of our political leanings. In fact, as educators employed by taxpayers, we MUST maintain a neutral environment in our schools. We have hosted Senator Mark Warner, Delegate Lee Ware, and Governor Bob McDonnell over the past three years. I am unaware that we have turned down an offer for an onsite or virtual visit from any politician, Democrat, Republican or anything else.

As educators, we also encourage good digital citizenship. We teach students not to plagiarize. We combat cyber-bullying with special programs and events. We engage our students in collaboration and civil, polite, informed discourse through online tools such as Edmodo, Moodle, and Twitter.

Civil, polite, informed discourse. @JoeBobLee must have been absent the day that was taught at his school.

 

 

Digital Citizenship In the Wild

Over the weekend, many people up and down the Eastern Seaboard relied on social media to keep up with the latest on Superstorm Sandy. There were useful tweets from government agencies and relief organizations, as well as news outlets with people in key locations. Citizen reporters helped fill in the gaps.

At the other end of the spectrum were the funny people posting manipulated images of sharks swimming down the streets of Manhattan and other pranksters. One of these people in particular, one with a large following, tweeted a few things that caused many to panic. Shashank Tripathi, a political consultant, might have thought it was funny to tweet about the New York Stock Exchange flooding. He did not think of the consequences. The tweets have caused him to lose his job, and have authorities in New York contemplating criminal charges.

As more and more of our teachers and students join the Twitter community, it is important to constantly remind ourselves that what we say online can be as powerful, or more powerful, than what we say in person to those around us.

Historic Social Networking

Last year Ms. Kuhns and I worked with students to create off-line Facebook profiles for fictional characters in lieu of a traditional book report. We all had fun and the kids did some really good work.

This summer I’ve been reading Historical Tweets (humor), I’ve been following John Quincy Adams (MA Historical Society) on Twitter, and on the HistoryTech blog, I found nifty Facebook profile for Abraham Lincoln.

Whether creating these in class, or using them to start a discussion, I think students will find them more engaging than sticking to their textbooks.

Twittery Stats

The Dictionary Team at Oxford University Press has analyzed randomly-selected tweets and has found the sentence length is cut roughly by half than in general usage, gerunds are the norm, and most statements refer to the author of the tweet. The statistics are reported on the OUP blog.

The OUP blog links to Gawker (not my favorite blog by far, but the post is interesting), which links to a Harvard study with some interesting social statistics about Twitter. It seems Twitter is an oddity among social networks when it comes to gender. While activity on other social networks seems to focus around women, Twitter is all about men.

Of course, I had to go look at my tweets and my follower/followed numbers. I seem to fit the norm. I follow mostly men (not on purpose), I use very short sentences with plenty of gerunds, and I don’t tweet as much as those 10% users who make up 90% of the total activity of the site.

UPDATE: The Business Insider has statistics about Twitter’s popularity (or lack of).

21st Century Job Hunt

On Monday afternoon I listened to NPR’s All Tech Cinsidered segment focusing on finding a job in the current economic climate.

Employers and job-seekers alike are leaving the traditional bullet point, single-space, single-page, buzzword-overload sort of resume behind. Employers are looking for the REAL story behind the applicants, something a flat page can’t tell them. Job-seekers are getting creative with videos, web pages, blogs, and profiles on social networking sites to pump up their image and highlight their skills.

What many educators still see as “fluff” is now a vital part of the education our students need. Creating visually-applealing artifacts that communicate a story effectively is no longer just for kids going into careers like advertising and design.

Along with the story job applicants want to tell, they have to be aware of the story they tell unwittingly. The story of the Cisco Fatty (how to lose a job in one Tweet) is the perfect example.

Along with the skills to create the content, students need to learn how to manage their online presence. I would venture to guess that, as our students become more savvy nettizens, they will be more likely to be harmed by a poorly-worded online statement than by a predator.

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NECC Wrap-Up: Trimming my PLN

During the months leading up to NECC, I was excited about seeing new things. I was also looking forward to meeting some of the people whose blogs and Tweets I’d been following. I don’t believe I got as much out of the experience as I thought I would. Now that I’m back, I’m rethinking my personal, informal professional development.

First, I am pulling away from my Twitterrific. Despite the good stuff that is bound to come from the collective Tweets of so many intelligent people, I no longer think I need to read about it in Twitter. If something truly great happens, it will be written about in depth somewhere else. Anything of world-shaking magnitude will come through on NPR at the top of the hour. Beyond that, I don’t need to know about every bathroom break and website misadventure of the educational technology leaders on the planet. All those fun geographic Tweets for conference attendees, I’ll leave those to people who make their living out of requesting and providing them.

Second, having gotten over my fascination with the bloggers, I will check my RSS reader less often. I will also get myself out of the echo chamber by reworking my subscriptions to once again read as many non-ed-tech blogs as I did before. Educators don’t have a monopoly on innovation, and when so many blog ABOUT each others’ blogs, do I really need five different paraphrased versions of Here Comes Everybody?

I did see some excellent presentations at NECC, and I learned quite a bit. However, I think this refocusing of my work is the most important benefit of having attended. I am an ITRT, and all those outside blogs and Tweets are not as important as providing encouragement and support to technology users in my district.

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