Category Archives: twitter

3 Obvious Ways Twitter Promotes Literacy

What today's young people know is that knowing who you're writing for and why you're writing might be the most crucial factor of all.

It was an interesting day for me.  I spoke in the same district that I did my first keynote in by myself, and it was an amazing experience to reconnect and think about my journey over the last few years.  The person that asked me to speak over six years ago was still there, and we reminisced about our experiences over this time.

One of the conversations was going back to the idea of Twitter and does it actually promote literacy.  Thinking about, jumping onto Twitter years ago has led to many amazing opportunities for me, but I also think that it has led to tremendous growth in my own learning over time.  Since I first started connecting with others through the medium, I have written over 88,000 tweets, written over 1,100 blog posts, and one book.  I am a firm believer that if you want to become better at writing, the best way to do it is to write more.

Without connecting on Twitter, I truly believe that I would not have written in the other mediums.  I have started blogs before, but never made it past a few posts.  As for a book?  I doubt that was something I would have ever done without Twitter.  I am not the only one; so many educators that have connected through the medium have written and published their own books.  I have seen people criticize that so many educators are writing books now, and I think, “Wow! So many educators are writing books now!”  Educators sharing their wisdom with different audiences all over the world is a pretty powerful thing.

Yet how does Twitter actually promote literacy?  As I thought about it, here are three obvious ways that really stand out to me.

  1. You read more. Many educators start off with the idea that they are “lurkers” on Twitter.  They have access to learning and ideas that they might not get within their own schools or usual circles.  I am a big believer in “created serendipity“; the more connected you are, the more ideas seem to find you, not the other way around.  The amount of blog posts and articles that I have read in the last few years is seemingly more than I ever read in my time as a student.  It should be also noted that none of these articles were pushed upon me but it was an opportunity to read things that I was interested in, not articles that were pushed upon me by someone else.
  2. You write more. I googled, “How many characters are in your average book?”, and according to this site, it is approximately 500,000.  So let’s say that the average tweet has 100 characters, well then 5000 tweets would equate to the length of a book.  Now writing 500,000 characters of tweets versus writing in a book are not equally weighted, but simply put, you are writing more.  Getting on Twitter is not about writing a book though, but how often do students write this much on their own?

    Clive Thompson has an interesting take on this:

    “The first thing she found is that young people today write far more than any generation before them. That’s because so much socializing takes place online, and it almost always involves text. Of all the writing that the Stanford students did, a stunning 38 percent of it took place out of the classroom—life writing, as Lunsford calls it. Those Twitter updates and lists of 25 things about yourself add up.

    It’s almost hard to remember how big a paradigm shift this is. Before the Internet came along, most Americans never wrote anything, ever, that wasn’t a school assignment. Unless they got a job that required producing text (like in law, advertising, or media), they’d leave school and virtually never construct a paragraph again.

    But is this explosion of prose good, on a technical level? Yes. Lunsford’s team found that the students were remarkably adept at what rhetoricians call kairos—assessing their audience and adapting their tone and technique to best get their point across. The modern world of online writing, particularly in chat and on discussion threads, is conversational and public, which makes it closer to the Greek tradition of argument than the asynchronous letter and essay writing of 50 years ago.”

    Which leads us into the next point…

  3. You can find your voice.  If you go onto Twitter, there are many educators that are passionate about so many different things, both in and out of the realm of education.  If literacy is about how we communicate our ideas, we have to understand how we connect and share, and how an audience will interpret we are sharing.  This is crucial as it is not only about the message, but how it is delivered.  As I am a big believer in moving from engagement to empowerment, someone that feels empowered to share will most likely tend to share more.

I have long held the belief that we are slowly becoming illiterate if we do not keep up with these modern mediums, but my focus is not about how to keep up, but how to embrace the opportunities these mediums provide us.  If there is something that could get our students not only reading more, but writing more as well, wouldn’t we be crazy not to embrace it?

 

Leading Digital Innovation – A Podcast

This summer, I had the opportunity to speak to Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, and was lucky enough to get to do a podcast with Kerissa Bearce.  Take a listen below:

Here is one of the elements from the podcast that I talked about and hopefully it resonates.  Enjoy the podcast!

Fear

The Good Old Days

Today I was introduced by Jennifer Cronk as someone who has been around the world of edtech for a while. She’s right. I started blogging 10 years ago, opened my twitter account 9 years ago. That’s like a 100 in normal people years. It’s odd to look back at the changes but today’s post by George Couros has me reminiscing.

I also liked this quote and have used it often.

People seem to get nostalgic about a lot of things they weren’t so crazy about the first time around. ~Author Unknown

In 2005 the world of blogging was a bit like being a pioneer. Few people were doing it and most people didn’t even know what it was. I was able to connect with people around the world, have people comment and interact on topics most people I knew weren’t that interested in discussing. In those days, spending time online made you a nerd. I blogged a lot because I was finding new things all the time. It was my way of documenting and sharing that really. As I become more confident, I tackled more challenging topics. In many cases, my posts were an extended respond to other people’s writing.… Read the rest

The Good Old Days

Today I was introduced by Jennifer Cronk as someone who has been around the world of edtech for a while. She’s right. I started blogging 10 years ago, opened my twitter account 9 years ago. That’s like a 100 in normal people years. It’s odd to look back at the changes but today’s post by George Couros has me reminiscing.

I also liked this quote and have used it often.

People seem to get nostalgic about a lot of things they weren’t so crazy about the first time around. ~Author Unknown

In 2005 the world of blogging was a bit like being a pioneer. Few people were doing it and most people didn’t even know what it was. I was able to connect with people around the world, have people comment and interact on topics most people I knew weren’t that interested in discussing. In those days, spending time online made you a nerd. I blogged a lot because I was finding new things all the time. It was my way of documenting and sharing that really. As I become more confident, I tackled more challenging topics. In many cases, my posts were an extended respond to other people’s writing.… Read the rest

Has “Twitter” Changed or Has Our View?

(This is more about me reflecting to learn, as opposed to sharing my learning so please excuse the length of the post. Just trying to clarify my thoughts.)

There has been a lot of conversation on how “Twitter has changed” recently, and I have thought a lot about this concept.  This is not about the service changing things such as moving from “favourites” to “likes” (which has changed how I personally have used these things, but that is not the purpose of the post), but is more about the “network”.

This is a picture I have seen shared a lot on the “Stages of Twitter” (source unknown):Stages of Twitter

There is some accuracy to this, but is there now a sixth?  To me this would be the “Longing for the old days of Twitter”.

Now I have thought a lot about this and what this means, but the question that I have been thinking about is “has Twitter changed or has my view of it changed?”  These are two different things.

Often people refer to the idea of a “personal learning network” when discussing Twitter, yet there are so many posts on how people are using Twitter wrong, that it doesn’t seem that personal.  What I am offering is not a post on how you should use Twitter, but just some of my own personal thoughts and experiences.

First of all, Twitter changes for people as their network grows larger.  Learning from 100 followers is one thing, but having 100 followers move to 1000 shifts things.  The way I could respond to mentions on Twitter has changed due to sheer growth in the network, and I am actually trying to be selective so that I am not overwhelmed with it.  That changes your perspective.

I also do not use it to get into “debates” as much as I used to, because honestly, I am more thoughtful of the person on the other side of the tweet.  People complain about the “echo chamber”, but what if some educators are coming their because of the support they receive from like-minded educators.  Again, this is why the “personal” exists in PLN.  This picture resonates with how I used to view Twitter:

duty_calls

This doesn’t mean that I don’t partake in any disagreement, but I am really thoughtful about when I do it.  If the only interactions I have with a person is when they let me know I am wrong, it kind of goes against my strong belief on relationships being the foundation of great schools.  Imagine working with a colleague who only talked to you when they wanted to let you know that they disagree with you. You would either not want to be around that person, or you would eventually tune them out.  If you do not feel valued, not much learning would happen.

Here is something that I used to think that I have changed my mind on…Twitter chats.  Honestly, I used to think they were stupid, and there are still some parts that I don’t like, but I have moderated some, and jumped in others, here and there.  What has changed is not my belief in their use, but my belief in the use that others get out of them.  People feel these chats are super beneficial to their learning, while others don’t.  Guess who is right? Both of them.  That’s the beauty of the medium. It can be what you need to be.

Another thing that I have heard is that people are sooooooo self-promotional on Twitter, and that does exist.  My own rule of thumb is to make an effort to share the work of others often, while also sharing my own work.  When my book came out, I talked with Dave Burgesss (co-publisher with his wife Shelley who are two of the nicest people you will ever meet) and he said something with me that kind of stuck in my head. I told him my reluctance to share the work often, and he said, “Do you believe that this book will help schools that will in turn help kids?  If you do, then why wouldn’t you want people to read it?”  Honestly, I am proud of my work and I do think it will help others, so I share it more than I thought I would.  What I don’t do is tag people every time I share it because I think it disrupts their network too much, and the message could get lost with the messenger.  I honestly believe if you focus on doing great work, people will find it.  Cindy Carr said this beautifully on Twitter the other day in a conversation she was having:

That makes a lot of sense to me.  If you are in the space, the great work will find you.  I find it to be simple. What I do love is helping people connect and see the power of the network, and it is amazing that I see how I felt when I first started reflected in many of their eyes.  That are not longing for the good times of Twitter, because this is still new to them.  I remember when people would talk about how it would be great if every teacher was on Twitter, and now that there are so many, it seems like we have taken for granted the opportunity to connect with new voices.  My book has actually connected me with new people and I have been greatly appreciative of this. I appreciate those new voices because I can now learn from new people.  Every now and then I will send out a tweet asking for new blogs to read, because I want my learning to be diverse, not just connect with the people I knew when I first started. You see people trying different things and that is great. People have told me how much they love Voxer, or Blab, or Pinterest, and I think that is exactly what I would want to see in others. The willingness to try new things.  I have paid more attention to my own blog because I feel that I learn a significant amount from taking time to reflect and share my thoughts.  I also know that because of Twitter, I have met people like Felix Jacomino who have become good friends, yet are driven crazy by my grammatical errors, and will go in and fix my errors.  Think about how cool that is…I have someone who lives in Miami fixing the blog for little errors because he wants to support me, and I have given him an account because I trust him.  Being on Twitter made that happen. But I was reminded last night of the powerful connections that have been provided to my family through Twitter.  My dad’s memory was honoured through a community started by my brother (#ETMOOC) and a bursary was created at the University of Regina in his name.

Now I knew about this ahead of time, but what was really great, was my mom is visiting and she connected with these “strangers” from around the world who talked fondly of my brother, my dad, and even her.

Screenshot 2016-01-21 20.21.01

That was pretty amazing to watch and a community of “strangers” brought my family to tears.  I was a very proud brother and son last night, and being on Twitter was a part of that.   I have actually become closer to my brother because of Twitter. We are way more connected now than we have been since I left university, If it was ONLY for that reason, using Twitter has been worth it.

So going back to my question, “has Twitter changed or has my view of it changed?” To be honest, it is both. But I choose to look at all of the positives over the negatives. In every technology we use, it will change, as will our view of it. This is how the world works.

But I realize without starting a Twitter account I would have never written a blog post, a book, had so many incredible opportunities for me learning and career, or connected with so many awesome people. If I can help create some of those experiences for others, I would say it is worth jumping in.

Has “Twitter” Changed or Has Our View?

(This is more about me reflecting to learn, as opposed to sharing my learning so please excuse the length of the post. Just trying to clarify my thoughts.)

There has been a lot of conversation on how “Twitter has changed” recently, and I have thought a lot about this concept.  This is not about the service changing things such as moving from “favourites” to “likes” (which has changed how I personally have used these things, but that is not the purpose of the post), but is more about the “network”.

This is a picture I have seen shared a lot on the “Stages of Twitter” (source unknown):Stages of Twitter

There is some accuracy to this, but is there now a sixth?  To me this would be the “Longing for the old days of Twitter”.

Now I have thought a lot about this and what this means, but the question that I have been thinking about is “has Twitter changed or has my view of it changed?”  These are two different things.

Often people refer to the idea of a “personal learning network” when discussing Twitter, yet there are so many posts on how people are using Twitter wrong, that it doesn’t seem that personal.  What I am offering is not a post on how you should use Twitter, but just some of my own personal thoughts and experiences.

First of all, Twitter changes for people as their network grows larger.  Learning from 100 followers is one thing, but having 100 followers move to 1000 shifts things.  The way I could respond to mentions on Twitter has changed due to sheer growth in the network, and I am actually trying to be selective so that I am not overwhelmed with it.  That changes your perspective.

I also do not use it to get into “debates” as much as I used to, because honestly, I am more thoughtful of the person on the other side of the tweet.  People complain about the “echo chamber”, but what if some educators are coming their because of the support they receive from like-minded educators.  Again, this is why the “personal” exists in PLN.  This picture resonates with how I used to view Twitter:

duty_calls

This doesn’t mean that I don’t partake in any disagreement, but I am really thoughtful about when I do it.  If the only interactions I have with a person is when they let me know I am wrong, it kind of goes against my strong belief on relationships being the foundation of great schools.  Imagine working with a colleague who only talked to you when they wanted to let you know that they disagree with you. You would either not want to be around that person, or you would eventually tune them out.  If you do not feel valued, not much learning would happen.

Here is something that I used to think that I have changed my mind on…Twitter chats.  Honestly, I used to think they were stupid, and there are still some parts that I don’t like, but I have moderated some, and jumped in others, here and there.  What has changed is not my belief in their use, but my belief in the use that others get out of them.  People feel these chats are super beneficial to their learning, while others don’t.  Guess who is right? Both of them.  That’s the beauty of the medium. It can be what you need to be.

Another thing that I have heard is that people are sooooooo self-promotional on Twitter, and that does exist.  My own rule of thumb is to make an effort to share the work of others often, while also sharing my own work.  When my book came out, I talked with Dave Burgesss (co-publisher with his wife Shelley who are two of the nicest people you will ever meet) and he said something with me that kind of stuck in my head. I told him my reluctance to share the work often, and he said, “Do you believe that this book will help schools that will in turn help kids?  If you do, then why wouldn’t you want people to read it?”  Honestly, I am proud of my work and I do think it will help others, so I share it more than I thought I would.  What I don’t do is tag people every time I share it because I think it disrupts their network too much, and the message could get lost with the messenger.  I honestly believe if you focus on doing great work, people will find it.  Cindy Carr said this beautifully on Twitter the other day in a conversation she was having:

That makes a lot of sense to me.  If you are in the space, the great work will find you.  I find it to be simple. What I do love is helping people connect and see the power of the network, and it is amazing that I see how I felt when I first started reflected in many of their eyes.  That are not longing for the good times of Twitter, because this is still new to them.  I remember when people would talk about how it would be great if every teacher was on Twitter, and now that there are so many, it seems like we have taken for granted the opportunity to connect with new voices.  My book has actually connected me with new people and I have been greatly appreciative of this. I appreciate those new voices because I can now learn from new people.  Every now and then I will send out a tweet asking for new blogs to read, because I want my learning to be diverse, not just connect with the people I knew when I first started. You see people trying different things and that is great. People have told me how much they love Voxer, or Blab, or Pinterest, and I think that is exactly what I would want to see in others. The willingness to try new things.  I have paid more attention to my own blog because I feel that I learn a significant amount from taking time to reflect and share my thoughts.  I also know that because of Twitter, I have met people like Felix Jacomino who have become good friends, yet are driven crazy by my grammatical errors, and will go in and fix my errors.  Think about how cool that is…I have someone who lives in Miami fixing the blog for little errors because he wants to support me, and I have given him an account because I trust him.  Being on Twitter made that happen. But I was reminded last night of the powerful connections that have been provided to my family through Twitter.  My dad’s memory was honoured through a community started by my brother (#ETMOOC) and a bursary was created at the University of Regina in his name.

Now I knew about this ahead of time, but what was really great, was my mom is visiting and she connected with these “strangers” from around the world who talked fondly of my brother, my dad, and even her.

Screenshot 2016-01-21 20.21.01

That was pretty amazing to watch and a community of “strangers” brought my family to tears.  I was a very proud brother and son last night, and being on Twitter was a part of that.   I have actually become closer to my brother because of Twitter. We are way more connected now than we have been since I left university, If it was ONLY for that reason, using Twitter has been worth it.

So going back to my question, “has Twitter changed or has my view of it changed?” To be honest, it is both. But I choose to look at all of the positives over the negatives. In every technology we use, it will change, as will our view of it. This is how the world works.

But I realize without starting a Twitter account I would have never written a blog post, a book, had so many incredible opportunities for me learning and career, or connected with so many awesome people. If I can help create some of those experiences for others, I would say it is worth jumping in.

The #deanies

deanie3

What are the #deanies? Simple. They are a prestigious award designed to recognize the very best in education. Or maybe not.

As with much of my goofiness on twitter, this started on an impulse. I’m not 100% sure what triggered it but I think I was reading my stream and someone posting about an award they won. There is lots of controversy out there about the need and purpose of awards. Frankly, I’m not that invested in the conversation. However, I think, for the most part, they don’t mean a lot other than someone thinks you deserve some recognition, which is a good thing. But the reality is, most awards are given by small groups of people with little or no authority. Again, that’s not a big deal but then I wondered, what’s stopping me from giving out awards? And the first #deanie was born.

Since then, I’ve given out more than 100 #deanies. You can view them here or here or even here (be sure to filter by twitter). My criteria follow strict guidelines of whim and … Read the rest

Who has the hardest job?

Every once in a while I tweet something only to realize it lacks context and nuance that makes for horrible conversation and goes against many of the things I think makes Twitter a poor place for deep conversation. Like this one:

These are the tweets that get retweeted and favorited but also create some questions and reactions that are difficult to explore in 140. So here I am.

This tweet was borne out of mostly living with a teacher and being one too. I know I never worked harder than when I was in the classroom. I work long hours now, perhaps more than when I taught but one I still remember the biggest thing I gained when I left the classroom was autonomy of my time. Being able to go the bathroom when I wanted was a luxury I didn’t have for the 14 years I taught grades 1-8. Being able to take 10 minutes to walk across the office to chat with a co-worker about a project was something I couldn’t do as a teacher. My wife, who has been teaching for 25 years still works 3 or more hours every night. She spends her day with seven year-olds and works tirelessly to ensure her classroom functions like clockwork. Even 5 minutes of unplanned time can mean 15 minutes of bringing those students back to task. She has to be “on” from the moment she enters the classroom to the time they leave to go home. Shortened lunch times, additional safety concerns at recess mean even less time to have much of any autonomy. I can’t think of another profession where you have to be that focused and attentive for as long and often. That particular aspect of the job, in my opinion, led to my tweet.

What I don’t believe is that school leaders have a less important job. I know great leaders who put in as much, if not more time than teachers. I know leaders who deal with a significant amount of stress from parents, students, teachers, and boards. I realize that determining who has the harder job is a fruitless discussion. I also know that in many circumstances, schools are finding it more difficult to find administrators than to find teachers. The “hard” I’m referring to is a different kind of hard that for some is real challenge.

I suppose I’ve always viewed my colleagues in terms of the difficulty of the roles. I’ve never tried to tell anyone that I had a hard job. In fact, one thing I always focused on as a leader was acknowledging the challenges of others and tried to encourage and support them. I think a good leader focuses mostly on others. This is why community for leaders is so important. Sometimes they need to unwind and lament outside the community of teachers in order to maintain a strength and support for those folks on the front lines.

So let me just say, all our jobs are important. You can disagree about my statement about who has the harder job but with I suppose because of the autonomy I gained from leaving the classroom, I’ll stick with my tweet. But perhaps a better tweet might be one from a few months back.

 

Okay, I’m done.  If you want to keep arguing, do it here. I still love you all.

 

PS. Next time I tweet something of this nature, remind me to blog about it instead.

Photo Credit: Pragmagraphr via Compfight cc

Creating Connections of Their Own

As someone growing up in Canada, a hockey loving country, I really appreciated this story about Kevin Durant, one of the best basketball players in the world, connecting with a group to play flag football.

I wish I would have had these same opportunities as a kid.

These stories remind me of how our world has not only become smaller, but the opportunities we have to connect with one another are so amazing.  One of the things that I have been really thinking about lately is that if we are teaching a kid about space, who better to teach that than an astronaut? And if that is the case, two questions stick out to me:

  1. How do we as educators facilitate those connections (or understand and see the need to do this)?
  2. How do we teach kids to make those connections themselves?

Kelli Holden, an amazing teacher from Parkland School Division, is one of those educators that works with her students at a young age to help them learn to make those connections.  I have watched her grade 4 students connect and share their learning at their classroom Twitter account (twitter.com/millgrove4h), but also use this account to share and learn from others around the world.  Last year (as well as the year prior), they asked the world “What does your spring look like?”

What is really smart about this tweet, is that by using the hashtag #whatdoesyourspringlooklike, the students made it easy for others to connect with them, but they also knew that by connecting with myself and having a large network, I could also help them make some connections.  Not only did they get tweets from all over Canada and the United States, but they also connected with places such as Singapore, Australia, and France (check out their storify here).  What I love about this, is that Kelli is working with her students under a shared classroom account before they are old enough to have one of their own.  If we aren’t proactive with our students in this area, what do our students lose out on, and what do we actually have to “unteach”?

Many educators are understanding and utilizing the power of social networks, but what is essential is that we teach our students how to make those connections for themselves. We need to realize that the power of the Internet is not only that we have access to all of the information in the world, but to each other, and teaching our students to tap into networks early on, is essential.

Finding the Genius

This was a fantastic story, shared and created by Michael Wesch:

What I loved about this was the idea that sometimes our perceptions of students, lead to their new reality.  If we think of a student as lazy, what things do we do that actually feed into that?  But if we look for their strengths and how to build upon them, that perception also becomes a reality.

This is one of my favourite images on that very topic, most likely inspired by the Einstein quote,

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live it’s whole life believing that it is stupid.”

climb a tree

If we hold a certain knowledge that others don’t hold, it doesn’t make us smarter than them.  It just means that we have different strengths.  In the mechanic that doesn’t have a high school degree, yet can fix my car, I see genius. Finding that genius is part of what great educators do.